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Should my business offer email receipts?

31 January 2020 Small Business Advice

You may have noticed that email receipts, more commonly known as e-receipts or electronic receipts have been rolled out across a number of large retail stores in the UK. In fact, some retailers adopted digital receipts as long ago as 2013. But why exactly? What are the benefits and should small and medium businesses follow suit? 

In this post, we outline the basics as well as looking into some of the benefits and risks of implementing e-receipts for businesses.

What are e-receipts?

The clue is in the name with this one. Put simply, e-receipts are digital receipts that are sent to customers electronically via an email address, instead, or as well as, offering them a traditional paper copy. E-commerce sites send email confirmation of your order and a receipt of purchase, now bricks and mortar stores are doing the same.

The benefits of email receipts

In order to decide whether it’s worth offering digital receipts, you first need to evaluate the advantages for your business. What would it cost, and what would your potential ROI be over time? Below are the general benefits that all businesses would receive when rolling out a paperless system.

 Digital receipts are environmentally friendly

Less paper is always better when it comes to practicing sustainability and receipt paper is probably one of the easiest things for business owners to cut out of their day-to-day running.  

But cutting down on paper isn’t the only environmental benefit of digital receipts. It’s a lesser known fact that unless specified, merchant receipts from card machines contain BPA (Bisphenol A) chemicals that are both harmful to the earth and our own health, if dealt with excessively.

They’re cost efficient

While saving the environment, you’re also saving a few pounds, which can go pretty far as a small business owner. Although it’s best practice to keep till rolls to offer customers a hard-copy of their receipt should they wish, you’ll definitely see that as consumers become digital-first, you’ll need a lot fewer per month.

They’re convenient

Most demographics now have access to a smartphone, and therefore their emails on the move. Instead of worrying about clogging wallets, purses, or jean pockets, proof-of purchase is now all in one easy place.

They can help with a positive customer experience

Customer experience should be at the heart of everything you do, and while e-receipts will most certainly benefit you as a business owner, they should also help make customers’ lives easier. 

When offering a refund, it’s a common policy for proof-of-purchase, which can sometimes cause contentions between cashiers and customers. Offering your customers a digital receipt minimises the risk of them losing it, and therefore your need to navigate a situation that may potentially annoy them, it’s a win win.

E-receipts are the perfect marketing opportunity

Gaining customers emails should no longer be an e-commerce only goal for retailers, after all, research shows that the bigger spenders tend to still shop in bricks and mortar stores

Email marketing is a crucial channel for retaining loyal customers, and if you’re a smaller business without endless marketing budget it’s probably the cheapest and quickest way to keep customers engaged with your brand. By taking an email for their receipt, you have the option to ask customers for their consent to opt into marketing.

Key stats to know about email marketing before diving in:

  • Go mobile first: over half (53%) of emails are opened on smartphones
  • Get personal: emails that are personalised have 6x higher transaction rates
  • Channel is important: 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content via email, as opposed to just 17% who prefer social media 

How can you engage with customers after they’ve converted? 

  •  When signing up customers for marketing (email marketing must be consensual) ask them what they’d like to receive offers on
  • Without bombarding or spamming customers, send tailored promotions and updates to them based on their previous purchases
  • Use email to leverage offline activities e.g. let your customers know when you’ve got new stock arrivals or in-store only sales

The cons of email receipts

The benefits of digital receipts out way the cons, however there are a few risks and things to be aware of to protect your business, and your customers, before you go paperless.

GDPR concerns

The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR for short was introduced in 2018 in an attempt to modernise laws to protect the general public’s personal data and more importantly how it’s handled. 

It now holds companies accountable for how they manage, store and handle their customer’s personal data— this can be anything from their email address to their name, gender or age. Companies that misuse, manipulate, sell or use customers’ personal data fail to comply with GDPR laws and can be prosecuted with hefty fines. 

Here’s how to stay compliant when collecting and using email marketing:

  • Be transparent and honest: when asking a customer for their email to send their receipt make sure you tell them they will not receive any marketing emails unless they opt in for them
  • Don’t spam: only send emails that are totally necessary and of value to your customers, if you’ve already hit them up that week, wait until next week to check back in
  • Give them freedom: you now need to allow your customers to unsubscribe to any emails you send with the click of a button. If you’re using platforms such as Mailchimp this is something already taken care of. You can read more about their GDPR measures here

Cyber security concerns

As well as staying GDPR compliant, although at less-risk, small businesses should still be wary of cybercrime. Emails are often linked to bank accounts and are easily hacked. 

With the recent news of data breaches across big companies such as BA and Uber, consumers are rightly concerned about what companies are doing to protect their precious, and lucrative information. Make sure you’re storing emails in a safe system and remember to keep on-top on updates, credentials and user-permissions.

Human errors

Security aside, there are some more practical and obvious cons of implementing digital receipts in your small business in the day-to-day. When the queue is out the door and customers are already waiting to be served, the last thing you need is to increase their waiting time, by asking for, and then manually keying in emails on your EPoSSpelling mistakes are bound to happen and therefore customers may end up leaving the shop with no proof of purchase at all. 

One way of remedying this issue, and something which Uniqlo have mastered, is to have iPads or tablets on the end of tills, to allow customers to input their email address themselves, whilst the cashier can process their transaction. This not only eradicates mistakes but speeds up the whole process.

 A digital first future

Overall, digital receipts are a great way to improve your business’ sustainability, while also giving you the opportunity to remarket your target customers with relevant and meaningful content. Given the opportunity, all small businesses should opt to be digital-savvy and offer e-receipts, but be prepared to also give some more traditional customers a hard copy too. 

Paymentsense are here to help small businesses take cards at ease, without worrying about high transaction fees, payment settlements or integration. We even connect seamlessly with your EPoS, so you’ll never make a keying-in mistake again! 

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