Are You Flying Blind In-Stores?
How to Implement the Best Retail Audit
As the retail market continues to grow around the world due to increased income, awareness, accessibility and lifestyle changes, it is important that businesses develop tailored strategies for their markets. For brands selling outside of their home country, it is critical to understand the unique challenges every market poses due to different economic, political and cultural environments.
Unfortunately, most brands lack an adequate data source. Often information is delivered by third-parties that are unreliable and vary by location. For businesses to drive increases in revenue, profit and market share, accurate data about on-the-ground conditions is critical for understanding the true barriers to growth and creating strategies that address them.
What is a Retail Audit?
A retail audit is one of the best ways to understand your goods in the market. Retail audits collect information for suppliers about the health of a brand’s products at targeted retail outlets.
In the past, retail audits have primarily been done by using pen and paper, but with the increasing availability of technology around the globe more efficient and accurate methods are possible. Retail audits performed by brand representatives can be challenging and time-consuming, and require vast resources. Crowdsourcing retail audits provides a unique advantage for companies to collect data globally in near real-time. Using a distributed network allows brands to scale and optimize their retail audit capabilities.
Why are Retail Audits Important?
Retail audits can help companies ensure that retailers are complying with pre-made agreements such as placement, pricing or promotion. The audit also helps brands measure and monitor success in a retail environment.
Like with most things, the quality of the data that is collected plays a large role in its effectiveness. Taking an insights-driven approach allows teams to optimize their sales and marketing efforts.
New technologies help to optimize the process of collecting retail audit data so that you can make better decisions to increase revenue, profits and market share.
A retail audit can be used in a number of different ways. Some potential options for using crowdsourcing technology for collecting information in stores includes:
- Product Placement: Provide placement information across multiple brands and products, including information about the use of discounts or promotions.
- Shelf Monitoring: Monitor your product on the shelf including share-of-shelf, retailer compliance and competitors.
- Inventory Monitoring: Verify if products are in-stock at third-party retailers and understand inventory in comparison to competitor products.
- Visual Merchandising: Get visual confirmation of how your visual merchandising appears in a range of different locations.
- Mystery Shopping: Gather information about products and services at physical locations around the globe.
- Item Location: Clock how long it takes contributors from entering the store until they are able to find your product.
With the lack of in-store visibility for many brands, collecting this type of data can provide great insight. With technology and data companies can gain greater insight into merchandising, efficiency, inventory, competition and pricing.
What is Mystery Shopping?
One way of executing a retail audit that goes deeper into understanding your buyer’s emotions and motivations is through a mystery shopping program. Mystery shopping can help you identify and solve weak spots in your business model, improve your business’ customer journey and experience and increase market share.
In addition to the objective steps taken in a traditional retail audit (locating products, taking photos, scanning barcodes), a mystery shopping task asks a Contributor to experience the buying process themselves. Often Contributors are asked to interact with sales representatives or to complete a purchase and review the product following home use. Shopping programs require a lot of effort for recruiting, qualifying, scheduling, training and managing shoppers, but by using a crowdsourcing solution, like Premise, it can be a lot easier and more efficient.
Premise has helped commercial clients conduct traditional secret shopper campaigns around the globe. We can help you distinguish between invalid and imprecise customer-provided location data to a high degree of accuracy. Even with outdated or inaccurate data Premise is still able to effectively conduct store audits and discovery campaigns. Mystery shopping feedback has empowered our clients with immediate action items to improve customer service and increase sales around the globe.
Read more about the benefits of mystery shopping in our blog post: Why Your CPG Brand Needs Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping.
A Global Brand Uses Premise’s Solution
Most brands have very little data about their products in stores, especially in emerging markets. The lack of data is often due to fragmented distribution value chains that are typical in these markets. One company came to Premise due to trouble getting the data about their products after they had been distributed. See how Premise was able to help this Brazilian brand get the ground-level insights they needed.
Case Study: A Global Beverage Brand Uses Premise in Brazil
Is Your Visual Merchandising Meeting Your Standards?
Graphics, mannequins, displays, lighting, music, even scent are all marketing angles used in the battle to win over customers. Although songs and smells are not technically visual, they do fall within the realm that defines “visual merchandising” as they can be utilized as a part of the marketing scheme that attracts buyers.
With the physical retail continuing to battel e-commerce, retailers and brands alike need to do everything they can to help entice a customer to make a purchase. Visual merchandising is one way that brands and stores are able to continuously pique the interests of consumers. But not all visual merchandising is created equal. Monitoring your visual merchandising is critical to understand the impact your efforts are having.
Premise can help you assess your visual merchandising when conducting mystery shopping campaigns or retail audits. Not only can we help you understand if your visual merchandising is compliant we can also help you understand how your locations or brand compares to others.
For brands to excel in any market, it is critical that they integrate timely and accurate data into their operations from the beginning. Since consumer behavior and preferences, as well as activity in stores, can change rapidly, it is important to continuously monitor in-store conditions to identify early signs of change and adapt your strategies in sync. Taking an agile approach to retail audits ensures your dollar is going further.