How to conduct Brand Audit and Store Audit in Retail stores
The smooth operation of retail stores is analogous to listening to a classic. When executed flawlessly, it can go a long way. From the ground staff to the brand leaders, everyone in retail stores should work together to benefit the organization. Retail stores need to pay far greater attention to their customers' experiences because they deal with them directly. In the end, if the customer leaves your store unhappy, it indicates you were unable to meet their needs and there is a good chance they won't visit you again. The way you are greeted at the door, the assistance you receive quickly, the placement of your products for easy access, the length of the checkout line, and the variety of payment methods all factor into whether or not you become the beloved brand that brings customer loyalty and boosts your sales.
Getting a retail store to look and work perfectly is a technically challenging and complex process. Consider doing this for each branch and franchise. This is where brand compliance auditing comes in to help implement standard practises and make necessary changes. A thorough audit can result in smoother operations, improved employee relations, better customer experiences, and increased sales.
So what is Retail Compliance?
Branding compliance and merchandising compliance are other terms for retail compliance. To maintain standard uniformity, a store must follow the HQ guidelines for every process and presentation. However, store compliance and brand compliance are not the same thing. Store compliance is concerned with meeting corporate standards for all signage, displays, store layout, safety procedures, and cleanliness, whereas brand compliance is concerned with following directions and requirements from each brand partner. For example, a designer may wish for their clothing to be displayed in a specific manner. Compliance is achieved when the store has implemented both directives and has successfully completed the HQ brand satisfaction directives.
What is a Store Audit?
In retail operations, choosing precise targets in each area, such as building maintenance, cash-handling procedures, inventory management, and more, is the best approach to reach and assess the scope of the shop. In this situation, a store audit is an inspection to determine which policies, practices, and procedures are effective in comparison to those that are not. This also includes checking where employees can improve.
Some usually administered retail audits are:
- Market audits
- Merchandising audits
- Loss-prevention audits
- Health and safety audits
- Retail-operations audits
Brands are exceptionally particular about their store because it is their way of inviting more and more customers in who can talk them up for having good CX. Brands hold many audits to ensure they are on the right track to build their CX through CXM which increases customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. Let’s discuss some of the audits that brands adhere to.
- Merchandising Audits: they focus mainly on the visual checks like product placements and making sure all the products and brands are complying to the directives that have been suggested by the store and brands. Merchandising audits include checks on how the store looks and if it is an easy space for customers to shop at. A store merchandising audit can tell you so much about the store like what product is selling the best, information on the restocking patterns of the store, which part of the store is most visited by customers, etc. These essential pieces of data can help a brand re-do their store set-up, work on promotional activities or signages and other visual factors in the store that can increase sales.
- Health and Safety Audits: every brand must look at store health and safety audits as an important part of their CX routine. This is not only because they do not want angry customers complaining about cleanliness but also because it can lead to health hazards and no brand wants to step into a rabbit hole of warrants. The stores should be able to protect their employees and customers equally from any unforeseen circumstances. Health and safety audits in retail stores can give you a reflection of what is possibly wrong or what could go wrong in a hypothetical circumstance.
- Operational Audits: many stores conduct operational audits in retail stores from time to time to check up on procedures like cash handling and returns/exchanges. However, leading firms always do routine compliance on the daily as an opening and closing procedure. These audits are done to make sure that the employees are all on the same page, their training and operations are all divided and they are ready to face day-to-day situations without lag.
There are other aspects of a store that store audits can get information on and cater to like:
We have gone through the benefits of retail store audits and differences of retail compliance audits, let us take a look at how they are conducted now.
How do you conduct a retail compliance audit for a retail store?
Customer experience companies that focus on providing brands with the best customer experience management that can help them achieve customer loyalty in retail stores, increased revenues, customer success and customer satisfaction use these steps to conduct an audit.
- Time: the first step is to find a suitable time to conduct the audit. Brands often go for a quieter time in the store. This can be done while the store is open but less busy typically at the opening time or afternoon depending on what time the store in question opens. Retail store audits can also be done before the store opens up for customers or after closing time.
- Setting goals: your first question should be what you want to evaluate and what is your target through this audit based on the different audits we discussed earlier in this blog. You could be looking at merchandising audit, health and safety audit, or general store operations audit, etc. the brand should then create a list of what it will evaluate and what they hope to find out through the retail store audit. Having a list at hand works as a guide and one can keep checking off things as they evaluate and inspect the store. For example when inspecting for a health and safety audit, one should look at structural hazards, test fire alarms, and dangerous equipment in the store that can cause harm. In such a case, the goal becomes elimination of risk and ensuring that retail environment safety is at its peak.
- Nothing changes: when inspection is in process one should be making note of the changes that must be implemented for optimal progress. When one finds out that certain products are not selling well they should be strategically placed and enhanced in the store for customers to have a better look at it before they make a decision. This is an example of merchandising audit in retail compliance audit.
- Assigning tasks: once changes are narrowed down upon a brand may consider who to assign the implementation task to. It could be employees on the ground, managers or branch heads who can take this step forward. Retail task management technology is of immense use in such cases. They can help brands in allowing every person involved to check what needs to be done, track task progress in an organized manner, complete a task, and receive instant feedback.
- Follow up: the last step in auditing retail industry is to check up on the progress and ensure tasks are completed after a certain period. If any loopholes or problems are being faced on the ground then brands may give better advice or find a new alternative for the task at hand.
- Making it digital as a retail store for hassle free and better retail store auditing: A company that has evolved overtime and taken up new workforce management techniques is, however, more likely to have effective audits taking place because they have invested in integrated employee communications. Therefore, the audits can also be conducted virtually, saving brands a tonne of money and time.
Retail brand compliance audit and retail store audit solutions that work digitally have many benefits like:
- Better Communication: with messaging services in the team the HQ and all team members are well connected in loop with the activities in the brand. When a message is sent it is sent across the brand and every team member is able to view it with no grapevine prejudices. A corporate decision-maker is able to send the same directive to every employee of every rank.
- Effective Management: where do we often get stuck when it comes to following directives? Non-compliance and unreported tasks that no one can oversee. Being digital means you get to have a digital to-do list which every employee has that can be checked off by store personnel and HQ corporate in retail companies that can further check progress has been made.
- Video and Photos: when you run digitally you can avoid taking a word and actually look at tasks as they are being done through images and attachments that serve as proof on both ends. As and when tasks are completed video/photos can be sent across which can be used to work towards changes or progress.
This is a run down on why is retail store audit important, the benefits of retail compliance audits, store audit checklist and how to conduct a retail store audit. Retail stores and retail brands must recognize that the market is fast and ever-evolving while customers are keenly observing where the brand is going wrong. At any moment when a better option comes up to the surface customers are bound to make their move and skip to a better cx being provided by a retail store competitor. A retail store should maintain consistency while providing the best for their customer and the only way to do that is by brand audits and store audits that give you information on not only what is not going as planned but also what can be done better for optimal results.
Customer experience companies like SonataGBW, can give retail stores their due credit through perfectly run brand audits, compliance audits and store audits that can help them prosper in a cut throat market.
Our CX solutions are focused on transforming the total customer experience through surveys, metrics, analytics and auditing by using the CXM framework to combine physical measurements with digital Platformation™ capabilities. We are committed to finding the right customer experience strategy that can lead to a competitive advantage.
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