The counter desk of a clothing store has the following main functions:
- Accommodate the entire IT and billing system.
- Place of payment for customers.
- Storage of bags and packaging.
- Arranging of administrative material, such as official documents, manuals, billing and transportation documents.
- Impulse shopping zone, also known as last-minute sales.
- Information area for clients.
- Displaying promotional materials, such as flyers.
The choice of the counter desk should take into account all these functions.
The decoration of the counter desk should be in line with the decor of the rest of the store.
All stores must have a decorative element that is so special that customers will remember it for ever. Very often the counter desk is chosen as this special element. In this case, you must invest time and money in creating a space that customers will not forget.
This counter is decorated with thousands of small balls. Unforgettable.
Where to Get Ideas for Counter Desks
Pre-made models. Brands that make equipment for stores have models of complete counters ready to install and use. They have the advantage that they are already made, just order, put in place and you’re done. The disadvantages: they are usually models of small sizes (up to 2 meters in length – that is 80 inches); and they’re not unique, any retailer can buy the same counter.
Inspire in other stores that have original counters, visiting stores, seeing images on google, pinterest, etc. Don’t be inspired only by fashion stores, but also by other types of businesses. If you only search for inspiration in fashion stores, you’ll be limited. Some other types of business where to be inspired:
- Hotels. Hotels are businesses that invest a lot in service counters because they are a very important part of the decoration. For large and luxurious counter desks, hotels are a great reference.
- Restaurants. Many restaurants have counters desks. Being one of the businesses that invest more in decoration, we can find unique and spectacular counter desks.
- Bars. Same situation as restaurants.
- Office receptions. Large offices also invest on original desks that are the image of the office.
An interesting idea, in this case in a children’s store, is to use the front of the counter to write messages.
The space behind the counter
The space behind the counter is a space that is forbidden to customers. Therefore, the wall behind the desk can’t have merchandise displayed for sale, and so this space becomes an unused space.
There are several alternatives to take better advantage of this space:
- Giant frames or posters. Expensive stores use this space to show pictures of people with clothes from the store, or landscapes that remind the store theme. The cheapest shops use the space to show pictures of clothes (with people or not), and very often, promotions with low prices.
- TV’s or PC monitors. It’s an option similar to the previous one, but with the advantage of showing images in motion and being able to change the message more frequently. The price of monitors has gone down drastically. If you save images on a USB drive, you can connect this drive to the TV and it will show the images.
- Logos. Putting a giant logo behind the counter is great because customers view the brand logo for a long period of time. The logo can be painted on the wall, in embossed letters, on a decal, and even through pieces of art.
An original idea for the use of space behind the desk – old paint cans
Two examples of a wall used to show the store logo and brand
In this example, giant screens are used
Entrance and exit to the desk
The access to the inside of the counter must be closed to customers through a door, tape, or other means. In cases where stores don’t have many employees, and therefore there is no employee working exclusively in the counter, the entrance and exit should be easy.
If it’s not possible or desirable to place a barrier at the entrance, there should be no merchandise displayed within 50 cm (20 inches) of the counter desk, so that customers don’t stay next to the desk and make it difficult for employees to enter.
Customers should not be near the entrance of the counter to avoid theft.
If necessary, you should put a seat for employees.
It’s important to use a tall chair or stool. The idea is to make the employees to be seen by customers when they are seated.
Tip: Stools that are used in the bars are ideal. As they aren’t very comfortable, they prevent employees from keeping seated for hours, and instead circulate through the store. Tall stools and uncomfortable seats are the best.
Bags and packaging
There should be a place to store bags and packaging.
These are the most common solutions:
- Spaces with doors.
- Hooks for hanging the bags. This is the most practical solution that allows you to take bags quickly. The employee can remove a bag handle from the hook, put the merchandise inside, and then take the other handle. For stores with a lot of traffic this is the best solution.
Computer, cash register and bank terminal
Nowadays, the counter desk is used to store several electronic devices. Some have to be on top of the counter, others may be stored inside. You must predict which cables have to pass from the top of the counter to the inside.
The bank terminal for card payments must be in such a way that the customer can type the code without being observed by the employee or other customers.
Computer monitor has to stay on top of the counter. Aesthetically it is not very interesting. Some retailers prefer to place the monitor inside the counter desk, horizontally, with a glass on top. However, this isn’t a good solution, as experience tells me that customers tend to put things on top, making it difficult to view the monitor. Additionally, it may not be desirable for customers to see all of the information on the monitor.
