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 is not the most efficient way of scheduling. There are plenty of employee scheduling platforms optimized for use in a retail setting. Several common features allow for flexible schedules, make payroll easier, and help you to manage schedules across multiple locations. The best software uses data from your business to determine when to schedule more employees while maintaining consistent hours. Employees should be able to easily access this system to request days off or trade shifts.
Here are six scheduling solutions to consider.
Homebase offers the biggest upside for any small business, including retailers. Live error tracking, an intuitive interface and a plethora of integrations for your other applications elevate Homebase above its competition.
Homebase's free offerings include a GPS-powered timesheet and mobile scheduling applications for iOS and Android. These provide managers and employees flexibility and transparency through simple communication tools.
The free basic plan is designed for businesses with one location. The upgraded Essentials plan, which offers advanced communication and optimization features, is $19.95 per month. The Plus tier is $49.95 per month and offers additional labor law compliance tools. The Enterprise offering, which is designed for larger companies, has custom pricing.
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Truno's Worx Scheduling, formerly known as TimeForge, seeks to simplify the scheduling and payroll process by putting control into the employee's hands and then giving management overview and approval options. Worx uses automated tools to quickly build multiple schedules and limit the individual components and notifications to users for whom they are relevant. The many integration options allow Worx to function alongside other attendance or POS systems.
The automated schedule builder assesses previous lists and current forecasts to generate more consistent schedules. It offers templates to further simplify the process. Internal communication features allow for an entirely digital experience that frees up manager time from oversight; employees can easily coordinate scheduling or vacation time with one another before submitting their requests for supervisor approval.
Pricing for Worx is customized for each business. You'll need to contact the company directly for a price quote.
Miscommunication and lack of communication often lead to missed shifts, overwhelming hours or unnecessary overtime. ShiftNote promotes effective communication between managers and employees through the software, which is accessible nearly anywhere. You and your employees can log in to the interface through any web browser or the mobile scheduling app. Employees can view their schedules from their phones, and you can manage shifts from your home computer.
This emphasis on communication means that not only can employees 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. Managers can make announcements that employees will see the next time they log in.
ShiftNote allows you to save schedule templates, saving you the time of crafting a schedule each week. Quick views of employee availability and automatic scheduling make the process faster and easier.
Both of ShiftNote's plans include a manager logbook and support an unlimited number of users and locations, but you will need the higher tier if you want scheduling tools. These allow you to:
- Create schedules manually or with automatic templates based on performance and budget.
- Forecast sales and labor data.
- Detect overtime.
- Assign multiple positions.
ShiftNote offers two plans without long-term contracts and does not charge per-user fees. To get detailed pricing information, you must contact the company directly and provide specifics on your business. A free trial is available for both plans.
Reflexis ONE is a midsize retail workforce management platform that includes features for budgeting, forecasting and reporting. It is also an employee scheduler, capable of organizing dozens of employees' schedules while balancing your labor budget. Working in conjunction with sales data from the reporting aspect of this software, it can help you plan for the shifts you'll need more employees to work. Data on customer traffic will let the platform predict when you'll need the most labor and the aisles where you'll need more sales floor coverage.
To control your labor costs, you can set caps on hours for employees and receive alerts when they're about to hit their limits. A self-service app allows employees to access their schedules from their phones and request time off and shift swaps. Depending on their role, they can access different parts of the workflow platform to view reports and make approvals.
Reflexis uses an AI-powered labor forecasting system to schedule the proper teams across various work sites. The algorithm instantly creates optimized schedules based on customizable factors such as the skills required for each job, budget, and customer demand.
You'll need to contact the company directly for pricing information.
OpenSimSim is an unlimited-use employee scheduler that allows you to loop your employees in to the scheduling process. The interface is accessible through a web browser or the OpenSimSim mobile app. Employees can set their preferred availability and mark themselves as willing to take on extra shifts.
You can craft schedules within the browser interface, and when you publish a schedule, employees will receive notification in real time. The app includes a message board and chat feature to connect co-workers and managers.
The mobile app gives you all the tools 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 labor cost of the schedule, broken down by day and employee.
OpenSimSim has a free plan for small businesses, which covers one department in a single location that has up to 10 crew members on the schedule. The Starter plan, which costs $12.99 a month, can handle scheduling for two departments per location and an unlimited number of workers. You can schedule for five departments per location on the Premium plan, which costs $33.99 a month. The Enterprise plan can accommodate scheduling for unlimited departments and locations, but you'll need to contact the company directly for a price quote.
If you do not have a lot of staff and prefer to keep things simple, you can make a weekly work schedule using spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs. Unlike many of the other tools on this list, these programs offer no direct way of getting the schedule to employees; you'll have to email it to them manually or post a physical copy in your store.
Most versions of Excel include templates for schedules; 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 hourly employees' rates and shifts to automatically calculate your weekly labor budget.
Google Docs also has a spreadsheet template for an employee schedule. Its premade formulas allow you to categorize shifts in a back-end organizer so you can calculate weekly and monthly wages, keep track of employees' hours, and watch for overtime.
A Microsoft 365 subscription for businesses grants access to the entire Microsoft suite of tools across three tiers. Per month, the Basic plan costs $5 per user for the online versions of the applications. The Business Standard plan costs $12.50 a month per user and includes desktop applications. The Premium plan is $20 a month per user and adds more cybersecurity tools.
There is a multitude of solutions to your employee scheduling needs, both paid and free. Some tools are also more friendly to employees than others, looping them in through mobile communication. It all depends on your retail business's scale, taking into account the number of employees and locations and how much you want it to integrate with your business's other operations.
Jordan Beier contributed to the writing and research in this article.