Modern Training

A guide to retail task management

Posted on: February 26, 2024By: Sean Tarry

It’s time for retailers to re-think their approach to task management. Why? 

Retail is ever-evolving. It’s an industry whose players are used to shifting and pivoting with market conditions, consumer preferences and behavior and just about everything in-between, in order to remain viable and successful. However, the changes that have occurred as a result of impacts influenced by the pandemic have turned the industry upside-down. Driven by an accelerated digitization of the world around us, the retail landscape has altered. So, too, has the physical environment and the subsequent experiences enjoyed by both customers and employees of the store.

In order to navigate this change and to continue meeting and exceeding the needs and desires of customers while equipping their employees to excel at their jobs, retail organizations are increasingly exploring the adoption of digital tools. If implemented thoughtfully, digital technologies can serve to support and streamline business processes and achieve greater operational consistency and efficiency. And, given how important a prepared, organized and motivated frontline is to the success of any retailer, organizations will need to prioritize the digitization of task management processes, enabling their employees with the task management tools they need to succeed, resulting in higher task completion rates, increased performance and happier, more engaged employees.

With that, here’s our guide to task management for the ever-evolving world of retail.

What is task management?

Task management is one of the more critical cogs within the retail operations machine. Yet, it’s traditionally also one of the most overlooked layers contributing toward operational consistency and efficiency and, as a result, the overall customer experience.

If implemented and maintained properly, task management is often defined by organizations within a set of processes and procedures that allow store managers to organize their staff, providing them with greater oversight concerning the daily tasks that need to be executed while ensuring a clear and collective understanding among employees of the goals and objectives set out by the organization.

For district managers, effective task completion enables greater consistency across multiple stores, resulting in the same level of customer service and experience provided across an entire network.

Though it can become complicated depending on the retailer’s level of internal organization, task management is, in essence, a store’s daily task list which includes opening and closing tasks and procedures, as well as all other tasks that are to be completed by employees of the store throughout the day.

Here’s an example of an opening task list: 

  • Conduct security inspection of premises
  • Activate lights and other devices and appliances
  • Perform opening housekeeping duties
  • Activate POS equipment
  • Launch POS software
  • Enter daily cash float
  • Check all merchandising displays and signage
  • Restock shelves, if necessary
  • Conduct inventory count, if necessary
  • Open the doors for business

Task management: the backbone to operational success

There’s no question that it’s been an incredibly challenging time of late for retailers with respect to attracting and retaining the right talent to their organizations. In fact, according to our recent research, turnover is the number one challenge identified by retail leaders. The second biggest concern, which often directly influences the first, is retail burnout

In order to attract and retain top retail talent, organizations have got to increase organizational efficiency and communication with employees, making it easier for associates to do their job quickly and easily, with minimal stress or disruptors. And, at the heart of this approach is effective task management.

In addition to supporting increased operational efficiencies and consistencies across networks, the proper use of task management enhances employee satisfaction, loyalty and retention and decreases absenteeism, lending toward the cultivation of a culture of cooperation and teamwork. And, as a result of motivated, inspired employees, the customer experience is elevated, ultimately benefiting the organization by way of an enhanced reputation among customers and increased revenue.

Other benefits resulting from effective task management include:

  • Clearer understanding among staff of goals and objectives
  • Greater awareness and appreciation for the roles and responsibilities of others
  • Increased morale among an empowered group of employees
  • Greater innovation and willingness to go above and beyond requirements of job

The importance of scaling task management

Although it may seem complicated enough to organize a group of frontline employees and guide them in the same direction toward a common goal each shift, it’s critically important to ensure the success of any store. For retailers that operate multiple locations, however, the importance of scaling task management across their network to ensure alignment and consistency can not be overstated.

Enabling frontline staff with the same set of tasks management tools—and processes by which to complete those tasks—allows the entire organization to move in the same direction, providing not only the same experience for their employees, but the same consistent experience for customers of their brand. It also allows employees across the network to maintain the same messaging and efficiency of service. And, considering the volatility of the industry, the need to focus on providing a consistent experience is going to be paramount, and could very well be a key differentiator for the brands that can get it right. 

