14 Retail Checkout Counter Ideas to Try in Your Store

When was the last time you gave your retail checkout counter some love?

(And no, we’re not just referring to cleaning up your countertop or moving some stuff around.)

Your checkout area is a critical part of your retail store — and it’s not just because it’s the space where you ring up customers. With the right approach, your cash wrap can also drive sales, increase exposure, and give shoppers a lasting impression.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways you can spruce up your retail checkout counter.

1. Make health and safety a priority

With COVID-19 keeping people on guard, you need to make your customers and employees feel safe while in your store — and that it includes the checkout area. As such, be sure to beef up health and safety in your cashwrap. Depending on your store, this could mean:

  • Installing plexiglass so there’s a physical barrier between shoppers cashiers
  • Having a bottle of sanitizer on the counter so customers can disinfect their hands
  • Investing in fixtures or materials like this this antimicrobial countertop mat

Taking these steps will help your customers feel more at ease and it shows your staff that you’re looking out for them. All in all, it creates a win-win situation for everyone. 

2. Make a statement — literally

Display a witty remark on your cashwrap. A compelling statement at the checkout area can serve different purposes, including:

  • Showing off your brand’s personality
  • Making your customers laugh or feel more connected to your brand
  • Reinforcing the things that make your products great
  • Boosting the look and feel of your checkout area 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Staghorn Mercantile (@staghorn.mercantile) on

The above is a cool example from Staghorn Mercantile, a nurseries and gardening store in Oregon. Staghorn has the sentence “Because plants are cheaper than therapy” written on the front of its checkout counter, and does a great job at marketing the store’s products while keeping the cash wrap area looking fresh and engaging.

3. Encourage impulse buys

Allocate some space in your checkout area for items that people can quickly buy on their way out. With the right approach, you stand a great chance of increasing each sale.

Impulse purchases account for a significant chunk of consumer spending. A survey by CreditCards.com found that “Eighty-four percent of poll respondents say they’ve made an impulse purchase at some time, and 77 percent in the past three months.”

The survey also found that nearly 80% of respondents made an impulsive purchase in-store, versus just 6% who said they impulsively bought something on their mobile device.

As a brick-and-mortar store, you’re in a great position to encourage impulse buys, and your checkout counter is one of the most natural areas in your store to do this. People who’ve made it to the checkout line are obviously in the mood to buy, so positioning the right merchandise can help boost their basket size.

What are the best impulse buy items?

Generally speaking, the best impulse buys are small and self-explanatory. As business consultant Lynn Switanowski told ABC News, “Such products don’t need a lot of explaining. It sells itself (because) you understand what it does.”

Depending on your store, you could consider displaying the following items at checkout:

  • Gift cards
  • Travel-sized version of existing products
  • Accessories to compliment your core merchandise
  • Seasonal products (e.g. holiday cards, gift items)
  • Food and drink
  • Small toys or kids’ products
  • Practical items like car chargers

Whatever you decide, make sure those impulse items are on brand. For example, JapanLA, a shop that features Japanese Pop Culture toys, gifts, and apparel, displays nifty items like lipsticks and stickers at the checkout counter.

What’s great about them is that they’re not just any old lipsticks or stickers. Just like the rest of JapanLA’s products, these impulse buys fit in with the Japanese pop culture lifestyle that the store promotes.

4. Make it a work of art

Feeling crafty or imaginative? Then let your creativity shine through to your cashwrap. You’re already getting creative with your window displays and store fixtures, so why not let your checkout counter get in on the fun?

Here’s a great example of a checkout counter that serves as a work of art at the same time:

credit: levettedivasboutique on Instagram

5. Give people the chance to (digitally) browse your products

If you have an ecommerce site and don’t carry every single SKU in-store, give shoppers the ability to browse the rest of your catalog. You can easily to do this by giving your associates tablets that they can use when interacting with shoppers.

As for customers who prefer to browse on their own? Put tablets on checkout counter area so customers can explore your online shop. Here’s a great example from activewear retailer Outdoor Voices:

6. Add a TV screen behind you

Television screens not only enhance the look and feel of your store, but they can also heighten the shopping experience. You can use TV screens to reinforce your brand and products. Let’s say you’re an apparel retailer. Why not air a slideshow exhibiting your latest look designs?

In some cases, TV screens can be used to entertain customers. JapanLA, for example, has a video of adorable cats playing on loop.

The wall behind your checkout counter is one of the best places on which to install your TV. It’s a prominent section of your store, so you can pretty much guarantee more eyeballs. Plus it gives your customers something to look at while waiting for their turn at checkout (see the photo of JapanLA’s checkout counter above).

