The old saying goes that “Cash is king,” and that may never change. At this point in history, though, cash is king like Elizabeth is Queen: pretty much in name only. Credit and debit cards are the preferred method of payment for most people these days, with mobile payments like Dwolla or Apple Pay creeping ever closer to relevance. It seems counterintuitive, then, that a move away from paper currency is creating more paper than ever—not just paper, but paper waste. That waste comes in the form of receipts, which often don’t ever make it to the pocket of the person for whom it was printed. Ask anybody and they’ll probably tell you they need to be better about tracking their spending, but ask that same person if he saves/records his receipts and the answer will likely be counter to that intent. Real time, online access to credit and debit card transactions help, but consumers with multiple cards can spend a lot of time tracking down purchases and reconciling with their records. The same goes for emailed receipts, assuming the customer even wants to share her email address. And for retailers, the expense of a receipt printer and all its paper amounts to handing out a piece of courtesy trash, free with every purchase. We can’t just get rid of receipts altogether, because they do serve a purpose. But who spends time thinking about what the future holds for proofs of purchase?
Turns out the answer to this question is obvious. You just have to think about it for a moment: people who work for companies that design and manufacture receipt printers. The clamor for a gentle and paperless world is growing, mostly for the reasons I’ve laid out above. In 2013, over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees, and 1 billion gallons of water were used in the creation of receipts. That’s bad news for the environment, but it’s good news for printer manufacturers because it speaks to how ubiquitous their little devices are. Now, we here at Kounta don’t spend a heck of a lot time thinking about receipt printers. We leave that to the experts. For us, it’s just important that we work with the best ones—we do—and that we forge partnerships with companies that are rethinking the way receipt printing is handled. We’ve rethought the POS, and now we’re happy to say we’ve partnered with receipt printing giant Star, a company that’s not content to rest on its paper-y laurels. Staying ahead of the curve, Star developed their new All Receipts feature, soon to be released for use on their TSP-100 series receipt printers. In the coming months, it will be available on the entire range of Star printers within the next few months.
All Receipts is a hybrid approach to digital receipting. Retailers who’ve already got one of the TSP-100s can upgrade the printer’s firmware for free (while all new hardware purchases will include the latest software). On the consumer end, Star created an app for iOS and Android that can interface with their printers. The app isn’t required for consumers to receive a digital receipt, though. They can elect to receive a paper version, which will include a QR code they can scan for digital access. This is especially useful for people who want digital receipts but don’t want to give out their contact information. With the QR Code, there’s no need to hand over personal details. Users with smartphones, though, will see a vastly improved experience, including the ability to collect a receipt at the store without any paper being harmed in its making. Using either NFC or Bluetooth on their smartphone, customers only need wave their device next to the printer to have it copied to and store on their phone. From there, all receipts (get it?) are stored on the customer’s phone, organized by retailer or date of purchase. App users will have only one place to look to be able to track their spending.
Thankfully, the folks at Star know that the best kind of a win is a win-win, and so there’s something in it for the retailers, too. The first thing is that it’s easy to setup with your POS. Because you don’t have to. All Receipts is cloud connected, managed by web interface, and is totally Plug and Play with Kounta. There are, of course, the incidental benefits of being super cool and trendy and offering a free gee-whizexperience to customers. And it will, of course, sound nice when you say, “Would you like to go paperless? We heart the environment.” Beyond the goodwill that can engender, there’s a real savings there: Star estimates that All Receipts can provide a 70% – 80% reduction in paper use (also known as paper costs). That’s because on the flip side of the transaction—the retailer’s side—there’s no need to print out your own copy of the receipt. The digital receipts are created automatically and stored in your little slice of Star’s cloud. Consumers who claim a digital receipt can also be provided with a link to a customer survey, so those who choose to remain anonymous at the store can still be followed up with and enticed to return. This and an upcoming feature to All Receipts—called “Engage”—will enable more two-way communication between retailer and consumer. Customers who purchase without leaving contact info can choose to opt in to Engage and receive special offers without the hassle of spam, which—like the paper receipt—almost always ends up directly in the trash. With Star’s ability to maintain contact with those who would have otherwise been forgotten, and Kounta’s built-in customer relationship tools for those who want to stay connected, retailers have more options than ever to manage and grow their businesses. And that’s a statement worth way more than the paper it was written on—if it were actually written on paper, of course.