When it comes to retail execution, there are two different ways to "do it" -- where "it" refers to the blocking and tackling necessary to schedule retail employees, track time and attendance, communicate priorities, coordinate projects, manage tasks and measure performance.

The first option is to use a structured and integrated workforce management system.

The second option is to use fragmented and unstructured tools such as phone calls, emails, text messages, spreadsheets, pen and paper.

In the same way that a hammer and a rock are both sufficient for driving nails -- both options listed are sufficient for getting the job done. Option #1, however, is much less painful than option #2.

But don't take my word for it. Simply look at what employees themselves have to say about working for merchandisers and retailers that depend on unstructured tools for managing retail execution.

Take, for example, the employee reviews posted on Indeed.com where employees grade employers in five categories which provides a fascinating window into whether or not companies have the right tools in place for creating productive work environments.

Try it out for yourself. After poking around for a few minutes, you'll see how easy it is to see the difference between working for an employer with mature workforce management systems vs. working for an employer with fragmented, manual and unstructured tools.

Take for example the following anonymized reviews. One is written by an employee working for an employer without proper systems in place. The other is written by an employee working for a firm supported by a best-in-class workforce management platform.

Quote 1: At head office in our region, no one knows what is going on. There are constant issues with scheduling and pay. You will frequently be scheduled for an entire week in a region that is 1 hr to 1.5 hrs away from your house. Oh, and don't expect to be paid on time or for the correct amount. Even when you provide the company with the proper evidence to correct your pay issue, don't expect it done in a timely matter. And to put the icing on the cake, sometimes you will drive to a store, only to find out that the store has no supplies, which you need to do your job. If you text or call someone about this matter, they will simply tell you to drive to another store and pick the supplies up you need.

Quote 2: I start my day by looking at my schedule on my smartphone. I then go to the store where i am supposed to be and i clock-in in on my smartphone. I then check the reciving dock for new shipments, once complete I perform a manual inventory count and then assist guest with wireless related purchases and inquiries for the remainder of my shift. The hardest part of my job is when the system goes down. The most enjoyable part of the job is guest interaction.

Can you see the difference?

Matt Howard photo
Husband and father. Software innovator, entrepreneur and marketer. My wife is my soul mate. My 3 kids are my greatest accomplishment. I love innovation and marketing. Also running, yoga, wine, Baltimore Ravens and Avalon, NJ. Sales and Marketing VP at Natural Insight. Founder & CEO of ZoomSafer. Co-founder of SMBLive. Marketing VP at Groove Networks and USinternetworking.