7. Add a bit of “you” 

Use your checkout space to show off your personality or story. Fancy fixtures and decorations are great, but having something uniquely “you” on or around your checkout counter will give shoppers a glimpse of who your are what you’re all about. That’s the type of thing that encourages connection and memorability.

So, use your shop’s checkout section to tell people about yourself or your business story. Maybe you can put up photos from when you were just starting out. Or, if your business has any press mentions, you could put up those magazine articles up on your checkout wall.

Have a look at this great example from Lynn & Barrett, a mother-daughter owned clothing boutique, which has portrait drawing of the owners hanging in their checkout area. https://www.instagram.com/p/BMCC6rQhJeb/

Credit: storiesoftori_ on Instagram

8. Invest in great lighting

Your checkout counter needs to be well lit, so why not invest in lighting that’s beautiful and functional at the same time? Bold lighting fixtures right above your cashwrap can draw attention to your checkout area while enhancing your overall in-store design.

9. Add a plant

Looking for a quick and inexpensive way to spruce up your counters? Add plants.

They’re easy and affordable to maintain, and they can instantly breathe life into your checkout area.

Empire Homewares in Australia is a master at using plants in-store. Check out their photos below, and notice how they use planters to enhance their checkout counter (and various other space in the shop).

Image credit: empirehomewares on Instagram

10. Use your POS system to boost the appearance of your checkout counter

Your point of sale system is the most important piece of technology on your checkout counter. And if you get the right POS, you can even use it to enhance your cashwrap.

Get yourself a sleek POS system that works on a tablet or a computer, versus a clunky cash register. In addition to saving space, modern POS solutions look and function beter, so you can ring up customers efficiently — and in style.

And depending on your store, you can even add a splash of color to your hardware. Selftraits in Toronto, for example, uses a red iPad case and stand for their POS. It’s a simple move, but it makes a bold statement.

11. Display inspiring messages 

Another cool idea? Use your checkout area to spread good vibes. Consider displaying inspiring message on top of your checkout counter or on the wall behind you.

It’ll put a smile on your customers’ faces as you ring them up, and you could even earn some social media mentions while you’re at it.

Need some inspiration? Feast your eyes on this lovely checkout wall at So Chic Boutique.

Credit: thesochicboutique on Instagram

12. Encourage social shares 

Social media is an integral component of retail marketing. In addition to creating content in-house to post on social, we highly recommend encouraging your customers to share images of your products and store.

You can accomplish this by displaying your social media handle and brand hashtags inside your fitting rooms and — you guessed it — your checkout counter.

Put up a sign reminding people to connect with (and talk about) your brand on their favorite social channels. Doing so will help increase your followers and potentially put your brand in front of wider audiences.

Below is a great example from Serena & Lily which says:

Share your design shop love. #SLLOSANGELES #SERENAANDLILY

Be sociable. Let’s connect.


13. Have something seasonal 

Make sure the design of your checkout counter doesn’t stay static all year round. Keep things fresh by incorporating seasonal elements whenever relevant.

For example, if it’s Valentine’s Day, you could spruce it up with hearts or flowers. Or, if it’s the holiday season, why not put a small Christmas tree on top of your counter or hang some stockings in front of it?

Take a look at this beautiful example from Beacon Home Goods:

Image credit: @beaconhomegoods on Instagram

14. Promote your CSR efforts

Engaging in corporate social responsibility? Use your cash wrap to promote your efforts. Having a simple sign telling shoppers about your charitable initiatives can help your cause. It also reminds customers that you stand for social good, and this, in turn encourages loyalty and increased spending.

One retailer that’s doing this well is Lululemon. In its West Hollywood location, the activewear retailer has a small sign on their checkout counter reminding people about their #MakeYoursMatter initiative.

Bonus: can you go checkout counter-less?

Eliminating the checkout counter isn’t for everyone, but in several cases, this move can improve the layout and flow of your store. Sometimes, simply having the option to untether the checkout process can make you more efficient.

For example, if you’re having a particularly busy day in your store and you’re dealing with long lines, you can arm your associates with mobile POS systems so they can ring up sales from anywhere in the shop. You can leverage counter-top solutions to manage a primary line while another employee helps line-bust simple transactions with a mobile device.

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

Final words

Did this post inspire your to spruce up your checkout area? We hope so! Now, we don’t recommend that you try these ideas all at once — that might be just a tad over the top. But we do hope you try a few of these tips. Test out a couple of ideas and see how shoppers react. Document your efforts and results, and improve accordingly.

And if you’d like to share your checkout counter with us, feel free to send us a tweet our just drop us a line on Facebook!

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+.