Checkout Nirvana: Where Does the Register Go?

Where Does the Register GoA well-designed retail space not only engages shoppers, but also can enhance sales. Critical to this success is the placement of checkout counters.

Checkout is the last step in your customers’ shopping experience. This has led many retailers to devote considerable time and effort to strategically positioning their registers. Williams-Sonoma, for example, places their counters in the middle of the store, while J Crew locates them on a side wall.

So which direction should you choose?

Effective Placement

It’s common to find checkout stands positioned at the right front area of a store. Some argue that this is the best location since it compels shoppers to pass through the aisles twice before making their purchases. The result, according to this rationale, is that this layout increases the likelihood of customers spending more than they had intended to when they first entered the front door.

Another camp of retail strategists disputes this reasoning. They claim that this common mistake can be easily avoided by locating counters to the left side of the store, close to the front. Their logic is pinned to the assumption that this area is a more “natural stopping point in the shopping experience.”

Placing your checkout counter at a natural stopping point along the shopping path makes sense; however, whether that sweet spot is to the right or left—or an entirely different location—of your space will depend on the layout and size of your store.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the placement of cash registers. What can be learned from examining the successful location of checkout stands—whether it’s a large retailer or small merchant—is that it has to make sense for your business and your physical space.

No matter where you position the cash drawer, keeping your checkout area simple and unobstructed is vital to creating a comfortable experience for your customers. Remember: less is more. Cramming too much merchandise as a last-minute teaser can be visually exhausting for shoppers. Reducing what one retail design consultant calls the “white noise” around “claustrophobic checkout counters” results in a more positive shopper experience—and can actually boost sales.

No Placement

Another option for retailers is to have no checkout counters. Rather than establishing a traditional counter, many small businesses are turning to a mobile point of sale (POS) system. This method uses a tablet or other wireless device to complete a sale, eliminating the need for space-needy registers and counters.

Using a system specifically geared to small business, such as Shopkeep or Square, can help small business owners create a more engaging shopping experience for customers. A mobile POS makes it more convenient for shoppers to check out, provides employees with greater flexibility, and simplifies inventory tracking and expenses. Plus, they’re easy to use and don’t require a contract.

How are small retailers finding the conversion from checkout counter to mobile POS? When local Boston retail chain, In The Pink, removed its sales counters, it experienced an increase of tens of thousands of dollars during a single weekend. In addition, removing the counter freed up roughly 50 square feet of space, allowing it to be used for merchandise.

For additional service providers and a comparison of systems, check out this POS systems review and this recent review complete with recommendations for small business. Some plans also offer a hybrid approach, allowing you to integrate your register.

Checking Out

As cash registers increasingly face extinction, more small merchants are opting for the ease and efficiency of mobility. While a mobile POS requires a reliable internet connection, there is no reason for a small business to take an all-or-nothing approach. Trying both systems at once enables you to make a better comparison as you kick the tires on new technology that can lead to improved sales traction, while still tapping the keys on the old till.

If you’re a Specialty Store Services Customer who would like more information on POS Systems, just Email Us. You can also shop for all of your Cash Handling supplies online on our website, Specialty Store Services, by Live Chat, or by phone at 800-999-0771.