Global retail
Planograms: Definition and importance in visual merchandising
Global retail

Planograms: Definition and importance in visual merchandising

10 min read
Alex Bilousko
Alex BilouskoHead of customer success
Planogram guide

A store planogram is when every centimeter of trade area in retail “works” and makes a profit, generates sales, attracts customers’ attention and maintains the reputation capital of the trade point.

Customer behavior has been studied and analyzed by marketers a long time ago. Every retailer knows that the visual design of the store and the layout of products play a key role for a customer, who in 80% of cases makes an impulsive decision to buy something directly in the store. 

To illustrate this let’s look at two examples from real life. In the first case, the buyer goes to the store deliberately to buy some hard cheese. In the second case to buy a bottle of wine. Did you ever notice that if you place dessert ricotta for a discount price near hard cheese and, for example, flour, vanilla and confectionery diagonally from the customer, they are likely to go to the cash desk with a kit for homemade dessert? Or, in the second case, the buyer will definitely take some olives and nuts if they notice them in close proximity to the stand with wine.

In both cases, these decisions are made for the customer by strategically planned merchandising rules – principles that control the placement of products in the store, on the showcase and on the rack. Speaking in terms, merchandising is a set of measures aimed at developing and implementing a strategy of placement and layout of products, visual design of the trade point. 

What is a store planogram?

Retail planogram or in other words, a scheme of the store/ trade equipment is an image or a scheme that portrays products/product categories/brands/SKUs and is made manually in a graphic editor or in a special design program. 

 juice planogram

An example retail planogram of juice showcase

How to decide which merchandising strategy to choose for your store, how to indicate your goals and directions and how to make store planograms which will work and make sales? 

Purposes of creating planogram for retail store  

Aside from the main purpose which was already mentioned – generating and increasing sale rates with the help of profitable and rational placement of the products, correctly made planogram of the store/trade equipment or showcase also helps the retailer to: 

Principles of making merchandising planograms

A correctly made merchandising planogram must correspond to the 5 classic principles of merchandising. These are sufficiency, visibility, systematics, efficiency and compatibility. Let’s look at each of them individually.  

Principle of sufficient layout implies the availability of the complete product assortment on the racks and showcases taking into account the level of sales and demand, store area, the size of equipment, customer behavior, seasonality, etc. 

Sufficiency principle is not only about putting all the assortment on the shelf but also about correctly defining the number of facings of each SKU within each trade equipment unit.

When you follow the sufficiency principle you need to keep the balance between deficit and overstock of products and react to the slightest fluctuations in demand.

Principle of visible layout. Customers are led by their eyes. The more visible the product is, the more attractive, appetizing and appealing it looks the more likely the purchase will be made and the buyer will return again. The customer must see the product clearly from every angle of view. When you make a planogram, it is important to take into account the angle of view and the attractiveness of each product. 

Do not forget about the connection between layout and customer’s view angle. We have written here in more detail about the rule of “hat and eye level”. 

Xmas Edition: Last-moment Merchandising Checklist

Principle of systematics means grouping the layout of connected products or in other words “commodity complexes” – for instance, household chemicals are often located near paper products for home, paper towels. The showcase with tea is located in close proximity to sugary products, chocolate, cookies. 

Following the principle of systemic layout, you can create commodity complexes of products from one category, use, brand or even price category (mass market, luxury, premium). 

Principle of efficient layout involves keeping the balance between expenses and profit. The main markers of efficient layout (thus the efficient planogram) are an increase in sale rates along with a decrease in costs for the product, increase in the turnover of products and customer traffic, reduction of time spent by the customer on the search of product etc.  

Principle of compatibility. Using this principle when making a planogram will help you avoid violation of commodity neighborhood, as well as spoilage of products and incorrect visual presentation. 

Let’s take an example from food retail. Placing “sorbent” products with a high level of smell and humidity absorbance (e.g., groats sold by weight) in close proximity to “sorbate” products (fruits, vegetables, meat) will lead to a spoiled look and reduced expiration date of the former.

