Asking a retail audit software vendor whether you need retail audit software may be like asking a shoe salesman whether you really need shoes. And yet the answer may surprise you. If your retail chain is small, primarily corporate-owned and you don’t serve or prepare food, you may not need the software at all.

The economics of automation hinge on your activity and the exposure, liability and costs that inconsistent or poor execution may have on the brand’s image and bottom line.

Through our many discussions with retailers, we have identified five supporting reasons for implementing retail audit software.

Reason #1:  Your have more than 30 stores.

Why you need to automate: Operations may become the Achilles’ heel of a growing retail business unless the operational apparatus can scale while still providing the guidance the stores require.  Automation means better and faster tools.  Automation tells you who and what is working (or not working), where and when.  Automation saves more than it costs.

Reason #2: You have some “problem” stores.

A “problem” store is a store with one or more of the following problems: low profitability, high turnover, high customer complaints and a documented history of non-compliance.

Why you need to automate: Documenting non-compliance, assigning issues to people, setting target dates are as much an “audit” as they are a training tool and an opportunity to turn things around.  Software lets you track trends, repeat unacceptables, outstanding items and lets you compare the performance of a store with its peers.  Automation helps you identify the problem areas and lets you address them.

Reason #3 : You have franchisees.

Why you need to automate: Good people make all the difference in retail.  But even the most motivated and experienced franchisees need guidance from time to time.  Protecting the brand implies defining and communicating clear standards and measuring franchisees’ performance against these very same standards. A clear set of standards and a ubiquitous performance platform is like the proverbial rising tide: it lifts all boats.

Reason # 4: Seasonal programs backed by in-store merchandising are critical to your business.

Why you need to automate: seasonal programs need to be executed at precisely the right time, in precisely the right way to have the most impact.  Signage, displays, training must all be coordinated for each store to maximize profits during the seasonal program.  As I have said in the context of the Back to School program,  money spent on programs that are not executed in full, 100% of the time at 100% of your stores, is money wasted.

Reason #5: Hygiene and store cleanliness are critical to the success of the business.

This is generally the case in the food service industry for obvious health and safety reasons.  As customers, we do not ingest that which we do not trust and the restaurant’s cleanliness and general condition are the foundations of this trust.

Why you need to automate: prevent issues before they happen, identify and remedy problem areas quickly, protect the customer and employees’ health and safety, protect the brand.

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