11 July 2016
A store visit is a retail teams most effective way to manage store performance. To be valuable, visits must be consistent and scalable. This requires a store review framework.
Here are some things to consider when designing a store visit template:
Store visits are usually conducted by an Area Manager. However, many retailers also carry out visual merchandising reviews, health and safety checks and leadership visits. Ideally each type of visit should have its own template that corresponds to it’s objectives.
All store review templates have different purposes. Area Managers might have a quarterly “Full-day store visit” template as well as a less detailed version for frequent visits. Checklists can be designed with different objectives, such as loss prevention, peak season, visual merchandising, health and safety and even training. Once a template is created it should be used by the field team for each review.
It’s important to monitor stores regularly. Frequent visits from an Area Manager helps to set expectations and form good habits. The store review is not just a chance to evaluate practices at store level, it’s a vital opportunity for the store manager to tell head office about any operational or market related issues that the store is facing.
We believe that a review should be conducted on every store visit. We recommend creating a basic store visit template, for example an “Impact Visit”, or a “Pit Stop Visit”, for the Area Manager to use on short or impromptu visits. We think that a record should be maintained for each and every visit. This helps paint a picture of each area and provides insight into what is happening at store-level.
Naturally Area Managers will want to focus on their ‘problem’ stores, but it’s important that they visit high performing stores too. Why? Well, it’s a great way to uncover best practice and it can improve morale. A high review score can provide the store team with a motivational boost and foster healthy competition between stores.
The right equipment, infrastructure and software can provide a massive boost in productivity and efficiency. Applied to retail operations, it will cause a positive ripple effect across the store portfolio, resulting in better customer experience. The right technology can help cut costs and support strategic growth initiatives like experiential shopping.
When designing your store review framework consider the tools and infrastructure that are available to your central, field and store teams:
The store review is more than just a performance measure. Store reviews help to identify and correct operational deficiencies. We call this ‘closing the loop’ on task management. If you roll out a new review template, make sure that reported issues are corrected in a timely manner. Technology can automate task scheduling, communication, and task completion.