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Title:
Well Merchandiser
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A merchandising system and methods for merchandising products within a well display case are disclosed. The merchandising system includes a platform movably coupled to a base member and may include an advancement mechanism for automatically advancing multiple rows and/or stacks of products within well display unit.


Inventors:
Richter, Gary M. (Waukesha, WI, US)
Bryson, Scott M. (Brookfield, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/419892
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/23/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080046345Method of managing products disposed on an intelligent display rack and corresponding intelligent display rackFebruary, 2008Serre
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20070090071Dual bucket holderApril, 2007Campbell
20090095696Shelf storage system with an input stationApril, 2009Lang et al.
20030136751Expand-a-platter/trayJuly, 2003Rosenberg et al.
20060191858Shopping cart retainerAugust, 2006Posner
20030150831Portable flat pack merchandise displayAugust, 2003Elston
20080237162Storage systemOctober, 2008Lynch
20030070998Bathroom utensil holder with magnetic capApril, 2003Bulka
20090223914THEFT DETERRENT CAN DISPENSERSeptember, 2009Kahl et al.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GODFREY & KAHN S.C. (780 NORTH WATER STREET, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A merchandising system comprising: a stationary base member having a front portion, a rear portion and a first product display surface configured to retain at least one product; and a platform having a second product display surface configured to retain at least one product, the platform movably coupled to and selectively positionable on the base member, wherein the platform advances from the rear portion to the front portion of the base member when the at least one product is removed from the first product display surface of the base member.

2. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the stationary base member has a top surface and wherein the platform is slidably positionable over the top surface of the base member.

3. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the stationary base member has at least one track and wherein the platform includes at least one wheel rotatably secured thereto and disposed within the at least one track of the base member for positioning the platform on the base member.

4. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the first product display surface of the base member is configured to retain a first row of products and a second row of products, wherein the platform is biased to advance the second row of products from the rear portion to the front portion of the base member when the first row of products is removed from the first product display surface of the base member.

5. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein further comprising a biasing member functionally engaged to the base member and the platform, the biasing member urging the platform from the rear portion to the front portion of the base member.

6. The merchandising system of claim 5, wherein the biasing member is a coil spring.

7. The merchandising system of claim 5,wherein the biasing member is disposed within a channel on the first display surface of the base member and includes an end coupled to the platform.

8. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the front end of the base member has a vertical position that is below the rear end of the base member, wherein the platform is gravity-biased to advance from the rear portion to the front portion of the base member.

9. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the first and second product display areas include at least one recession for positioning products thereon.

10. A merchandising system for displaying products within a well display unit, the system comprising: a base member having a front end, a rear end and a first display area; a platform having a second product display area; and an advancement mechanism movably coupling the platform to the stationary base member, wherein the advancement mechanism biases the platform to move from the rear end of the base member to the front end of the base member, and wherein the platform is biased to advance products disposed on at least one of the first display surface and the second display surface towards the front end of the base member.

11. The merchandising system of claim 10 wherein the advancement mechanism includes a coil spring disposed within a channel on the first display area of the base member and having a first end secured to the base member and a second end secured to the platform.

12. The merchandising system of claim 10 wherein the advancement mechanism includes at least one wheel rotatably secured to the platform, the at least one wheel positioned within a track provided on the base member.

13. A method of merchandising a product in a well display unit, the method comprising: providing at least one well merchandising system having stationary base including a first product storage area and a movable platform including a second product storage area, the platform movably coupled to the stationary base; providing at least one product in the first product storage area and at least one product in the second product storage area; and advancing the at least one product within the second product storage area from a rear end of the well display unit to a front end of the well display unit when the at least one product in the first product storage area is removed from the well display unit.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of merchandising systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to well merchandising systems for the presentation of items in a well area of a display case.

Merchandising systems for displaying products on shelves, in cabinets or in display cases are frequently found in consumer retail settings such as grocery stores, retail outlets and department stores. In particular, merchandising systems are not only used to conveniently store products, but are also used to provide an effective and aesthetically pleasing display for presenting the product to the consumer.

