Co.Design

The UI Geniuses At Berg Rethink The Common Receipt

Why shouldn't receipts be a way of connecting with customers, in a whimsical way?

A sales receipt generally does two things: It tells you what you bought and how much you paid for it. But since cash registers can already spit out a yard's worth of coupons, why couldn't they also dispense a fortune-cookie surprise: a factoid, say, that might make you chuckle?

That was the starting point for the design team at Berg, which was commissioned by the ad agency Dentsu London last year to find inventive (and often delightful) ways of using the connectivity already embodied by ambient media and everyday products. (Icon magazine recently asked Berg to revisit its receipt concept, the results of which are shown here.)

Berg-Receipt

"A receipt is printed out by a till that is already connected to a complex system," explains Matt Jones, a principal at Berg. "The receipt printer is kind of this tiny print-on-demand machine, which could display a lot more and take on a lot more input." The resulting output, in turn, could take many forms and even be personalized based on customer surveys:

We've added semi-useful info-visualisation of the foods ordered based on "what the till knows" -- sparklines, trends -- and low-tech personalisation of information that might be useful to regulars. Customers can select events or news stories they are interested in by ticking a check box.

Receipts could potentially be used to bring awareness to social and health concerns, but Berg favors a lighter approach. "Not everyone can save the world every time," Jones says, "but you know, it's quite good if you just make somebody smile for 15 seconds."

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44 Comments

  • Mack Hennson Altman III

    I am just now coming across this old post. Sadly, receipts have not gotten better since this post. There are many naysayers in the comments, and I feel the only valid negative comment to be made is that it is wasting paper.

    In regards to the design though, it is very creative. I say we join the minds of those above with the comments below. A receipt should not be any longer than it needs to be and in most cases a coffee shop purchase provides a receipt that may be 3-5" in length. What if we designed a receipt that provided the same length; however, created a more personal touch for the customer. Mentioned below, you could use QR codes in place of sections and have them directed to different sites (1: customer survey, 2: news, 3: company website). Just a thought.

  • Irelandpark

    Usage depends on your business model, B2C or FMCG, use it for branding and consumer mindshare. If you are B2B.. maybe these receipts get expensed, so they touch a number of individuals through an organisation through the accounting process.. even auditors.. maybe you can leave them a useful message also?

  • Gossfunkel

    Anyone else wanting tills working in cooperation with Foursquare? Open foursquare, swipe at till- boom, you're checked in and your Little Printer style receipt gives you some Foursquare stats to see with your coffee.

  • Will

    Waste of paper: agreed. 
    Waste of ink: ??? - Receipt printers don't use ink. They use heat on thermal paper to product printing. Go figure. 

  • The phantom

    I think this is a really cool concept. It connects with clients in a whole new way and could potentially keep them coming back - which is after all the purpose of a business.  @Ssuresh83, I think you need to do some serious reasearch before just sucking some "facts" out of your thumb.  But, you are entitled to your opinion as well.

  • Dr. M

    I disagree with both Ssuresh83 and Soybeanpimp. I don't use a Bluetooth device, and I do want receipts for small amounts (especially if not paying cash). I would love a receipt like this example.

  • Michiel Reuvecamp

    Disagree Chris - It has in fact reduced clutter in that its made the uninteresting and boring content far more engaging and actually worth taking a look at. Thats the goal, to make it something worthwhile taking a look at and not something you automatically throw away.

    Hence the tag line of the article - Why shouldn't receipts be a way of connecting with customers, in a whimsical way?'

  • shotgunconcepts

    The purpose of a receipt redesign should be to reduce clutter and make it easier to use.
    The most important info (what you bought & how much it cost) is lost with this example.

  • Mark

    It looks like a pretty fun concept to me; my initial reaction was to want a list of items, and then I realized at a cafe, I would probably only buy a couple of things, so it would never be much trouble to read. For a cafe or restaurant, this is a fine receipt--the audience is perfect.

    It's highly ignorant how most of the complaints about this concept are about wasting trees, as if there's actually some great global tree shortage. There are more trees now than there were a decade ago; paper companies replant trees, they don't mow across continents in search of trees leaving nothing but homeless squirrels in their wake. Commenters, do some research and stop bleating the same shallow argument you heard in what, the 90s? It's not even a factor in this receipt; the cafe would just have to buy more receipt paper, and it's up to the cafe to make the decision to spring for that, not you.

  • RoguePlanetoid

    If the receipt is the same length then adding some design like this might make people actually take notice of it - and most if not all receipts here in the UK are thermally printed so ink amount doesn't matter, plus if design could use less paper than that would be a saving.

  • Stephen Bell

    Some commenters (and in part, the article) are missing the point that once the system knows you (See "Are you a regular?" at the bottom), you could easily choose to have as much or as little information as you wish. This could be personalisation at it's best.

    Those who prefer to save trees can opt for the top line only. Those who enjoy the trivia can receive it. Those who want the data emailed to them or sent to the cloud somewhere can opt for that.  Treat each customer as they wish to be treated.

  • Ssuresh83

    Cons:
    -Too much graphics, ink is wasted and company will go under loss of buying ink.
    -Customer is not interested in reading the whole receipt, he has already done the calculation in the mind and just sees the whether figure matches
    on the receipt.
    - Nobody is interested in having a receipt for 5 pounds .
    - Wasting a tree for the 5 pounds receipt.

  • Soybeanpimp

    this should be an app... all receipts should be given via bluetooth. yeah, and mo graph all the data yea.

  • Shane Johnston

    Im sure when I submit my expense reports, the auditors will just love reading all these stupid infocrapics.