Merchandising audits by external professional auditors are a great way to ensure that retail stores are adhering to the wider objectives of the company. There are a number of things that auditors should be looking out for when in the field and looking at retail stores. By getting a merchandising audit correct and producing accurate results, retail stores can start to tweak their approach to maximise efficiency of service and to increase profits.
Stock Taking – It makes sense that should there be instances of out of stock merchandise or products missing from stores, that sales will decrease and the brand image can be negatively impacted as a result. An auditor that has to take time out to look for a seemingly missing product, speak to the store manager, who then has to speak to suppliers, is an auditor that is wasting time that could be spent elsewhere. It is also time that the store could be better utilising. Regular stock takes and merchandising audits will begin to uncover recurring problems, identify those items that seem to sell quickly, those that don’t, and allow each store to continuously improve their buying processes to ensure they are rarely, if ever, out of stock of items.
Product Placement – It is always important to keep an eye on where products are being placed in order to maximise the possibility of customers purchasing certain items. Placing products at eye level has always been seen as the perfect place to entice customers to make the purchase, but with merchandising audits you can ask for deep, investigative reports on your competitors and how they layout their stores. Another aspect of a merchandise audit that concerns the product layout is that the individual stores are adhering to wider company policy and promoting certain lines of products and services in the way that has been set out by head office. Product placement is a crucial part of this programme and failure to comply can lead to a reduction in sales.
Promotional Materials – Special promotions, discounts and sales are all tricks that retail stores push in order to gain new customers. This can include buy one get one free deals, or discounts for large orders of one item. One way in which these techniques are promoted is through extra promotional materials. These can be posters, flyers, cardboard cut-outs, and a merchandising audit can ensure you are utilising the money that this costs in the most effective way possible. Your customers have to be able to see the promotional materials in a place that entices them to first enter the store, and then be drawn to look more closely, otherwise it is a waste of the stores marketing budget.
By putting together a list of things that your retail auditors need to look out for you can ensure consistency of branding, product placement and store layout, as well as ensuring stock is replenished at the right intervals.