Receipts are no fun. Even when you need a receipt, you’ll never find it (it’s somehow crammed with that other clutter under the drivers’ seat of your car… or is it in the pocket of those pants you donated to Goodwill?). A lot of the time, they’re just thrown away as unnecessary waste.
The paperless alternative, however, has made strong headway. Stores like Whole Foods, Kmart, Patagonia, Nordstrom, and Apple now offer emailed-receipts as an alternative to paper. There are quite a few reasons to make the switch, and it’s a question of when, not if, digital receipts will become mainstream.
1) The environment matters.
In the United States, paper receipts consume 9.6 million trees, 115 million gallons of gas, and one billion gallons of water per year. They also create over a billion pounds of trash. Paper waste aids deforestation, while landfill waste emits CO2 emissions that significantly damage the ozone layer. As a side note, there is concern that BPA, a chemical found in the thermal paper of receipts, can pass through the skin on contact and lead to health problems.
2) It’s smart business.
On a basic level, digital receipts allow companies to reduce costs over time and increase efficiency at the register. Getting happier customers and saving some money, about a cent per receipt, adds up. On another note, digital receipts give companies access to data about consumers, which allows them to target specific segments based on purchase history. For some consumers, giving away this kind of data feels sketchy or unnerving. On the other hand, companies can advertise or discount products you might actually want, instead of sending generic, and annoying as hell, email blasts.
3) It's better for consumers.
You can easily lose a paper receipt, or hundreds of them, and if you do keep them, they’ll clutter your wallet and desk drawers. Digital receipts allow you to file your business expense reports and return items without hunting down slips of paper for hours. In fact, the average business person spends 7 work days a year dealing with and reporting receipts. Now you can easily search your inbox, and be sure your records won’t be lost. Companies will cater to customers’ preferences.
We’re moving towards digital on all fronts. According to USA today, over 35% of retailers already offer digital receipts. Mobile apps, like Split, are naturally linked to digital receipts and follow the paperless trail.