Summer's here and everyone's looking for ice-cold beers, white and rosť wines and ciders - so it's time for retailers to get their chillers sorted out and make sure they have the right display ready to boost sales.
"If I could chill everything I would - it works for us," says Alan Dunn, of Keswick's Open All Hours. "People use convenience stores for impulse purchases and they want ready-to-drink white and rosť wines , chilled lagers and ciders."
Research by Scottish & Newcastle UK has found that 40 per cent of all beer and cider bought is
from the chiller, three-quarters of shoppers drink their beer and cider within three hours of buying it, and they are prepared to pay more for chilled drinks. Coors has done research with TNS which found 45 per cent of all beer bought cold comes from convenience stores .
S&N off-trade customer marketing head Craig Clarkson says: "Good weather often prompts consumers to have unplanned social gatherings and purchase alcohol locally on their way home from work or to a party, so a cold offering is a key to capturing impulse sales."
Open-fronted multi-deck units are very popular with independent retailers, according to refrigeration companies Husky and Jordon.
Husky's research has found that open-fronted models boost sales by 30 per cent compared
with glass-door units. They have bigger display areas, can be used for food as well as drink if necessary, and are easier to load.
"Open-fronted chillers tend to be most popular because they make it easy for customers to view the
range and grab what they need straight from the shelf with no messing about with doors and balancing items on their head while accessing chilled product ranges," says Jordon marketing manager Jon Dawson. "This is especially important when dealing with bulkier items such as multipacks of beer or bottles of wine and spirits."
But chillers with doors could be more useful for shops with security issues - and some licensing authorities insist on drinks being locked away, particularly if a shop is open outside the times it is licensed to sell alcohol.
Husky has also created the Husky Quick-Pick
- a small, plug-in, open-topped chiller with a lit branding area which can be placed close to the checkout queue to boost impulse sales.
There are two main types of chillers - integral chillers which plug into the wall and have a built-in engine, and remote cabinets which have an external condensing unit mounted on a wall or roof outside the shop, giving more display space inside the chiller.
Integral chillers can be cheaper - but can also be hot and noisy. "The heat from some of the bigger integrals can make it quite uncomfortable during the warmer months, especially in a smaller shop . Of course, the other side of this is that it can act as a welcome heat source in the winter," says Dawson.
If you operate remote chillers you are responsible for their operation and maintenance - and from July 4, you can only use certified workers to service them, thanks to a new EU regulation on greenhouse gases.
The regulation says
refrigeration units, air-conditioning and heat pumps need to be checked regularly for leaking gases
which could contribute to global warming . How often they need to be checked depends on the size. Find out more at
Before you decide which fridge to go for, calculate your return on investment. Guesstimate how many extra drinks you will sell and work out what profit you will make, and that will tell you how long a chiller will take to pay for itself.
You can also save money through a government scheme which gives tax relief to retailers investing in equipment that meets certain energy-saving criteria.
Find out more about the ECA Energy scheme, a nd get a list of suppliers and products which fit the bill, at eca.gov.uk.
Before you buy, talk to other retailers about their experiences of different suppliers and make sure you check which special offers are available - but beware
offers of free stock
which might not be worth quite as much as suppliers claim.
Once you have chosen a supplier, you will need to have a site survey before your refrigerator can be installed.
Cool runnings: how to maintain your fridges
Get a night blind for open-fronted chillers - they pull down over the front of the fridge during non-trading hours to cut electricity bills
save energy with the E-cube, a £25 little black box which controls a refrigerator's thermostat to respond to the temperature of the products inside. Find out more at ecubedistribution.com or call 0208 500 5033
Keep your fridge from frosting up by putting a half inch-thick piece of wood along the back of each shelf. "If you fill the fridge right to the back it upsets the flow of air and the whole thing can freeze up. A strip of wood half an inch thick right along the shelf stops bottles hitting the back and allows air to flow," says Open All Hours' Alan Dunn
Fill up with stock the night before to give your chiller time to refrigerate - most coolers when fully laden with new stock will take almost 24 hours to cool down, according to Husky
If you have space, chill ambient stock in a back-up cooler that is not on display
Keep your chiller clean, check the condenser and have it serviced regularly.
Blueprint for success on the cold front
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors' Blueprint is working with Diageo to come up with a planogram for open, dairy-deck chillers, covering wine, lager, cider and RTDs, which it expects to be ready in the next couple of months.
Spokesman Ross Shelley says: "It is a big point of difference against larger multiples, and we encourage retailers to remember that 99 times out of 100 it is a distress purchase or is it going to be consumed within the hour - there is definitely value in having that ready-to-serve planogram."