Implementing a retail audit process is neither time-consuming nor difficult. It is perhaps one of the easiest things an operations/sales team can do to boost in-store execution, customer satisfaction and sales. Here is how you can implement a retail audit process in five steps:
Step 1: Let’s Pause. do you need retail audit software?
Asking a retail audit software vendor whether you need automation software may be like asking a shoe salesperson whether you really need shoes. If your retail chain is small, have no problem stores and/or no franchisees, you may not need it.
If you are already using paper-based or excel audits regularly, consider how the time you save with automation could be invested into other areas of the business!
What are you waiting for?
Step 2: Build an audit form or checklist
There is a science and an art to building a form for retail audits and inspections. This form should encompass the service, merchandising, safety and loss-prevention standards you need your stores to uphold. These are the standards that define and protect the brand, that drive sale and cut costs and shrink.
A complete overview of considerations and best practices for building a retail audit checklist is available at How to Build A Retail Audit Checklist.
Step 3: Launch the form on a small scale with a small group and “calibrate” the form and the team
The purpose of calibration is to vet and tweak the form(s) with a sample group of users and stores prior to general launch.
A complete discussion of the purpose, benefits and some best practices for calibrating forms is available at Retail Audit Calibration – Purpose and Best Practices.
Step 4: Determine whether you need to buy or build your retail audit software
Now that you’ve seen how effective a regular store audit can be, you may want to consider your own form of automation.
The factors that need to drive your decision are your costs, your return on investment, your time-to-market and the value and benefits that you will derive from the software you chose. A complete discussion on the economics of buying vs building your audit tool is available at Retail Audit Software: Buy vs Build.
Whatever you do, we do not recommend using Excel and email. When used for brand standards and execution, Excel is slow, labor-intensive and error-prone.
Step 5: Deploy and track results
Deploy the program to your stores, record results, tracks trends and observe the positive impact on your sales and customer satisfaction. Retail audits have known and documented benefits that significantly exceed their costs.
A discussion of the benefits of retail audits is available at Who Benefits From Retail Audits?
That’s it. As we said in the introduction to this article, implementing a retail audit process is neither time-consuming nor difficult. Leverage the expertise of retail audit process and software experts and take your retail audit process and your sales to the next level!
OTHER RETAIL AUDIT AND INSPECTION RESOURCES
Refer to the Retail Audits and Inspections category for how-tos and best practices for retail audits and inspections.