It is Time to Abandon Excel for Brand Standards

When we went paper less, we all assumed we’d magically become more efficient. Whiz-bang, look at us saving data!

However, you can be just as inefficient with technology as you can without. Capturing data electronically does not, in and of itself, make it efficient.

To make matters worse, multi-unit operators now collect more data about their locations than ever before. Sales, complaints, brand standards, seasonal programs…It all adds up.

District manager retail audit in a store with a tablet

Have you seen the following scenario play out? An Excel, Word or PDF template is emailed and filled-out at store level. This template is sent back and stored. Formulas and human sweat equity are used to summarise data and attempt to extract information. This is very labor intensive, slow and error prone. Is there not a better way?

Excel was not designed for this. It a spreadsheet program, it excels (pun intended) at calculating and compiling numeric values. It is not a field data capture tool, it is not a workflow engine.

It is time to abandon Excel for brand standards, period.

Can you do THAT with Excel?

Excel is a very capable spreadsheet program. It was not designed for checklists. Can you do the following with Excel?

  • Can you distribute specific forms to specific users, in real time?
  • Is is easy to complete a visit using an excel spreadsheet on your phone, tablet or PC? Can you attach photos? Can you see details of previous visits? Can you include signatures and attachments?
  • Is the visit score automatically calculated?
  • Are you able to automatically check on the status of deficiencies noted? Were they addressed? When and by whom? Do you have photographic evidence?
  • Are you able to compile this visit and all other visits in a consolidated view so you can see patterns by operator, region and other segments? Do repeat unacceptables clearly jump out?

Gaining visibility into your sites also makes them accountable

Automation is not a silver bullet, just cheaper and more effective

Automation is not a silver bullet. Don’t automate, just because you can. However, when considering the actual and opportunity costs of using Excel for store checklists and brand standards, most retailers find that they are slow, labor-intensive and error-prone. They also deprive the organization of the real-time analytics it needs to make informed business decisions.

Don’t let Excel hold you back.


Refer to the Brand Standards category for how-tos and best practices for brand standards in retail and hospitality.


Refer to Retail Execution category for how-tos and best practices for retail and hospitality execution of brand standards and programs.

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