5 Things to Include in a Retail Store Visit Report
Store visits and audits are necessary for assessing the effectiveness and performance of your retail stores and campaigns, but they aren’t always conducted as efficiently as they could be. One useful element is having store visit reports that are easy to create, share between teams, and analyze at the corporate level, which can save retailers a lot of time, resources, and energy.
By creating a checklist that includes all the information needed during an audit and included in a store visit report, retailers and brands are better able to understand individual stores’ strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, those findings can then be turned into action items that lead to better in-store execution and results.
Perfecting the art of a store visit report can streamline the audit process and help your teams find and fix problems faster. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your store visit reports. We’ve also included how to perform one of these audits digitally without ever having to send a field team to the store.
But before getting into how to write a store visit report, let’s go over why store visit reports are so crucial to a store’s success.
Why Are Store Visit Reports Important?
Store visit reports are crucial for auditing stores and detailing next steps and necessary actions. The store visit report should highlight any issues found during an audit and what needs to be done to correct or improve them.
Basically, store visit reports summarize problem areas and offer advice on how to boost productivity, increase compliance, cut costs, and improve communication—all of which contribute to creating a better customer experience.
What to Include in a Store Visit Report
What to include in your store visit report will ultimately depend on the type of audit you are conducting. For example, a merchandising audit would focus on product arrangement, promotional signage, and store layouts, while an operations-related audit would focus more on cleanliness, safety, and staff compliance with policies and procedures.
Nevertheless, there are some key elements that should be included in most store visit reports:
To note if (or how correctly) certain tasks are being carried out, reports should include either an option to check “yes” or “no” or a ranking from 1 to 10.
Explanation of expectations
Reports should clearly describe what the store should be doing, so that what the store is actually doing can be properly assessed.
The report should provide clear instructions for areas that need improvement, in addition to checking “no” or giving a low number ranking.
Reports should ideally include photos of the store’s problem areas (that are clearly highlighted, marked up, or explained) and examples of what the problem area should actually look like.
The report should open and close with a quick summary of the main issues and steps that need to be taken immediately. This allows employees at all levels to quickly scan the reports and get an overview of store performance, even if they are not required to go through the full report in detail.
(Today’s retail audit software can help streamline this process, allowing field team members to follow up with store teams directly.)
How to Write a Store Visit Report
First, you need to decide what data your field team managers should collect and assess with their store visits.
For example, a store visit report that focuses on merchandising, as previously discussed, will assess whether displays are set up correctly (and in the right place), campaigns are current, and products are in stock.
Meanwhile, a store visit report that’s more operations-focused may assess a store’s general appearance and confirm whether health guidelines are being maintained, store opening and closing procedures are being followed, and staff are up to date with the most recent training.
Traditionally, retailers create store visit report templates and have field team members collect and input the data manually (either through a spreadsheet or with old-fashioned pen and paper), collating multiple store visit reports to find common problems and areas of improvement. But retailers and brands are increasingly going digital to speed up and simplify store audits.
Conducting a Digital Visit
Depending on the data required, a digital audit may be much simpler and more cost-efficient than sending out field teams. Making use of digital workforce management software, on-site managers or employees can use their personal devices to document their findings and any areas that need improvement.
Begin by setting up an interactive checklist in your program’s task manager. This way, the employee can check off audit tasks as they go. The on-site employee can take video, photos, and specific notes and even livestream back to HQ. With a proper workforce management program, all the information can be kept safe and secure, data can be stored for future use, and HQ and stores can easily communicate in real time to navigate around obstacles or brainstorm new ideas.
It’s not easy keeping a shop running smoothly and efficiently. But with the right tools and planning, your teams can more easily follow through on knowledge gleaned from these store visits. Whether done in-person or 100% digitally, they’re just the checkup necessary to keep your teams at peak performance
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