Electronic scanning

Electronic scanning is an observation method that is rapidly developing in popularity. Scanners were intended to improve productivity in retail shops, but they have also become valuable tools for researchers. Many retail stores will even sell research firms the data obtained from their own scanning records. There are, however, some limitations in scanner data. For example, not all sales data provided by the scanners are accurate. Three conditions must exist for real accuracy: each item must be precoded correctly by the manufacturer; the code must be correctly entered into the retailer's system; and every item must be scanned at the checkout counter.

Scanners are universal in large supermarkets and provide the store and its central office with an immediate record of sales by product (units and value). Data from scanners at checkout counters can be used to assess the impact that a price cut, coupon blitz or store display has on sales and profits. A scanner analysis system allows managers to determine almost instantly how well a promotion is working and what effect price changes, amount of inventory and arrangement on shelves will have on sales. Scanner data can be lined with demographics of areas to guide consumers on what to buy. Foods on supermarket shelves can be tied more closely to the demographics of the particular area. Thus inventory can be matched to local needs and turnover rate can be increased.

Auditing is a method of measuring the amount of movement of merchandise, by category and brand, through a retail outlet. It requires someone to check the amount of goods on hand (both on shelf and in store) at the start of a sales period, the addition to stock during the period (from checking receipts for goods delivered to the store) and the amount of goods on hand again at the end of the sales period.

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