How to coordinate a retail store and staff

A practical guide for coordinating a retail store and staff via e-mail.

Whether you're operating a physical or online store, keeping track of everything that's going on can be hassle. Since everybody has e-mail, we're going to propose a management strategy that doesn't involve too much "thinky pain".

First off, go and have a look at the contents of your inbox inside your mail app, or if it's empty, your archive folder. Your mail app is probably filled with a lot of random discussions about your day to day business operations, along with a bunch of noise and annoying crap from online services or social media. Maybe you're on the ball and have folders already sorting some mail — well done you!

Sorting e-mail within your private mail app using folders is a good start, but if you want co-workers to see the same information, projemail might be a better fit. There's no need to ditch e-mail in order to better keep track of things that need attention. Let's simply organise things a little bit by coming up with a set of categories that we need to deal with on a day to day basis.

Here's a start:

An easy e-mail based store management workflow
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You can probably think of a couple of other categories specific to your particular store.

Once an e-mail organisation map is set out in projemail, all you need to do is Cc conversations into your organiser. Alternatively, use its built-in mail app and simply tick/import e-mails of any importance as they crop up.

Setting up the, umm... settings.

Projemail always provides a shared work space. You're probably not sharing financials with your employees unless you're a co-operative, so you might want to leave some staff out of the Team members list and only include managers or investors.

Store team members

Ticking the Accept e-mails sent by anyone option under settings will let all staff have their e-mail replies automatically sorted and organised in the system, but they won't be able to log in and access anything. Anybody who should be able to see all areas of the store's operation can be included in the Team members list. This will allow them to log in or set up periodic reports about unresolved e-mail discussions going on for the entire store.

By default, the system defines a few common status options for organising stages and tracking their status through to some closed state. For perpetual day to day operations we won't need it, so let's just add an "Ongoing" setting to keep all of our areas active. Since we can add/remove stages from our management workflow at any time, we may want to include a few extra status options in the settings as well (In Progress, Done, etc) just in case we add mini "projects" underneath Store Maintenance that need progress tracking.

Store workflow status options

Now we can flip all of our stages into "Ongoing" and start coordinating everything via e-mail!

Store workflow status options

Any "active discussion" is treated like some sort of "todo" or task. Simply tick and archive e-mail discussions as problems are dealt with to close them out.

Ask your staff to always 'Reply All' on future discussions and use #hashtags in the subject line on new questions.

The nice thing about this system is, so long as discussions are captured in, team members can archive things from their inbox even before they've had a chance to deal with them — keeping everybody's inboxes empty.

Good luck!

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Further guidance