Around ten years ago the popularity of checklists in surgeries boomed. If surgeons went through a basic tick box list of questions, tragic errors were reduced, infections went down and lives were saved.

With Australian retailers under pressure coming into 2020 thanks to a health crisis of another kind, could it be that finding smarter ways to check you’re ticking all the right boxes could make a world of difference in the retail sector too?

While the latest threat comes in the form of COVID-19, e-commerce, weak wage growth, high debt levels and increasing price pressures were already trimming customer demand, keeping retailers looking for strategies that can keep business humming.

Here are a few ways that the latest digital checklist technology can help address some major pain points for retailers – helping you uncover insights so you can proactively address issues.

Stay on top of health risks

As COVID-19 becomes a growing threat to businesses everywhere, hygiene has never been more important. Retailers have a duty of care to put measures in place to protect workers’ and customers’ health and safety. To comply with work health and safety regulations, businesses must identify hazards at the workplace and minimise those risks.

Technology can help by making it easier to keep tabs on whether rules are being followed and ensure action is taken where needed. To date, retail is the second most active industry using SafetyCulture’s iAuditor app to run inspections related to COVID-19.

Reduce stock loss

Shop theft, damaged goods and miscounted stock can result in huge amounts of money down the drain. In a study of 9,000 retailers across Australia and New Zealand, an estimated $3.3 billion was reported lost each year.

Monitoring and preventing stock loss starts with measurement and accountability. You can dramatically increase the accuracy and frequency of stocktake by making data easier to record via a mobile or an iPad.

When sports retailer JD Sports implemented stock audits each month using iAuditor, the company began to see trends it had never picked up on before, such as a strong correlation between stores with high iAuditor usage and stock loss reduction. With the ability to view stock data by brand, region, auditor or even specific location, the app allows JD Sports to conduct insightful comparisons.

Having a digital checklist in staffs’ hands makes knowing what’s causing your shrinkage and pinpointing problem stores, suppliers or employees significantly more achievable.

Maintain brand standards

Brands aren’t built overnight and maintaining the value they can deliver to your bottom line takes consistency and attention to detail.  By equipping staff with tools such as iAuditor you make it easier to coordinate and consistently deliver on every aspect of your brand experience – from operating procedures and service standards, to store appearance, promotions, and more.

Back at headquarters, it becomes easier to assess if those standards are being consistently upheld, thanks to reports and trend tracking. As one regional manager in Europe recently told me, using iAuditor is like being able to visit every one of his stores anytime.

In addition to checking the freshness of ingredients, meal delivery company Marley Spoon uses iAuditor to check that all the right ingredients have been packed into a meal delivery box, as per its brand standards. The result: In-house error rates have been reduced – meaning fewer customer complaints.

Improve store campaign results, with eyes in every store

Successful promotions and merchandising initiatives demand cross-store consistency. Using iAuditor’s digital checklist functionality, brands are speeding up consistent campaign roll-outs and making a bigger impact on customers and sales numbers. The app gives area managers tools to assess in-store customer experiences, report on brand consistency and assign actions to get issues resolved.

From data to foresight

It’s one thing to have data, it’s another to have foresight. With the analytical tools available via iAuditor, you can also drill down into problem areas and track trends – ensuring you know where to focus your attention and resources to fix issues before they blow up.

Potential other uses of iAuditor are endless – from the ability to improve safety and supply chain quality in distribution centres, to monitoring temperature and humidity sensors to monitor fridges, chill rooms or ambient environments to ensure the safety of foods, medicines and employees.

By tapping into the power of the checklist and putting the latest technology in the hands of your frontline staff you can ensure your business remains on the front foot and thrives well into the future.

Alistair Venn is Chief Operating Officer at SafetyCulture