space & assortment structure planning

Whether your retail involvement comes from a field based visual perspective or from a head office commercial perspective stores can often disappoint, both in terms of the visual perception and the financial reality.

Whilst there will be opportunities for improvement in both store and head office processes,  it is often the integration of the two where the problems lay and in particular the relationship between space planning on the ground and assortment planning in the merchandising processes.



The biggest problem quite often is related to too much or too little “stuff” which becomes a nightmare for store personnel and a barrier to engagement and purchasing for customers. For sure, no amount of visual merchandising planning and delivery can work effectively when the volume of options and units is not controlled, planned for, and delivered. Precious “rates of sale” are affected adversely both through the confusion and chaos caused by too many options, or the monotony and repetition, the result of too few options and too high unit depth.

The solution initially lays in working with the correct space KPIs. Densities per square metre are an essential commercial benchmark, whilst densities per linear metres are a necessity for creating customer focused propositions that can be displayed with impact in the store. If you’re not working with both of these then that is where the integration process begins to fall apart.

Beware the curse of “spread-sheet” retailing where excel sheets in the safety of head office silos may well tell the correct square metre story but give no consideration to how any store should be controlled from a linear metre perspective. And linear metres are what the customer sees, reacts to and buys from. The conversion of square metre commerciality into linear metre emotionality is a lost art in the dark sciences of sales performance generation.

Linear metre displays are essential for many reasons both to buyers and merchandisers, store display teams and ultimately customers.



They allow displays to be created with correct commercial parameters. Not only option and unit density but the appropriate balance of image makers, best sellers and basics; high and low margin products; category balances and assortment attributes from colour, size or materials.

Linear metres also allow display rhythms, balance and techniques to be used that are appropriate to product positioning and strengthen an emotional customer perception. There are different visual tools to be considered when untying the purse strings of the traditional or the trend customer.

The third and ultimate objective of working with linear metres is the goal of “buying for space.” Working throughout the integrated retail process in “linear metre blocks” allows customer propositions to be bought, delivered and displayed in every single store because whilst “every store is different, every linear metre is the same!”

Don’t think you’re alone in having so many variations of store size and dimensions but do consider that the integration of your space planning and assortment planning processes may well be out of line with best practice.

Only the correct combination of square metre and linear metre planning, integrated with assortment blocking and buying for space, leads to an effective store grading system where every shop is visually powerful whilst being commercially successful, weak after week, month after month. A situation where fast selling stores are fed healthily for maximum sales, whilst slow selling stores are starved to avoid markdown all begins with a careful consideration of both square metre and linear metre densities.

Avoid the delivery of flat shopping experiences. Store space is 4-dimensional – an essential consideration of our retail processes.


Our expert workshops:
Store Space Planning & Assortment Planning workshops:

VM-Unleashed’s 1-day workshop discusses all areas in the delivery of attractive & profitable stores through best practice store space planning & assortment structure planning and the integration between functions.

It is personalised to the audience, to the sector and to the job function and objectives of the retailer team present, however most benefit is achieved from an attendance from across retail departments and essentially buying & merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, space planning, commercial, sales and store operations teams.

The workshop process can also include a day of client store visits and discussions leading to a review in the workshop of the client’s stores, as well as reviews and reference to competitors and current international best practice stores. The workshop itself is a combination of visual stimulation and process insights.

Every workshop is written and delivered to be as relevant and productive for each client as possible including both individual and team exercises and discussions.

The typical agenda is as below, waiting your personal additions and requirements:

    • Principles behind space & assortment planning integration
    • Buying for space
    • Breakdown of assortment by category and collection
    • Range structure leading to display criteria
    • Square metres and linear metres
    • Space conversion – sqm to linear metres
    • Space blocks & product stories
    • Store grading and assortment grading
    • KPI measurement related to space
    • Planning a multi-category store

Different modules can be combined to create personalised workshops.

For more information:
+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
Space Planning & Visual Merchandising Audits

“How can I improve sales performance by better planning my space, allocating and managing my assortment, displaying my product and improving customer interaction & touchpoints?”


Detailed measurement and comparison of selected store attributes from space allocation to display techniques, from store props to visual communication


    • Identifies problems with inconsistencies across the client chain
    • Identifies the processes & disciplines required to improve consistency
    • Identifies opportunities to improve to achieve best practice
    • Identifies where investment should be focused for maximum visual impact and return
    • Identifies general and specific strengths/weaknesses across departmental disciplines


    • Selected client store visits and best practice competitor stores
    • Remote analysis, answers and action plan
    • Client presentation workshop

For more information click the link
Space Planning & Visual Merchandising Audits
+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
Assortment structure & architectures benchmarking

“How do I assess where the commercial opportunities are in my current assortment structure, the pricing & colour architectures, the fashion positioning and the product design?”


A combination of commercial self-analysis and quantitative market benchmarking to highlight “quick-win” and “longer-term” commercial improvements in the assortment

    • assessment of “The Big 10″ assortment attributes
    • bestseller & worst seller reviews and analysis
    • sales performance analysis by category and range
    • competitor benchmarking of price, colour and assortment structure
    • analysis of client and best practice assortment parameters
    • analysis of client positioning on entry price, average price, exit price, price clustering, most common price and number of price points
    • comparison of fashion position/end-use against sales
    • comparison of colour structure, base colours, seasonal and accent colour
    • analysis of size architecture and potential lost sales


    • Identify in a quantitative way clear opportunities to increase sales & profit, increase % best sellers, retain margin whilst reducing markdowns, reducing % worst sellers and removing poor perceptions
    • identify where to buy improved assortment structure
    • identify correct price points and architecture
    • identify correct colour & pattern architecture
    • identify correct fashion position & end-use focus for assortment by category
    • instigate “quick-win” price adjustments
    • modify buying/product selection for upcoming seasons


    • Interviews with HQ and buying & merchandising team
    • assortment reaction through customer research and exit polls
    • KPI analysis by department, category and sku
    • Best seller and worst seller product reviews
    • Assortment parameter benchmarking – structure, architectures & positioning
    • Quantitative and qualitative best practice competitor benchmarking

For more information click the link
Assortment structure & architectures benchmarking
+44 (0)7967 609849


Whether you are an established player, or a new kid on the retail block, we can probably help improve your efficiency, your expertise, your store delivery and of course your sales performance and profitability.

I look forward to hearing your questions, whether large or small.

Always expert and easily accessible.

Thank you.
+44 (0)7967 609849

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>