2011.34 | eReceipt Retailers in North America

I’m not sure what is driving the sudden interest, but there has been a small run on eReceipts in the news.

New York Times | Consumer Reports | NPR | ….and many others weigh in

I had a recent request from a reader asking if I knew of an online list of retailers leveraging eReceipts and I do not.  What better way to address such a shortcoming than putting together a list right here.  The following are retailers where I am aware of an eReceipt option being available.  These were gathered from various articles online, corporate websites and various personal experiences.  Strangely, few of them have any information on this option on their corporate websites.  I expect a comprehensive list will eventually be a list of all retailers.

Apple Store – Apple store has offered eReceipts for some time, and have a slight advantage over may retailers in that many customers have an iTunes account online with a credit card number on file.  This allows for a receipt to be sent automatically based on the credit card number swiped.  No need to take down an email address.  I have used this option numerous times personally and the difference between this and an iTunes receipt is effectively nil.  The solution works well, and the eReceipt is a good fit for their business model and customer segment.

Gap / Old Navy / Banana Republic – The banners for Gap certainly offer eReceipts in the US and Canada, though I have only personally had experience with Old Navy in Canada.  Seems to work pretty flawlessly, though telling someone your email address or typing it onto a pinpad seems to open up opportunities for errors, meaning a receipt might be lost.  That said, I find Gap brands seem to be quite liberal with returns as long as items are in sale-able condition anyway, so not having a receipt isn’t the end of the world, but the system could use improvement.

Hertz – Not a retailer, but as a consumer facing business that offers receipts, they qualify.  Their site works very well, allowing search on drivers license and credit card numbers and are sortable by date.  Quite often you don’t want to wait at a travel counter for a receipt and you end up losing the paper anyway.  Very handy.

Nordstrom – I know Nordstrom is piloting a mobile devices, and I personally feel eReceipts are the best option for those devices to keep up throughput and to simplify the process.  Paper receipts are still available and always should be, as customers should always have that option if they want it.

Patagonia – One of the companies profiled in the NYT article, Patagonia began offering 9 months ago, with only one third of customers opting in.  Frankly, in my mind, removing one third of paper receipts is a significant impact to the business.

Sears / Kmart – In the US, the Sears organization has some leveraged some relatively forward thinking technology, and eReceipts are among those ideas.  Kmart is apparently offering electronic receipts as part of the Shop Your Way Rewards program.  I also have friends and colleagues that have opted for eReceipts at Sears in the US.

Whole Foods – Working with MyReceipts, some Whole Foods sites can now offer electronic receipts.   MyReceipts indicates it also supports electronic receipts for retailers including Wegmans, Office Depot, Best Buy, and Walmart.

I am a proponent of getting paper out of the equation given the number of shopping trips many of us complete in any given week.   I truly feel we can have an incredible impact on paper usage and cost in much the same way that we are impacting plastic bags – in Canada at least – the number of bags you see are way down. Personally, I think it would also help to unclutter everyone’s lives.  I already scan all of my paper receipts and paper mail and shred the rest.  This saves me a step and might make things slightly more searchable.

What are the potential challenges of moving to eReceipts?

Potential POS throughput impact – Asking every customer for an email address, mobile number or other unique identifier can slow down the queue in a store if not implemented correctly.  Allowing customers to connect their email address or eReceipt provider/account via their credit card number or loyalty card number on a retailer website or opting in at the POS once would minimize errors and ensure consistent POS throughput.  Ideally an NFC wallet that can provide payment and receipt functionality down the line would avoid the problem of registering altogether.

Receipts not provided – If an email addresses or other unique identifiers is entered incorrectly, this can cause complications and confusion for the customer – potentially around returns.  It is important to have a simple yet solid method to validate the correct path to deliver the receipt.  The other potential link in the chain is connectivity to the internet.  That concerns some, and yet I would argue that internet connectivity up-time seems to be pretty solid in most areas, and even if it goes down, the transactions can pile up and be sent when the store is online once more.

Shrink / Security Issues – Security has been simplified for years by just checking to see if customers had a shopping bag – secondary security check is a receipt.  With increasingly few customers carrying shopping bags, and now with no receipt, it can become more challenging for store staff or the Shrink team to identify thievery vs honest purchases with no receipt or bag.

Privacy – Of course the papers highlighted everyone’s concerns around privacy, but I have to ask what privacy they actually feel is being violated?  The credit card companies can see everything that you buy.  The retailers can already see your basket and know what you buy.  You are going to be targeted for advertising, so why not let it be for something you might actually want?  If it isn’t for what you want, there is always an opt out with all of these top tier retailers, and there are codes of ethics for marketing associations to not spam their customers – and it’s just bad business anyway.  I feel that this opens us up to a better world – imagine you need to return something and instead of digging through your George Costanza wallet to find your receipt you tell the customer service person your email address and approximate date of purchase.  Return done simply and without paper. Why are we still carrying this stuff?

Bottom line – I like eReceipts, and it’s going to happen.  There is value to the customer (convenience) and to the retailer (less paper logistics, no roll replacements, less paper work, no forged receipts) and for the environment (less garbage).  In the end, however, like all other consumer facing situations, it is all about choice and retailers should be sure to provide options, not requirements.  If customers don’t want an eReceipt – give them a paper receipt.

So who did I miss?  I know that there are various providers who provide an ereceipt capability to Mom & Pop stores, and small chains, but these are the big ones I know about.  Let me know who else has an eReceipt option – some online details to back it up would be appreciated  – and I’ll add them to the list.

[Note – if you truly want an eReceipt solution today across all your purchases, you can go the route I did – Purchase a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 or like product, and have the images automatically transferred online to Evernote via their PC client software.  Set a notebook for receipts, and off you go.  A fully searchable database of receipts that you can access from your Mac or PC, your tablet, your mobile device, or anywhere you have an internet connection.  Added bonus of no paper in your house!. – Inspired by Mark Fraunfelder via Boingboing]

Update 9/16 – @fornaom indicated Anthropologie, Banana Republic and Urban Outfitter provide eReceipt options.  I have also seen these online in various places.  Also confirmed through purchase that Gap banners are asking for email addresses, and when you use your credit card, they validate your email address with you on the pinpad so you get your email receipt.  Strangely I received both paper and email receipts.  This seems like a waste, but also know that debit/credit may require a paper receipt at least.

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