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Who Really Benefits From Digital Receipts

// January 17, 2013 // Digital // Comments Off

Gary Ware, Director of Digital Experience explores the benefits of digital receipts

Recently I have seen more and more stores provide an option to receive a digital copy of your receipt instead of a paper copy. This got the marketer in me thinking about the reasoning behind going digital at the cash register.

Are brands doing this because they care about the environment or do they have a hidden agenda?

For the environmentally conscious consumer, they now have an option to go “green”. For the brand, this gives them an opportunity to keep in touch with someone who would have normally disappeared without a trace. Below are a few more benefits on the rise of digital receipts.

Benefits of digital receipts to the consumer

Easier way to archive
Receipt of purchase is a necessity for both business and warranty related activities. The problem is that they take up too much physical space and can be a pain to maintain. Scanners are making this task easier, but a digital copy takes one step out of the process. Now you can file it away in your inbox or on your computer and easily reference it later if needed.

Environmentally Friendly
Opting in to having your receipt emailed to you means one less tree that needs to be cut down and less trash in our landfills. Most importantly, it gives the consumer the satisfaction that they are supporting a brand that is doing their part to protect our resources.

Loyalty Points/Rewards
Most brands that I have seen offering digital receipts are tying them in with their membership programs. For the consumer, the carrot that comes with opting in to these programs is that the brand will reward loyal shoppers with special benefits and exclusive offers.

Benefits of digital receipts to the brand

Connect the dots on shopping habits
For brick and mortar establishments, understanding consumer behavior is limited to macro trends. This option used to work for but with brand loyalty fading due to increased competition, brands need a way to provide a more personalized experience. With digital receipts, brands can connect a purchase to a person and start building a purchase history where they can understand the drivers that make a person a repeat customer. This can drive improvements in service and lead to higher lifetime value of their customers.

Offer more customized recommendations and content
With all this data at their disposal, they have the opportunity to provide customized recommendations, deals, and content. A sporting goods store for example, can share content on top camping spots and provide product recommendations to a customer that constantly purchases camping gear. I believe that if you cater to the needs of your customers, they will return the favor with repeat purchases. If the customer feels like they are getting an experience that they can’t get anywhere else, it will keep them from being lured away to a competitor.

Tie online research to offline purchases
For brands that have an online and offline presence, this will give you a chance to give credit to online programs that assisted in driving the user in-store to make a purchase. In this scenario, I imagine the moment the offline transaction is added to a consumer’s profile, any online activity that happened prior to that purchase would get the appropriate credit. Another example is when the consumer opens the emailed receipt, it triggers a success event to your web analytics and like the previous example, the activities leading up to that event would get credit. This would give brands a better understanding of the activities that lead up to a purchase and enable them to optimize their digital channels to assist both online and offline purchases.

A win-win for brands and consumers

We live in the digital age and there is an opportunity for brands with offline only establishments to take advantage of digital tools and deliver a personalized experience to improve customer engagement. As the younger generation comes of age, experiences like this will become the standard. Therefore, brands need to take this time to test and refine.

As Spiderman once said, “With greater power comes greater responsibility.” Don’t take more data than you need, and use the insights to improve the customer experience as opposed to justifying marketing budgets.

What are your thoughts? Am I off base on my reasoning? Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments.

    author bio

    Director / Digital Experience. Loves bridging the gap between Art and Technology. Apple Fan boy for life. When he's not busy playing with gadgets he's practicing the art of improv.