What is a "Cash Wrap" and why does it matter for your retail store?

What is a "Cash Wrap" and why does it matter for your retail store?

Small retailers with steep rents must make sure they're using these expensive commercial spaces as effectively (and efficiently) as possible. This is why "merchandising" has become an important piece of store management, often justifying a "merchandising" or "cash wrap" specialist role within the management team. For those just starting out with your own retail venture, let's review what these terms even mean.

What does "Cash Wrap" mean?

In short, you can think of the "cash wrap" area as the checkout area, and the elements included there to promote additional sales. Simple as it may sound, this includes everything from the checkout counter configuration, merchandising panels, display bowls and product placement in those areas, but also can include the checkout process itself, such as prompting rewards signups, branded credit card sign ups, and more. 

The "Cash Wrap Lead" or "Cash Wrap Specialist" refers to the checkout personnel, or more accurately, the checkout personnel tasked with managing, maintaining, or improving the checkout experience. While the Cash Wrap Lead doesn't always get to participate in planning out the physical layout of the cash wrap counter itself, this role typically manages the maintenance of this space and the processes used to manage customer complaints, or promote additional sales. This person might also monitor the cash levels within the register and other such tasks. 

What does "merchandising" mean?

In the context of the retail experience, "merchandising" refers to product placement and product display throughout a store. (This can also refer to online stores, but in this article, we'll discuss the term as it applies to brick-and-mortar retail.) 

As it pertains to the cash wrap area, merchandising in this area tends to focus on products which appeal to a shopper's impulses. These are things which may be fairly small and inexpensive, but are generally useful enough to appeal to every customer.

Here are some examples of products commonly in display at the cash warp area?

  • Batteries
  • Chapstick
  • Candy
  • Gum and mints
  • Gift cards
  • Soda and other chilled drinks

An article by CNBC reports that a typical American shopper spends as much as $5,400 each year on impulse-purchases like these. (70% of surveyors named "food" as the most common target of their impulse purchases.)  

How can you promote impulse-buys at your Cash Wrap area without cluttering the space?

Taking advantage of this quirk of human behavior in your checkout experience doesn't have to overwhelm the entire cash wrap area. In fact, one of the most effective places to target impulse-purchasing is in the checkout waiting line. This strategy plays off of a second quirk of human behavior - our dislike of boredom. In this article about the psychology of waiting, Qminder states that "occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time." 

To put it another way, providing an opportunity for impulse-purchasing at the checkout line part of the checkout experience helps the customer feel like they're waiting in line for a shorter amount of time, (in addition to promoting last-minute purchases.) It's a bit of a win/win. 


One common strategy for product placement within the checkout line cleverly avoids clutter by incorporating display bowl attachments directly on top of the retractable belt barriers already in place for line formation. 

Another strategy is to use merchandising panels to help create the checkout line. 



Merchandising is a huge topic full of fascinating behavioral quirks and the ways in which store layouts can take advantage of human habits. The Cash Wrap area is just one piece of this, but one could argue it's the most crucial point of the shopping experience. You can read more tips for the Cash Wrap setup here

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