Refrigerated Food Merchandiser Buying Guide

If you’re a restaurant buyer, you probably know that anything with the word “merchandise” in it is going to be important – at least for sales.

That’s usually the case with these helpful merchandiser refrigerators. Convenience stores and sandwich shops have them. So do supermarkets. Restaurants often install them to offer customers easy access to ready-to-eat drinks, desserts or other foods that they can add to their kitchen orders.

One of the first things to know in shopping for these pieces of equipment is that “merchandiser refrigerator” describes a wide range of models. Some of them have more elaborate cooling systems than others, and different types of merchandiser refrigerators show off different kinds of merchandise in their own specific ways. How you shop, and what you choose, will make a difference in how the customer sees your wares as they are walking through your restaurant.

Here are some of the helpful tips for getting the best merchandiser refrigerator for your restaurant or food service business.

Space and Display Considerations
Obviously, it’s going to be a nightmare getting the wrong size of merchandiser refrigerator and trying to readjust your order later. Detailed measurement is essential for getting a model that’s going to fit, both physically and visually, into your floor plan (i.e. a one-section or a two-section model,) rather than making staff adjust a nearby table or barrier in an awkward way.

In addition, many of these merchandisers have excellent display areas, some of which light up from inside of the unit, that can help you to sell those tasty extras that you have on hand. With the right color scheme and visual format, your merchandiser refrigerator will complement your kitchen decor and other advertising, such as shelf flyers, to get you more sales with every day that you’re open.

Temperature and Use
As you read the specs of a given merchandiser refrigerator, keep in mind that most of these units are used to store packaged food, not items that are exposed to the open air.

That said, many merchandiser refrigerator models only have a general cooling requirement, but most stay at a temperature that can preserve semi-perishables. For example, these machines are often entirely effective for showcasing:

  • Packaged sandwiches and salads
  • Cold drinks
  • Packaged meats and cheeses

These are just some of the most common examples, and your merchandiser is going to reflect the culture of your restaurant. Think about whether you can select the kinds of colorful text displays orienting customers that fit with the theme of your restaurant, whether it’s a sushi/fusion bar, a steakhouse, a brewery or a café.

Evaluating Access
Here’s another major thing to think about as you’re perusing different models of merchandiser refrigerators.

The whole point of these operational refrigerators is that you want people to be able to impulse buy – to walk by and see something tasty and appealing, and get in there and grab it.

With that in mind, detailed access evaluation is a must. How far do people have to reach? Do you want a merchandiser refrigerator with vertical shelving, so that people of a certain height can get to it easily?

Another great consideration is whether to go with a model that has a self-closing door on a spring or pressurized hinge. Some cheaper models may just leave the door hanging open, unless the customer specifically closes it. Then there are those models that you can hardly get open no matter how hard you pull – and those may not fit the bill for your clientele. A nice, easy open and close is generally the best option.

Green Models and Insulation
When you’re shopping for merchandiser refrigerators, you also have choices about how you source your equipment with regard to the very important health of our planet.

Some of the best models are rated for zero ozone depletion potential and zero global warming potential. The items that are used for insulators make a difference. So does glass thickness when you’re trying to evaluate how much cool air can seep out. The self-closing doors mentioned above can also increase the energy efficiency of your merchandiser refrigerator unit.

Now that you know what many pro buyers look for, check out our extensive catalog of merchandiser refrigerators and related equipment for your restaurant floor. With just a small physical display space, you can get more sales made and dramatically improve the bottom line for your business, while offering your customers more with every transaction.

Want to get more out of your day to day restaurant operations? Browse our web site at Chefs’ Toys and get real, actionable advice for improving restaurant design. We are “for chefs, by chefs,” and our team has real kitchen experience. Let us help you to find the best tools and resources for your restaurant or food service business.