Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050199564 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/078,154
Publication date15 Sep 2005
Filing date11 Mar 2005
Priority date11 Mar 2004
Publication number078154, 11078154, US 2005/0199564 A1, US 2005/199564 A1, US 20050199564 A1, US 20050199564A1, US 2005199564 A1, US 2005199564A1, US-A1-20050199564, US-A1-2005199564, US2005/0199564A1, US2005/199564A1, US20050199564 A1, US20050199564A1, US2005199564 A1, US2005199564A1
InventorsAllen Johnson, Terrence Berglund
Original AssigneeDci Marketing, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Merchandising system
US 20050199564 A1
Abstract
A merchandising system for presenting and storing articles. The merchandising system comprises a plurality of bases including a first base and a second base for supporting the articles and a plurality of connectors configured to removably couple the first base to the second base. The plurality of bases comprise apertures for coupling with the plurality of connectors and the plurality of connectors comprise portions configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases. The plurality of connectors are adapted to support the first base in an upper position relative to the second base and the second base in a lower position relative to the first base when the portions of the plurality of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases are coupled to the apertures of the plurality of bases.
Images(11)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(25)
1. A merchandising system for presenting and storing articles comprising:
a plurality of bases including a first base and a second base for supporting the articles; and
a plurality of connectors configured to removably couple the first base to the second base;
wherein the plurality of bases comprise apertures for coupling with the plurality of connectors;
wherein the plurality of connectors comprise portions configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases; and
wherein the plurality of connectors are adapted to support the first base in an upper position relative to the second base and the second base in a lower position relative to the first base when the portions of the plurality of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases are coupled to the apertures of the plurality of bases.
2. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein the portions of the plurality of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases comprise couplers.
3. The merchandising system of claim 2 wherein the couplers of the plurality of connectors comprise teeth.
4. The merchandising system of claim 3 wherein the teeth have varying shapes and one or more of the teeth are adapted to couple to the base by sliding into the apertures of the base.
5. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein at least one of the plurality of connectors comprises a support.
6. The merchandising system of claim 5 wherein the support comprises a ridge configured to engage a portion of the base to prevent the at least one of the plurality of connectors from moving when coupled to a base.
7. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein at least one of the plurality of connectors is configured to couple to a connector provided on at least one of the plurality of bases.
8. The merchandising system of claim 7 wherein the at least one of the plurality of connectors is configured to couple to the connector provided on the at least one of the plurality of bases and at least one of the apertures provided on the at least one of the plurality of bases.
9. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein each of the plurality of bases comprise an assembly for advancing the articles from a back end to a front end of each of the plurality of bases.
10. The merchandising system of claim 9 wherein the assembly for advancing the articles comprises a pusher device that provides a biasing force against the articles.
11. The merchandising system of claim 10 wherein the assembly for advancing the articles provides a biasing force from the back end of each of the plurality of bases toward the front end of each of the plurality of bases along a slot located on each of the plurality of bases.
12. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein the plurality of connectors provide support to the plurality of bases at side supports provided on the plurality of bases.
13. The merchandising system of claim 12 wherein the side supports are integrally formed as part of the plurality of bases.
14. The merchandising system of claim 12 wherein the first base and the second base further comprise base connectors provided on the side supports.
15. The merchandising system of claim 14 wherein the first base and second base may be coupled together by inserting the base connectors of one of the first base and the second base into the apertures of the other of the first base and the second base.
16. The merchandising system of claim 15 wherein the first base and the second base are positioned side-by-side when the base connectors of one of the first base and the second base are inserted into the apertures of the other of the first base and the second base.
17. The merchandising system of claim 1 wherein the plurality of bases further comprises:
a third base and a fourth base; and
wherein the plurality of connectors are adapted to support the third base in an upper position relative to the fourth base and the fourth base in a lower position relative to the third base.
18. A merchandising system for presenting and storing products comprising:
a first tray for holding products;
a second tray for holding products; and
a first set of connectors configured to removably couple the first tray to the second tray;
wherein the first tray and the second tray comprise apertures for coupling with the first set of connectors;
wherein the first set of connectors comprise portions configured to engage the apertures of the first tray and the second tray; and
wherein the first set of connectors are adapted to support the first tray in an upper position relative to the second tray and the second tray in a lower position relative to the first tray when the portions of the first set of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the first tray and the second tray are coupled to the apertures of the first tray and the second tray.
19. The merchandising system of claim 18 further comprising a third tray, a fourth tray, and a second set of connectors;
wherein the first tray, second tray, third tray and fourth tray comprise apertures and tray connectors.
20. The merchandising system of claim 19 wherein the first tray is coupled to the third tray by way of the tray connectors of one of the first tray and the third tray being inserted into the apertures of the other of the first tray and the third tray so that the first tray and the third tray are positioned side-by-side.
21. The merchandising system of claim 20 wherein the second tray is coupled to the first tray by way of the first set of connectors so that the second tray is positioned above the first tray.
22. The merchandising system of claim 21 wherein the third tray is coupled to the fourth tray by way of the second set of connectors so that the fourth tray is positioned above the third tray.
23. The merchandising system of claim 22 wherein the second tray is coupled to the fourth tray by way of the tray connectors of one of the first tray and the third tray being inserted into the apertures of the other of the second tray and the fourth tray so that the second tray and the fourth tray are side-by-side.
24. A merchandising system for articles comprising:
a first set of platforms for holding articles including a first platform and a second platform;
a first set of connectors configured to couple the first platform to the second platform in a multi-level arrangement wherein one of the first platform and the second platform is positioned above the other of the first platform and the second platform;
wherein the first platform and the second platform comprise apertures and connectors for coupling the first platform and the second platform together side-by-side;
wherein the first platform and the second platform are adapted to either be coupled in the multi-level arrangement by way of the first set of connectors, or side-by-side by way of apertures and platform connectors;
wherein the first set of connectors comprise teeth of varying shapes configured to engage the apertures of the first set of platforms; and
wherein the first platform and the second platform further comprise an assembly for advancing the articles from a back end to a front end of the first platform and the second platform.
25. The merchandising system of claim 24 wherein the connectors of the first set of platforms are hooks that fit into the apertures to couple the first platform and the second platform together with a snap-fit.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM/CROSS REFERENCE

