E-Receipts: Expert Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

In my previous posts of this blog series, I considered the benefits of sending e-receipts, looked at the do’s and don’ts, and reviewed some best practice examples. In my final post of the series, I’ve teamed up with Andrew CarrollEdward Drax and Matthew Ayres from Yocuda, a leading provider of e-receipt solutions, and we’ll be sharing our collective tips, thoughts, and insights!

Yocuda’s Top 5 tips for getting started

  1. Understanding the value of data: Make sure your business understands e-receipt data because, without this understanding, you’ll simply collect data that will sit in your CRM system, contributing nothing to your bottom line. Therefore, when you’re starting out, make sure that you set out to collect, analyze, and use the data to add value to your business.
  2. Business sponsor/buy-in: In order for e-receipts to be considered and implemented across the business, it’s fundamental to have a sponsor in the business. It’s also critical to have someone with director level influence that will take ownership and understand the benefits it provides. Retailers have a lot on their plate. If your business understands the power of data, and you have a director level sponsor, you’ll be off to a very good start.
  3. Pilot testing: Whether you have tens or hundreds of stores, conduct a pilot test before rolling out e-receipts. The pilot test provides an opportunity to bed in the technology, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to confirm that the workflow is correct and that staff is appropriately trained. Retailers who extract the most value from providing e-receipts are those who have a well-trained staff—it doesn’t matter how good the technology is if the staff isn’t offering e-receipts or doesn’t sell their benefits.
  4. Start slow and simple: Conducting surveys, gathering product recommendations, low-friction returns process, etc. are all great added-value benefits of e-receipts, but if you are a beginner, concentrate on getting the basics right. Get the ball rolling by having a system in place, get staff used to asking for email addresses as part of the in-store transaction, focus on accurately capturing data, and once you’re seeing a 60-80 percent conversion rate, start to optimize your e-receipt!
  5. Find a good e-receipt supplier: e-receipt technology is still fairly new, and retailers who are considering using the technology may not fully understand the technology. When choosing a provider, it is important to not only consider price but choose a provider that has experience and is able to provide additional functionality as your use of the technology develops. This makes integration, optimization, and future development a lot easier and could save you resources, time, and money in the long run by reducing the risk of needing to change providers in the future!

I asked Yocuda some questions about implementing e-receipts

How much do you need to get involved with the training process?
Yocuda offers training documentation alongside their in-house training team who can provide one-day training sessions for store managers. Training is paramount when you’re implementing e-receipts because your in-store staff serves as the front line in promoting them.

What about the timeframe for implementation?
Yocuda conducts a discovery exercise, takes input from IT, retail operations, finance, marketing, and insights to provide an ETA for integration. Depending on the retailer’s resources, an average integration may take between two to four months, but Yocuda has helped retailers get set up in as soon as four weeks when they have the available resources.

How do returns work when a retailer uses e-receipts?
To process refunds when presented with an e-receipt, retailers can use scanning devices to read directly from a device or they can manually type in the receipt number. Customers love this because it means they don’t need to print out their receipts!

In my research, I expected to find more retailers using product hyperlinks. Why do you think they’re not?
Adding product hyperlinks is not as simple as you may think and it’s mainly due to legacy systems. For example, the retailer often needs a product SKU number rather than a product name to relate it to a link, and this SKU would need to be surfaced in the transaction data or matched to a description in the back end. So while product links may seem like basic functionality, it may not be as easy to implement if the retailer doesn’t have the necessary data available.

How would you recommend a retailer raises awareness of e-receipts?
Invest in staff training. In-store collateral, apps, email campaigns, and printed receipts are all ways to help promote e-receipts, but we think the key focus is the staff in your store because they are on the front-line. You must ensure they ask for email addresses in an intelligent way (e.g., “we send receipts via email, would you like one”) and make it become a part of the standard transaction process. Yocuda also offers a mystery shopping service for their clients, so they’re able to provide feedback and advice to improve the process.

What’s the one key thing to have in mind when designing an e-receipt?
Test the HTML design to ensure that it renders as expected across different email clients, devices, and browsers. In addition, the information you add should be helpful to your customers so consider things like product links, aftercare information, guarantee & warranty, etc. – e-receipts should enhance a customer’s shopping experience. For example, Argos worked with Yocuda to provide support content (e.g., Television set up guides) in their e-receipts, which also helped reduce return rates.

What is your opinion on adding e-receipt captured email addresses to your marketing data?
Is it very important for the interest of both your customer and email deliverability that e-receipt and marketing opt-ins are kept separate. As we’d hope, Yocuda recommends not adding e-receipt opt-ins to your marketing database without actively asking the customer if they wish to opt-in to marketing messages. If you want to grow your marketing list, you should follow best practices and train your staff to follow up with something like “By the way, we send weekly updates and promotions via email – would you like to sign-up?”.

If a retailer sells low-value items, do they need a different strategy because customers may not be interested in receiving e-receipts?
Yocuda develops strategies that are best suited for each retailer they work with.  Amongst its customers, Yocuda has seen good capture rates for average baskets as low as £10-£15, proving that purchases do not need to be high value to warrant an e-receipt. However, if you sell food and drinks, for example, customers may be less interested in receiving an e-receipt, so rather than asking them about email receipts, consider driving adoption with a loyalty proposition. Purchase data can then be captured each time the card is swiped.

What we see in Return Path’s data
E-receipts are still fairly new within the retail sector. When I look at Return Path’s Inbox Insight data I see many subject line variations of the functionality itself showing that it’s not yet established:

  • Email receipt
  • Electronic receipt
  • Green receipt
  • E-receipt
  • Store receipt
  • Receipt email
  • Digital receipt
  • Paperless receipt

However, it seems “e-receipt” and “store receipt” are the most common term. What I find interesting is that Return Path’s data shows a higher deletion rate (between 18-50%) on e-receipts, but I don’t think this should be a concern, particularly if customers are using e-receipts exactly like paper receipts; they check their items and once they’re satisfied they’ll throw it in the trash/delete it. E-receipts for higher value items or long-life items are likely to be kept and filed away.

Since starting this blog series, I’ve seen an increasing number of e-receipts in my day-to-day shopping experiences, and I can see that it’s developing fast. Return Path’s data shows that Bank of America is even offering e-receipts for ATM transactions – how great is that! I predict e-receipt adoption will grow rapidly and will soon become a standard shopping offering.

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