6 Ways to Maximize Your Retail Checkout Counter Space
Your retail store is filled with creative, enticing displays of desirable merchandise. But the main focal point of your space will be your retail checkout counter. It’s where customers are looking when they need assistance from an associate and when they are ready to complete their purchases. Your counter space is essential for:
- Branding: The organization and aesthetics of the checkout area can influence shoppers’ perception of your brand.
- Functionality: The retail checkout counter is home to your point of sale (POS) system, which processes payments and updates inventory, and it can even increase ticket size with additional product displays.
- Good Customer Experiences: For many shoppers, the checkout area is the first and main point of interaction with your staff. Timely, efficient, and pleasant transactions will keep them coming back.
So, how can you maximize the effectiveness of your checkout counter space? These are the factors to consider.
6 Elements of a Checkout Counter that Will Work for Your Business
1. Location in the Store
As they say in real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location!” Your retail checkout counter should be accessible and easy to find for consumers. It should be strategically placed so you can make the most of your available floor space, no matter the size of the store. Consider where lines will form during busy times (such as the holiday rush), and ensure that the queue won’t interfere with other shoppers. Placing the checkout near the door can also help reduce theft and loss.
The counter should be organized in a way that gives sales associates and consumers room to interact with merchandise and each other. When customers approach, they want a place to set down the items they want to buy, and staffers need adequate room to wrap or bag the biggest items you sell. The workflow you establish should be ergonomic so sales associates can work comfortably and be most productive.
Besides room to handle merchandise, some of your retail checkout counter space must be devoted to your POS tech and peripherals. However, retailers have options besides a large, bulky POS terminal, monitor, printer, and payment devices. Consider how much space you could conserve with a POS tablet solution, or mobile POS (mPOS). Tablets are smaller, sleeker, and flexible — you can change the configuration with tablet stands or mounts, or even use the tablets on the sales floor for line-busting when needed.
While tech is a must-have at a retail checkout counter, it can also lead to disorganization. A bulky system with a tangle of cables is not only unsightly but also a potential tripping hazard. Look for solutions that help combine peripherals and manage cables to save space and improve appearances. A disorganized (or worse, dusty/dirty) counter can decrease consumer confidence in doing business with you, as it may signal carelessness with business or health and safety concerns. Besides using sleeker tech, train your employees to keep the area neat and clean in order to make a good impression on customers.
5. Impulse-Buy Displays
Implementing a sleeker POS system will give you more retail checkout counter space you can utilize for impulse-buy merchandise. Impulse buys are spur-of-the-moment, last-minute additions to a customer’s purchase, often triggered by the sight of appealing products at checkout. These add-on items that will help you generate more revenue include:
- Small accessories — for example, if you sell electronics, items such as batteries, charging cords, or phone cases are good choices (and having these smaller things close to checkout can reduce potential theft)
- Snacks, candy, mints, or gum
- Travel-sized or sample products
- Novelties such as bookmarks, keychains, mini flashlights, and other items that can also be promoted as “stocking stuffers’ during the holiday season
- Seasonal or limited-time items (Halloween- or Christmas-themed jewelry, for example)
- Gift cards: these can be a lucrative additional revenue stream for your store. One study showed that 51% of US adults forget to redeem their gift cards (making them pure profit for you). And when they doo redeem their cards, they often spend more than the card value.
So, freeing up checkout counter space can improve both aesthetics and profitability.
As with any element of the store, your retail checkout counter space should complement your brand. It should look like it belongs, in terms of color, style, and theme, and it should be uniquely yours. You can use tech, such as a customer-facing display, to create customized messaging, ads, videos, and more. For example, a hardware store might show how-to videos for simple DIY projects using their products, while an apparel store might highlight their community involvement with a photo of the Little League team for whom they provided uniforms.
You can also use lighting to draw attention to the checkout space and make work easier for sales associates, as everything will be easy to see. The improvement in aesthetics and functionality will give customers a positive impression of your brand.
Optimize Your Checkout Counter and Customer Experiences
Every business is different and has unique needs, so the best plan for retail checkout counter space will vary. But following the best practices outlined here can help retailers utilize their space effectively and take advantage of opportunities to engage customers, provide personalized experiences, and build relationships that will keep the business thriving.