Retail rota best practices – your guide to shop staff scheduling

by Rotageek on 9 August 2022

If you work in retail, you’ve probably noticed how much the sector has changed recently. Retailers have needed to evolve fast, moving on from traditional shopping and towards new digital services and online experiences.

With that in mind, we think it’s time for a new and updated guide to retail rota best practices.

So, whether you are new to shop staff scheduling, or you want to refresh your approach to retail rotas, we’ve got ideas to share with you.


What’s changed in retail?

Today’s retail staff have a new set of priorities, which might inform your approach to planning and communicating your shop rotas. You might also have staff in new kinds of roles, requiring an adjustment in how you schedule shifts.

Here are some of the key trends:

        • Flexible working is a top priority for today’s employees. 71% want flexible hybrid work opportunities, according to Microsoft. Offering flexible working could be key to improving staff retention.

        • The spotlight is on effective communication as a way to engage and retain staff. Good communication can reduce turnover by 25% in retail, according to research by the University of Cologne. When it comes to retail staff rotas, clear and timely communication is a must.

        • More staff are working remotely because retail experiences no longer have to be delivered in person. Growth in online collaboration tools – use of Microsoft Teams has grown by 350% since 2019 – illustrates the shift.

Rota best practices for retail

Although current trends are largely about employee attitudes, don’t forget that retail rotas must meet the business’s needs too. For managers, the retail schedule is a way to ensure you have the right number of staff in the right place, at the right time to run the business. You also want rotas to be quick and accurate, keeping admin chores to a minimum.

Here’s our best practice advice for producing effective retail staff schedules today.

1. Make rotas accessible anywhere and for everyone – including remote staff

Best practice:
Choose a reliable digital rota platform, which all of your staff can access, and use it to share rotas in a consistent and timely way.

This will help you meet several key challenges:

        • Keeping staff engaged, supporting better retention
        • Easily communicating rotas to remote staff
        • Making employees feel fairly treated, by avoiding late notice of shift changes

The right software solution can help. For example, Rotageek provides a secure, built-in communication service for your teams and individual staff.

2. Use tools that enable employee flexibility

Best practice:
Choose tools that allow staff to easily request shift changes, and enable you to adjust the schedule without spending hours on admin. 

Today’s retail workers want flexibility so they can enjoy a healthy work-life balance. However, manual rota systems take a long time to rewrite, and this can prevent you from offering the flexibility staff need.

With Rotageek, employees have self-service features for requesting shift changes – and you can manage their requests flexibly in the mobile app. 

3. Create rotas that deliver the best customer experience

Best practice:
Design rotas that empower your team to deliver the best customer experience, so you can achieve your business goals.

Optimising labour costs is an important priority when scheduling staff. But if your rota is all about saving money, you won’t be able to provide the kind of service that keeps customers coming back. And staff may end up overstretched, unhappy, and looking for a new job.

Rotageek is proven to deliver labour cost savings and boost NPS customer experience ratings. You get the best of both worlds.

4. Have a backup plan

Best practice: Be prepared for a manager falling ill or a server, by having a contingency rota.

Preparing your staff schedule takes time, and making a just-in-case backup probably isn’t high on your list of favourite tasks. But you need to be ready for the inevitable: illness, injury, sudden departures, and everything else that can go wrong. Your business continuity, and your customers, depend on it.

With AI and machine learning capabilities, Rotageek lets you create multiple rota options with a few clicks.

5. Choose long-term efficiency over short-term savings

Best practice:
Adopt the best rota solution you can afford today because its value will only increase over time – while basic methods (e.g. a spreadsheet) will only grow more frustrating.

Basic scheduling tools like Excel spreadsheets and printed templates seem like the easy option for prepping your rota, because they appear to be nice and simple. But rotas get more complex as your business grows – and a simple spreadsheet will leave you to do all the thinking, planning and communication.

Start automating your rota as soon as you can, so you can get on with running your retail business.


One best-practice solution has you covered

That’s our guide, and we hope you found it useful. If you’d like more help with scheduling, designed specifically for retail businesses, please check out our resources and solution pages.


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