The days of sitting at the table with the Sunday newspaper and clipping coupons are coming to an end. As a consumer turned retail associate, the trend of digital coupons has become obvious. Emails arrive with a sale, special, or scannable coupon every hour, or so it seems. Nearly every store also has an app to collect reward points or pull up the current coupon on. The current generation is so electronically connected that it makes sense that they need everything on a device as opposed to a paper copy. Currently, the baby boomer generation and prior are more comfortable bringing in a coupon or sales ad from “the paper”. Once those generations are no longer shopping in stores there will be little need for paper in retail sales. Electronic coupons, cashless payments, and digital receipts are causing a change in the way consumers shop today.
Certainly, phones and tablets have become an important part of everyday lives, but now they can save money as well. Meola (2016) describes that nearly 4 out of five shoppers across the globe admit to using a retailer’s mobile app. While sitting at home, an email that boasts “Save 30% on sweaters with this coupon” may seem like a nuisance, if it was in hand at checkout it becomes a valuable commodity. In addition to email, store apps can have become quite a popular way to save money. For example, the Kohl’s app allows the shopper to keep track of Yes2You reward points, automatically loads all the latest coupons, and even has a price scanner tool. If the customer is not a regular customer of that particular store there is still a way to save money electronically. A cell phone or tablet that uses cellular data or wifi can pull up a site like “Retail Me Not” and find savings via that avenue as well. Saving money with an electronic device is easy and convenient, making it a favorite among shoppers today.
The use of cash and checks is dwindling more and more every year. Paying with cash involves finding the right bills and possibly coins and waiting for the cashier to issue the correct change. Check writing is even more tedious and time consuming-getting out the checkbook, finding a pen that works, and then the cashier scans it into the system. It is so much faster to pull out a card and swipe. “In 2015, the number of card payments comprised over two-thirds of all noncash payments” (Federal Reserve, 2016, p.9). Even faster yet is using a cardless method such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. Figure 1 demonstrates how much larger the proportion of debits cards are used in comparison to checks and electronic bank transfers. In the generations of instant gratification youth and busy adults, it has become routine to pay with plastic as opposed to paper.Paper is becoming obsolete after the sale as well. Receipts can now be sent to an email instead of paper to be thrown out at the nearest garbage can or lost. The electronic coupon has been scanned and applied, the phone has been tapped against the pin pad to pay, and now the question of receipt delivery comes up. Several places offer a digital receipt option. Often the pin pad has choices offering a printed or digital receipt. Home Depot and Meijer are just a couple of examples of the many retailers offering this option. A customer can now make an entire purchase, from beginning to end without a single piece of paper being exchanged
Retails sales have gone digital from the time the consumer leaves the house until the car is loaded with bags. Electronic coupons, cashless payment methods, and digital receipts are completely taking away the need for any type of paper at checkout today. Coupons are delivered via email and phone apps instead of home mailings to be cut out and brought in. Paying with a credit card or tap of the phone is much quicker and more convenient as well. Receipts are also being delivered electronically alleviating piles of small papers. It may be a change for older generations, but for the younger crowd, paperless is the only way to go.