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Planogram Automation: Need of the hour for retailers

Prashant Rohatgi, CTO, Denave explains the benefits of the right planogram solutions

Effective utilization of retail space is essential for brick and mortar businesses to perform their best. It is all about how the space is occupied with products that catches attention of customers before they make a purchase.

However, planning store space utilization is not an easy task. Right from customer entering the store, to the path they will take to reach the product on the shelves, or the tables need to be well thought through. If the customer interaction is made seamless, chances for sales become higher.

Planogram Management is one such technique to help retailers plan their store space and organize their products for better customer interaction with the brand and faster sales conversion.

Businesses can manage store layouts and planogram using drawings, presentations and email circulation through their various stores or use software to create, update and circulate planograms. The choice can be based on spread of the business, complexity of the planogram design and frequency of the changes. If business spread is limited to few stores, store layout and planogram design is simple and straight forward and frequency of changes is very rare than managing it using PowerPoint presentation and sending individual emails to respective stores is the way to go.

However, in case if the scope increases and the stakes become subsequently higher then a transition from manual to automation-driven planogram management becomes a better choice.

Learning to live with the pandemic

Planogram Management tool becomes crucial if businesses are spread across geographies, their store formats are different depending on the needs of the market and they are changing store layout and product placements frequently to smarter visual merchandising choice backed by sales intelligence.

Here it becomes imperative to look for automated solutions for faster planogram deployment. Be it learning from sales intelligence, deciding the changes as per the stores, creating or updating planogram and communicating with stores on the revised planogram to be deployed – it all needs to happen in a seamless manner and in an optimized timeframe. With automation, overall time to deployment can be reduced by more than 90% and return on investment can be as high as 60% for the businesses.

Becoming a Non-Negotiable

In the current context, there wasn’t a better time for retailers to jump from the fence and adopt Planogram Management Automation. Businesses are going through unprecedented times. Their store management strategies will be going through multiple changes and it will be differing from city to city and within cities as well, by different locations. So, businesses need to prepare for such unchartered waters and need to respond faster to the changing market conditions.

Social distancing, limited footfall, changing consumption trends and shorter shopping time, is providing businesses limited time to respond. Business need to automate their in-store processes including store layout to respond quickly to the change and ensure right and immediate customer experience leading to a sales conversion.

Social distancing norms need to be implemented in the store and floor space need to be rightly utilized to maximize visual presence. As situation eases out, they need to respond and change their store layout to maximize per square foot usage. These changes will happen multiple times during pandemic. So, for businesses to respond, they need to have automated solutions that can help them change, deploy and comply faster. With better space allocation and visual presence, business can make best out of the limited interaction they will have with consumers.

Benefits and Beyond

With right planogram solution in place, business can expand their digital footprint. Planogram Management tools not only help in faster planogram deployment but also help down the value chain automation. In enabling faster audits and tighter compliance. By using Planogram tool to create, update and circulate store-product placements, businesses can also enable their field teams to digitally consume revised planogram images and perform visual merchandising. Their output can be shared with audit team faster and any anomaly can be identified and communicated to stores in matter of hours rather than days.

Also, by automating, businesses can consolidate planogram changes, in-store presence and compliance information and review overall visibility in one shot and take action next to real time.  Now there are in-built drilldown dashboard that help businesses to identify challenges in minutes and then update respective team through the tool. In addition to that, it allows closure of the issue through feedback loop and notification. So, ultimately it is a 360-degree automation of retail excellence.

With planogram automation and by digitally transforming retail excellence, businesses can better respond to changing environment – capture consumer attention by improving visual performance, not only maximizing but also orchestrating sales (improve inventory turns). They can change their store experience and product placements in hours.

  • Capture sales data and analyze along with in-store customer journey and planogram deployments.
  • Based on inputs, reuse or redraw the store layout and product placement store by store and within short time (in matter of few hours).
  • Update and circulate to store-in-charge to make the changes. Then extend the automation to visual merchandise, audits and compliance.
  • And finally get an end to end view through integrated visibility dashboard to take corrective action and respond quickly to changing market condition.

The whole ecosystem can be further advanced by using Computer Vision, NLP and Machine Learning and the Retail experience can thus be taken to an altogether next level. All these are individually a topic in themselves which can be delved into deeper. Just to give a broad view, using computer vision and Machine Learning, entire visual merchandising, audit and compliance can be made robotic driven to around 60-70%. And this reduces response time by 30-40%. Using NLP, the interaction of users with the information they are seeking to consume can be further smoothened. And of course, with Machine learning, the planogram strategies to faster sales conversion can be realized.

Final Words

To summarize, Planogram automation is crucial in such changing times. It not only eases work of business teams but also make them agile to respond to market requirement, capture consumers’ mind share and lead to meaningful outcome. It does not stop here – by having planogram automation, businesses can further automate or integrate up and down the value chain and finally evolve the overall ecosystem to the next level by enriching the automation with AI solutions. So, planogram automation is a suggested path that businesses can take for experiencing retail excellence, creating a competitive edge and eventually, improving their revenues multi-folds.

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