Merchandising Refrigerators and Freezers

Refrigerated merchandisers and freezers are essential for the display and selling of packaged goods. Merchandisers come in many forms, from glass door merchandisers to open air/air curtain merchandisers. This guide will walk you through the different types of merchandisers and their benefits to your business.


Glass Door Merchandisers

Glass door merchandisers are attractive, eye-catching display refrigerators and freezers that can hold anything from bottled and canned drinks to ice cream. Glass door coolers come in a variety of sizes, from countertop models to 72” wide three-door units. Most merchandising refrigerators and freezer have bright lighting and a lit top banner area, all with the purpose of catching the customer’s eye.

For models with two or more doors, you have an option between swing door and sliding door units. Swing door merchandisers are typically will save energy, as they are less apt to be left open, and a majority of manufacturers make the doors self-closing.

Sliding door models are great when you have narrow space between aisles where a swing door might be a burden. Sliding door merchandisers are easy to open, however, over time, the rails that the doors sit on can become worn down, and that can lead to the door not closing properly, letting cool air out. This leads to the unit consuming more energy to stay at temperature.

Glass Door Merchandisers vs. Reach-In Refrigerators

Before we dive into the world of merchandisers, it’s important that we clarify what a merchandiser can’t do. If you’re looking for a back-of-the house refrigerator, you may see a glass door merchandiser is cheaper than a glass door reach-in refrigerator and think it’s okay to buy the glass door merchandiser to use for food storage.

  That would be a wrong assumption. 

Merchandising refrigerators are designed to hold packaged items only, such as bottled or canned sodas, or packaged sandwiches. The reason for this is because merchandisers aren’t built to meet strict interior holding requirements that a storage refrigerator does. A reach-in storage refrigerator is built to hold both closed food products and open food products, such as food pans for buffets, salads, etc. If you are trying to store open food products in a merchandiser, not only are you at risk of endangering your customers by potentially not holding product at a safe temperature, but you will most likely get written up if this is caught by a health inspector.


Specialty Glass Door Merchandisers

There are a few different specialty types of merchandisers to be aware of. One of these are wine merchandisers. Wine merchandisers use racks instead of shelves to display bottles of wine. They are built to hold at a specific temperature range to chill a variety of wines, from red to white.

Another type of specialty merchandiser is a floral merchandiser. These merchandisers are built to display flower arrangements at a broad range of floral temperature settings. They use baffled airflow to create an ideal environment to prolong the shelf life of fresh flowers.


Open Display Merchandisers

Air curtains, or open display merchandisers, are a fantastic grab-and-go solution, as they allow the customer to reach right in and grab whatever they want without having to open a door. The way open air merchandisers work is by using a curtain of cold air (hence the term ‘air curtain’) that flows over the front of the unit, keeping the food within cold.

Air curtain merchandisers are not designed to cool down warm or room temperature products, but simply are used to keep cold items cold. So, when you stock your air curtain, be sure the that product is already cold before stocking.

In addition, there are other considerations to make when using an air curtain. It needs to be placed where the airflow of the curtain will not be disrupted, so stay away from HVAC vents, fans or doorways. Also, open air coolers are designed to operate in an environment where temperature and humidity do not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 55%, respectively. Be sure to keep your air curtain merchandiser fully loaded with product, as they will run most efficiently when completely loaded.


Horizontal vs. Vertical Merchandisers

When shopping for an open air cooler, you’ll see both horizontal and vertical merchandisers. Horizontal merchandisers are designed to be waist-high, and are placed in impulse buying areas. They are popular in bakeries and grocery stores, particularly in the deli area.

Vertical air curtains can be easily placed next to other merchandisers, such as glass door merchandisers, or they can stand by themselves. Store packaged salads, sandwiches and drinks in vertical merchandisers. You can find these a lot in cafes, C-stores, and grocery stores.

Night Covers

When storing product overnight or during non-operating hours, you can save energy by using a night cover. Night covers go over the front or the top of your air curtain, keeping cool air in and warm air out. If you are storing your product in a public place, such as an airport kiosk, this can also be a great deterrent from potential thievery.


Bakery Cases

When displaying pastries, cakes, pies, etc., bakery cases are the best option. Bakery cases come in both dry (non-refrigerated) and refrigerated versions. There are also dual zone cases available which have both a dry and refrigerated section, giving you more flexibility in what you can display.

Dry cases are perfect for non-perishable foods, such as donuts, scones, cookies and more. Refrigerated cases are recommended for items such as pies, cakes, and puddings.

Most bakery cases have a curved glass design, which gives a more stylish presentation. Straight glass models are also available and have seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity of late due to their simplicity.

Dual Service Merchandisers

You can find dual service merchandisers typically in coffee shops. These specialty merchandisers combine an open air lower section with an enclosed top section. So, you can serve pastries and other

bakery items to customers, while they can grab packaged items from the lower section. The top section can be refrigerated or dry, giving you more flexibility in what you can display.

Freezer Merchandisers

A great option for displaying frozen product is a freezer merchandiser. Freezer merchandisers resemble chest freezers, but they have a glass lid which make it easy for the customer to see the product inside. They typically will have wire baskets to hold product, which can range from ice cream to packaged frozen foods.

Countertop freezer merchandisers are also available, and are great for impulse buying areas. This is great for displaying impulse items such as ice cream pints, frozen treats such as popsicles, and more.


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