In the 1960s, the green movement was first introduced and resulted from concerns surrounding local and global degradation of the physical environment. Today, the concept is commonly referred to as "going green" and encompasses various behaviors meant to support a more sustainable future. As technology has become more prevalent, going paperless has become an aspect of this movement.
While many companies are still on the verge of taking the leap, research has found that going paperless can bring varying benefits to businesses. Additionally, making the switch can be simply done by leveraging the technology that already exists.
Go Paperless and Reduce Waste
Nearly 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away each year, and the amount of water and oil that go into creating that paper is no less unsettling. By going paperless, a business can be part of the answer to this wasteful problem rather than its contributor.
Go Paperless and Streamline Operations
Streamlining operations by going paperless is a matter of simplifying record-keeping. Digital records make it so that bill-paying happens automatically, records are searchable, and information can be accessed anywhere. The time, space, and energy that might be used sorting and keeping track of physical records can be replaced by going paperless.
Go Paperless and Save Money
The impact that going paperless has on the overhead that a company pays is impressive. Right now, just in the United States, around $460 billion is paid out every year in salaries for employees whose job is to manage paper-driven information overload. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on printing documents, companies incur another $6 in handling and distributing the paper. Furthermore, companies must consider the logistical cost of distributing the material: For each case of paper, a company will spend roughly $224 to distribute what is printed.
Leveraging Retail Technology to Go Paperless
To go paperless, businesses around the globe are relying on tech solutions.
Ombori Grid is an innovative technology company that builds creative digital solutions for physical spaces. Many of their solutions are helping companies rely less on paper without compromising the quality of experience they are creating. Here are a few types of emerging technologies that businesses are using today:
Good digital signage means engaging, interactive content that is customizable depending on the needs and context. It might be an interactive map in a shopping mall that directs customers where they need to go or where they might find good deals on featured products. Or, it might be an interactive mirror that helps customers imagine what new styles might look like or make suggestions about what to purchase next based on their preferences.
Digital signage enhances the customer experience and creates memorable moments while reducing the cost to the business owner. With good digital signage, a business can avoid printing maps, flyers, and other marketing material. In a dining setting, digital signage might be a scannable QR code that guests use to read menus and order food, which replaces the cost of receipt paper and physical menus.
One powerful example of digital signage helping businesses go paperless while better serving customers is at the Madrid airport. The airport utilizes Ombori Store Assistant in its duty-free shopping store, Dufry, to dramatically reduce paper use. The kiosks provide numerous services to the customer, including helping them find and purchase products, review flight information, and locate services in the airport.
Digital signage can also be a powerful and savvy investment. A 2020 analysis broke down the financial profits a company can gain by relying on these new technologies. Here's the takeaway in hard numbers:
- Of brands that use digital signage, 80% have recorded a substantial increase in sales – up to 33%, with a greater appeal toward epicurean product purchases than planned purchases. Digital signage has resulted in a 46% increase in customer satisfaction and has raised the average purchase amount by 29.5%.
- Digital displays can create a 31.8% upswing in overall sales volumes and result in 32.8% growth in repeat buyers. Digital signage raises brand awareness and complements a company's marketing strategies. More than 40% of buyers say that digital signage can influence their purchasing decisions.
- 68% of Americans have paid for a product or service because its signage caught their eye. Customers spend 30% more time browsing products in stores that have deployed digital signage. Implementing digital signage technology can increase footfall by up to 24% in retail stores.
Given these impacts, it seems that making the switch to paperless operations is more than cost-saving — it can mean a substantial boost in a company's growth, too.
Virtual Queuing Systems
Virtual queuing systems are another powerful tool in the arsenal of a business looking to go paperless and improve customer experiences with technology. A virtual queuing system is a tool that allows customers to take their place in a virtual line without having to physically stand in line. Queuing systems have four components: booking, ticketing, notification, and admission. Customers first use their device, a website, or a kiosk to book their appointment or place in line. Then, they can use their mobile device to pay for and store a ticket or receipt and can wait their turn wherever and however they'd like. When the time comes, the customer will receive a text message or push notification that it's their turn, and they'll use their device again to access their appointment or venue.
So what do virtual queuing systems mean for a business? Some of the benefits include furthering efforts to go paperless and streamlining the entire booking, ticketing, and admission process, which reduces staffing needs and makes for a smoother customer experience. The most apparent benefit is to the customer; everyone hates to wait in line, and virtual queuing systems make it so they don't have to. The less obvious benefit is to the business and employees!
Virtual queuing systems help manage the flow of traffic in and out of a store and protect employees from the stress of overcrowding and violations of social distancing measures. Plus, systems like Ombori's Virtual Queue offer analytics that business owners can use to track high and low traffic times and schedule their employees with better optimization.
Virtual queuing systems help a business go paperless as well. The physical tickets, receipts, order numbers, etc., that typically go into a ticketing and asynchronous queuing operation can be done away with in favor of smartphone use and digital signage. In other words, you enjoy lower overhead costs and happier customers.
The Bonus: Technology Offers Analytics
Business owners generally have to review data to analyze ways to improve their operations. When are peak hours? What tools and promotions brought in the most customers? How many employees should be put on the schedule at a given time? One of the most compelling benefits of technology solutions like Ombori Grid is that they offer built-in analytical capabilities that crunch the numbers for business owners and simplify decision-making.
There is no need to spend valuable time and energy making sense of foot traffic data when you could have a computer running those numbers for you. While saving overhead expenses is an obvious benefit of going paperless, it is harder to measure the intangible, equally valuable benefit of having analytical tools seamlessly available.
An Upgrade for The Future
Going paperless is the future in most industries, and the chances are good that the benefits we outlined here for various industries apply to your business, too. Start taking the next step toward improving your bottom line and better serving your customers by evaluating where your processes rely on outdated paper tools like booking, ticketing, receipts, and record-keeping.
Then, start exploring the solutions that are available on the market. A future in which we can collectively save billions of trees, billions of gallons of water, and barrels of oil while boosting revenue and ensuring a more convenient, positive, memorable experience for customers is beneficial all around.
Rui is COO of Ombori Grid. Before joining Ombori in 2017, he worked in Beijing, Tokyo, Silicon Valley and Zagreb before ending up in Stockholm. He previously spent nine years in R&D at Ericsson as Operative Product Owner, and is a highly skilled leader in IT and communications with a successful track record of working closely with both stakeholders and management.