Thermal POS receipt paper, a more than 30-year-old staple for customers in stores and banks, may also become a store standard for on-the-spot, quick-as-a-flash coupons before a product is purchased. In some US stores, customers are being directed when they enter the store to scan loyalty cards at a kiosk for printed coupons. This effort at influencing shoppers before they buy a product and reach the cash register is growing in interest among retailers and grocers behind rapidly-moving moving mobile device and printer technologies.
“The driving force of this is convenience — convenience at the point of activity,” said a US paper industry executive. “The battlefront can’t be at the cash register, but at the point of activity.”
Most US grocery coupons, about 20%, are pre-printed on thermal paper or on Epson inkjet (Catalina) printers. The redemption rate for these is about 5%. Even so, the US coupon market is shifting from newspaper inserts and handouts at store fronts to one more connected with information available on iPhones and tablets. This offers “good” potential for thermal paper coupons, executives said.
The “biggest challenge,” one executive with a thermal paper producer said, “is building the whole thing” from paper maker and coater, to the software, scanner, printer, and cashier. “The goal is to make the [coated thermal] paper part of the [mobile device] technology… so there’s a more effective application of technology,” said another.
That also comes with risk for papermakers from mobile devices that can hold coupons online and with customers who do not wanted a print coupon, similar to some in banks and at department stores who can opt today for their receipts to be online only. Either way, however, a contact said: “You have to look upstream if you’re going to influence that product selection decision. It has to be close to the decision and that’s in the aisle.”