Paper Receipts vs. Electronic Receipts - Episode 1

14 April 2011 05:37 PM CDT

This shall be the first in a series of posts on receipts. Don't get too excited - I know it sounds absolutely thrilling :)

Here's the deal. I'm a meticulous person. I'm the guy that always asks for a receipt - I don't care if it's a donut, paperclips, or a brand new television - I want my receipt. I like having a record, both as a financial record and as a journal of what I was doing / acquiring. I like how they actually have quite a bit of data on them - time, date, location, store, items purchased, method of payment, rebates, warranties, etc.

The problem, of course, is all those pesky, annoying, bunched up, paper receipts. They get stuck in your wallet, in your wife's purse, in your pants pockets, in your jackets - they end up all over the place. So, I started brainstorming with a buddy and we couldn't help but ask, why hasn't this been digitized? You can get a PDF receipt emailed to you if you buy anything at the Apple store. Why can't others offer this? Or, better asked, why aren't they doing this? It seems like it would be easy to implement, would offer better customer tracking/loyalty opportunities, and would be cost effective (no more paper receipts, printers, rolls of paper, etc.). In subsequent posts I'll talk about companies that offer paperless receipts, service providers that digitize receipts for you, and hardware manufacturers who sell receipt scanning equipment for personal use. Of course, none of those companies would matter if the retailers themselves offered a electronic/digital solution.

So, here's where I end my first post. Congratulations and kudos to Wells Fargo! I needed cash tonight so stopped at a Wells Fargo to hit the ATM. I was a little surprised that at the end of my transaction there was the option to have my ATM receipt emailed to my email address on file. Cool! I opted to go paperless and within seconds had a digital copy on my iPhone. One less piece of paper, one more piece of data, and one happy customer. I look forward to more pleasant surprises from innovative and forward thinking retailers and service providers.