By: Jennifer Childers | Data Analyst

Planning a Convenience Store’s Cold Vault is Part Science, Part Art and Part Contracts.


This article is going to walk you through the decision tree that is often used when resetting the cold vault doors.

One strategy that is true for most categories­—put best sellers in the strike zone, which is between eye and belly level, so they are easy for consumers to grab.

Also, place best-selling items toward the door handle for easier access and slower-selling items closer to the hinge.

When deciding what products go where, consider a few factors. The first is available space, then shop ability.

Exceptions sometimes must be made as you assemble the cold vault puzzle, the complexity of which varies depending on the size of the vault.

Flow of the doors can have a significant impact on sales. One preferred cooler flow situates energy drinks in the center because it is the largest subcategory and the one with the biggest growth. The U.S. energy drink market was valued at $14.3 billion in 2020 according to Dublin, Ireland-based Research and Markets.

The cold vault layout, from left to right, includes dairy, juice, sports drinks, waters, ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee, RTD tea, energy, carbonated soft drinks and beer. It can be an art to find the right home for hybrid items such as coconut waters, Monster Hydro, and Bai, which are considered enhanced waters. Are they a sports drink or an enhanced water? These type items will cause variations from cooler to cooler.

Benefits for Smaller Retailers

One benefit of managing a cold vault for a smaller retailer is fewer contract restrictions.

Larger chains are often more tied to contract specifics with big suppliers, and contracts at larger chains can be a very regimented system. For smaller chains there are still agreements with suppliers but they are not locked into large national and international contracts. This makes it is easier to customize cooler sets based on each store’s sales and other needs.

Room for Innovation

Leave room on shelves for innovation. Failing to leave flex space limits the ability to bring new items to the market, the pace in the innovation of new items, and the category’s dynamic nature. There is an accompanying challenge, too, in deciding on new products and selecting those trending upward.