In 1953, American industrial chemist Norm Larsen sought to develop a formula to prevent corrosion by displacing water. Leading a team of three employees at the Rocket Chemical Company in California, Larsen and his team finally discovered the famous formula after 40 attempts. “The company founded in 1953, produced at the time a unique product to remove the humidity that accumulated in rocket engines,” explained Damien Tillet, marketing manager, WD-40 Company France. “When we released the product in aerosol format, clients quickly realized that it can solve a variety of other problems including lubrication, protecting metals from rust and corrosion, and eliminating rust or other residue from just about any object. The product was so popular, the company changed its name in 1970 to WD-40, which stands for Water Displacement, 40th,” he said.
WD-40’s blue and yellow can has since become an integral part of the company’s brand image. “WD-40 is distributed in 176 countries. Our clients are our resellers that cater either to the general public via retailers that include sporting goods stores, supermarkets and hardware stores, or to professionals through automotive, agricultural wholesalers or construction industry suppliers,” Tillet said. “Our challenges are to increase our flagship product’s market penetration, promote our brand through our other product lines, and in general grow our business. Although many end-consumers easily recognize our product through its distinctive blue and yellow can, it wasn’t enough to attract their attention when they were walking through the store. We needed effective category management with more control over the way resellers present our products to improve recognition and create across-theboard consistency. Although we have been using category management software for a few years to place our family of lubricants in stores throughout France, we were nevertheless hindered by the tool’s limits when we set our sights on a bigger European market. We not only needed to create planograms that our sales force can use to easily illustrate our vision and philosophy to our retailers, we also wanted to provide them with the right level of service and technical assistance to help them implement our recommendations.”
To help WD-40 design the most effective merchandising strategy for each retailer, WD-40 adopted Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE® platform and its Perfect Shelf industry solution experience. Now, WD-40 uses virtual technology from Perfect Shelf to engage with retailers to develop a new vision for its line of products. “By defining the best product, category and shelf-space approach, we knew we could optimize growth and brand revenue at the point of sale,” he said.
Establishing the best category management planograms is good; deploying them in the field and convincing stores to apply them is better. That’s the value of Perfect Shelf.
Perfect Shelf allows WD-40 category managers to create a realistic store environment in 3D, complete with aisles, shelves, and product lines. “Now, our planograms are more visual, which enables us to give stores a clearer idea of what we mean and to work collaboratively to adopt our category management proposals,” Tillet said. “We can easily tailor our planograms to their store’s configuration and rapidly propose different merchandising options as a function of their space constraints as well as consumer profiles and shopping preferences. The retailers’ category managers can be immersed in their virtual store, which allows them to take an active part in the layout of our products complete with lighting, signage, display widths and heights. And because some retailers may not be using Perfect Shelf, the Dassault Systèmes solution comes with a feature that can convert a Perfect Shelf planogram into one that is compatible with the retailer’s planogram software. The opposite is also true: Planograms from third party software can be converted into Perfect Shelf planograms. This flexibility is greatly appreciated,” he said.
“Moreover, Perfect Shelf is fast and easy to use, as compared to our previous software that produced black and white layouts with lists of data that defined which products will be placed where,” he said. “Typically printed out on paper, we would have to flip through each plan and decode where and how the products were supposed to be laid out. With Perfect Shelf, we can pull up a full 3D color view of the planogram on a tablet while in the store with the retailer and right away they understand where and how to present our products. This visual shortcut helps get things done more quickly, which lowers the overall cost of setting up and choosing the right merchandizing approach before physical implementation. We can even model virtual shoppers with Perfect Shelf to visualize how they might interact with the product in the proposed layout. In all these respects, 2D planogram systems simply do not make the grade.”
Visiativ Retail (formerly Kalista), a Dassault Systèmes business partner, was instrumental in helping WD-40 make the switch from its previous solution to Perfect Shelf. “We have a longstanding relationship with Visiativ Retail and trust them completely to advise and guide us as we move forward with this solution. This is because they are professionals with an intuitive sense of the business. Without Visiativ Retail, we would have never made the move from our previous software to Perfect Shelf. As we explore the many facets of this solution, we will undoubtedly continue to leverage their expertise and we know they will do everything in their power to satisfy us throughout our journey,” Tillet said.
WD-40 chose the cloud-based version of Perfect Shelf, which offers many advantages such as not requiring any infrastructure, data storage investments or IT skills for an overall lower total cost of ownership. The cloud environment also allows users to design their planograms from anywhere using only an Internet connection and to share them with other European merchandising teams. “The 3DEXPERIENCE platform offers a collaborative environment that allows our teams to easily work with other European subsidiaries as well as retailers in our ecosystem. They can share ideas and merchandising strategies that work well so that they can be replicated and deployed in low performing sectors,” Tillet said.
Damien Tillet has high hopes for Perfect Shelf. “Since deploying the solution, feedback from the sales force is positive,” he said. “They find it much more efficient and effective to promote their category management proposals to retailers especially when referencing new products. Perfect Shelf’s engaging approach helps promote new innovations much faster. And by bringing the reseller’s merchandising department into the loop earlier, they feel more involved and provide more pertinent feedback. My wish is for all our subsidiaries in Europe to use Perfect Shelf to create and promote their 3D planograms to the retailers in their sector. This will help increase the number of points of sale that buy into our category management proposals. Coming up with the best planograms is good; deploying them in the field and convincing stores to apply them is better. That’s the value of Perfect Shelf,” Tillet concluded.
Global manufacturer of lubricants for maintenance, homecare and cleaning
Products: WD-40 multi-use product, WD-40 Specialist, WD-40 Specialist Motorbike, WD-40 Bike, 3-IN-ONE, GT-85
Employees: 440 worldwide Headquarters: San Diego, California, USA
For more information: www.wd40.fr
A subsidiary of Visiativ Group with 25 years of customer experience, Visiativ Solutions enables industrial companies to drive innovation, increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve quality through the integration and resourceful use of innovative technology solutions. It delivers tailor-made support to businesses, helping to facilitate their digital transformation and build new experiences for their entire ecosystem.