Recession-Proofing Your Business: What Sells During A Recession?

Recession-Proofing Your Business: What Sells During A Recession?

Welcome to part 2 of our Recession-Proofing Your Business series. In the first part of this series we went over strategies that retailers can use to handle the recession. Some of these strategies included:

  • How to use software automation to reduce operational costs
  • How to reduce inventory based on changing customer needs
  • How to improve your relationship with customers.

In this blog, we will explain why consumers needs recession-proof products.

What are recession-proof products?

As the name suggests, recession-proof products are items that traditionally sell well during a recession. These are the type of products that people will keep purchasing even when money is tight. Here are 4 ways to tell if a product is recession-proof.

1. Inelastic demand

Elasticity with products or services is a way of explaining how shopper behavior changes when retail prices and household finances change.

When something has elastic demand, it means that any small change in price or the economy will have a big impact on whether customers will change the way they shop. The best examples of this are discretionary products. This is products that are not essential such as clothing or vacations. When the price of these items increase or people are short on money, more people will buy less clothes or take less vacations.

In comparison, products with inelastic demand are things shoppers will keep buying, even when retail prices increase or they are short on money. These products are usually seen as ‘essential‘, without any good substitutes. Products such as prescription drugs, tobacco, salt or mobile phone plans are good examples.

Maselow's hierarchy of needs
Maselow’s hierarchy of needs (Source)

Remember that essential products aren’t always things needed for survival, but they are products that shoppers feel they cannot stop buying. This can include products that comfort people during difficult economic times such as recreational products which satisfy certain emotional needs. Maselow’s hierarchy of needs above is a good way to think about whether a product you sell is inelastic. Products that satisfy needs higher up in the pyramid are more likely to be inelastic and harder to substitute.

2. A easy way to escape

Escapism art
(Source)

Uncertainty during a recession can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. People will be looking for ways to escape from these tensions. So products that entertain people and help them keep their mind off of things often sell well during a recession. TV streaming, video games, junk food, alcohol, and similar products are examples of this. In the last part of our Recession-Proofing Your Business series, we touched upon the idea of the lipstick effect. This is a great example of how people shop based on the need for escapism and comfort during a recession.

3. Whether a product can be stocked in bulk

Canned food stockpile
(Source)

Whenever there is inflation, people want to stock up on certain products to avoid paying a higher price in the future. As a result, every day essential products with long shelf life will do well in a recession. As long as supply is reliable, essential products such as canned foods, rice, toilet paper, dish soap or instant ramen noodles that can be sold in bulk will continue to sell.

Encouraging shoppers to stock up on shelf stable products is known as stocking the pantry. By selling products in bulk, even at a lower price, retailers make marginal profit on the same sale and limit the space available in a household for shoppers to stock competitive products.

4. Seen as a lower-cost option

If you sell elastic products (non-essential products), it’s always a good idea to offer lower-cost options during a recession. This can be something as simple as smaller sizes or features. Making a smaller sale is still better than losing a sale completely. As long as you are clearly communicating how features vary between differently priced options, you will still be able to offer higher value products for those who can afford it.

You can also use the Apple’s Goldilocks strategy. Placing an expensive option next to a decently-priced option makes the cheaper one seem like better value.

Here are a few examples of how smart retailers are offering wallet-friendly versions of popular products during these inflationary times.

Flonase - the lower cost option
Retailers sell two versions of the Flonase nose spray. One with 72 sprays and one with 144 sprays. Giving consumers a choice between spending more to get more uses, or spending less. (Source)
Sales prices to illustrate anchoring
Uniqlo uses the idea of the Apple’s Goldilocks strategy here. Where you show an item at a higher price right next to a cheaper item. The more expensive product doesn’t look much better than the sale item, so consumers feel as if they are getting a great deal. (Source)

This is the same, even if you sell services or subscriptions. For example, it’s a good idea to offer lower cost subscription plans to avoid cancellations. The best example of this is what Netflix has done recently with their new ad-supported tier. By offering a downgradable plan, more shoppers will keep Netflix versus cancelling their subscription.

Tiered pricing for Netflix
Netflix Canada’s pricing table for the different tiers of membership (Source)

Recession-proof product categories

Now that you understand some of the reasons that drive shoppers to buy during a recession, let’s take a look at some examples of product categories that sell well when times are bad.

Food

This one is obvious since people need food to survive. As we said earlier, food that has a long shelf life will perform better when times are tough. The demand for cheaper food will always increase when shoppers are looking to save money. Of course a recession won’t stop consumers from purchasing food, but you can expect shifts in the type of food they will choose to spend on. If you’re a grocer or you sell food at your store, take the time to consider how to change your product line to meet these new shopper needs.

