How to Read a Planogram: Tips for Decoding Retail Planograms

If you work in retail, you’re likely aware of what a planogram is. Planograms are more than just diagrams; they are a blueprint for your retail merchandising strategy. They tell you what products to place where, how many units to stock and how to arrange them visually. 

All retail departments need to understand planograms—including merchandising, marketing, finance and store operations. But planograms can only be effective if store associates and others involved in planogram execution understand how to read them.

When done correctly, executing a planogram is like building a Lego kit with clear instructions to guide you through the entire process. Visual and data elements in the planogram help you read it with ease.

Ready to learn how to read a retail planogram? Let’s get started!

What’s included with a planogram?

Planograms are one deliverable in a packet of materials that guides in-store execution of visual merchandising strategies and tactics. These deliverables work together as instructions for setting the shelves in a retail store. 

1 – Front view with product images

This view is what most people associate with planograms. It highlights product placement on shelves and displays, typically using a visual representation of the product type and brand. It allows people executing the planogram to see the visual appeal and variety of the products, as well as their alignment and orientation.

This view also shows the number of times a particular product on the shelf faces the consumer. This is known as the number of facings. For example, the far left segment of the bottom shelf shows four products with two facings (green boxes added to highlight this example). The other three  products on that shelf only have one facing.  

Teams involved in planogram execution must be aware of any packaging changes. Sometimes the product image may not match exactly what the planogram displays. To ensure up-to-date product images, mature planogram software will include methods to easily update image data.  

2 – Product view with labels

The product view with labels is one of the most important views in a planogram. It allows you to see products in your assortment without images, making it easier to focus on their attributes and relationships. 

In high-quality planogram software, labels are configurable to include specific information about each product, such as category, subcategory, UPC or other data to help organize and group the products. 

Certain products may be highlighted with colors or patterns. Highlighting brings attention to new products, discontinued products, best sellers, promotional items, seasonal items or other features. The highlighting in the example above is simply the “brand blocking,” or how much space each brand represents in the category.

3 – Fixture view


Side View



                (Slat over shelves)

This view displays the details of the fixtures without any products for the given planogram. Broadly, fixtures are the structures that hold products, such as gondolas, racks, pegboards, slat walls or coolers. Some planograms also include base decks, cooler sidewalls or pushers to ensure accurate merchandising capacity for a particular fixture or shelf. Accurate fixtures in planograms make it easier for field teams to follow the plan and avoid overcrowding or gaps.

The fixture view shows how the pieces of the fixture should be assembled, for example, to verify the number and height of the shelves. This helps field workers adjust the shelves before they place the products on them, allowing them to create a neat display that fits all products and matches the planogram.

4 – SKU listing

This view lists all the products in the planogram in order of their shelf and position. It provides a quick checklist to ensure accuracy and completeness of the product placement. 

The SKU listing shows:

  • UPC barcode: the unique product code printed on the product barcode. The barcode links the product with its data and price.
  • Brand: the name of the company or manufacturer that produces the product.
  • Description: a summary that identifies the product.
  • Size: the measurement of the product’s dimensions or volume. It indicates how much product is in the package and how much shelf space it occupies.
  • Unit of measure (UoM): expresses the size of the product in inches, ounces, grams, milliliters or any other standard unit.
  • Number of facings (NoF): the number of facings allocated for the product on the shelf. It defines how many products are displayed from left to right and how much visibility they have.
  • Number of units (NoU): the number of units stocked for the product on the shelf. This determines how many products are available for sale and how often they need to be replenished.
  • Merch, short for merchandise style, is an attribute within the product catalog that reflects different ways products can be packaged. Common merchandise styles are unit, pack, tray, case, display and pallet. For example, soda could be sold in a single can, six-pack or 24-case. The merchandise style in the image above indicates this product is sold by the “unit.”

Now that you’ve heard the basics of how to read a planogram, you can use this valuable tool to enhance your retail space. By following the planogram instructions, retailers can create a more appealing and profitable retail space and ensure consistency across locations.

Want more insights on retail store execution?

To learn more about reading planograms or to get a demo of our planogram software, contact the MerchLogix team today.
For more information on visual merchandising and space planning, read our blogs on how to make a planogram and planogram compliance.

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