Posted: March 16, 2012, 3:30 p.m. EST
Manufacturer-supplied and do-it-yourself product maps offer retailers the chance to control stocking and liven up sales.
By Lizett Bond
Successful groom shop owners and retailers know their customers and what it takes for success. Marketing is a necessary component for any retailer, and savvy sales strategists incorporate careful planning, provide an appropriate product selection and present product in the best possible manner.
To that end, an effective store layout has the benefit of potentially increasing customer traffic and sales, but requires constant attention and review. Competition in the marketplace demands new awareness as to the importance of powerful point-of-sale displays and other marketing aids. Budgeting for annual sales, merchandise purchasing and a sound marketing plan are all tools that ensure effective business, according to Lynn Switanowski, founding partner of Creative Business Consulting Group based in Boston.
“The next logical step is to have a floor plan designating merchandise placement in order to assist in planned sales,” Switanowski said.
This step doesn’t just aid in the creation of a financial plan and purchasing or restocking decisions. It also helps with product placement within the store, industry participants reported. Larger chain stores use a planogram to accomplish this task. But what exactly is a planogram?
“A planogram is basically a grid illustrating product placement,” said Rob Denney, director of distribution for Global Distribution Services, a division of BowTie Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, which collaborates with distributors and retailers in placement of magazines and books within a store. “It’s really that simple.”
Planogram complexity varies by size of store, software and need. Big-box stores and larger retailers generally hire merchandising specialists to assist in developing planograms, or may employ their own in-house planogrammer.
As a visual aid, the planogram provides detail and promotes uniformity. A flow chart within a store layout, planograms help the retailer with product placement and illustrating the number of facings allocated for each SKU.
Independent retailers and groom shop owners wishing to use planograms in their own stores have choices. Purchasing planogram software, requesting assistance from a distributor or creating their own planograms are all means to achieve this goal.
“I have never been asked by an independent retailer to do a planogram,” said Derrik Kassebaum, president of sales and marketing for Tropiclean, located in St. Louis.
Kassebaum added that instead, he may be asked for suggestions as to product placement and noted that it is important for retailers to follow the number one rule in retailing: that of placing the best moving or most profitable product at eye level.
“When a retailer asks me about placement, I say ‘first shelf from the top,’” he said. “I don’t want the top shelf. That’s where the most expensive items or select items generally are. The next shelf down is your profit shelf, where you move the most items.”
Various groomers reported distinct systems for merchandise display. Andrew Kim, co-owner of Healthy Spot with two locations in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, Calif., noted that they move merchandise around regularly, breaking items up into categories. Grooming supplies are situated closer to the grooming salon, and bestsellers are located within the salon, allowing groomers to make easy references.
While Kim agreed that vendor suggestions for product placement are often helpful, he added that advice should be tempered with the needs of the individual store in mind.
“We don’t mind differences from store to store,” he said. “That way, we don’t become cookie cutter. We have two different footprints, so it would be challenging to keep things identical.”
As entrepreneurs, most independent retailers and groom shop owners said they relish the freedom to fashion their own displays.
“It’s my shop and I’m going to display the way I want,” said Rina Meyers, owner of A Paw Spa, located in Littleton, Colo., a grooming shop with full-service grooming and bathing, as well as self-bathing, dog daycare and a retail boutique.
With 1,000 square feet of that space devoted to retail and 15 to 20 percent grooming products, Meyers noted that displays are changed frequently to keep things looking fresh and increase sales.
“We offer dental products, combs and brushes,” she noted. “We sell the Spa line from Tropiclean. But my store is not like a large chain where there are aisles with shampoos. I have things set up like a boutique.”
At New York Dog Spa and Hotel, with two locations in New York that offer grooming, daycare boarding and retail, co-owner Naresh Jessani said that approximately 10 percent of retail space is devoted to grooming products such as shampoos, wipes, sprays and brushes.
“If the manufacturer gives us a display, we may use it,” he said. “Planet Dog provided a carousel and the rep helped us set it up.”
