“A cash wrap,” says Maxime Cohen, Scale AI Chair Professor of Retail and Operations Management at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, “is the location inside the store where customers pay. It also includes the surrounding retail displays.”
A store’s cash wrap is more than just the point at which transactions take place, however. It also plays an important role in increasing sales, improving the guest experience, and reducing theft. Keep reading to learn more about this critical retail fixture.
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What is a cash wrap?
A cash wrap is a store’s checkout counter. The cash wrap is a great place to boost revenue through impulse purchases and inexpensive add-ons.
The location in retail stores where customers check out and pay for their merchandise is crucial. It is the last chance for retailers to entice customers to buy products and to enhance sales and profits.
Think about the checkout experience at your local grocery store. Chances are, the cash wrap is surrounded by displays filled with magazines, beverages, gum, snacks, and other post-shopping pick-me-ups. These items are intentionally selected to boost average purchase value.
Importance of cash wrap counters
In addition to boosting sales, cash wrap counters also play a role in improving the checkout experience and preventing theft. Here’s how.
Again, the cash wrap presents a final opportunity to make a sale. When a checkout counter is surrounded by displays filled with impulse purchases, customers won’t think twice about reaching for them.
A good cash wrap should incentivize impulsive purchases without being pushy. It should include products specifically targeted for the type of customers coming to the store.
A checkout counter should anticipate customers’ needs. A big box store may entice tired shoppers with bottles of soda and candy bars. A boutique that specializes in gifts may put gift bags, wrapping paper, and greeting cards next to the cash wrap.
“Common practices include displaying new cool products that are visually appealing – preferably high-margin products,” Cohen says. “Other common practices are to display small inexpensive products like accessories as well as gift cards.”
In addition to promoting add-on products, the cash wrap and checkout experience are often used to inform shoppers of sales, store credit cards, or loyalty programs.
Improved checkout experience
While long lines are a sign that your shop is popular, they can tarnish an otherwise great customer experience. With a thoughtfully designed cash wrap, however, you can bust lines and keep shoppers entertained as they wait.
Wayfinding signs and screens that announce open registers keep things moving quickly. Card payments, especially contactless ones, also reduce wait times. With a mobile POS, store associates can approach customers who are in line and check them out before they make it to the cash wrap.
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If you have a long queue, customers won’t mind waiting if they’re entertained. Fill the aisles leading to your cash wrap with intriguing impulse purchases. This is also a great place to show videos that share promotions or information about your shop and its products.
In short, a well-designed cash wrap can reduce lines and entertain shoppers to keep customers coming back for more.
In 2020, retailers lost an average of $461.86 per shoplifting incident, according to the National Retail Federation. Your cash wrap can help you reduce shoplifting.
With a centralized checkout spot, you can easily tell if someone walks out without visiting the cash wrap. When you place your checkout counter next to your store’s exit, you can more easily spot someone if they try to leave without paying. This strategic location also deters theft.
Types of retail checkout counters
- Single countertop
- Dual cash wrap
- Three-part unit
There is no one-size-fits-all cash wrap configuration. It’s important to be intentional and design a checkout counter that meets your shop’s needs. Here are several options to consider.
A single countertop consists of one point of sale (POS) system on a counter. It’s best for small shops, or stores that sell luxury goods where few products are purchased, so there’s less chance of a queue forming.
“A single countertop has the advantage of taking a small amount of space,” Cohen says.
Despite its size, the single countertop can have space for displaying impulse purchases, either on top of the counter, or on racks adjacent to it.
Dual cash wrap
As the name suggests, a dual cash wrap consists of two checkout registers. With more points of sale, it’s easier to reduce queues. Consider a dual cash wrap if your store processes lots of transactions or has busy periods.
“A dual cash wrap takes more space, but offers the opportunity to display items for sale on the counter,” Cohen says. Take advantage of this, he counsels, by strategically placing impulse products near your counter.
Dual cash wraps come in many shapes and sizes. For example, you could put two POS systems side by side on a counter, configure the counter into an L shape, or have two separate but parallel registers. Choose a configuration that works best for your store’s layout and flow of traffic.
