What is Retail Task Management Software

December 4, 2020

What is retail task management software?

Retail task management software, sometimes called retail communications software, is software that is typically purchased by the corporate office of a retail brand to help store teams understand what’s expected of them. 

Every day, there are dozens (or even hundreds) of decisions being made at a retailer’s corporate headquarters: Which product to buy, and how much. Which promotion to run, how to advertise it, how to measure its effectiveness. There are teams deciding whether or not it makes financial sense to switch to a different receipt paper vendor. There may even be teams working around the clock to figure out if pricing a pair of socks at $4.99 instead of $4.95 is actually worth the hassle.

Every single one of these decisions has a real-life, tangible impact in that retailer’s stores. It may impact how they merchandise product, how they schedule their employee shifts, how they set up their window displays, and what they say to customers when they’re greeted at the door. So when one of these decisions is made, stores need to know about it. More often than not, the link between HQ’s ideas and in-store execution is a retail task management solution.

Most task management solutions provide store managers and teams with a checklist of store activities that need to be completed according to a specific timeline. Since retail associates are deskless workers, task management software is typically optimized for mobile devices.

Why is it a good idea to manage retail tasks in the first place?

The goal of retail task management software is to ensure that stores execute effectively, according to the requirements of the corporate office. With task management software in place, Corporate managers have real-time visibility to store execution and compliance. They can easily see which store managers are up to date on tasks and which ones might need additional support. A task tracking platform also makes it easy to demonstrate compliance, substantially reducing the likelihood of being hit with huge fines or difficult lawsuits.

Task management software helps facilitate more streamlined communication within stores, as well. A retail task management solution typically allows store managers to assign tasks to specific members of their team. In addition, store managers have real time visibility into who’s reading tasks, who’s completing tasks, and who’s not. 

Finally, task management platforms can help retail associates feel more confident in their jobs by allowing them to see exactly what’s required of them to be successful in this role. It leads to long-term job satisfaction and decreases churn at the store-level.

Why use retail task management software?

Working in retail is challenging today. In addition to engaging with customers, retail associates are often tasked with ensuring Covid health and safety guidelines are being followed in the store. To make things more complicated, a store employee’s day-to-day reality doesn’t match up with that of a typical white-collar 9-to-5’er, so more traditional methods of communication – like email – typically fall short. Frontline retail workers don’t sit at a desk all day, watching their inboxes for new messages. Retail task management software is built to align with the way frontline employees like to work. 

Most retailers also rely heavily on their chain of command in the field to relay pertinent information from HQ to stores. District and Regional Managers (leaders who oversee a group of stores) may have regular check-ins with partners at HQ via phone or videoconference, and then disseminate their learnings to their direct reports during weekly conference calls or meetings. But this method makes it impossible to hold teams accountable to a single set of standards, often compromising a consistent store experience.

Even with the best intentions from HQ, stores can be overwhelmed with the number of messages to read and tasks to complete. Smart retailers employ a task management solution to cut the clutter, because it easily enables HQ teams to send tasks to only the people who need to see them.

Retail brands that care about the employee experience should provide Task Management Software to ensure that field employees aren’t being overwhelmed with conflicting tasks, have insight into what is expected of them and what they must do to meet expectations.

Who should use retail task management software?

Any corporate-owned retail brand that operates multiple brick and mortar could benefit from the use of a task management solution. By centralizing tasks and task-related communication into a single platform, you can ensure store teams execute consistently, and to the needs of the corporate office. In turn, that consistency can drastically improve the customer experiences, in addition to helping store associates understand what’s expected of them.

But if ever there were a time to roll out a task management platform, it’s now. Thanks to complex health and safety guidelines around Covid-19 that vary from city to city, the need to segment task information is more important than ever. Task management software makes it easy to assign specific tasks, based on role and store location, to ensure that store leaders and associates always know what’s expected of them, without having to sift through policy documents to try to understand what pertains to them and what doesn’t. As changes are made to policies and procedures, task management solutions give you a vehicle to immediately alert the field to updates. And finally, when you need to confirm that teams have read and understood new policies or directions for legal reasons, the tracking abilities of task management software are invaluable.

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