Refrigerated Display Case Buyers' Guide

Find the Right Refrigerated Display Case

The display cooler is a mainstay of convenience stores, supermarkets, and restaurants looking to show off and sell important packaged items. Investing in one can help attract customers, increase impulse buys, and boost your bottom line. Answering these four crucial questions will help you choose the right one for your business.

How Much Space Do You Need?

Refrigerator merchandisers come in three main sizes: one-door, two-door, and three-door. Many manufacturers measure their equipment's interior capacity in terms of cubic feet, which may be useful to compare individual models, but to determine the size that you really need, look first at how many shelves are included.

Generally, manufacturers will include four shelves per each section. On average, display refrigerator shelves measure around 24-inches wide by 20-inches deep. Keep those dimensions in mind as you determine how many shelves you'll need to hold the products you want to merchandise. Check the individual product spec sheets on their respective product pages to find the exact shelving dimensions.

While additional shelves can be purchased to go in your display cooler, you must be careful not to overfill the unit. Leaving plenty of space for air to circulate and cool your products will prevent the compressor from working too hard and ensure that all your products stay at safe serving temperatures.

What Kind of Doors Will Work Best?

Refrigerated display cases are available with two types of doors:

  • Sliding glass doors, available on two-door merchandisers and larger units, conserve space in your aisles. That can be an important advantage when space is limited and you don't want to obstruct the flow of traffic in a busy retail environment. While they're designed to be self-closing, they do require some maintenance to keep them that way, which requires keeping the tracks well-lubricated, and free of dust and debris that can potentially cause them to stick.
  • Swinging doors, while they take up more aisle space, are often preferred for their lower maintenance requirements. As long as they're not abused, swinging doors will retain their self-closing quality without requiring a lot of maintenance or attention.

What Are You Selling?

The standard epoxy-coated wire shelving that's included with most display refrigerators work well for showcasing a variety of items - especially bulkier items in boxes and large containers that are easy to keep organized. They're also a good choice if your inventory frequently changes and you may be storing many different types of items from season to season. If you're using your merchandiser to hold one specific item, though, there may be an alternative to wire shelves that will serve your purpose much more efficiently.

These options include self-serve bottle organizers, which have individual tracks to hold and display bottled beverages. These organizers tilt to create an optimal display angle and allow bottles to slide to the front as they're removed.

Similarly, beer bottle organizers achieve the same result but are designed to accommodate the narrower dimensions of 12-ounce beer bottles.

Wine racks are another useful accessory. They keep wine lying horizontally at an attractive display angle.

Are There Any Special Considerations to Keep in Mind?

The majority of display coolers have bottom-mounted compressors, a configuration that raises the lower shelf to an accessible level, makes for easy cleaning and maintenance, and keeps the refrigerated display case bottom-heavy for extra stability. A couple of models are available with top-mounted compressors, though, which are better protected from getting clogged by dust and debris on the floor, and are safe from colliding with passing people and carts.

Many of the most popular refrigerated display case models include a lit signage area along the top of the unit. Manufacturers provide a number of signs to display there with phrases like "Cold Beverages," "Cold Beer," and "Fresh Salads." Many manufacturers can also provide custom graphics with your brand's own logo.

Laminated vinyl is the standard exterior finish for glass door merchandisers. This is a rugged, chip-resistant finish that's easy to wipe clean. Black and white versions of virtually any merchandiser model are available. Stainless steel is an option on a handful of merchandisers.