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Manage Your Store Formats In One DotActiv Database
DotActiv TeamAug 31, 2022 5:03:11 PM8 min read

Software Spotlight: Manage Your Store Formats In One DotActiv Database

Let us know if this sounds like a good description of your retail business. You oversee multiple formats, which include large, medium and small stores. However, you struggle to manage them successfully. You know you need different assortments depending on the target market, but it's proving problematic because you don’t have the technology to handle it across your formats. Fortunately, DotActiv has a solution.  

We call it a secondary display structure. Built into the DotActiv software, it’s a feature that we believe can alleviate any frustrations you may have when ranging and clustering for different stores format, all in one DotActiv database.

What Is The Secondary Display Structure?

What is the secondary display structure?

As a category management solutions provider, DotActiv counts dozens of retailers worldwide as clients, many of which oversee multiple store formats that need to be catered for when clustering, assortment planning and planograms. That includes a mix of large, medium and small stores.

However, we discovered a problem.


Retailers often struggle to provide the same ranges and offerings in their smallest store formats compared to their larger stores that can accommodate large assortments. It's a challenge to fit the categories and placements within the different sizes.


Besides this issue, we also learned that retailers struggled with a few other related problems:

  • A struggle to determine when to draw a line between optimised selling space with sufficient ranges available while also ensuring to provide a large enough product variety; and 
  • Merchandising and category flow become increasingly difficult as the size of stores gets smaller, which leads to confused offerings, messy stores and frustrated shoppers.


It is in such situations where DotActiv's secondary display structure can play a significant role. But what is the secondary display structure? Let's first look at the primary display structure.

The primary display structure is usually the initial hierarchy created for a retailer and applicable to most store formats. However, once you need to create clusters and ranges for your small format, you often require a secondary structure that you can use to group and range your categories.

That's the gist of the secondary display structure. This feature caters to you if you have multiple store formats of different sizes or types where a hierarchy, cluster and range are based on only one size or type.


Do you need help choosing the best assortments for your various store formats? DotActiv can help. Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert and we can show you how


Let's take the example of our category planning process. When we complete it, we usually do it with the idea that it's for a large store, which doesn't consider the unique requirements of a smaller store.

The secondary display structure aims to solve this discrepancy where you can create a unique hierarchy or classification, cluster and range for each size or type without influencing the other. That means you can manage your various store formats in one DotActiv database.

Are you interested in learning more? You read how to set up a secondary display structure on the DotActiv PowerBase.

How Does This Feature Influence the DotActiv Software?

How does this feature influence the DotActiv software?

The introduction of the secondary display structure has influenced and improved how you work with the DotActiv software. But what are these updates?

          1. Primary vs Secondary Cluster Set

The first aspect it influences is your cluster set. As mentioned before, in the past, the DotActiv software had a primary display structure, which you would use to build out your hierarchies, cluster and range.  

The primary cluster set inherited the primary display structure. With the update to the software, there is a secondary cluster set. Similar to the primary cluster set, the secondary cluster set inherits the secondary display structure. 

The cluster set selection refers to two things:

  • Which stores are applicable?
  • Which display hierarchies should be used for category, product selection and more?


Thus, all stores that meet the criteria to receive a secondary display structure move into the secondary cluster set. Typically stores with this display structure are smaller and can’t accommodate entire ranges within the business. 


The secondary display structure includes and excludes fewer categories and SKUs. In all cases, you would base your secondary display structure on your primary display structure. Meanwhile, you would also merge categories and departments where necessary.


Where applicable in the DotActiv software, you can select between Primary or Secondary when choosing your cluster set. We have designed the software so that if you aren't using this feature, all your current clustering/stores fall under Primary.

          2. Stores per Cluster Set

Previously, when you added new stores or created new categories, it would apply to your primary cluster set. That meant you’d utilise the default display hierarchy set for your clustering and ranging. 

With this new feature, you can now switch a store so that your secondary display structure applies to it instead of your primary display structure.


Step 1

First, log into the DotActiv software and navigate to ‘File’, ‘Setup’ and select ‘Market View’. Doing so opens the ‘Market View Setup' window, where you can make changes.

