What Is a Retail Store Audit Checklist?
If you’re looking to assess the overall health of your retail store using data-driven insights, a retail store audit checklist is vital. This document includes best practices that stores can use to check if operations are up to standards. On top of this, a retail store audit checklist is also used to help stores maintain compliance with existing operational and branding standards, like product placements, pricing, and promotions.
Through a store audit, data is gathered from brick-and-mortar stores to determine essential metrics like merchandise compliance, inventory levels, staff knowledge, and many more. This helps to identify, track, and resolve problems. Using this, business owners, retailers, and third-party auditors can get information on where your business is currently at in terms of success.
Some retailers typically use revenues as the primary metric in measuring profitability and success, but it yields limited analytics compared to regular store auditing data. Through retail auditing, you can get a holistic picture of the state of your business. Plus, a checklist also provides an avenue for retailers to address deficiencies and enable head offices to give their feedback. This allows more room for problem-solving and growth strategies.
Several insights that an audit can give you are as follows:
- Sales volume
- Inventory and back stock levels
- Quantity of damaged products and costs
- Evaluation of visual merchandising
- Competitor pricing vs your pricing strategy
- Planogram compliance
- Calculation of visual merchandising and in-store displays
There are several types of store auditing that you can choose from. Select the one that suits your business best. The most common types of stores audit are:
- Market audit: Through this, you can get a better sense of how your target market perceives your store and assess the strength of your brand reputation by conducting surveys. It also helps to benchmark your business strategies and progress with competitors so you can stay competitive.
- Merchandising audit: This report is where all inventory is checked and evaluated. From your store’s stock levels to the viability of your product promotions, anything merchandising-related is audited to measure profitability.
- Loss prevention audit: This evaluates the effectiveness of your current loss prevention plan. Is your store experiencing an uptake in stolen products? How much is stolen and what are the losses incurred? Where in the store are they kept? Which of the loss prevention strategies is working and which ones are not?
This article covers the following topics:
How Can a Store Audit Benefit My Business?
When you conduct your store’s audit, you get insight into how your business is really doing. If you’re handling multiple locations, this is all the more important to ensure all stores follow standards correctly. When a store location fails to comply with set business standards, it results in inconsistent service outcomes. This can impact your brand and customer experience negatively, especially considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumer buying behaviors.
But by using a retail store audit checklist, you can prevent that from happening. Because it will cover all essential operational points from the store layout to the customer experience, you can ensure that your stores meet your protocols and standards. You can also gain valuable insight that you can use to come up with creative strategies to increase profitability.
As said earlier, unlike sole financial audits of your revenues, retail auditing allows you to see the bigger picture. Instead of knowing how much money you’re potentially losing, you’ll find out why you’re losing it. This is highly advantageous as it allows you to spot mistakes before they escalate into bigger problems that can severely damage your bottom line.
The data from your audits can also help you customize and personalize your customer experience to boost your brand reputation and build customer loyalty. With 96% of customers saying that good customer experience (CX) is a defining factor in their willingness to spend more money on a product or service, having a good grasp of the kind of CX that your team delivers is important. You can easily eliminate guesswork and confidently answer questions like, “Are the staff helpful?” or “how long does it take for customers to find what they need?” Using these data, you can optimize their in-store journey as needed and deliver beyond customer expectations.
But, that’s not all. Apart from ensuring compliance, it can also potentially help improve your business through the following:
- Identifying store-level operational and maintenance issues.
- Pinpointing effective points that should be replicated and ineffective best practices that should be replaced.
- Communicating and implementing new in-store processes.
- Setting a foundational framework for evaluation metrics on financial performance, KPIs, and team performance.
- Provide opportunities to identify training needs for in-store staff.
- Foster healthy competition between your store locations.
- Improve relationships between executives and store managers.
How Do I Conduct a Retail Store Audit Properly?
Conducting an audit might seem a little intimidating at first, but don’t worry. You’ve already been doing the hard part: running a retail store. You’ll need to first answer a few questions about the operability of your store. After you get a sense of how efficiently your store and employees are performing, you can work to introduce some improvements.
Below are four easy steps to conducting a successful retail store audit:
1. Iron Out Your Store Auditing Schedules
Make sure that you plan the audits ahead of time to minimize disruption of in-store operations and customer experience. You can consider timing it during slow hours when your staff have enough time to complete the audit and simultaneously maintain operations or schedule it when the store is closed.
Just remember that should you decide to conduct the audits after store hours, it will require extra man-hours.
2. Determine Your Goals and Objectives
To effectively set the direction of your audit, you need to first determine your objectives.
Do you want to evaluate compliance with brand standards? Are you looking to follow up on previously communicated corrective actions? Perhaps, you are looking to evaluate the rising cost of damaged and lost products?
Without this, it would be hard for auditors to know the specific goals you want to achieve and identify the correct parameters to use when analyzing the in-store situation.
3. Document Comprehensively
The audit documentation is very important because it serves as the basis for the audit process and results and essentially provides the review with the paper trail for the evidence supporting the auditor’s conclusions. So, as you conduct the audit, make it a point to detail your notes comprehensively to ensure the accuracy of the analysis. If necessary, include photo documentation of all major observations for better visualization and understanding.
4. Assign and Monitor Execution of Improvements
After you complete the audit, implement the improvements in your store locations. If necessary, assign tasks to relevant staff members and follow up their execution regularly. The overarching goal of conducting the audit is for continuous improvement — regular progress checking is essential to ensure sustainable growth happens.
What Are the Benefits of Conducting a Digital Retail Store Audit?
The health of your store is a direct reflection of your business savviness. Underperforming stores get shut down or suffer from management changes that disrupt employees’ workflows. It’s important to get ahead of the curve and conduct an audit on your store’s internal operations. With Lumform’s digital inspection and audit app, you don’t have to break a stride in your daily routine — it makes auditing that simple. You can use any mobile device or desktop — online or offline — to identify which products you can’t keep on the shelves and which ones you should probably replace with something else. Auditing is essential to keeping your business alive and well, so don’t wait until there’s an impact on your bottom line and get started right away.
Some additional features the Lumiform app offers:
- With over 10,000 ready-made templates to choose from, you can pick exactly the right template to fit your business needs or create your own.
- The easy-to-use mobile app guides you through each inspection, so you don’t have to spend extra money or resources training your staff on how to conduct an audit.
- Save time — up to 50% — conducting store audits digitally. Take and upload photos instantly and share them with colleagues. This way, you can solve any problems that may arise during an audit as soon as they occur.
- Get actionable insights – The Lumiform app automatically bundles your data into a digital report, so you no longer have to hunch over endless charts punching numbers. Lumiform does it for you. All you have to do is analyze and improve!
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