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/552,294 filed on Mar. 11, 2004, which is hereby incorporated in its entirety for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of merchandising systems. In particular, the present invention relates to merchandising systems providing for orderly presentation of articles (such as products) in a display space.

It is known to provide for a merchandising system that may be used for displaying products in consumer settings such as grocery stores, retail outlets, shops, etc. Such known merchandising systems may be used to present, display and store products in fixed or limited spaces such as on shelves, in display cases, in cabinets, etc.

It is beneficial when merchandising an article such as a product to allow potential customers to view or handle it in a convenient and comfortable manner. Known merchandising systems may display products to a consumer by providing the products in inefficient configurations. However, products and product containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and some products may be more difficult to merchandise (e.g., present for potential retail sale) than others. Within fixed or limited spaces, known merchandising systems may not be configured to optimize the presentation of such products to a consumer. Such known merchandising systems also do not always provide convenient ways for dispensing products, especially those with unique or irregular shapes. Ease of use can be an important concern for customers and store personnel. As is sometimes the case, product or container design may be dictated by considerations separate from the ease or difficulty with which the product may be presented.

Accordingly, it would be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that is configured for stocking, orderly presentation, and convenient storage of products with a shape that may not be easily stored, presented, or displayed, such as products with uniquely shaped containers. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that is configured for selective modularity in the construction and assembly of the merchandising system. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that allows for the construction and assembly of a merchandising system with any number of product facings, modules, compartments, etc. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that advances a product and/or allows a product to advance along a defined path. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system having a frame for supporting and selectively retaining a product within the merchandising system. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that is able to support products in multiple levels without stacking the products on one another. It would also be advantageous to provide a merchandising system that includes connectors for supporting multiple levels of frames.

