This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Cash wraps, also known as cash wells and checkout counters, are the areas in stores that house point-of-sale (POS) systems or cash registers and where customers pay for their merchandise. A well-designed cash wrap can significantly impact your retail success and drive your business by increasing customer and employee satisfaction and sales and building your brand.
Follow the steps below to set up your cash wrap and maximize its potential.
Step 1: Place Your Cash Wrap Strategically
The first thing you will want to do is position your cash wrap strategically in your store. For US businesses, place your cash wrap to the left of the entrance. Customers naturally turn right when they enter a store, then exit to their left. Placing your checkout area on the natural exit path will ensure that you are not disrupting customer flow.
Once placed, leave enough space for customers to checkout, employees to work, ADA requirements to be met (at minimum), and merchandise to be displayed.
You also want to leave at least 2–3 feet of open counter space where customers can lay their selections. Leaving less space will make customers feel inclined to make smaller purchases, whereas leaving this amount of space or more will encourage customers to pick out more products.
Additionally, checkout counters are usually 30”–36” deep and 38” tall. Stores designed with parallel counters should provide at least three feet of space between them for employees to work. These parameters also meet ADA standards.
Measure the amount of square footage your cash wrap needs, see what that looks like in your space, and then choose a cash wrap design that is best suited for your business. A small storefront will likely want to choose something space effective, whereas a larger store might want to choose something that makes a bold statement and accommodates more registers.
You can check out our guide for more on planning your store layout and setting the rest of your store up.
Step 2: Choose Your Design
Choosing the right cash wrap for your space will come down to available square footage, what tasks need to be performed at your counter, and how many POS systems you need to accommodate. There are several different types of cash wraps, and you can even choose from custom options. However, every great cash wrap contains the elements listed above, illustrated in the image below:
Click through the headings below to learn more about the four main types of cash wraps.
Single Counter Cash Wrap
The single counter cash wrap has one counter that generally runs parallel to a wall. Of the cash wrap options, this one takes up the least amount of space, making it ideal for smaller storefronts and those that don’t need much space behind their counter. With its smaller size, there is also less storage and workspace behind the single counter configuration, making it best suited for stores that need it for limited activities.
However, single counter cash wraps can also be used for large retailers needing a long checkout with multiple registers and even for busy retailers needing multiple standalone checkout stations.
For example, grocery stores use single counter cash wraps because scanning and packing groceries are the only tasks that the counters need to host. Additionally, the single counter’s size allows grocers to fit more checkout stations in smaller square footage.
Depending on the materials and dimensions, the average cost of a single counter cash wrap can range from $400–$3,000. Most average around $600.
L-shaped Cash Wrap
The L-shaped or dual cash wrap has two separate counters: one typically used for displaying product or tasking and the other for checking out customers. For stores with heavier customer flow, you can also use both counters as checkout stations to move people out faster.
These counters are best suited for stores with more square footage, those with higher customer flow, and those that require tasks to take place at the register. For example, you will find dual cash wraps at many coffee shops, as this gives one side of the counter for taking orders and the other for distributing them to customers. Or you might find this arrangement at a fabric store, where one side is used for ringing up orders and the other for cutting down samples to size.
L-shaped cash wraps can range anywhere from $1,000–$5,000, with most options coming in at around $1,700.
U-shaped Cash Wrap
The U-shaped cash wrap has three counters that can be used for tasking or multiple cashiers. This is ideal for stores that need to have multiple people behind the register either to check people out or perform tasks. It is also great if you need to store a lot of items behind your register, as it provides the most storage.
For example, jewelers will often have U-shaped counters, as this allows multiple clerks to be behind the counter to help people look at jewelry. It also gives them maximum space to display their pieces and store supplies.
You will also find U-shaped cash wraps in stores that offer gift wrapping or shops that need a space for tasks performed as part of the checkout process. These are the largest cash wrap option, so businesses will sometimes even use this type of checkout counter as an element of their store design.
In addition to being the largest, U-shaped cash wraps are the most expensive cash wrap option, ranging from $1,200–$10,000. Most counters come in at around $2,500.
Custom Cash Wraps
For some retailers, a custom cash wrap is the best option—whether because of an irregularly shaped space, specific tasking criteria that need to be accommodated, or a design desire.
Custom-built cash wraps are usually quoted on an individual basis by a regional or local contractor. When looking for a contractor, keep these things in mind:
- Fabrication can take 3–10 weeks
- Total delivery and installation can take one to two months
- Portability is a consideration in case you ever move the business
There are also retailers that specialize in making custom cash wraps, so you can work with them if you are not in the market for a contractor.
Step 3: Stock Your Counter With a POS System
With your cash wrap selected and placed in your store, it is time to stock your counter with a POS system, prepare the space for tasking, and introduce your employees to the tools and systems located at the cash wrap.
Step 4: Merchandise Your Cash Wrap
Once your cash wrap is set up with supplies, it is time to make it beautiful (and sales-driving) through merchandising.
The practice of displaying your product and organizing your store to drive sales and provide a stimulating and enjoyable shopping experience. See our merchandising guide to learn more.
A well-merchandised cash wrap will turn a simple checkout counter into a locus for upselling and curating customer loyalty by encouraging impulse buys, reinforcing your brand, advertising loyalty programs, and showcasing products with proper lighting:
Common Cash Wrap Mistakes
As we have seen throughout this article, there are a lot of pieces that go into making a well-designed and fully functional cash wrap. If you follow these instructions, you are sure to create something great. There are, however, pitfalls that can impede your cash wrap’s performance that you should avoid.
More than payments happen at the cash wrap. From driving sales and creating customer loyalty to building your brand and having a happy and healthy business, your cash wrap is the hub for so many important aspects of growing your business. Done with the right considerations and care, as laid out in this article, you are ready to design a cash wrap that makes sense for your business and helps maximize its potential.