Over the past years and with the increase in online shopping, digital receipts are becoming more and more popular.
However, before making any moves, consider the pros and cons and whether it’s appropriate for your business to make the switch.
In this article, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of digital receipts and what they can mean for your business.
What is a digital receipt?
A digital receipt is a digital version of your receipt. You might have also heard them referred to as electronic or e-receipts.
Most of the time, businesses send a digital receipt to your phone or email address after making an online purchase. In recent years, stores also have had the option to send your receipts digitally.
Like any other type of receipt, a digital receipt is proof of payment without all the paper clutter.
For that reason, this receipt type is considered more convenient than paper receipts, since digital receipts are less likely to get lost, fade, or save paper.
For customers, having a digital version of your receipt makes it easier to sort and organize. A digital receipt is also an efficient way to write expense reports and file taxes for businesses.
What’s the difference between digital receipts and e-receipts?
In contrast, electronic receipts originate from within a computer system. Both can be sent through text message or email.
Essentially, they both represent that a transaction has taken place and therefore serve the same purpose.
What’s the difference between paper receipts vs. digital receipts?
There is no difference between a paper and a digital receipt. One is a physical copy of a receipt, and the other is a digital copy.
Both act as a payment confirmation and record the details of the transaction.
Pros and cons of paper receipts
A survey done by GreenAmerica found that 42% of people prefer paper receipts, while only 17% prefer digital receipts.
This statistic is expected as it is common to receive paper receipts and most people feel familiar with them.
Since most people still prefer paper receipts, many businesses are reluctant to use paperless receipt options in their transactions since people feel more secure and comfortable with paper receipts.
However, managing paper receipts can be a handful. First, you need to make sure that each paper receipt is not damaged or lost.
Additionally, they need to be stored in a cool place since they are made from thermal paper.
Finally, storing paper receipts in a physical filing system can result in a mountain of paper clutter.
An unorganized storage system may result in hours of searching for that one lost receipt.
Pros and cons of digital receipts
Digital receipts are convenient. Compared to paper receipts, they are less likely to get lost, won’t fade, and don’t require paper, thereby reducing paper clutter.
While digital receipts can get lost in your spam or junk mail, that issue can be fixed in your email settings.
There’s been an increase in contactless and online shopping, which has resulted in digital receipts being used more and more frequently.
Even though Green America found that 42% of people prefer paper receipts, RetailDive’s survey saw 89% of respondents want retailers to offer digital receipts as an option.
Overall, paper and digital receipts are both similar to each other. The receipt format comes down to preference, especially as a consumer.
However, the option to hand out digital receipts or switch your receipts’ format should be considered if you are a business owner.
Should your business switch to a digital receipt?
If your business is online, you don’t have to worry about switching to a digital receipt system since all your transactions are already done electronically.
However, if you own or manage a brick-and-mortar business, you may wish to consider switching to a digital receipt format.
Here, we list the pros and cons of issuing a digital receipt to customers:
1. Environmentally friendly
Did you know that you can not recycle paper receipts?
The Minnesota Pollution and Control Agency found that a single receipt can contain 250 to 1,000 times more BPA (Bisphenol A) than a can of food.
The chemicals in receipts aren’t enough to pose any serious health risk, but BPA makes recycling receipts impossible.
Additionally, printing receipts can produce almost 300 million pounds of solid waste.
By being more eco-conscious, your business matches consumers’ eco-conscious shopping habits and is more eco-friendly.
So, if your business is making a conscious effort to be more sustainable, then consumers will take notice of your business.
By switching to digital receipts, you are helping the environment—with the happy benefit of potentially gaining new customers.
It can cost between $0.015–0.05 to print a receipt. While that may not seem like much, printing about 1,000 receipts daily could cost between $5,475 to $18,250 per year.
Thus, switching to a digital format will save you a lot of money annually.
3. Easier storage
While some of this paper will be recycled, most will be used for document storage.
However, once you’ve accumulated various and numerous documents, it becomes harder to search through, organize, and even email or fax them, especially with receipts where you want to track your expenses and get reimbursed.
Easily export weekly or monthly business expenses with receipts attached to send to your accountant.
With any of Shoeboxed’s plans, you can use their prepaid Magic Envelope to send in piles of receipts and outsource receipt scanning so you don’t have to scan them yourself.
