There has been a lot of traction towards paperless receipts, pioneered by Apple. It is now being adopted by stores like Macy’s, Whole foods and a lot of other retailers. These retailers send receipts to your inbox. As this idea catches on – you will end up with a lot more emails in your inbox. A company MyReceipts.com has taken it a step further (very neat in my opinion) by implementing this as a cloud service – this company will consolidate all your receipts and can be viewed online. There is another company in UK which plans to do something similar – eReceipts.com.
Once I read about this I thought about the motivations from the two parties involved namely – the consumer and the retailer towards the adoption of the cloud based technologies.
- (+) Consolidated bills at the ITEM level – easier to access bills for returns and tax purposes
- More added services can be available to the consumer like
- Nutritional information summary
- Budget and Costs
- (-) privacy
- (+)Access to customer buying patterns – can provide better personalized services and targeted promotions
- (+)Green initiative ( no more paper receipts – some minor cost savings)
- (+)Better medium of communicating recalls
- (+)Retailers can partner with Manufacturers to target promotions using BIG DATA analytics.
- Example if a person is buying Colgate toothpaste, P&G can see this as an opportunity and promote a crest toothpaste for free coupon. (acquiring a customer)
- (+)Coupons can be integrated into the system as well – so no more printing coupons (Green)
Infact this can be extended to all receipts that we get in our everyday life – fast foods, restaurants,retail outlets,doctor visits, travel, car repair shops.
If a company like eReceipt.com or myReceipt.com can do this with a number and a pin instead of using customers personal info like email/phone number would there be a lesser concern from a consumer view point. Here is my thoughts on how it should work:
- Every consumer has a PID(Paperless ID) which can be picked by the consumer as his choice or it could be a random number (similar to a loyalty card) and a 5 digit pin and some added security like a password. [ No personal info here].
- Lets assume most retailers and their POS (point of sale) systems take the PID when customers are checking out
- Every few minutes the retailers send all transactions(itemized) marked with the PID for each transaction to one of these companies (cloud storage ereceipts) – lets call it the PID company
- This PID company then reads/parses the receipts received from several retailers and puts it into the customer accounts
- All family members can use the same PID – ( sort of cool or scary :-) )
- One can choose to have separate PID’s for personal and buisness accounts
- Retailers gets access to purchase made in its store only – no sharing of data across retailers – which should ease the mind of the retailers worried about competition.
More thought needs to be given to security and operations like forgot password – may be the last few transactions (item level), combined with the number/user ID would be useful to get access or retrieve forgotten passwords. The key is the overall solution needs to be robust with no personal information stored.
Would this not be a win-win – a universal PID and a green receipt would certainly help the consumers and the retailers brand equally. I wish companies like eReceipt/myReceipt get a wider adoption from retailers and consumers alike and also address the privacy aspect upfront and more clearly for a world little less cluttered and more organized.
Are we ready for a PID?