The Benefits of Conducting a Retail Audit
Whether are you the manager of a large corporation or a small business owner, introducing and conducting retail audits can benefit your company. From the highest to lowest ends of the chain of command, retail audits keep your business goals in mind, as well as your field teams more organized and up-to-date.
One benefit of preparing and executing retail audits allows the store management to assess competitive pricing. Your store and its products want to remain relevant in an ever-changing market. You will see what you are charging for a product versus what your competitor is charging. When you understand your customer base and competition, you will increase sales, awareness and more over time.
Another benefit is using analyses to see your short and long-term opportunities for growth and increasing the company’s revenue.
Managing Your Retail Audit
If you’re waiting to implement your retail audit for the first time or are just looking for more ways to improve your current retail audit processes, here are some steps you could follow to ensure a seamless process:
- Schedule your audit.When you set up your audit, be sure to schedule it on a shared calendar. Whether you use a digital format, such as Google or Outlook, or in a common area, such as a board room, setting a schedule holds you and your team accountable. Scheduling your retail audit and posting it will also ensure everyone is on the same page about when things need to be complete.
- Look to the past to prepare for the present and future.As the manager, you will want to assess past audits, if any, to see if there are any patterns, advantages (certain items selling over others and revenues incurred), disadvantages (items not selling, lost inventory and more). Viewing trends, demographics, and past results help you to prepare for the audit and questions that could arise. During this time, you will also set up the questions, tasks and other collateral items for the audit. Setting up follow up items ahead of time will save you time and effort. For example, if you want to ensure that the proper price is on display, then add a price task to your assignment for completion. You can set alerts to notify the proper people if pricing results come back outside of the expected range. You could also ask for inventory quantities, photos of the stock rooms or any number of combinations.
- Figure out your method.If you are the one conducting the audit or are assigning it to your field teams, then you'll want to ensure the right submission methods are available. Some people prefer to handle retail audits solely on their smartphones, while others like a larger-screen tablet. Ensuring your field teams have access to a reliable data submission source is also important.
- Execute the audit.In many cases, companies choose to handle their retail audits internally rather than hiring an external company. This means that a manager (either regional, local or otherwise) will do a physical inspection of your store’s location. Often, the person handling the audit will begin in the parking lot and work their way inside the store. Having a flow to the process will ensure that the retail audit is efficient for both the conductor, the store and its employees.
- Take photos as documentation.It’s human nature to not include everything in the notes. After all, our minds can only process so much at one time. Take photos with a smartphone or camera to document your visit. This will also track the exceptional parts of the retail location, as well as the places within the company that needs work. Assigning photo tasks makes this a simple process. Creating a unique photo task for each area you want specifically photographed and you can compile the results instantly.
- Have a plan for problems you find.If the notes and pictures indicate that there is an issue with the retail location, have a plan for fixing those challenges. If you just report on them and do not address the problem, then the retail audit could be an expensive waste of time. We suggest using the automatic follow-up assignments to assign an issue to the appropriate employee, giving them action steps and an established completion deadline. When that deadline rolls around, you can see if the problem has been fixed or needs additional work.
- Have a witness sign off on the audit.If you are the district or local manager and are conducting the retail audit yourself or if someone else is handling it, then always have a witness sign off on the retail audit. This will provide the date, time, location, witness name, witness title and more for future reference and accountability. EasyCheck provides the simple ability to have a signature task to keep the information stored conveniently with the assignment.
- Share your findings.If applicable, you can also allow your employees to view the audit and leave valuable feedback for management. Also, share the results with your head office or anyone who needs to know the results of the retail audit. You can provide paper copies or PDFs to targeted internal and external audiences.
- Following up is crucial.If you assigned problem areas to employees, then follow up with them to assess progress. Using the simple abilities of EasyCheck to automatically assign follow-up assignments we simplify follow-ups for you. Simply set up your assignments to have the correct follow-up assignments. These follow-up assignments are as easy as your team submitting their responses and getting immediate feedback.
- Plan and schedule your next audit.Once you have completed all of the above steps, then prepare for your next retail audit. Retail is a fast-moving industry, and you don’t want your store to be left behind. Audits can help maximize sales, develop new ways to market items and see what does and what doesn’t work.
These steps, as well as knowing your business and its inner workings, will help you achieve the most success with your retail audit and overall business plan.