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Crafting Perfect Product Journeys
Darren GilbertDec 8, 2023 11:30:00 AM11 min read

Crafting Perfect Product Journeys: Planogram Insights for Small Retail

There is no way around this fact. Small retailers must craft the best possible journey through their stores to be competitive. Fortunately, they don't have to do it alone. Leveraging detailed planogram design and comprehensive planogram strategy, planograms can help. By using the best planogram insights available, combined with software, and guided by professionals, small retailers can map out the journey and transform their customers' experiences.

Quote On Crafting Perfect Product Journeys

The 'why' of effective planogram design is multifaceted: It comes down to employing strategic displays to influence buying decisions, elevate brand perception, and optimize sales, even in tight spaces. For small retailers navigating the competitive landscape, mastering these planogram insights and strategies is crucial. Every square inch of the store should not only sell but also weave a compelling, customer-centric narrative.

How? That lies in the meticulous application of a planogram strategy or two. This approach is a careful blend of aesthetics, functionality, and an understanding of customer psychology. It requires a deep dive into consumer habits, an effective use of space, and the agility to adapt to market trends. Such strategic planning not only refines the shopping experience but also transforms every nook of a small retail space into a product showcase, captivating and fulfilling the needs of discerning shoppers.

Understanding The Customer’s In-Store Journey

Understanding the customer's in-store journey

There should be no doubt that understanding the customer's in-store journey, deepened by targeted planogram design and planogram strategy, driven by planogram insights, is pivotal for any retailer. How do they shop in your store? This journey is more than a path through the aisles; it's an insight into consumer behavior, preferences, and decision-making processes. 

For small retailers, where space is at a premium, every step a customer takes and every turn they make has significant implications for product placement and overall sales success.

Observing customer movement patterns

The first step in understanding this journey is observation, a process greatly enhanced by implementing effective planogram insights. Small retailers can start by noting where customers naturally gravitate when they enter the store. 

For example, many customers turn right upon entering, a behavior observed in various retail settings. Capitalizing on this, a boutique could strategically place new arrivals and seasonal items to the right of the entrance, resulting in increased engagement with these products.

Zone analysis for product placement

Dividing the store into zones based on customer traffic, a key aspect of planogram design, can provide invaluable insights. The areas with the highest footfall are prime real estate for the most popular or profitable items. 

A small grocery store might notice that the fresh produce section located at the front attracts the most customers. Placing high-margin items or promotional goods in adjacent areas can maximize exposure and sales. Alternatively, they would move the section deeper into the store to allow customers to see more of their products.

The role of convenience and accessibility

In smaller retail spaces, as dictated by a well-thought-out planogram strategy, convenience is king. That's why placing complementary items near each other is worth considering. 

For example, placing bread next to a deli section simplifies the shopping process for customers looking to make sandwiches, which increases sales of both products. Or, retailers could position barbeque equipment near the meats section and include a drop or two for sauces and other items that customers would expect to need for their next weekend social.

Impact of store layout on shopping behavior

The overall layout, a critical component of planogram design, plays a crucial role in the customer's journey. A cramped or cluttered space can deter exploration, while a well-organized store encourages it. 

For example, a boutique bookstore can use wider aisles and clearly defined sections to create a more inviting atmosphere, which leads to increased browsing time and higher overall sales.

Understanding the in-store journey of customers is about more than just monitoring and adjusting the planogram design. It's about creating an environment where customers feel at ease, find what they need, and discover something new. For small retailers, mastering this, with the aid of a planogram strategy, can turn a limited space into an intimate and pleasing shopping experience.

Principles Of Effective Product Placement

Principles of effective product placement

Effective product placement, a critical element of planogram insights, is one of the cornerstones of retail success alongside balancing inventory, particularly for small retailers where every inch of space counts. Understanding and implementing fundamental principles of planogram strategy and planogram design can transform a store from a simple point of sale into an engaging shopping experience.

Eye-level is buy-level

A fundamental principle in retail, and a key aspect of planogram strategy, is “eye-level is buy-level.” This concept holds that products placed at eye level are more likely to catch a customer's attention and, therefore, more likely to be purchased. 