Self-care products

Collage of various self-care products
(Source)

Products for personal hygiene, self-care, and beauty have historically done well during recessions. This is thanks to the lipstick effect. However some of these products are also necessities, such as: toiler paper, soap, towels, etc. These products are needed by consumers and demand will generally remain stable.

DIY products

DIY lifestyle products also do well during recessions. This includes products that help improve your home (e.g. gardening tools, drills, hammers, nails, lawnmowers, etc.). Other examples include DIY products that give people an affordable creative outlet such as home decor projects or hobbies. It also allows consumers to save money as they will not want to pay a service for things like home maintenance during a recession. After all, DIY is a form of escapism and helps people de-stress.

Pet products

Pet food next to a dog and cat
(Source)

Pet products are strong recession-proof items as people consider their pets as members of their family. So they are not going to be forgotten during a recession. Especially essential products for those special family members. These include: food, litter, treats, and waste removal bags. Pet products will remain inelastic in demand throughout a recession.

Recreational products

A physical film collection in a store
(Source)

Once again people’s need for escapism helps another product category remain recession-proof. Recreational products are a staple during a recession. Lower-cost recreational products perform even better. A deck of cards, board games, cheaper video games, and cost-effective movie streaming are all examples of great recreational products. However these recreational products don’t only have to be in-home options. People will look for way to escape outdoors as well, sports equipment and camping gear are other great recession-proof products.

Off-price products

A discount tag on clothing
(Source)

Off-price retailing is the strategy of buying out-of-season or overstocked branded products and selling them at heavily discounted prices. Off-price shopping increases during recessions so if you have any distributors or suppliers willing to sell you their extra stock at a lower cost, you can also look at offering branded products at prices below MSRP.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve gone over product categories which have historically done well during a recession, you should review your own product mix to determine if you’re selling the right things during these tough times. If you are seeing success with other categories, please feel free to share your thoughts with us below in the comments.


To deal with a recession, investing in tools that optimize your operations is key. TAKU Retail is helps you manage your entire store and ecommerce operations, all under a single login. At the same time, we’re constantly adding new features to help our merchants deal with labor shortages. Click below to learn more about our new self-checkout feature to sell more with less staff.

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Retail Brick And Mortar Stores Are Here To Stay

Retail Brick And Mortar Stores Are Here To Stay

The rise of e-commerce during the pandemic has led many people to believe that that physical retail stores will soon be a thing of the past. After all, e-commerce feels more convenient as you can shop from the comfort of home. Even Google has seen an increase in the number of people wondering whether brick and mortar stores are dying.

Google search showing "are brick and mortar stores dying" as a popular search
Many people are wondering if physical stores are dying

We’re glad to report that, like many future predictions, the reality is a lot less scary. As post-pandemic studies and recent data has shown, physical retail is still thriving and here to stay.

E-commerce is not the only future

eCommerce artwork
(Source)

While e-commerce grew in popularity during the pandemic, post-pandemic statistics show that people are returning to their old ways. E-commerce sales in 2022 have slowed down. Some of this is likely pent up demand for shoppers who missed shopping in person during the pandemic. But according to research, 59% of shoppers do not trust internet-only brands. At the same time, e-commerce only companies continue to struggle to turn a profit. Many companies who bet on an e-commerce only future are now paying the price.

Brick and mortar retail stores are continuing to grow

Brick and mortar stores on a main street
(Source)

Even after all of the COVID-19 lockdowns, brick & mortar retail stores are thriving. In fact, for every brick and mortar business that shut down, two more businesses opened up. On top of that, sales in physical retail have actually gone up post-pandemic. In-store shopping has seen a 13.7% boost compared to pre-pandemic levels. This growth doesn’t just apply to big names like Walmart, but to small independently owned businesses as well! In fact, over 60% of small businesses are expected to grow their revenue over the next year. This is a trend that can be seen from pre-pandemic statistics as well. Reports show that between 2016 – 2021, the revenue of smaller retailers grew at an average of 51.33%.

And certain consumers actually prefer in-store shopping. The majority of Boomers and Gen X customers say that they shop in-store “all the time”. In fact, younger people such as Gen Z (along with Gen X) are two generations that actually shop more in-person than online. For them, their entire lives are already digital and physical retail appeals to them as experiential shopping

The shopping experience is too important

Woman trying on clothes before purchase at a brick and mortar store
(Source)

Another key reason why brick & mortar stores still appeal to shoppers is because it is still by far a better shopping experience. At the beginning we mentioned how e-commerce provides a certain level of convenience that physical retail can’t. Yet when it comes to immediate consumption, this is something that only physical shopping can offer. There is a level of satisfaction one can feel shopping in-store and taking something home right away. This is why the term retail therapy exists.

But beyond immediate satisfaction, shopping at brick and mortar stores allows customers to get an engaged shopping experience that they simply can’t find online. Being able to physically hold a product and sometimes try it out before purchase is a big factor in deciding to buy something. 59% of consumers say that the ability to try, touch and feel a product is key for in-store shopping over online.

