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What is a Cash Wrap?

They say that in great films, every object you see in absolutely every shot of the movie was placed there expressly and has a unique purpose in driving the story.

Likewise, every piece of furniture, every sign, every shelf, and every display in your retail store must also be placed carefully and with intent to convey your brand's message. Of course, just as in movies, some objects are more important than others. Take, for example, your cash wrap.

What's a Cash Wrap?

A cash wrap is where customers pay for their items, and it's where their items are wrapped up or sacked. Also known as the "check out" or the "register," the term "cash wrap" is generally considered an industry term, so it's used more by staff and not as much by customers.

Cash wraps come in all different sizes and forms. Small shops typically have a one-part cash wrap that involves a single countertop. The person ringing up the customer stands behind the counter and the cash register while the customer stands on the other side to pay. In larger shops, U-shaped cash wrap units and L-shaped units with two countertops perpendicular to each other are common, while circular cash wrap units are typical in department stores.

Why is the Cash Wrap Important?

Cash wraps are essential to your business for several reasons. Most notably, this is where your customers take money in the form of cash, credit cards, and cell phones out and pay for their items. If a customer has any final doubts about whether they want to go through with their purchase, it's going to happen at the cash wrap.

It's the final step in making a sale and presents an opportunity for add-on sales based on a shopper's propensity for impulse purchases.  As a result, the cash wrap needs to be welcoming, visually appealing, clean, comfortable, and easy to maneuver for your customer—and your clerks!

How Can You Make Your Cash Wrap Better?

Investing time, money, and energy in making your cash wrap more visually appealing and better equipped is critical to your business's success. Here are some do's and don'ts to get you started:

Do: Design your cash wrap to be functional.

When designing a new cash wrap, make sure to get your clerks' feedback. Well-designed storage behind the counter can help make the transaction more efficient and keep the cash wrap from getting cluttered. Thoughtful design can make it easier for your clerks to organize what's needed to wrap or sack the purchase and store items like register paper, extra pens, etc.  

Don't: Design your cash wrap without understanding the customer.

Ask the following questions in the design process: How will your customer use your cash wrap? Is the counter height friendly to customers in wheelchairs? Is it easy to reach and use the credit card machine? Make a note of places you shop and how their cash wraps help or hinder the purchase process. Incorporate customer-centric ideas into your design, and then watch how it supports the checkout experience. Remember: Your cash wrap is for the customer.

Do: Have your new cash wrap assembled on-site.

Pre-assembled cash wrap units have a higher risk of damage from shipping (e.g., chipped corners). Cash wraps assembled on-site typically have fewer issues because the pieces are easier to ship, and if damaged, only that part needs to be replaced rather than the whole unit. Also, shipping costs can be significantly higher for assembled cash wraps because they are often an awkward shape and too large for standard pallets.

Don't: Hide your cash wrap.

Ever had difficulty finding the register in a store? If the checkout area isn't apparent, this might be just enough for your customer to set their things down anywhere and leave. To avoid this, always make sure your cash wrap is noticeable. Thinking through the signage, lights, and placement during the design process is key to avoiding this mistake.

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Do: Keep your cash wrap clean.

No one wants to approach a cash wrap with clutter all over it. If you stack products, papers, and other things on the counter, it can deter customers who think the register is completely closed. Also, one or two retail display signs are okay on the cash wrap. You can let customers know about upcoming events, coupons, credit card discounts, etc. However, your space will look messy if you get carried away with signs.

Don't: Let maintenance lapse.

Cash wraps get the most wear and tear in your store. Thus, maintenance is vital to keep it looking presentable. Watch for nicks on corners, marks on the base, places where laminate can peel. Thinking about the wear and tear potential during the design phase can prevent issues by choosing the right materials for your situation and usage. 

Do: Consider additional display needs.

At the cash wrap, you want to encourage impulse buys. According to a poll conducted by, "84 percent of poll respondents say they've made an impulse purchase at some time." These are the purchases customers never really planned on making, but when they presented with them at the point of sale, it's easy to say, "why not?" Impulse buys are more likely when it's a relatively small purchase, like a pack of gum or a keychain. Displays that help organize these items will also help keep your cash wrap neat and tidy.

Your Store's Cash Wrap Matters

The great thing about retail is that it's easy to put yourself into your customers' shoes. After all, you are a customer too when you shop at other businesses.

With this in mind, take a look at cash wraps where you shop, and be more discerning about the elements you do or do not find there:

  • Were the countertop and other design elements clean and neat?
  • What was the state of the area behind the counter?
  • Did the payment terminal work quickly and easily if you paid by card?
  • How were the point-of-purchase displays organized to encourage impulse buys?
  • Was there a place to set your personal item(s)(e.g., purse, cane)?

As you begin to notice more about this area of other stores, you'll soon see how vital a well-designed cash wrap is.

Need some cash wrap design inspiration?

Check out the images below to see our past work designing cash wrap displays and other essential retail spaces.

Cash Wrap-jpg

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