The Risks and Rewards of Paperless Receipts

Posted on 02/25/2013

You've probably heard the question "paper or plastic?" at the checkout. And if you haven't been asked "printed or email?" yet, you will soon. More retailers are offering shoppers the option of paperless receipts that are emailed to them rather than printed at the register. But just like with most innovation there are risks and rewards that come with digital receipts.

Risk: Unwanted Marketing
Best Buy, Whole Foods, Gap and Nordstrom are all offering e-receipts. In order to receive a digital receipt you must give the retailer your email address, which can be worth hundreds of dollars to them. That gives them a direct link to you and a chance for them to market to you further. So whether you want to receive them or not, it could open the door to further company emails.

Reward: Saving Paper
Receipts are made of paper and paper comes from trees. Of course we'd all like to save trees and reduce waste so if you're looking for ways to be more green-- opting for digital receipts is one small step you can take. According to marketing firm Epsilon, roughly one-third of retailers are now offering paperless receipts.

Risk: Fewer Jobs
It's hard to imagine that something as simple as a receipt could mean the difference between someone having a job or being in the unemployment line, but it's possible. Automating the process further could put people out of work, says an official with America's Research Group in USA Today.

Reward: Reducing Clutter
Containing clutter is a challenge for all of us. Important receipts seem to end up scattered in junk drawers, at the bottom of handbags and stashed in desk drawers. But by going paperless, they'll all be stored digitally in your email account in case you ever need to access them.

Risk: Attracting Scammers
The Better Business Bureau warns e-receipt users to be on the lookout for scammers who may use digital receipts as another way to steal identities. They may try to pose as retailers or banks that are having an issue with your account. By clicking a link in the email they'll gain access to your personal information which could cause more of an inconvenience than that little slip of paper ever did.

By Alison Storm

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