Tesco to Ask Shoppers, ‘Paper or Digital?’

Discussion
Nov 13, 2013

Tesco wants its shoppers to forgo paper, at least when it concerns receipts. According to a Daily Mirror report, the retailer is in talks with a vendor to roll out electronic receipts in its stores in the U.K. next year.

While some have questioned the security of using electronic receipts, arguing they leave merchants open to massive return fraud, the success of Apple and others has led retailers to consider the advantages of the technology. These include cost savings, a reduction in paper waste, greater consumer insights and added shopper engagement opportunities.

Lord Ian MacLaurin, who served as Tesco’s chairman from 1985 to 1997, leads eReceipts, the company reported to be in talks with the retailer about its electronic receipts program.

"We started it two years ago and it is accelerating away," Lord MacLaurin told the Mirror. "We’ve had successful trials and the future is very rosy."

In a Nov. 2012 RetailWire poll, 67 percent of respondents said they expect the majority of retail transactions to be confirmed with a electronic receipt within the next 10 years.

Do you support or oppose the use of electronic receipts at retail? Why?

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15 Comments on "Tesco to Ask Shoppers, ‘Paper or Digital?’"


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Frank Riso
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I do not oppose electronic receipts, but do like choice. If just a few items, digital. If the weekly shop, I would prefer paper. Some customers double check their purchases against the receipt and they would need paper before they leave the store. If every retailer had digital receipts, some shoppers would have to deal with more emails and would those emails also include additional offers? Call me old fashioned, but paper please.

Todd Sherman
Guest
Todd Sherman
8 years 6 months ago

I support electronic receipts because it’s easier, more convenient and very useful. And there’s no need to recycle.

(I assume we’re using the word “electronic” and not “digital” in the question as a nod to our UK brethren?)

In general, having a digital versions of any document makes them easier to track, find and use. They don’t clutter up a file (when they need to be retained for any reason) and can be quickly found, referenced and forwarded from any device I have (laptop, tablet or smartphone).

Specifically, I have used digital receipts from Apple, Nordstrom and Macy’s. And Amazon. I’ve often gone back to see which product/brand I purchased to help with the next purchase decision. Just last week I forwarded a digital receipt back to a manufacturer as part of a warranty claim. Smooth. Contrast that with a huge search and rescue effort a few months ago to find a paper receipt for the same purpose. That story didn’t end well. Lot’s of time and no joy.

Larry Negrich
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I guess the question is: will consumers accept the inevitable replacement of paper receipts with digital copies? Just as consumers eventually accepted automobiles over horse-drawn carriages, calculators over abaci, and, reluctantly, artificial turf over grass, consumers will welcome digital receipts initially as email and SMS and, eventually, into their digital wallets. Why? Progress spurred by convenience and practicality.

Allison Larsson
Guest
Allison Larsson
8 years 6 months ago

Putting on my consumer hat, I fully support the concept of electronic receipts. This weekend I moved into a new home and have made several subsequent trips to a local home improvement store. Thank goodness they gave me the option of having my receipt mailed to me, so that when I went in with a return, I didn’t have to dig through my purse or fear that I may have thrown away the receipt. It was right there on my smart phone.

Now any time I need to return something, I know I’ll always have my receipt in hand because I’ll always have my phone with me. For the retailer, this not only saves money on paper and printing, but it gives them an email address they might not have otherwise captured. The engagement possibilities from there are endless. And for the customer, it offers peace of mind and a lot less hassle in the long run – which is priceless! I see electronic receipts as a no-brainer in today’s world.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
8 years 6 months ago

On one hand I’m a big fan of e-receipts and see great value for me and my family in being able to manage receipts digitally in future. This could include automatic shopping list creation and management, household budgeting, offer and recommendation sourcing, even monetization!

For retailers that earn my trust (which includes Tesco) I would embrace this service, as I already do with some retailers that offer it!

On the other hand, with many retailers I would be very wary. I see lots of scope for retailers adopting models with e-receipt providers that provide a low-cost solution for the retailer in exchange for the e-receipt provider monetizing my data with companies and advertizers outside of my control.

Unfortunately there are too many retailers that love this swap of data for low-cost services, and for these retailers I would stick with paper!

There are also retailers I don’t care to provide my email or phone number to in the first place, and so if they were to adopt an e-receipt-only model, I may choose to shop elsewhere.