It would be advantageous to provide a merchandising system or the like of a type disclosed in the present application that provides any one or more of these or other advantageous features.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the invention relates to a merchandising system for presenting and storing articles. The merchandising system comprises a plurality of bases including a first base and a second base for supporting the articles and a plurality of connectors configured to removably couple the first base to the second base. The plurality of bases comprise apertures for coupling with the plurality of connectors and the plurality of connectors comprise portions configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases. The plurality of connectors are adapted to support the first base in an upper position relative to the second base and the second base in a lower position relative to the first base when the portions of the plurality of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the plurality of bases are coupled to the apertures of the plurality of bases.

Another embodiment of the present invention relates to a merchandising system for presenting and storing products. The merchandising system comprises a first tray for holding products, a second tray for holding products, and a first set of connectors configured to removably couple the first tray to the second tray. The first tray and the second tray comprise apertures for coupling with the first set of connectors and the first set of connectors comprise portions configured to engage the apertures of the first tray and the second tray. The first set of connectors are adapted to support the first tray in an upper position relative to the second tray and the second tray in a lower position relative to the first tray when the portions of the first set of connectors configured to engage the apertures of the first tray and the second tray are coupled to the apertures of the first tray and the second tray.

Another embodiment of the present invention further relates to a merchandising system for articles comprising a first set of platforms for holding articles including a first platform and a second platform and a first set of connectors configured to couple the first platform to the second platform in a multi-level arrangement wherein one of the first platform and the second platform is positioned above the other of the first platform and the second platform. The first platform and the second platform comprise apertures and connectors for coupling the first platform and the second platform together side-by-side. The first platform and the second platform are adapted to either be coupled in the multi-level arrangement by way of the first set of connectors, or side-by-side by way of apertures and platform connectors. The first set of connectors comprise teeth of varying shapes configured to engage the apertures of the first set of platforms. The first platform and the second platform further comprise an assembly for advancing the articles from a back end to a front end of the first platform and the second platform.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 2 is an exploded front perspective view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 5A is a side view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 5B is a side view of a merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 7 is a top view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a top view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a bottom view of a connector from the merchandising system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 12 is an illustrative embodiment of bases from a merchandising system being coupled together;

FIG. 13 is front perspective view of bases from a merchandising system coupled together according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 14 is an illustrative embodiment of connectors being coupled to a base from a merchandising system;

FIG. 15 is an illustrative embodiment of a second base being coupled to the connectors of a merchandising system;

FIG. 16 is an illustrative embodiment of a plurality of bases from a merchandising system being coupled together;

FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of a plurality of bases from a merchandising system coupled together according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 18 is a front perspective view of a biasing mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment; and

FIG. 19 is a front perspective view of a biasing mechanism according to an alternative embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the Figures, various exemplary and alternative embodiments of a merchandising system intended for displaying articles such as products, containers, items, units, etc. in consumer settings such as grocery stores, retail outlets, shops, etc. are shown. According to a preferred embodiment, the merchandising system is intended to dispense, store, merchandise, display, etc. articles to provide for the space-efficient presentation of groups of articles within a given or fixed display area, and/or to allow for convenient and orderly presentation, dispensing, and storage of articles (such as products or product containers) having any of a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and profiles (e.g., wedges, cylinders, rectangular, non-rectangular, etc.). While the invention may be susceptible to embodiment in different forms, there are shown in the drawings, and herein are described in detail, certain illustrative embodiments with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention, and is not intended to limit the invention to those as illustrated and described herein. Additionally, features illustrated and described with respect to one embodiment could be used in connection with other embodiments.

FIG. 1 shows a merchandising system 10 (e.g., tray system, shelf system, display system, case, divider system, storage system, modular system, etc.) according to an exemplary embodiment. As shown in the FIGS., merchandising system 10 may comprise a base 20, a connector 40, an assembly 50, and a panel 60.

