6 Easy Ways To Drive Sales and Engagement Using Your Checkout Counter

Smiling blonde doing shopping in clothes storeThis is a guest post by Susan Payton of Fit Small Business.

Your retail counter is a critical part of your store. It’s where a shopper becomes a customer and where you have the potential to increase the average sale amount, thanks to impulse buying. Your checkout counter also paves the way for greater customer engagement and loyalty. That’s why it’s so imperative that you put effort into setting up your retail counter to make it one of the most profitable parts of your shop.

Below are a few pointers to help you do that.

Start with the right merchandise

The products you put on display at your retail counter need to be small, easy to browse, and affordable to get people to pick them up and add them to their shopping carts. If you sell clothing, your cash wrap could include accessories or makeup, since these are often-forgotten items that you can remind people they need.

The items should be affordable enough that people don’t have to deliberate long over the decision to buy them. Five dollars is a good threshold for these items, and you can easily test out different price points to see which is most effective. You may find that a $.99 lip gloss far outsells $5 bracelets, so you can make more space for merchandise at this price point.

View into the sales room of pharmacy

Your Retail Counter Checklist

Counter space comes at a premium, so spend time selecting which products to display. Ask yourself these questions to get the product mix right:

  • Do these items complement what I sell in my store?
  • Are they priced affordably?
  • Have I included seasonal items?

Pay attention to design

Just as important as the merchandise you include at your retail counter is the design of what you’ve got going on there. Nothing’s worse than an overcrowded counter that doesn’t even leave a shopper room to put her purchases or purse on it. You may need to sacrifice space elsewhere in the store to ensure that your retail counter is large enough to accommodate your needs.

To display items, you might consider a cash wrap with shelves at the front of the checkout counter or display units along the checkout queue so shoppers can browse while waiting to check out.

Victoria’s Secret does an excellent job at this. The lingerie retailer has bins of handy products like lip gloss and mini perfume bottles at the checkout area to encourage people to add items to their purchase.


Aesthetics matter here, so ensure every day that your products are appealing in their placement on shelves. Shoppers will disrupt your beautiful displays, so you’ll need to rearrange items throughout the day.

Put items that you want to sell more of up front and center, perhaps arranging products into a contextual display. For example: for Halloween, you could show your “creepier” jewelry atop a pumpkin to create a mood and encourage people to buy.

Your Retail Counter Checklist

Make the design of your retail counter a priority every day by checking these items off your list:

  • Display items to focus on the ones you want to sell the most of
  • Keep displays dusted and orderly throughout the day
  • Change out displays when promotions or holidays change

Target your signage

While you should have signage throughout your store, it’s essential at your checkout area. Here’s where you can advertise those impulse buys or remind customers about promotions they may not have taken advantage of. If you offer a credit card to customers or want them to sign up for your loyalty program, display signs promoting your initiatives.

Here’s a great example from Charlotte Russe. In addition to displaying gift cards on the checkout counter, Charlotte Russe has signage promoting their impulse buys and rewards program. See if you can do something similar in your store.


But do remember that signs should always be professional. A handwritten piece of paper isn’t going to entice anyone into spending more money in your store. Even if you don’t want to invest in having professional signs designed and printed, you can find free templates to print yourself online.

Use bold shapes (think of comic books and the different talk bubbles they use to communicate action) and bright colors to capture people’s attention with your signs. Use verbiage that creates a sense of urgency like “Save Now!” and “Limited Time Only.”

Your Retail Counter Checklist

There are many instances where signage can make all the difference in boosting sales. If any of these apply, make sure you have corresponding signs at your retail counter:

  • Promotions throughout the store
  • Sale on impulse buys at cash wraps
  • Invitation to join your loyalty program
  • Ask for review on Yelp
  • Encourage customers to follow you on social media

Make sure your point of sale system is up to snuff

If you’re using a modern POS system (and you totally should) explore ways on how you can use it to make the most out of every customer encounter.

For instance, if you’re dealing with a return shopper, you can use your POS to pull up details on past purchases and ask her how she likes them. This provides another way for you to build on your customer relationship and maybe make recommendations on other products.

Your Retail Counter Checklist

If your staff isn’t trained on fully leveraging the benefits of your POS system, make sure to cover:

  • Interacting about past purchases
  • Signing customers up for your loyalty program
  • Informing customers about promotions
  • Emailing receipts rather than printing them

Know that sometimes, the right checkout counter strategy is not to have one

While a cash wrap is a norm in many retail businesses, some retailers can benefit from excluding a cash wrap or checkout counter from their store. Not having a checkout counter could free up store real estate, reduce lines, and improve experience — all of which can lead to additional sales.

Take Apple, for instance, which eliminated checkout counters from their stores. They flipped the checkout process on its head, and now have their associates all over the store with hand-held POS systems. Now customers can be rung up by associates anywhere in the shop.

Do note that this strategy isn’t for everyone. Some retailers need a cash wrap, while others can eliminate counters altogether. There are even retailers who use both and provide hand-held POS systems to associates while still keeping their cash wraps. The key here is to figure out what works best for your store and customers.

Final tip: Make sure employees are always present

Cashwrap or not, see to it that there’s always someone available to answer questions, even if customers aren’t ready to check out. Your employees should be alert and willing to help, not bending over, scrolling through Facebook on their phones. Consider your POS area as your Command Central and use it to make checking out easy and profitable.

Now it’s your turn. How can retailers use their store’s checkout counter to drive sales and engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author Bio: Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing. She writes for multiple sites including Forbes, Fit Small Business, AllBusiness, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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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.

Download it for free and get insights to help you

  • Add more value to each sale
  • Set yourself apart from competitors
  • Optimize your store’s design and layout

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+.

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