Conducting store inspections (also called retail audits, store visits, or store walks) should be on every retailer’s agenda to protect store operations. Why? Store inspections promote higher overall compliance with brand standards, shrink the gap between stores and head office, and improve customer experience by ensuring merchandising, service, and safety standards are executed consistently.
So what types of inspections should you be performing in your stores?
We recommend starting with Health and Safety, Merchandising, Operations, and Loss Prevention inspections across all stores at regular intervals.
Health & Safety
While health and safety inspections are a given for anyone in the food industry (QSRs, restaurants, grocery stores) all retailers can benefit from a health and safety program. Are employees following handwashing protocols? Are facilities properly sanitized? Are aisles obstructed presenting a tripping hazard? Are fire extinguishers available and sprinkler systems working? Are heavy items kept on lower shelves to prevent injury? The list goes well beyond food safety.
While injuries can be costly, it is the indirect expenses that can really add up for retailers: loss of productivity, replacement employee training, and legal fees. This is why experts estimate that every $1 invested in injury prevention returns between $2 – $6 dollars!
When it comes to keeping employees and customers safe, prevention is always best. It’s a good idea to regularly review you handwashing, sanitization, and cleaning protocols and procedures. Ensure employee illness policies are communicated and that employees know who to contact in case of illness or incident.
You can start with Compliant IA’s Health and Safety Checklist to inspect your stores. If you use Compliant IA for your store inspections, you also have the option of attaching your best practice health and safety policies directly to your questions.
When it comes to health and safety, communication is key. In crisis situations with rapidly changing events, it’s important to keep stores in the loop through a secure channel.
Push updates to your checklists and policies instantly so everyone is on the same page and working with the best information without wasting time with emails that can be ignored.
Additionally, turnover is high in retail and attaching your resources directly to your inspection questions is a great way to get everyone on the same page without requiring employees to track down resources.
On a scale of one to ten, how presentable are your stores? Are facilities in good repair, customer areas clean, staff assisting customers, and the POS clear of clutter and personal items? If you can’t answer these questions or your answers are months old, it’s time to conduct an operations inspection.
Use this Store Operations Checklist to make certain your stores are up to standard. When you do find deficiencies, use Compliant IA’s action plan to assign non-compliant items for resolution and track completion in real time so you always know issues are resolved before they damage your brand.
Treat each operations inspection as an opportunity to communicate with your frontline employees and as a two-way learning opportunity. Your store employees are your most important brand ambassadors, so be sure to take the time to let them ask questions, listen to their concerns and insights, and offer resources.
There is more to loss prevention than preventing shoplifting. The scope of shrink in retail also includes administrative errors. In fact, more than 21% of annual retail shrink stems from price mislabeling, unclear training, and lost paperwork!
Employee theft accounts for another 30% of annual shrink. Conducting regular loss prevention inspections and using Compliant IA can help lower both those numbers.
Compliant IA gives retailers a platform for two-way trackable communication eliminating the opportunity for paperwork error and lost emails. Inspections are also faster with some customers reporting a 50% reduction in time spent on store inspections.
Loss prevention inspections themselves reinforce your loss prevention policies and focus across your stores. What’s more, they engage your employees, and engaged employees are less likely to commit acts of theft. Here is a Loss Prevention Checklist to get you started.
Eighty-six percent of retailers agree there is a direct correlation between well-executed merchandising programs and conversion rates. Alarmingly, less than 40% of promotional displays are executed properly. By performing merchandising inspections you ensure displays are visually appealing, promotions are in place, pricing is correct, and shelves are stocked.
About 90% of purchasing decisions are based on visual appearance alone! Be sure your displays are customer ready using Compliant IA’s Merchandising Checklist. You can also use Compliant IA to send merchandising tasks to your stores (displaying new signage, setting up POP displays, rotating featured products), verify completion with photos, and provide stores a way to communicate any issues up to head office.
Store inspections reduce risk, drive sales, and increase customer satisfaction. Ready to institute store inspections across your locations to protect store operations? Compliant IA is here to help. With a 30-day free trial you can upload your checklists and get into you stores right away.