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Why Planogram Compliance Is Critical
DotActiv TeamJun 5, 2023 9:00:00 AM16 min read

Why Planogram Compliance Is Critical For Retail Management

We’d argue that the planogram is one of the most vital category management tools. That’s simply because of its goal: it helps you to increase your sales and profitability. Knowing that should encourage you to observe what is known as planogram compliance. Of course, to ensure compliance, it’d be best to use specialist software.

Quote on Planogram Compliance-1

Why? Let's explain by posing another question. How easy is it to ensure planogram compliance without using specialist software built to meet that goal? You might be able to do it, but it would be challenging and take time. You'd need to factor in the cost of human error too. Do you want to deal with everything that comes with that? Do you have time to waste?

We know the answer. And that’s where specialist software can help you. We’re talking about software such as DotActiv, which has specific planogram compliance and implementation features that make such an exercise easy. But what if you don’t have the resources to dedicate time to ensuring compliance? We have you covered with dedicated category planners who help deliver our category management services and are ready to help you.

What is Planogram Compliance

What is planogram compliance?

Bridging the communication gap between your head office and stores is critical if you're looking to ensure you implement your planograms in-store. But what does compliance look like?

It's worth breaking the phrase down and considering the word 'compliance'. The Cambridge Dictionary defines compliance as "obeying an order, rule, or request". In retail and with planograms, that translates to ensuring correct implementation in-store.

Ensuring Planogram Compliance Quote

That should be enough to convince you to push for compliance and work to maintain it in-store. Ensuring correct planogram implementation the first time also means you’ll have fewer on-shelf issues. 

But how can you ensure it?

1. Communicate your planograms to stores effectively

Communication is critical in everything you do. That’s especially true for the retail industry and creating and implementing planograms.

An easy way to do this and thus ensure planogram compliance is to set up regular meetings between your buyers and anyone who creates your planograms. It’s up to you to decide how often to hold these meetings.

Besides communicating planograms to the various roleplayers, it’s just as critical to communicate efficiently with the stores that will receive the final planograms. After all, your stores need to understand why they need to set up their shelves and present the products in a particular way. 

By communicating, you also have better buy-in from them. Again, your store communication software has a role in informing stores of any changes.

2. Conduct regular spot checks

You can travel to the actual store to see if the shelf looks the same in-store as on the planogram.

That said, conducting in-store spot checks is more of an old-school tactic. While it might be okay if the stores are close by, it can also be an expensive and cumbersome exercise if you have stores in many different parts of the country.

It's worth pointing out that these spot checks aren't about trying to catch people or throw anyone under the bus. Instead, they are to ensure that the work that goes into creating a planogram isn’t for naught. There is a good reason why you build planograms a certain way.

An advantage of conducting a spot check is that it’s a direct way of making updates for your stores. If you notice that the planogram looks different from the actual shelf, there is a valid reason for the difference, and it appears to be working for the store, you can change the planogram immediately and then send it off to Head Office for sign-off.

3. Automate proof of planogram implementations

If you don’t have the time to conduct spot checks, it's worth automating planogram compliance and implementation.

If we had a choice between this and spot checks, we'd recommend the former. 

By that, we mean you can photograph the shelf in-store and upload the image to a central database, where your Head Office and anyone else who needs to be made aware can view it.

That includes your buyers and those responsible for creating the planograms. That means that if anything is wrong, you can contact the store immediately. 

Again, this isn’t about trying to catch a store out. It’s an attempt to ensure that the store (or stores) perform to their potential. But it’s worth having everyone involved to obtain proof that a store's planograms are compliant.

Why Does Planogram Compliance Matter

Why does planogram compliance matter?


1. Without planogram compliance, you won't get the results you want

As a retailer, your goal is to increase sales, improve overall category profitability and become a store that caters to its customers so they’ll keep coming back. You can do that by creating and implementing planograms in-store.

Of course, implementing a planogram isn’t enough - anyone can look at a shelf plan and attempt to recreate it in-store. You also need to ensure to implement it correctly. After all, you want to obtain a result. And the desired result at that.


If you’re looking for a category management solution that fits your specific needs and budget, talk to us. Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert and we’ll match you with the best solution


So what happens if you fail to implement planograms properly? More importantly, what financial implications occur due to non-compliance? Besides failing to increase your sales and improve your profitability, there are a few ramifications.

  • You'll struggle to increase foot traffic. Implementing data-driven planograms allows you to increase traffic because you’re providing your customers with what they want when they want it and where they want it.

2. If you don’t manage your shelf space, someone else will do it for you

Generally speaking, shelf space allocation has a significant impact on product sales. That’s why you can often describe it as your biggest asset. That also means that if you don’t manage it yourself, someone else - like your suppliers, for example - will.

And it can happen without you even realizing it.

Manage Your Shelf Space Before Others Do It

Let’s say, for example, you’re opening a new store, and you have two different reps supplying different products but within the same category, and they’re busy packing a fridge. There is every possibility that they’ll push their luck to give themselves more shelf space.

