The Revolution Quietly Happening on the High Street: e-Receipts

Tesco reported last November that it is in talks with the technology company eReceipts to replace its paper till slips with an email alternative. A number of UK retailers are already on the bandwagon offering e-receipts including Monsoon, Aldo, Joy, French Connection, The Fragrance Shop, Accessorize and northern grocer Booths, writes David Parker

Tesco reported last November that it is in talks with the technology company eReceipts to replace its paper till slips with an email alternative. A number of UK retailers are already on the bandwagon offering e-receipts including Monsoon, Aldo, Joy, French Connection, The Fragrance Shop, Accessorize and northern grocer Booths, writes David Parker

For Tesco alone it could replace some of the 11.2bn paper receipts it prints at its checkouts every year.

There is a strong financial incentive, too, with it being reported that retailers can save up to £5 per 1,000 transactions, while using less paper. Lord MacLaurin, chairman of an e- receipts start up commented that: "There’s a certain inevitability about e-receipts."
If we look to the US, a number of the largest chains have offered e-receipt options for a while. They include: Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap. In fact, just over a third of large American retailers offer digital e-receipts, and half of those do so at all their stores – according to a survey of 3,900 retailers released in 2013 by marketing firm Epsilon.

There is also a strong consumer demand for digital receipts. Accenture reports that in the US/Canada, 60% of those who use their smartphone to make payments would use it more if they could track receipts.

Europe’s Advanced Payments industry report reflects the same view. Participating professionals expect that e-Receipts will be the third most used service by consumers.

But what impact does this have for banks?

When talking to bankers about their business, and especially commercial card bankers, the talk is often about how they would like to get "level 3/line item data." In Europe this would be like leapfrogging to nirvana, given today’s limited merchant participation in enhanced data platforms.

In the US, American Express has launched a mobile app that uses the on-board camera to snap and store receipts for later reconciliation with account statements Chase has launched Jot, which associates a photographed receipt image with a payment transaction.

Now it looks like the next wave of technology is upon us. While both of the previous solutions just capture the image, new companies are launching services that automatically extract/read the data from the actual receipts – whether physical or digital. They are in effect creating a receipt data vault for users; a place where all of their receipts are automatically stored. Companies offering these services in one way or another include: Expensify, Itemize, Neat Receipts, ShoeBoxed, and Concur.

Some of the solutions allow receipts once captured, to be tagged by project or event. That makes it easy for a business to run reports on specific activities, or for a consumer to find their partner’s favourite perfume again at some future date. Some of the solutions also allow for automatic reorder of previously purchased goods – which in the case of ordering regular home and office supplies is much easier and time effective. Given the recent floods in the UK there are many consumers who may have wished they had had more of their receipts digitally stored as the insurance companies come asking for proof of purchases.

But these are all user benefits, what is the impact on the bank? I would suggest that marketing potential is massive.
The bank has the potential to see not just expenditure on its own cards, but on other banks/issuers cards. They can even see expenditure on wallets and with cash; they thus can for the first time really get a 360 view of a customer’s expenditure.
And perhaps more importantly understand their product’s role within that overall wallet expenditure.