How to Perform a Merchandising Audit for Your Furniture Store

A furniture store employee with clipboard and pencil in hand.

Conducting a merchandising audit is essential to any furniture retailer’s business strategy. It is an opportunity to objectively evaluate how your store aligns with your business goals as it relates to your products, employees, facilities, and overall brand message. A successful audit identifies key areas for improvement and follows up with a plan for corrective actions. Your audit should cover your store displays, signage, layout, customer experience, and atmosphere. It should include interior as well as exterior features. Let’s discuss what elements make up a comprehensive merchandising audit and what questions you should ask yourself.

BASIC WALKTHROUGH

At the core, every audit should always include a walkthrough of the store’s interior and exterior. Be sure to take photos of any opportunities for improvement identified. Your walkthrough should consider the following:

Store Exterior:

  • Is the store name visible and well-lit?
  • Store address/number is easily visible to passing cars/pedestrians.
  • Store hours posted are visible and current.
  • The exterior is well-lit, including side and back lots.
  • The exterior is clean and free of debris, chipping paint, cracked walkways, etc.
  • The landscaping is well-maintained.
  • The exterior windows are in good condition and clean.
  • Window signage is in good repair and reflects current promotions.
  • Windows remain well-lit after hours.

Store Interior:

  • The store is bright. Adequate lighting, properly pointed, with no burnt-out light bulbs.
  • The entrance is open and uncluttered.
  • Customer traffic flow is marked. Staff always see customer movement, and blank spots are identified and managed. No dead-end walkways or vignettes too far off aisles.
  • Aisleways are at least 3 feet wide with no blocking or tripping hazards and free of debris.
  • Emergency exit doors are marked and unlocked during open hours, and lighting units function. Fire exits, and doors are properly lit and accessible, and in working order. All emergency exit doors, hallways, pathways, and stairways are clear of debris/storage. All fire doors are self-closing and latching and open from the inside without keys or special tools. Fire extinguisher inspections are up to date.
  • All smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly.
  • Nothing is hanging from fire sprinkler piping or sprinkler heads.
  • Music and temperature are at appropriate levels.
  • Breakrooms are clean, and trash is in bins, electrical appliances are protected with GFCI, nothing hot is on without someone in attendance.
  • All store fixtures and surfaces are clean and well-maintained.
  • All vignette furniture and furnishings are tagged with accurate pricing. Props are clearly marked as such.
  • All product furnishings and accessories within vignette settings are dust free. Lamp shades and artwork are straight. Rugs are taped down with no frayed edges. Upholstery seat cushions, back cushions, and toss pillows are plumped.
  • POP materials are current and in good condition.
  • Displays are not over or understocked and encourage customer interaction.
  • All displays are in “like new” condition.
  • All displays are full-no product holes.
  • Any sold items have been removed from the display and replenished.
  • Non-selling areas are clean and well-maintained (including bathrooms, warehouse, receiving, and customer service areas).
  • Wall colors are up-to-date and harmonious with branding. Paint is scuff free. Nail holes in walls are patched and re-painted.
  • A floor plan to scale accurately represents product and furnishings layout.

Employees:

  • The staff appears professional and easy to identify.
  • When asked, sales staff can demonstrate product knowledge and know the store’s best sellers.
  • Staff are assigned daily housekeeping, and it is up kept.

Branding:

  • Visual messaging connects with the target audience.
  • The main drivers of the business are well represented. (i.e., in-stock products, design projects, specialty category (custom dining, etc.), sleepers, home office, mattresses, etc.)
  • The music and scent of the store align with visual messaging.
  • In-store signage informs, persuades, and promotes branding.
  • The store is enjoyable for customers to navigate. Customers are not confused and can easily find what they are looking for.
  • Products are displayed and categorized by lifestyle, product category, or both.
  • Timely seasonal displays are incorporated.

Once you have completed the walkthrough, it is time to look at the merchandising metrics that measure how effectively your current merchandising strategy works and how your business fares with your competitors. Consider the following merchandising metrics to follow:

KEY MERCHANDISING METRICS

Merchandising Mix

  • Styles, price points, and square footage per category directly correlate and reflect sales in-store.
  • Stock versus special order slots on the floor reflects sales in-store.
  • All vignettes perform at or above your target sales per square foot goal.
  • Sales percentages by vendor reflect slots in the store.
  • The correct number of slots per category is based on sales in-store.
  • Historical data and face time with customers and sales staff were collected to help identify the most important styles and price points per category.
  • Sales staff product training is adequate, particularly for new product launches.
  • Poor performers were analyzed before leaving the sales floor. Did they have a bad location, were recently moved, or did they have a recent recovery/refinish or just become outdated? Could a move to a new location or cover/finish refresh make a difference?
  • Is there a warehouse or non-selling space that should be repurposed into a selling space?
  • Is your merchandise getting stale? Have you hired a merchandising consultant to provide a new perspective, fresh ideas, and staff training?

COMPETITION

  • Due diligence should be performed on your competition.
  • What void are they missing that your store can fill? How can you create better value than they are?
  • How can you improve your customer experience compared to theirs?

Congratulations! Your merchandising audit is complete. Now you can assign tasks with specific action plans to get your merchandising plan up to speed.

See more:

Related Posts

Looking to grow your business? Look no further.
Becoming a member of the HFA has more benefits than we can list here. Click the button to learn more.
Trending In

HFA Solution Partners

HFA Products Program

The HFA Products Program helps furniture retailers find quality products at competitive prices. Whether for

3D Cloud logo

Marxent makes it easier to buy and sell home furnishings online. From 3D sectional configurators

Shoptelligence

Shoptelligence is the Home Furnishing industry’s leading solution to increase order size quickly, helping retailers

Synchrony Financial Logo

Get access to exclusive HFA low everyday rates, monthly buy-down specials, and volume rebates! From

Shoptelligence

Shoptelligence is the Home Furnishing industry’s leading solution to increase order size quickly, helping retailers

Sign up for more!
From HFA events to the latest member news, get updates straight to your inbox.
Stay Informed and Up To Date
Subscribe now to elevate your store's success with expert tips and the latest trends delivered straight to your inbox.

Not an HFA member?

Don't miss out on all of our association benefits!