Profitable Times Newsletter

Planograms for Cultural Commerce

Maybe the words used most frequently when describing planograms are 'specific' and 'detail'. Similar to a road map, a planogram is a drawing or spreadsheet that shows in pre-planned specific detail where fixtures and merchandise are to be placed in a retail store with the overall goal of maximizing revenue. The goal is revenue generation but that doesn't stop the incorporation of margin, turnover and marketing support in determining product locations that will drive incremental sales. Merchandising locations detail type of fixture, fixture location and where on the fixture including which shelf and where on that shelf, and how a product should be placed.

Most often direction is given by larger corporations with multiple locations that want all their stores to be merchandised in a similar highly researched manner. While this does not describe the situation for any cultural institutions, there are still elements of planograms that are valuable for cultural commerce.

The major difference for cultural commerce is the lack of many multiples of stores and the desire to feature products that focus on the collection or special exhibits and events with less consideration given to merchandising based on planogram metrics.

Retailing is a combination of science (statistics) and art (merchandising, display, function, layout, etc.). Planograms focus on both. The turnover, retail price, margin and sales history of products are raw statistics that are used to partially determine where products will be merchandised in the store. Regardless of type and size of store, these factors are incorporated into the planogram.

Key definitions as used in this article include:

Merchandising: The placement of products in the store from which customers make their selections. The vast majority of store space and fixtures are dedicated to merchandising and thus are the primary focus of planograms and the comments and recommendations below.

Displays are vignettes that incorporate multiple products with a common theme to capture the visitor's attention, tell a story, visually suggest incremental add-on purchases and encourage the visitor to linger.

Incremental Sales are purchases beyond what the customer expected to spend, greatly affected by merchandising and display execution.

Using planogram ideas for cultural commerce requires detours from typical planogram applications but many overall principles are the same. A checklist of important considerations include:

  • Understand the merchandising needs of your products as they compare to the fixtures you have available or can secure. How are they most attractively merchandised?
    • Individual items on shelves
    • Stacked vertically on shelves
    • Spread out horizontally, front to back and side-to-side, on shelves
    • Hanging from hooks, waterfalls, hangers, etc. — regardless if on slatwall, grid, tackable surface or other kind of vertical fixture
    • Under glass
    • On the floor
    • In bins
  • How much space, based on the number of SKUs and/or product/packaging characteristics does your product selection require?
  • How many products, based on the number of SKUs and/or product/packaging characteristics, can your store hold while still being attractively merchandised?
  • What about a product should be featured? The beauty of a design on apparel, the underside of an umbrella, an author's name or the title of a book, the detail of an etching, etc.? How can you best merchandise for each type of feature?
  • What product categories should be adjacent to other complimentary categories?
  • What are the most visible parts of the store and from what angles and foot-traffic patterns — especially when the visitor is coming to the end of their visit?
  • Planograms often require the merchandising of the highest margin products toward the front of the store to make sure they are seen by every customer, almost regardless of how much time they spend in the store.
  • Like milk in the grocery store, merchandise the most popular products toward the sides and back to draw foot traffic throughout the store.
  • Merchandising popular products and those with high turnover toward the back, has to be balanced with unique museum store considerations of featuring products from popular and special exhibits, book signings, lectures, etc., toward the front to lure already engaged visitors across the threshold into the store.
  • Regardless of location within the store, many planograms call for less popular products to be merchandised at eye level, with better-selling products above or below eye level.
  • Make sure more expensive items are merchandised in a manner that enhances their perceived value.
  • Books present a special challenge.
    • While I'm not aware of any bookstore that plans where every title should be merchandised, museum stores can plan where the book section will be located. Books can be merchandised in the least attractive/accessible part of the store because 'book people' will always find their books, and this area may also be the quietest.
    • Plan where each book subject will be within the book section.
    • Planning can also be extended to establishing which ancillary products, such as bookends, related plush and bookmarks should be merchandised with which books and/or subjects.
    • Can you make discounted books the draw into the book section?
  • Where should children's products go so children don't have to traverse the entire store to get to their section? And when they get there, what height and which products best drive sales?
  • Plan in advance what will go where when it arrives.
  • Make sure all parts of the planogram are driven by what you think will be most attractive to the visitor and showcase the products best, and less by your needs and wants.

Since cultural commerce is often merchandised to tell a story with style and not just in accordance with metrics, a planogram may be generally less effective but is still a very good context within which to make merchandising decisions.

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