Display systems such as refrigerators or freezers, which have large “wells” as their base and overhead shelving units above, provide a unique merchandising difficulty. In particular, shelving units typically overhang the well area, and therefore, obstruct and/or interfere with access to portions of the well storage area. Accordingly, the customer may be unable to see or access products that are stored beneath the overhead shelving units and/or near the rear of the well area.

Moreover, it can be difficult to stock and organize products in the well display unit, and particularly difficult to stock and organize products beneath the overhead shelving. As such, well display systems may include areas that are not effectively utilized for storing products, and in turn, do not provide for an organized display of items, which decreases the aesthetic appeal to customers. Further, it is also difficult to move products from the back of the well to the front of the well when customers remove the products from the front or display face of the well. For example, due to the obstruction of the overhead shelves, products that are fragile in nature may become damaged during this difficult stocking and removal process. Finally, the freshness of products may also become a concern where products are far back in the well beneath the overhead shelving and out of sight to consumers or personnel.

There exist merchandising systems that allow for the presentation of products on display shelves, but are not designed for applications in deep well areas having shelving overhead. Examples of such systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,368,191 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,886,699 to Johnson et al. For example, an automatic feed product display is thereby configured to maintain the products to be displayed at the front of the display, improving access to and visibility of products to the consumer. The automatic feed displays eliminate a customer having to reach into the display to access a product. However, conventional automatic feed displays are designed for shelf applications and not well-type display areas. Further, conventional automatic feeding displays can be awkward or difficult to load due to the configuration of the bias that is maintained on the products to keep them at the front of the shelf.

In addition, other existing merchandising systems allow for only a single “layer” of product or a single product to be displayed and advanced, rendering them inefficient for storing and displaying more popular items, or items stocked in a stacked configuration. Further, existing merchandising systems do not allow a wide variety of products (e.g. a variety of product shapes, sizes and/or fragility) to be displayed without disorganization or damage to oddly-shaped or fragile products.

Accordingly, it is an objective of the present invention to provide a merchandising system for products displayed in the “well” area of a display case, the merchandising system designed to efficiently organize and store products within the well, such that the products can be easily advanced or “faced” to the front of the well area, so as to enhance access to and visibility of the products to the consumer. Indeed, the present invention provides a well merchandising system that efficiently manages storage space within the well and permits the product to be stocked, stored and advanced from beneath any overhead shelving or obstruction that would otherwise prevent access to the back of the well.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that one or more aspects of this invention can meet certain objectives, while one or more other aspects can lead to certain other objectives. Each objective may not apply equally, in all instances, to every aspect of the present invention. As such, these and other objects can be viewed in the alternative with respect to any one aspect of the present invention.

Other objects, features, benefits and advantages of the present invention will be apparent in this summary and descriptions of the disclosed embodiments, and will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Such objects, features, benefits and advantages will be apparent from the above as taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides, in part, a merchandising system for displaying, storing and advancing products in display unit, such as a well display unit of the type typically used to display and retain refrigerated and/or frozen products. The merchandising system can include a stationary base member disposed within the well display unit and a platform movably coupled to and selectively positionable on the base member, wherein removal of products from the front end of the merchandising system causes the platform to advance from the rear portion to the front portion of the merchandising system. As such, the platform urges products within the display areas of the base member and the platform towards the front of the merchandising system, so that the products within the merchandising system can be easily accessed by the consumer.

In certain embodiments, the platform includes at least one track configured to slidably engage the base member such that the platform slides over the display area of the base member when products are depleted from the front end of the base member display area. In other embodiments, the platform can include at least one wheel rotatably engaged to the platform and disposed within a track on the base member such that the platform rolls from the rear end to the front end of the base member as products are removed from the merchandising system.

