A cash wrap, also known as a cash well or checkout counter, is the area that houses your point-of-sale system or cash register and where customers pay for their merchandise. A well-designed cash wrap can have a significant impact on your retail success and can drive your business in the following ways:
- Increase customer satisfaction: A well-designed cash wrap can reduce wait times and keep customers entertained (and buying) when waiting to check out.
- Increase employee satisfaction and effectiveness: The cash wrap is a key work area for your retail staff. It can make your employees more organized and efficient and less stressed by putting the right tools at their fingertips.
- Build your brand: The way that you design and display your cash wrap all reflect your brand. A well-designed cash wrap will reinforce your brand and increase customer loyalty and recognition.
- Increase sales: A 2018 study by ThredUp found that up to 50% of purchases are impulse-driven. The checkout area is a great place to promote impulse buying and drive your sales.
Impulse Buy: An unplanned purchase. When customers purchase items they were not planning to, or when something is bought “on a whim.”
Follow the steps below to set up your cash wrap and maximize its potential.
1. Place Your Cash Wrap Strategically
The first thing you will want to do is position your cash wrap strategically in your store. For U.S. businesses, place your cash wrap to the left of the entrance. Customers naturally turn right when they enter a store, and then exit to their left. Placing your checkout area on the natural exit path will ensure that you are not disrupting customer flow.
Customer flow: The number of people who enter your store and the way they move through your space.
Once placed, you will want to be sure that you are leaving enough space for all the necessary activities to take place—you want to be sure that you are leaving room for customers to check out, employees to work, ADA requirements to be met for disabled customers, and merchandise to be displayed.
You want to be sure that you are leaving at least 2-3 feet of open counter space where customers can lay their selection of merchandise. 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 between 30”-36” deep and 38” tall. Stores designed with parallel counters should provide at least 3 feet of space between them for employees to work. These parameters also meet ADA standards.
I would suggest measuring the amount of square footage your cash wrap needs, seeing what that looks like in your space, and then choosing a cash wrap design that is best suited for your business. A small storefront will likely want to choose something small and space effective, whereas a larger business 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 up the rest of your store.
2. Choose Your Design: Types of Cash Wraps and Pricing
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 point-of-sale (POS) systems you need to accommodate. There are several different types of cash wraps, as well as custom options you can choose from.
Click through the dropdown menu 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 or 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 or 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 anywhere 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/or businesses 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 people up, 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 where other tasks are performed as part of the checkout process. Additionally, they are the largest cash wrap option, so businesses will sometimes even use this type of checkout counter as an element of their store design.
U-shaped cash wraps are the largest and most expensive cash wrap option, ranging from $1,200–$10,000, with most counters coming in 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 three to 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 who specialize in making custom cash wraps, so you can work with them if you are not in the market for a contractor.
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.
Choose a POS System
The first activity that your checkout counter needs to support is the actual checkout. Generally, POS systems are placed to a side of a counter, which includes space for a salesperson, a card reader, necessary signage (like return policies or loyalty program information), customer-facing displays, and receipt printers. You should also keep change refills and extra printer paper close to your POS system for ease of use.
POS systems can be a huge asset for business and good ones can help you track inventory, sales, customer engagement, and so much more. There is an overwhelming number of POS systems on the market, and choosing the right one plays a huge role in starting your business.
Take a look at our article on the top POS systems to see which one is right for your business.
Prepare for Tasking
Different businesses need to accommodate different activities at their cash wrap. For example, at my boutique, we offered gift wrapping, needed space for folding and bagging, and hosted a variety of different-sized jewelry boxes. The tasks we performed did not require a ton of tools, so we had simple shelving and organizational bins under our counter filled with bags, scissors, ribbons, jewelry boxes, etc.
A florist, on the other hand, might need supplies at its cash wrap to cut and arrange flowers. Or, a butcher might need tools to trim and measure meats. When stocking your cash wrap, you should consider what activities will be done behind the counter, what tools those activities require, and how you will store or display those tools.
In addition to tools for checkout tasks, you should also equip your cash wrap with things that employees need to quickly grab without having to leave the floor and go to storage/back-stock. Items that can be offered to customers or are needed frequently as part of customer service are often stored behind the cash register for easy access.
