Bonnie: your digital receipt
Everyone’s been there: You’ve mistakenly thrown away a receipt that you still needed. Or it’s gone through the washing machine in your jeans pocket and now it’s illegible. That’s why entrepreneurs Joost Verbakel and Arian Khoshchin want to do away with paper receipts for good... and Bonnie is the solution.
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According to statistics, roughly 90% of paper receipts end up in the trash. But with Bonnie — a digital interface that offers consumers a digital purchase receipt — paper receipts are made redundant. Once you’ve paid for your purchase at the checkout, the receipt is sent to the Bonnie terminal automatically. By linking the Bonnie app to the terminal, you will receive the receipt directly on your phone.
A visit to the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden provided the idea for the start-up. As Khoshchin relates, “I was inspired by an ancient clay tablet with cuneiform script that was excavated in Iran, which is where I come from. The tablet described a transaction between a seller and a customer. It had been preserved for thousands of years. It made me think about what transaction receipts should look like in the future.”
The road from idea to prototype was a bumpy one. “We wanted to be able to help large and small retailers in their transition from paper to digital, so our solution also needed to align with companies that don't want to or can't immediately update their entire POS system. That's why we chose to enhance the existing POS system, which is cheaper than a receipt printer, with a subscription structure that is more economical than the printing costs and has all the benefits of digitization.”
Verbakel explains: “There are lots of reasons why people lose their paper receipts. Many people destroy their receipts soon after making their purchases, while others forget where they put them. However, they may still need these receipts as proof of purchase for warranty claims, tax deductions or business administration, for example. Not being able to show a receipt may result in a financial loss or even fines in the case of tax returns or office-related expenses. However, it would be very difficult to lose a digital receipt. And even if it does get ‘lost,’ it is easy to replace.”
As a consumer you cannot just receive your receipt digitally in every store. Entrepreneurs do need to have a special Bonnie terminal, but they can also realize profit here. “On average, each paper receipt costs around €0.015. This means that a shopkeeper who prints 1,000 receipts a day can save between €5,475 and €18,250 on paper each year.”
Sustainability through digitization
Digital receipts can drastically reduce both our costs and our carbon footprint. “In the US alone, over 12.4 million trees and 50 billion liters of water are consumed each year in the production of paper receipts, which generates 680 million kilograms of waste and 1.8 billion kilograms of CO. While recycling waste is the right thing to do in our extremely polluted world, unfortunately paper receipts are not easy to recycle.” Some paper receipts also contain a chemical substance that presents potential health risks. “By digitizing, we prevent cashiers and others who have to work with receipt paper from coming into contact with this substance.”
What advice would Verbakel give to other new entrepreneurs? “Consciously select your PR events. There are lots of large and small events that you could participate in. Carefully think about whether the event suits your company: who is hosting it, which presentations will be given, and what kind of visitors will be attending. We found the presentation evenings organized by Rabobank to be very useful, for example. We gained a lot of new knowledge and met new contacts. Events can certainly help your business, but you need to carefully consider how they will help your company. Otherwise, they will cost you precious time.”