Digital Receipts Save Money, Trees, and Time

receiptRetailers, banks, hospitality centers that are environmentally conscious and/or customer directed are turning to digital receipts for POS (point of sale) verification of transactions. A recent white paper by Celerant Technologies notes these impressive – and alarming – statistics:

  • In the U.S. alone, retailers consume 640,000 tons of thermal receipt paper per year, requiring 9.6 million trees for their manufacture.
  • It takes approximately 390 gallons of oil to produce a single ton of paper. At 640,000 tons of thermal receipt paper demanded per year, that’s nearly 250 million gallons of oil, enough to produce almost 16 million gallons of gas.
  • The amount of CO2 emitted by producing one ton of receipt paper is equivalent to the amount of exhaust a car emits while driving for an entire year.
  • It takes more than 19,000 gallons of water to produce a single ton of paper. This equates to more than 1.2 billion gallons of water used during the receipt paper production process.
  • Approximately 2,278 pounds of trash is produced while producing a single ton of receipt paper. This means nearly 1.5 billion pounds of trash are being fed into landfills at the hands of receipt paper manufacturing.

That’s just the environmental impact. For consumer convenience, digital receipts offer a record of a transaction, without the hassle of transporting and filing the paperwork. If a customer doesn’t need a receipt, none is issued and both clutter and paper are eliminated, so digital receipts support CRM (customer relations management).

Celerant’s study cites cost reduction is a leading factor in the adoption of green receipt technology. According to recent research from Epsilon, more than a third of major retailers, including Best Buy, Gap, Macy’s Nordstrom, Sears and Wells Fargo, offer digital POS receipts. The technology offers convenience, yes, but additionally it helps the companies by connecting them with the consumer through email contact and purchasing history.

The white paper notes that e-mail acquisition for list growth is the primary motivator for 83% of the nearly 4,000 retailers who participated in the Epsilon survey. Providing consumers with a digital receipt offering can be a less intrusive way to capture their information.

How many times have you, as a consumer, said at the point of sale, “Thanks, but I don’t need a receipt,” even if it’s already printed? We expect convenience and courtesy. Unwanted paper receipts simply mean that we may joke about wallpapering our bathroom or wad them up and throw them in the trash. The white paper notes, however, that forcing digitized receipts on consumers who prefer paper can do the same. Its authors state, “Because receipt digitization is not costly for retailers and no longer requires a complex integration project, it pays to demonstrate your dedication to consumer centricity by heeding the shopper’s receipt delivery preferences.”


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