The hustle and bustle of the retail environment is a demanding role. Each department needs to run like clockwork, and one slip up can cause multiple issues further down the line, creating inefficiencies and unmet deadlines.
Remember, how much you sell isn’t just down to how many customers you can get through the door, but how you manage your time. By working smarter and harder on your retail time management, you’re offering an improved customer experience and promoting efficiency across your workforce. That’s why time management skills are critical to retail success.
So, if you’re interested in a few quick wins to improve your retail time management, read our six tips and tricks to make better use of your time.
6 Business hacks to improve retail time management
1. Stay organised with a daily to-do list
Sometimes, it’s not what you need to do but how you look at it that can help you to be more productive. To-do lists are great visual aids to help you plan, track, and manage your tasks to enhance your store’s productivity in a timely manner. Work from a daily to-do list and watch how quickly your efficiency (and that of your team) improves.
Research suggests that we’re more proactive during the mornings, so prioritising by the time of the day will help you to tackle the most important tasks first. Stores typically get busier as the day goes on, so dedicating the first part of your shift to more important tasks will allow you to achieve them with minimal disruption. (That daily management huddle excluded!)
It’s also worth creating your to-do list a day in advance; that way, tasks are fresh in your mind and you have more flexibility to work around last minute, unforeseen circumstances.
2. Know your store’s peak times and schedule tasks accordingly
Knowing when your store’s busiest hours are can help you work around them in order to schedule team tasks. For example, you don’t want to be replenishing stock and taking up valuable aisle space with large warehouse cages during peak times. Instead, plan around your footfall and delegate stock replenishment tasks during quieter hours. That way, your store will be ready for the next working day without negatively impacting the customer experience.
Being aware of your busiest shopping hours can also determine whether you want more staff assistants working on the shop floor, instead of in the back office answering emails or organising the warehouse.
Your store’s footfall statistics should be available through your POS system, however, insights can often be revealed through foot traffic programs such as people counters.
3. Train your staff to understand their strengths
Managing a large group of employees can be a stressful and time-consuming task if they aren’t sufficiently trained. In this instance, you can find yourself performing two tasks at once while simultaneously teaching them the correct processes.
Instead, invest in proper training so that all staff are aware of the processes and requirements. Delegate tasks that will benefit both you and the team by targeting staff strengths; perhaps Sophie is better at handling money than Stephen, who is able to replenish stock at a quicker rate.
4. Optimise store layout around productivity
We all know that store layout should be designed around the ease of movement (and purchase) for your customers. But your store or department layout can also be organised to improve your employees’ productivity.
- Consider your shop floor layout in relation to the warehouse or the docking bay. Could the layout be improved to smooth the stock change or replenishment process?
- How well do your employees know the layout? Keeping your staff up to date on product changes or the rearrangement of the shop floor means they’re better able to locate a product for quick replenishment or a price check
Making the customer journey as intuitive as possible can reduce the amount of help your customers need navigating your store, which as we all know will significantly improve your team’s time management. With 90% of customers turning right as soon as they enter a store, you may want to think about placing popular products on that side nearer the entrance, and clearly signposting any stock moves, so your customers know exactly where they’re going.
5. Use an admin tool to automate some operations
Many retailers now work on a shared admin tool that helps to automate and streamline their businesses. With an array of tools and software available that can save you time and effort, you no longer need to worry about coordinating staff schedules, attendance sheets, or holiday time off.
Instead, simply ask staff to log any issues, time off, or shift patterns into a shared tool that you can then use to aid planning and delegating tasks around the store in the future. Imagine that: no longer will you have to run around wasting valuable time trying to find a quick replacement because both of your bakers are on holiday.
6. Implement innovative communication technology
Communication is what holds most retailers together – but it can also take up a lot of time. To combat this, the use of innovative communication technology is rising, particularly across tier 1 retailers, where the scale of operations means any small inefficiencies in communication add up to big costs.
Thanks to wireless headsets, users can communicate with each other from any location, at any time to deal with customer queries. Their ease of use means staff employees can receive answers to their questions in a matter of seconds, all through the touch of a button.
On average, it takes more than 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted. To tackle this issue, handsets are also being installed around retail stores, allowing managers to communicate with staff colleagues directly from their work station — without having to wander the shop floor or interrupt their current task.
This style of information can also be configured with your current system through telephony integration, enabling headset users to answer external calls from any location, minimising interruptions — and eliminating that panic run for the office telephone.
The importance of retail time management
Your retail store ultimately needs to run as smoothly as possible in order to succeed. But as a retailer, you know that things aren’t always going to go to plan, and late decisions can suddenly arise and cause disruption to your workflow.
If you implement just a few of the business hacks we’ve mentioned, both you and your staff will be able to work faster and with more efficiency, resulting in more time on your hands and less weight on your shoulders.