The power of task management tools

Enabling task management solutions within retail operations to not only organize employees and productivity, but to integrate within an evolving technology-driven landscape as well, can seem daunting. However, with the implementation of the right digital tools, retailers can empower and enable their employees to excel within their roles.

Leveraging these tools and innovations to develop and maintain effective task management also poses tremendous benefits to the retailer in the way of consolidation of all communication and performance tracking for the store or stores. With the right task management tools, retail head offices are equipped with the ability to control and guide SOPs, opening and closing checklists, pre-shift team huddle agendas and any other form of communication that’s important to the success of the overall team.

Other benefits resulting from the centralization of information include:

  • Tasks are accessible to employees across store networks, ensuring a collective understanding and operational consistency
  • Managers and district managers can easily monitor at scale, providing a clear understanding of the performance of each store
  • Every employee possesses a clear understanding of the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve success, driving cooperation and teamwork
  • Task management tools can be leveraged to elicit employee feedback concerning their tasks and more efficient ways to complete them

3 retail challenges that task management can solve for

Scaling task management to reach your entire retail workforce can do wonders for driving support, success, productivity and more. Here are some of the common remedies provided by an effective task management process:

Streamlining the onboarding process: Digital task management tools allow new hires to hit the ground running, bringing them quickly up-to-speed with the standards and processes of the brand and the expectations of them as an employee and ambassador of the store.

Filling existing knowledge gaps: Sharing communications and information digitally ensures that all employees are on the same page, filling any knowledge gaps that might otherwise exist.

Reducing the need for manager intervention: Providing centralized information for employees also removes the requirement for managerial intervention. When employees are empowered with the information they need, managers can focus on higher level responsibilities with greater focus and intent.

Choosing a task management tool

When exploring potential digital task management solutions to implement with in your stores, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Consider the user experience: It’s important to make sure that any tool explored is mobile-friendly and includes an easy to navigate interface for ease of use. Employees need to be set up for success. Any digital tool they’re armed with should support that success.

Ensure compatibility: It’s critical to consider solutions that are part of a larger enablement suite of tools and services. This enables centralization of information for the merchant. 

Plan for the future: Make sure that the technology explored is adaptable and has the ability to evolve with the changing digital needs of the business.  

Tips for successful task completion

Though there are certainly a plethora of ways by which retail organizations can establish, develop and implement their task management process, they should all be leveraged with the same objective in mind: to enable and support employee and store success.

In order to achieve this objective and optimize the effectiveness of task management tools, retailers will want to look beyond the rudimentary and utilitarian functions. To engage staff and begin nurturing a culture of teamwork and success, consider the following tried-and-tested tips:

Focus on clarity: Properly engaging and enabling associates means providing them with clear and concise direction concerning their tasks and the ways in which their proper completion contributes to the overall success of the team. 

View performance holistically: Be sure to leverage task management to guide and inform. So, avoid jumping to conclusions as a result of an incomplete task or two. Rather, use the information to spot worrisome trends or warning signs that might indicate that additional resources may need to be shared. 

Celebrate achievements: Because digital task management tools allow head office to track and monitor real-time performance, it provides them with the opportunity to celebrate achievements reached by individuals, stores, or the entire network, making it an incredible team building tool as well.

Make it fun: Wherever possible retail employees should be having fun. So, consider ways to implement a scoring system for points that can be applied to staff discounts, gift cards or other rewards, turning mundane duties into opportunities to excel.

It’s clear as we approach closer to a truly post-pandemic world that neither the retail environment or experience will ever be the same. The technological shift that’s occurred, combined with the consumer behavior and attitudes that it’s impacted and influenced, is forcing retailers to rethink they’re service and offering. And, to support their rethink, they’ve got to be empowering their employees and managers with the latest digital task management tools and solutions, enabling them to raise their individual and team performance and enhance the retail experience as a whole.

Sean Tarry

Sean Tarry is an experienced writer and journalist who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring industry news and analysis to life with over two decades of experience managing and contributing to various publications.

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