The newly introduced law is nicknamed the “Skip the Slip” bill, and will legally require retailers, including restaurants, to provide an electronic receipt unless paper is specifically requested. The goal is to help the environment and reduce consumer and employee exposures to BPA and BPS, which are common in water-resistant coatings on receipts. These chemicals may be linked to cancer and diabetes. Also, water resistant receipts cannot be recycled, making them almost as much of a problem as disposable coffee cups.
Many businesses already provide electronic receipts, either on request, or as the default. So, what are the potential problems:
- Some customers may be reluctant to hand over their email address, because of privacy concerns. However, this reluctance can sometimes be overcome by offering loyalty discounts. You will need a system to help protect consumer privacy. Issuing e-receipts may also make you a target for hackers who want to sell that database of emails and possibly purchase histories.
- E-receipts make return fraud easier. They are much easier to fake or alter than printed receipts.
- Some people think, wrongly, that the IRS will not accept digital receipts if auditing a small business. Thus, business travelers are quite likely to insist on paper receipts.
- As the volume of paper receipts issued drops, the individual cost of issuing them is likely to increase.
It’s worth noting that phenol-free receipt paper is available. At this stage, the bill is still just that – a bill. Even if it passes, restaurants will have until 2022 to implement systems to provide electronic receipts. It also does not ban paper receipts, which will still be available to customers who don’t want to give you their email address, who’s boss insists on paper receipts, or who are from overseas and may be from countries that do still require paper receipts. If you already have a digital receipt solution, then the only step you will have to take is to train waiters and point of sales staff to ensure that the new rule is followed.
This is all assuming it passes. Even if it does not, though, Green America’s “Skip the Skip” report includes numerous reasons to cut down on paper receipts – in the US, 10 million trees are used a year just to create paper receipts. So, if you are not already providing digital receipts, it might be time to look for digital receipt software that works with your existing cash register and solutions.