Duty to pay: Like BON-apartes Waterloo

Since January 1, 2020, the receipt requirement has been in force in Germany, and retailers and restaurateurs must issue a receipt for every transaction. This leads to whining on a high level, because the obligation to issue receipts came as surprisingly as the implementation of the PSD2 directive or Christmas because it was already known since December 2016 what would happen three years later. Instead of using the time to create a digital standard for receipts, the industry is in a bad mood. In the social media, new pictures of bakers and pharmacies flooded with receipts are posted daily. It seems that the end of the world as we know it has come. And even the self-proclaimed digital understanders, the FDP, prefer to send letters of solidarity (aka election campaign) instead of changing anything. In this context, the receipt obligation is one thing above all: a missed opportunity in the area of customer loyalty and digitalisation.

What is the receipt requirement anyway?

The name says it all. From the first of January, retailers will have to print out a receipt regardless of the size of the shopping basket or the amount. The intention behind the law passed in 2016 is to reduce tax fraud in Germany. So it’s about money, a lot of money. Strictly speaking, this should result in an additional one billion in tax revenue. No wonder then that smaller retailers and restaurateurs are up in arms here. Because now a receipt has to be issued for every beer tapped or every roll, roll, bread roll or bread roll sold, so that the purchase is recorded and can be traced. Whether the customer frames the receipt or throws it away, the electronic recording is the important thing, which also means that a digital receipt is allowed;duty to pay applies only if&nbspelectronic recording systemsFor example, electronic cash register systems, iPad cash registers, etc. are used. Open cash boxes (aka cash box), as used at shooting festivals, village festivals or flea markets are not affected. It is also possible to be exempted from the obligation to submit a receipt. This is the case when goods are delivered to a large number of unknown persons, for example mass events such as music festivals, carnivals, etc. This exception must be applied for at the competent authority and is not universal. Taxpayers must prove the personal hardship and unreasonableness, otherwise the obligation to pay a receipt applies. And it does not matter whether the receipt is then printed or sent digitally.

Obligation to pay: Resistance is useless!
Obligation to pay: Resistance is useless!

Bonuses as an opportunity

The receipt obligation could have been the chance to do the same as e-commerce and finally get to know the customer better. The chance to replace medium-quality loyalty programs and offer customers a uniform solution that finally offers the receipt in digital form. An opportunity that has not been taken by any lobby or politics. The Central Association of the German Bakery Trade, for example, which has about 11,000 members, demanded in its press release in November 2019 (two years after the law was passed) that the “”Stop bon and garbage insanity immediately!“.

The independent pharmacists are blowing the same horn: “The population is being misused as financial controllers by the obligation to issue receipts”. says  Member of the board Reinhard Rokitta.

The fact that the two years could have been used to promote an electronic alternative and at the same time to push a uniform customer loyalty programme, is a mistake;

It hurts to see what a missed opportunity the bond duty is.

May block

When you consider how much money the industry still spends on print advertising, it hurts to see what a missed opportunity the receipt obligation is. Imagine which advertising channel an electronic receipt brings with it. With the consent of the customer, one could even have known the shopping basket and thus be able to place targeted offers. It does not take much imagination to work out the possibilities of a digital receipt. What is exemplary for the baker here applies to everyone. So for the huge dealerthere is no digital receipt across all retailers. What there are a few isolated solutions such as those from Netto, Lidl or Edeka. But which customer wants to register for each dealer for his own system? The thesis: very few customers want that.

And the world could have been so beautiful. The only thing I need is a platform on which my credit card (because of me Girocard) is linked to my e-mail. As a customer I can define which information I want to pass on to the dealer (for example shopping cart for personal offers, stamp cards) As soon as a cash register detects that the card is linked to an e-mail, no receipt is printed out. Yeah, aluminum-hat wearers will hate that. But the nice thing is: an option is by no means a constraint. And just such an option, such a system is missing. And of course it also requires cash register integration, but Payback has somehow managed to get into the cash register. Speaking of payback: why didn’t they actually recognize the opportunity for themselves? Startups like Epapwant to occupy the topic for themselves in any case.

Obligation to submit a receipt in Germany – Conclusion

Sad but true, the obligation to pay is another example of wasted opportunities. Whining about it helps nobody and at least of all the consumers. Because they could have been given a real alternative and with an electronic receipt they could have finally taken a real step towards digitalisation. After all, a uniform, digital alternative can ultimately make the receipt printed on thermal paper superfluous. One consolation remains, as the first retailers are taking the opportunity to switch completely to cashless.

Maik Klotz
Maik Klotz ist Berater, Sprecher und Autor zu den Themen Banking, Payment, Digital Identity, E-Commerce und Retail mit starkem Fokus auf "mobile". Seit vielen Jahren berät Maik Unternehmen zu kundenzentrierten Innovationsmethoden und der Fokussierung auf den Nutzer. Er wurde von... mehr