Digital receipts will require a little technical knowledge to make the transition from a paper receipt system.
At the most basic level, you will need to use and understand your chosen software in order to send the receipt to customers.
Without this knowledge, there might be problems processing the order and delivering the receipt to them.
Other software aspects include knowing how to use analytics data, how to calculate the number of sales for the week from receipts, etc.
2. Data security concerns
Anything digital or online has a risk of being hacked. That doesn’t mean that digital receipts are not safe.
However, there is a chance that your system could be compromised, which means that your customer information and data could get into the wrong hands.
Additionally, your business has a risk of your digital records being lost.
If this situation were to happen and if you have not backed up your files, your business may face difficulties, and you may run the risk of losing your customers’ trust.
For these reasons, people tend to feel more comfortable with paper receipts.
3. Stuck in spam
Sometimes, digital receipts can fall into customers’ spam or junk inbox, resulting in a “no-show.”
Additionally, if invoices are sent to your email, you can easily miss a payment if you check your email infrequently.
An easy fix is that once you find your receipt, you can go into your email setting to make sure that you’re able to receive emails from a specific person or business.
How does one create a digital receipt?
There are plenty of digital receipt app options, such as Wave or Skynova, that you can use to send to customers who want paperless receipts or e-receipt options. You can also print receipts from these templates.
All you need to do is to gather and input the following information:
- Business logo
- Name of your business
- Address (including county, city, and zip code)
- Price of item
- Amount for the item
- Tax rate
- Total amount
How do you spot a fake digital receipt?
In the age of technology, digital receipts can be a blessing and a curse for both consumers and businesses.
How to spot a fake digital receipt if you’re a business owner
Recent trends of creating fake receipts, such as a falsified Walmart digital receipt, have circulated, prompting increased theft.
Scammers create counterfeit digital receipts to deceive businesses into giving away products that were never actually purchased or to receive refunds they do not deserve.
Some people try to cheat retail stores by using fake receipts to exchange items or demand refunds.
So how do you protect your store?
Below are a few ways to prevent fake digital receipts from impacting your business:
- Compare the transaction number with your records. A fake digital receipt will not match your transaction records.
- Check the serial number to see if the item was removed from your inventory.
- Scan the barcode to see if it redirects to where it should for returns.
- Check the cameras. If you suspect a digital receipt is fake, see if the “customer” picked up the item off the shelf before coming to the return desk.
- Ask questions such as the date and time the item was purchased. Most honest customers will know the exact date and roundabout time without hesitation.
How to spot a fake digital receipt if you’re a consumer
Fake receipts aren’t just impacting businesses. They’re also a quick and easy way to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting consumers.
These fake digital receipts are sent to your email, from what seems to be a well-known and reputable company alerting you to a subscription or payment confirmation.
You’re then prompted to call a number or click a link if you didn’t sign up for the subscription or make the purchase.
Here are a few ways to spot a fake digital receipt:
- Your debit or credit card has not been charged for the alleged payment.
- You are not addressed by name but as a “customer” (most legitimate businesses address their customers by name via email).
- The sender’s address is not associated with the business they’re claiming to represent.
- There are spelling errors, odd symbols, or strange attachments.
When in doubt, do not click links or call the number on a suspicious digital receipt email.
Frequently asked questions
Digital receipts, also known as electronic receipts or e-receipts, are digital alternatives to paper receipts.
Digital receipts are completely legal. As of 1997, the IRS will accept scanned and digital receipts as valid records for tax purposes.
Yes, you can. Using a receipt scanner and organizer can help you digitize your paper receipts. You can also use an app like Shoeboxed to help you scan your receipts quickly. Additionally, Shoeboxed offers their Magic Envelope service, where you can outsource your scanning, and your receipts will be in your Shoeboxed account.
Digital receipts are a great option for those looking for ways to be more eco-friendly.
Despite some cons, the pros to switching over to digital receipts are plentiful and merit consideration for small businesses looking to streamline their processes.
Tammy Dang is a staff writer for Shoeboxed covering productivity, organization, and digitization how-to guides for the home and office. Her favorite organization tip is “1-in-1-out.” And her favorite app for managing articles and deadlines is Monday.com.
Originally published February 13, 2023. Updated on May 12, 2023.
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