Planograms: What are they and why do you need them in retail?

Maximize your selling space — and your sales

Having a clean and organized store is one of the biggest priorities for retailers when it comes to bringing customers in and getting them to come back for more. Organization is the key to lean retail operations, which is why planograms are a must-have tool you can use to set up your store in the most effective and aesthetically pleasing way.

A retail planogram allows you to determine:

  • Where every product in your store should be located
  • How they should all be presented
  • Unique ways for displaying them so that people want to buy them

Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about planograms for retail.

What is a planogram?

A planogram is an important visual merchandising tool that presents the layout of products throughout a brick-and-mortar store — on shelves and in displays. Think of it like a schematic that documents in what aisle and on what shelf you can find a specific product. You may also see planograms used as flow charts to track how shoppers typically navigate through the store and proceed to point of sale.

Inside view of a retail store with woman shopping in the background

In addition to planograms that map out a whole store floor, a retailer may include sub-planograms for every:

  • Aisle
  • Lane
  • Section
  • Group of shelves
  • Rack
  • Display

It’s this level of detail that allows nearly any type of retailer to find the absolute best placement for their products. However, the complexity and detail of a planogram depend on a store’s size, product offerings, and software (or tools) they used to create the planogram. These diagrams could be a simple map of the store floor with boxes labeled for each section or aisle.

Alternatively, they could also use a color-coded system to showcase which aisles are assigned to each section of the store. This could include shapes that resemble the products they offer, such as food items or clothing. Some even include the exact measurements of a section to ensure products will fit accordingly.

What is the purpose of retail planograms?

The main purpose of a retail planogram is to organize goods around the store logically and efficiently.

Planograms serve to guide shoppers through the store and toward necessary or high-selling products.

But they can also map out ways to lead customers through new product displays or pathways that lead up to checkout.

Other reasons to use a planogram, include:

  • Place certain products in ideal locations, such as near a specific part of the store or at eye level for shoppers to easily spot.
  • Identify and assign selling potential for different areas of a store.
  • Have a clear map of where everything in the store is located.
  • Assist with staff’s restocking efforts.
  • Understand how much of each product should be displayed.
  • Reduce congestion of shoppers in areas with a lot of foot traffic.

Additionally, you can use them to experiment with displays and improve customer satisfaction by amping up the store’s aesthetics.

Benefits of using a planogram

Planograms are incredibly useful to both small and large stores alike. For larger stores, they help organize areas with heavy foot traffic and categorize stores with a multitude of products  — including stores with multiple locations.

Collection of brightly colored scarves hanging on display

Smaller retailers (like a mom-and-pop hardware store) could use a planogram to create simpler floor-layouts to better organize key sections and products. They could also use them to organize specific aisles by product type and size (like drill bits). A small clothing store could even have a floor-layout planogram and one general planogram for each type of display.

The types, number, and level of detail merchandisers can use in creating planograms is practically endless.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into the overall benefits of using a planogram (or set of planograms) for both large and small retailers.

Maximize selling space

Plants and home decor on display inside retail storeWhether you’re buying or leasing a retail space, it’s going to cost a lot of money. To offset this financial impact and become a cost-effective operation, it’s important to utilize every inch wisely.

That’s why retailers use planograms to assign selling potential to various areas throughout the store. You can shuffle products around, change up how products are displayed, or completely overhaul the floorplan to make the most of the square footage.

You can also experiment with different retail planograms and layouts until something sticks and then test it with real shoppers. And, if you still don’t see the results you want, you can then determine what did and didn’t work in terms of utilizing and optimizing the available space.

Enhance inventory management

To maximize your selling space, you can also use a retail planogram to help manage product inventory and inventory space. Because the planogram allows you to keep well-organized shelves, aisles, and sections, it becomes easier for employees to see when an item needs to be restocked.

Additionally, retail planograms allow you to organize where products go and determine how much of a certain product can be displayed at once. This makes it easier to determine how much overall inventory space you need for each product. Combining this with a well-organized inventory space, allows you to easily see when items need to be reordered before they’re fully out of stock.

Create consistency across multiple locations

If you’re a merchandiser for a big store chain (like a grocery store or general merchandiser), using a planogram can make organizing and stocking shelves much easier.

Clear jars with nuts neatly organized by color on display shelf

Why? You can create standard retail planograms for overall store layouts and section-specific layouts that every store (new and old) can use.

And while consistency isn’t always necessary, it can help a store establish a brand style, plus create a sense of comfort and reliability that customers value.

Improve visual appeal in general product display

Basic consumer behavior tells us that shopping is mostly a game of seeing, wanting, and buying. So, having a visually appealing store (with a series of product displays on the shelves) is the best way to go.

Visual appeal helps target the right emotions in shoppers to better secure sales.

 

You can channel these visual merchandising principles when creating retail planograms and tapping into the overall customer experience. Try creating mouthwatering food displays for hungry guests or appealing to their need for comfort by making cozy displays for bedding products.

You can then share these visual displays on Instagram or other social media platforms to entice your customers into making a purchase in-store.

Related: How to use Instagram to sell products from your brick-and-mortar store

Highlight popular, best-selling, or new products

A planogram of specific shelves and bays is a must-have tool for placing desired products in just the right spot for customers. Using consumer behavior, you can:

  • Manipulate your planogram to place certain items at eye level for different shoppers
  • Find the optimal place for highlighting new products
  • Place necessities or common goods in areas that are most convenient for shoppers (or more convenient for you to get them to stay and shop more)

For example, you can display brand new styles at top prices near the front of a clothing store. This could attract customers to the latest trends and make it irresistibly easy to shop for.

