Retail Audit Guide: Dos, Don’ts, and More (2024)

Retail Audit Guide: Dos, Don’ts, and More (2024)

Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author
Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author

Jessica O

January 23, 2024


Jan 23, 2024


6 min read

Representation of a retail audit
Representation of a retail audit
Representation of a retail audit
Representation of a retail audit

As a retail business owner, you’re at the heart of a rapidly evolving industry, and understanding every aspect of your store is crucial for success. This constant evolution brings with it unique challenges, including keeping up with market trends, managing inventory effectively, and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Now, imagine a tool that not only helps you navigate these challenges but also turns them into opportunities for growth. This is where a retail audit comes into play. This strategic process helps you gain deep insights into your store’s operations, including what’s working, what isn’t, and where you can improve.

In this article, we delve into the world of retail audits. You’ll learn about their importance, the different types, and practical tips to implement in your store.

What is a retail audit?

A retail audit is a complete evaluation of a store’s operations. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Inventory management

  • Merchandising

  • Customer service

  • Store layout

  • Compliance with company policies and market standards

Usually, the person in charge of the audit is someone who works for the store, like a store manager or someone who looks after several stores. Sometimes, however, stores hire outside experts to do the audit to offer a new point of view.

How often a store needs an audit depends on what the store needs. Some stores might do it every few months, while others might do it more often, like every month or even every week. This frequency can vary based on the store’s size or the time of year.

What are the different types of retail audits?

There are different types of retail audits, each focusing on a specific area of your store’s operations. Here’s a brief overview:

A list of types of retail audits

  • Retail market audits look at the overall market where your store operates. They’re done to understand trends, customer preferences, and how your store fits into the bigger picture.

  • Merchandising audits focus on how products are displayed, priced, and promoted in your store. They’re usually done regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) to ensure that your store always looks appealing to customers.

  • Promotional audits check how well your sales promotions and campaigns are doing. They’re performed during or after promotional periods to measure their effectiveness.

  • Loss prevention audits aim to find and reduce theft, damage, or any loss of goods. They’re done regularly to keep your store safe and secure.

  • Competitor survey audits help you understand your position in the market compared to others. They are usually done periodically, such as once a quarter.

What are the benefits of performing retail audits?

Retail audits help you understand what’s working well in your store and what needs to be improved. Here’s why regularly performing them is so important:

To ensure optimal store layout

Audits help verify if the store layout and product placement align with the planned design (planogram). Having the store correctly set up helps customers find what they need, which can lead to more sales.

To keep inventory levels accurate

Regular audits help ensure that your ‌inventory management is on point, reducing the risk of overstocking or stockouts. Audits also prevent loss and shrinkage and help you identify damaged products and areas that are prone to theft. You can then implement preventive measures to reduce losses and boost profitability.

A person holding an ipad checking inventory.

To better understand your customers

By evaluating sales data, customer interactions, and store layout, audits can provide insights into customer behavior and preferences. You can then tailor your business plan to better serve your customers and address their needs.

To make data-driven decisions

You can use the data from audits to help you make informed decisions, such as which products to stock up on or which marketing strategies are most effective.

To ensure compliance

Audits help ensure that the store complies with legal regulations and company policies. This reduces the risk of fines and reputational damage.

The do’s and don’ts of retail auditing

While retail auditing is a crucial step for any successful store, it’s easy to get lost in its intricacies. Here are some essential tips and pitfalls to avoid to help you master your retail audits with confidence:


1. Do use technology

Retail audits involve many moving parts, and managing them can be overwhelming. However, harnessing the power of a platform like Lark helps make these audits easier and more efficient.

Using Lark Base, you can create a retail store inspection system that sends instant notifications about store tasks directly to your phone so that you’re always in the loop with store operations, no matter where you are. That means no more back-and-forth during your retail audits. Instead, you get updates right away when something’s done without having to ask.

Example safety inspection data on Lark Base

With real-time dashboards and analysis at your fingertips, you can make more informed decisions on how to improve your store’s overall quality and success. Lark’s detailed reporting helps you track progress over time, ensuring that every audit leads to meaningful and measurable improvements.

2. Do create a detailed checklist

Draw up a comprehensive checklist that includes every aspect of your store, from inventory and merchandising to customer service and cleanliness. This guarantees a thorough and consistent audit process.

3. Do use objective metrics and external perspectives

Utilize clear, objective metrics, like sales data, inventory turnover, and customer traffic counts. These provide unbiased benchmarks for evaluating your store’s performance.

While internal assessments are valuable, complement them with external audits or customer surveys to gain a well-rounded view of your store’s operations.

Lark OKR offers a practical tool for converting strategic goals into measurable outcomes. It promotes transparency and enhances collaboration by making everyone’s OKRs accessible, from team members to the CEO. With intuitive dashboards that offer valuable insights, this tool can simplify the tracking and updating of your retail audit OKRs, helping you steer your team effectively toward your store’s success.

Example goals outlined in Lark OKR

4. Do create actionable steps post-audit

After the audit, identify key areas for improvement and create a detailed plan with specific, actionable steps. Set clear goals and timelines for implementing these changes.


1. Don’t ignore customer feedback

Actively seek customer feedback and incorporate it into your audit process. This can give you valuable insights into customers’ experiences and expectations.

Consider using Lark Base to better collect and address customer feedback. With it, you can create a form for your customers to easily fill in on their mobile devices. Not only that, but you can also address and analyze the results by finding and solving their root causes.

Image of customer feedback data in Lark Base

2. Don’t overlook small details

Pay attention to small details that can significantly impact the customer experience, such as store cleanliness, staff behavior, and product placement.

3. Don’t delay in taking action

Once you’ve identified areas that need improvement, act swiftly. Delays can lead to exacerbated issues and missed opportunities for enhancing customer satisfaction and store performance.

With Lark in place, your retail audit results can be further converted into tasks with the responsible personnel tagged and reminded. These individuals can receive proactive notifications on these upcoming tasks without having to be manually reminded.

Image of the retail audit task tracker in Lark

This way, you can not only make sure that all tasks are acted on in a timely manner, but also log all the changes made and further analyze what works and what doesn’t.

Get the most out of your retail audit with Lark

Retail audits are more than just routine checks; they’re key to your store’s success and the happiness of your customers.

And when you do them right, with help from tools like Lark, they can really make a difference.

Lark’s retail store inspection system is a game-changer in the realm of retail audits. By embracing real-time data capture and analysis, you not only streamline the auditing process but also unlock deeper insights into store performance and compliance. With Lark, you propel your store toward long-term growth.

Ready to see what Lark can do for you and your store? Sign up for a free trial today.

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