Top Tips for Effective Retail Task Management

By John Gurley on August 19, 2022

A woman checks an order before packing it up

Ensuring efficient operations at your retail locations is a must, especially when considering the effect ongoing retail labour shortages are having on many businesses. Not only will this help to provide a superior experience for your customers, but it’ll also help your frontline staff to feel more prepared for the day ahead!

Working with many retail organizations, our team frequently gains valuable insights into what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to managing tasks, so we’ve compiled a list to help you get a head start on tackling any issues you might be facing at store level.

Preparedness and Organization are Key to Smooth Operations

While it might be easier to tackle things as and when they happen, there’s no substitute for being prepared. Using the data and insights you have gained on your locations, build out some preliminary lists based on things like:

  • recurring tasks;
  • audits and compliance checks;
  • opening routines;
  • closing routines;
  • cleaning schedules;
  • inventory procedures;
  • returns procedures;
  • loss and theft reporting

Establishing the steps that need to take place, and the order in which they must be performed, is a sure fire way to remove doubt from the minds of your busy frontline workers, and streamline processes to ensure the most efficient use of their time.

Once you’ve got your preliminary lists in hand, be sure to loop in your store managers to provide feedback and insights, before finalizing your task lists and making them available to your staff.

Utilize the Right Tools to Make Accessing and Completing Tasks Simple

While you might have the most meticulously crafted task lists built out for just about every situation your frontline staff will encounter, it’ll all count for very little if they’re not accessible when required. Inefficient software or, shock horror, paper forms are not the way to go if you’re aiming for high compliance levels across all locations.

Making use of a system with intuitive task management functionality is essential these days. There are plenty of options out there, including Intelocate’s very own platform, so do your research and figure out which one provides the most benefits for your frontline staff, district/regional managers, and head office. 

Being able to create compliance reports is essential, and will go a long way to building better insights on what’s happening at your stores, which locations are falling behind, and identifying issues before they become major problems.

Get Your Priorities in Order

When it comes to tasks that need to be carried out daily, such as opening and closing routines, cleaning, or inventory, ensuring that you’ve prioritized things correctly will help to not only increase compliance across your locations, but also to reinforce processes and establish a hierarchy of importance.

Identifying the non-negotiable tasks or task sets that need to be completed on time throughout the week will provide your frontline staff with additional guidance that may be necessary during busy periods. 

Although it may feel like everything should be done as and when outlined, it’s important to understand that it’s not always possible. A store may be short handed on a given day due to illness or an unexpected absence, or things may simply be too busy on the floor to enable everything to be done – not the worst thing in the world, you’ll probably agree.

Schedule Smartly

Most retail locations will have semi-regular times when they’re busy, and times when they’re less so. In order to plan tasks effectively, it’s important to be able to identify these potential high and low times throughout the day.

Requiring your staff to work their way through a laundry list of tasks during peak customer hours is a one way ticket to frustration across the board. Your staff will feel needlessly pressured, targets will be missed, managers will become frazzled… it’s a dangerous cycle!

Instead, try to find the right balance for essential tasks. Provide enough wiggle room with their scheduling to accommodate unexpected busy periods, and avoid trying to pack too much in for your staff throughout the day. Remember, you hired them to help your business make sales – so you’ve got to provide them with everything they need to do just that!

Monitor Store Compliance

It’s not enough to just provide each location with a list of things that need to be done through the day, week, and month. Your district/regional managers need to be able to review store compliance quickest and easily.

Regularly reviewing compliance data for things like task completion and audits will help you to identify potential downward trends before they become problematic.

If a store suddenly stops hitting performance targets, you need to know as soon as possible in order to take corrective action.

Once again, this comes down to selecting the right tool for the job. The best task management platforms will allow your managers to generate compliance reports for single locations, regions, specific task assignees, or any combination of the aforementioned.

Review at Regular Intervals

Staying on top of the insights provided by regular reporting gives you the opportunity to reassess your task sets, their effectiveness, and ongoing relevance.

A change in POS system, for example, may render some previously defined tasks redundant, leading to potential confusion for staff or, as a possible worst case scenario, resulting in them disregarding assigned tasks completely!

Regular review can also lead to the identification of additional efficiencies, which is never a bad thing!

Effective Task Management is an Ongoing Process

Every retail business is reliant on a large number of things working smoothly. Small issues can quickly become large ones, throwing even the most carefully paid plans out of whack.

Establishing and maintaining an effective system for ongoing task management is key to the health of this system. It’s a way of helping your frontline staff maintain clarity and focus, enabling your store and regional/district managers to gain deep insights into store performance, and arm head office with the knowledge it needs to make better all-round decisions that will benefit everyone in the organization!

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