Five Things Your Retail Store Associates Need to Successfully Manage All the Tasks Sent Their Way Each Day

Today’s front-line workers are busier and more strained than ever before. But there are ways to keep them engaged and productive without overwhelming them as their to-do lists expand.

A retail associate looks at her mobile computer while helping a customer.
by Kevin Tapscott
February 28, 2022

The retail industry has always placed a great deal of pressure on its front-line employees, but what associates have been asked to do the last two years – and what they have successfully achieved – is unheard of. I would even say it’s unbelievable if I hadn’t been a direct beneficiary of their hard work and flawless delivery of curbside and doorstep services.  

I truly appreciate the lengths to which they have gone to meet our higher expectations as consumers. I also appreciate how much strain this array of new tasks and responsibilities has placed on workers – and your business. 

Burnout is very real. So is the turnover it’s causing. And I know you’re committed to alleviating the strain of labor shortages on your team, yet eager to increase your operational capacity. 

If you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and hard place, know that it is possible to accomplish both goals just by simplifying how your front-line employees work. 

Think about their typical day…

Once they clock in, do they know what tasks they need to complete right away? Do they have real-time visibility into when new tasks come up and know how to prioritize them against their original to-do lists? Can they easily communicate with each other when they have questions or need to coordinate actions? Ensuring that each of these questions can be answered with an emphatic “yes” is crucial to keeping store associates happily engaged with their work and productive during their shifts.

So, let me ask you…

Do each of your workers pick up a mobile computer when they clock in for their shifts? If yes, does it have a real-time task management app on the home screen?

If yes (again), does the app provide them a 360-degree, real-time view of all work that must be done that day at your stores and what role they’ll play in getting it done? Can you – or, really, the task management system running on the backend – automatically prioritize all tasks for them according to best practices? Can it ensure that store associates are able to easily understand focus on their personalized to-do lists?

If you answered no to any of those questions, then it’s probably time to look for a new task management solution. Just make sure it gives associates these five things.

1. Faster Navigation

With so many new tasks and activities to accomplish during their shifts, your store associates don’t have time to navigate through a clunky, tedious interface to figure out what needs to be done. Providing them with an app where they can quickly view their to-do lists in an organized manner is an essential part of ensuring they can complete all their daily tasks. They should be able to access this at a moment’s notice with just a click or two required to check and log their work.

2. Personalized Information

In the face of labor shortages and higher task volumes, successfully coordinating your store teams is critical to ensuring that tasks are done correctly and on time. If nobody knows who is responsible for restocking a shelf or handling a curbside pickup order, then either multiple people will be working on the same task, or nobody will end up doing it. With a task management solution that provides the right, personalized task information to the right person at the right time, the coordination is already done for them. Everyone has a task list that’s applicable to them, and they don’t have to worry about who is responsible for completing what task.  

3. Real-Time Visibility 

It doesn’t help store associates to have outdated data. They need to plan for upcoming curbside and buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) orders, and they need to immediately know if they must handle a late truck arrival or restock shelves. With a solution that updates their task lists in real time, giving them the most up-to-date information when they need it, they don’t have to constantly worry about adapting to disruption in the store. Instead, the back-end task management solution does that for them, keeping them informed via the app whenever something new comes up. 

4. Prioritized Tasks

With fewer associates available to manage more tasks than ever, and the importance of each task changing quickly as the day goes on, they just need to know where to go next and what to do when they get there. They shouldn’t have to ask a manager if curbside pickup orders are more time-sensitive than restocking – or which products are lower-priority for restocking. With a real-time task management solution that automatically prioritizes all assignments, they no longer need to worry about what to do or when to do it. All they have to do is check their app for the highest priority task and work their way down the list.\

5. Easy Collaboration Tools

Communication is key to any successful retailer’s store operations. Associates need to be able to find the right person fast when they need assistance with a task or have questions about how to complete a new task. And managers need to be able to reach associates instantly if a task has been completed incorrectly or they need to quickly shift to complete a different task. Without a way to communicate in real time, everything slows down. Tasks aren’t completed on time. Mistakes aren’t quickly fixed. And all of this has a negative impact on the customer experience. 

However, with a software solution that allows store associates and managers to send messages and feedback in real time, everyone can react in real time to any issues or challenges that arise on the sales floor – without having to pick up a phone or log extra steps hunting down the right people. Managers can better coach and train associates in the moment, and associates can collaborate at any time when they need assistance.

The Take-Home Message?

Your store associates are under more pressure than ever before. By equipping them with an execution and communication solution that makes their work easier, you can take away some of this pressure so they – and your customers – can go home happier each day. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to empower your store associates, visit our website or contact our team. We would be glad to discuss the challenges your employees are facing and what we can do to help empower your staff. 

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Kevin Tapscott
Kevin Tapscott is Vice President of Solution Consulting for the Americas at Reflexis, which is now part of Zebra Technologies. He leads a team of retail operations experts who help retailers simplify their operations and optimize their labor with intelligent task management and workforce management software solutions.
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