How to make a planogram. Step by step instruction

The planogram of the store/trade equipment is a reflection of the merchandising and marketing strategy based on the main merchandising principles which are applied and customized for the goals and tasks of each concrete retailer. When you make a planogram, it is important to take into account two key moments:

  1. Planogram is not a static document. Showcase planogram is not a scheme that you can create once and use for many years. It will not be effective as the demand and customers behavior change very fast and dynamically, assortment gets out of date and rotten, suppliers introduce new products etc. On average, retailer changes layout planogram 3 to 4 times a year at least. Experts suggest reviewing and adapting planograms once a month.  
  2. Store planogram should be based on general merchandising principles but at the same time reflect goals of concrete trade point which in turn is based on assortment, financial, pricing and promotional strategy of the company’s development. Every retailer should understand which product categories and SKUs are the target ones in their assortment, which products should be on top positions in layout, playing the role of sales engines. This data about products can be received by analyzing the consumer demand and sale rates from previous periods or in real time. We explained how to do it here

As soon as retailer sets and realizes the goals for sales and promotion of their products, you can start the first stage of planogram creation. 

Step 1. Developing a concept of the store/trade point/trade equipment

At this stage, the general direction of the layout style and type is being formed and for each product category, brand, price category etc. the trade equipment is being selected. This selection needs to be conducted in such a way that every product is displayed openly, visually appealingly and it should correspond with the customer’s moving trajectory in the store. The product should be placed in such a way that it will encourage a fast purchase. 

Step 2. Schematic drawing of outlines 

After dividing the products into categories, calculating turnover shares of each product, developing a sale strategy for each category and choosing the optimal layout you should schematically depict all these outlines on the planogram.

Merchandising planogram must be very informative and contain all the technical parameters and details such as size, type and dimensions of trade equipment, store area, number of facing and their type, product identifiers (color, size of the product package, number of SKUs placed on the showcase, prices, possible instructions and guidelines from marketers and brand managers etc.) With such a big amount of information, the showcase planogram should also be easy to read. Modern planogram constructors present an opportunity to do it easily and effectively. 

 Equipment planogram

Making a trade equipment planogram in Leafio

Step 3. Approval and control

Aproval and control of planograms

Mandatory approval of the planogram by the owner/management of the company and replication of it on the trade points with mandatory reporting and execution control. 

Only several years ago control over layout according to the planogram and its compliance was done manually. Reconciling the layout and fixating the changes on all versions of showcase planograms took a lot of time and efforts of the store staff, merchandisers and category managers. Modern systems of merchandising management allow you to automatically control planogram execution, keep track of layout in real time and transfer the whole accounting system to your smartphone as well as make instant changes and edits on the planogram. 

Real examples and results can be found here

Planogram software

It is obvious that making an efficient layout planogram is not an easy process that requires systematic approaches and solutions. It is especially important for commercial networks with a big number of commodity items and an extensive network of trade points.  

Pioneering software for making and designing planograms were MS PowerPoint and MS Excel. Considering the popularity and availability of these apps we should not forget that the functionality of their merchandising tools is rather limited. Both apps allow you to perform a basic set of functions like generating formulas to calculate numbers and indicators or designing layout presentations. 

Nowadays the market offers several specialized planogram software with a more advanced set of functions and tools. These applications help to create a database of SKUs and assortment, enter data about retail space and trade equipment, make and replicate planograms. 

However, the most technological and modern solution for working with planograms today is automized systems for merchandising management. Leafio is one of those systems. Aside from multifunctional work with planogram constructor, such smart systems allow you to create a single database of product layout and assortment, synchronize all the numbers with the application for storage and accounting management, conduct an analysis of layout efficiency and how it affects sale rates in real time. The main thing is that the retailer gets the opportunity to manage the whole merchandising process, act strategically and systematically according to the company’s goals and sales policy.

Alex Bilousko
Alex BilouskoHead of customer success



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