In certain embodiments, the merchandising system can include a biasing mechanism, such as a coil spring, for automatically advancing the platform within the merchandising system, wherein removal of products from the display area of the base member results in automatic advancement of products toward the front of the merchandising system. In other embodiments, the platform can be manually advanced or advanced via gravity when products are removed from the front portion of the merchandising system. The present invention also can include, in part, at least two merchandising systems coupled together, depending on the type of display unit into which the merchandising system is installed, the number of products desired to be displayed and/or a specific end-use application.

The present invention can also include, in part, a method for merchandising products within a well display unit, wherein at least one merchandising system is provided, each merchandising system having stationary base including a first product storage area and a movable platform including a second product storage area, wherein the platform is movably coupled to the stationary base, such that at least one product in the merchandising system is advanced from the rear portion of the well display unit to the front portion of the well display unit, thereby rendering the products accessible to the consumer.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description, claims, and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a well merchandiser according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded front perspective view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a movable platform of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, shown clipped into a well display unit;

FIG. 4B is a side view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 having a front leg portion positioned between the front wall and the floor grid of the well display unit;

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of an end of a base member of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, showing connection of the movable tray to the base member;

FIG. 6 is a bottom perspective view of a well merchandiser according to one embodiment of the present invention shown with two base members coupled together;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIG. 6, taken along the line 7-7, showing a detailed depiction of the connection of the first base member to the second base member;

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of a well merchandiser according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side view of a well merchandiser according to one embodiment of the present invention disposed in a well display unit, shown stocked with product, with the movable platform disposed at the back of the well display unit;

FIG. 10 is a side view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIG. 9, shown with a portion of the product removed;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, shown with movable platform disposed at the front of the well display unit;

FIG. 12 is an exploded front perspective view of a well merchandiser according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 13 is a sectional view of the well merchandiser illustrated in FIG. 12, showing a detailed depiction of a platform having wheels movably engaged to a base member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate one embodiment of a merchandising system 30 consistent with the teachings of the present invention shown positioned on a cooler well grid floor 20 of a refrigerator well or freezer display unit 23. It will be readily recognized that although the present invention is illustrated and described with respect to well-type display units for displaying articles 25 such as food products, containers, items, units, etc. in consumer settings such as grocery stores, the present invention is applicable to any type of product merchandising system, including any type of shelving, cabinet and/or display cases known to those skilled in the art. Further, the present invention can be used with any number of different types, sizes, profiles and shapes of products and containers and, therefore, is not limited to grocery retail applications.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the merchandising system 30 includes a base member, indicated generally at 32, a movable tray or platform, indicated generally at 34, and an advancement mechanism 36 for moving the platform 34 with respect to the base member 32. It will be appreciated that although a single base member 32, platform 34 and advancement mechanism 36 are illustrated, the merchandising system 30 can include any number of base members 32, movable platforms 34 and advancement mechanisms 36, depending on the type and size of well display unit 23, the particular type and size of product 25 to be displayed and/or the particular application for the merchandising system 30.

As best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 6, the base member 32 has a bottom, indicated generally at 40, a front end, indicated generally at 42, a rear end, indicated generally at 44 and opposing side edges 46 and 48, which define a storage area 50. The length 51 and width 53 of the base member 32 can be selected so as to fit within any number of well display and/or product display configurations, the dimensions of which will be well known to those skilled in the art.

The front end 42 of the base member 32 can include a lip member 52 that has an upwardly extending portion 55, which is provided with an attachment mechanism 54, such as dovetail projections/protrusions 59, for securing additional components, such as a wall component, to the base member 32. The lip member 52 also includes a downwardly extending leg portion 57, provided to stationarily secure the base member 32 within the well display unit, therefore, the leg portion 57 may be sized to securely fit between the well grid floor 20 and a wall of the well display unit 23. Likewise, the rear end 44 may optionally be provided with a lip (not shown) similar to that of lip 52, also for securing additional components to the base member 32 and/or for securing the rear end 44 between the well grid floor 20 and the well display unit.

