08 November 2022
08 November 2022
Retail audits enable retailers to check on the health of their stores and see how they’re operating. But the time and effort spent prepping for, carrying out, and following up on a store audit means that they come with a lot of admin-heavy baggage.
But audits will always be a key factor of successful retailing, and they don’t have to be time-consuming and labor-intensive. This guide will walk you through how to bring your retail store audits into the 21st century and make them as efficient and impactful as possible.
So, what is a store audit? Why are they necessary?
Audits protect a retailer’s image by ensuring that every store is operating in alignment with guidelines and providing the right experience for customers and employees. They evaluate how customers experience a store and enable HQ to make more informed decisions and adjustments to their retail plan.
Audits are typically focused around a specific area of retailing. Types of audit include:
Ensuring that products are displayed correctly, the store is well presented and signage is correct.
Checking that health and safety processes and standards are upheld to protect employees and members of the public.
Checking compliance with policies and processes around mimimizing theft, wastage and breaches of store security.
Analyzing the brand health of competitors and how they position themselves within the market.
The benefits of regular audits include:
Empowering store teams
Only 28% of millennial frontline employees find it easy to understand whether their work meets company standards. Audits show store teams how they’re doing, where they’re meeting targets and where they’re falling short. Knowing whether or not they’re meeting expectations builds confidence and highlights opportunities to learn or improve performance so employees can proactively contribute to business goals.
Protecting brand image
Audits ensure compliance with brand standards and policies so that customers have a consistent experience of the brand, no matter which store they visit.
Audits provide an opportunity to Identify any maintenance work that needs carrying out in a store, extra training needed for store employees or flaws in processes. This helps HQ to identify issues before they are noticed by customers.
You need to know whether your store layouts are intuitive to navigate and encourage customers to buy the products on the shelves. Audits check that stores are complying with contracts with product brands and manufacturers and assess whether products are displayed most effectively.
Health and safety
Audits ensure that legal regulations such as health and safety laws and guidelines are being upheld. This protects the safety and wellbeing of customers, employees and the reputation of the brand as a whole.
Data-driven decision making
Retailers who regularly carry out audits are able to use up to date store data to guide decision-making and improve performance. Audit data can be used to assess which processes are most effective, which new equipment to invest in, and offer targeted training recommendations to store teams based on audit feedback.
Without regular, effective audits, it’s impossible to be confident that customers are having the right experience in your stores. It puts brand reputation at risk and limits visibility into store activity, so business decisions won’t be as well-informed.
Audits fall short because:
Establish the goal of the store audit. What factors do you need to assess? Look at competitors and how they perform in the area you’re assessing and review where you want to position your brand. Then establish KPIs for targets stores should be meeting in relation to these expectations.
It’s also important to review store-specific targets. Look at the date of the store’s last audit and any comments, feedback and action points that were recorded, and ensure that these focus areas are reviewed as part of the audit.
Remote store audits take less time and when done right can be as effective as an in-person audit. Although it can be important to catch up with store teams in person from time to time, remote audits mean that more audits can be completed in less time and makes it possible to check in with stores more regularly.
You need a tool which will help you carry out effective and efficient audits. An app on a mobile phone or tablet is perfect for this, as auditors can keep detailed records in a portable format which can be sent to HQ in just a few clicks.
Ideally, you want an app which enables the user to attach photos to digital report forms which HQ can annotate and comment on to provide clear feedback. This capability is useful for loss-prevention, as HQ can see where commonly stolen or damaged products are placed within the store, and for merchandising to ensure that displays and signage are correctly set up.
Image recognition capabilities are also useful to recognize product labelling and packaging and see immediately if products are being displayed correctly.
The tool you choose should give you access to all audit data in one place.
Use the chosen auditing tool to create standardized templates for report forms. Forms should include checklists, open questions and open spaces for general comments to give HQ a full picture of how a store is performing. It’s crucial that audit report forms are scannable but allow auditors to provide extra detail where necessary.
Reports should be digital, as paper forms are easily lost or damaged, whereas digital forms can be accessed by employees on multiple devices.
4. Track progress in real-time
The right tool should allow the auditor to assign action plans and track completion directly through the app in real-time, sending automated reports to managers and relevant stakeholders.
It’s important to make the most of store data, so your chosen tool should make it easy to analyze audit data by store, region and country so HQ can evaluate compliance and performance and recognize patterns. It should be possible to integrate audit data with other KPIs like sales and training data.
Streamlining data in this way highlights recurring issues or consistently strong performers, making it possible to identify root-causes in order to put support plans in place or replicate successes.
The best way to re-vamp your retail audit process is with an all-in-one digital workplace app that provides HQ with full visibility across the store network in the most efficient possible way.
Find out more about how digitizing your retail audits with YOOBIC gives your field and area teams the tools they need to help each store perform its best.
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