Part of the excitement about working in a retail environment is the constant hustle and bustle. Every role is a demanding one because each department needs to work well for the entire company to be successful. For frontline staff, inefficiencies and missed deadlines can have a chain of negative effects from worker frustration to lower customer satisfaction.
Being successful in sales isn’t only about how many customers come through the door. Success in sales is also about how well time is managed to create a better experience. When frontline staff can work smarter in terms of retail time management, it will translate into an improved customer experience and greater efficiencies across the entire store and region. Simply put, task management skills are critical to a retailer’s success.
Retail Task Management Software
What exactly is task management and how is it specifically beneficial to retailers? For retail, task management is the process of managing tasks including due dates, priorities, distribution of information to store management, tracking and reporting. The beauty of task management is that it helps brands meet their specific goals through a series of achievable, actionable and trackable requests.
The concept of task management came from the understanding that knowledgeable and well-trained sales associates will deliver an exceptional in-store customer experience when their tasks are organized and streamlined. When task management and training are in sync, there is a new capacity to easily communicate and ensure completion of tasks related to a variety of work conditions.
Retail task management software empowers front line associates by allowing the store manager to assign tasks to individuals based on store data and receive reports of completed tasks and identify areas that meet goals or need attention. By streamlining communication, managers can use data from stores to create actionable tasks and see how task completion affects future data.
We’ve repeatedly heard from our clients that they wanted task management integrated with training and communications. The need came from the way the programs are being used by associates with training typically accessed monthly and communications typically accessed weekly. Clients said that they wanted quick and easy publishing, along with a dynamic and highly branded user interface.
Mobile Technology as the Missing Link
Mobile technology has truly been the missing link between traditional retail task management platforms and effective execution. By having all of the information that a sales associate needs in one place, task management becomes turnkey. Questions about “What’s next?” are never an issue, as daily activities become routine and consistent. As a result, there are gains in time and reductions in spending, leading to a better customer experience.
The benefits of mobile-first communications are the reason why it has quickly become adopted by retailers across the country. Mobile-first communication provides a single platform for the frontline to engage with communications. Since the pandemic, the ability to disseminate information quickly and consistently has become an essential tool as state-based mandates quickly changed. Mobile devices are the most accessible way to keep staff instantly informed of announcements, as they provide a way to access information that associates are already comfortable with and use in their daily lives. A successful retailer is run by teams that work well together, communicate clearly and feel fulfilled. Behind this feel-good message is technology that works in real time — it is part of working toward a goal of a well-managed company with happy employees and shoppers.
How to Select Task Management Software
Key features of retail task management software should include how quickly and easily users can create tasks. The platform should be device agnostic, and users should be able to complete tasks on a mobile device or computer. Tasks should be cohesive with photos, directives and related documents integrated into the task, not as a bunch of confusing attachments.
Task creators should be able to instantly view who has completed the task in real time. Depending on the size of a company, it might be tempting to continue with paper checklists and email. But this is no longer enough because there is no centralized place for tasks, the information is much harder to share and it’s nearly impossible to track tasks based on completion across a number of stores.
Ensuring a Culture of Accountability
Even the best software is not helpful if frontline associates and managers do not use it. It is essential to create a culture of accountability, and teams should be shown the benefits in terms of time savings and opportunities for professional growth.
Task management software’s primary function is to enable managers to track what is happening in real time. When management can see that everyone is busy and can understand what they are doing, there is a foundation for an accountable team. When a team member understands their role and know what’s expected, they can control their professional destiny by exceeding expectations.
“Employee empowerment” is essential to customer satisfaction and an indicator of great management. When frontline associates understand what they have to do that day or that week, they feel connected with the company’s success. At the same time, they feel in control of their work lives because what is expected is clearly communicated.
Technology has given retailers the ability to get rid of paper to-do lists in favor of sophisticated retail task management software. These programs share consistent information across internal groups and have the ability to verify that execution is completed and compliant. With some fine tuning, task management in retail will create a positive experience for frontline staff and shoppers.
David Harouche is the founder, CEO and CTO at Multimedia Plus, Inc. For more than 20 years, he has developed innovative, technology-driven programs for a broad range of clients. Prior to founding Multimedia Plus, Harouche worked at Ann Taylor in a variety of roles.