Topic: DIGITAL RECEIPTS: MOVING BEYOND EMAIL
Reasons for this subject:
- Explanation of digital receipts
- The need for digital receipts
- The business value that eBusinesses derive from digital receipts
Digital Receipts -- Moving Beyond Email
Think about it: when you make an online purchase, do you keep the email receipt? How long do you keep those receipts? Most likely, you get the receipt in your email, keep it until the product arrives, then delete it. That takes a few days, maybe a few weeks.
But that receipt contains a lot of information that you might find useful later on: links and phone numbers to customer service, information about returning items, links to discounts and promotions, and links to other products that you might find interesting.
The problem is compounded if you’re a repeat buyer. What if you’re a purchasing agent buying a lot of products online, repeatedly, on behalf of your company? There’s no easy way to store, manage or retrieve your email receipts. What if you’re a traveling salesperson buying airline tickets online? There’s no easy way to forward all of your online receipts for reimbursement. Wouldn’t it be better if you had a database of your online purchases where you could easily store, manage and forward them? Clearly, from the buyer’s perspective, a database of online transactions would be of great value.
But how can eBusinesses provide this value-added service to buyers? How can they make it easy for buyers to build a database of online purchases? Digital receipts provide the solution.
Digital receipts are XML invoices. They contain all of the information regarding the transaction, including the bill to, ship to, payment information and line item detail. They contain links to customer service, online promotions, related products and services, and any other links that the eBusiness wants to send to the buyer.
Because they’re XML documents, the buyer can store, manage and retrieve digital receipts much easier than email. Digital receipts have greater “time value” because they’re easy to store and contain a lot of value-added information -- the buyer has a reason to hold on to them for long periods of time.
The challenge with digital receipts is giving buyers the ability to accept them. This means that some piece of desktop software needs to catch the XML receipt -- a “receipt receiver”, if you will. This receipt receiver could reside in the buyer’s browser, on her/his desktop, or in her/his email software. The receipt receiver allows the buyer to store, sort, retrieve and forward online purchase information.
Digital receipts, combined with the receipt receiver software, gives the eBusiness a new marketing presence on the buyer’s PC. The buyer now has the incentive to hold on to digital receipts for long periods of time. Buyer see the eBusiness’ logo on their desktops more often. The links to customer service, promotions and related products stay “alive” on the buyers’ PCs longer, increasing the chance of repeat purchases.
The movement to create standards for digital receipts is just beginning. Several large retailers and associations, including the National Retail Federation, have begun to map out the technical standards and business processes needed for digital receipts.
All eBusinesses should be aware of the digital receipt movement and start planning to add this value-added service to their eCommerce platform.