For example, a small health food store can increase sales of its organic snacks by placing them at eye level and positioning less healthy options on higher or lower shelves.

Grouping related products

As mentioned in the previous section, grouping related products (cross-merchandising) facilitates cross-selling and improves customer convenience. 

A classic example is in a boutique clothing store that groupes accessories like belts and scarves near related apparel, encouraging customers to complete an outfit, thereby increasing the average transaction value.

Creating focal points

Creating focal points within a store, a technique championed in planogram strategy is vital for capturing attention and directing customer flow. A focal point could be new products on display, a stand of seasonal items, or best-sellers. 

For example, a small electronics store could use a central table to showcase the latest gadgets, drawing customers into the store and increasing engagement with other products.

Strategic shelving

The arrangement of shelves also plays a crucial role in planogram design. Varied shelf heights can create visual interest and make it easier for customers to spot different products. 

A specialty coffee shop using alternating shelf heights to display various coffee beans and brewing equipment makes it easier for customers to browse and select products.

Utilizing end caps and checkout areas

End caps – the displays at the end of aisles – and checkout areas are high-traffic spots perfect for impulse buys or promotional items which can be key areas of focus in planogram strategy. 

A small grocery store can utilize end caps to promote seasonal fruits, which can increase sales of these items.

Effective product placement is an art that requires understanding customer behavior, making strategic use of space, and continually adjusting to sales patterns and customer feedback. For small retailers, mastering these principles can lead to a more engaging shopping environment and ultimately increase sales and customer satisfaction.

Leveraging Technology In Planogram Design

Leveraging technology in planogram design

Technology plays a crucial role in the creation and management of planograms. For small retailers, leveraging affordable and accessible technological tools can be a game changer, enabling them to utilize planogram insights for planning and visualizing store layouts more effectively.

Data-driven planogram software

Data-driven planogram software is a critical tool for modern retailers. This technology allows for optimizing product arrangement through planogram insights, mirroring the actual layout in-store. 

A small boutique, for example, can use such planogram software to experiment with different layouts virtually, leading to an optimized layout that enhances customer flow and product visibility.

Enhancing accuracy and efficiency

The precision offered by data-driven planogram design ensures that space retailers can use their space efficiently, aligning with planogram strategy principles. 

For example, a small hardware store can use planogram software to calculate the precise shelving space needed for each product category, significantly reducing overstocking and understocking issues.

Easy updates and adaptations

One of the most significant advantages of using technology in planogram design is the ease with which retailers can apply planogram strategies to update their store and shelf layouts. 

For example, a specialty food store can adapt its layout for seasonal promotions and events using planogram software such as DotActiv Lite, keeping the store fresh and engaging for regular customers.

Cost-effective solutions

When considering the integration of planogram insights in planogram strategy and technology, small retailers can't ignore the cost impact. Fortunately, there are several affordable and free planogram design tool options available. 

These options provide basic functionalities suitable for small-scale operations. 

Take DotActiv Lite as an example. Aimed at small retailers on a tight budget, it includes all the features needed to make an impact. There is also DotActiv Free and the option to try free 14-day trials of any DotActiv software edition

These tools offer a low-cost entry point for small businesses to begin leveraging the benefits of data-driven planogramming.

Visualizing the customer journey

Planogram software can even simulate the customer journey, providing planogram strategy insights into how shoppers might navigate the store. 

A children's toy store using this feature could create a more kid-friendly layout, ensuring that popular items were within easy reach of their young customers. Meanwhile, for their parents, they could place items more suited to them at eye level.

Technology has democratized access to sophisticated retail tools, allowing small retailers to compete effectively. By adopting these technologies, small businesses can make data-driven decisions about their store layout, leading to a more efficient, attractive, and customer-friendly shopping environment.

Maximizing Limited Space For Maximum Impact

Maximizing limited space for maximum impact

For small retailers, limited space poses a unique challenge, which can be effectively addressed with planogram strategy insights. 

However, with the strategic use of planogram insights and planogram design techniques, these constraints can be turned into a competitive advantage, maximizing the appeal and efficiency of the retail space.

