White Space

Planogram guide #2 – Talking White Space


Often it is the little things added together than can make a real different in Retail. Mazda perfected this with their ‘Gram Strategy’ in their car weight reduction and we believe the same principles should be applied in retail in the goal of optimising space.

How often do you talk about White Space / Dead Space? Or do you ever talk about it? Is it a known metric in your company? It’s not sexy or headline worthy however the understanding of it and the optimisation of it is vital to the continuous improvement of your retail space.

What is White Space?

White space is an ’empty space metric’ in a planogram. It simply give you a percentage of space not physically being used. In theory, space not directly driving income.

A high White Space percentage is effectively less efficient in space terms than a Low White space percentage. However, this doesn’t mean decreasing white space will necessarily drive a higher income.

How is it measured?


‘Linear White space %’ is the most commonly used metric. It gives you the % of total linear space made up of gaps between products (please see highlights in red to the right of this text).


‘Volumetric White Space %’ is least often used, however gives you the ability to understand the entire bay, by accounting for all space within a bay not being used by either a fixture or stock. This gives you a total view. This is suitable for more complex equipment such as Pegboard, tables or Freezer space.

Is there a correct white space %?

We have been asked to calculate this a number of times by our clients and there are no shortcuts to getting this data. This is not a simple calculation. It is a complex measurement that requires some broader understanding of the brand, product type and fixture. However once it is complete it gives you the essential bench mark to work from for the future.

What effects White Space?

Retail environment:

Premium brands such as Apple have lavish stores with wide/light open spaces, and merchandise very few products. In fact they have 17 in total (as was featured on the company’s website 04/10/19).

Their brand and product retail environment sets them apart in a highly competitive industry. The White Space they give is a demonstration of presence and premium quality. In this environment White Space should be maintained at a high level in the front of house however back of house in their stock room will see a very different story!

The supermarket or DIY environment however, where range is important, space is at a premium and maximisation of that White Space is a must. Relatively low margins and high turnover of products drives the retailer to require a very low % of White Space. This maximises the efficiencies internally while not alienating the customer.

Another example where White Space is squeezed is within a value proposition, TK Maxx and Primark have proved that with the right price point, a ‘compact’ feel to a shopping experience can actually drive interest and deliver a value perception and a good return on their space. They have pulled off a win win situation.

Product Type:

Each product type requires some thought – some product groups such as CCTVs or Digital cameras require human interaction with the products to be able to sell due to the complex nature of them.

Paint or Shampoo however has all the information that a consumer needs on the product itself, therefore maximising White Space can and should be achieved without frustrating or alienating your customer base.



White Space should be a metric fully understood in your retail enviroment. It is crucial to the understanding of the bigger picture and ultimately helps sweat the space better whilst driving sales, availability and overall better capacity management.

As well a supporting your optimisation goals it can also be used to compare categories and understand the impact of range changes on your space.

To conclude White Space as a metric is just another piece of the jigsaw used to piece together the most optimised, efficient planogram and don’t forget

“Data is King”

“OSP’s unique approach and delivery have provided Wolseley with the foundation, tools, and ability to build on and deliver continued success. Their skill to quickly build the necessary foundations based on business requirements, develop processes and coach individuals have catapulted Wolseley into a new era of true Customer Centric Merchandising. OSP’s ability knows no bounds.

Charles Milgate, Wolseley UK

“OSP has been providing essential ongoing support to Wyevale as it makes the significant transition to planogram all of its retail space, as a result, we have started to maximise our retail space. Their abilities, business understanding, and expertise across different platforms have supported the planogram capture of circa 70% of total SKU count so far”

Peter Aylott, Visual Merchandising Manager

“OSP’s merchandising solution revolutionised our space planning facilities. A thorough day’s training gave us all the tools to get started creating effective planograms. If we ever have any questions the support is always quick, detailed and friendly.”

Sarah Dixon, International Marketing Executive

“OSP stepped into the breach at short notice, quickly acclimatised to the business needs and delivered a superb merchandising outcome which is now being rolled out”

David Weaver, Retail Consulting & Interim Management

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Bakers Loft
Quay Street
SO41 3AS




Bakers Loft
Quay Street
SO41 3AS