Implementing planograms from distributors or manufacturers can be helpful in establishing an initial display, provided accurate measurements are made available regarding allotted area for merchandise, noted Liz Barnes Marquardt, marketing director of Glo-Marr Products. Located in Lawrenceburg, Ky., the company offers a full line of grooming and health maintenance products for pets.
“They would be setting up with a proven plan, saving time more than anything,” she added.
Retailers may have specific issues with using canned planograms, however, as ordering patterns and sell-through rates may not match the design or intended use of the map.
“A lot of distributors will have planograms for their own products to help retailers merchandise the selling floor,” Switanowski said. “The challenge is that the retailer may not buy all the products on the map, therefore creating holes in the display.”
That doesn’t mean groom shop owners shouldn’t use them, though.
“These maps are good and can certainly give retailers merchandising ideas, so I would make sure to ask every vendor about it,” Switanowski added.
By creating a diagram of the retail area with sections of the floor reserved for certain types of product, either by category or with a blank section of the map for seasonal products, Switanowski stated that product placement can be filled in with the names of the products that will take those spaces over. She suggested a new plan be created at least once per month, refreshing the floor on a regular basis, and to also change window displays with each new floor set created.
“At the independent level, retailers have very little time to manage their inventory, so it comes down to function, form and time,” said Chris Miller, president of Pacific Store Designs, located in Garden Grove, Calif.
However, for the small independent retailer, there are methods for creating a planogram without resorting to using expensive programs and specialized employees.
“Many of our customers create their own planograms,” said Barnes-Marquardt.
Pussy and Pooch, a full-service grooming and self-serve pet wash, with two locations in downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., maintains a dedicated area of custom fixtures specifically for spa and grooming items.
“We have a general, set standard as to how a fixture is merchandised depending on the product category,” said Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner.
Stocking several different spa lines, Zakrajsek said that by “cherry picking” the best items from each category, a complete spa selection is featured, meeting a variety of needs and budgets. Restocking on a weekly basis and keeping track of inventory is a constant process throughout both stores.
“We put a lot of effort into merchandising the stores with products that fit our brand and speak to our customers’ needs,” she said.
To enhance such efforts, Miller recommended retailers develop a scaled plan of their store, marking off 4-foot increments.
“This is called ‘merchandising a 4-foot section,’” he stated.
Once the display of merchandise achieves the desired “look,” Miller suggested taking a photo, coding it to the floor plan and labeling photos according to location, such as “wall number one” or “wall number two.” Labeled photos are then placed in a book
“You now have a photograph of your actual planogram without having to do any extra work, except for taking photos,” he said.
Pussy and Pooch routinely archives its store merchandising efforts with photos by individual fixture for reference, according to Zakrajsek.
Photo programs are an excellent tool for creating a do-it-yourself planogram, Kassebaum noted. He suggested taking photos of the store shelf, creating a visual of the space available, and placing photos of the products into the photo of the area. He added that photo programs are easy to use and available in a range of prices.
“Manufacturers generally have jpegs of their available products,” he said. “It’s easy to get those photos and place them in your Photoshopped shelves.
“Start with something simple, or ask a 16-year-old clerk to set it up and lay it out,” he added. “Pay him a little extra; he’ll enjoy it and get a bonus for doing it.”
Once a photo book is established, the visual is an easy reference for employees replacing product on shelves as they follow the initial layout presented in the photo book.
“Take the pictures, move them around, it will give you an idea of how they will look on the shelf,” Kassebaum said.
Miller agreed, noting that the purpose of a photo planogram is to present a store with a “grand opening” appearance every day.
“If you run out of product and you have an empty space, go ahead and take a product next to it and do two facings instead of one,” Miller said. “It’s called ‘spread to fill.’ Double facing sells 46 percent better.”
When the out-of-stock product arrives, the planogram photo book tells employees exactly where to place that item.
The benefits of a do-it-yourself planogram for the independent retailer is the ability to display the products they need in the way they want, providing one more implement in the marketing toolkit.<HOME>
Industry Professional Site: Comments from non-industry professionals will be removed.