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Virtual retail store audits in the retail industry

Virtual retail store audits in the retail industry

Did you know that store visits and retail store audits had dropped to an all-time low by over 75% in 2019-2020? Somehow these frequent audits that used to be on-field across retail stores in the retail industry, took a virtual turn. The audits would be held virtually with the help of staff. Even now many leading retail stores follow a virtual store audit format from time to time.

Retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers in the retail industry are trying to remain competitive in this digital world, so, it has become essential for them to create the right virtual retail audit strategy with strong support from the on-ground employees and data available. Virtual retail audits set out with the same objective; that is to collect retail store data, understand the preferences of the customer, and eventually analyze the retail store to help the store create a better customer experience in retail industry for their customers.

What is a virtual retail audit?

Just like a regular/on-field retail store audit or a compliance audit, a virtual retail audit is a virtual format of carrying out an audit. It helps evaluate store performance, brand compliance, and product profiling at a retail store.

Who performs virtual retail store audits?

They are typically carried on by the area or district managers, internally or externally. They are also handled professionally by leading customer experience companies that provide customer experience services like brand audits in retail stores or compliance audits in retail stores carried on by professional auditors for retail industry.

What is the importance of retail audit? Is a retail audit necessary?

In simple words: if you wish to be on top of your game and be a steady/strong competitor to your fellow retailers then yes, it is necessary to conduct audits for your retail store. Virtual audits are conducted to improve products and store performance while working on a functioning customer experience management.

Do virtual retail audits work?

A virtual retail audit is held with just as much precision as an on-field audit would be. In fact, they can eradicate chances of distraction and can be more commercially and ergonomically beneficial to the retailer.

What are the types of retail audits?

The division of the types of retail audits is based on the data collected. Let’s have a look:

  • Retail market audit

    This type of retail audit is held specifically for suppliers. They help suppliers understand their partners. It is conducted to record valuable information like consumer sentiment, store appearance, store location and its effects on the business, cleanliness, promotions, design, neighbouring competitors and retail brands.

  • Merchandising audit

    Contrasting with the retail market audit the merchandising audit is conducted by the existing suppliers. Essentially it is the summary of all the details required to understand how a brand is performing. It gathers data on product inventory levels, stockouts, and the status of the products available in the retail store, the amount of shelf space provided for each product, the price of the product allocated by the retail store, and the appearance of the shelf.

  • Promotional audit

    A promotional audit is conducted specifically during important promotional campaigns. It could be during a holiday sale or a promotional gig that helps understand the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign. The auditor administering the retail store promotional audit looks at the different types of promotions, the duration of the promotion, in-store positioning, customer reception and engagement on the promotion, the placement, sale numbers and the like.

  • Loss prevention audit

    As the name suggests the loss prevention audit in retail store are conducted as damage control to prevent losses in the retail store. The auditor effectively finds out what is causing the losses and links the main source of the loss to the loss itself. They then use this data to avoid any future losses and with the data gathered the retailer can then work efficiently towards eradicating such losses.

  • Competitor survey audit

    Competitor survey audits in retail store are administered in order to gather details about the competitor and check up on how to best sell the products compared to other retail store brands in the locality. This means they gather data on all the competitor products, pricing, prominence, placement, positioning, promotions, and the like.

How to build a retail audit checklist?

While conducting a retail store audit it is necessary to be very attentive to the details. To carry on the process with maximum caution every detail must be considered and that can be made possible by creating a retail store audit checklist which helps the auditor streamline the process. Missing out on any information while collecting data means you have let go of a factor that your retail store needs to improve on.

With the help of a retail audit checklist, one can ensure that no data point is missed. A competitive and helpful collection of data during a retail store audit requires you to focus on the following facts after considering the objective of your virtual retail store audit:

  • Location of the store
  • Demographics based on database
  • Presentation and merchandising of the products
  • Store exterior and its appearance
  • Product placement in the store
  • Retail pricing of the products
  • Cleanliness and hygiene in the store
  • Retail planogram
  • Employees and their reception towards the customers
  • Product knowledge of the employees
  • Facilities in the store
  • Customer safety and overall safety of the store

Apart from these factors, the retail store auditor may also consider other factors that can help in the virtual audit based on the type of audit that is being administered. They may look at promotions, inventory, operations, etc.

Usually, during a virtual retail audit, the auditor will have a checklist that is extensively detailed with simple yet descriptive questions related to the store or the products like these:

  • Was the item set down on the appropriate shelf and product category?
  • Was the product's price accurately stated?
  • Was the item set up at eye level?
  • Was the item on display in front of or behind rivals?

An auditor may manually curate such a checklist or find customizable retail audit checklists that exist in the market.

A retail audit in retail management is indispensable from the retailer's point of view. They can truly change how the retail store functions. It is also very important if you are looking at having a strong customer experience provided to your customers. Having an effective and leading customer experience company like SonataGBW carry out a detailed virtual brand audit or virtual compliance audit can be very useful when it comes to setting up the standards at your retail store. SonataGBW has worked with 100+ industries for over 27 years in setting up brands that cannot be competed with when it comes to customer experience or customer experience management.

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.

Sonata GBW is a global technology company specializing in customer experience CX measurement, platform-based digital transformation, supporting businesses to become connected, open, intelligent and scalable. Global coverage of more than 105 markets with over 27 years of market leadership through extensive measurement capabilities, powerful and intuitive reporting and analytics platforms give us the leverage to improve customer experience. It has presence across USA, Canada, EMEA and APAC regions. If you would like to know more about how we can assist you, please fill out the business enquiry form below.