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Retail audits can provide valuable opportunities to glean deep insights into display and shelf conditions as well as market trends –

that is, if you know how to get the most out of them. Some brands struggle to collect information in a timely manner, preventing them from getting the kinds of real-time updates that drive strategic decision-making. In many cases, cracking the audit code is the biggest obstacle to achieving this higher level of visibility.

The value of retail audits

Brands need to keep moving to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. As McKinsey & Company noted, many changes have occurred in recent years, with consumer demographics skewing younger and per capita income increasing. To capitalize on shifting trends and the latest customer preferences, brands must have the most recent information available regarding in-store conditions.

What’s more, retail audits serve as your brand’s chance to execute quality control on how store managers are displaying product lines. Even slight imperfections in promotional displays could reflect poorly on your brand. If frontline employees notice that inventory is more prone to be damaged at a certain location, that’s a pretty clear red flag that in-store staff may be mishandling your products.

Enhancing retail data collection

The first step to taking your retail audits to the next level is to put an end to time-consuming, manual processes. Recording information by hand is slow and error-prone, preventing field employees from quickly sharing accurate, reliable data with administrators. A more streamlined and automated workflow is necessary to ensure key decision-makers receive updated information on shelf and display conditions as soon as possible.

Plus, frontline employees should have the ability to quickly catalog in-store displays with image capture capabilities. A field management software platform with these features allows frontline staff to communicate the precise circumstances of a particular product shelf with the click of a button, rather than hastily jotting down a report. A picture says a thousand words, after all.

One of the most important features that any retail auditing software can have is a user interface that’s easy to navigate. If employees aren’t comfortable using the platform, or feel that moving through the dashboard is more arduous than simply doing things by hand, then they’ll go back to their old ways. Even those who bite their lip and wrestle away with the software will be more likely to commit errors.

A good UI will streamline the data collection process, making it easy for field teams to gather information in real-time and share it immediately with other brand stakeholders. That is the key to more strategic decision-making – and it all starts with a better auditing solution.

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