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Enhanced Beverage Retail Audits: 12 Ways to Conduct Better Retail Audits in 3 Weeks

December 5, 2016

Many factors influence beverage sales, from shelf placement to a competitor’s marketing efforts.

Companies performing basic retail audits without strategic direction may overlook significant problems and fail to gain meaningful data. An enhanced beverage retail audit provides a comprehensive checklist designed to position businesses to optimize their marketing and sales efforts. Here are the 12 steps to our beverage retail audit process designed to improve and enhance data collection.

To provide something tangible to your team, download our FREE on-premise execution guide.

Auditing Your Own Beverages

1. Monitor Beverage Conditions

Are beverages being delivered and cared for properly? Perform multiple checks on products on the shelves, varying the time you visit to gather comprehensive data. Pay close attention to the condition of the products and the company responsible for delivery. If beverages routinely get damaged in the hands of a particular vendor, consider exploring the idea of working with other partners. Examine the expiration dates to ensure that inventory is being maintained according to plan. Increase the number of facings in each location by sending appropriate representatives to the store with clear directions. Field merchandising software helps track and analyze all of this information.

2. Monitor Shelf Interactions

The way customers interact with beverages can tell businesses a lot about current marketing and branding efforts. Send field representatives to various stores and instruct them to count how many customers interact with each product in a given time period. To ensure consistency, use retail audit software to note the number, type, and location of shelf sets. The brand’s facings information is necessary to start analyzing trends related to interactions based on product placement. From there, businesses can decide whether the promotional displays are effective and can be marked as successful. Look at your data to choose whether promoting certain beverages on a store-by-store basis will grow sales. More resources can go to top-performing stores, while those lagging behind get a lighter touch of attention.

3. Track Product Placement

The best places for promotional material vary from store to store. Determine the high-traffic areas for each location to optimize product positioning. These insights can be worked into planograms to show how and where products should be placed to increase the number of purchases. End caps, cold boxes, ice boxes, floor space, displays, and products front-of-store are all possible positions capable of improving beverage sales.

Don’t overlook the products inside cold boxes. Track the number of facings, POS, and inventory needs in these areas. Also, verify retail execution for products part of displays on the floor and shelves.

4. Ask Shoppers to Share Feedback About Displays

Some of the best feedback comes directly from the company’s intended audience. Send field reps to talk to buyers about standard displays and promotions. Learn what shoppers liked and disliked regarding the beverage marketing for further understanding about the industry as a whole.

5. Monitor Sales on a Micro Level

Take a closer look at small-scale trends, such as sales on a particular day of the week or inventory levels before and after a holiday. This collected retail data provides insights into fluctuations that may get overlooked without attention directed towards the micro level.

6. Identify Inventory Levels Over Time

Each store needs just the right amount of inventory. If products are delivered too frequently or not often enough, sales and branding will suffer.

7. Monitor Theft

Extensive beverage theft cuts into profits and makes it difficult to optimize sales at a specific retail location. Compare store purchases to the recorded inventory levels to ensure that products are not being stolen and are stocked in the right place.

8. Tracking POS

POS and other marketing materials need to be tracked, whether they’re on shelves, displays, cold boxes, end caps, or other locations. A few examples of materials to monitor include:

  • Traveler bottles: The mini bottle of liquor attached to a larger bottle of liquor.
  • Case cards: The posters on or above a display.
  • Shelf talkers: POS located on the shelf, but not directly on the bottle.
  • Necker: Tags on the alcohol bottle with descriptions or coupons.

Auditing Competing Beverages

Monitor the competition’s POS as well to understand what your competitors are doing and how it relates to your current beverage marketing efforts.

For even more in-depth information on competitive intelligence, download our FREE field guide.

9. Check for Trends in Your Competitor’s Marketing Activity

Field notes can record competitor’s marketing and in-store activity to discover trends and gather invaluable insights. Tracking your competitors and their business decisions can help further understanding about the local market and open up new opportunities.

10. Take Photos of Your Competitor’s Promotions

A written report of competitor’s promotions is useful, but it’s not the same without verification through real-time images. Instruct field reps to go out and take pictures of the competitor’s visual marketing. Look for trends in the visual elements to find the critical components resonating with the target customer.

11. Shelf Interactions of Competing Beverages

Compare the customer interactions with your beverages to those of your competition. Which beverages on the market are getting the most interactions? How do you define an interaction? Companies can understand their share of a particular category by also understanding the actions of their competition.

12. Closely Monitor Your Competitor’s Pricing

The timing and duration of your competition’s discounts can have a widespread effect on beverage sales in a certain category. Use a mobile data collection tool to record the pricing of competing beverages to know when sales and promotions occur.

Strategic retail audits provide the information companies need to optimize their beverage marketing and sales. This 12-point checklist equips field reps with the most important details to keep in mind during an audit, as well as hitting on all the requirements to gain a true understanding of beverage trends. To learn more about some of our on-premise and off-premise retail execution strategies, download our FREE guides to provide to your field reps, today!

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