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Receipts going paperless [Boston Herald]
[March 17, 2011]

Receipts going paperless [Boston Herald]

(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 17--"Paper or plastic?" is giving way to another checkout query, "paper or paperless?" More stores are offering the option of "paperless receipts" for environmentally conscious consumers who don't mind giving out their e-mail addresses.

"It's all about finding ways to be more environmentally friendly and making it more convenient for shoppers," said Liz Burkhhart, a Whole Foods spokeswoman.

Major retailers such as Apple, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom already give customers the option to go digital while the Container Store and Best Buy are participating in a pilot program with Intuit, the software maker of Quick Receipts, and Whole Foods is piloting a paperless option in the mid-Atlantic region that could spread nationwide.

"It's the next big thing in retail," said Richard Mader, executive director of the Association for Retail Technology Standards, a division of the National Retail Federation. "In five years, up to 60 percent of retailers will go paperless." Colin Johnson, a Nordstrom spokesman, said all of its stores started offering the paperless option this month.

"Customers told us that a digital receipt would be an additional convenience to the transaction," he said. "Shoppers are using mobile devices much more and we're trying to evolve with them. This is just one way to improve service and better reflect the store experience that customers expect." For most shoppers, hanging onto receipts can be cumbersome. If you want to return an item, but fail to find the receipt, you could be stuck with unwanted merchandise, get the lowest sales prices at the refund desk or be forced to take store credit.

Apple was among the pioneers of paperless receipts and began offering the option as early as 2005, but the concept has only caught on recently.

Mader said one of the drivers to going digital is that retailers are preparing to install cell-phone payment systems.

In the last two years, he said, the discussion among retailers has all been about mobile payment. "It's coming and consumers won't want to go cardless, but get back a paper receipt," he said.

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