Brands To Gain Consumer Personal Data From California E-Receipt Legislation

As Californians cheer “save the environment,” marketers are likely doing their own happy dance over the proposal that would require businesses in the state to offer electronic receipts unless customers ask for paper copies.

The legislation -- AB-161, proposed Tuesday -- is not completely new. Many businesses, except for grocery stores, already offer the ability to email the receipt. Less often, the consumer has the ability to have that receipt texted to him or her.

Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco said a law is needed because many consumers don’t realize that some paper receipts are coated with chemicals prohibited in baby bottles, can’t be recycled and can contaminate other recycled paper, according to the Associated Press.

The legislation would take affect in January 2022. It's not clear how much it will cost businesses, specifically smaller ones with less tech expertise. But implementing the technology could put the smaller brands and companies on a stronger playing field with larger and more tech-savvy ones.



For advertisers, the law become a bonanza of data with the ability to not only more accurately link offline to online purchases, but searches on Google and Bing. It would lock the consumer mobile numbers into a profile built on opt-in data.

Imagine having a phone number and email address for every consumer who has ever bought anything from your business.

Google Match, which Google introduced in 2015, expanded to include targeting by mobile numbers. It provided markets with more targeting options based on their customer relationship management (CRM) data. This California legislation could provide many of the same options, but without having to use Google’s platform.

The data also would belong to the retailer or brand and not to Google, giving marketers more choices. Not all advertisers have a large email list, but this would help them build a list of both emails and mobile numbers, even connecting the two with location data.

And it will become nearly, in the state of California, for consumers who wish to pay cash and remain anonymous when requiring a receipt for everything from a pack of gum at a gas station or lunch at their favorite eatery, to shirts, purses or shoes at a retailer.  

2 comments about "Brands To Gain Consumer Personal Data From California E-Receipt Legislation".
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  1. Robin Caller from LOLA GROVE, January 12, 2019 at 6:04 a.m.

    Laurie, how do you think that will reconcile with increased privacy regulations?
    In the EU, that equivalent legislation would not stop consumers from requesting access, edit, export and deletion rights. 
    I'm also not clear about your conclusion. 

  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, January 13, 2019 at 6:48 p.m.

    Hi Robin, Thank you for commenting. I think this will fall in place when it comes to increased privacy regulations, because the consumer would essentially be opting in to provide their email address and/or mobile number. Consumers might still request access ... and deletion rights, as you suggest, but for the most part I do not think they will fight the electronic receipt in California. As for my conclusion, I prefer to pay cash while in a physical store. I feel it's the last place that I can completely remain anonymous. This bill, however, would still allow me to ask for a paper receipt. I just believe, for the most part, most people will not as for one. They will accept the electronic receipt, making it easier for retailers and businesses to collect personal information. 

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