That’s not the only instance. You’re also likely to find that many suppliers will have staff traveling from store to store to manipulate shelf space allocations. If you don’t take control of your shelf space, they’ll do it for you to your detriment.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with giving a product more space on the shelf. But that’s if a supplier can show you how giving more space to their product can improve your bottom line.

The problem happens when a supplier coerces you into providing their product with more shelf space when it isn’t in the best interest of the category.

Even a slight change in shelf space can affect the overall health of your store. And especially so if you consider the compound effect of making such a change at multiple stores.

3. By ensuring planogram compliance you can create a culture of accountability

In the retail industry, it’s one thing to say you’ll do something. It’s another to do it and do it properly too. That’s why accountability is so important. And especially so when it comes down to implementing planograms.

Remember, we’re discussing the difference between making a sale and losing it.

Building planograms that deliver on your goals and objectives means you need a service that’ll 

Let’s say, you're an FMCG retailer. Your Head Office will send out a set of planograms to your stores. A few of your stores are in different provinces or regions, and you can’t conduct a spot check to see if everything is as it should be.

Of course, you can’t simply trust your stores to get it done - trust is not possible at this scale as much as you might want it to be. 

To create a culture of accountability, your Head Office needs to follow up on the plan they set up to ensure it gets done. Store or Planogram Communication software can help here. It can help create an expectation at the store level, and store managers know they need to be up to date in case Head Office requests an update.

Imagine you’re a customer and walk into a store that hasn’t observed planogram compliance. You’ll notice it immediately.

  • There will be gaps on the shelf because you're struggling with out of stocks, 

  • Products won’t be in the right place, and 

  • The shopping experience will be unpleasant because you won't find what you want.

More than that, if you dig deeper and ask a few pertinent questions, you’ll probably find no one responsible for overseeing planogram implementation.

Approach Planogram Compliance Through DotActiv

How do you approach planogram compliance through DotActiv?


1. Ensuring planogram compliance through DotActiv

DotActiv’s software provides the reporting feature to ensure planogram compliance by offering an extensive analysis of the planograms. It determines whether the planogram aligns with the sales and unit data received from the stores and whether you have allocated the right amount of space to the products at the right time.

There are several data requirements needed from our clients to read the report accurately:

  • Sales Data (POS) in CSV/Excel format;
  • Clean and classified data;
  • SKU information and product attributes;
  • Confirmed range/Assortment of products for the category;
  • Customer/Category objectives;
  • Category Flows;
  • Category merchandising principles;
  • Category roles, strategies, and tactics;
  • Fixture dimensions/audit;
  • Product Images and dimensions (if provided by client);
  • Client’s category hierarchy; and
  • Drop counts.

Once all the required information has been shared and integrated, you can generate the following reports (boxed in yellow below) to determine planogram compliance:

DotActiv Reports to Help Determine Planogram Compliance

It benefits you to optimize floor space, shopper experience, and convenience through proper placement and positioning of products. It helps to align your strategies and goals by removing deviations, such as reducing space to poor-performing products. 

You benefit from improving your internal efficiencies and effectiveness, having better stock control levels, and maximizing space allocation for your top-performing products. You can also make informed decisions about removing or adding products based on the reports you share.

Our category planners apply their expertise in developing, maintaining, and monitoring the planogram using the mentioned reporting features. They review the planogram every quarter to a year to determine whether changes need to be made, whether issues have occurred, and the overall performance of the planogram. In short, planogram compliance.

Planogram Creation GondolaIn DotActiv Software

As for the need for database integration, it's necessary because we need to integrate our system with yours. That allows for the receiving of real-time data, saving time and money. You can use the software to cluster stores, perform product assortments, and maintain your ranges. 

Two-way integration also permits store communication due to its automation and communication back to you and your business. It allows your stores to upload images, product information, and sales data onto a portal where our category planners can review them. Moreover, it enables us to create new, review, and refresh planograms based on up-to-date information.

2. Diagnosing planogram problems with DotActiv software

We use our reporting feature to pre-analyze, analyze, and post-analyze planogram implementation through the data performance of the product of a category on a planogram. Below is the information each report contains:

  • Product, fixture, and shelf reports share all data about the products on the shelf.
  • Changes report compares a current (old) and proposed (new) planogram.
  • Plano performance provides an overall performance of the planogram; and 
  • Custom graphs share financial data contribution. 

Furthermore, DotActiv offers advanced analytical reports. These reports drill down to specific information about the category and products within the category on the planogram. They are available for DotActiv Pro and DotActiv Enterprise users.

DotActivs Advanced Analytical Reports

An example can be Custom Reports, which allows us to edit a DotActiv Reporting Template on the performance analysis. It analyses and shares information on the category analysis overall performance by Category, Subcategory, and Brand. It is compared based on the first six months and the previous six months following planogram implementation.

Each report has its own set of characteristics that reveal data about the planogram. Thus, if planogram compliance is not being adhered to, you'll notice it in the reports. For example:

  • A shelf report will specifically indicate which drop and shelf a product is not performing as intended through the days of supply and weekly movement, capacity, and facings.
  • A change report can show one of many areas such as the congestion factor. If it increases drastically, it entails that more products have been stacked closer on the shelf.  
  • A product report can show a blank row, implying a lack of consolidated data. Creating a planogram without concrete facts can end disastrously. 