You could also try putting kid-friendly cereals on the bottom shelves at a grocery store or make simple displays and signage that emphasizes the best-selling nature of a product.

The goal is to make it seem like it’s a must-have item.

 

Different colored mugs hanging in neat rows on display

End caps, mini displays, and full-on holiday spectacles in the middle of a lane are also fantastic selling spots. Plus, retail planograms can help you determine the best location for these regular, special, or seasonal displays.

Promote purchasing well-paired products

Think about how a grocery store makes it convenient for customers to add on similar items. Sometimes they stock the chips aisle with perfectly paired dips or put peanut butter and jelly in the bread aisle. These are great examples of how stores often use retail planograms to map out spots for products that commonly go together.

You can do the same thing by asking yourself these questions when creating your planogram:

  • What items do shoppers commonly buy together?
  • What products complement each other?
  • Can I create a unique pairing or group of products customers may be interested in?

Creating a group of related items for key products in your store will help boost your chances of bumping up your overall sales for each transaction.

Test new visual layouts

Experimenting with visual layouts can help you play with the placement of products before physically changing anything in your store. It also lets you amplify the shopping experience by offering more convenience for customers. Starting with a well-organized layout is key for visualizing how you want to map out your store.

Make stocking more efficient

Having a visual diagram of where everything goes is a major time-saver. It also eliminates the need to provide detailed explanations to employees and can be as simple as giving them the diagram and the products for easy reference This can make stocking efforts way more efficient since less training is needed.

The 6 steps to creating an efficient retail planogram

Retail planograms are incredibly customizable and come in many forms. You can create your own from scratch by using a template that includes all the schematics and notes to help put your vision into action.

Enlisting help from your team or third-party companies is a good way to get the job completed faster. Of course, this will depend on

  • Your store’s scope
  • Your experience
  • The experience of your other employees (seasoned professionals should take priority)

Below, we’ll review other general steps to consider for an easier planogram planning process.

Step 1: Hire a visual merchandising professional

A professional “planogrammer” or visual merchandiser can help take the lead on this project to give you more peace of mind. You may want to consider hiring a professional if:

  • You already have a configuration that’s just not working
  • You’re about to move into a new retail location
  • This is your first time planning out your product sections and displays

Two store clerks arranging floral display 

Putting a planogrammer or visual merchandiser on the payroll can help you regularly assess how well your layout and displays are working. They can also:

  • Assess your current layout
  • Take stock of your product offerings
  • Use a bit of consumer behavior and psychology
  • Create a planogram for you

Additionally, these professionals can make tweaks to further optimize your layout and get creative with special displays or sections as your business grows.

Step 2: Partner with a planogramming consultant

If you’re too small to afford a full-time planogrammer, you can also do a one-time consultation with a visual merchandising expert.

Many retail consulting companies offer a variety of visual merchandising solutions for big and small businesses.

 

They also bring years of proven experience in applying consumer psychology, which helps:

  • Improve visual merchandising efforts
  • Create effective display guidelines
  • Establish training programs

Some consultant groups you may find in your search include:

  • Visual Retailing: This company specializes in visual merchandising improvements of all kinds and utilizes 3D visualization tools. 
  • The Partnering Group: They offer multi-year strategic plans for visual merchandising efforts and abide by industry best practices.

Both of these companies are great resources to start with if you have minor questions or concerns you need addressing.

Step 3: Find a template online

With a quick search for “planogram template,” you’ll find hundreds of stellar planogram examples online. Many of these templates are made by visual merchandising professionals or software companies. Oftentimes, you can download and customize these templates using:

  • Excel
  • Photoshop
  • Google Docs or any other office or design software you might have

Alternatively, you can draw inspiration from these diagrams to create your own. Consider starting simple with labeled and colored boxes to represent general items.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can then begin to incorporate images or representational shapes of actual products. This will make the planogram more detailed and clearer for assessing aesthetics.

Step 4: Use planogram software

Many visualization software programs come with easy-to-use templates. There are even some that specialize in business operations and organization.

Here are some visualization tools you may want to consider using:

Each one has its different perks and price points, so make sure to filter through them carefully to find the right one for your business.

Step 5: Measure your store’s racks and space dimensions

Now that you know what tools you’ll use to create a planogram, it’s time to venture into your store with a measuring tape. Here are some dimensions you may want to have handy while making your planogram:

  • Height, length, and width of shelves, racks, or bays
  • Space between racks or bays
  • Dimensions of each product you’re displaying

Planning measurements ahead of time will help prevent overestimating or underestimating the way your products fit within a specified area of your store.

Step 6: Get help from store leaders

While you can make all of the product organization decisions yourself, it can be more effective to work as a team with department heads or other employees.

Consider working in a small group, with each person creating a planogram for one section or aisle of the store.

If these employees are department heads, they’ll know better than anyone what products are being sold and which ones are most popular.

Smaller stores can still enlist staff members to take on planning the displays for one area of the store. This can be a great way to get unique ideas for creating visually pleasing displays and layouts in your store.

Using retail planograms to take your business to new heights

Understanding the impact retail planograms can have on your business (and knowing how to create them) can help you make the most of your retail space. Not only does it increase your chances of maximizing your sales, but it also helps improve the overall shopping experience for your customers.

And if you’re considering integrating online check-outs into your brick-and-mortar business, GoDaddy’s Online Store has some excellent solutions. Use it to manage both your in-store selling and online sales seamlessly.