Turning again to FIG. 6, in addition to FIGS. 1 and 2, the bottom 40 of the base member 32 is configured to support articles such as boxes, containers, tubs, packages and the like within product storage area 50 and has a top surface 58 and a bottom surface 60. The bottom 40 can include one or more apertures or slots 62 formed therein or indicating the position of products within the merchandising system 30 and/or to permit refrigerated air to circulate effectively within the storage well and merchandising system. Accordingly, the apertures or slots 62 provided within the base member 32 may vary in size, number, and configuration, depending on the given end-use application of the merchandising system, 30, e.g. the size or type of well display device and/or the size and type of product to be displayed.

The bottom 40 also includes one or more securing apertures 63 formed therein for securing the base member 32 within the storage well of the display case, using clips, pins, hooks or the like. Accordingly, the apertures 63 may vary in size, number and configuration, depending on the type of securing mechanism used to secure the base member 32 to the well grid floor 20 and/or the well display unit 23.

The top surface 58 can include a plurality of spaced-apart ridges or ribs 64 that project upwardly from the bottom 40 and laterally extend from the front end 42 of the base member 32 rearwardly along the length 51 of the base member. Preferably, the ribs 64 do not extend the entire length 51 of the base member 30, but alternatively the ribs 64 can extend entirely to the rear end 44. The ribs 64 are configured to support the movable platform 34.

The top surface 58 of the base member 32 also includes a pair of laterally spaced, parallel rails or ribs 70 and 72 that project upwardly from the bottom 40, which together form a channel or track 74 for slidably positioning the movable platform 34 on the base member 32 and for housing the advancement mechanism 36. The ribs 70 and 72 are preferably taller than the ribs 64 so that the track 74 will permit travel of the movable platform 32 over the ribs 64. Preferably, the track 74 extends from the front end 42 of the base member 32 to the rear end 44. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, ribs 70 and 72 (and therefore the track 74) can be replaced with a single channel or bracket member, guide rails or any component that permits the movable platform 34 to slide thereon.

The bottom surface 68 of the base member 32 includes a plurality of non-skid pads 80 to ensure the base member 32 is stationary within the well display unit 23.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the top edge 43 of each of the side edges 46 and 48 of the base member 32 includes an L-shape bend or track extension 41 that functionally engage the movable platform 34, permitting the movable platform to slide or otherwise advance toward the front end 42 of the base member 32. As best illustrated in FIG. 1, near the front end 42 of the base member 32, each of the side edges 46 and 48 includes spaced-apart notches 45 for use in securing or stabilizing the movable platform 34 in place near the front end 42 of the base member 32, when required for stocking or otherwise accessing the movable platform 34 near the front of the well display unit. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, although two notches 45 are shown in FIG. 1, other numbers of notches may be included.

As best illustrated in FIG. 7, in addition to FIGS. 1, 2 and 5, the bottom edge 47 of each of the side edges 46 and 48 includes a connector 49, such as a hook, substantially vertically aligned with each of the notches 45 on the side edges 46 and 48, respectively. The connector 49 is used to secure multiple base members 32 together in a side-by-side fashion, as illustrated in FIG. 6. Accordingly, as best shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the connector 49 on the side edge 48 of the base member 32 is configured to mate, lock or otherwise engage the connector 49 on the side edge 46, securing each of the base members 32 together. As such, the connectors 49 may be any clip, fitting, fastener, snaps, hold down or clamp that permits two or more base members 32, and therefore two or more merchandising systems 30, to be securely joined together. Preferably, the connectors are integrally formed with the base member 32. Further, although two connectors 49 are illustrated on each of the side edges 46 and 48 of the base member 32, any number of connectors 49 may be included, depending on the type of connecting mechanism selected, as will be well known to those skilled in the art.

As best illustrated in FIG. 2, the base member 32 includes a front wall 82 and a rear wall 84 for retaining the product within the merchandising system 30. The front wall 82 includes several space-apart notches 86 configured to mate with the dovetail protrusions 59 on the front end 42 of the base member 32, joining the front wall 82 to the base member 32. As will be readily recognized, the attachment mechanism 54 used to join the front wall 82 to the base member 32 can include any type of joint member, friction fit configuration, pins, clips, staples, hooks, adhesives and any other securably removable or permanent joining mechanism known to those skilled in the art. Consistent with the broader aspects of the present invention, the front wall 82 may be integrally formed with the base member 32.

