Do the paper sales receipts you get with every purchase end up in the trash? They may be in your hand for a few seconds, but they’ll impact the planet for a lot longer. Mexican company Airpop is trying to change that… and help your business profiles your customers.
The (bad) panorama
The Green America organization estimates that the industry which produces thermal paper (for printing sales receipts) uses up to 9 billion gallons of water each year. It consumes about 3 billion trees in the United States alone. In the same country, a pharmacy franchise can generate up to 2.51 million kilometers of paper per branch.
In 2019, 321,000 hectares of forest were deforested in Mexico, according to data from Global Forest Watch, a web app that monitors the global forest situation. However, in terms of paper recycling, the country is one of the world leaders (in sixth place) ahead of countries such as Germany and Spain, according to the National Chamber of Cellulose and Paper Industries.
In our country, about 22 million tons of paper are produced annually, 80% of which comes from recycled paper, according to the agency. Despite the country’s good ranking, the most striking thing is that, in many cases, the useful lifespan of a printed sales receipt is seconds once it is given to the customer.
Goodbye paper sales receipts; hello e-receipts
One of the solutions companies have found to generate less trash is to opt for digital solutions: delivering e-receipts by mail or sending them to cell phones. By doing things this way, they’re also trying to help the environment.
Mexican company Airpop began operating in the country by migrating sales receipts to digital versions. According to its founder Jesús Cisneros, the company saved companies from using 17 tons of paper in 2018. In total, they sent 4.8 billion digital receipts.
“On the one hand, there was demand on the part of companies to cut spending and at the same time consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious. That’s why we wanted to develop this project in just over a year. Consumers are asked at checkout stands if they want printed or digital receipts. If they choose digital ones, they’re asked for the phone number they want it sent to,” Cisneros said in an interview with Tec Review.
When consumers opt for e-receipts, the information they contain is entered into the system. It is then analyzed by the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) and big data tools. The benefit for retailers is that they can understand how many products or services each person purchases. So, companies can build a profile of their customers and their habits.
“In Asia, this information is used to prepare lists of available products. Thanks to AI, messages automatically are sent to consumers to see if they want to be sent these products,” Cisneros added
The executive says it is important for more companies to bet on digitization not only to facilitate their processes but also to avoid the impact on the environment.