Retailers are ditching itsy bitsy paper receipts in favour of email receipts.

Recent reports out of the US identified several major retailers, including Gap and Nordstrom began offering electronic receipts in the earlier part of 2011, following Apple, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters, which already offer the paperless proof-of-purchase, receipt alternative. The trend, according to some, signals the beginning of the end for the paper-receipt model. Thank goodness!

“In five years, up to 60% of retailers will go paperless” Colin Johnson, of Nordstrom predicted.

We at Stancombe predict it may be sooner as retailers such as Target (USA), Best Buy (USA), and Whole Foods (USA) launched trial programs in the past year with more retailers to follow. And, as the penetration of smartphones in Australia is so high (50%+ and climbing), it makes sense that Australian retailers jump on the new technology as well. Qantas is on-board with it. Apple are using it and the cinemas are in the process of making paper tickets obsolete.

The benefits to retailers are numerous: quicker checkout lines (no need to print the receipt at POS), easier receipt management (stored electronically which will be easier for all), and less impact on the environment (always a good thing!), reduced costs (once set up costs are amortised, it will be less expensive than till receipts). Importantly, the e-receipts will allow retailers to collect the email addresses of shoppers. Huge benefits will follow from email collection in the form of retailers being able to offer personalised sales incentives, up-selling opportunities, cross-selling opportunities and retention and reward programs.

So, the shopper cuts down on junk in the wallet but may find it replaced with a crammed in-box. C'est la vie.

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