There is a danger to making decisions based on assumptions - especially without having first looked at the detail. The case of floor planning is no different. In this blog we aim to delve into some of the most common floor planning myths that we’ve seen and hear.
Here they are:
Myth: You only need a high-level store floor plan
Truth: A performance-enhancing floor plan is the culmination of detail and data
There is a perception that when it comes to your store floor plan, you don’t need anything more than a high-level version. The argument goes: you only need to see what your store looks like so that you know where to place your products.
Of course, it’s not true - it’s a myth. That said, if you look into its origins, you’ll begin to understand how it became one. Many view a floor plan as an overview of what a store should look like. Technically, they’re not wrong.
However, this is where the problem begins.
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In truth, your store floor plan determines how your customers shop your space. In fact, you could argue that it goes a long way to deciding your success or failure as a store. It thus needs to be well-thought-out and most importantly it needs to consider detail. It also needs to take your customers’ decision-making process into consideration.
That also means that creating an effective store floor plan takes time and dedication. There is no easy route to a data-driven floor plan. But it’s worth the effort.
For one, it encourages your customers to shop as much of your store as possible. By strategically placing your high-trafficked products throughout your store, you’ll expose shoppers to more of your merchandise. That results in more sales and profits for you.
Also, if your customers enjoy shopping at your store - because you’ve built a floor plan that makes it easier to find what they need - they’ll keep returning.
Myth: AutoCAD can do the whole job of floor planning
Truth: AutoCAD creates brilliant architectural drawings and not data-driven floor plans in the context of category management.
There is no doubt that an AutoCAD drawing does an excellent job of showing you what your store looks like.
With it, you’ll know where you can place your gondolas and planograms and where you can’t. You’ll know where your obstructions are in-store, which will allow you to plan accordingly. More importantly, it’ll help you to understand how much space you have at your disposal. That makes it valuable.
However, you’d be overreaching its capabilities - giving it more power than it could hope to wield - if you say that it can act as your floor plan. It’s most certainly can't.
An AutoCAD is an architectural drawing - a 2D visual representation of your store. But that’s where it stops. It’s not connected to any retail data. As a result, it can’t give help you understand the performance of your categories. It also can’t offer you any insight on how to apportion your space.
In short, if you treat your AutoCAD as your floor plan, you’re more than likely to end up with a messy store and no understanding of where or how to place your products. That includes having too much of the wrong stock (low performing) and too little of the stock that sells. And that’s just the beginning.
Of course, if you were to import your AutoCAD into specific floor planning software, and connect it to data, that would be a different story.
Myth: You don’t need data to build your floor plan
Truth: Sound business decisions are based on both logic and data. The same goes when it comes to floor planning.
We’ve mentioned this before: it’s risky to believe that you can build an effective or efficient floor plan without data. And yet, it remains one of the leading mistakes made when creating a store floor plan.
That’s precisely why its essential to keep reiterating the point: it's a myth to believe that you don’t need retail data.
Of course, it’s one thing to tell you that you need data and another to show why. For that, it’s worth looking at the benefits of building a data-driven floor plan.
The first pay off is that a floor plan built using data allows you to reduce floor congestion in your store.
For example, you’ll know which of your categories are popular and highly-trafficked. With this information, you want to avoid positioning them all in one area. Instead, you’d be better off placing them throughout your store. In that way, you’re reducing the possibility of your customers all shopping one spot.
The second pay off is that it can contribute towards shopper satisfaction. There are various tactics you can implement to achieve this. For instance, you could optimise and organise the in-store flow to lead your customers from one category to another.
For example, if you stock a Toiletries category, you’d look to place toothbrushes next to your toothpaste and follow that with your mouthwash products. Understanding how to create a logical product flow is vital here. Furthermore, you could place complementary categories besides each other to motivate shoppers to buy more.
Myth: You don’t need store floor planning software
Truth: Floor planning software makes it easier to improve performance in a reliable way
As we mentioned above, if you want to build an effective floor plan, you need to filter retail data into it. Of course, that’s not all you should consider doing. You should also recognise the need for specialised retail floor planning software.
Before you object to this suggestion, let us explain.
If you currently think that it’s easier and cheaper to build a floor plan on a program such as Excel, for example, you’d be only half correct. It could be cheaper to do this in the short-term. But it won’t be easier. In fact, you could even argue that it will likely end up costing you more if you attempt to build your floor plan this way.
There is also the real threat of human error and possible time-wasting (as a result of mistakes).
Meanwhile, floor planning software negates all this, reducing the time you’d need to spend on deciding your store layout. It also incorporates data, which allows you to apportion the appropriate amount of space to each category according to their performance. That means you’ll end up with a floor plan that not only makes you money but also makes sense to your shoppers.
There is also the point that while it might initially appear costly, it does end up paying for itself. You need to keep at it. After all, this is an investment; it’s not something you can implement today and expect a result tomorrow.
Myth: Store floor planning is too complicated
Truth: Planning is hard work but in choosing the right provider and software you and your team should be receiving the training (or services) that will reduce the perceived complexity. Fit for purpose software should also be a great help.
The introduction of anything new and unknown always brings with it a sense of dread. Of course, that’s understandable. And along with that is the impression that its hard work.
But here’s something else to ponder: once you understand and get to grips with store floor planning (and the software), you’ll come to realise how easy it is to build a floor plan. In fact, you’ll wonder why you did it any other way.
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Let’s compare building a floor plan in Excel to creating one in DotActiv to illustrate our point.
In DotActiv, the process is much faster and easier. You have access to real-time data, which makes it more accurate, thus helping you to avoid human error. On top of that, it’s possible to combine floor and shelf planning by dragging and dropping a planogram onto your floor plan.
There is also the fact that there are shortcuts that you can use to and a highlights feature which indicates where you can improve. There are also various specialised reports, which you can generate instantly.
Meanwhile, there is Excel. While you can create a floor plan using this programme, because it’s not specialised software, it’s limited in what it can do. Not only does that make it daunting but it’s quite easy to understand why there is the belief that floor planning is complicated.
Of course, choosing the right service provider helps here. That’s because with the right provider who can train your staff up on how to use the software properly, there is no more need to view it as complex or painful.