With few exceptions, people don’t enjoy grocery shopping. As a result, it’s becoming tougher and tougher to drive sales. Surveys indicate shoppers dislike wonky shopping carts, music that is too loud or too boring, lighting that is too dark or too harsh, and unfriendly store personnel. In addition, they dislike high prices, long checkout lines, limited selection, and not finding the stuff on their lists. Focusing on customer satisfaction through quality service is important – and can be measured by doing a regular store audit.
Executive management seldom sees these conditions from their offices. But field managers see them all the time during their routine store audits. So, how can store audits become more productive and actually stimulate better sales results?
First, walk the store like a customer. Push a shopping cart, look for adequate inventory levels of sale items, assess the in-store environment (lighting, heat, signage) and watch your staff interact with the shoppers. Second, keep a list of unique or seasonal opportunities to drive incremental sales. When shoppers can’t find the first two or three items on their lists, they wonder if they’ve picked the right store to visit.
For example, a district manager was performing store audits on a Saturday morning. He had received a message from one of the executive category managers to ensure fresh mint was being displayed in produce. Fresh mint is normally not a big mover, but this was the first Saturday in May; Kentucky Derby day! No derby party is complete without mint juleps, and to mix those, one needs fresh mint.
Sure enough, there was no fresh mint on display in the produce department, but there were four cases in the back of the store. As quickly as he and the produce manager moved the mint to the display table, the shoppers snatched them up. He noticed shoppers with long lists of things to buy in preparation for their Derby parties. Because they found fresh mint in the front of the store, they shopped the entire store, including the high margin deli, bakery and liquor departments.
Because this district manager had a reminder from his category manager to watch for fresh mint, they drove sales that day through a store audit. Keeping track of these unique and seasonal opportunities is best accomplished with good record-keeping practices and follow-up disciplines. Electronic “bring up” reminders or calendar lists can be very helpful tools in preparing for effective store walks. They won’t take the wobble out of a shopping cart’s wheel, but done right, store audits can drive sales.
For more tips on how your store audits can help you read Five Changes Retailers can Make Now to Improve Store Conditions.