The rear wall 84 includes two triangular support fins 88 extending therefrom. Each fin 88 includes a bracket member 90 for functionally engaging the base member 32, joining the rear wall 84 to the base member 32. As will be readily recognized, the attachment mechanism used to join the rear wall 84 to the base member 32 can include any type of joint member, friction fit configuration, pins, clips, staples, hooks, adhesives and any other securably removable or permanent joining mechanism known to those skilled in the art. Consistent with the broader aspects of the present invention, the rear wall 84 may be integrally formed with the base member 32.

Referring next to FIG. 3, in addition to FIGS. 1 and 2, the movable platform 34 includes a bottom 100, a front side 106, a rear side 108 and opposing sides 110 and 112, respectively, which together form a product storage area 114. The bottom 100 has a top surface 102 that may include one or more indentations or receptacles 116 configured to correspond to the shape of the products to be stored within the product storage area 114—to facilitate organization, stacking and/or stocking the product. Likewise, the top surface 102 may include one or more ribs or dividers 118 extending upwardly therefrom, also for simplifying organization, identification and/or stacking of the product within the product storage area 114.

The bottom 100 of the movable platform 34 may also include a plurality of apertures 120 for indicating the position of products within the merchandising system 30 and/or to permit refrigerated air to circulate effectively around the products 25. As will be readily recognized by those skilled in the art, the bottom 100 can be provided with any number, size and configuration of receptacles 116, dividers 118 and/or apertures 120, depending on the given end-use application of the merchandising system, 30, e.g. the size or type of well display device and/or the size and type of product to be displayed.

In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, and as illustrated in FIG. 1, the product storage area 114 of the movable platform 34 is sized to store and advance multiple products 25 at a given time. For example, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 9, the movable platform is configured to retain two rows and two columns of products. Further, the movable platform is configured to advance the products 25 in stacks or layers, such as the illustrated stack of two product containers. Consistent with the broader aspects of the present invention, the movable platform 34 can be sized to store and advance any number of products, including storing and advancing different types, shapes and/or sizes of products.

The top surface 102 also includes a pair of ribs 117 near the front side 106 of the movable platform 34 for housing the advancement mechanism 36. An aperture 119 is included in the bottom 100 in order to receive the advancement mechanism 36 and to secure it to the movable platform 34.

The bottom 100 of the movable platform 34 has a bottom surface 104 including a side track 122 located on the side 110 and a side track 124 located on the side 112 for functionally engaging the base member 32. As best illustrated in FIG. 5, the side track 122 is movably coupled to the track extension 41 of the side 48 of the base member 32. Likewise, the side track 122 is movably coupled to the track extension 41 of the side 48 of the base member 32. In this way, the platform 34 containing product is permitted to move or slide along the length 51 of the base member 32, so that the products can be positioned within and/or advanced to the front end of the well display unit 23.

Preferably, the bottom surface 104 of the movable platform 34 includes a center channel or track 128 that extends from the front side 106 to the rear side 108 of the platform for slidably or otherwise functionally engaging the ribs 70 and 72 and/or the track 74 of the base member 32 and for housing the advancement mechanism 36. It will at once be appreciated that location of the tracks 122, 124 and 128 on the movable platform 34 and track extensions 41 and track 74 of the base member 32 may be provided in any size, number and configuration known to those skilled in the art, provided the platform 34 movably or otherwise functionally engages the base member 32.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the advancement mechanism 36 utilized in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention includes a coil spring 130 housed in the center track 74 of the base member 32 to bias or push movable platform 34 toward the front of merchandising system 30. The coil spring 130 is coupled at an end 132 to the front of the track 74 of the base member 32. The end 132 of the coil spring may be secured to the base member 32 by a clasp, hook, bracket or, alternatively, the end 132 may be secured through the use of fasteners such as screws, rivets, bolts, snaps, hold downs, clips, clamps or other various connectors or connection methods.

