Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sundance Develops Strategy For Minimizing Toxic Receipts

There are no really easy solutions to the cash register receipt problem. Purchase receipts are useful: they help people catch errors, the provide a record of the transaction for the customer, they serve as proof for a retailer that a customer actually purchased a product.

But paper receipts are not the only recourse to serving these valuable functions. Electronic records are available to the retailer, customers can view the transaction on a large customer display, and most customers do not want nor need their receipts especially for simple, small purchases.

So, my store, Sundance Natural Foods, is adopting a three prong strategy to minimize the environmental toxic load of our receipt production:

1) make printing the receipt an option, as requested by the customer - we have just implemented this part of our strategy. The only seeming downside is that EBT customers do not have easy access to their account balances. This has not been a big problem, as we can query that info by other means. Our cashiers were concerned that having to press two more buttons to print a receipt would "slow things down." They have discovered that not having to wait for the automatic receipt printing to be completed before the sale can "cash out" more than makes up for any slowdown from manual receipt printing. And, as we suspected, if we don't print them, most customers are relieved not to get them anyway.

2) requesting our Point-of-Service software vendor to implement an electronic receipt option, where customers who swipe a debit or credit card can choose to have an electronic version of their receipt emailed to a repository of their choice. This seems to still be in the "vaporware" stage of development. :P Stay tuned!

3) I am buying and will install an old-style receipt printer that uses impact print head and a ribbon to deliver ink to regular, non-thermal, non-chemical impregnated paper. Hopefully, it will get minimal use, as, some of you may remember, the "impact" printers are both much slower than thermal printers (6 lines per second as opposed to 25-50 lines per second) and much noisier.

I have been referring to this as our "back-to-the-future" receipt strategy.

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