According to an exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, system 10 includes a base 20 (e.g., tray, floor, support, support system, panel, member, platform, etc.) having a rear end 22 (e.g., rear) and a front end 28 (e.g., front). The rear end 22 may comprise a rear wall 23 (e.g., member, element, etc.) and the front end may comprise a front support 27 (e.g., member, element, etc.). Base 20 may also include sides 18 and 19 (e.g., walls, panels, members, elements, etc.) and surface 21 (e.g., floor, bottom, shelf, etc.). The front support 27, rear wall 23, side walls 18 and 19, and surface 21 may be coupled together to provide a space 29. As shown in FIGS. 1 through 5, base 20 may be provided in a substantially horizontal orientation. The base 20 may be configured to support articles such as product (e.g., merchandise, foodstuffs, boxes, containers, food products, bottles, cans, etc.) in space 29. The base 20 may also be provided with one or more apertures 16 and 33 (e.g., holes, cutouts, voids, slots, grooves, etc.) in the base 20.

As shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, the base 20 may include a first side 18 and a second side 19. First side 18 may include one or more side supports 25 (e.g., members, frames, bars, walls, elements, panels) for providing support when multiple bases are interconnected. FIG. 5A shows a base 20 having two side supports 25 on a side 18. According to alternative embodiments, any number of side supports may be used. For example, a base may have three side supports (on one side of the base), a base may have four side supports (on one side of the base), etc. Base 20 may include connectors 31 on side 18 for attaching to other objects such as other bases. Connectors 31 may be coupled to apertures 16 and connectors 40. According to an exemplary embodiment, connectors 31 may be integrally formed as part of the side supports 25. The base 20 may comprise one or more aperture 33 positioned near the side supports 25 and connector 31. Apertures 33 may be configured to couple with portions of connector 40 in order to support multiple levels of bases 20. As shown in FIG. 5B, second side 19 may include a number of grooves or apertures 16 for coupling to connectors 40 or other bases 20.

According to various exemplary embodiments, one or more base (e.g., tray system) may be provided. The base may be provided on an existing merchandising system such as a shelf, grid system, display case, etc. The base may be configured to hold, display, retain, store, or otherwise receive articles (e.g., goods, displayed objects, etc.). The base provides for the space division and orderly and convenient presentation of such articles. Base 20 may be configured to connect or couple adjacent systems into a larger overall merchandising system. According to a preferred embodiment, the base 20 has a “modular” construction and facilitates use with other bases, shelves, or a variety of other existing merchandising systems, including shelving units, support surfaces, grids, brackets, hangers, etc.

Referring to FIGS. 6 through 8, merchandising system 10 may include one or more of connectors 40. According to a preferred embodiment, merchandising system 10 includes a plurality of connectors 40. Connector 40 may include portions 42 (e.g., panels, walls, ends, sides, etc.). According to various exemplary embodiments, connector 40 may include one or more portions for connecting with a base. For example, as shown in FIGS. 6 through 8, connector 40 includes “teeth” 48. Teeth 48 may be configured to coactively engage with corresponding portions of base 20 in order to couple the connector 40 to base 20. According to an exemplary embodiment as shown in the FIGS., teeth 48 have varying shapes. Teeth 48 may be rectangular, circular, triangular, angular, obtuse, etc. FIGS. 14 through 17 show how teeth 48 engage with portions of base 20. For example, teeth 48 may be configured to couple with apertures 16 and 33 on base 20 to hold the connector and base in a desired position. According to various embodiments, the teeth 48 may be of any suitable shape or configuration. Connector 40 may also include one or more rims 46 (e.g., ridges, members, frames, supports, extensions, etc.). Rims 46 may be configured to hold base 20 in position by providing an area for the base 20 to engage with (e.g., rest upon) when the connector 40 and base 20 are coupled together. Rims 46 are preferably configured to accommodate the placement of one or more bases 20 on the connector 40. For example, rims 46 may include teeth 47 for engaging the base 20. The side supports 25 of base 20 may engage and couple with connectors 40 as illustrated in FIGS. 14 through 17. According to an exemplary embodiment, teeth 48 may be “snapped” onto portions of side supports 25, thereby coupling the base 20 to connector 40. Connector 40 may be integrally formed as one piece. According to alternative embodiments, connector 40 may be formed by coupling separate members together (e.g., rim 46 and portions 42 and 43). According to alternative embodiments, connector 40 may be formed by any suitable method.

