Designing for the Minute

Enhancing the Customer Engagement at Point of Sale

Payment is an interesting environment to design for, especially when working with a behemoth company within the industry. If you are thinking creatively about a problem for a nonessential product, you can be a bit more free and risky with your choices. But within payment, you are handling peoples money and confidential information, so your choices become more data and user-driven.

Point of Sale

Not including eCommerce, point of sale payment is a customer interaction between a payment terminal and some form of payment. This payment could be a cash, a magnetic swipe with a payment card, chip insert with a payment card or a type of NFC communication. What usually happens within this situation is a customer will be presented a total, interact with a payment terminal in some form, and then leave with the goods they purchased.

Across the globe, billions of payment interactions happen daily. But the question is, what can we do enhance this experience?

Thinking Outside the Box

In the United States, multi-lane environments are the number one instance a customer will interact with a payment terminal. A Multi-lane environment is a store such as Target, Whole Foods, Macy’s, etc. These companies usually have multiple checkout lines with a POS system and a payment terminal securely connected to the internet. These multi-lane payment terminals are usually 5 in. to 7 in. color touch screens.

From the outside it seems like a simple concept. Get a customer from Point A to Point B as quickly as you can. But it practice, it’s not that simple. Using data from across multiple multi-lane companies around the world, on average this whole check out process takes around 1–5 minutes. This number can fluctuate due to how many items a customer might have, having technical problems with their method of payment, or any other type of problem that might arise.

With the 1–5 minute time frame, is there a way we capitalize on this and maybe enhance the over all experience?

Passive Engagement

The number one reason a customer is at a check out is to purchase something and get out of the store. But as we know, we have precious minutes we can capitalize on. With that said, we definitely do not want to get in the way of the main checkout goal.

With those constrains, here are a few passive ways to interact with a customer at checkout.

Cross Brand Advertising

With these big beautiful screens sitting in front of the customers, we can take advantage of this time with advertising. In today’s society everyone has some type of smart phone. Why don’t we capitalize on that fact by offering a free mobile application.

You should try and make this interaction as painless and easy as you can for the customer.

This passive engagement gives value to the customer with little effort since there is little to no commitment on the consumers side.

Internal Marketing

We’ve all been at the end of the check out and the cashier asks, “Do you want to sign up for or XYZ card and save 5%?” This interaction slows down the check out process. Instead, why don’t we make this a passive interaction where if a customer would like to sign up they can do so easily though the payment terminal.

Within this example, it states, “Ask your cashier”. I would suggest pushing this further by having the loyalty card sign up within the payment terminal.

Just about every company has some type of loyalty program. It could be a credit card, rewards card, or even a burrito stamp card, so let’s try to capitalize on this market.

Returning Customer Base

Engage with a customer so they will have a reason to come back. Most companies have a returning customer base, but let’s try and expand that by offering coupons for a later date within the payment terminal.

The goal is not to add time to the checkout, but have the customer come back into the store to use these coupons.

The New Outlook

Grabbing all the concepts above, let’s see it all together.

Password: theforce


  1. The advertising real is on a timer and will automatically cycle through each passive interaction.
  2. A customer can tap around the accordion layout to explore the panels, almost like flipping through a magazine.
  3. Not an intrusive environment, since all the concepts can be ignored if desired.
  4. Still a payment interaction, not forcing an uninviting or unwelcoming interaction from the customer.


This design thinking is quite strange, and almost feels counter intuitive. The whole idea of payment is to get a customer through as quickly as possible, so why would anyone disrupt that?

To push the idea of what a payment terminal really is.

With our ever changing world, companies and products need to adapt. Today, we take payment, but tomorrow, who knows what it will be.

Closing Comments

I hope you enjoyed my exploration, if you have any questions or would like to discuss design, I’m always excited to meet like minded individuals.

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