There are many things that factor into a consumers decision in whether or not they plan to spend their time and hard-earned money in a retail outlet. From the branding, to the helpfulness of the staff and (of course) the price of the products. The idea behind Retail Audits is to measure and all of these disparate factors, and relay their findings to the company so they can more effectively manage their business. During the process, auditors will gather information on volume and trends in sales, levels of stock and various aspects of display and promotion.
An audit is carried out on a number of retail outlets by a team of auditors, using technology that obtains product information, evaluates the competition and gets real time data, then uses this data to improve a company’s performance trends. All audits should be carried in real time, as it gives a more accurate picture of events, and will allow for corrective measures to be taken as the auditing process is in operation, not just afterwards, when it might be too late. Merchandising also constitutes an important part of an audit, because product placement and the aesthetics of an outlet can be manipulated to increase the effectiveness of a particular outlet or individual product.
How is a Retail Audit carried out?
First, the auditing team will select a sample audit which they feel relates to your company. They will then set a series of goals that your company wishes to achieve, and will carry out the audit with these goals in mind. A simple survey will be created, which can be covertly circulated amongst consumers and staff members, whereas in the past these surveys would be physical, paper-based sheets, today they are more likely to be digital and tablet-based. The data will then be collated and processed. These are the very basics of retail auditing, but as you’d expect, there’s far more to it than that!
In the UK, more than £1.15 billion is spent on retailing auditing services every year. That surely wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t a worthwhile endeavour. The concept is all about making the most out of your company, squeezing the most juice out of the orange if you will. It’s also a way of letting a store manager or CEO see what exactly is going on behind the scenes, as it’s quite likely that the higher ups are largely unaware of what’s going on at a ground level. By auditing, a company can single out specific flaws in the way their business is operating, and improve them in order to maximise sales.
Of course, many smaller business with more limited budgets are looking to technology to manage their auditing, but if you’re a larger enterprise with multiple outlets, this simply won’t be a viable option, as there is simply too much information to sift through. This is when you’ll want to bring in a field marketing company, who are trained and experienced in the retail auditing process. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adapt mobile technology into the process, but you might want to consider doing so with the guidance of a team who know what they’re doing!
Behind the scene access – A retail audit will allow a CEO or manager to see what their stores are doing well and what they’re doing not so well by looking at the managerial procedures and identifying what requires improvement.
Compliance – A retail audit will let you see whether or not your stores are adhering to the correct health and safety procedures and are following their training to the letter. It will also allow you to check on smaller things that you would never be able to check yourself, such as compliances regarding promotions and brand standards.
Stock availability – A retail audit is the only way you can be sure that your stores are keeping on top of their stocks!
Improvements – Of course the main reason to commission a retail audit is so that your company can learn from the information it gathers and use that information to improve the business. If you discover there are areas that could be made more efficient or effective, or that there are lots of little, niggling improvements that could be made to improve productivity, it’ll be more than worth the effort!
Typical auditing services offered by a Field Marketing Company might include:-
Real Time Data Capture – You’ll receive constant live reports updating you regarding the progress of your campaign as it happens. All of this data will be stored online for you to access as and when you desire through your tablets, home computers or smartphones.
Objective Measurement – This effectively means that auditors will provide individual and independent measurements to each client. This is not a process that wouldn’t work with a copy and paste approach after-all. A team of trained auditors should be able to rapidly implement auditing bespoke campaigns at short notice.
Alert Trigger – A decent auditing system should be able to automatically alert clients with any potential issues, which can then be dealt with in a rapid and efficient fashion. Alert triggers can also be set up to highlight issues in a supply chain.
Insights and Analysis – During the campaign, and when it’s finished, you should be provided with full analytical insight into the process, so your aware where improvements need to be made.