Best Practices for Remote Store Visits & Audits in the COVID-19 Era

08 September 2020

Store visits & audits

With travel considerably limited and people being encouraged to work from home wherever possible, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all workplaces to adapt. And for area managers, the usual routine of constantly hopping between retail site visits just isn’t an option right now.

Thankfully, the power of technology is here to save the day. With a remote store visit, area managers can still gain a comprehensive overview of every store without having to put themselves, store teams or customers at greater risk.

RELATED: 6 Reasons to Start Using Remote Retail Store Visits Post COVID-19

We recently hosted a webinar on this very topic, but if you missed it, fear not - here’s a rundown of the 5 best practices we recommend when implementing your own remote store visit procedure.

And if you’d like to catch up on the full webinar, you can access the full recording on-demand below:

Remote Store Visits: Why and How to Use Them in the Covid Era

1. Don’t copy your usual site visit report

Store teams are under immense pressure right now. If going into work isn’t stressful enough in itself, they now also have to get to grips with strict health guidelines, a decrease in foot traffic, far fewer staff and a whole host of new procedures and tech.

So if they’re going to have increased involvement in store visit procedures, it’s important to ensure it’s quick and easy for them to complete. Make it concise, make it easy to follow, and give store teams the necessary support to complete store visits competently and confidently.

Top Tip: Only take the most important elements from your usual report. Trimming the fat on your store visit checklist not only helps out your store teams, but is also a great way of taking stock and streamlining your processes.

2. Include photos and videos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is certainly true when it comes to store visits.

Photos and videos help field managers visualize the store, even when they can’t physically be there. And if the store teams carrying out the audit are able to annotate and comment on the photos they send (like they can with YOOBIC), it will give field teams even greater insight into store compliance.

Top Tip: Ask for a photo or video report every week or 2 weeks, like our client, French fashion retailer Jennyfer.

3. Include open-ended questions

Have you ever filled out a form and found that none of the available options quite match up with what you want to say? Us too.

Adding some open-ended questions into visit reports helps store teams better communicate what is actually happening in-store, whether it’s issues, challenges or successes. This is especially important now that face-to-face communication is so limited. While a written visit report will never be the same as a real conversation, it can at least give your teams the opportunity to flag up anything that doesn’t fit into a multiple-choice box.

Top Tip: Include a question such as, “What were your tops and flops this week?”

4. Give feedback

The key to improvement is receiving constructive feedback, and if you want to boost adoption of the remote store visit procedure, it’s essential to provide your store teams with plenty of it.

Comprehensive, detailed feedback - as opposed to short, indecipherable comments with no further explanation - shows store teams that their efforts have not gone unnoticed, and that they have the guidance and support they need to do better every day.

Enabling area managers to explain their comments in more detail, as well as opening up the discussion to issues not covered in the report, also helps maintain a little of that human interaction that teams are trying so hard not to lose.

Top Tip: Share resources and training modules with your store teams to help them improve.

5. Give shout-outs!

Sometimes we can be so focused on improving our stores and figuring out how to achieve our goals that we forget one crucial thing: congratulating a job well done.

Showing your appreciation for top-performing stores makes your store teams feel valued and rewarded for their hard work. It also inspires the stores that have room for improvement to work harder, and therefore increases adoption of remote store visits across your network.

Top Tip: Create a challenge and reward the 3 stores with the highest scores.

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Remember - if you missed this webinar the first time around, you can watch it in full here.

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