Best Practices of Executing a Visibility Audit

We live in a time when it is not enough for brands to be simply available in stores, while other elements associated with its visibility are equally important. Visibility majorly includes store frontage, in-store furniture & fixtures, demonstration units, branding elements and other point-of-sale promotional materials.

In retail segments with either high competition intensity and where the brand offering is similar as competition, Visibility/Retail upkeep acts as a differentiator. With brands expanding opening multiple stores and expanding their retail footprint, it becomes difficult to ensure all stores are being maintained as per the company standards. Hence, Visibility audits are conducted to assess the retail hygiene of brands. Channelplay has been conducting visibility audits since long and adopt some of the best practices as follows:

  1. Declared audit but not a pre-informed one: Visibility audits are declared audits where the auditor declares that he/she is there to conduct an audit and presents an authorization letter from the brand. However, the auditor must not call the store number and inform about the day & time when he/she shall be conducting the audit. This ensures the store is audited in its natural setting and retailers maintaining the store on a regular basis unknowing of the date the audit would happen.
  1. Store location validation: Visibility audits are supported with picture proofs which are geo tagged, which helps to match the location coordinates with the actual store location/address to validate the authenticity of the audit.
  1. Spotting window dressing: Unannounced visibility audits reduces the chances of “Window dressing scenarios at the store. The shoppers when they arrive at the store must do a primary walk/check which helps them scan the store look and feel at the time of entrance and in case of any change during the audit - it can be reported as window dressing. For example, switching on a device in a smartphone store, or in-store promoter wearing name tag etc.
  1. Valid visual proofs with responses: Visibility audits evaluate retail stores against a standard set of questions & guidelines as provided by the client. While the shoppers should not only record responses against these questions, but also capture valid picture proofs to support their claim.
  1. On-the-job training guide: A good practice is to build an on-the-job training guide which auditor can access anytime during the audit to record the observations in the right way.
  1. Real-time query resolution: During the field execution, there should be a real-time query resolution helpdesk/helpline number ensuring efficient query resolution and timely reporting.
  1. Audit to auditor ratio: A low audit to auditor ratio ensures lower possibility of any personal prejudice in terms of judging some specific parameter and hence not swaying the overall results in a possibly wrong direction.
  1. Multiple level quality check: There should be a multi-level Quality check process to assess the report submitted by auditor. Also, there must be a feature to send back reports to the auditor for relevant corrections/improvements, if required.

With the above practices, the chances of error reduce, thereby leading to realistic representation of facts and better-quality reporting.

Topics: Mystery Shopping & Audits