Paperless Receipts to Cut Retail Transaction Times
It is 2014! Why Do we Still Need Hard-copy Receipts?
In a decade which has bought us smartphones, cloud computing and space tourism, one PR consultant asks – why do we as consumers, still wait helplessly at a counter while a retailer shop assistant scrambles to clear a blocked receipt printer, or replace a role of paper?
How long would you estimate it adds to your shopping time while you wait for two receipts to be printed? An additional 30-60 seconds perhaps? We as consumers and retailers have lived with this unwelcome delay in our shopping lives for years.
As much as it is an inconvenience for consumers, the aggregated delay for retailers is even more considerable – no doubt equating to hundreds of man hours a year across busy outlets such as supermarkets. The impact on their marketing and customer service levels is equally as dramatic as painfully slow printers etch out a hard copy record of our purchases.
The reality is consumers can’t demand a technology unless they know it exists.
Kiwi Paperless Innovation Leading the Way
Innovative tech companies like Optimizer HQ (a client of this PR consultant) have recently introduced the concept with their Swipe Reader tool. The New Zealand developed device which has now been launched in Europe and Asia allows retailers to transact via a small credit card reader attached to a mobile phone.
A merchant simply swipes/inserts the credit card, enters the purchase price and consumers confirm via pin or a finger written signature on the phone. The receipt is sent by email or SMS to the customer with no paper required – smart.
The signature or pin entry creates a lower fraud risk ‘card present’ transaction helping keep retailer costs down.
The convenience of the new process offers time saving for consumers but even more so for businesses as the paperless receipt can be uploaded straight into their cloud accounting system such as Xero (via add on services such as Receipt Bank).
Banking Politics, more than Technology Creating Hurdle
While the more cumbersome mainstream industry banking industry in New Zealand is rumoured to be currently wading through the political mire required to get retail POS and inventory systems, credit card merchant terminals, and credit card providers to play amicably enough with each other to make this technology more feasible, the reality is that this remains another service which we as consumers and businesses should have had some time ago but didn’t know enough about to ask.
Paperless transactions offer not just time savings but better cost analysis capabilities.
With the creation of the paperless receipt comes valuable data. This data which is often mined by loyalty card companies, has useful applications for consumers and businesses as they can itemise not just how much is spent at a particular retail outlet such as a supermarket but how much is spent on specific items over a time period.
Identifying items purchased frequently in high volumes allows consumers to make better budgeting decisions and businesses to negotiate bulk pricing.
The future for paperless receipts offers added value services which help customers better understand their purchasing patterns and potentially provide linkages to better pricing.
In the opinion of this New Zealand PR consultant (and business owner) it cannot come too soon.