Electronic receipts, or eReceipts, are purchase confirmations sent to the customer’s email address. Retail giants like Apple, Macy’s and Old Navy offer them to their customers. The technology is gaining ground – the National Retail Federation estimates that digital receipts will be adopted and offered by 60 percent of retailers by 2016 – but some businesses are hesitant to implement, worrying that customers will not be receptive to the new receipt form.
Why? Many businesses have found that a significant percentage of their customers still prefer to receive printed receipts. For example, L.L. Bean estimated that 30 percent of its customers prefer eReceipts because they find them to be more convenient than paper ones; however, that still leaves 70 percent of its customer base preferring printed receipts or a combination of both.
So how can businesses distinguish those who prefer printed receipts from those who prefer to receive them by email? Consumers in their thirties and older, especially, have used printed receipts to track their purchases and transactions for decades, so it is likely that they prefer paper. On the other hand, younger consumers, or the “millennial” generation that makes up about a third of consumers, might prefer to use eReceipts or a combination of both – after all, they are more accustomed to using digital technology and tend to be more environmentally conscious.
So to appeal to a diverse customer base with differentiating preferences, businesses should offer both receipt options. Today’s businesses already know that paper receipts are necessary, but many are unaware of the benefits that come with eReceipts. Here are a few:
1. Acquire new customers
According to a recent Epsilon study, email acquisition for list growth was the primary motivator for using eReceipts for 83 percent of respondents. Receipts aren’t just a record of a customer’s transaction, they’re an opportunity. When a customer chooses to sent email receipts, businesses can ask them to opt in to other marketing emails. Imagine how many customers could be added to an email list that way – sending targeted emails is a great way for restaurants and retail stores to acquire new customers.
2. Market and remarket
eReceipts can be used for marketing and remarketing purposes whether the customer opts in to a mailing list or not. Promotional content – such as similar products, accessory suggestions, ratings and reviews – can be included in both eReceipt emails and promotional email blasts. In fact, a 2013 Experian study examined 12 brands using eReceipts and found that more consumers open eReceipts (33.7 percent) than bulk promotional mailings (16.2 percent).
Including such content in eReceipt emails gives customers a clear path to continue their shopping or dining experience on your website, providing a multichannel experience that cannot be gleaned from a paper-based transaction. In eReceipt emails, businesses can even invite customers to engage with their brand on social media to build their following.
3. Track customer habits and create customer data profiles
By communicating through email, businesses can gain valuable customer information such as age, location and buying habits. They can then use that information to make their future emails more valuable for their recipients and suggest purchases that the customer is more likely to be interested in.
When customers opt-in to your mailing list after receiving desirable offers along with their eReceipts, then it’s a customer loyalty program made simple. There’s no need for punch cards or coupons – promotions can be sent directly to customers via email, ensuring they don’t miss out on a deal or discount that will be of interest to them. For instance, it makes sense for a restaurant to send a “girls’ night” drink promotion to female customers, rather than its entire customer database.
By offering both printed receipts and eReceipts, restaurants and retail stores can’t go wrong – customers are able to receive receipts in their preferred form and managers will be able to build their customer base.