6 Retail Cash Wrap Tips to Help You Increase Sales at the Checkout Counter

By: Abby Heugel

If there was an easy way to entice your shoppers to make more purchases while in your store, would you do it? Chances are, that you would. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make that happen — starting with your checkout counter and cash wrap.

It’s here that the shopper goes from simply being a guest in your store to becoming a paying customer. But a checkout counter isn’t just a place to pay for things; it’s a place to build your brand, create customer loyalty, and of course, increase sales.

What is a cash wrap?

Simply put, cash wraps are the locations in your store where customers pay for merchandise. But it’s more than just a cash register. It also applies to the surrounding area, including any retail displays or nearby aisles.

To expand a bit, it’s the one place that all of your customers need to pass through to exit your store — whether they’re buying something or not. It’s essentially the last chance you have to entice them to make a purchase. Maybe they didn’t find exactly what they were looking for and start to walk out, only to have their eyes drawn to a display of goods right by the register — which they end up buying.

That’s the power in a cash wrap.

What to consider when designing a cash wrap

While retailers can easily use a cash wrap area to increase sales, that doesn’t mean it’s always used effectively. In fact, this area is often overlooked and not used to its full potential. While you won’t be able to display large items, you can focus on impulse buys and maximizing the selling potential of your floor space.

Here are a few things that you should consider:

Take note of the available space you have

How much space do you have to work with and how does the cash wrap fit into your store layout? When it comes to store layout and traffic flow in places like the US, your cash wrap should ideally be on the left side of the store, towards the front. Most customers turn right when they enter a store, and you want your best selling items in the back, creating the longest path through the store.

(Note: The flow of retail traffic within a store may be different for merchants in the UK or Australia, so be mindful of this when setting up your cash wrap.)

Make sure you keep enough space in front for customers to checkout, while keeping enough space behind the cash wrap for employees to easily work. A good reference guide is the ADA Standard for Accessible Design, which mandates retailers have an area of at least 30 to 40 inches in front of the checkout counter, which will allow for a wheelchair.

Source: ADA.gov

You’ll also need storage for any bags and all the materials employees will need to check people out. The more organized this area is, the shorter the wait time will be for customers.

Source:  Pinterest

Know the types of cash wraps in retail

Not all cash wraps are created equal, so have a think about the best checkout counter configuration for your store. The “right” cash wrap type will depend on the amount of space you have and your objectives.

The three most common cash wrap configurations are:

Single countertop / checkout counter – With this setup, your cash wrap consists of a single checkout counter. This is usually positioned parallel to a wall and takes up the least amount of space, making it ideal for small shops.

Dual cash wrap / two-part unit – According to Palmer Retail Solutions, a dual cash wrap has “one section parallel to the wall and another free-standing unit placed in front, facing the customer.” This cash wrap works great for medium to large stores that need extra space for countertop merchandise.

Three-part cash wrap – This configuration forms a U-shape around your cashiers, and it’s ideal for high-traffic stores that require multiple people at the checkout counter. If you perform other customer-facing tasks at the checkout area (e.g., gift wrapping, order processing, customer support), then a three-part cash wrap is your best bet as it gives you ample countertop space to perform a variety of jobs.

Come up with your checkout counter merchandising strategy

One of the first things you can do to make this area profitable is also the simplest — look at the products that you put there. This is an area ripe for impulse buys — which we’ll get to in a minute — so place items that are complementary to the products stocked in the rest of your store so that you can easily upsell.

The best impulse buys aren’t the most expensive items, but they do help increase total sales. For example, candy, gift cards, batteries, sunglass cases, and even warranties and insurance. Having a different mix of categories can entice your shoppers to buy even more.

