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How Long Is Your Receipt?

Part of running a businness is deciding when and where to spend your hard earned cash. It's interesting to look at those decisions as a consumer and wonder what goes into them - is there a lesson that I can apply somewhere?

For example, if you buy gas and pay at the pump you're typically asked if you want a receipt. This serves two purposes; one is too save on the cost of paper for the pump (I suspect the main reason) and the other is not just print it and have it wind up on the ground near the pump. Easy enough for each of us to make that yes/no decision (though why it typically occurs at the end of the purchase instead of the beginning in most cases is unclear).

By comparison, if you visit your local Lowes/Home Depot you'll get a receipt that might easily be two feet long, and most of that is information about taking some online survey. Borders does a long receipt that has a discount if you come back and buy something in x days. I don't find either approach especially effective; I'm there that day because I needed to be/wanted to be, and I'm unlikely to take a survey unless something really bad happened (and in that case, much more likely to seek out the manager then), and I don't plan trips to the book store based on the date of the discount (maybe I should).

So is it that even a very low hit rate on the receipts is worth the printing cost, or is it that it just seemed like a good idea and the cost is trivial?

I know I'm not comparing apples to apples, gas stations don't usually have a big margin on gas - it's the thought process behind the decision that interests me. Would gas stations do better long term if they printed longer receipts?




I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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