Did you know that ninety percent of purchasing decisions are based on visual appearance alone? So, it’s imperative to monitor it and if you aren’t following best practices of Visual Merchandising audits, you are losing sales.
In today’s world, everything we want to sell has to be visually appealing not only in terms of the packaging but also positioning and displaying of the product. Imagine who would want to buy a product off the rusted shelf or product placed upside down or product not found in a designated section or product covered in dust. No one, right! That’s why brands these days are focusing on various aspects of Visual Merchandising to provide stimulating customer experience and making sure to entice the customer to shop.
In other words,
“Visual Merchandising is a proven way to win the heart of a customer.”
When it is clearly known how important Visual Merchandising is for the sales and brand image, audits are a way to make sure that there is proper display of products, strengthen relationships with key retailers, avoiding out of stock possibility, competition analysis and providing a visually appealing experience to the customers.
If you are looking to nail Visual Merchandising Audit for your brand, here are some of the best practices followed across industries.
Set Right Expectations about Visual Merchandising Audits with Field Representatives:
It will be a good idea to brief the representatives about the objectives of the audit before getting them started on the field. Setting right expectations with the field representatives will not only make the audits most effective but also will instil confidence when the goals of the activity will be shared with the representatives.
Optimally timed visits to the stores:
The focus of Visual merchandising audit should be that products are always displayed in a manner that maximises sales and thus field representatives should make sure to regularly visit the stores. The schedule of the representatives should be built around important factors like last visit date, store location, and audit issues captured in prior visits. This best practice of Visual Merchandising Audit will ensure that all the stores are being timely audited and being actioned upon.
Create a Standard Checklist to keep data collection consistent:
When there are field representatives assigned for audits, it is crucial to have a standard checklist during every store visit. If representatives will have a set of things to check and report each time they visit a store, they will have organised data. Then this data can be used for actionable insights which can further add value to visual merchandising and thus lead to a bump in sales.
Inventory Audit :
Taking an account of inventory isn’t only about auditing the products lined up on shelves, but also taking a count of the stocks stored in boxes near the shelves, as well as stock in the store’s storage room. Generally, about 5% of retail store’s lost sales are due to stock out. So, in order to avoid stock out situation and lost sales, take an accurate count of in stock products and record that in an organised manner.
Collect Qualitative Visual Merchandising inputs from the retail stores:
It is ofocurse known that analysis of quantifiable sales data will help in projections and forecasting, but with qualitative observational data, insights into the areas where the brand struggles and needs improvement can be found and worked upon.
If the qualitative data collected during audits can be organised well, the issues in dropped sales and other store level concerns can be taken actions upon.
Common examples of these could be :
- Old, worn out or badly created displays on point of sales.
- Inappropriate and unkept shelf arrangement can hurt brand image and visibility.
Examining these issues can help in identifying, and solving these issues with appropriate solutions leading to a boost in sales.
Keep a track of Competition:
In the world of competition, it’s obvious to keep an eye on competitors. It is a good idea for field reps to take a detailed and structured account of competition like positioning, promotions and advertising in store. With geo-tagging features in the apps from Wooqer, it is convenient to know the details of the particular store and subsequent actions can be taken.
Share Information from the store on the go to make real time decisions about Visual Merchandising:
Everytime a prospective customer in a store walks through your brand’s products and buys competitors’ because of your poor visual merchandising, it’s a lost sale not only for that one time but for probably the next few as well. To avoid this situation, it’s imperative to take corrective measures for improved visual merchandising in real time. Technology plays a huge role in equipping the field representative to share real time information with the team so that data backed decisions can be taken in real time. It will not only avoid lost sales but also will save the brand both time and money.
Implementing the above mentioned best practices for Visual Merchandising Audit will not only help a brand to ensure that retailers are correctly implementing the retail audit strategy, but will also provide an opportunity to grow sales. Leading companies are leveraging a combination of an intuitive and smart visual merchandising retail audit app like Wooqer to get clear, accurate, store-level data and take retail merchandising to new heights.
There is not an iota of doubt that visual merchandising in retail stores is absolutely crucial in the business’s longevity and sustainability. It subtly affects the customers’ purchasing decisions and can convert potential customers to real customers. From brand voice to customer experience to sales, visual merchandising is much more than just arranging products in an aesthetically appealing way. It’s about what a brand stands for and the kind of experience it wants to create for its customers.