Receipt overload


Against my better judgement, I went to Sears on Saturday to pick up a few random things that Amazon doesn’t carry. The store looked like a cheap flea market, with products stacked up all over the place, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Instead, I want to talk about the excessive number of documents that came along with my receipt.

Besides the receipt itself, I received an invitation to fill out a customer survey, followed by three separate coupons. I understand the purpose and value of each of the documents, but the sheer volume of paper can easily get out of hand. Looking at one of the coupons, the actual discount offer takes up five lines of text. But then they follow it up with more than two dozen lines of disclaimers and restrictions. Is this really the best approach?

As it stands, the coupons and other attachments come off as sloppy and cheap — while showing that the store has no problem wasting tons of paper. When you think about it, they could easily correct this problem without having to change the messages they’re delivering. How? Just print the most important part of the message on the receipt paper, and refer customers to a website, phone number, or in-store signage for the full set of disclaimers and restrictions.

Sure, this approach might lead to a few confused customers here and there. But it’s really no different than presenting a promotion within an ad, and then directing people elsewhere for the full details. Plus, I bet that reducing the amount of paper would make customers pay more attention to the actual promotions, leading to better redemption rates and increased sales.