Utilizing vertical space

One of the most effective ways to maximize limited space is through vertical displays, a key concept in planogram strategy. 

A small boutique can use wall-mounted shelves and hanging displays to showcase accessories, freeing up valuable floor space for clothing racks. This vertical approach enhances product visibility, a fundamental goal in planogram design, and creates a more open, inviting store layout.

Implementing multi-level shelving

Implementing multi-level shelving is another critical technique for space optimization as per planogram design principles. 

A specialty shop can use tiered shelving to display products within a compact area. This approach not only aligns with the planogram strategy by making it easier for customers to browse the extensive selection but also adds an aesthetic appeal to a store’s interior.

Flexible display units

Flexible display units, which can be easily moved and rearranged, allow for dynamic use of space. 

For example, a small bookstore could use rolling display units for their bestsellers, a strategy supported by planogram insights, which could be moved around the store depending on the time of day or specific events, optimizing the use of space during author signings or reading events.

Creating multipurpose areas

Incorporating multipurpose areas is a smart strategy for small retailers and aligns well with planogram strategy concepts. 

For example, a local artisanal food store can double its display counters as tasting stations. This approach, informed by planogram design insights, enhances the customer experience and allows them to use their limited space efficiently, encouraging customers to linger and explore more products.

Customized storage solutions

Customized storage solutions can also play a pivotal role in effective planogram implementation. 

For example, a small sports equipment store can use custom-built racks as per planogram design guidelines to store and display various gear. This tailored solution saves space and makes it easier for customers to find what they want.

Small retail spaces require creative thinking and strategic planning. Employing planogram design techniques like those listed above allows them to create an impactful and efficient shopping environment that maximizes their space.

Creating An Engaging Shopping Atmosphere

Creating an engaging shopping atmosphere

An engaging shopping atmosphere is vital for attracting and retaining customers, especially in small retail spaces. Integrating a planogram strategy to shape this environment is not just about product placement but also about enhancing the overall store ambiance.

Designing thematic displays

Thematic displays are a powerful tool in creating an engaging atmosphere

For example, a small bookstore specializing in travel literature can apply planogram design principles to create regional-themed sections. They can decorate each section with items and visuals relevant to that region, making the customer feel like they are journeying around the world. 

This thematic approach turns browsing into an experience rather than just a shopping trip.

Incorporating interactive areas

Interactive areas can also significantly enhance the shopping experience. 

A children's toy store can use planograms to design a play area where kids try out select toys. This interactive space makes the store a favorite spot among children and allows parents more time to shop while engaging and entertaining their kids.

Highlighting new and featured products

Using a planogram strategy to strategically highlight new and featured products can stimulate customer interest and encourage exploration. A small fashion boutique can use planogram design strategies to showcase its latest collection at the front of the store. That draws attention to new arrivals and sets the tone for the store's current trends.

Sensory elements in the store layout

Incorporating sensory elements into the store layout can create a more engaging atmosphere

For example, a gourmet coffee shop can use planograms to place their coffee grinding and brewing stations near the entrance, allowing the aroma to entice customers as they enter. 

This sensory engagement enhances the overall ambiance and encourages customers to explore further.

Tailoring to customer preferences

Employing a planogram strategy to tailor the environment to customer preferences makes a significant difference. 

Take a local health food store as an example. They can use customer feedback to rearrange their products, bringing the most sought-after health foods to more accessible locations. This responsiveness not only improved the shopping experience but also fostered customer loyalty.

Creating an engaging shopping atmosphere involves more than efficient product placement. It requires a thoughtful approach to store design, incorporating thematic displays, interactive areas, sensory elements, and responsiveness to customer preferences. Planograms are essential in this process, helping small retailers craft inviting and memorable shopping environments.


In mastering planogram design and strategy, small retailers can create immersive shopping experiences that resonate with customers. Harness the full potential of planogram insights to transform your retail space. Elevate your store's journey today - download your free 14-day trial of DotActiv Lite and unlock the power of effective planogramming.


Darren Gilbert

Darren Gilbert joined in 2017 and is the content manager. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Stellenbosch.