Audits have been the lifeline for managing and monitoring transactions since the 18th century when the practice of large-scale production proliferated during the Industrial Revolution. Systems of rigorous scrutiny were implemented to maintain accountability as early as the days of Egyptians & Romans. Retail audits have seen the evolution of trade, from the barter system to copper coins to paper currency to digital payments. Sometimes referred to as store inspections, retail audits are one of the most crucial tools that give visibility into the post-distribution scenario.
A retail audit is a mechanism that allows CPG companies to keep a check on the strategy execution inside stores, monitor operations, ensure compliance with the merchandising requirements and elevate the shopper experience. It directly affects the chain of actors & their course of action involved in CPG sales, starting from the marketing leaders to the sales directors to the on-field force.
But the process of auditing stores and formulating actionable insights out of the observations is a cumbersome task. Field representatives spend 20+ hours per week on store visits. Even after this, manual audits are a hotspot for anthropogenic errors, limit scalability, and are time & resource hungry.
Most retail store audits, today, are periodic inspections conducted to evaluate compliance, store performance, and product performance. These audits are spearheaded and executed by area managers, internal or external auditors, or the field force depending on the bandwidth. The sole objective of such audits is to assess the performance of the existing sales strategy, identify the weak links in the same & address them in the next GTM plan. Here’s a quick rundown on how conventional retail store audits are conducted:
The field representative/district manager visits a set of stores in a particular area and makes observations on the ground.
The authority is responsible to check for a set of pre-determined in-store metrics like Share of Shelf, Planogram Compliance, Trade Promotions, SKU distribution, Product Placement, Adjacencies, etc.
Based on the observations and calculations made on the ground, a cumulative report is presented to the decision-making management.
However, after the pandemic struck in 2019, there has been a sharp decline of over 75% in such in-person store audits.
With Image Recognition and AI, gathering in-store execution data at speed and scale makes store audits automated and simplified. This is made possible by enabling merchandisers to capture a few pictures of the retail shelves using their mobile cameras. The Image Recognition AI then processes the captured images to derive critical retail execution & business insights. Image Recognition Technology helps digitize and standardize audits to get consistent and accurate data more frequently which enables sales and marketing teams to make timely decisions.
The information interpreted by image recognition software can help track sales trends, too. Tapping into the data on how well different brands and SKUs are selling, retailers may boost the sales of priority SKUs by placing them closer to the buyer.
Infilect is a leader in retail visual intelligence helping CPG brands worldwide with automated in-store audits, per-store sales increase, real-time insights, and competitive intelligence.
Image Recognition, because of its wide spectrum of use cases, has deeply rooted dependencies across the various departments of CPG sales, especially store audits. Image Recognition has led to the introduction of “Click & Go” audits, wherein, the human resources who are allocated to perform the store audits do not have to manually count for or record any entries on the field. Rather, the job boils down to simply clicking pictures of the store. This cuts down on store audit time with a super-easy mobile app for in-store image capture.
A comprehensive visual intelligence platform for the most accurate, real-time in-store execution insights.
Capturing of high quality in-store images by on-field merchandisers.
Accurately identifies SKUs and display promotions from the images captured from every store.
Critical and actionable execution insights are made available on the InfiViz Dashboard and shared using trackers directly into stakeholder inbox.
Execution insights and targeted action plans are available to on-field merchandisers within 60 seconds.