With competition as fierce as ever, consumer brands need to refocus their merchandising efforts to get the most out of in-store displays.

Planograms are essential to both setting up optimized retail shelves and adhering to display and merchandising best practices.

However, planogram execution doesn’t always go as smoothly as brands anticipate, resulting in poorly mapped out retail displays — or even, in some cases, faulty store layouts. When these situations occur, retailers and brand manufacturers alike can run into significant problems, such as increased out-of-stock items, slower product turnover, and reduced sales. By recognizing the most common obstacles to planogram execution, brands can proactively address them before they cause trouble. Below are three planogram headaches to keep an eye on.

Doing too much, too soon

Planograms can vary significantly in terms of scope and detail, covering as much as an entire big box store or as little as a single promotional display. Too often, planners bite off more than they can chew with their planograms, especially if relatively new to this particular area of retail merchandising.

As The Balance SMB contributor Matthew Hudson explained, overcomplicating the planogram design process can backfire spectacularly over the long run. That first planogram your team rolls out may hit the mark, but given the amount of time and energy it required, will you be able to consistently hit that high-water mark every time a refresh is required?

If not, inevitably your team will burn out on the design process, which may result in them putting less effort into your planograms. That isn’t to say you should take shortcuts with your planograms, but you want to be sure that you are establishing a viable workflow that can be replicated over the long haul.

In-store staff fail to execute

The best planograms in the world won’t do much good if in-store staff members don’t actually implement them. A lot of effort goes into the actual design of planograms, but brands all too often overlook the people actually tasked with executing them.

There are any number of reasons why store employees fail to adhere to planograms. They may believe their own system for setting up displays is more expedient than following a carefully crafted layout, or they may not realize that their store has agreements in place dictating precisely how specific brands and products are merchandised. In worst-case scenarios, they may not even know that these planograms exist.

Brand manufacturers can’t afford to blindly put their faith in store staff members to execute planograms. Field teams must routinely check that stores are adhering to layout designs and complying with agreements on how many facings each product receives and where they are placed on store shelves. The planogram process doesn’t end once the design is completed. Brands should make every effort to monitor store workflows and processes to ensure their hard work is mirrored at the local store level.

Lack of data

Creating a planogram without hard data is kind of like building a house without a sound foundation: It’s all going to come crashing down. You need insights into foot traffic, strong performers, customer preferences, retail trends, etc. to design an impactful planogram. If you base your planograms on what you think you know rather than what you actually know, they won’t provide the kind of tangible ROI you expect.

Again, your field team is essential to planogram success, as they are in the best position to capture in-store data and generate reports that will feed into and dictate the design process. Execution management solutions make data collection and reporting faster and easier than ever, allowing frontline employees to effortlessly document store conditions and report findings to brand administrators.

With this information in hand, brands can build around those insights to craft the most valuable planograms possible.

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