How The Right Data
Drives Brand and Retail Success
Retail is a dynamic business. Things are constantly changing and remaining competitive means being able to adapt and adjust retail and store operations, merchandising and sales strategies to market conditions.
The retail audit is an essential way brands and retailers optimize performance across their businesses. A retail audit captures critical data regarding products, sales, merchandising, compliance, pricing, store conditions, competitive intelligence and many other factors that contribute to retail sales.
A brand might conduct an audit to make sure its products are being featured properly in retail stores and that its retail partners are in full compliance with brand, merchandising, pricing and product display standards. A retailer might conduct an audit to get a clearer idea of which products and brands are generating sales, as well as to measure inventory requirements, store appearance and employee performance.
Either way, a comprehensive retail audit captures key data points that impact retail success. It’s important to note that retail auditing is not necessarily about capturing volumes of data. A quality audit captures the right data – retail intelligence that is directly relevant to a specific brand or retail business.
The goal of an audit is to turn this relevant retail data into actionable retail insights that lead to confident and calculated business decisions. Since no two retail operations are exactly alike, no two retail audits should be exactly alike.
Key Data Points Obtained In An Audit Might Include:
- Product or Brand Sales Volume
- Store Conditions (Cleanliness, Flow, Shelf Appearance)
- Merchandising/Product Displays
- Product Pricing
- Competitive Intelligence
- Field Team Performance
- Customer Engagement
Retail Audit Methods
There are various ways to capture retail and sales data via an audit. We’ve listed a few below for your convenience. However, advancements in retail management software and technology have ushered in a whole new era of retail audits. More on this to come, but first, let’s look at the various audit methods a brand or retail operation might employ to capture that relevant data.
Retail Store and Market Reports
These are reports that field representatives for a brand or retailer complete upon visiting individual stores. These audits might include data about store appearance, customer traffic, and location information. They might also include data about competitive brands, such as how they market their products, how these products are priced, and how each product is displayed.
Surveys are a great way to hear from retail customers first-hand. How do they interact with products? What is it they like about a product or brand? How do they feel about other products in the retail category? A good survey provides valuable insight into customer preferences and purchasing behavior.
Merchandising audits are primarily used by brands to report inventory levels, product display compliance, general shelf appearance, products being ordered, brand standard compliance, and other performance indicators for the brand.
Retail Promotions Audit
This component of a retail audit is used to measure the performance of a specific product or products during a promotional push, such as a discount price, seasonal offer, or a product demonstration event. It’s important to accurately report the ROI of a promotion in order to know what works and what doesn’t for future efforts. Promotional audits might track the type of offer, display and promotional materials, pricing, sales figures, foot traffic, etc.
Retail Audit Software – Changing the Audit Game
As with so many aspects of the retail industry, technology is changing the game for retail audits. New software and digital solutions are automating the audit process making it faster, more efficient and far more accurate than ever before. Retail businesses leading the way are deploying these advanced retail audit solutions to instantly capture data and share it in real-time with decision makers who leverage the insights gained to make informed decisions that improve retail operations and drive sales.
Advantages of Automated Retail Audits
Dramatically reduce human error
Advanced audit software eliminates the need for paper forms. Traditionally, retail audits relied on field reps to accurately transcribe data and keep paper forms safe and secure. Today, however, cloud-based retail audit solutions allow field teams to instantly log store visits and product data using any smart phone, tablet or other device. This data is securely stored and available solely to authorized parties.
Customized digital smart forms
Digital smart forms allow brands and retailers to customize data capture and reporting to their specific requirements, automatically guiding field teams in answering key questions and entering key performance indicators. These questions must be answered before an audit can be submitted for review.
Digital photo capture
A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the best retail audit software features real-time photo capture. These photos become inarguable proof of store and product appearance, merchandising compliance, promotional display compliance, the use of shelf space, and other key factors in retail success.
Employee compliance via geo-tracking
Comprehensive audit solutions, such as the one offered by Mobile Insight®, a leading retail management software provider, feature geo-tracking to ensure field teams are in full compliance with their store visits. The software tracks their progress during the day to make sure they are in the right place, at the right time, capturing the right data.
Real-time data means real-time decision making
Perhaps the greatest advantage of digital retail audit solutions is the speed with which they happen. These are real-time audits. Store and market data is captured instantly and immediately distilled into customized reports that reveal clear insights to improving retail operations and sales. These reports can be called up in real-time by decision-makers back in the boardroom so that they can use the information to make informed and impactful retail decisions.
If you found this article helpful, learn more about how advanced audit technology can dramatically improve the ease and accuracy of your next brand or retail audit.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail and merchandise management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive, and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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