The anatomy of a product facing

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No matter how a CPG wants to track their perfect store KPIs, one metric will always be relevant to their success: facings. A simple concept that carries so much weight when it comes to making a sale, facings always need to be in the back of your mind. Let’s jump into why.
The anatomy of a product facing

What is a product facing?

The basic answer here would be that a product facing is simply the front of one of your products. Much like a human face has your eyes, nose, mouth etc., you would assume that a product face contains the essentials too, such as your logo, brand name and picture. 

However, while this is true, the real depth of what a facing means for CPGs goes way beyond that.

When you talk about facing in reference to offline sales, what you really mean is:

  1. The orientation of your product that is visible to consumers
  2. The number of products that are displayed at the right orientation


In an ideal world, your facings would all be displayed as instructed in your planogram and your share of shelf would make up the majority. The sad fact is that for most CPGs, that doesn’t happen very often.

A killer KPI combo

On your mission towards perfect store execution, you know that there’s certain KPIs that you need to track. Each one of these has several different subcategories, but product facings tend to make an impact regardless of what you’re tracking.

On-shelf availability

Understanding this KPI involves tracking stock levels, including out of stock, SKU presence and stock levels at peak time. Product facings are obviously key to this, and you cannot work out a change in stock level without knowing your baseline – and we don’t mean what’s in your planogram.

On-shelf visibility

This has shelf facings written all over it. Something that is vital to track if you want to get an accurate view of your visibility, product facings sit hand in hand with share of shelf, planogram compliance, hand and eye level etc.

Promotional compliance

This KPI is on-shelf availability and on-shelf visibility wrapped up in one for a very specific purpose. Of course, to monitor your share of promotion, display presence and the presence of competitor SKUs, calculating your number of product facings is essential.

Perfection isn’t easy

Whether you’re using a manual method or image recognition to track and calculate your number of facings, you’ve got to be prepared to give a little leeway.

As mentioned above, we all wish for the perfect shelf scenario, but compromises need to be made when the situation calls for it. Retailers will do the best they can to follow your plan, but sometimes their changes can make it tricker to calculate your number of facings.

For example, if the size of your product isn’t compatible with the size of the shelf, one item may be turned on its side to make sure it fits. Do you count this as a facing? If not, then that may translate into an error when it comes to tracking other metrics such as stock levels. If so, then your on-shelf visibility may be skewed. 

This is a tough line to cross. Miscalculations can lead to a loss of money through overstocking or a poor customer experience, so while tracking is vital, you need to use a reliable, accurate method. When done correctly, analysing your product facings can lead to a significant increase in ROI.

Knowledge is power

If CPGs want products to have a competitive edge in their category, they need to monitor their number of facings – this is a fact. While it can be daunting to get it wrong, chances are that with the right technology, you won’t have a problem. 

Much of the issue with tracking facings comes from human error, so manning your field reps with either a counting aide or an alternative method will boost your confidence tenfold. This is why image recognition has become such a power player within offline retail. You can trust what you can see, which is almost the same thought process that goes into product facings in the first place.

Once you’ve got this SKU down, the sky is truly the limit.

If you would like to learn more about data sources and technologies for retail execution, you can read the full outlook in our white paper “Perfect Sales Execution: The ultimate guide to data sources and technologies” here.

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