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5 Employee Scheduling Tools for Retail

Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera

Both paid and free solutions will help you balance employee hours and labor costs.

Still scheduling employee shifts on a calendar in the break room? Check out these paid and free software solutions.

For retail businesses that employ dozens of workers across several shifts and locations, writing down the weekly schedule on a calendar hanging in the break room isn't the most efficient way of scheduling. There are plenty of employee scheduling platforms that are optimized for use in a retail setting. Several common features allow for flexible schedule changes, makes payroll easier and allows you to manage across multiple locations.

The best software will help you determine when to schedule more employees using data from your business while keeping consistent hours. Employees should be able to easily access this system to request days off or trade shifts.



Often, miscommunication and lack of communication can lead to missed shifts, overwhelming hours and unnecessary overtime. ShiftNote promotes effective communication between managers and employees through the software, which can be accessed nearly anywhere. Both you and your employees can log into the interface through any web browser as well as a mobile app. Employees can view their schedule from their phones, and you can manage shifts from your home computer.

Its emphasis on communication means that not only can users send messages to one another through the application, but you can set up email and/or text message alerts for different instances, including approvals of day-off requests, messages from fellow employees and shift changes. In addition, managers can make announcements that employees will see the next time they log in.

ShiftNote allows you to save schedule templates, so you don't spend hours each week crafting a schedule. Employee availability and auto scheduling will make the process of scheduling faster and easier.

Reflexis Workforce Management

This is a mid-size retail workforce management platform that, among features such as budgeting, forecasting and reporting, is an employee scheduler capable of organizing the schedules of dozens of employees while balancing your labor budget. Working in conjunction with sales data from the reporting aspect of this software, it can help you plan what shifts you'll need more employees in. Data will let the platform forecast when you'll need more labor, and data on customer traffic in different aisles can help you determine where you need more sales floor coverage.

To control your labor costs, you can set caps on hours for employees and receive alerts when employees are about to hit their limits. A self-service app will allow employees to access their schedule from their phones and make day-off requests and shift swaps. Employees, depending on their role, can access different parts of the workflow platform to view reports and make approvals.


Editor's Note: Looking for an employee time and attendance system? We can help you choose the one that's right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:


OpenSimSim is a free, unlimited-use employee schedule that allows you to make easy schedules and loop your employees into the process. The developer touts that the software will always be free and can integrate with its time and attendance software, which is paid.

The interface can be accessed through a web browser or the OpenSimSim mobile app. Employees can set their preferred availability and can mark themselves as willing to take on extra shifts.

You can craft your schedules on the browser interface, and once published, employees will receive notification in real-time. The app also comes with a message board and chat feature to contact fellow employees and managers.

For managers, the mobile app can provide you with everything you need to manage your labor force. You can indicate on the schedule where you want employees to work, such as in different departments or locations. You can also view the cost of the schedule and will break it down by day and employees.


Branch is a mobile-oriented scheduling tool that makes communication easy and is ideal for businesses with multiple locations. The self-service application for mobile phones allows employees to manage all aspects of their schedule. The communication tool allows employees and managers to communicate with text or video and can exchange documents without the use of phone numbers or email.

They can easily make swaps with other employees with manager approval and can see what locations have available shifts. If they have multiple jobs, employees can use Branch to take a picture of a paper schedule and add it to their overall schedule.

Tracking features allow you to track employee’s performance and shift labor resources. A geofencing feature allows you to set certain restrictions on the app based on location, so employees can only clock-in when they’re at their scheduled work location.

Excel Spreadsheets

If you don't have a lot of staff and prefer to keep things simple, you can easily make a weekly work schedule using spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs. Unlike many of the other tools on this list, there's no direct way of getting the schedule to employees besides posting a physical copy somewhere or emailing it to them.

Most versions of Excel come with templates for schedules that you can work with; however, there are plenty of places online where you can download professionally made, responsive employee schedules. When I Work has a free Excel template that you can modify with the number of employees you manage. The template has formulas that let you plug in your employees' hourly rates and shifts, automatically calculating your weekly labor budget.

Google Docs also has a spreadsheet template for making an employee schedule. Its premade formulas allow you to categorize shifts in a back-end organizer so you can calculate weekly and monthly wages, as well as keep track of hours, and watch for overtime caps.


There is a multitude of solutions to your employee scheduling needs, both paid and free. It all depends on your retail business's scale, taking into account the number of employees, locations and how much you want it tied to your business's other operations. Some tools are more friendly to employees and loop them in through mobile communication.

Image Credit: Credit: Andrey Popov/Shutterstock
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera,
business.com Writer
Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a staff writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.