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Saving Trees, One T-Shirt at a Time
Customers at Stanford University's student store no longer have to receive receipts.
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Tell me about the Stanford’s student store. Our store is totally student-operated. We’re always looking for ways to get people motivated and into the store to boost revenues. We have our system where we process our orders—it’s software that the cashiers use to tend their orders and keep track of inventory—a suite of programs called Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS). In the spring of 2009, we looked to several paperless-receipt solutions to provide a new utility to our customers. We decided to implement software from Transaction Tree because its implementation seemed to be more seamless than the other company we were considering. The implementation took only a weekend—two days of really intensive getting-things-figured-out and then a third day running tests. Transaction Tree wasn’t replacing any system; rather, it was an additional supplement that we felt could be part of a cool campaign since we are also thinking about launching “green” items in the store. 

Why was “going green” a priority? What other steps has the store taken? At first when we brought Transaction Tree on board, we were using it more as a cool tool to make life easier for customers by having their receipts sent and not printed. We were not thinking how many trees we would save, but over the summer we started thinking about getting more green items into the store—including 100 percent–recycled items and organic clothing. And we started promoting our cool email system. We were able to blend together the green efforts into this campaign to generate more excitement about the store. The green movement has been really catching on and so we wanted to latch on to that.

How was the implementation? Transaction Tree and paperless receipts seemed like an easier solution for us as a business, as well. There’s the small cost savings of buying paper for the printers, but what’s especially nice is that Transaction Tree integrates seamlessly with Microsoft RMS. It’s very intuitive for store managers and cashiers—the “training” only involved me sending out an email. The only new thing that changed [is] the cashiers see a message prompting them to ask, “Would you like the receipt printed, emailed, or both?” 

The emails are stored on the Transaction Tree servers and there’s no cost of memory storage to us. Literally they take the receipt that’s generated in our retail system and they attach that receipt and also a little message from Transaction Tree. They send it to the customer. The process is all done by Transaction Tree. The company initially fetches customer information that is stored in our databases—student names and emails and such. Transaction Tree pulls that from our database so that customers don’t have to give us their email addresses upon every store visit. At our register, we ask if the customer is a returning customer—if she is, we can see her information on our screens right there. 

It’s more of an awareness change—both for store clerks and customers. Those who choose emailed receipts tend to be people who are younger and are used to email. They like getting the emails in their inboxes. They can find them later on and find them easily. The older generation—they aren’t yet as receptive to it. A lot of students and younger adults have really liked it and it’s been cool to watch. Nowadays it’s about 60 percent choosing email over printed receipts.

How does this fit with the university store’s goals for going green? We hope to continue offering more green items in our store in conjunction with our green retail system. The green items were back-ordered at first, so that was a limiting factor, but we should be moving ahead in the next few months without a hitch. Implementing the receiptless system was easy, partially due to Transaction Tree’s willingness to help. The company’s founder continually checks in and they definitely work to make sure integration is simple and won’t be a hassle for the consumer at all. We’ve yet to have any headaches.


FIVE FAST FACTS

Implementation date? May 2009

Who was involved in the decision process?  The Stanford Store management team, especially the previous store manager.

Best idea? Transaction Tree does all of the emailing—it’s out of our hands and stored on their servers.

Biggest change? At first we used it more as a utility tool—to make it easier on customers—but then we realized there was a bigger issue at stake with going green.

Biggest surprise? In the United States alone, 220,000 tons of receipt paper is produced each year. One ton of paper is equivalent to 17 trees.


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