Using audits to keep your brand’s growth on the right track is smart. What’s even smarter, though, is realizing that audits are not one size fits all. Even though a generic retail audit can evaluate sales amongst your brand’s retail locations, if you’re more interested in how new products are selling or how customers are responding to one of your competitors, it might be time for a more zoomed-in approach. Read on as we talk about the best five retail sales audit types that’ll help organize and streamline your auditing process.
1. Brand Perception Audit
A generalized brand perception audit is a great way for your brand to learn about the opinion of the public in relation to your brand overall. Use this form to allow your field reps to log specific complaints and complements; this makes quantitative analysis of consumer opinions possible in specific stores or regions.
To gather info for this audit type, pull ideas - both compliments and criticisms - from customers in the store. Your reps should engage in conversations with people connected to the brand in different ways (anyone from ultimate fan to newly introduced). As important as this is, don’t limit your form questions to be exclusively customer-based. Include opportunities for reps to include info gathered directly from your product displays.
In this sample audit, the information a rep might need to input, “additional details if too expensive” might not come directly from the customer, however, the field rep can easily check prices from competitors on surrounding shelves to see if these prices justify the consumers’ complaint.
Asking reps to include:
- What customers see on the shelves
- What customers think about the things they see and experience
will strengthen the impact and internal validity of your reports.
This audit format is put to best use when used to gather general customer feedback. A brand won’t be able to grow if constructive criticism is not considered right off the bat, and an audit can put this kind of negligence in the past and launch a business on the path to success.
2. Retailer Audit
Sometimes customer concerns are pushed to the back burner. Often, this shift happens because you realize that inconsistencies and lack of accountability at certain retailers interfere with maintaining “business as usual”. In this situation, use a retail-style sales audit to help pinpoint certain locations where issues manifest and to hone in on the specific problems that need to be addressed.
Some of the most common retailer inconsistencies that pop up relate to displays that aren’t up to a brand’s high standards (including broken or missing components), constantly out of stock items, or lack of managerial knowledge regarding a brand’s products. Addressing these issues can be tedious without a uniform method of data collection. Build a customized retailer audit for your brand and streamline this processes by providing clear cut questions that reps can determine the answers to while in the store they are auditing.
3. Competitor Audit
Even when your retailers are doing a dynamite job keeping things in line, it’s still important to keep an eye on your products in stores and watch for emerging competition that might swoop in to steal your fan base. Prepare a competition audit for field rep use to notice new competitors and record things like price disparity, competitor name, differences in packaging, and more on each store visit.
If your brand already as a pre-established list of competitors, design your audit to include an easy selection option for any of your usual competitors to save your reps a few moments when they first arrive in the product isle. This more specific competitor audit can help your team to keep an eye on the biggest forces to be reckoned with in your particular corner of the market.
Using a competition audit provides the opportunity to compare rival prices over time if certain products were audited multiple times. Additionally, this type of form allows your reps to use concrete information (“how many brands are selling a product that does the same thing as ours?”) to solve problems that are not as cut and dry such as, “why have our sales been declining over the last two months?”.
4. Promotion Report
If you’re looking for a way to figure out why some of your events or in-store promotions go over noticeably better than others in certain stores than they do in others, use a specialized audit to report back after the fact and get to the bottom of it. Collect data relating to the products being distributed at the event, the number of employees used to pull it off, any expenses necessary to set up in preparation, and the overall density of attendees.
The most crucial bits of information an audit like this can show you are the pieces that can tip you off to what aspects of the promotion were beneficial and which ones you could do without in the future such as how many cases of samples were distributed, the flow of traffic through the store while the promotion was going on, and any general feedback the reps may have picked up on while in the store.
5. New Product Audit
If audits can be used to reflect the relative success of previous events, why not use them to reflect the success of a new product launch? It can be stressful to introduce a new product into your existing collection, regardless of how much your customers love what's already on the market. To monitor the introduction of your next big thing, use a new product audit to get comprehensive feedback (either or positive or signaling necessary alterations) from your field reps.
In addition to making sure the new item is selling well, use your audits to ensure retailer accountability on a smaller scale (all the way down to one specific item in their stock). This means that your audit can include things as simple as price, display/signage adherence, and product location in order to make sure customers get the right first impression of your new item and the retailers are pulling their weight- it’s sure to knock their socks off.
Retail sales audits are an important tool for many brands pushing their way to the top, but not all audits are created equal. If you’re looking for a unique audit type that isn’t discussed in this list, don’t be afraid to build your own!
Sara is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly and is excited to help brands grow. Sara is studying Public Relations and Environmental Analysis and Policy at Boston University, which basically just means she could talk about climate change and plant-based recipes all day long. She is passionate about lions, the clarinet, and her Mickey Mouse slow cooker.