Counter desk bottom
The zone that is next to the floor, on the side of clients, is an area that tends to degrade much with time. Customers touch it with their shoes and end up ruining this zone. It is advisable to choose one of these four solutions:
- The first 10 to 15 cm of the counter should be set back so that customers’ shoes don’t touch it.
- Place a strip of a strong material on the floor. Normally this material is stainless steel or aluminum.
- Put a bar, just like in bars, so people put their feet up and do not pass that area.
- Put legs on the counter to raise it and create a hollow space between the floor and the desk.
The four solutions to prevent the counter from degrading
The counter desk as a sales area
The counter desk is increasingly considered the last opportunity to sell more products. Before the customer pays, he may still be tempted to buy a few more products. It’s called impulse buying.
If you choose to use the counter as a sales area, then you’ll have to adapt a part of the counter to display those products.
There are solutions, such as baskets, which do not require modifying the counter.
But there is the possibility of placing a small glass box, inside the counter, or on top of it, in order to display impulse products.
Example of a display included in the counter.
However, the solution of creating a window space inside the counter has some disadvantages:
- Occupies space used to place equipment and packaging
- Customers tend to lay down products they want to buy, or suitcases, over the window, and they do not take notice of the products in the window.
That’s why the best solution will be to put small displays or baskets on the counter.
And if for security reasons you need to put some products closed, then make a glass box and put it on the counter.
Sales in the counter line
Last minute sales are so important that a recent technique is becoming very popular. This technique is to display products along the line, when customers are waiting to pay.
In stores that have a lot of customers, sometimes there are several customers in line waiting to pay. Waiting to pay is boring, so some retailers started to display products along the line so that people can spend a better time while browsing products. And of course, the ultimate goal is to sell a few products more.
Large chain stores, such as Zara and H&M, are currently using display along the line that look more like a maze, and customers have to walk several meters till the counter desk.
Maze counter desk line
An example of a store using a maze line
Most stores can’t have a maze desk line because a big area is needed. However, even the smallest stores, that have only one counter desk, can benefit from displaying in the line.
To make a display area next to the counter, you just need 140 cm (55 inches) of free space, 70 cm to expose products and another 70 cm for customers to stand. Put display stands perpendicular to the counter. That is, when the customer is facing the counter, he will have a display stand on the left side and another one on the right side.
These display have to be quite low. Never higher than 110 cm (43 inches). You don’t want to give the impression that people are in an enclosed space. In most cases it’s not even necessary to have a display stand, just two rectangular baskets, placed at the height of 100 cm (39 inches).
If you don’t have enough space, another option is to put small tables next to the counter, as in the following image:
The location of the counter
The location of the counter desk inside the store, depends on the format of the store, but there are some rules to take into account:
- In general, customers move in the opposite direction of the clock, so the counter should be on the right side so that it can be seen by customers after they have visited the whole shop.
- What most influences the location of the counter is the choice of a place where customers wait to pay without harming the passage of other customers who are visiting the store. Sometimes when we design a store, we think customers will behave in a certain way, but after opening the store we see that customers behave differently. If customers waiting to pay block other customers, you should consider changing the location of the counter, or having guides for customers to know where to wait to pay.
- In stores where there are few employees, and where there is sometimes only one employee, the counter should be placed in a position that allows the employee to see the whole shop. If the employee is at the counter he must see all clients in order to help them, if needed. It also helps prevent theft.
- In a store with square or rectangular shape and with door on the right side, these are the positions advised for the location of the counter.
Tip: In very large stores there must be signs pointing to the location of the counter desks.
The height of the counter desk
This may seem like a minor issue, but the height of the counter has some importance in the way the customers feel the relationship.
In the past, the counter desks in stores were quite high, and this was meant to create a distance between the customer and the employee.
Currently, the goal is to remove any barriers between the customer and the sellers. And a low counter desk, make it easy the interaction between clients and employees.
If you look at the counter desks of new stores, especially stores that sell to a younger audience, the counter desks are quite low.
Unless you’re in the luxury segment, you should to follow this trend and have a low counter desk.
The ideal height is around 90 cm to 100 cm (35 inches to 40 inches).
This article is part of our Course “Create an Amazing image for your clothing store”
- Pros and Cons of opening a fashion store
- From an empty store to a store full of customers
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – A Retail Perspective
- How to increase sales in retail (there are only 4 ways)
- How to arrange a clothing store (sorting clothes)