The base 20 may also be provided with at least one track 70 (e.g. guide, notch, groove, recess, slot, etc.). The track 70 may extend substantially along the length of the base 20. When coupled with base 20, connector 40 provides support for track 70 as shown in the FIGS. For example, teeth 48 may be configured to “snap” onto portions of base 20 to help prevent track 70 from being spread apart as member 52 moves along base 20. According to alternative embodiments, base 20 may include a support 34 (e.g., bar, clip, fastener, etc.) that adheres to the bottom of the base on both sides of the track 70. The support 34 may be permanently coupled to base 20 to provide support to track 70. For example, the support 34 may include tabs (e.g., fingers, prongs, hooks, connectors, etc.) which “clip” into apertures located on base 20 and an adhesive bond may be applied to keep the support 34 “locked” in place. According to alternative embodiments, a support 34 may be removably coupled to base 20.

According to various alternative embodiments, the configuration of the base may be altered to better accommodate the shape of the articles (e.g., the base may have a circular, rectangular, triangular or polygonal cross-section, the base may have a non-uniform configuration throughout, etc.). For example, the sides 18 and 19 may comprise multiple members positioned in multiple orientations or positions.

According to an exemplary embodiment, system 10 includes an assembly 50 for advancing articles toward the front end 28 of the base 20. Assembly 50 may include biasing mechanism 51 (e.g., spring, coil spring, helical spring, elastic, etc.) to urge or bias the member 52. Member 52 (e.g., paddle, movable panel, scoop, pusher, plate, follower, etc.) is preferably slidably engaged to the base 20. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 12 through 17, the member 52 is slidably engaged to the track 70 of the base 20. According to an exemplary embodiment, the member 52 may be constructed as a single unit. In an alternative embodiment, the member 52 may be provided as an assembly of two or more elements.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 12 through 17, the biasing mechanism 51 may be a coil spring with a first end attached to the front end 28 of the base 20 and a second end coacting with the member 52. When the member 52 is near the front end 28 of the base 20, the spring is at least partially relaxed. As the member 52 is moved away from the front end 28 of the base 20, the tension in the spring is increased.

According to an alternative embodiment, the coil spring shown in FIGS. 1 and 12 through 17 can be replaced with any other suitable biasing mechanism. In alternative embodiments, the biasing mechanism may be, but is not limited to, a spring, helical spring, elastic, etc.

As best shown in FIG. 18, the member 52 includes a back portion 54 that is provided in a substantially vertical orientation. As shown in FIG. 18, the back portion 54 is positioned perpendicular to the base 20. The back portion 54, as shown in FIG. 18, may be rectangular in shape. The member 52 may be configured to sidably engage with the base 20. For example, the member 52 may be configured to slidably engage with the track 70 extending substantially the length of the base 20. The member 52 may be configured to support articles such as product. The member 52 may also be configured to interact with a biasing mechanism 51. In some embodiments, the shape of the member may be fork-shaped. In other embodiments, the shape of the member may be rectangular, scoop-shaped, circular, triangular, trapezoidal, etc.

Member 52 may be provided with tabs (e.g., projections, pegs, connectors, etc.) which may be configured to coact or engage with the track 70 of the base 20. The member 52 may also be configured with a platform (tab, ledge, member, shelf, etc.) that may provide support for the biasing mechanism 51. The platform may also guide the biasing mechanism 51 during the movement of the member 52.

According to various alternative embodiments, the member may have a wide variety of shapes and/or configurations. For example, the member may be circular, scoop-shaped, triangular, trapezoidal, fork-shaped, etc. According to an alternative embodiment, FIG. 19 shows a curved member 52 b (e.g., curved, scoop, shovel-like, cup-like, bucket-like, etc.). Providing a member with a curved shape may better accommodate certain shapes of articles. For example, the curved shape may better accommodate a bag of articles (such as chips, salty-snacks, etc.) while a member of another shape (e.g., rectangular) may better accommodate a more fixed or rigid article (such as boxed products, etc.). According to an alternative embodiment, the member located on a base may be provided with one or more apertures (e.g., cut-outs, reliefs, holes, etc.). The one or more apertures may advantageously reduce the amount of material needed to build and/or construct the member, or alternatively reduce the weight of the member.

