The Retailer Spring Edition 2022
THE RE TA I L ER
TURN PAPER RECEIPTS DIGITAL TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE BOTTOM LINE
Natasha Abel Head of Retail Flux
R etailers spend millions printing non-re cyclable paper receipts, but why? Digital receipts are better for shoppers — and sustainability objectives.
for the UK; equivalent to London’s Hyde Park, 65 times over. And a retailer performing 250,000 transactions a week produces a carbon footprint of 325,000 kg of CO2 on paper receipts alone. If we put that into a currency we’re all much more familiar with today, it’s the same as producing 32,500,000 plastic carrier bags. No wonder conscious consumers are frustrated with retailers’ mixed messaging.
Being a green business is often easier said than done. Especially when you get pushback from senior execs about embracing sustainable prac tices; ‘If it costs more than what we’re doing today, what’s the ROI?’ you may hear them ask. And so CSR leaders are leftwalking a tight rope — trying to find ways of working that help protect the futurewellbeing of planet Earth, movewith changing customer expectations, and grow the business’s bottom line, It’s a lot to take on. But sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most powerful: what would happen if we stopped wasting resources and squandering margins by replacing paper receipts with digital ones? ers aren’t doing enough.” ‘‘ Paper receipts carry high costs while adding very little value According to Zurich , 75% of consumers want brands to help them live more sustainably but are UK retail businesses doing all that they can to deliver? It doesn’t seem that way when it comes to receipts. Take a look on social media and you’ll see shoppers calling out a number of UK retailers for continuing to produce paper receipts as standard — and, sometimes, not even offering an opt-out. “Your self checkout’s new software no longer gives opt out of paper receipt. This is a waste of resources and environmentally damaging. Please acknowledge and respond for comment.” one Twitter user wrote back in 2019 in relation to a top UK supermarket. This is just one example. It’s possible, even probable, that many UK retailers haven’t grasped the positive impact on the environment, costs, and customer experience, a move away from paper receipts would deliver. It’s estimated that at least £32 million is spent printing receipts each year. Over 200,000 trees are felled each year to create paper receipts 75% of consumers want brands to help them live more sustainably. But UK retail
Shoppers are ready for a better receipt experience We touched on the emotive response shoppers havewith paper receipts in 2022, but these little slips of, mostly non-recyclable, paper don’t work in practice either. 90% of paper receipts are lost, thrown away or become too faded to use. So how do we redesign receipts for a sustainable future? One idea is to email a digital receipt to shoppers, asking for their email address at the checkout. Another is to make not printing a paper receipt the default — asking shoppers to opt-in, rather than out, just like the hospitality industry did with straws. But neither of these solutions is perfect. Asking shoppers to provide their email address at the till is time-consuming, risking both the customer experience and the retailer’s sales. Research shows that long lines at the grocery checkout reduce basket sizes , so adding more friction to the checkout process can’t be the way to go. Opt-in strategies are already rolling out across many self-checkout tills in the UK, but that still leaves shoppers without the required paperwork to facilitate returns or keep a track of spending.
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