In the discussion about shelf planning, space management and space optimization, arguments that tend to have the character of myths keep coming up. We want to examine these statements here and help to debunk myths and replace them with facts.
Myth 1: Article data fall from the sky
The idea is often heard that the master data of articles, their dimensions and illustrations can be obtained easily and promptly from market research institutes and agencies, ideally even free of charge.
However, product data is a valuable asset. They are subject to frequent changes. Capturing and measuring new articles correctly and taking suitable photos is complex and expensive. If market researchers, agencies and data pools collect this data, then at least with a considerable delay, and if they make the data available, then only against an appropriate remuneration.
As a manufacturer you have the very first access to new products: You know what you are planning for the future, determine the packaging design and product dimensions and are the first to have the designs in-house. Transfer the product data from your own databases! Maintain new articles yourself!
As a furnishing service provider, you can transfer product data from existing data collections or master data pools. There are fees for the use of this data. The master data pools are fed from data collected from the manufacturers, new articles will appear there with a time delay.
As a trading company, you use master data pools or request master data directly from your suppliers. A clean data transmission path should be defined for this purpose.
Myth 2: Space management is placing articles on a shelf
The primary motivation in space management is: You want to create a virtual image of your shelf planning on the computer without having to set up and photograph the shelf in the sample room. That’s a good idea! So you use software to set up a shelf and place products in it.
But in the end you want to plan the best possible shelf with which you (and your retail partner) earn money and document product group competence and delivery competence to the consumer. Inserting products on the shelf is only the first step.
What you really need is not just a virtual shelf picture, but a qualified explanation why this article was selected, why it is there, why those articles form its neighbourhood and why the article should appear on the shelf in exactly this quantity.
Spacemanagement does not end with the setting of the article. It only begins with the justification and traceability of a shelf planning according to selection, room use, position and quantity. In addition, an analysis over time can follow for permanent optimization and adjustment.
Myth 3: Article number, width, height and depth are sufficient
If you want to use articles in a space allocation plan to create a shelf image, is the article number and the external dimensions sufficient?
Correct is: The article number is required for identification, the external dimensions are required for the space requirement of the article on the shelf. But there’s more to it than that:
Would you like to generate a report with a list of all articles? Then you need the article description. The EAN/UPC number is also often printed in lists and tables, as well as product group designators, brand names and labelling texts.
Do you want to position hanging products on hooks correctly on a peghole grid? The allocation plan should be reliably feasible in reality. But where is the positioning point, the hanging hole? Often it is in the middle; if not, the values must be specified additionally.
Would you like to use the software to refer your shelf plans to product groups, assortments and listings? Do you prefer to use fast-moving products? Generate price lists and article passes from the shelf plan data? Gain information on the value of goods, revenue planning, inventory coverage and capital commitment?
These statements are based on extended product data: The more knowledge about your products you make available to the space management system, the better it can support you in shelf planning and argumentation. Otherwise you are giving away the most valuable insights.
Myth 4: Special shelf components are only three-dimensional structures
If your shelves not only consist of standard merchandise carriers, but special displays, holders and sales aids are used, these should be able to be integrated into the space management software. That’s not so difficult: after all, they are only three-dimensional structures, and the 3D CAD data is available – I’m sure it’s easy to take over?
Correct is: special shelf components are three-dimensional structures. Their geometry can actually be imported from CAD and 3D programs.
But it is also true that special shelf components require further data on their behaviour when inserting and aligning products: Where in the 3D object can goods be positioned? How big is the merchandising room? How are the products arranged and aligned? What quantity requirements and restrictions apply? In which direction should filling take place?
In addition to the pure geometric data, further attributes and properties for the product carriers must be stored for a sensible use of your own displays and sales aids. Without this information, a 3D object is just a strangely shaped thing that is not integrated into the software’s shelf planning mechanism. That’s not helping.
Myth 5: All space management programs are basically the same
Frequently heard: The space management programs available on the market basically all do the same, they are interchangeable at any time.
Correct: The basic functionalities such as administration of product data and positioning of products should be mastered by all programs. However, it turns out: All programs have their own priorities, they are better or less suitable for certain fields of application. They may take into account specific industry conditions, special forms of presentation or data models.
Ultimately, the usability of each software must be carefully examined for the specific application: with regard to its basic orientation, the depth of functionality, the breadth of the data model, its extensibility and its embedding in its own environment with operating system and business processes.
Spacemanagement is an exciting topic with considerable optimization potential in the planning and design of the point-of-sale. However, space management software can only be as good as the data that is made available to it. The acquisition and maintenance of data is accordingly important, but they are not given to you free of charge. As they say: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
It is worth taking a close look, not to believe fantastic ideas unseen and to always question myths and legends. Spacemanagement is based on facts – and then also produces facts.