Quick Tips for Store Specific Plans and Layouts

Are you struggling to create store-specific plans?

The desire to be both more local and operationally efficient has rekindled efforts to become more granular with planograms. Customers want the right product available; shareholders want to maximize sales and ROI; operations wants to efficiently execute and manage the display. Well done, store-specific plans sell more and incorporate better inventory that’s easier replenish. Done poorly, they are a waste of effort.

If the pursuit of store-specific seems painfully long, involves lots of rework, and often doesn’t measure up to expectations, it could be that your process is missing fundamental steps. You might be jumping to new software too soon, or using the wrong yardstick to measure results.

To start, you need a framework to understand which categories benefit from store-specific plans relative to the effort required.  Generally, diversity in fixture size, sales mix, brands, sizes, etc., suggests opportunity.  Sales volume tends to drive total value, and display complexity figures in the feasibility of creating store-specific plans efficiently. If the desire to go store-specific doesn’t pass these tests, then it’s best to focus on another, higher priority category.

Creating a planogram involves balancing good presentation, breadth of assortment, and inventory. Not all categories have the same balance. Knowing the relative importance of each is vital in creating store-specific plans (or any plan, really) because of the inevitable tradeoffs, whether using automation or not. Can the crisp vertices of a block be sacrificed to preserve the assortment? Does the need to hit inventory minimums mean items can be dropped?

Virtually everyone experienced in creating store-specific plans stresses the importance of gaining a clearly documented list of category deliverables and trade-offs before turning to software. The process flushes out details that were never considered and puts everyone on the same page.  From objectives come requirements, and from requirements, a software use plan.  Set out without first doing this work, and you’re committing yourself to lots of rework, frustration, and friction.

When you have created plans, use this same framework to score results.   This will not only tell you which metrics and characteristics are important, it will ground discussions in reasonable expectations.   Keep in mind the baseline you’re creating is the generic plan.  You are no more likely to achieve a perfect plan for every store through automation than you were when you built the original, but at least the store-specific plan (if you’ve done it right) has moved closer. Some will be closer than others.   Dream of perfection, but strive for strong improvements and sensible trade-offs.

The base plan should be subject to more scrutiny than all other plans combined. Does it incorporate the requirements that are being asked of store-specific plans?   Many base plans that fail this test.  If you can’t create the perfect plan with your own hands, don’t expect software to do what you cannot.  Rather, build the best you can and empower software to replicate and adjust these based on store-specific conditions.

Of course, all of this is bound to fail without a skilled user.   All software touting the capability to create store-specific plans requires specialized skills.  Secure a partner who has these and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg to be sure you have the most qualified users in the industry.

The final point returns to objectives: what is your definition of store-specific? Is your objective primarily about mapping your base plan on to different fixture sizes, stretching or shrinking with otherwise minimal changes? Or is the system to rebalance space based on local performance? Do you want varying assortments even with the same fixture size? Start with a clear understanding of objectives, then prepare, apply the talent, and score the plans sensibly.

At Vaco Supply Chain Solutions, we have a team of highly-experienced, on-shore space and category management, a well refined methodology, training programs, and reference materials.   If you need help creating these plans, contact us at 804-282-2033 today.