Best Practices

Why departmental audits do not reflect the true picture of retail business ❓

Jun 21, 2021 5 min read

Qvalon Blog article content

A whole picture 

As a company, if your efforts are limited to solving issues and concerns of your retail outlets only, then probably you are looking at just half the problem. Solely from a business standpoint, it is unfair to assume that the root cause for all your work troubles lay in your retail offices.

True solutions to your business problems will come,

  • When your entire human resource, including you, is analyzed.

  • When complete work processes are scrutinized for probable causes, or just for optimization.

An example

Let’s take a popular example to understand better.

The world’s largest passenger airplane, Airbus A380 is designed and developed through collaboration between four European countries; Germany, France, England, and Spain. There were delays in the initial designing phase as German and Spanish engineers used software that wasn’t compatible with what the French and British engineers used. Though it would seem that engineers were to blame for not using compatible software, the fault was actually of the planning team. They didn’t release any software guidelines for engineers, as they themselves didn’t foresee such a scenario.

A more relatable example from the retail business is Tie Rack. The British tie retailer failed to do its research about men’s shopping behavior. Their stores only sold scarves, ties, and cufflinks, but it turned out men were mostly buying their ties when they bought shirts. Even though Tie Rack offered quality ties, it wasn’t enough to wow its target. Again, retail outlets and their staff would be blamed for poor sales, but the actual issue laid with the marketing department that didn’t do enough research on their customer’s purchase behaviors.

In both the above examples, incomplete audits or inspections would have hinted the blame on staff employed at the store or outlet.

When the audits are focused on only a part of the organization, not it's whole, it is natural that they would conclude incorrect results. These lead to incorrect solutions, such as,

  • Complete training for employees, (especially for those at the center of the problem).

  • Investments in monitoring tools and technologies.

  • Repetitive and more stringent reporting.

  • Employee changes (hiring and firing).

  • Work process restructuring.

Correct solutions to problems diagnosed incompletely will keep any retail business riddled with issues.

In most cases, the original concern continues as before. In worse scenarios, the concern deepens or a new issue comes up which needs attention. The applied solutions are incorrect if,

  • After a brief period of improvement, the original trends reappear.

  • Every effort on retail store staff has been unfruitful.

  • More and more outlets are facing similar issues.

  • Customer satisfaction is declining.

Most of the giants of retail businesses have enough manpower and financial leverage to absorb losses, although they too have their breaking points. This allows them more time to eventually dwell down to the correct reasons and work on solutions. Still, be it any business, every loss should be avoidable. This is even truer for retail businesses with a few hundred outlets only. They do not have the leverage available to the industry giants. They cannot make repeated mistakes or allow a problem to remain unsolved for too long. 

So what to do?

departmental audits for retail business
  • Do not assume that reason for a problem and its effect will be in the vicinity of each other. Often, they can be very distant.

  • While zeroing into the root cause, seek the participation of all departments and personnel.

  • Rely on numbers and feedbacks. Personal opinions, presumptions, and lack of research are a hindrance.

  • Structure the data as you jump from retail offices to regional offices, and then finally to national office or headquarters.

  • Watch your competitors. Gauge if they are also facing any similar problems. If yes, then is the problem specific to the whole industry? What solutions competitors have employed?

To write about what to do, not to do, how to do is easy. To work as per that is difficult. The challenge is more so for those retail businesses that have a presence in multiple cities. The sheer geography and size of their organization make it difficult to maintain the authenticity of data collection at each human resource level. There is always a chance of human errors or influence meddling with the data.

Also, it is difficult to collect and analyze data quickly. Imagine a scenario of data being recorded in excels and spreadsheets by each store which is then passed on to the regional manager. There it is collated into a single report and then shared with the national manager. There again reports from different regional offices are crunched for actual analysis. There can be many circumstances, controllable and uncontrollable, which would delay the whole data collection.

How retail businesses can avoid and overcome such challenges? With QVALON you can share surveys with your retail workforce. The surveys are around the probable causes of the problem your business is facing. The survey breaks down probable causes into questions relevant to the everyday work of an employee.

Data collected through such surveys is conveniently shared across departments and HR hierarchies. The data takes shape as per the designation of the employee accessing it for analysis. Deep analytics tools available with the management team help them spot trends in data. Through trends, the root cause of a problem can be defined and hence corrective actions can be taken.

If your retail business is also faced with unsolved problems, or if you want to optimize the already working processes and methodologies, then connect with us for a customized demo. We will hear your issues, ask a few questions and suggest solutions powered by QVALON.