The holidays are a stressful time, especially for brands and retailers.
It takes months to prepare for retail’s busiest season. And, thanks to the growing popularity of shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it seems to start earlier every year.
Much like an NBA playoff game, the 4th quarter is retail’s most important quarter, and critical to a company’s bottom line and future.
That’s why, whether you’re a business operating a handful of stores or hundreds, you need to conduct your store audits early if you want to make the most of the holiday season.
Why? Because once December hits it’s going to be hard to assess the health of your locations if you don’t have adequate tools and trained staff in place to comb through the aisles, collect data, and analyze information. And when improper communication and decision-making can affect total sales, pen and paper are never enough to get the job done.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Need to Get Your Store Audit Software Set Up Ahead of the Holiday Season
1. It Allows You to Test Out New Products, Measure Their Success, and Make Changes Early
According to research, roughly 30,000 consumer products are launched into the market every year, and up to 80% of them fail. Unsurprisingly, many hit shelves just in time for the holiday season, and that can be a problem when you don’t have historical data to help you formulate a good retail execution strategy.
That’s where store audit software comes in: with the proper platform you can enable field reps to collect real-time data early, centralize the information in one place, analyze it at HQ, and then use that knowledge to adjust placement, stock levels, and fix displays as it gets closer to crunch time.
2. Retail Audit Software Can Help You Map Out a Clear Creative and Product Direction for Your Brand
Although selecting the right products to launch in time for the holidays can be a bit of a shot in the dark, looking at your historical data can help brands figure out which repeating items will sell the best, at which locations, and when. With Foko Field, you can group that information store-by-store, so your team gets a better overview of what’s doing well at each location, and from one year to the next.
3. You Can Train New Field Team Members/Store Associates Ahead of the Holiday Rush
The holidays are one of the biggest times for seasonal hires, as retailers and brands struggle to accommodate shoppers with extended hours and more people on the sales floor. That means new associates aren’t always knowledgeable about a given company’s brand standards, merchandising best practices, and even general knowledge about products. In-store execution is often one of the first things to suffer, resulting in improperly displayed products. Also, out-of-stocks are a common occurrence.
By doing repeat store audits leading into the holiday season and during the sales rush, CPGs can help ensure brand consistency by monitoring retail execution from store-to-store, and even help train employees on Foko Field by sharing best practices of proper displays with the visual merchandising team.
4. Store Audit Software Helps You Centralize Data and Decide What to Measure Before the Sales Rush
Although holiday sales now occur during a three-month sales window, it’s still a small amount of time to capture data across multiple locations, and that can be stressful for field reps and managers, especially when that information often dictates plans for the following nine months.
That’s why it’s important to create a holiday playbook for your brand and decide what metrics matter to your brand early on. By looking at factors like in-store sales, ROI, and customer engagement, CPGs are better able to adjust stock levels and their retail execution strategy, whether in real time or for future holiday seasons.
5. It’s Best to Do It Early
There’s nothing worse in retail than poor customer experience.
Sometimes the wrong signage is still up, and when a customer goes to the cash register to check out, they realize that dress they’ve been waiting all December to go on sale actually isn’t.
Or maybe a particular item shows up as being in stock online, but once a shopper is in the store it’s nowhere to be found (and worse, the associates available don’t know where to find it, either).
That’s why reps should have store audit software enabled on mobile devices and sent out into the field early to conduct their surveys.
Doing so right before a big sales push allows staff enough time to complete their audits, minimizing the chances of these mistakes from happening.
The holiday season is a critical time for any CPG. By assessing your health early (and accurately), your brand will be in a better position to plan for the future and ride the holiday high year round.