A three-part cash wrap houses three checkout points. This design is better suited for larger stores that process many transactions.
A larger checkout area means you can have more retail displays leading up the register. Fill these with accessories and add-ons to increase sales.
As with a dual cash wrap, you can configure a three-part unit in multiple ways. Side-by-side registers are ideal for saving space, while L-shaped and U-shaped counters create a nook for cashiers to store returns, promotional items, online orders, and more.
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Cash wrap counter ideas and tips
- Encourage impulse buys
- Consider optimal store layout
- Use a POS system
- Train cashiers to optimize sales
- Highlight loyalty programs
- Promote seasonal products
- Reinforce the store brand
Need a little more inspiration before you build or optimize your checkout counter? Consider these tips.
Encourage impulse buys
Retail therapy is as popular as ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in impulse purchases.
According to a poll by Slickdeals, the average American’s impulse buying increased by 18% – from $155.03 per month to $182.98 per month – during the pandemic.
As shoppers transition from online shopping to in-person shopping, they’re primed to continue making impulse purchases.
The cash wrap is your last opportunity to encourage them to spend more, so it’s important to add temptations along the route. Create displays adjacent to your cash wrap and fill them with inexpensive goodies.
Because they don’t cost a lot, customers won’t have qualms about adding these items to their carts. And, if your line is moving, they won’t have much time to second guess their decisions.
According to DAC, the following types of products are the best to include at the cash wrap:
- Sample-sized versions of your best sellers. Think travel-sized beauty products.
- Small purchases, like gift cards, candy bars, or gum.
- Accessories for popular products, such as batteries, greeting cards, or stamps.
- Bundles or value sets that look like a great deal.
Consider optimal store layout
“The most important part of the cash wrap design is its location,” Cohen says. “One needs to think carefully about the customer flow and the customer journey inside the store.”
Sometimes it makes sense to place the cash wrap near the exit, to assist the flow of foot traffic and prevent theft. Other times it makes more sense to place it in the back or middle of the store to encourage customers to see more products, and perhaps buy more, before they pay.
Notice the way customers move around your store, and take it into consideration as you plan where to place your cash wrap. If your store has windows, for example, you may not want to place the cash wrap right next to them, because it might block them. Instead, you could use your windows to build a window display to highlight products and catch passersby’s eyes.
Use a POS system
With a mobile POS system, every employee becomes a checkout point. A mobile POS that runs on a smartphone or tablet lets cashiers process transactions from anywhere in the store. This freedom helps employees bust lines and reduce congestion at the cash wrap.
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Train cashiers to optimize sales
As we said, strategically placing impulse products alongside your cash wrap can entice customers to buy more than they intended. There’s a good chance they’ll buy even more if your cashiers are trained to drive sales. Include upselling and cross-selling techniques as part of your store’s cashier training.
Highlight loyalty programs
In addition to promoting add-on products, cashiers should also be trained to highlight rewards programs, gift cards, and store credit cards at the cash wrap. Give them a script to follow to help them convince shoppers to sign up before they finalize their purchase.
Offering a discount or freebie upon sign up is an effective way to incentivize customers to take action.
Promote seasonal products
Your cash wrap displays should be changed regularly. By promoting seasonal items, you can remind customers to partake in gifting holidays, take advantage of a customer’s fear of missing out, or engage them in the holiday spirit.
For example, place flowers, chocolates, gift cards, and greeting cards by the cash wrap for Valentine’s Day.
Reinforce the store brand
As with other merchandising elements throughout your shop, the checkout counter presents an opportunity to reinforce your brand. Display your shop’s logo, or something else that represents the brand, on a wall or display behind or near the cash wrap.
Design your retail store checkout counter
The cash wrap is one of the most important fixtures in a retail setting. Beyond being the place where purchases are made, the checkout counter can also drive sales through impulse purchases, improve the guest experience, and deter theft. Design a cash wrap that suits your store’s needs.
Turn store traffic into sales
With Shopify’s mobile POS, you can serve customers anywhere in your store and banish lineups at the checkout counter. Use any smartphone or tablet to process returns and exchanges, accept payments, and check out customers wherever they are.