As shown in the FIGS., a front support 27 (e.g., portion, base, panel, member, plate, etc.) may be provided along the front end 28 of a base 20. The front support 27 may be provided in a substantially vertical orientation. According to one exemplary embodiment, the front support 27 may be a configured to couple with panel 60. As shown in the FIGS., the front support 27 is configured to selectively engage with a portion of the panel 60. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the front support 27 engages with the corresponding portions of the panel 60 by a “snap-fit.” For example, support 27 may include apertures that are configured to couple with portions (e.g., tabs, protrusions, prongs, connectors, etc.) of panel 60. The panel 60 may be coupled to the support 27 by inserting the portions of panel 60 into the apertures of support 27. The portions of panel 60 may be held in place by various means including tension, adhesive, mechanical fasteners, or any other suitable method. The panel 60 may be rectangular, circular, octagonal, trapezoidal, curved, angular, etc. in shape and may be of any size or configuration sufficient to retain the article as a force is being applied to the article by the member. According to alternative embodiments, the panel 60 may be an integral piece with the base and/or sides.

The panel 60 may be configured to receive or display indicia (e.g. text, graphics, display placards, signage, etc.). For example, indicia may be applied directly to the panel 60. Alternatively, the panel 60 comprises one or more channels configured to hold and display indicia. Additionally, the plate may be clear to increase visibility of the merchandising articles. This configuration allows the articles to be readily visible by minimizing the potential obstruction that could be created by a front wall. According to an exemplary embodiment, the visibility of the articles may be maximized by providing a clear or transparent plate.

According to an exemplary embodiment, one or more fasteners (e.g., mechanical fasteners, adhesives, suction cups, rubber feet, bolts, hook and loop fasteners, brackets, etc.) may be provided on the bottom of merchandising system 10 to hold, retain, etc. the merchandising system 10 in place. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the fasteners may be non-skid rubber feet provided on the underside of the merchandising system 10 (e.g., provided on supports 34). Slots may be provided on the underside of the merchandising system 10 to receive the non-skid rubber feet. The non-skid rubber feet may adhere or otherwise coact with a surface (such as a display shelf). According to alternative embodiments, fasteners may be omitted.

As shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, the sides 18 and 19 of base 20 may be configured to selectively engage with the sides 18 and 19 of other bases 20 (such as base 20 b). The sides 18 may be configured with a plurality of connectors 31 (e.g. portions, portions for coupling, fingers, male connectors, members for coupling, hooks, base connectors, tray connectors, platform connectors, etc.) that correspond with apertures 16 (e.g. slots, female connectors, etc.) of other bases to engage and couple a plurality of bases together. As shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, multiple bases may be coupled next to one another (e.g., side-by-side). FIGS. 12 and 13 show the process of coupling first base 20 a to a second base 20 b. Connectors 31 on first base 20 a are inserted into apertures 16 on second base 20 b. FIG. 12 shows two connectors 31 of first base 20 a being inserted into two respective apertures 16 on second base 20 b (as indicated by the arrows). FIG. 13 shows the first base 20 a and second base 20 b coupled together after the connectors 31 have been inserted into the apertures 16. The resultant system includes two bases side-by-side for additional storage of articles. In a preferred embodiment, the connector 31 may be coupled to aperture 16 by way of sliding the connector 31 into the aperture 16. Connector 31 may be released by pulling connector 31 away from or sliding connector 31 along aperture 16.

According to an alternative embodiment, the connector 31 may be replaced with any element (e.g., latch, hook, etc.) configured to selectively release the base from another base. Each base is preferably identical in shape so that they may be coupled side-by-side with little to no additional equipment of parts.

According to another alternative embodiment, connector 40 may comprise portions that are configured to couple to other connectors 40. For example, connector 40 may include two portions for coupling on one side of the connector 40 and two corresponding slots on the other side of connector 40 for receiving another connector for coupling. Each connector may be identical in shape in order to reduce tooling costs. One side may be coupled to a side of the base 20. The other side of connector 40 is available to couple with another connector. According to alternative embodiments, any other suitable method of coupling connectors 40 together may be implemented.