For example, my cash wrap contained things like sewing scissors, lint rollers, and static spray—all things we could offer to customers if they needed them in their fittings.
Train Your Employees
To ensure that your supplies are put to good use and that everyone can access tasking items with ease, you should train your employees on how to operate, stock, and maintain your cash wrap.
Use binders for your documents and bins for your supplies; make sure everything has a designated spot and label like crazy. This will help employees utilize all the tools at the cash wrap and make their jobs easier and more efficient.
This will also help associates keep track of supplies inventory, and you should have a system in place for them to request additional supplies. Additionally, this will make your employees’ jobs easier and less frustrating, improving their job satisfaction and enabling better customer service.
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.
Merchandising: The practice of displaying your product and organizing your store to drive sales and provide a stimulating and enjoyable shopping experience.
A well-merchandised cash wrap will turn a simple checkout counter into a locus for upselling and curating customer loyalty. With these pointers, you will learn what it means to create an effective cash wrap:
Encourage Impulse Buys
On average, consumers spend $2,196 a year on impulse purchases, so you want to capitalize on them whenever you can—including at your cash wrap.
The area around the cash wrap is one of the best places to encourage impulse buys. Place small, inexpensive items like snacks, jewelry, cards, etc., around the counter so that people are surrounded by enticing merchandise while they are waiting to check out.
When determining what items to place around your counter, remember that impulse-buy items should do at least one of these things:
- Compliment merchandise people already have. My boutique placed jewelry at the counter to put the perfect accessories for customers’ outfits right at their noses.
- Offer a great price. A local brewery might place clearance T-shirts around their kiosk so that customers see a great deal and are more likely to add it to their carts.
- Remind a customer of need. A liquor store might place bottle openers at the checkout counter to remind customers they need one after they have selected their bottles.
- Be inexpensive. A grocery store might place $3 lip balm packs in their checkout aisle, making it easy for customers to mindlessly toss one in their cart.
You want to keep customers stimulated by merchandise while they wait; however, be sure not to over-crowd your cash wrap with products. Give plenty of space for people to wait without feeling crowded; you want them to be able to take in the items you have on display. A good rule of thumb is the more expensive your impulse buy items are, the fewer you should have around the counter.
For more on how you can use merchandising to drive impulse buys, check out our visual merchandising guide.
Reinforce Your Brand
Your cash wrap will be one of the first and last impressions that your business will leave on customers, so you want to be sure that its merchandising is in line with your brand. The materials, language, and decor that you use can all be tools to reinforce your brand and make it stick in customer memory.
For example, this funky coffee shop uses recycled materials, colorful task lighting, and fun shapes to turn their cash wrap into a design element that strengthens their brand image as a whimsical and “hipster” spot.
Had they used a slick, modern design, their cash wrap would not only have lost its power as a design element but would also have been a distraction from this business’s brand. Consider how you can use your cash wrap as a branding element. Use decor that is in line with your aesthetic, and consider what impression you are leaving on customers.
Advertise Loyalty Programs
Rewards and loyalty programs are a great way to build brand loyalty and create a consistent customer base, and your cash wrap is a great place to promote them. At this point, customers have already decided that they like your business enough to make a purchase. This, plus the natural excitement that comes with buying something, makes customers at the checkout counter poised for a loyalty program pitch.
Did you know?
79% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with a brand.
Use signage around your cash wrap to advertise your rewards program, offer sign-up deals that people can use on their purchases, and (on top of an associate signing them up at checkout) leave out a physical sign-up sheet that people can fill out as they wait. Make signing up as easy as possible and offer an incentive to get people on your list
Use Adequate Lighting
Like everywhere in your store, lighting creates the backdrop where all purchases are made and can enhance your cash wrap. Be sure that you are using adequate lighting to perform all the activities that go on at your checkout counter.
Generally, cash wraps have their own light sources, known as task lights, that create extra brightness in the checkout area. This area tends to need bright lighting to facilitate the reading of tags and other checkout activities.
Task Lighting: Light sources used to illuminate an area for a task or purpose.
The cash wrap also presents a great opportunity to use more creative light fixtures that will create a focal point at your counter and further define your brand.
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.