The answer to these questions requires a deeper dive into what PG can do and what it takes to learn to use this tool.
What can the software do?
Planogram Generator is an automation tool that enables the efficient mass production of store-specific or clustered planograms. PG can handle the complex merchandising of a broad range of products on a variety of fixtures.
If we consider the varying types of products that are in the CPG market, the different packaging these products come in, the abundant types of fixtures you can place them on, and the various scenarios and strategies in which categories can be merchandised, then you can get a picture of how versatile and powerful this tool is.
The driving force behind how PG generates and makes decisions is directly related to the data it’s using and the user defined action list (merchandising rules & instructions). If your data is bad and/or your action list is not written well you will not achieve the results you are hoping to.
While it is true that an action list can be written to handle very specific and complex merchandising situations, it can also be used in a simplistic way. An action list does not have to be advanced to yield results. Remember that PG is an automation tool, so an action list containing 2 – 3 simple actions can still be used to generate thousands of planograms. Just think about all of the hours, days, and possibly weeks that it would take to build this many planograms manually.
So is Planogram Generator complicated? My answer is that PG is as simple as it can be given all that it is able to accomplish. There is no other solution in the industry that can do what PG can do while allowing the user to have complete control over merchandising actions. If you are just beginning to use PG start slow, don’t use it in a complicated manner. As your understanding of the tool grows, your usability of it will grow as well.
What does it take to learn to use it?
Before I came to Cantactix I ran a space management department where we utilized PG every day. Over the years I hired and trained dozens of space planners, some of which I trained to use PG. There is a specific reason why I only trained “some” to use PG.
Here were my personal qualifications for that training to begin:
- General software and computer savviness. A good gauge that I would use is Microsoft Excel skills and how quickly they learned space planning.
- Be an advanced space planning user. You should know how to manipulate facings, reorient products, add and move shelves, understand xyz coordinates, and use property lists. Know what to do to fix most warnings.
- Understand the object hierarchy, merch settings, and the uses of different fields (desc, value, flags). Be able to at least build basic tables, highlights, labels.
There are also different levels of PG to learn. Understanding what a template and target is and how to follow the steps to generate planograms, is easier to comprehend than how to build an action list.
As stated earlier, a simple action list can be used to take advantage of the automation aspect of the software. But in order to fully take advantage of all that PG can do, your action lists need to gradually become more advanced. This will involve learning and testing more actions as well as utilizing formulas within your actions. Learning to use the different functions that are available is critical to formula building.
So, is PG difficult to learn? Learning the software requires a certain skill set and savviness. In my experience, unfortunately, not everyone can learn PG, at least not to its full capabilities. Most people should be able to learn the process of generating in order to take advantage of the automation capabilities. But learning to write advanced action lists is the dividing line. When you set out to learn action lists start slow and simple. Add additional actions and test generate to see if you’re getting the results you expect.
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