Guest Column | March 24, 2020

The Top 5 Time-Saving Apps For Retail Managers During The COVID-19 Pandemic

By Love Energy Savings

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If there’s one thing we all want more of, it’s time. The problem with time, though, is that — unlike money — we simply can’t have more of it. We each get 24 hours per day, and that’s it.

The busier you are, the less time you seem to have. And in fast-moving industries like retail, this can become a big problem.

Retail managers spend a large portion of those hours performing a balancing act between employees, customers and a seemingly limitless to-do list. And with the current Covid-19 pandemic, retail managers and workers are under even more time pressure to support the nation in the coming weeks.

If that’s you, here’s a word of reassurance: you do have enough time, or at least, as much time as anyone could have. What’s limiting you — and what is within your control — is how you use that time.

To help you out, Love Energy Savings has put together a list of our favourite time-saving apps that are guaranteed to transform the way you use your time to get the important things done faster.

1. Workflow

Price: Free

Workflow might better be known as “the one that does everything”. And that’s kind of the point. Workflow is an app that saves you time by integrating with all your other apps and turning otherwise complex actions (like letting someone know where you are and how long you’ll be) into one handy click.

One of the things that makes Workflow stand out is that it has backing by a company that has some of the deepest pockets on the planet: the mighty Apple. Apple acquired Workflow in early 2017 and has since had its best mind on the task of turning Workflow from an app into a way of life.

Here’s just a selection of the 200+ things that Workflow can do with one tap of your phone:

  • Text your current location and travel time if you’re running late
  • Add people to speed dial
  • Calculate tips
  • Read articles and web pages to you
  • Scan a QR code
  • Find your way home
  • Share when you’re free with colleagues, clients and friends
  • Connect to web APIs

Oh, and did we mention it’s free? For anyone on an iOS device, this is a must-have.

2. Clear Todos

Price: £4.99

When your to-do list is never-ending, the least you can do is have it organised.

Clear is an app that lets you compile lists in order of priority and quickly shift it around when something else becomes important. Items at the top of your list will be in dark red, while items at the bottom will be a pastel yellow. That way, you get an easy visual cue telling you what you should be focusing your efforts on next.

You can create multiple lists, too; maybe you could have one list for menial tasks, one for things that you can do to help staff develop, and one just for what books you want to read next.

Once you’ve completed a to-do on your list, just swipe across it and you’ll get a nice, satisfying “ping” rewarding you for all that hard work. What more motivation could you need?

3. Sortly

Price: Free with premium plans available

Inventory management is just so… ugh. It’s one of the most important jobs that a retail manager can do, but that doesn’t stop it from being tedious and incredibly time-consuming.

Thankfully, Sortly allows you to take some of the pain — and, importantly, time — out of managing your inventory.

Sortly is designed to make things as simple as possible. When you want to add something to your inventory, just take a photo of the item and add any relevant information you might need to refer back to, like quantity, price and product information — you can search for all of these later.
Once that’s done, you can sort your items into folders so they’re easy to track. You also can create and print custom labels with QR codes that you and your team can scan when you quickly need some information.

Even if you’re a technophobe, Sortly is so easy to use that it’ll soon be your go-to app and will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in the stockroom.

4. When I Work

Price: Free for up to 75 employees.

In retail, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure you have enough people in at the right times to ensure your store, cafe or restaurant is properly staffed during opening hours. Getting that right can take a lot of time and brain power, especially if you have a large team.

That’s where When I Work comes in. When I Work is a staff rota app that you can download and use on your phone that’s free for teams of up to 75 people. With it, employees can share their availability with you so that you can quickly put together a schedule that covers all your bases. When you’re done, you can just hit send to have it notify everyone on your team and rest easy.

Perhaps the best time-saving feature of this app, though, is how it handles shift-swapping. Employees can message one another within the app directly to swap shifts if one day doesn’t work for someone, and once they reach an agreement, you simply approve the change, instead of having to frantically text around to find out who can cover tills for the third time this month.

Start using When I Work and no one will be able to say “I didn’t see the schedule” ever again.

5. Atrivity

Price: Free for up to 5 players, paid plans available for larger teams.

One key responsibility managers have is to ensure that all your employees are properly trained so they know as much about the business as they can.

The problem is that there’s only one of you and quite a few of them. So, how do you ensure they’re developing their knowledge without spending hours of your time trying to teach each one of them?

Atrivity provides a pretty compelling answer. Atrivity is basically a quiz game that employees can play on their phone, and answer questions that are specifically about your business.

Here’s how it works: you take the training material you would normally spend time distributing and clarifying with employees and instead create a quiz that you can share with your team. You can include any topic you wish, from competitor information and compliance information to sales techniques and product details. Atrivity even has handy templates that help you create the questions quickly to save you time. You can even assign prizes for winners to help motivate less engaged employees to take part.

Once your team has completed your quiz, you can review the game results. That way, you can quickly see who knows the most, who learns the fastest and which topics should be revisited.