Work the plan, and love your planogram


by Joel Stark
Snowfox Marketing Director

THE FIRST PLACE I EVER SAW A PLANOGRAM WAS WHEN I WORKED IN A POPULAR RETAIL HOME DÉCOR CHAIN. Like a lot of Snowfox chefs, we served upper-income customers who were open to suggestive selling.
Each month a team of us would wake up extra early in the morning to set up special displays on all our endcaps. We have endcaps in grocery, too. If you haven’t heard the term, they’re the display at the outside end of each aisle. Your grocery store’s endcap plans may get a little more exciting just before special events like the Super Bowl. Sometimes a headquarters planner puts some creativity into the design, sometimes they’re boring, but chances are there’s one just a stone’s throw from your sushi kiosk.
In clothing stores or home décor stores like the one I worked in, endcaps are a little more fun than in grocery. In my décor store, the rewarding part of building an endcap from a planogram was working closely with your co-worker to make the endcap look just like the photo diagram from headquarters. I observed to myself with a chuckle that it was not unlike how elementary school teachers re-decorate their classrooms each season.
Our reward was a satisfied smile and nod from our manager when we got the design just right and from our co-workers when we’d all look at each other’s endcaps and see what sales opportunities we would have (we loved what we sold).
Classroom decor and our planogram merchandising actually share a common goal: to stimulate visually and get people excited about the ideas you’re discussing with them. With sushi, our goal is also to create those conversations.
For example, in what we call the Golden Zone of your planogram, you’re showing guests our premium items first; and then the other areas display your whole range of products in easy-to-remember locations that customers can remember to find their favorite items on their next visit.
Your Snowfox case planogram may seem less creative or change less often than in retail, but using it you have two distinct advantages over your store’s endcap and aisle displays. First, your display features a variety of beautiful colors, shapes, and textures that your store manager could only dream of for “center store” (that’s all the grocery aisles except dairy, deli, and produce).
And second, because you’re always right behind your case display, you have opportunities each day to answer questions and offer solutions to guests!
When I worked in retail, I was on a tight personal budget, so I mistakenly assumed every customer wanted a value like I did. However, I soon learned one of the best practices in retail as seen in our planogram’s Golden Zone: you compliment your customers by ensuring they know about your premium items.
Have you noticed in leading chain restaurants that the waiter will suggest specific appetizers or cocktails? Let’s be honest, depending on the waiter’s style, your budget, and if you’re in a hurry, this menu pitch can be annoying. It’s called upselling, and, yes, it’s an attempt to raise the amount customers spend. But some managers and their wait staff actually look at these suggestions as a service—a way to help guests get the most out of the menu, enhancing their dining experience.
When you don’t assume your guests are cheap, and you talk about items you genuinely enjoy, you’ll help your adventurous guests have a high-end experience. Your sales go up, the store’s sales increase, and you build customer loyalty.
Our sushi plan makes the most of the color and variety that are our rolls’ most appealing traits. Even our new purple soy sauce packets create eye-catching accents in the case now. Also, when you execute it properly, the planogram educates your customers on the items you’re proudest of.
Though a beautiful case is no substitute for getting to know your customer (remember surveying?), it’s the first impression they have of you and a great conversation starter. I hope you’ll take pride in our merchandising just as I took pride in setting my first planograms. TSS

What Does the Future Hold for Merchandising?

Progressive Grocer’s John Karolefski wrote in July that several national retailers are testing a robot that scans store shelves for low-stock items, misplaced items and pricing errors! Stores are reportedly hoping to both eliminate boring, repetitive employee tasks and increase inventory accuracy and compliance with planograms and promotions. This electronic employee reportedly works right alongside shopping customers, even moving when it senses it’s in their way.