A How-To Guide For eReceipts

You’ve been there before, on the losing end of what seems like the world’s longest Full walletreceipt for the shortest order possible. It’s the point-of-sale equivalent of an appliance box used to ship a tube of toothpaste.

If you need further proof, just check out the Twitter parody account @CVS_Receipt. With the holidays in full swing, expect to hear a lot more requests for your email address at the register.

More than ever, retailers are offering a digital receipt option to their customers. Some estimates show between 35 and 40 percent of retailers offer eReceipts as an option, with an increasing number of banks doing the same.

While this offers great benefits to retailers, if done poorly or incorrectly there is a downside — from legal issues to missed opportunities. The following are four key issues companies instituting eReceipts should be aware of:

  1. Gift Purchase. Oftentimes, an eReceipt not only contains the description of the items purchased, but also images. If the email address on file is a shared one in a household (including the gift recipient), be aware that the surprise of the gift may be short-lived. Train sales staff to advise customers (especially at the holiday times) that if the email address is shared with the recipient, there is a risk that the gift will be exposed to them.
  2. Loss/Fraud Prevention. Any digital documentation offers easier than normal ability for manipulation. This is typically addressed through the creation of a unique barcode for that transaction. Altering or forging such a receipt element is rather onerous and minimizes risk here.
  3. Accuracy Of Email Address. This should go without saying, but the keying in of the email address is really important. In fact, it’s better left to the consumer to do themselves if possible. Point-of-sale email capture inaccuracies can lead to major issues, including deliverability (through high bounce rates or complaint rates) and customer frustrations (through eReceipts never received).
  4. Compliance. This is a transactional message and should be treated as such.  While this is an excellent touch-point to leverage for marketing list growth, the opt-in to such messages should be explicit (again, optimally with the consumer checking a box on the screen into which they are entering their email address). This will be a highly engaged message (i.e., people will read it) so it’s tempting to fill it with marketing and promotional content. CAN-SPAM requires that the primary purpose of the email be transactional (there’s no magic formula here, though) so be sure that is the case. Also make sure that the top of the message is predominantly transactional and that the marketing (up-sell, cross-sell) message appears later.

This begs the question about the anatomy of an eReceipt. What are the must-have components to maximize the real estate in this valuable message?

  1. Subject Line. It should clearly indicate that this is an eReceipt. Examples here are “Your eReceipt from Brand X” or “Your In-store Receipt from Store X Michigan Avenue.”
  2. Logo. The logo at the top of the message is important for immediate recognition. This implies that the message is HTML and not a text replication of the paper receipt that gives a circa 2005 feel.
  3. Recognition/Thanks. Keep any acknowledgement and appreciation short and sweet. Some retailers skip this messaging all together; however, I don’t think it’s ever a bad practice to thank a customer for their purchase.
  4. Billing Basics. These are the typical elements associated with any paper receipt – unique bar code for the transaction, store location, sales associate information, payment details such as last 4 digits of the credit card, and date/time of purchase. This is the heart of the typical paper receipt. Bonus here for including an icon that produces a printer friendly version of the receipt for those who want to print it later.
  5. Product Details. This is key information for the customer – image(s) of product(s) purchased, product details, price and discounts received. Consider including a link to easily enable a customer to post the item to Facebook or Pinterest as well as a link to review the item online.
  6.  Store Experience Poll. If you seek out feedback regarding the in-store experience, a one click “rate your experience” poll on a 1-5 rating scale is an easy way to capture this information. It can be tied to store goals even.
  7. Cross-sell Message. You know what the customer just bought and you should know what others like them have bought next. Use that information in this message to dynamically serve three or four other products the customer might be interested in. If that level of sophistication isn’t available, then promote a selection of your most popular items (just make sure to suppress items that the customer just bought).
  8. Current Promotion. Often times, there’s a seasonal promotion going on and a simple, unobtrusive banner may run toward the bottom of the message. This won’t generate near the revenue as a well-informed cross-sell, but still worth considering including.
  9. Standard Terms & Conditions. Common for any eReceipt, this includes details surrounding return policies, perhaps a link to the privacy policy, and any other standard footer information that is required.
  10. Format. Responsive design is ideal. This message is commonly viewed on a mobile device (remember — they are in the store!) so it should be as easy to read as possible.

Use this valuable touch-point to expand your relationship with your customer. Just be sure to do it with forethought and data, and the experience will be a win-win for everyone!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Email Marketing | Email Marketing Column


About The Author: has been in the digital marketing space since 1997 when he started at one of the first email marketing companies in the marketplace -- Mercury Mail. He's been addicted to email marketing ever since working on both the product and consulting sides of the fence. Currently Clint serves as the Senior Director of Digital Strategy at Responsys where he helps inform and impact client's digital interactions with their customers.

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