The right merchandiser increases revenue, pure and simple. So says Mark Pumphret, national sales director for Milwaukee, Wiconsin-based Hatco Corporation.

“In today’s world, operators need to focus on maximizing their retail space to ensure it is delivering maximum value,” he says. “Self-service merchandisers allow customers to find a product quickly.”

Some of the prime retail space that must be used correctly is countertop space. With retail foodservice seeing unprecedented growth, and a large portion of that coming from consumers looking for quick meals and grab ‘n go foods, a well-executed countertop merchandising program can be key to improved profits.

“A well-run retail operation will quickly see an ROI on their investments in countertop merchandisers,” Pumphret says. “The key is understanding their customer wants, needs, and in certain instances, demographics, so they can create the right food program that meets all aspects of this.”

Families on the go, for example, are looking for options that meet their needs outside the typical fast food operations. A well-run retail operation can deliver those needs, especially with well-executed countertop merchandising.

Hatco, Pumphret says, offers a vast array of countertop equipment that covers multiple disciplines. Among the options are the company’s Countertop Heated Wells, with include soup stations; full-sized countertop sandwich merchandisers, such as the HXM and HZM family, or the GRCD family; and mini merchandisers, from the cookie/snack warmer like the Mini Vertical Warmer, or the Mini Display Warmer, to the Glo-Ray Curved Merchandiser Warmer family.

“We provide solutions designed to meet the operator’s expectation from size to price to performance,” Pumphret says. “Furthermore, we have products that fit those little niches. Those small spaces that can be converted to an impulse area to drive revenue.”

Structural Concepts offers a specific line — aptly named Grocerant — to help retailers with this area. The company says time-starved consumers are looking for high-quality, ready-to-eat foods and ready-to-heat meals to fit into their busy lifestyles.

The Grocerant line includes everything from self-serve pizza warming stations, self-serve stations geared toward other hot foods like BBQ, grab ‘n go sandwich stations and more.

Hussman’s R3HTO merchandiser sits directly on the countertop and comes in sizes ranging form three feet to five feet.  It’s built-in translate strip allows promotions and special products to drive sales, while the simple plug in unit allows for quick installation and setup.

The product presentation angle and four rows of lights help assure excellent product visibility, the company says. As far as customization goes, retailers can choose their own pan arrangements, counters to hold units, as well as lengths and options. It also features an electronic thermostat control, an all-stainless steel interior, adjustable pan support for a level or angles display, and lift-up glass.

Retailers can take advantage of countertop merchandising to more efficiently sell to individual dayparts. Pumphret says retailers, for the most part, have captured the breakfast sandwich sales. Now, key areas that retailers can look to include how to generate revenue during non-peak breakfast and, in some applications, lunch periods.

“We see more and more creative food offerings designed to meet various dayparts,” he says. “Creative snack options, like warm cookies and brownies to pretzels, have been staples.”

Now, operators are developing and creating newer, more creative offerings. These sometimes require special holding considerations. Meeting the fold standard while pushing the hold time envelope requires a partnership with key customers to create the right product, packaging and warmer to meet these challenges. The incorrect mix of heat and variances in packaging can create a roadblock to success in extending hold times.

“Hatco’s customization approach has helped us stay at the forefront of new product development,” Pumphret says.

Along those lines, dayparts can carry specific requirements when it comes to grab-and-go foods and consumer-facing merchandisers. Breakfast sandwiches, for example, are generally small packages. According to Pumphret, the transition from breakfast to lunch can see a 3- or 4-in. egg sandwich turn into a meal on a plate under a plastic dome. That larger plate drastically impacts capacity, as do larger sandwich rolls of six inches or more.

A unit that holds 30-plus products at breakfast might see that capacity reduced to single digits when it comes time for lunch or dinner.

“The operator needs to review their available space, product offerings and product packaging, among other considerations, and the size of the unit for peak service,” Pumphret says. “Peak service is key. Under-sizing the unit creates other challenges. Operators have used multiple units to achieve their needs, meaning they may add a second unit during their peak service.”