Step 2

To create a new view or update an existing one, click on the existing view or ‘New’ to set up a new market view. From there, it’s a case of selecting ‘Cluster Detail’ from the drop-down menu and adding ‘SecondaryClusterSet’ to the view. You can achieve that by double-clicking or using the right-facing arrow before hitting ‘Save’.  

Step 3

Next, it’s time to set the stores where you want to use your secondary display structure. You can achieve that by clicking on the ‘SQL’ button in the ‘Data’ tab. Then navigate to ‘Market’, right-click on the suitable level and select ‘View Data’. 

You can now check off the applicable markets or stores that you want the secondary display structure to apply to before clicking on ‘Update DB’.

          3. Category Classifications per Cluster Set

When working with your primary cluster set in the past, you would cluster your products within your default display structure. With the creation of that secondary display structure, that has become known as your primary display structure.

When working with your secondary cluster set, you can classify your products within your secondary display structure.

In short, you can use the category values found in your hierarchy to:

  • Determine which products to add to which range; and
  • Determine if a product is cross-merchandised or on its primary planogram.


So how does this new software feature influence your hierarchy?

The new software version automatically adds a new hierarchy to the database and names it ‘Secondary Display Structure’. With the new hierarchy, the software also adds a default set of fields such as Merchandising Group, Department, Category, Sub-Category and so on.

This hierarchy will default to be the one you use for your secondary cluster set. Thus, to use the secondary cluster set, you will need to classify this hierarchy. Doing so allows the DotActiv software to distinguish which categories to cluster and range under the secondary cluster set.

          4. Planograms

The new secondary display structure also affects the planograms you build. Specifically, it’s the naming of your planograms.

The name of your planogram contains a lot of critical information, and it needs to be correct to allow DotActiv’s Import Utility to work correctly.

This naming convention will also indicate if the planogram refers to the primary or secondary display structure. More specifically, it allows the DotActiv software to ensure that the correct stores have the correct planogram and display structure allocated.

So what if the naming convention is incorrect? There are a few problems that you’ll encounter:

  • DotActiv’s Import Utility will not distinguish between the display structures or the cross-merchandised SKUs; and
  • DotActiv’s Import Utility will reject the planogram.


That said, it’s critical to point out that the names of planograms as they are currently will still appear as primary set planograms. They are set as [Category]_[Cluster]_[NOD].flp. However, with a secondary cluster set, planograms will have a fourth value.

The fourth value is the word Secondary. 


The naming convention for planograms using the secondary display structure would be [Category]_[Cluster]_[NOD]_SECONDARY.flp


Planograms with the distinction of ‘SECONDARY’ will automatically use the secondary display structure. DotActiv software will also correctly deduce that the planogram only applies to stores that use the secondary display structure.


The secondary display structure is a feature DotActiv introduced to cater to you if you have a large range of store sizes in your retail portfolio. With this feature, it means when setting up your category classifications, clustering or ranging, you can complete it for your store, no matter if it’s large, medium and small.

It gets better - you can do your clustering and product classifications for each format in one database without the one affecting the other. 

Are you looking for a category management solution suitable to your retail goals and budget? Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert to hear more about our various software editions and services. You’re also welcome to browse through our online store here.

About the contributors

Chris Muller joined DotActiv in 2012 as a developer, working predominantly on the C++ DotActiv application and database SQL and innovation projects. He has since worked up to senior developer before his appointment as Software Development Manager in 2022. He has a BSc (Honours) in Business Computing and Information Systems from the CTI Education Group.

Daniella Klut joined DotActiv in 2021, working as a space and category planner on the Dis-Chem account. She has since been promoted to account manager, overseeing the Health and Medical Department. She has a Bachelor of Consumer Science in Food Retail Management from the University of Pretoria.

Suné Oosthuizen joined DotActiv in late 2019 as a space planner before moving to a category planner role and then promoted to account manager. Currently, she oversees the Dis-Chem account as a Senior Account Manager. She has a Bachelor of Consumer Science (Honours) in Clothing Retail Management from the University of Pretoria.


DotActiv Team

The DotActiv team comprises category management experts lending their retail experience and knowledge to create well-researched and in-depth articles.