Man using TAKU Self checkout

And when shopping in-store, one of the top priorities for shoppers is convenience, especially at checkout. After all, 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase due to inconvenience. So if you are in or planning to enter the physical retail industry, be sure to offer easy checkout options. Things like self-checkout enhance the shopping experience for customers greatly.

The future is omnichannel

Omnichannel Management Diagram with TAKU Retail

Throughout this post, it may have felt like we are saying that e-commerce is worse than physical retail. However, the future of the retail today is really a combination of physical and digital shopping. As we mentioned before, consumers want convenience. Omnichannel offers the most convenience to consumers as it allows them to shop from anywhere, 24/7. There’s a reason why 58.6% of retailers are heavily investing in omnichannel fulfillment and 70% of small businesses have adopted digital tools over the past year.

The benefits of omnichannel aren’t just for customers either. Retailers are able to have more control over their business and sell more when they offer omnichannel shopping. After all, retailers who don’t sell on multiple channels end up missing out on ~30% of sales.

Being able to serve your customers in a variety of channels will soon be the standard in retail. For e-commerce, store pickup or fulfillment of online orders from local stores support main streets, is better for the environment and get products to customers faster as delivery costs increase. In order to keep up with the future, your retail business needs to be an omnichannel one.


Now, more than ever, is the best time to invest in omnichannel! Make sure your business is future-proof by implementing software that can support your business over time. Check out TAKU Retail and ensure your business is resilient and able to serve customers the way they expect to shop today.

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4 Ways QR Codes Can Help Retailers

4 Ways QR Codes Can Help Retailers

Invented in 1994, the QR code was originally made so that Toyota could track car parts in their manufacturing process. 28 years later, QR codes have become so much more. In particular, the COVID pandemic helped popularize the use of QR codes in businesses everywhere. Whether you’ve seen it being used by shoppers adding social media accounts or to view a digital menu, it’s an increasingly common tool that retailers can use to speed up service and improve customer experience. Here are 4 different ways QR codes can help retailers.

1. Attract more shoppers to your website

Drive more website traffic with QR codes
(Source)

QR codes can look like a complicated barcode but they are actually an image of information. For example, you can store everything from phone numbers and documents to website addresses. But sharing websites and social media accounts is definitely the most common use for QR codes. By adding a QR code to any marketing materials or signage, you are giving shoppers the fastest way for them to access your website or social media accounts. Instead of typing addresses or searching for accounts, shoppers can simply scan the QR code with the camera on their phones and access your information in 1-click.

Expert Tip!

QR codes do not need to be limited to physical materials. QR codes can also be placed on things such as email signatures, profile pictures, and social media covers.

By making it easier for shoppers to get access to your online storefront and social feeds, you will attract more shoppers to your business. After all, being found online or having an online storefront will not only increase your online sales, it helps drive foot traffic back to your physical store as shoppers have an easy way to stay up-to-date on new product launches, special offers, etc.

2. Sell from your shopfront window

Barber shop using a QR code on its storefront window
(Source)

Another way QR codes help retailers sell is to make it easier for stores to sell things from their physical shopfront window. For example, adding QR codes next to products that are displayed in your shopfront window that link to each specific product in your online catalog. This gives shoppers an easy way to scan a product to find out more or even buy online, even when your store is closed. Doing this makes your storefront window more engaging and informative – both of which are important for good customer experience.

3. Get more social media followers

Gain new followers with QR codes
(Source)

Many retailers today use QR codes to make it easier for shoppers to follow their social media accounts. Since QR codes are scanned as website links, shoppers can easily open your social media accounts with 1 click. Making it easier for people to find your accounts will increase the likelihood that they will follow you. Place these QR codes anywhere customers and business partners can see them (email signatures, profile pictures, in-store signs, counter stickers, etc.).

4. Give fast access to free WiFi

Give fast access to free WiFi with QR codes
(Source)

One of the best uses of QR codes is to give shoppers 1-click access to guest WiFi in the store. You can create a QR code that store visitors can scan to be automatically connected to your guest WiFi. This is a special type of QR code that automatically enters the network name and password into an iPhone or Android mobile phone. Shoppers love it as it means no more entering network names or long passwords. It is also better for your network security as you don’t need to disclosing the actual password.

If you want to encourage shoppers to browse, offering free guest WiFi is a great way to get shoppers to stay for a longer time in your store. It doesn’t cost you anything and it’s been shown that shoppers that stay longer in a store buy more things and spend more money.

Scroll down to learn how to create your own WiFi QR code.

How to create QR codes

QR codes are very simple to create. All you need is online QR code generator to make them. When using these platforms, creating your QR code is as simple as pasting the website address you would like customers to open. Then press the generate button, and congratulations you will have just made your first QR code!

