When was the last time you paused and really looked around your retail store? If you are like many store owners, it’s probably been a while since you took a good, hard look at your location and assessed its ability to create positive customer experiences.
It’s time to change that.
Use this retail store audit to ask yourself questions about customer touchpoints and store atmosphere to see if you are hitting the mark when it comes to creating great customer experiences.
Retail Store Exterior
Start with the exterior of your location, and stand outside of your building or storefront to assess what you see.
Is your signage clear and visible? Make sure your sign is not obstructed, hidden, or unnoticeable. You want to position your store’s signage so every passerby notices it.
Are your hours and open sign clear and visible? You never want customers to think you’re closed when you aren’t. If you can’t clearly tell if your store is open from the outside, make sure there is a sign that indicates you are open for business.
Is the area around your door clean and inviting? Trash, overgrown landscaping, and dirty windows are easy ways to turn off customers. Make sure your entrance is clean, pristine, and welcoming.
Can customers tell what your business is from the outside? If the name of your business is abstract and doesn’t say what your business does, make sure there are signs or signals on the exterior of your storefront that explain it to customers. Use posters or digital signs to explain what you do and invite customers in.
Are your window displays interesting, relevant, and attractive? Assess your window displays and make sure that they highlight your best products and give customers a reason to come inside.
Is the area around your door clearly lit at night? You want your customers to feel safe so make sure that your parking lot and the area leading up to your store are well lit.
Entrance & Walkways
Carry on your assessment as you come through the entrance of your retail store. If you have more than one entrance, perform this checklist at each.
What’s the first thing you see when you walk in? Identify the focal point that draws your eye. Is it an important section, sign, or display in your store? Is that the first thing you want customers to see when they walk in or do you need to change it to highlight something different?
Does the store feel cohesive? Get an overview of the products, colors, and signage in your store. Do the elements feel cohesive and like part of the same whole? What elements stick out and feel out of place? Consider adding elements that pull the space together and removing items that create breaks.
How do the walkways lead you through the store? Your store layout should be set up so that it guides customers through the store and leads them to the cash register. Do your pathways represent that?
Are the sections of the store easy to find? If you have a large store, are there clear signs or wayfinding tools that direct visitors to the destination? Make sure it’s easy for customers to find their way and navigate your location.
As you walk through the store, assess the displays, fixtures, tables, end-caps, racks, and shelves that showcase your products.
Are your products easy to experience and see? In-store shoppers like to physically engage with products. Do your displays make it easy for customers to access the products? If products are behind cases, is it easy for customers to get assistance to handle the products?
Are your product benefits and features easy to see? If it isn’t obvious what your products do or what benefits they offer, make sure that you provide information that explains it. Present signs, brochures, or product demo videos that educate customers as they shop.
Are your products grouped properly? Do you have your products positioned in a logical way so that they are easy to find? Categorize your store so similar items are near each other and then flow into sections of complementary items.
While in the store, be mindful of how you feel and pay attention to how the atmosphere affects your experience.
How is the lighting? Be aware if the lighting is too bright or too soft. Adding different variations of lights and using a variety of ambient, task, accent, and decorative lighting can give dimension to the space.
What sounds do you notice in the store? Is the overhead music the right tone and style? Make sure that the musical style matches the type of shopping experience you want to create.
What are special customer zones like? If you have seating areas, changing rooms, service kiosks, or areas to try products, go through the experience of the customer using them. Are there obstacles you faced? Are there ways to make it more beneficial or useful for the customer?
Is the staff easy to find? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If they were trying to find an employee or staff member, would it be easy for them to locate help? Make sure staff attire and badges clearly designate them as staff. And provide signage that guides customers to assistance.
Is the store clean and inviting? Just as you assessed the outside for cleanliness, take a look at the inside of the retail store. Are there unsightly boxes or staff materials visible? Are there old displays that need to be updated or fixed? Is the floor clear, clean, and safe for customers to walk on?
Check Out Counter
Go through the full customer experience in your retail store and approach the counter as though you are a paying customer.
What catches your attention while you wait in line? Consider the customer experience if you had to wait in line for 5 minutes. Have you provided entertainment that makes the wait feel shorter? If not, can you provide something for customers to look at while they wait?
Is the check-out line in a comfortable place? Look at where customers wait in line. Make sure lines form in a way that doesn’t block walkways or impede on other customers who are still shopping.
What do your packaging and store bags look like? When customers make a purchase, how is their product packaged before they leave? Does the quality of the packaging match the quality of your products? Is your branding clearly visible and recognizable?
Are you missing up-sell opportunities? Are there any small items or complementary products that you can place near the cash register that customers may have missed while browsing the store? Don’t miss opportunities to up-sell at the check-out counter.
As you walk through your retail store with this list of questions, you will start to see your store as your customers see it. You will be able to identify places where you are providing a cohesive and useful experience for your customers, and you’ll be able to see where you miss the mark.
If you think your store could use a walk through, use the and see how your store measures up! Use the answers to your assessment to improve your customers' experience and the profitability of your store.