Lee Kent
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I absolutely support the use of electronic receipts! One of the reasons I am such an advocate has not even been mentioned here and that is the reduction of theft!

For at least the past two holiday seasons there have been numerous articles encouraging consumers to request e-receipts in order to reduce the enormous losses retailers incur from theft.

Now, if we could just opt out of the deluge of pesky, unwanted ads that may follow!

Steve Montgomery
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

The customer’s desire to get any form of receipt depends on the purchase. For those purchase where a receipt is wanted then I expect it will depend on what is being purchased, whether paper or digital.

The advantage of digital is that it is less likely to be lost (assuming you have a good electronic filing system). This might not have been true in the past, but with all the different backup systems available for a relatively low cost, even with a complete loss of local data you can still retrieve them.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I think the answer really hinges on how people actually use the receipts. In the case of returns, (as Frank noted) people who verify their totals, or people who simply don’t have access to email, paper would seem preferable; and as these groups likely aggregate to a large – or at least non-trivial – number, I would find it wise to at least keep the choice available for the time being.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
8 years 6 months ago

As a dyed-in-the-wool coupon guy (years with Catalina Marketing), my mind automatically leaps from electronic receipts to electronic coupons. Sure, this is nothing new, as Safeway’s smooth “just for U” program demonstrates brilliantly. But, as we have discussed here previously, CVS still prints yards of coupons on their receipt tapes. Would these coupons be delivered electronically along with CVS receipt information? One would hope so.

And Catalina’s Checkout Coupon program, plagued for years with disappointing redemption figures, could significantly benefit from electronic delivery of their offers. (They’re already working on this, by the way.)

Arie Shpanya
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

As mentioned by others, this is a great way to capture customer emails. We all know how important data is for any company and the benefits from acquiring that could be more significant than the cost savings.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
8 years 6 months ago

Matt Keylock mentions the issue of trust. It’s interesting that, at its core, a receipt is a physical or digital substitute for trust.

If you completely know and trust someone, and you each know what you bought, when, and for how much, then a receipt is unnecessary. You only need a receipt if (1) you don’t know each other, (2) you don’t trust each other, or (3) neither of you will be able to remember the details of a transaction. So it’s amusing that we’re talking about trusting a retailer to not abuse the channel they use to send you a substitute for you trusting them.

To the actual question, though: yes, I think digital receipts are great. But like anything, they can be misused, so consumers will turn away from retailers that abuse their trust and turn a convenience into a spam vehicle.

Arun Channakrishnaiah
Guest
Arun Channakrishnaiah
8 years 6 months ago

In theory, most people would prefer e-receipts. It is just more convenient. However, there will not be too much adoption if the customer has to provide their personal info (email IDs, etc.) since retailers can (and will) use it beyond the same itself (to push offers, request survey participation, etc.). Perhaps a non-intrusive solution (Can the e-receipt be recorded by the bank that issued the card, as part of the settlement transaction? Can the retailer push the e-receipt into common service such as Google Wallet or Apple Passbook?) will increase adoption?

Liz Crawford
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I love e-receipts! When I get these from a Square (mobile) transaction, I can save them in an email folder for later use in expense reports.

Additionally, from a regular shopper trip mission standpoint, e-receipts are great for budgeting purposes. One can easily track purchases in terms of basket rings, retailer, etc. While that is also possible with credit card transactions, it useful to be able to save and file receipts. Finally, you can’t beat them for convenience and sustainability.

While e-receipts are convenient for shoppers, the real driver behind this trend over time, will be alternate payment methods, such as PayPal (in bricks & mortar), smartphone and mobile payments, and bio-identity payments. All of these payment methods will be easier to document digitally – and that will ultimately close the era of paper receipts.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I think digital receipts are a great idea. To those customers who are trying to control expenses, I think retailers who offer this option would over time, become their shopping destination of choice.

Pamela DeLoatch
Guest
Pamela DeLoatch
8 years 6 months ago

I’m asked that at more and more places – just recently at Office Max. If I want to carefully review the receipt, I’ll want paper. If I think I want to return an item right away, paper. If I’m buying an item in advance (say for a gift), electronic. And for inexpensive purchases, (non-healthy snacks from Walgreens) – neither.

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