Are you looking for the best position on a retail shelf for your products? Then you can't go wrong with placing them at eye level*. Brands will do almost anything to get their products positioned here on the shelf. That's with good reason, considering it's the most lucrative position. It typically generates the most sales compared to placing it elsewhere.
That also means that while positioning products in this prime spot is simple enough, it's not easy to secure. After all, every brand wants its products there, which means high levels of competition. That makes it seem like you have no chance. But let's be optimistic here.
Yes, there is a high level of competition to secure this spot. You’ll no doubt have to fight for your place. But it doesn't rule you out completely. In reality, if you can show value and back up why it's worth a retailer’s time to consider your products for this position, you stand a good chance of securing it.
1. Offer supporting benefits to the retailer's goals
As a supplier, your goal is to secure space for your products on the shelf and increase your sales. Depending on the role of the category you supply, your retail client should know how it will support its overall goals.
Let's say, for example, the category follows a traffic-building strategy. In that case, you can expect that those items which usually sell high volumes will receive the space at eye level.
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So how can you support your retail client?
If you're a category captain, you can use the data you gather to build planograms that allow your retail client to meet their goals for the category. Also, by fulfilling the individual category goals, you can help them meet the overall goal for their store.
And who knows, that could include adding your products to the prime spot that is eye level because it makes sense. That’s especially true if you’ve negotiated for more shelf space.
If, on the other hand, the goal is to drive profit, you would want to place items that have fair unit sales but higher profit margins in this prime spot. Again, by building planograms that consider their overall goals, you're proving yourself to be valuable.
Could they have achieved this without your help? Put yourself in a position where the answer is 'No.'
2. Sponsor merchandising services
If there is one thing we've learnt about retail during our years of providing category management solutions, it's this: You can't assume anything. That includes the assumption that retailers have perfectly efficient merchandising operations.
Once your retail clients have approved your planograms and you have negotiated a prime spot for your products, your next focus is on execution.
In short, ensure the plan you presented is what ends up in stores. We refer to it as planogram implementation, and it's critical to success, not just for yourself but also for your retail client.
Let’s put it like this. What is the point of doing all the hard work - building planograms using data and arranging everything so it's visually appealing - if you don't implement them in-store?
There are two ways you can achieve this:
Obtain the signed-off planograms from the retailer and use your in-house staff to merchandise the shelves accordingly. Field marketing software such as Activ8 ensures you complete the work timeously and accurately.
Choose and hire a merchandise service provider who uses economies of scale to implement planograms on your behalf. If you do, ensure the firm uses tried and tested mobile software to prove service delivery. Fail to do that and you can find yourself assuming that implementation has happened when, in reality, there is no data to support that.
3. Muscle in over other brands (not recommended)
As much as we hate to say it, there will always be those who play dirty to achieve a particular result. The retail industry is not immune to this. We will never recommend you attempt this. However, because certain brands try it - some successfully, it's worth highlighting.
Here's what muscling is all about: if you're in retail and have been for some time, you'll likely know that retailers want tighter control over their space planning. That makes sense, of course. Their retail space is one of their most expensive assets, and it's only getting more expensive.
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However, some retailers aren't as efficient as others in managing or controlling this part of their business. This inefficiency leaves a gap for brands to use their field team or shady merchandising agencies to tamper with space apportionment and positioning. That includes moving products around while no one is looking.
While this approach can be tempting, there is a fundamental problem.
Let's imagine someone - a friend or stranger - visiting your home while you are out and rearranging your furniture. How would you feel about that? Would you feel insulted? Would you be angry? We're sure you'd feel both and more.
Tampering with a retailer's space planning without their consent is just as insulting to them. And what happens if they find out how you are? Instead, we suggest spending your time building relationships with your retail clients by adding value to the category that stocks your products.
4. Use field marketing to make sure you get what was signed off
Do you have signed-off planograms that give your products favourable positioning and or space apportionment? Then it's worth using field marketing.
Similar to the second point above around sponsoring merchandising services, you can do this one of two ways:
Use your field workers to conduct checks to ensure that other brands haven't tampered with the signed-off planogram, placing their items in a prime spot when that space should hold your products.
Employ a specialist field marketing agency to conduct the checks on your behalf. You can provide them with checklists and questionnaires they need to complete to ensure correct implementation.
Professional field marketing agencies or third-party field marketing service providers use economies of scale and specialist mobile workforce software to help you conduct these checks on your behalf. You can also use such software if you have the time and resources to complete these exercises.
5. Be the best brand in the category
There are no shortcuts to success, and working towards becoming a brand leader should be a natural part of your organisation's culture. Being a brand leader for a category leads to benefits that rival brands don't get.
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As a brand leader, you can expect at least the following benefits:
You'll have your products positioned at eye level. If you walk into any store, the chances are good that when you look at those products placed at eye level, it'll be the brand leader and the house brand. Retailers want it that way.
Additional influence over the category. It's often true that the brand leader is the category captain. As a category captain, you'll have more leverage over the positioning of all products on the shelf, including yours.
If you want to claim the lucrative eye level position on the shelf for your products, then you can do any or all of the above. Maybe begin with one of the points and work your way down the list. Alternatively, choose an option that suits you best.
That said, a point remains - if you can support your retail clients, showing them that you care about their interests and want them to succeed, you will see success too. It might be an immediate success or gradual, but you will experience it.
Are you looking for a category management software that you can use to build data-driven planograms that helps you and your retail clients meet their goals and objectives? Or maybe you're after world-class category management services that'll help you build such planograms. Why not book a custom complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert today to hear how we can help you achieve either or browse through our various services and software editions on our online store?
*This article was updated on 3 November 2022.