New Roles in Space Planning

    Omnichannel shopping and new technology create new roles in Space Planning for retailers. Some retailers may already have them. Or they are emerging. Maybe they are shared across teams. But as Space Planning matures, new roles develop. You may decide to create FTE positions. Or fill them with contractors. On the other hand, perhaps other functional leaders will absorb them. But these new roles in space planning will be a part of most future organization plans.

    In some cases, these roles funnel work away from the “run the business” teams. Or they efficiently funnel tasks to those teams. “Run the business” teams are planogrammers and floor planners that manage standard change cycles, new store openings, remodels and reflows. They support core space planning work. Because they focus on producing accurate planograms and floor plans.

    Data Science Roles

    Let’s begin with data science, data hygiene and analytics.

    • Data Scientist – More than ever, Space Planning is a green field for data science. From ad hoc reporting to new omnichannel scorecards, data science is a new role in Space Planning.
    • Data Integrity Analyst – Keeps product and fixture libraries accurate. Documents space data and metrics for the rest of the organization.
    • Macro Space Optimization Director – Perhaps one of the most transformative roles in the company. Leads the team that identifies cross-departmental opportunities. Builds the business cases for large-scale store changes. Includes new business development and new store designs. Leads efforts to shift store space to support omnichannel shopping. Coordinates change schedules with fiscal planning. Identifies opportunity store clusters. Builds scorecarding. Cascades changes to the field. If required, could include 3D modeling and virtual reality store builder.
    • Store Innovation and Testing Manager – Leads the team that identifies test stores. Sets up merchandising tests. Creates communications to the stores. Then monitors the test results. These tests are smaller than full-scale macro space tests. Includes adjacency and merchandising changes within current business lines. Partners with business (Category Management) teams looking to change their in-store merchandising. After testing, hands over “playbooks” to the “run the business” team. Is a liaison with Category Managers and their vendors who want to test merchandising schemes.

    Integration Roles

    Secondly, as space integrates across functions, new roles arise:

    • Space/Replenishment Coordinator – Responsible for space data for shelf capacity which replenishment uses for pack out minimums. Ensures process consistency and accuracy so that space data can be relied on by other systems. Influences inventory financial planning. May influence pack sizes, delivery schedules and inventory models used by both the replenishment team and the space planning team. Leverages space data to create operational efficiencies in store deliveries that are aisle-ready.
    • Exception Store Planner – Responsible for the one-off and flagship stores that require exception merchandising. Focuses on merchandising in big stores with low sales velocity and small stores with high sales velocity.
    • Promotional Space Coordinator – Focuses on promotional planning integration with space. For both long-term and temporary display merchandising. May also include outdoor yard, parking lot and sidewalk merchandising. Responsible for merchandising direction to stores. Includes creating the work orders in support of seasonal sets for the “run the business”team. Particularly advances promotional space effectiveness analyses for future display allocation.
    • Vendor & DSD Planogram Coordinator – Manages the category captain process including onboarding, calandars, scorecards and data integrity from outside production. Manages the store-level planograms built by DSD vendors. Manages the space metrics which are a part of vendor scorecards used by Category Managers. Is the space planning lead for joint business plan negotiations with vendors when there is a space planning component.
    • 3rd Party/Contractor Coordinator – Manages resourcing for all space planning projects that require contractors. Identifies, selects and contracts with 3rd party vendors for planogram production. Trains, manages and monitors all on-and off-site 3rd party resources. Manages the budget for all space planning contractors.

    Implementation Roles

    Thirdly, are roles focused on implementation and planogram compliance. Critical for retailers who rely on space data to accurately reflect in-store condition. They may be matrixed with store operations or reside within Space Planning.

    • In store Implementation Coordinator – The key connector between store plans and implementation teams. First escalation point for store change requests, feedback and issues. Coordinates the labor budget for annual resets and planogram changes by store. Coordinates additional budget hours for incremental projects throughout the year. Maintains store-facing communication tools and issue escalation paths. Approves store-facing action plans and instructions for space planning projects.
    • In Store Compliance Coordinator – Responsible for the systems and process to measure and report on store-level planogram compliance. Identifies issues and gaps in training, instructions, operations and reporting. Finds root causes and eliminates future gaps. Provides data to promotional planning, vendor scorecards, store operations and category management to measure plan success.

    Support and Capabilities Roles

    Finally, to manage the run the business team, there are ongoing support efforts to build capabilities within the team. These specialized functions rely on the knowledge of the people embedded in the team to succeed. At any rate, these roles are different from standard run the business roles.

    • Training Lead – Onboard new hires. Create and maintain new employee and ongoing development training modules. Train the trainer or provide shoulder to shoulder coaching throughout training sessions. Focus is on systems, process and metrics. Maintains online user manuals to keep them up to date. Tracks team member training and development.
    • Space system development and user acceptance testing – Defines team needs. Then works with internal and external partners to meet those needs. Writes business user stories and works through development cycles to define and test solutions. Technical support integration point for system vendors and internal IT team. Works closely with Training lead to test and then document user manuals for new system capabilities. Keeps up to date on space system solutions in the market.

    In general, no team is probably resourced deeply enough to have each of these roles. Regardless, most retailers have someone who is responsible for all of this work. Each company must determine when there is enough work and specialized knowledge to justify creating a new role.

    But the point is, there are more responsiblities in space planning than just cranking out planograms and floor plans. In fact, those are just the price of admission. A space planning team unlocks high-value capabilities with more advanced roles.

    We’d love to hear if you think we’ve overlooked other important new roles in space planning. By all means, please add your voice. Use the comments below.