The Ditch Digger

I remember getting named to my first Category Captaincy at Walmart.  What a day.  A long-time goal of our executive team to get closer to Walmart. We built our case over the years, bringing them incredibly detailed category insights and trends.  Our team made additional investments in Walmart specific shopper research to garner more consideration.  We DESERVED to be captain.


Then the day came, our competitor slipped.  Some of their recommendations were viewed as “self-serving”, their team had made some mistakes, over played their hand.  Rumor had it they raised prices and now were in the doghouse.  Didn’t matter…  We are NOW CAPTAIN.  We win all jump balls, close calls, we can really help the customer drive category strategy.  The access to the buyer will be incredible.  Our Executive Team will be proud.

Source: Pixabay

Well, the world needs ditchdiggers too...

The excitement quickly wore off when our team realized that the primary role of the Category Captain is to build Planograms – Walmart calls them Modulars. No big deal, how many modulars could Walmart really have anyway- 10 maybe 20. I’ll hire an analyst, secure my Planogramming software and I’m good. This will free me up to talk strategy, nothing to worry about. We got this!

Until… 10-20 Modulars turned into 2,221 “Store of The Community (SOTC)” unique planograms. My one analyst turned into 15 analysts! Building, Tweaking, Moving, Adjusting, Tweak some more… BRUTAL. Sitting in our “War Room”, 10PM at night, on a Friday, surrounded by some of brightest young analysts I’ve worked with, doing……. planograms! (big sigh of disappointment). We weren’t working on deep analytics to support industry leading strategy. We were, in effect, digging ditches. Instead of holes or trenches, our ditches were MODULARS. Underutilizing some of our brightest analytical minds was brutal, they didn’t ask for this either!

Source: Pixabay

Anyone NOT building store level planograms?

The answer is NO. There was a day where a predominant planogram or modular could be used to understand where we stand in terms of share of shelf and position within the category. Not today. Walmart, 4,000+ stores, 4,000+ Modulars. Same at Kroger, Circle K, Walgreens. The Retailer wants, check that, NEEDS to capture every shopper they can across their footprint. If data is telling them to make unique planograms for every store, unique planograms are what is created. The omnichannel has disrupted POG creation forever!

If you are not building every POG, your leadership is asking your team to run a comprehensive analysis of every POG for the entire chain. Ditch Digging.

Pic| PDF to POG

Ok, this is a public service announcement (PSA).  Technology is here that automates ditch digging.  It’s called PictoPOG.  The makers of EZPOG have teamed up with MAXERIENCE’s AI-Image Recognition technology to build POGS from a picture taken by your iOS or Android phone or a PDF that a retailer so graciously forwards you via their “PORTAL”. What took a “chain-gang” of 10 Category Analysts weeks to compile then analyze…. can be done in an afternoon.  

Now, Mr./Ms. Buyer, let’s talk about where the category is going….

For more information on Pic|PDF to POG contact We will be attending the 2022 CMA Conference in Orlando, FL. Stop by the booth.

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