Every time I go shopping I end up with a pocket full of till receipts.

Aside from the few things I buy offline which are business related (as an IT consultant most physical things I buy are bought off the internet) these receipts invariably end up in the bin.

What a waste of paper.

Given that now, in the UK at least, we are largely a cashless society – how hard would it be for these receipts to simply be emailed?

When you sign up for a credit card you could optionally give an email address to which to send the receipts. For individuals this could be your home email address (but of course doesn’t have to be), and for business accounts this could be the address of your accountant – bam, no more hunting down lost till stubs on tax day!

For simple PDQ machines the receipt could be emailed by your card company so there won’t be anything extra to do. All that would be required is to suppress the printing of the customer copy and a little bit of education.

Itemised receipts like the ones you get at Tescos would require a little more work as it’d be the store’s back end process that would do the actual mailing. The email address itself however can easily be stored on the card’s chip and saved along with the receipt in the shop’s back end system for later mailing.

Apple, typically ahead of the curve (not unsurprising given their industry) do this already, but this requires an in store registration process – impractical for anything other than purchasing the occasional big ticket item.

Its now 2012 – why do I still have pockets full of useless bits of paper?

Just a thought.

Image “Receipts galore” by Smaku

6 thoughts on “Stop giving me little bits of paper!

  1. One of the coolest things I’ve seen lately is a Square receipt; at the point of sale you get to choose how the receipt is sent to you (if you want one). I hate paper – particularly as you often need to keep it, sometimes for years. Electronic receipts are the way forward, ideally in a way that allows you to easily collate everything you buy together.

  2. I, too, hate all the wee bits of paper! It’s time for a change. However, I doubt it will change quickly. Here’s hoping!

  3. Things paper receipts do well that electronic ones wouldn’t:

    * No, I’m not shop-lifting, you forgot to remove the tag; here’s my receipt.
    * I’d like to return this item.
    * Hang on, did they give me the right change? (Especialy people without smartphones.)

  4. Come on, Marcus, I wouldn’t think you to be the type to pass your email address out freely like that. I don’t want to give my email address out to every place I buy stuff from, just means they can track and spam me. If I do my usual thing of giving out a different email address to each store (if you own a domain and use catch-alls), it’s inconvenient to me.

    The better solution that I can think of is that the till plops up a QR code or does a bluetooth/IR thingy that your mobile picks up, using a one-way RRTP (Retail Receipt Transfer Protocol!) it gets your receipt details, flashes a confirmation of date, location and amount and you’re on your merry way. It doesn’t pass back the mobile phone number or IMEI, it doesn’t need to! It can be itemised, though the QR code method has its’ limits. They can add a URL or provide reader apps as they do now if you want to be marketed and tracked like a model citizen.

    You need to talk to Nick Clegg, since he seems adamant on making our checkouts greener with his 5p/bag charge!

  5. Hmm, well I generally view email addresses as public information these days, since I hand it out for business, it’s on my website, and spam is largely a solved problem these days (for me at least). There’s also no reason why your email address has to be “real”.

    QR codes probably won’t wash, since a lot of people don’t know what they are and they rely on you having a smart phone with you (I rarely carry my mobile around with me these days).

    I agree though that choice is important, so perhaps you could have on the last page of the checkout process two buttons – “Print receipt” and “Email receipt”

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