10 Questions Before Selection of a Planogram System
Within the framework of the selection of such an application, the first question to be asked concerns the purpose of the implementation of planograms. Who needs planograms and why and what are the expectations of such persons. Many ideas can be mentioned while looking for the definition. Therefore, it is advisable to select several (not more than 10 of them) that will be used for verification whether a given solution is suitable for your specific needs.
Before we start the selection of a suitable solution, we must think about needs that we have today and about those that we will have in near future. Key questions to be dealt with in respect of near future can be grouped into several areas:
1. How many stores do you wish to manage and what processes you need for this task?
- As to the question “how many stores we need to manage” – some solutions are flexible and can be used for one store or a chain of stores with international branches. Other solutions are adapted to a limited number of branches (usually free versions of applications).
- As to the extent to which the stores/equipment are similar – will it be necessary to prepare variants specific for each store or will it be possible to work with just one general planogram? How difficult is it to prepare different planograms? Does the system use templates?
- Are there processes and tools allowing planograms to be communicated to stores? How are stores currently informed of changes? Are items on display managed locally or based on centralized principles? Tools that provide efficient support to processes simplify the implementation of work with planograms.
- Are there processes and tools to teach the branches how to work with planograms?
2. What assortment is available?
- How often is the assortment modified – on a weekly, monthly basis, or is it seasonal-based? This parameter defines how frequent the changes of planograms and how high demands for time and labour related to their preparation will be.
- Purchasing management – is it possible to make additional orders of goods based on planograms or is it necessary to display a different product when the previous one is sold out. Is the application able to work with product replacements? Is the process automatic or manually operated?
3. Who and how often will work with the application?
- Will a special user/team be appointed for the preparation of planograms or will this be just one of duties imposed on the employee?
- If the preparation of planograms is to be only part of tasks of the person in a different work position, the priorities must be arranged reasonably. In the early stage of planogram implementation, it often happens that the appointed employee with several competences has primarily other urgent problems and the process of preparation and start of planograms is then postponed for years.
4. How many users will be involved and where will they work?
- It is good to define whether the solution is available for simultaneous editing by several users and whether it is possible to work simultaneously at different places. Some systems are installed locally, other are installed on the provider’s servers SaaS (Software as a System). The SaaS solutions use Internet connection and therefore it is possible to work anywhere.
- Other advantages include, for example, the option of automatic updates and faster implementation.
5. A simple or complex solution?
- It is good to find references of other users but to assess such references from the point of view of a given store manager.
- When selecting the application, it is not true that what is good for our competitors must be suitable for us as well. Businesses have differently set processes and what may be good for a market leader - meaning an application with a number of tools and a complex structure - may be uselessly robust and full of unnecessary features for others. The best approach is to think in real time dimensions and select solutions that will be sufficient for a given period. An underdesigned solution will require a quick change, while an amply dimensioned solution will cause delays due to its complexity.
6. How quickly will it be possible to send the first planogram to the store?
- The answer to this question depends to a great extent on the state of preparedness of source materials on the part of the store manager – the database of products, floorplans, information on used equipment, etc. In addition, limits on the part of the application providers need to be known. And last but not least, it is necessary to verify the method for planogram publication, if it is part of the application.
7. How complicated will connection to the other systems be?
- Work effectiveness is affected to a great extent by the possibility to connect the application to the other systems and to ensure the automated flows of product data, sales data, etc. Similarly, the possibility of information export, such as into purchase order systems, must be known.
8. What do training and support look like?
- Is training included in the price or is it paid extra? Training, the price of which is the same as that of a simple solution, is no exception to the rule.
- If a new employee is hired, who will train him/her? Staff turnover is reality and work without sufficient knowledge is not effective.
- How does support and help-desk work – how quickly will they be able to reply to my inquiry?
Will you get answers to your questions within an hour or a week?
9. Is it possible to make changes/modifications in the application?
- In the quickly changing retail environment, also requirements and needs change quickly. Therefore, it is good to have the information on the extent to which it is possible to react to changes and to incorporate requirements that emerge during implementation. There are several criteria, namely:
- whether it is possible to incorporate individual requirements of the store manager,
- how quickly such changes can be implemented – in the order of days or years,
- how demanding such changes are in terms of finance.
- Price should not be the number one criterion for the selection considering the fact that a cheap application which fails to meet the submitted requirements is finally much more expensive as it is necessary to create supplementary solutions and also demands imposed on employees are higher.
In our next post, we will focus on specific solutions available for the preparation of planograms. Starting with the elementary ones, such as MS Excel, up to professional solutions. We will try to find out what the main advantages and disadvantages of individual solutions are.