While these items will vary depending on the store, generally speaking, items on your cash wrap should be:

  • Easy to grab
  • Packaged in a highly visible, enticing way
  • Lower priced that don’t take a lot of decision-making effort
  • Placed in direct line of the customer
  • Timely, such as holiday promotions
  • High-margin products

Check out this example from the JapanLA store in Los Angeles. Their cash wrap is packed with a variety of easy-to-grab and high-margin items, including cosmetics, pens, notebooks, and gift cards.

Consider doing something similar in your store.

When deciding on your mix of categories, give them a minimum of three months on display, and then analyze their performance. Take a look at the retail data and then cut and replace any poor performing categories.

Checkout counter tips for retailers

Now that you have a cash wrap designed, it’s time to look at implementing some key strategies into the mix.

Encourage impulse buys

If a customer is coming up to the checkout counter, they’re more than likely already going to make a purchase. This is the perfect time to entice them with more given that according to a CreditCards.com poll, five out of six American shoppers admit to making impulse purchases, 79% of which took place in physical storefronts.

It could be that they’re experiencing decision fatigue and their willpower is weakened, or it could just be that they’re lured in by the perfectly placed product right next to the register. Regardless of the reason, 40% of people admit to spending more money than they planned when shopping in stores thanks to those impulse buys.

As mentioned above, your cash wrap is the perfect place to stock relatively low-cost, novel merchandise that is hard for shoppers to resist. There are a couple of options. First, you can put them on or in front of your checkout counter, giving them maximum exposure.

Another option is to have those items near the checkout line. For example, Victoria’s Secret often has displays and fixtures containing inexpensive lip glosses, trial size fragrances, and other novel items near the checkout counter, often tied with an enticing promotion.

Provide useful solutions

How many times have you gotten to the front of a checkout line only to realize that you forgot to pick up something simple, yet important? Here’s the chance for retailers to stock products that customers don’t usually think about buying, but that they actually need.

What you choose to stock here will depend on the kind of products that you sell in your store, but some general questions to ask include:

  • What small products do customers often ask help in finding?
  • Do salespeople get asked about certain smaller items on a regular basis?
  • What items does your target customer often need, but might not think to buy?
  • Are there small, trial-sized versions that can turn into easy, useful add-ons?
  • Are they any small items that can complement your current assortments?

Check out this example from House of CB in West Hollywood, CA. Their cash wrap is filled with accessories such as backless pads, adhesive cups, and covers which serve as perfect additions to the many strapless and backless clothing that the store sells.

House CB also has a number of gift cards on its cash wraps to further drive sales.

Speaking of which, regardless of your niche, one item that should always be placed at the cash wrap is gift cards. Simply seeing these on display can help a customer to remember an upcoming event, birthday, or occasion they need a gift for.

Train your employees

Your employees know what they’re doing, but make sure they’re working the checkout counter in the most efficient way possible. While impulse products can often sell themselves, encouragement from workers can help boost sales even more.

Have employees start conversations that could lead to more sales by asking questions about whether or not shoppers have found everything that they need, or if they want to add on an item that’s relevant to an item they’re already buying.

In addition, make sure that they’re employing upselling strategies, too. Place specific items behind the counter — but still in sight — and have employees start up a conversation about them, suggesting them as an add-on item to their order. Include signage that states available offers and promotions to help support your employee’s sales efforts.

However, make sure employees remember that “no means no.” There’s a fine line between suggestive selling and being flat-out pushy. You want to build up trust and loyalty, and certainly not annoyance and resentment.

Further Reading


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.

Specifically, you will:

  • Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
  • Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
  • Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors

    Learn More

Are you making the most out of your cash wrap?

It seems so simple, and in many ways, it is. An effective cash wrap can mean quick checkouts, additional sales, and increased customer loyalty. Place only relevant, reasonably priced, and useful items at your checkout counter. Not only will that encourage shoppers to buy more of your products, it will also help alert your employees to customer needs.

Make sure it’s not crowded and cluttered, and that it’s an inviting space for everyone who walks into your store. And if all goes well, they’ll be walking out of your store with full bags.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.