Receipts Redesign

Less waste, fewer health risks,

more efficiency

My role: UX Designer, Graphic Designer

Tools: Figma, Paper

Timeframe: 24 hours (May 2019)

I was inspired by a tweet...

Long story short... On May 2, 2019, I was randomly scrolling on Twitter and a tweet by Artiom Dashinsky caught my attention. Below is a screenshot of that tweet:

"A physical receipt is wasteful with low readability and functionality."

I deeply relate to this post. Being in college for almost four years, I can't even remember how many receipt papers from the café I have thrown away after getting the waiting number at the bottom of the receipts. Not to mention the huge amount of physical receipts from other places that require you to sign your name and the amount of tip. Looking to improve the receipt experience, I decided to treat it as a design challenge and spend 24 hours to find some optimized solutions.

Challenges

The current designs

There are so many kinds of receipts from different sources and it's impossible to get them all. Because they are all defined as receipts, there must have many common attributes among most receipts. Therefore, I am thinking about presenting some of the most common kinds of receipts as representations of current designs, such as shop receipts.

Coffee receipt

Coffee

Sandwich receipt

Sandwich

Flight baggage receipt

Pain points

Paper receipts are prevalent around the world. I see them everywhere and every day. But this doesn't mean that they are the perfect solutions for transaction proofs. They did serve their purpose for a long time when we didn't have any alternatives other than paper. However, they can be harmful and inefficient. After reading some papers and doing some general research online about receipt papers, I was really surprised by how many disadvantages and harms they have, providing the fact of how popular they are being used. I am going to address some of the pain points of paper receipts from three perspectives: individual, environment, and usability.

  • Health and environment

HARMFUL CHEMICALS

Most widely used paper receipts are made from thermal paper, a common source of harmful BPA and BPS. Direct and frequent exposure to those chemicals leads to health risks (insulin, brain behavior, heart, etc.)

WASTEFUL &

NON-RECYCLABLE

BPA-coated receipt papers are difficult to recycle as they can contaminate recycled papers. Composting them can cause water pollution. Burning them can cause air pollution. All of these will cause harmful health risks.

  • Usability

HARD TO

RESTORE & KEEP

Physical receipts are hard to restore. They fade as time goes by. Thermal paper is susceptible to heat and UV light, that's why they are gradually fading. People usually find it difficult to restore them properly. 

LOW

READABILITY

All kinds of receipts have different visual systems and hierarchies (text and visual). Every time people read a new receipt, they need to spend some time to adapt to a new design system. Simply exhausting right? That's why people rarely read them.

SEARCHING

PROBLEM

It is difficult to find a certain receipt among a stack of paper receipts with similar appearances.

Many people take photos of their paper receipts for future reference. But searching for a specific receipt is also a lot of work.

Source: 

[1] Ehrlich S, Calafat AM, Humblet O, Smith T, Hauser R. Handling of Thermal Receipts as a Source of Exposure to Bisphenol A. JAMA. 2014;311(8):859–860. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.283735

[2] https://www.business.gov.au/finance/payments-and-invoicing/receipts-and-proof-of-purchase

[3] https://www.greenamerica.org/report-STS

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25813067

Design Process

Before providing any design solutions, I have so many questions to ask... Let me address them one by one to have a context and background overview of something we see and use almost every day.

Design goals

Eliminating the pain points to the minimum! 

Less pollution, more efficiency.

Questions

  • What is a receipt?

A receipt or proof of purchase is a document that business provides to customers as a record of their purchase of goods or services. A receipt can be in the form of a tax invoice, or a printed cash register or hand-written receipt. A receipt is a written acknowledgment that something of value has been transferred from one party to another. In addition to the receipts consumers typically receive from vendors and service providers, receipts are also issued in business-to-business dealings, as well as stock market transactions. 

  • What must be included on a receipt?

1. Business name and ABN or ACN

2. Date of supply

3. Details on the product or service

4. The price

  • What are the purposes of a receipt?

Providing information to customers or donors, documenting purchases and assisting with internal accounting.

1. They note the details of a customer's purchase, including itemized products and services, unit prices, subtotals, taxes, and totals.

2. The receipt also indicates the date of purchase, which is especially important to business buyers that use receipts to record transactions.

3. Receipts also communicate company policies and offer discounts for follow-up surveys.

  • Why do people need receipts?

Customers may use their receipt or proof of purchase when seeking a refund, repair or replacement on a good or service provided.

Solution(s)

Whiteboard exploration process

My solution (1st round)

I came up with an App concept called Receipt Hoarder that connects businesses and customers and allows users to scan the businesses' QR code to get the electronic receipts directly saved on the App. Users can also restore receipts and search for a specific one.

 

The whiteboard above is hard to read... Let me clean up my solution:

Concept map

User flowchart (1st version)

Receipt Hoarder_2x.png

What's next?

As you can see, this is an ongoing project. I am busy drawing wireframes and defining prototypes for Receipt Hoarder. Don't forget to bookmark this page and check out later for future development:) 

Open for Product/UX Design roles and freelance projects.

See my résumé.

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© 2020 by Yifan Zhang