CJRS Hamburger Close Client Login CJRS Login

Data & Retail Merchandising – Where do you start?

Data & Retail Merchandising – Where do you start?

When a manufacturer’s products leave the factory, the second phase of their life-cycle starts: monitoring their performance in-store and seeking ways to improve it, or at least to prevent its decline. This is achieved through the diligent gathering of data on their merchandising and saleability, so performance can be analysed and improved. 

Why choose a retail audit?

A retail audit is the most reliable way of ensuring retail standards are met and that agreements between suppliers and stores are being met. The audit can be carried out by the supplier, the store or a third-party representative, or a mixture of two or all of them.

It is essentially a box-ticking exercise, with a set of questions that can easily and clearly be answered by the auditor with regard to each product in question:

  • Does it appear exactly on the shelves as per the agreed planogram?
  • Is the stock in good condition?
  • Are the shelves well stocked, out of stock or in half-stocked?
  • Where in the store are the products?
  • How are competing brands displayed, and how are they performing?
  • Are any promotions running?
  • What is the regular price?
  • How are the products selling?

The audit will often be accompanied by photographs, and each product will get its own record in a database so data can be measured over time. It’s accurate, reliable and actionable and is a good way of gauging consistency across stores.

If it has a downside, it’s that it can be quite labour-intensive as it requires a rep to visit a store and physically check the shelves. That’s one reason the store manager might carry it out, with occasional spot checks from the supplier.

An alternative is to gauge customer opinion about the product through surveys, which is good at getting qualitative data, but less useful for quantitative analysis, especially over time. 

Opting for a retail store survey

With a retail store survey, the aim is to gauge customer emotion about your product, particularly with a view to how it is retailed. In many ways it is just as essential as a retail audit, because the data it gathers can be used to influence new products and how to market or improve existing ones.

A store survey can, for example, detect whether a product is overpriced or simply not liked. A retail audit can erroneously place the blame on poor displays or aggressive competition, which can set in train a series of marketing and merchandising actions that cost money to implement but have little effect on sales.

Asking customers (or, perhaps more importantly, non-customers) how they view your product and its price point can save a lot of retail analysis work. The problem could be closer to home.

How to make a start

Whether you choose audits or surveys (or better still, a blend of the two), it’s important to make sure you auditors and surveyors are skilled at their job.

That’s why it makes sense to use a professional third-party service. In addition to the expertise, you’ll get an impartial, data-led set of results that you can trust to be valuable and actionable.

If you want to build up a complete picture of your products’ performance and how they are viewed by the public, have a talk with CJ Retail Solutions about our retail auditing and surveying services. Then you can start making improvements based on real-life insight and data, not just instinct.