In the last two decades, the UK retail industry has been transformed. Generating sales of over £400 billion per year, it’s an economic juggernaut.
The rise in popularity of online shopping, which spiked during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in consumers exploring a range of methods to make their purchases. And it’s not only choice consumers are seeking. More than ever customers want to make ethical decisions about their purchases. 34 percent of consumers said in the past year, they have chosen brands that have environmentally sustainable practices/values.
Whether driven by consumer demand or the environmental imperative we’re all beginning to understand, the retail industry is increasingly looking to implement sustainability initiatives.
As Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, states: “Any company that wants to stay relevant in the future should think about sustainable behaviour.” From eco-packaging to paperless returns, retailers are looking at their supply chain with a critical eye.
It’s somewhat surprising, therefore, that so many retailers continue to promote the automatic printing of physical paper receipts in store. Especially when you consider it takes 1.6 billion litres of water to make the paper for just the UK’s paper receipts each year.
So in addition to being more environmentally friendly, let’s explore the five main advantages of adopting digital receipts in the retail industry.
#1 The Retailer Benefit
When customers shop with you online, consider how much you know about them.
- Their device.
- Their browsing time.
- Every product they look at, and for how long.
- What they put in their basket, even if they don’t buy.
- Their spend history.
- How many returns they’ve made.
And the list could go on.
When customers shop with you in-store, how much do you know about them?
Unless you have a loyalty card, the answer is likely to be… not that much.
By encouraging consumers to receive a digital receipt, you’re suddenly able to pick up a wealth of information about that shopper to help you create a Single Customer View.
Increasingly retailers are implementing eReceipts to gain visibility of their in-store customers. We work with retailers every day to help them understand more about the consumers shopping with them. On average, retailers like Fred Perry can identify 75% of customers daily, with some stores achieving 100%!
Compare this to even the most well-adopted loyalty card schemes that do not manage to achieve anything close to such a high rate of in-store customer identification.
Increasingly stores can act as online shops in terms of data capture. Identifying customers in-store enables retailers to do intelligent marketing and make smart merchandising decisions to increase sales and drive growth.
#2 The Business Benefit
Reducing paper receipts can carry a considerable cost saving long term. Due to a global shortage in the dye needed, the cost of thermal receipts is increasing annually, a trend set to continue until 2025. Many countries are already taking steps to reduce the printing of paper receipts. During 2023, France will ban the automatic printing and distribution of store receipts.
It’s only a matter of time before other countries follow suit.
Digital receipts not only represent a cost-saving, but they can also generate revenue of their own. Most eReceipts achieve on average an open rate of 75% –– four times higher than traditional marketing emails. Savvy marketers will see this highly engaged channel as an ideal opportunity to create personalised brand offers and deliver an enhanced shopping experience for that customer.
Some of the most effective post-purchase digital receipts contain:
- A history of the brand and heritage to emphasise their unique USP.
- Personalised experiences based on purchase history.
- The opportunity to shop a new collection or first look at new arrivals.
- Product recommendations to “complete the look”.
- Customer feedback surveys or ratings.
- Tax-free shopping.
- Location-based offerings such as in-store events or popups.
- Newsletter sign ups.
#3 The Consumer Benefit
We live in a world of convenience. Consumers enjoy the ease of making payments with their faces or fingerprints and are supported by apps to manage outgoings and savings efficiently. Online banking has become more intuitive and integral in consumers’ lives, and modern life looks very different.
Except when it comes to paper receipts.
More often than not, the printed receipt is lost and consumers end up frustrated when they want to make a return, or demonstrate proof of purchase for warranties and insurance claims. By offering digital receipts you ensure that the customer experience is a positive one and returns are made quickly and efficiently. The fastest way to happy customers.
Furthermore, Accenture found that 83 percent of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalised experience. Capturing customer data at the point of sale will enable you to offer more tailored messaging based on customer shopping preferences. And if customers feel like you offer them an experience customised to them, they are more likely to become brand advocates and shop with you again.
#4 The Environmental Benefit
In addition to the water usage, did you know that every year around 200,000 trees are felled to print the 11.2 billion paper receipts printed in the UK? Yes, you read that right, 11,200,000,000 printed receipts. And that adds up to 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The equivalent emissions of flying from London to Sydney 10,000 times.
Consumers are increasingly taking steps to shop with retailers who shout about their sustainability initiatives. 51 percent of UK shoppers now want the option to refuse a paper receipt at the checkout, and a further 53 percent say that retailers should try to reduce the amount of paper they waste on receipts.
And the cherry on top… most receipts aren’t even recyclable.
#5 The Benefit to In-Store Staff
Heard of Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS)? No, they’re not a mystery ingredient in Bake Off or the latest skincare fad.
Bisphenols are a group of chemicals hazardous to human health and the environment. Alongside many fertility concerns, it’s also believed that Bisphenols cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation.
And they are used in paper receipts.
Scientists know that the human body can take in bisphenols by touching paper products. Investigations are underway to determine the impact of long term contact with these chemicals and the levels that the human body can absorb.
A single touch is unlikely to cause severe harm, but what about your in-store staff who handle thousands of receipts a day?
Increasingly health professionals are lobbying governments to ban all bisphenols from thermal paper to protect their employees.
In addition to health concerns, there’s a strong practical case for implementing digital receipts. If a customer has deleted their digital receipt or can’t access their emails, your staff can look up the transaction in seconds and confirm if it’s genuine, check the price and take steps accordingly.
It’s clear that we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of paper receipts. From environmental impact to business benefits, switching to digital receipts makes sense across the board, and the industry is finally cottoning on.
And the good news is, integrating digital receipts into your business is far easier than you imagine. Time and time again, the teams we work with are amazed at how quickly we can implement this solution.
Get in touch to get the ball rolling; we’re ready to kickstart your 2023 eco-initiatives!