Retail audit: What it is, types & tips

There are still many stores that don’t know what a shop retail audit is and don’t review or make a diagnosis or measurement of the operation of their business.

These audits are typically requested by a store’s sales manager, which assess the store’s performance in a specific operating area. The manager can carry out the audit personally or can delegate the task to an external company.

Let’s learn more about the characteristics of the shop retail audit and what are the elements you should consider for the success of your audit.

What is a retail audit?

It’s an audit that is carried out to guarantee the correct organization and verify the operation of the commercial activity in the physical establishments. They are a way to control the operation of the brands and thus have the highest possible visibility on the stores.

A shop retail audit helps you boost sales and improve the customer’s shopping experience.

Some stores receive advance notice of some audits, while others may take place without notice. Among the analyzed data you can find: brand image, stock management, marketing, time management, work environment, etc.

While retail store audits can bring valuable benefits, they can also become a huge waste of time if not properly structured and analyzed.

Types of retail audit

Learn about the types of audits that you can carry out to know the operation of your business:

Audit of retail operations

This type of audit assesses how a store carries out various operational processes to ensure they are compliant with company standards. A retailer, for example, can audit the way a store handles returns to see if the correct procedure is being followed.

Operations audits are usually conducted at pre-established times throughout the year. Or they can be designed as a support mechanism before / after a special store program or seasonal sale.

Advertising audit

Audits of a business’s advertising are common. In these cases, the auditor examines the marketing initiatives in the store. Are the products displayed correctly? Is the signage pointing in the right direction? These are some of the questions that an advertising or marketing audit would answer.

These types of audits can follow a pre-established schedule, or they can be tied to seasonal product offerings or store programs.

Customer service audit

A customer service audit is exactly what it sounds like: it evaluates the customer service practices of a retail store.

This audit is usually done at predetermined times. However, scheduling an unannounced (or anonymous) audit will provide an especially accurate picture of employee performance.

Loss prevention audit

Loss prevention audits are aimed at reducing waste, risk, theft, and vandalism. These audits typically take place at certain times of the year, and help reinforce the company’s commitment to reducing this costly revenue leakage.

Health and safety audit

Another type of shop retail audit are security audits that are designed to measure the store’s compliance with product handling guidelines and government regulations. Periodic audits will also identify specific workplace hazards.

Mistakes to avoid when conducting a shop retail audit

Retail audit mistakes to avoild

Here are some of the errors that can affect the performance of a shop retail audit:

  • Mistake # 1: Auditing Too Comprehensive

Avoid covering too many activities in a single audit, this makes it difficult to properly address key issues. Therefore, carefully consider the needs of your business and schedule an audit at a time.

For this, it’s worth checking out the types of retail store audits you can perform.

  • Mistake # 2: Carrying out manual audits and self-assessments

Retailers looking to cut costs can choose to perform manual audits or rely on self-assessments. And while these methods can save money in the short term, they can do more harm than good.

To begin with, the manual process is known to take a long time, you have probably asked an employee to fill out a paper form.

Then comes the second step, which is that someone must enter the data in a spreadsheet, ideally without making data entry errors that can completely distort the results. Data is collected and conclusions are drawn. Objectively speaking, this outdated process requires valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Self-assessments, on the other hand, put managers and employees in charge of evaluating their own stores, rather than having a third party do the homework.

Self-assessments do not hold staff accountable. People who rate their own work will likely let their biases get in the way and will not be critical enough to really evaluate efforts.

So what should be done? For starters, eliminate manual shop retail audits and switch to a solution that can digitize the process.

And if possible, avoid self-assessments. Ask to use an external auditing company or a mystery shopper study. It is convenient for an auditor to see your store from a fresh and objective perspective, so that she can detect problems and make the appropriate recommendations.

  • Mistake # 3: Not properly documenting the shop retail audit

Not properly preparing your store for an audit, or doing a half job to document the findings, can skew the audit results and reduce profits.

To avoid this, start by clearly labeling your store’s accessories and inventory before the audit takes place.

As for the audit documentation itself, ask the auditors to take comprehensive notes and photographs so that everyone agrees to analyze the results and set action items correctly.

Having the proper documentation, i.e. detailed notes and photographs, will prevent problems from arising, so you should inform your auditors on how to document their findings.

  • Mistake # 4: Not keeping track of action items

Suppose a manager (or other auditor) conducts a flawless shop retail audit and provides the store with several important metrics. That’s all well and good, but if the store staff doesn’t do anything about those recommendations, the audit has been a complete waste of everyone’s time.

To avoid this, quickly address each issue as soon as your budget and resources allow. Assign tasks, and put processes in place to solve each action item. Even if you can’t make a change right away, set the frame so the problem doesn’t get lost.

For best results, use a solution that tracks these action items. For example, if a task is created, it sets an alert or follow-up notice if the item has not been acted upon after a specified period of time.

Importance of doing a shop retail audit

It is important to have a strong vision and strategy for how your stores operate. However, the vision alone will not drive traffic and sales. The execution in the store is essential, and that is why conducting a shop retail audit is essential.

By evaluating store processes and compliance, you can ensure that your stores are operating according to your standards. This creates a great customer experience that is consistent across all of your stores, ultimately leading to more visits and sales.

Make sure your store meets the needs of shoppers every time they visit. With QuestionPro you can carry out an audit at the point of sale and obtain the necessary information to improve your service and the products you offer.

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