Friday, January 7, 2011

Store Walk - Does this exist nowadays?

Training and teaching sessions are great learning experiences. It exposes some realities of a market or industry which one would never get to know as a corporate person. Simply put, during interactions the participants share so many interesting insights and the reality on the ground.

One such is about store walk.

This seems to be a dying art form!

Over the past few sessions when I have asked whether people do store walk daily, everyone enthusiastically raises their hand. The next query is about how long you would take to do a store walk of a store of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 Sq. Ft. And, the answer varies from 15 minutes to 30 minutes at the most.

From my perspective, this is not a store walk. It is rather a short walk inside the store!

I was taught ‘Store walk’ by veterans in the field who have spent their entire lives in Retail most often starting off as baggers or temporary staff and were at CEO levels when they shared and taught me the practice of store walk.

It is a bit difficult to share the nuances of this key operational discipline in a post. Let me at least attempt to mention the highlights.

First, a store walk starts from outside the store to check the frontage, signage, etc. and ends with the back office, staff area and more importantly the toilets!

Second, a store walk is like a scan of the store. So, one needs to train his eyes, ears, nose, etc., to detect the smallest of deviations.

Third is the reality that no detail is too small to check. For example, how much of dust has gathered beneath the doormat. This gives you an idea of when it was cleaned last!

Lastly, consistency is the key. Doing a store walk once in a way when you are bored is of no use. Regular and repeated routine ensures discipline.

The downside to this is that when one gets used to doing store walks, most probably people at your home will hate you!!! Because you can judge when the home was cleaned properly, what was moved, so on and so forth. Your observation skills get into an auto pilot mode.

Whether you like it or not, you note and observe things which will help you correct things which need correction.