Paper receipts fall out of favor as businesses turn to email
Nancy Beyer left the women's apparel checkout counter at the Macy's in Ross Park Mall on Tuesday without her receipt.
No problem. It would be home in O'Hara before she was — and on her mobile device.
E-mailed receipts, instead of printed ones, are becoming the preferred proof of purchase for more retailers and shoppers these days, retailing experts say.
Eight of 25 major retailers, or about one-third, said they offer customers the option of receiving receipts by email, according to a survey by market researcher Epsilon last fall.
“Whatever store offers it, I do it,” said Beyer, who is in her 50s. She first opted for electronic over paper at Nordstrom about a year ago “to save trees,” she said.
“It was really born out of our company's sustainability strategy,” said Macy's spokesman Jim Sluzewski in Cincinnati. “And one of those objectives is to use less paper in every part of the company.”
Other retailers adopting the practice include Sears, Old Navy, Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters and the Gap. The new wrinkle in receipts includes Marriott Hotels and Wells Fargo Bank, for automated teller machine (ATM) receipts.
South Side-based American Eagle Outfitters does not offer electronic receipts, said spokeswoman Stephanie Oschwald. PNC Bank's advanced-function ATMs do not provide that option, but the bank is evaluating it, said spokesman Patrick McMahon.
“For the most part, it's your big-box retailers, but it's grown to mid-tier retailers, too,” said Pam McAtee, senior vice president of client services at Epsilon, an arm of Alliance Data Systems Corp. in Dallas.
“I've been doing this whenever it's offered,” said Nicole Orlando, 38, after purchasing apparel at Macy's in Ross Park.
“I can pull it up on my email, and it helps me organize things,” said Orlando, who began spurning paper receipts about two years ago.
The first company to adopt electronic receipts was Apple at its retail stores in 2005.
Retailers have several reasons to email receipts, rather than issue paper ones, experts say.
“The primary reason we've heard is better customer satisfaction,” McAtee said.
“Some retailers also like it for the opportunity to cross-sell” related merchandise, McAtee said. “Because the receipt is in an email format, it can link back to the company's website.”
Macy's piloted electronic receipts in about 50 markets in fall 2011. E-receipts fanned out across all its stores in February, March and April. About 12 percent of Macy's 20 million account holders choose e-receipts.
“That's a lot of folks and a lot of paper,” Sluzewski said.
John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., said e-receipts represent an environmentally friendly strategy for retailers, a cost savings and a better customer experience.
“It's certainly greener,” Talbott said. “It saves printer ink and paper. And we all know what it's like to be in line at the store when the register tape runs out or malfunctions.”
Experts say consumers can keep better track of purchases with e-receipts, and returning merchandise is easier for customers with mobile devices.
But e-receipts are not for everyone.
“I prefer paper receipts because I can keep track of them easier,” said Macy's shopper Jen Hartman, 38, of Cranberry Township. “A paper receipt can't get lost in all the email I get.”
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached a 412-320-7854 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consumer, core prices inch up
- Highmark seeks double-digit increase for more benefits, heavy use
- Air-bag deaths draw scrutiny of Congress as recalls widen
- SEC approves looser mortgage lending guidelines
- FedEx investing another $1.2B in growth projects at FedEx Ground in Moon
- Nervous investors crunch stocks
- Natrona Bottling Co. keeps soda pop operation focused on craft, taste
- Rural communities can’t shake effects of subprime crisis
- EDMC loses $664M; executives receive six-figure bonuses
- Aesynt CEO gets technology council honors
- Calgon Carbon poised for explosive growth