Why Digital Receipts are Key to a Flawless Retail Marketing Strategy


You may have heard of digital receipts, also known as e-receipts. They’re a fast growing trend for brick-and-mortar retailers and for good reason. (eCommerce retailers have, obviously, long been employing digital receipts.) If you’re not using e-receipts at your brick-and-mortar locations, it’s time to make the change. Digital receipts are crucial to providing a flawless customer experience and creating a robust retail marketing strategy.

But why digital receipts? Why does it matter if you give the customer a record of their purchases via email instead of paper? And for all that that is a very small difference, it ends up adding up to a lot of difference for your marketing strategy.

First and foremost, e-receipts build customer loyalty by providing your customers with a seamless customer experience. Sending your customer a digital receipt means that they don’t have to be walking around with paper falling out of their pockets, wallets, purses, shopping bags, or wherever else they may have stuffed your receipt. It means the receipt is a whole lot harder to lose. And it means that the receipt is already located where all your customer’s other bills are: online. And this experience, which is already far better than the average receipt experience, only reflects the most barebones attempt at e-receipts.

When you utilize some best practices for digital receipts, you’ll find that digital receipts will become the cornerstone of much of your digital marketing program:

1. e-Receipts provide an easy way for a physical retailer to build an email list.

Brick-and-mortars have a bit of a struggle to build subscriber lists. While an eCommerce retailer can pop a lightbox with a promo in it on every web page and pretty much call it a day, physical locations have to get creative.

A traditional method of gathering subscribers to date has been to ask for their email upfront at checkout. But any sales associate will tell you this question is like pulling teeth. Despite the rapport you may have built with a customer during their time in the store, “What’s your email?” immediately puts them on edge. They see no immediate return on giving up that information, and they instantly distrust the sales person. This question even has the potential to jeopardize the whole sale if you get a customer who feels very strongly about guarding their email. (Been there, done that.)

However, when you offer a digital receipt, asking for a customers’ email is both natural in the flow of the conversation, and, more importantly, provides a clear and immediate return on the customers’ data share. And furthermore, because a receipt is something your customer not only wants but needs, your customer is a lot more likely to share a correct and active email address with you. (Rather than one they made specifically for junk mail.)

Yes, sure, I hear you say, that’s all very well and good, but do my customers even want their receipts emailed to them? The answer, according to research, is yes. For instance, in the UK, 45% of shoppers actively want their receipts emailed to them. If you can get 45% of your customers on your email lists, that’s not a bad place to start at all. flexReceipts customers specifically see about a 30-50% success rate – which is much better than the average loyalty program’s adoption rate.

2. Digital receipts can be used to let customers know you have a website.

e-Receipts are important email marketing real estate. While often overlooked, an e-receipt will almost definitely be your most-opened email. flexReceipts’ digital receipts, for instance, see a 65-80% open rate. With those kinds of engagement rates, digital receipts are the perfect place to provide customers with content that you want them to see, which in turn provides a nice email traffic boost for you. As a small retailer, your emailed receipt could even be the first place a customer learns of your website. Given this valuable real estate, you should consider including links to your website or blog so that your customers can continue to interact with you outside of the store.

Additionally, if you offer services online that you don’t offer in-store, you can make customers aware of them through your receipts. For instance, if you provide a reservation scheduler online, you can include information on that within your receipt for your customer’s next trip.

3. E-receipts help your social media communities.

Don’t stop at website links: be sure to include links to all of your social media profiles so that your customers can follow you. In addition to that, you could also add social sharing buttons throughout the email to allow customers to share their new purchases with their friends easily or show what an excellent experience you gave them.

4. Digital receipts can boost email traffic revenue (by a lot!).

A great digital receipt doesn’t just show how much money your customer has spent with you already, but actually encourages them to come back and spend more.

Using dynamic content with your e-receipt, you can display unique content blocks to each of your customers. One type of content block you could utilize is one that displays other items that go with the items your customer just purchased. Another option would be to showcase online exclusive items that match your customer’s profile in a dynamic content block. Including content intended to get customers to make yet another purchase may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s surprisingly effective. A flexReceipts customer saw a 200% increase in email traffic revenue from digital receipts.

Using dynamic content specifically generated to match your customer’s profile allows you to put items they may not have seen in front of them. You customer may choose to purchase immediately because they didn’t know they needed that item, or they may decide to noodle on it for a bit before biting. Either way, you’re able to show you understand your customer and are ensuring they have everything they need.

5. E-Receipts are the perfect place to share your referral program.

Do you have a referral program? If you do, there’s no better time to ask your customer to refer you to their friends than when your customer has just purchased. Your brand is top of mind and they’re likely very excited about you. Using a dynamic content block, you can generate their unique referral code and place it in a CTA asking them to share via email, social, or text. Nothing makes sharing a referral code easier than an e-receipt, either, because the share button is now on your customer’s smartphone in an easy-to-retrieve place.

6. Using e-receipts increases your knowledge of in-store customers.

In the digital age, we’ve come to take data for granted. An eCommerce retailer has so much data on their customers, they could probably give their customers life expectancy estimations.

Just kidding.

But eCommerce retailers really do have a vast amount of data on their customers. They can track data as granular as the mouse movements on the page. In contrast, physical locations have significantly less data on customer behavior. Many brick-and-mortars rely primarily on the general data their POS is capable of collecting and completely unreliable counters at the door. By utilizing digital receipts, you are able to gather far more data about customer behaviors:

  • For starters, it allows an easy way for you to track the purchases a customer makes in-store. Without e-receipts, it’s far easier for a customer to shop anonymously, even when you have implemented a loyalty program.
  • E-receipts also allow you to start collecting online data on customers who exclusively shop in-store. You can understand how those customers interact with you online and in email.
  • Finally, digital receipts allow you to connect in-store behavior with online behavior, giving you a full view into your customer’s actions. You may discover that a customer who has consistently spent hours online and adding to their cart but never buying has actually been going to the store and purchasing those items all along.

What are you waiting for?

If you haven’t implemented digital receipts at your store yet, what are you waiting for? E-receipts are going to change your marketing game – just make sure you’re optimizing those receipts for maximum return.