Drexel Sophomore Invents System to Provide Digital Receipts
July 29, 2009
Drexel University’s Bradley Ericson, a sophomore at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, has created a system allowing businesses and consumers to use manageable, itemized digital receipts as a replacement for traditional paper receipts. After noticing the amount of paper wasted and inconvenience of printed receipts, Ericson founded 3SecondReceipts LLC to develop and market his digital receipt concept.
Unlike similar systems that allow consumers to scan paper receipts into a database, Ericson’s invention offers digital receipts directly at the point of sale, eliminating the cost and environmental harm of printed paper.
“The average lifespan of a paper receipt is a mere three seconds,” Ericson said. “There are over 4 trillion transactions each year at retailers requiring receipts to be printed, costing retailers $3 billion in paper costs and another $14 billion in printer repairs.”
The 3SecondReceipts system works by equipping retailers with special software and giving customers a card to swipe at participating merchants. All the information normally printed on the receipt is saved to a searchable online database.
As a 19-year-old college sophomore, Ericson is not the typical chief executive. His inspiration for the company came during a quintessential college moment– ordering pizza.
“I was ordering a slice of pizza with my Drexel meal plan. Being a freshman I had an unlimited meal plan but was still provided with a printed paper receipt that was supposed to tell me how many meals I had left. This receipt was instantly thrown away,” Ericson said. That moment made him realize there had to be a better way and he immediately set to work.
The result is a robust system allowing customers to login to track purchases and easily access their receipts for as long as they used the system. Ericson plans to offer the consumer system for free and charge for a business service with added financial management features. Another unique feature of Ericson’s design is that debit and credit card information is not stored or linked to the digital receipt system. Privacy and security is crucial to his concept, Ericson said. He plans to sell aggregate purchasing data to companies attempting to understand the buying habits of “offline consumers.” Large online retailers already collect this kind of information and Ericson believes offline merchants are seeking the same kind of customer insights.
Originally from Fair Lawn, N.J., Ericson is a marketing and entrepreneurship major at the LeBow College of Business. He is vice president of the Drexel Entrepreneur Association and a member of the Drexel Economics Society, Drexel Marketing Association, Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity.
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