FIGS. 14 through 17 show how a connector 40 may be attached to a base in order to provide support for a second level of one or more bases positioned above the lower level (e.g., a multi-level arrangement). According to an exemplary embodiment, a rear connector 90 (shown in FIGS. 9-11) shown with teeth 92 and portions 94 is coupled to a lower base 20 c. The portions 96 (e.g., teeth, connectors, sides, etc.) are coupled to the track 70 by insertion into the track opening. The teeth are coupled by way of a snap or tension fit with the track 70. According to alternative embodiments, any other suitable attachment means may be used. Portions 96 of rear connector 90 further support the rear connector by fitting against and/or engaging with the sides 18 and 19 of the lower base 20 c. Connectors 40 may also be coupled to the lower base 20 c by attaching teeth 48 of the connectors 40 to the apertures 16 on side 19 and connectors 31 on side 18 of the lower base 20 c. The connector 40 is further positioned so that teeth 48 are available to couple with an upper base 20 d. Rear connector 90 is also configured to couple with the upper base 20 d. Similar to how the first base is coupled to rear connector 90 and connectors 40, the upper base 20 d is coupled to rear connector 90 and connectors 40. FIG. 15 shows how the upper base 20 d is positioned above the connectors 90 and 40 and the lower base 20 c so that it may be coupled to the connectors. FIG. 16 through 17 show how this process may be repeated to add additional bases side-by-side and in multiple levels. For example, FIG. 17 shows four bases 20 c, 20 d, 20 e, 20 f coupled side-by-side in a first and second level with respect to the vertical axis.

According to various exemplary embodiments, the assemblies and components of the merchandising system 10 may be constructed from extruded or injection molded plastic. A variety of plastics may be used for construction or assembly. For example, the connector(s) may be constructed or assembled from high-impact plastics, polymers, etc. Using plastic offers several advantages including that the pieces may be constructed in a variety of different colors, surface finishes, textures, opacity, etc. According to various alternative embodiments, a variety of other known or suitable materials may be used, including metals, alloys, composites, etc.

According to the various exemplary embodiments shown in the FIGS., a merchandising system may be provided on a substantially horizontal surface such as a display shelf or may be provided as the substantially horizontal surface of a display shelf merchandising system. According to alternative embodiments, the elements and the assemblies of the various exemplary embodiments may be applied to a merchandising system provided at any orientation and are not limited to a substantially horizontal surface. The exemplary embodiments shown in the FIGS. may be dimensioned to fit any applicable merchandising system (e.g. shelf, display, grid, etc.). For example, the exemplary embodiments advantageously allow a single merchandising system to be used interchangeably with display shelf merchandising systems of different depths without limiting the storage capacity of the merchandising system to the storage capacity of the smallest merchandising shelf system by providing an enlargeable storage space.

The merchandising system may be incorporated into a display shelf system so that the front end 28 of the merchandising system 10 is near the front edge of the display shelf system. Articles may be placed in the space 29 (e.g., storage space, compartment, bin, holder, etc.) of the merchandising system 10 defined by the surface 21, the two sides 18 and 19, the front support 27, and the rear wall 23.

The parts defining the space configured to store or display articles may be constructed and assembled as a single integrally formed piece or may be constructed and assembled from multiple parts. The parts may be arranged to form a storage space. Before an article is placed in the space of the merchandising system, the member may be positioned near the front support. With the member positioned near the front of the wall, the size of the space available to accept articles is minimal. The biasing mechanism positions the member near the front support of the merchandising system when no articles are loaded in the merchandising system.

The merchandising system 10 may be initially loaded with articles by either manually positioning the member 52 toward the back of the base 20 and then loading the articles into the expanded space, or by loading the articles through the front and having the articles move the member 52 towards the back of the base 20 as more articles are added to the space. As articles are loaded and the member 52 is moved further from the front end 28, the tension force in the biasing mechanism 51 may increase. The tension developed in the biasing mechanism 51 may cause the member 52 to apply a force to the articles in the merchandising system 10. The force applied by the member 52 may securably contain the articles within space 29. Additionally, the force applied to the articles positions or urges the articles toward the front end 28 of the merchandising system 10. The biasing mechanism 51 may be adjusted or configured so that the force applied to the articles by the member 52 does not damage the articles.

