In a highly competitive environment it’s critically important for the retailers to plan and apply coordinated strategies. To assess success a retail strategy needs to be regularly monitored, evaluated and revised if necessary. Regular retail audits allow to investigate a company's goals and strategy and also give you a reading on customers’ reactions to your product that translate into their satisfaction and loyalty.
A retail audit checklist allows you to organize your walk-through. You should not forget that this is just one element of a retail auditing strategy as an ongoing, integrated process of interrelated steps. Therefore retail audit checklists should be created considering all the stages of a typical retail audit process. So before building a retail audit checklist make sure that you took into account the following steps.
The first step is to decide who will be responsible for retail audits performance. Retail audits can be conducted using a company’s workforce, or they can be outsourced. Both ways have their own strengths and weaknesses. In first case due to the lack of experience a company can face the inaccuracy of performance standards, the collection of incorrect data, the time commitment and the unexperienced management.
The second option is to use the services of third-party organizations (advertising, marketing, consulting and BTL agencies) to organize retail-auditing process for you company. The disadvantages of this option are the costs, the poor cooperation between managers, loosing part of retail audit data, fraudulent reports, time gaps between a store visit and appropriate company's actions.
Keep in mind that the development of mobile technology allows companies to conduct their own retail audits with highly professional approach to the auditing process. Gathering audit data using retail audit software allows retailers to conduct retail audits in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
The second step is to determine when and how often retail audits are conducted. The schedule of visits can vary greatly from one company to another and is determined by the specific of each organization’s business processes. Retail audit software allows companies easily organize the schedule of visits for any period of time and improve your field team bottom-line by reducing their time traveling to appointments, planning routes and accessing information.
The third step is setting the areas to be audited. Decide on the type of audit and determine its purposes. Type of an audit determines the content of the retail audit checklist tasks and questions. It can be a store interior audit, a merchandising audit, a safety audit, a loss-prevention audit and so on. A horizontal audit covers a retailer's overall strategy and performance issues. A vertical audit allows to evaluate in detail one element of a company's strategy.Tasks included in the list can cover the following issues:
- Merchandising (in-store location, the number and positions on shelf facings, price compliance, stock availability and etc.).
- Quality of service
- Store equipment
- Promotions and POS-materials
- Storage conditions
The fourth step is actually developing audit tasks. Consider the retail audit checklist’s basic information, including task titles, store name and location, field reps names, data forms. Keep in mind, that you can automate store visits basic information using retail audit software. In this case all information is derived from the corporate database and the schedule for field reps is built using customized tasks for each visit.
Think out questions and tasks for field reps. Group questions into tasks and set up retail audit checklist according to the natural course of the visit (from the store window through the isles to the back of store and inventory) to save time.
To clearly define the desired results of retail visits illustrate the tasks if possible. Up-to-date retail audit software allows you to communicate clearly with your reps attaching images, PDFs, videos and multimedia materials to task templates. You can also provide different types of answers for retail audit tasks including photo-report, text, number, multiple-choice answer, and electronic signature.
The fifth step of the retail auditing process is performing the audit. Today you can perform retail store audits with ease using just your tablet or smartphone. Most field representatives already have one of these devices so you don't need to spent money on hardware or software license purchase. Simply have them upload a retail audit app with a customizable retail audit forms, and start receiving real-time, highly accurate retail audit data.
Adopting retail audit software provides automating store data collection using mobile devices, minimizing mistakes and avoiding awkward data re-entry.
The sixth step is reporting results to management.
Fraudulent check-ins by field merchandisers and reps is one of the most common issues faced by the business and up until recently difficult to deal with, since noticing something wrong meant going in detail through loads of paperwork. Retail audit software virtually eliminates fraudulent check-ins among retail audit teams by allowing supervisors to track and monitor each field rep's activities in real time and by GPS and time-stamping every activity.
Retail audit software solutions provide team leaders with an opportunity to receive instant reports and manage operational priorities in real time. The web-based dashboards and reports help you identify productive employees and perform workflow analysis, taking informed strategic decisions using reliable up-to-date data.
To learn more about how to automate your retail audits visit www.visitbasis.com.
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