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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : July 12, 2011

Retailers ask "receipt in the bag or via email?"

Apple may have been doing it for years, but an increasing number of forward-thinking and environmentally-aware retailers are beginning to making the move away from the scrappy bits of paper that accumulate in wallets and in the bottom of handbags in favor of electronic receipts sent straight to a customer's email account.

by Helen Leggatt

The days of sifting through wads of tatty receipts come expense claim day or wallets overflowing with thermal paper may soon be over as an increasing number of retailers begin offering electronic receipts sent direct to a customer's email.

Earlier this year the Boston Herald cited Colin Johnson, a Nordstrom spokesperson, as saying 60% of retailers will offer some form of electronic receipt option, either by text or email, in the next five years.

Not only are electronic receipts convenient, they are a green option. According to paperless receipt firm AllEtronic 600,000 tons of thermal receipt paper is used by stores in the US each year. Fifteen trees, 19,000 gallons of water, and 390 gallons of oil go in to just one ton of paper.

Furthermore, there could be health benefits to doing away with receipts printed on thermal paper. This type of paper is coated with a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA), a proven endocrine disruptor, which because it is not "bound" to the surface of the paper can be transferred to the skin and absorbed into the body causing a variety of health problems. Just last month Connecticut became the first State to ban the use of this chemical on thermal receipts.

While electronic receipts are the obvious way forward, in terms of their planet-saving benefits and customer convenience, there will be many who view them with suspicion - another way for retailers to extract personal information. However, responsible retailers will give their customers control over if, and how, email address data is used.

Tags: electronic receipt, email, green, in-store, paperless, purchase process, retail

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  • Bob

    You think retailers are trustworthy? Then I've got some swampland I'm sure you'll be interested in purchasing. Electronic receipts are only convenient to those who want them.

    I don't.

    Paper works just fine for me, and that's all I want.

    Electronic receipts are not indicative of "forward thinking" retailers. Not satisfied with tying all debit and credit card users' purchasing information to their identity, this is simply retailers' attempts to do the same for those who pay with cash.

    The next thing will be....if you don't have an email address, one will be provided for you. And you will be forced to identify yourself before you will be allowed to buy.



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