Creating an effective and data-driven retail execution strategy is something that all brands should do to ensure the success of their retail stores.
These execution strategies should be based on valuable data and information that you can gather by utilizing retail audits for all of your stores.
Making use of retail audits is the best way for a merchandiser to gather important field data that will affect the health of your company and its products as well.
So, what exactly is a retail audit?
A retail audit is a study of selected retail outlets that can be done by store employees or brand representatives to collect information and data about the health of certain products.
This audit is like a wellness check for a specific brand in the marketplace. Retail audits collect data like out of stock, planogram compliance, visual merchandising, and more.
The result of a retail audit will be a report that includes valuable information and insights about the performance and health of a specific brand in your store.
A well-executed retail audit lets businesses collect on-ground store data which can provide a better understanding of potential barriers to growth and what strategies are needed to address them.
Why Are Retail Audits Important?
Now that you have a deeper understanding for what retail audits are, here are some reasons why they are important:
1. Retail audits can maximize sales and market share.
Having real-time retail audit data gives businesses the opportunity to make rapid adjustments merchandising, shelf locations, and planograms based on feedback from consumers.
Retail audits can also collect competitive intelligence data which can empower teams to make quick decisions based on competitive trends and predictive behavior.
All of these benefits that can be obtained by utilizing retail audits can help you optimize your sell-through and expand market share because of your adept movement in the marketplace.
2. Retail audits help with improving compliance in the stores.
Marketing and sales teams of stores tend to devote a lot of time to working on planograms, signages, merchandising, and more. However, the lack of planogram compliance alone loses millions of dollars in sales individually for store retailers.
Retail audits can be used to examine the retail compliance of stores with placement, pricing, and promotional agreements between the brands and the retailer.
Compliance ensures that a retail store can effectively measure the results of certain product campaigns, SKU arrangements, marketing signages, and more.
3. Retail audits can help retail stores become more financially efficient.
In retailing business, it is important to carefully control your financial investments. Most of the time, not having enough or the right analysis of retail results will lead to overproduction of in-store equipment or even the supply of the inappropriate equipment.
Both of these possibilities become unnecessary financial costs that will burden retailers. However, this situation can be avoided when you utilize a retail audit for your stores.
By conducting a retail audit while also compiling accurate data store-specific information, brands can make sure that the equipment will always be supplied to their stores in the correct amount and is fit-for-purpose.
4. Retail audits can also improve and optimize the experience of customers.
Retail audits help brands monitor and measure the success of their retail efforts by analysing the experience of shoppers with their products in a retail store.
Using retail audits helps brands identify important information like the time it takes to find their products and the scarcity or abundance of its stock. When they can address any concerns, shoppers will have a better experience with their products.
4 Key Data Categories to Collect During Retail Audits
Now that you have learned about why these audits are important, here are the four important data categories that a business should collect during retail audits:
1. Location Data
It is common to encounter information gaps in emerging markets because of insufficient on-ground resources for retail stores.
The collection of data based on location provides peace of mind as it ensures accurate communication about merchandising, compliance, and the distribution of products.
2. In-Store Data
In-store data is the most essential that can be gathered when utilizing retail audits for your stores.
This includes information about product placement, inventory levels, merchandising quality, share-of-shelf, planogram compliance, and product location.
3. Demographic Data
Demographics data involves information like store conditions, neighborhood descriptions, and street views.
All of these can help brands paint a more holistic view of the actual physical location of the stores that are distributing their products.
4. Competitive Intelligence Data
Competitive intelligence data provides data that assesses the in-store performance of your competitor’s products.
Analyzing this data provides a benchmark that you can use to evaluate the performance of your brand in relation to how your competitors are faring in stores as well.
How to Increase Retail Audit Efficiency
With a deeper understanding of what types of data that can be gathered from utilizing retail audits, here are 5 ways you can increase your retail audit efficiency:
1. Make sure to set clear and specific goals for your retail audits.
To make sure you get the best and most relevant information from your retail audits, you have to set clear and specific goals before you start the audit.
This helps you figure out what you want to accomplish as well as identifying the specific products and areas that may require extra attention during the retail audit.
2. Select an appropriate schedule for the retail audit.
Another important factor to consider to make your retail audits more efficient is deciding on an appropriate schedule for when it can be held in your stores.
You have to choose a schedule that will give everyone enough time to complete the audit without disrupting the experience of the customers inside the store.
The best time to do this is during slow times when there is enough staff to finish the audit and still be able to maintain regular business.
3. Choose the right retailers to sample.
The efficiency of your retail audits relies on having the most valuable and relevant data from your stores. This means that you should also focus on choosing the right retailers to sample for the audits.
You want to look at locations that are based on size, category, region, and others. Once you have a store format selected, make your samples as random as possible so you can ensure a healthy data set that you can analyze later on.
4. Do not forget to include photos in retail audits.
Including photos that are taken in real time during retail audits provides you with accurate and authentic documentation of how shelves and products look during an audit.
When those that are tasked to perform retail audits can take photos to report, it becomes easier for them to explain what exactly is the store situation during the audit. This allows management teams to take immediate and appropriate action.
5. Select the right tools to use for these audits.
Two important elements that are needed for a more efficient retail audit are the right app or software and right device to use to gather, aggregate, and report all of your information.
Make sure that you have a dedicated merchandising app that is capable of collecting and reporting multiple types of data and can also take notes and photos. These apps should be used with either a smartphone or tablet as they are more convenient to use on-ground.
As long as you use the right merchandising software, you will be able to have more efficient and optimized retail audits.
If you are looking for a mobile merchandising software that will help make your retail audits more efficient, then you should take a look at the Optim Merchandising app.
With Optim Merchandising, you will be able to gather all the necessary and relevant information that you will need for your retail audits. It also includes a lot more features that will make your retail experience a lot easier.