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May 09, 2024 By Flora Delaney

Strategic Space Planning Makes Retailers Smarter


Space planners at smart retailers work across boundaries and include Space Metrics to improve financial forecasts and customer retention. The Space Planning teams contribute to promotional planning, real estate, new business development, supply chain, vendor scorecards and more. They have learned that strategic space planning helps them make better decisions.

Space Analytics can change the trajectory of a banner's sales and growth by anticipating changes - not just reacting.

You see, somewhere in your company is a person with a very large paycheck fretting over what your stores will look like in 5 years. What will they sell? What technology will power them? How will customers use that space? They probably will not realize that Space Planners have the ability to create a prototype with every scenario. Afterwards, those scenarios can help them visualize the stores. Help them see the changes in departmental space allocation that changing sales rates will create within your stores.

This change will not just happen because a CEO invites Space Planning to a strategic offsite. It is on us. We have to knock on doors. Then we have to demonstrate how to use Space Planning to foresee scenarios in the company's future. Where will space for a store within a store come from? How much could we shrink our sales floor to support stores as online fulfillment centers without disrupting customer experience?

Too often it is Merchandise Financial Planning or Strategic Planning or Marketing who are in the room leading that effort. They are trying to triangulate on the very questions that Space Planning tools are made to solve. We must help our executives understand how Space Planning can do strategic planning as well as build operational instructions.

More Than Reset Instructions

Listen, I recognize that a vast majority of space planners work to support assortment changes, promotional plans and remodels or new stores. But those activities are largely reactionary. Operational.

Space Planning is usually the downstream operator. It receives assortment transitions and builds store instructions for shelf changes. That's important. But it's just the tip of the iceberg. Smart retailers who use Space Planning in their Financial or Strategic Planning processes improve their success rates. Many retailers can plan for seasonal changes in assortments. But they need additional help when it comes to doing strategic space planning that considers all aspects of retail.

Using Space Planning means that initiatives get built from the ground up that consider differences in store prototypes, for example. That results in lowering costs, saving time and money on projects because they take store realities into account.

Space Planning leaders must educate their peers about the benefits of including store planning in retail strategies. Despite a proclaimed death of brick and mortar, studies indicate that customers still want to visit physical stores. Which means the biggest mistake a retailer can make is to neglect this important function when building strategic plans.

How to start

To begin, set aside time at your next one on one with your manager to focus on strategic plans. Then, show how Space analytics and planning can be used in early stage development to prevent problems during rollout. - Even if the examples are from other retailers.

Please share your examples of using space planning in the comments below. (Or how missing this opportunity led to preventable issues down the road!)

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