As best illustrated in FIG. 2, a coiled end 134 of the coil spring is disposed through the aperture 119 in the bottom 100 of the movable platform 34, positioned between the ribs 117 and retained in place by a spring cover 136. The spring cover 136 includes tabs 138 configured to snap fit into apertures 140 in each of the ribs 117 on the movable platform 3, covering the coiled end 136 of the coil spring 130. Accordingly, as can be seen from FIG. 2, when the movable platform 34 is retracted (i.e. pulled toward the back of merchandising system 30), the tension in the coil spring 130 (e.g. the extended coil spring 130) will bias the movable platform 34 in a forwardly direction.

The advancement mechanism 36 can be any biasing mechanism (spring, helical spring, elastic, etc.) known to those skilled in the art. Consistent with the broader aspects of the present invention, and as illustrated in FIG. 8, merchandising system 30 can be provided without a biasing mechanism, wherein the movable platform 34 can be manually advanced or moved to the front end of the merchandising system 30 when the product 25 towards the front of the well display unit 23 is depleted. In addition, the merchandising system 30 can be disposed within the well display unit on an angle or on a forwardly slanted surface, as illustrated in FIG. 8 by angle 300 and/or the well display unit may have a slanted or angled base such that the movable platform 34 can be advanced via gravity, once the product within the base member 32, ahead of the movable platform 34, is removed.

Turning now to FIGS. 4A and 4B, in addition to FIGS. 1 and 2, installation of the merchandising system 30 within the well display unit 23 is illustrated. Base member 32 is secured within the well display unit 23 by fitting the leg 57 of the front end 42 of the base member 32 between the wall of the well display unit 23 and the front end of the well grid floor 20. Clips 144 include extensions 146 that snap fit into the apertures 63 in the bottom 100 of the base member 32. The clips 144 have arms 148 that are configured to fit underneath the well grid floor 20, thereby securing the base member 32 within the well display unit 23. It will be appreciated that any means known to those skilled in the art can be used to stationarily secure the base member 32 to the well display unit, including hooks, fasteners, snaps, hold downs, clamps, etc.

Referring next to FIGS. 9 through 11, a method of merchandising a product 25 using the merchandising system 30 of the present invention is disclosed. In particular, FIG. 9 illustrates a plurality of stacks 150, 152, 154, 156 and 158 of products 25 loaded within the well display unit 23. In the fully loaded position, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the movable platform 34 is biased toward the rear of the base member 32 of the merchandising system 30. As illustrated, shelving units 200 obstruct a significant portion of the products 25 within the display unit 23, and indeed, the stacks 150 and 152 disposed on the platform 34 may be completely inaccessible to the consumer.

As the products 25 are removed from the well unit 23, the tension in the coil spring 130 releases such that the coil spring 130 draws the movable platform 34 forward. As such, the movable platform 34 containing the stacks 150 and 152 of product 25 urges/pushes the stacks 154 and 156 towards the front end of the well display unit 23. As illustrated in FIG. 10, advancement/positioning of the movable platform 34 causes additional product within the well to be accessible to the consumer. It will be appreciated that the position of the movable platform 34 along the length 51 of the base member 32 will depend on the number/size of products positioned with the storage area 50 of the base member 32, ahead of the platform 34. Accordingly, the platform 34 is selectively positionable within the well display unit 23 in any location from the front end 42 to the rear end 44 of the base member 32.

As illustrated in FIG. 11, when the stacks 158, 156 and 154 are completely removed from the well display unit, the movable platform 34 containing stacks 150 and 152 of product is positioned at the front end 42 of the base member 32 of the merchandising system 30. When the products 25 on the movable platform 34 are depleted, the merchandising system 30 can be reloaded.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 9 through 11, the merchandising system 30 of the present invention is preferably configured to display, store and advance multiple products at a given time. For example, the merchandising system 30 can include two columns and five rows of products, stacked in two layers. In this way, rather than advancing only one product at a time, the movable platform 34 can advance both columns of stacked product at a given time. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the present invention can be configured to retain and advance any number of rows, columns and layers of products (including advancing only a single product at a given time), depending on the type of display unit into which the system 30 is installed, depending on the type of product, and/or depending on the particular end-use application of the merchandising system 30.

Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 8, where no coil spring 130 is provided, the movable platform 34 can be manually advanced as the products 25 is removed from the well display unit 23. In addition, the platform 34 may advance automatically, if the merchandising system 30 and/or the well display unit is provided at an angle that permits the platform to move with the force of gravity as products are removed.

Accordingly, it will be appreciated that the present invention provides a merchandising system for products typically displayed in the “well” area of a display case, such that the products can be easily advanced or “faced” to the front of the well area even when a portion of the storage space within the well is obstructed from reach or view. Indeed, it can be seen that the present invention provides a well merchandising system that efficiently manages storage space within the well, increasing the available storage space by rendering the obstructed portion of the well usable storage area. Further, the present invention permits the product to be stocked, stored and advanced from beneath any overhead shelving or obstruction that would otherwise prevent access to the back of the well.

Further, it can be seen that the present invention provides a well merchandising system that is configured to effectively display and face products that are fragile or provided in uniquely shaped containers. Moreover, the present invention provides a merchandising system that advances multiple products at once in an organized and efficient manner, such as advancing a plurality of layers, rows and/or stacks of products at one time.

Turning next to FIGS. 12 and 13, an alternative embodiment of the present invention is shown. Like the merchandising system 30, a merchandising system 210 includes a base member 32, a movable platform 34 and an advancement mechanism 36 for moving the platform 34 with respect to the base member 32. In this embodiment, each of the side edges 46 and 48 of the base member 32 is provided with a channel or track 212 for functionally engaging the movable platform. Each of the tracks 212 extends outwardly from each of the edges 46 and 48, respectively, and extends longitudinally from the front end 42 to the rear end 44 of the base member 32. The tracks 212 may be integrally formed with the base member 32, or alternatively, the tracks 212 may be secured to the base member 32.

As best illustrated in FIG. 12, the movable platform 34 is provided with openings 214 near each of the sides 110 and 112 to provide room for securing a plurality of wheels or rollers 216 to the internal face of sides 110 and 112, respectively. Accordingly, each of the sides 110 and 112 of the movable platform 34 include a plurality of apertures or notches 218 for retaining the wheels 216 therein. As best illustrated in FIG. 13, each of the wheels 216 include an extension 219 and an end 220. Preferably, the wheels 216 snap fit into the notches 218. Accordingly, the movable platform 34 is movably positioned on the base member 32 such that the wheels 216 on the side 110 of the movable platform 34 movably fit into the track 212 on the side 48 of the base member 32. Likewise, the wheels 216 on the side 110 of the movable platform 34 movably fit into the track 212 on the side 48 of the base member 32.

As such, in the merchandising system 210, when product 25 is removed from the well display unit 23, the movable platform 34 rolls within the tracks 212 on the base member 32, thereby advancing the product 25 towards the front of the well display unit 25. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the platform 34 may be provided with any means known to those skilled in the art for moving the platform with respect to the base member 32.

It is also important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of merchandising systems 30 and 210 as shown in the exemplary embodiments is illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments of the present inventions have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, colors, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter of the present inventions. For example, elements shown as integrally formed may be constructed of multiple parts or elements shown as multiple parts may be integrally formed; the operation of the interfaces of the movable platform and the stationary base member; the length or width of the tracks or other elements of merchandising system, such as protrusions and ribs, may be varied. It should be noted that the elements and/or assemblies of merchandising systems 30 and/or 210 may be constructed from any of a wide variety of materials that provide sufficient strength or durability, including any of a wide variety of moldable plastic materials (such as high-impact plastic), in any of a wide variety of colors, textures and combinations. It should also be noted that merchandising systems 30 and 210 may be used in association other display units, other than well-type display units, such as in shelves and/or cabinets. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present inventions. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present inventions.