By Rieva Lesonsky
Post sponsored by Microsoft. Part 3 in a 3-part series.
The employees on the front lines are at the heart of your retail business. After all, they’re the ones ringing up sales, assisting customers, and serving as the “face” of your store. Are you empowering them to do their very best work?
When your frontline workers are distributed throughout the store—or when you have multiple retail locations—communicating, collaborating, and sharing information can be a challenge. Fortunately, by investing wisely in the right technology, you can give your frontline employees the productivity and collaboration tools they need. Here are five ways to empower your frontline retail workers.
1. Simplify scheduling
Relying on whiteboards, spreadsheets, and printouts to create and share employee schedules is a recipe for disaster. Inevitably, it leads to miscommunication—and missed shifts. Your managers and frontline employees will always be on top of things when you use cloud-based scheduling tools. For instance, Microsoft StaffHub lets you create and manage employee schedules from your desktop or mobile device. Employees just go online to access their schedules from anywhere, anytime. They can easily manage their schedules, ask for time off, or trade shifts with each other.
2. Provide education and training
Today’s shoppers enter your store armed with a world of data in their pockets (in the form of their smartphones, that is). Your frontline employees need to be even more knowledgeable than your customers about products, features, and options. Keep your team in the loop with training materials as they come on board, and with continued training throughout their careers. StaffHub creates an online community where you can share training materials, such as videos and manuals, with your entire frontline team or just a few employees.
3. Communicate consistently
Whether you’re grabbing your store’s frontline staff for a quick morning meeting or holding a quarterly call with team nationwide, communication between frontline and back-office employees is key to a smoothly running retail operation. Microsoft’s Office 365 Enterprise K1 plan gives your team many ways to stay in touch, from email and chat to the private Yammer social network. It also includes Skype for Business so your employees can communicate in real time and participate in Skype Meeting Broadcast sessions.
4. Share data securely
When company data lives in the cloud, employees can access, store, and share it anywhere, anytime, on any device. But security is vital when you’re dealing with sensitive customer data such as payment card numbers and financial information. OneDrive for Business, included with the Office 365 Enterprise K1 plan, gives each user 2GB of personal cloud storage in a secure environment. OneDrive makes it easy for administrators to manage employee access on both company-owned and employee-owned devices.
5. Keep it simple
Frontline retail employees have a lot on their plates. With the free Office Online apps included in Office 365 Enterprise K1, they don’t have to learn a whole new way of working. Instead, they can use the familiar Microsoft apps they already rely on.
The retail industry is undergoing a massive transformation. Frontline employees empowered with the right technology tools are your store’s best weapon for survival.
Read the other articles in this retail series:
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.