Once loaded with articles, the merchandising system 10 advantageously allows for the forward movement of the articles after an article is removed. When an article is removed from the front of the merchandising system 10, the remaining articles are positioned forward by the member 52 to fill the void left by the removed article. Moving the remaining articles to the front of the merchandising system 10 maximizes the visibility of the articles by eliminating the possibility that adjacent articles positioned near the edge of the display shelf system could obstruct the view of an article set back from the edge of the display shelf system. Additionally, the movement of the article to the front of the merchandising system reduces the difficulty of trying to reach an article positioned away from the front edge of a display shelf system. Furthermore, the forward movement also eliminates the need to manually reposition all of the remaining articles in the merchandising system after an article has been removed.

The sides 18 and 19 of the merchandising system may retain the articles when the articles are stored or presented in the merchandising system. The sides 18 and 19 may guide the article as the article is positioned or urged in the merchandising system by the member 52. The support 27 or panel 60 may prevent the articles from being urged off the front of the merchandising system. When the member 52 positions or urges the articles toward the front of the merchandising system, the support 27 or panel 60 may retain the articles in the merchandising system. According to an alternative embodiment, the merchandising system may be configured so that a support 27 or a panel 60 is not needed to retain the urged article (e.g., an additional member may be added, the configuration of the base and/or side wall may sufficiently retain the article, the angle of the merchandising system, etc.).

According to a preferred embodiment in which the biasing mechanism is a coil spring, the member may provide at least one platform to support the coil spring. When the member is positioned near the front support of the merchandising system, the portion of the coil spring that is uncoiled may be minimal. The platform may support the coiled portion of the spring and may further act as a guide for the coiled spring by preventing the coiled spring from interfering with the merchandising system during the movement of the member.

The same technique used to initially load the merchandising system may be used to reload the merchandising system as articles are removed. In a particularly preferred mode of operation, the new article is reloaded from the front of the merchandising system as it remains incorporated with the display shelf system.

The various embodiments of the merchandising system shown in the FIGS. may advantageously allow for individual merchandising systems to be positioned adjacently or stacked vertically, providing for selective modularity in the construction and assembly of the merchandising system. According to alternative embodiments, adjacent systems may be coupled to each other with a variety of fasteners, including dovetails, screws, bolts, adhesives, joints, etc.

It is important to note that the above-described preferred embodiments are illustrative only. Although the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous modifications are possible without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter described herein. Accordingly, these and all other such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. In the claims, any means-plus-function clause is intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangements of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7419062 *18 Jan 20062 Sep 2008New Dimensions Research CorporationShelf unit
US7516854 *2 Dec 200514 Apr 2009Akro-Mils, Inc.System bin
US7823734 *25 Apr 20062 Nov 2010Rtc Industries, Inc.Product management display system with trackless pusher mechanism
US81720948 Apr 20098 May 2012Target Brands, Inc.Product display system
US8453850 *22 Jan 20094 Jun 2013Rtc Industries, Inc.Product management display system with trackless pusher mechanism
US20110168650 *17 Feb 201014 Jul 2011Yu-Ho LiangCommunication rack
US20130031815 *1 Aug 20127 Feb 2013Rtc Industries Inc.Product Management Display System with Trackless Pusher Mechanism
EP2415371A1 *22 Jan 20098 Feb 2012Rtc Industries, Inc.Product management display system with trackless pusher mechanism
WO2013033545A1 *31 Aug 20127 Mar 2013Rtc Industries, Inc.Product management display system
Classifications
U.S. Classification211/59.3, 211/194, 211/126.12
International ClassificationA47F1/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47F1/126
European ClassificationA47F1/12D1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
11 Mar 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: DCI MARKETING, INC., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JOHNSON, ALLEN E.;BERGLUND, TERRENCE G.;REEL/FRAME:016381/0653
Effective date: 20050310