Even the most awe-inspiring building in the world wouldn't last long without a solid foundation. You cannot accomplish and sustain outstanding customer experiences and competitive differentiation if you don't consistently meet your customers' basic expectations. Compliance audits are critical for any organization to establish baseline excellence.
Establishing foundational excellence for your company demands compliance with various requirements. We offer our clients customized auditing programs that focus on their specific opportunities. Two common opportunities that an audit program can address are merchandise availability and pricing accuracy.
Studies show that the primary reason customers leave stores without purchasing is because they cannot find the products they want to buy. In fact, one such study found that customers left without purchasing three times more often because of not finding merchandise rather than for lack of, or discourteous, service*.
The vast majority of these “walkout” customers assume that the merchandise is out of stock or unavailable because it's not located in the area they expect it to be; in reality, the merchandise is often just misplaced in the store. Ensuring merchandise is out on the selling floor in its proper place is a very basic but very profitable opportunity for all retailers and manufacturers.
No customer should leave empty-handed and disappointed because merchandise isn't placed per planogram specifications or because it's hidden in back rooms or other storage areas.
As outlined in a report by the Federal Trade Commission, failure to comply with pricing accuracy laws can lead to the imposition of substantial fines and administrative or judicial orders. The Department of Weights and Measures regularly sends inspectors to retailers to verify that prices are posted and that shelf prices match checkout prices. Violations typically occur when a store exceeds a 2% error rate*.
Over a five-year period, in the state of Arizona alone, an automotive supply company was fined more than $170,000, and a retail chain was fined more than $450,000. In Michigan, a retail company agreed to a record $1.5 million settlement to resolve claims that it committed repeated pricing violations.
In addition to legal risks, inaccurate pricing causes customer inconvenience, dissatisfaction and distrust. It only takes one overcharge incident to significantly damage your relationship with a customer, and some customers won't give you a second chance. It is estimated that 1 percent to 3 percent of customers will completely stop shopping at a particular store if they discover they have been overcharged*.
Undercharges, too are detrimental to the bottom line. When prices show higher on the selling floor than what they truly are at checkout, sales are deterred and customers' perceptions of your competitiveness are negatively impacted.
The BestMark Advantage — Compliance Audit
With more than 30 years of experience, we can help you understand which critical opportunities you need to address for your business, and we can customize an auditing program for your specific needs.
At BestMark, we understand operations, technology and research, and we know what it takes to implement an exceedingly effective auditing program:
- Auditor Coverage: We have auditors where you need them - in more than 13,000 cities and towns across the country.
- 100 Percent Completion: At BestMark, we never break our promises. Our promised completion rate is 100 percent - no exceptions, no excuses. Furthermore, the quality and accuracy of our audit results are the best in the industry. (See the details around our Quality Assurance Processes)
- Audit-Specific Expertise: Many companies that offer both mystery shopping and auditing services fail to recognize that these two types of programs are very different and need to be managed as such. Not all mystery shoppers can be successful auditors and vice-versa. We know how training, instructions and certification for auditing programs must be different from mystery shopping, and we are experts on the most effective methodologies for both. Our extensively trained and tested auditors will know exactly what to inspect at your locations.
- Trained, Certified, Talented Auditors: Effective auditing programs often necessitate that the auditors work directly with your line-level employees. BestMark auditors understand that their job is not to point fingers, but to respectfully partner with your employees towards the ultimate goal of identifying improvements and maintaining your company's positive brand image.
A BestMark compliance auditing program enables our clients to:
- Increase sales through ensuring merchandise is correctly priced and appropriately placed on the selling floor, promotional signs and displays are present and correctly positioned
- Maintain a positive brand image by understanding and focusing on the key merchandising areas that most significantly affect their customers' perceptions
- Avoid legal issues
- And much more
Audit results will only provide value if that data is actually used to improve conditions at the location, so it is critical that the data is useful at the operator level. With that in mind, BestMark created GuestLink, a proprietary web-based reporting system that allows clients to create, update and track data at all levels within the organization for performance feedback, coaching, and issue resolution. BestMark clients are also able to dynamically create ad hoc reports on the fly and update customized "Action Plans." With store managers directly accessing audit results via GuestLink, issue resolution can occur at the front lines almost immediately. In addition, our auditors can share the audit results on-site with your location management to bring their attention to any issues that need immediate attention.
Contact BestMark to learn more about how we can unlock your company's potential for ever-increasing success.
1. Customers left without purchasing three times more often because of not finding merchandise than for lack of, or discourteous, service. Source: Hathcote, Jan M. (1995). Consumer reasons for store 'walkouts' and the impact on future store patronage. International Journal of Consumer Studies 19, no. 1: 49 – 55.
2. Violations typically occur when a store exceeds a two percent error rate. Source: Federal Trade Commission Report. October 22, 1996. http://www.ftc.gov/reports/scanner1/scanners.shtm
3. One to three percent of customers will completely stop shopping at a particular store if they discover they have been overcharged. Source: Garry, Michael. (1993). Scanners: Error Control. Progressive Grocer (June): 105