DotActiv applies merchandising principles and display techniques to obtain positive and accurate reporting results. Merchandising principles are rules that explain how to place products on the shelf. The principles include:

  • General space planning principles consider positioning, size, and price of products.
  • Data-driven space planning principles refer to the number of facings and placing top performers at eye level. 
  • Fixture space planning principles are the measurements and dimensions of the product, shelves, and gondola.

In conjunction with merchandising principles, there are also merchandising equipment and methods. Merchandising equipment includes gondolas, gondola ends, pegboards, handing boards, and upright freezers that provide an accurate visual presentation of what the products will be on.

Merchandising methods refer to the flow in which the products are placed on the shelf, namely through vertical, horizontal, brand blocking, and cross-merchandising. For example, all energy drinks such as Energade, Monster, Boost, Bang, and Red Bull can be brand blocked vertically on each gondola drop.

Therefore, emphasis is placed on merchandising principles and display techniques to apply in designing an effective planogram. At DotActiv, our category planners take the initiative to account for foot traffic, top performers, customer preferences, and retail trends when developing and delivering planograms.

Specific reports aid in measuring planogram success, namely Plano Performance and Custom graphs. The Plano Performance report is a 3-page report that includes information and data on the category hierarchy and flow, sales, units, and best-performing SKUs.

Plano Performance Report in DotActiv software

The custom graph is a visual representation depicting how a category performs and contributes to sales. Additionally, it displays the Pareto principle (80% of sales come from 20% of units).

Pareto Principle in DotActiv Software

Another way to measure planogram success is through our software, Activ8. DotActiv category planners utilize Activ8, which allows us to track and monitor planogram implementation. It is an app and a tool with open communication between Dotactiv and client teams (buyers and in-store managers), allowing room to learn and improve on the category on the shelf and in-store.

It contains comprehensive images and documents stating what needs to be implemented in-store, deadlines to meet, detailed images of what has been implemented in-store, and what problems occurred during planogram implementation.

3. Delivering impact with DotActiv's Planogram Development service

DotActiv's Planogram Developments services assure planogram compliance. This service combines expertise, customization, software integration, and training to ensure a successful implementation for our clients. 

With this service package, DotActiv creates performance-enhancing and shopper-friendly planograms which reflect your latest assortments, merchandising principles, and sales performance trends.

DotActiv category planners use the information to lay out products by category. Thereafter, a flow of goods and products is created by considering which products should occupy which space within the allocated area. This can be accomplished by, for example, positioning the top performers at eye level or by arranging the larger items on the bottom shelves and the smaller items on the top shelves.

The service is for clients who need to enhance their category management capabilities to keep up with industry best practices within the scope of their business needs. It also seeks to assist clients who face retailer or company challenges related to product placement, drops, assortment, space allocation, compliance, or lacking the internal resources or expertise required for successful category management solutions.


Getting your planograms implemented on time can be tiresome. But it doesn't have to be. When you rely on professionals with decades of experience in ensuring planogram compliance, you can rest easy. Talk to a DotActiv today.


The most fundamental benefit of employing the service is to increase sales by ensuring the right products are in the right places and positioned in the right way. It is for clients who aim to become a store of choice for related categories making them category specialists through effective product placement and space allocation techniques.

You can drastically improve the performance of your stores by using our planogram development services. You can achieve that by optimizing your assortment plan, identifying consumer trends across stores, and creating planograms for each category that reflect the market trend.

You can manage planogram implementation internally by emphasizing the benefits of customization, real-time adaptability, cost efficiency, knowledge retention, and long-term sustainability. Therefore, by managing planograms or planogram implementation, you can align your merchandising strategies with your specific needs or KPIs, respond quickly to market changes, and optimize costs and sales.

Planograms increase revenue. Utilizing a planogram for your retail business means you can gather important information about how merchandise and displays function at the store level. It is one of the fundamental reasons to manage and employ DotActiv Planogram Development services.

If a brand of baby wipes is not selling at the desired rate, DotActiv category planners can offer their expertise. That includes sharing possible solutions such as cross-merchandising with diapers, having a bulk sale, or marking it down for a short period until sales rise.

We utilize a four-step process to improve category performance and efficiency when delivering our Planogram Development service. At a high level, they are:

  • Performance goals: We gather and analyze the relevant data while also defining and agreeing on goals for the category by conducting a scoping session with the contact person.
  • Initial strategy: as a type of benchmarking, we perform a pre-analysis to determine your current situation. This enables us to determine where we can make changes.
  • Plan delivery: We present the discussed, evaluated, and approved plan.
  • Performance analysis: We track and assess the implementation outcomes after a predetermined time.

Working with DotActiv Planogram Compliance Software


Planograms are much more than just pretty pictures. There is considerable value to them. If you don't implement them correctly, you won’t see the true worth of designing them. And the sole purpose of a planogram - to help you increase your sales and profits - falls away.

Are you looking for advice or need a category management solution which can help your business succeed n the competitive world of retail?

Why not book a custom complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert today to hear how we can help you, or browse through our various services and software editions on our online store?


DotActiv Team

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