Leveraging the power of the sales receipt?

The guy who invented Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, is now taking on the sales receipt. (Mitch Joel mentioned that in his last blog post.) After a moment of head scratching I went from “Seriously?” to “Interesting!” Not just because I am still trying to figure out who sent me the book From Paris to Provence this Christmas that arrived with nothing in the box, no note, no shipping slip from Amazon, nothing. (Thank you… whoever you are.) But because I am always impressed when it is done well. It really can be a stand out feature.

Vera Bradley Thank you note

Vera Bradley gives you a receipt in a lovely green folder.


Ballard Design’s receipt comes in a Thank You card. Ballard Designs Thank you envelope

These receipts elevate the customer experience with the brand. But can receipts do more? Companies like Home Depot and Showcase Cinemas use them to get customer feedback by gamification, they offer a chance to win a prize if you take a survey. Bit of a snooze but it’s better than nothing. Chipotle uses codes on the receipts to unlock customer only bathrooms. (That seems like a bad plan. What if I have to go, or want to wash my hands, before I eat or stand in line?)

Catalogers are not limited in the size of their receipts the way retailers are. Most are already set up for package stuffers so elevating receipts and gamification is operationally less difficult than for retailers. Take a moment to think about how simple and effective a point of customer contact a receipt is. Does it just say “Here’s how you return what you bought”? Bit of a downer. Does it say “Thank you!”? Is it something worth engaging with?

Apparently Jack Dorsey didn’t offer any specifics on what the big disruption in sales receipts was going to be but until then, here are a few things I can think of that we could do now which customers might really enjoy.

Look at your messaging to the customer. Is there a way to add fun, information, branding etc to that message? I think of Baci candy. Every time I unwrap one I get a little love note inside. Every time I drink a Haffenreffer Beer I get a puzzle, and not just the puzzle of why I chose to drink a Haffenreffer, there’s an actual puzzle on the inside of the cap. You could add stories, poems, quizzes, questions, clues to hidden treasure and so on. If you sell food can you add a recipe? If you sell clothes can you add a style tip? If you sell something boring can you add something exciting?

Look at the design. Is it a laundry list of legalese? Is is an ugly printout of products? Is there anything you can add to make it a better customer experience? Think about it, companies are spending a lot of money on social media that few people actually see and very little on the one thing that EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER is getting. Jack may be on to something big after all.

What are your thoughts on revolutionizing the receipt? Any ideas for ways to improve what we already have without breaking the bank? Has anyone tried messaging on their receipts and how did it work? We would love to hear from you.

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Sarah Fletcher
Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.
Co-Founder Catalog University