When people think of store audits they mostly think of operations. While yes, store audits typically are for the purpose of reviewing management and processes within an organization to help in managing daily store tasks, they also play a vital role in merchandising and loss prevention. If you aren’t currently doing a regular operational audit in your stores, here are a few ways those visits can help you run a better business.
An operational audit focused on operations takes a look at whether or not company standards are being met at the store level. Things that get checked are safety standards, employee behavior, and general cleanliness of the store – among a few other things. These types of audits can be helpful for verifying your stores provide a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers and that operations are running efficiently. You can also hold the right people accountable for any issues with safety, behavior, or cleanliness.
Merchandising and Layout
Great merchandising drives sales. You plan major initiatives around the merchandising of certain products because it helps them sell. The look and feel of each of your locations is important and sometimes it’s why people shop your stores. Audits give you a chance to look at your merchandising and decide if it syncs with your brand image. Audits also give you the opportunity to validate that your merchandising standards are being met. If they aren’t, you can correct the problem right away by talking to store staff. For example you can take this time to verify there is nice garnishing around deli items and that the store reset has been completed on time and correctly. Ensuring promotional displays are set up correctly will help you drive sales.
When I had a management internship at a retailer, we had a system that if we were the person to take the last of an item off the shelf, we would put a tag on the price tag indicating the item was out of stock and the date that it happened. When the store managers were doing their daily store walks, they would check for these tags on out-of-stock items. As long as the tags were up, the department would know the item needed to be restocked. However, if an item was completely gone from the shelf and there was no out-of-stock tag on it, it raised a red flag.
One day I was accompanying a store manager on his daily walk when he noticed a $300+ faucet was out of stock with no tag. He looked on our inventory system and sure enough, we were supposed to have one on the shelf. After going through security footage, he was able to identify that a truck driver had entered the store and snuck out the back of the store with the faucet. We were able to track down the driver and get the faucet back. The company was also able to train the employees responsible for checking people’s receipts.
Store audits can come in handy if you ever find yourself in a sticky legal situation. With proper logging of sweep schedules, bathroom cleanliness, temperature logs, etc. along with the corrective action taken (if any was needed) you can use the information as proof that you do everything you can to ensure high standards at your stores.
Audits have many purposes and can really help you improve your business. If you’re not currently doing them, you could be missing out on opportunities to run a better company, increase sales, and decrease losses. If you are already doing some form of store audit could you be getting more out of them? You could start by making some checklists related to issues you don’t currently look for during audits. You can also watch this video on store audit best practices. No matter what, you should always be looking for ways to improve your in-store operations.
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