Monday, October 05, 2009
Like a lot of people I'm a collector. I have all sorts of collections: PEZ dispensers, hockey jerseys, toys — just to name a few. Out of necessity, my latest collection is receipts. Why? I'm required to fill out an expense report at work. This has created a wallet even George Costanza would appreciate. But it's also got me thinking a bit more about receipts lately, which has triggered my 'inner collector' instincts.
If you think about it, a receipt is potentially the last opportunity a company has to make a statement about their brand. Yet almost all the receipts I get are cheap, pathetic and uninspiring. They're usually printed in black & white ink on cheap thermal paper. What does that say about your brand or the product I just bought? Is that really what you want me to have as a last impression?
The other thing I don't get is why it seems like the receipts are getting longer and longer and longer. Take a look at the 10 inch Home Depot receipt shown above. That was for one item! That's ridiculous. Do they really need to print their return policy on the front, or a blatant attempt to solicit customer data via a feedback survey? I've even seen a receipt with a legal disclaimer on it — I'm looking at you Michaels. And don't even get me started on the environmental aspect.
Want another example of useless information... On a recent receipt I have from a local pizza establishment (not shown). For some reason I get a preview of their inventory tracking system. What value does it offer me to know whether the items are considered hot or cold inventory? Unless they're trying to provide me with ammunition to complain about the cold food I just received that was supposed to be delivered hot?
On a recent trip to Las Vegas I found a company that has considered their receipt as a branding opportunity — RAO's in Caesars Palace. It was not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, but it made me stop and appreciate the effort. The paper was silky smooth, it was cream-colored with the Caesars logo in metallic ink repeated in the background. The information was fairly minimal, but it employed the all-to-typical poorly kerned and bit-mapped font I've come to expect on receipts.
Now let me share with you a receipt that I truly appreciate. It's the one I get from my mechanic, Tony's Auto Service. It works on so many levels, it's practically a work of art. They're company name is hand stamped on the top, it's handwritten, has oily finger prints, it's personalized and highly descriptive. I don't even mind that it's on some generic receipt found in any business supply retailer. It fits with their brand. It's a thing of beauty. If they can get it right, why can't these other mega-brands that have so much more brain and money power behind them?
What are your experiences with receipts? Do you have any examples of good receipt? Do you know of a company that recognizes the opportunity and doesn't just place their overly bit-mapped logo at the top? What's the longest receipt you've ever had for a single item?