Practical Retail Audit Steps To Obtain Valuable Market Insight
Practical Retail Audit Steps to Obtain Valuable Market Insight
Every business, in its life time, needs a plan to seek the market. At the early stage, after evaluating and developing their idea, they may focus on growth, expansion and maturity as a different period of a business life cycle. In each level, they should use different tools based on the market terms and conditions. Within different markets and industry, those who have a retail stage for selling their products have better executing process and more plans. Retail audit is one of the tools which these businesses use to gain the market insight.
To perform an efficient retail audit, as it’s required for every tool, knowing the different stages is important. Retail audit can be summarized in three stages as the following figure illustrates:
Above items are mainly the stages of each tool to gain an intended outcome. A key factor, from a market researcher’s point of view, is planning, where you have to completely understand what are the client’s needs and scope in order to evaluate the required materials and set a strategy for meeting that particular need of the client.
At the next stage, which is the controversial part of the process, businesses and the researchers should prepare bilateral acts to pass this stage as smooth as possible. In this stage, different steps could be defined but each of them should be based on the similar foundation.
Simply speaking, in every retail audit execution the following items should be taken into consideration:
- Market censuses
- Evaluating outlet for profiling
- Providing an outlet panel
- Visit plans
- Conducting in different waves
- Evaluating waves
- Proving a reasonable outcome
In each above steps, a very deep relation between the researcher and the business is a key parameter to get better outcome from retail audit plans. In planning and pre-execution steps, the researcher and the business should agree on the checklist of items that should be audited.
Some main and common used items are as below:
- Products availability and Preparation
- Sells portion
- The exterior and interior of the store
- Presentation and Merchandising
- Inventory (displayed and stocked)
- Consumer’s behavior
- Staff behavior, product specification, training and Speed of Service
Above and some other items, based on the need of the client, could be used to have a good flow of data and information in order to get a suitable result. Other items such as outlet safety, outlet policy, and detailed design of outlet and so on could be used based on the channel and the related industry. For example if you are conducting a project for a toilet cleaner tissue production company in a restaurant or hotel, cleanness and the usage may be important to check rather than staff training, or checking the detail design of an outlet can reveal useful data rather than auditing product availability for a luxury product.
In each above steps, a very deep relation between the researcher and the business is a key parameter to get better outcome from retail audit plans.
There are three types of people who can run these retail audits for you: employees, a professional service, or hired freelancers. There are pros and cons for each. By having your own employees do the audits, you are able to train them appropriately and it becomes easier to implement the gained information. However, the cost of taking your team away from their regular jobs (and training them) can be expensive and inconvenient.
When hiring experts to collect the data, you know that you will receive the best possible responses. However, its cost can make it unreasonable for businesses. Finally, using mystery shoppers or other independent contractors may be the least expensive option. Having mentioned that, the drawback with freelancers is that the quality of data may substantially be inappropriate. In short, the decision you make will be based on the level of detail you need and the amount of money you are willing to invest, but having a market research consultancy is an important item that should not be forgotten.
When hiring experts to collect the data, you know that you will receive the best possible responses. However, its cost can make it unreasonable for businesses. Finally, using mystery shoppers or other independent contractors may be the least expensive option. Having mentioned that, the drawback with freelancers is that the quality of data may substantially be inappropriate.
The final stage of the audit includes drawing conclusions based on the evidence gathered and forming an opinion regarding the fair presentation of the market statements. At this stage of the audit, researchers will represent their understanding of the client, their detailed knowledge of the market and the conclusions in a simple way to be understood by the client’s experts so that they can use the outcome to devise a strategy and plan for their own business.
At the end, as mentioned earlier, it is worth mentioning that a firm, deep, smooth and bilateral relation between the businesses and the researchers can avoid every misunderstanding and lead to gain a comprehensive insight into market for both sides. Therefore, having a win-win attitude will help to make a convenient and better marketplace for all users.