A. Standard QR codes

Standard QR codes for retail
Creating a QR code on QR Code Monkey

For standard QR codes, we have two recommendations: QR Code Monkey and QR Code Generator. QR Code Monkey is a great free option. QR Code Generator offers a few more features and even has a premium membership. Both of these tools let you add colors and even a logo to your QR code.

B. WiFi QR codes

WiFi QR codes for retail

The main difference when creating QR codes for WiFi sharing is that the code generator needs to support WiFi information. A good tool for this is QiFi.org which was built specifically for this.

All you need to do is enter the SSID (network name) and password for your guest WiFi network. You may also need to enter the Encryption type, so check your Wi-Fi settings if you don’t already know this. Once all of the information is entered, click Generate to produce the code.

Expert Tips!

1. For better security, always create a separate guest WiFi from your main WiFi network so that you have separate password access.

2. For better security, always make sure that you hide the password so that it cannot be seen in the user’s phone. With QiFi.org, fill the Hidden checkbox before clicking Generate.

3. Always test your QR code on your mobile phone before printing any marketing materials or sharing it to make sure it is working properly!

Now you know some ways QR codes can help retailers. Time to start implementing this popular technology to your business. You can follow one of the tactics we mentioned, or get creative and try your own tactic. If you end up coming up with your own QR tactic, please feel free to share it below in the comments!

Google SWIS integration for Online Catalogs
Prepare Your Retail Store For Back-To-School Season

Prepare Your Retail Store For Back-To-School Season

Hectic back-to-school shopping aisles
(Source)

As the infamous Staples ad campaign once exclaimed, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. No, they weren’t talking about Christmas time – they were talking about back-to-school season! It’s one of the most exciting times for retailers as shoppers are out and about looking for great savings as they or their kids are heading back-to-school. It’s always important to get prepared as soon as possible, so here’s how to prepare your retail store for back-to-school season.

What are people looking for this back-to-school season?

It’s no surprise that inflation is on the minds of most shoppers today. As the cost of living continues to soar, people are reviewing their budgets. In fact, over 75% of parents are shopping based on school provided lists and will be budget-aware. What does this mean for retailers? Well it’s an ideal time to use in-store displays to show off promotions and deals. Make sure your customers realize the savings they could gain from your deals. This will encourage impulse purchases.

Planned back-to-school spending chart
(Source)

Households surveyed revealed that average spending per student is expected to rise by 8%. Reaching around $661 of spend per student. This means retailers are going to have to work to earn their share of back-to-school budgets. Back-to-school sales aren’t growing as much as last year, but they are still growing regardless as life transitions back to normal after the pandemic.

Top back-to-school spending categories
Top back-to-school spending categories for elementary / high school students (left) and post-secondary students (right) (Source)

Back-to-school tax holiday

Saving money is getting harder and harder, so state governments have decided to get involved this back-to-school season. For example, in the US, 18 different states are participating in tax holidays to help parents save on school supplies. Below is a list of the states participating. Learn more here.

States participating in a back-to-school tax holiday

Map of states participating in a back-to-school tax holiday
The states colored in yellow are participating in a tax holiday for back-to-school season
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

If you are a retailer in one of these states, you should try to coordinate your store promotions with the tax holidays. This will ensure the best back-to-school excitement.

Students aren’t the only ones

Back-to-school discount for teachers
(Source)

You should keep in mind that students aren’t the only ones looking for great back-to-school deals. Teachers and school administrative staff are also in the market for supplies! Make sure you offer deals on the types of items they would also be looking for. Things like coffee mugs, tote bags, class room supplies, etc. You can also offer specific deals for teachers. Give them discounts for certain supplies unique to their needs.

Preparing for the masses

Customers waiting in line
(Source)

Since many businesses deal with large waves of customers during back-to-school season. You and your business need to be prepared for the rush. You will need to make sure that you are stocked up with inventory. Having a POS which can help you keep track of inventory is a huge help! You should also consider whether you need to place restrictions on certain products. This could mean limiting customers to certain quantities of items.

You will also want to consider whether your physical store can handle a large amount of foot traffic at once. Do you need to limit the number of customers inside the store? Do you need to readjust shelves / displays to accommodate customers? Can you handle large lineups of customers? If you’re dealing with a staffing shortage like many businesses everywhere, technology solutions such as self-checkout kiosks can help you speed up sales while keeping your labor costs down.

Make sure people know about your deals

Staples' back-to-school ad
An example of Staples’ back-to-school ad (Source)

There’s no point in preparing awesome back-to-school deals and promotions if no one knows you’re offering them. So you will need to advertise them. There are many ways to advertise your sales. For instance, you could send out flyers (a classic strategy), run paid social media or Google local inventory ads. Another great strategy for smaller local businesses is to find local Facebook groups or to boost on Facebook Marketplace which is popular for local search. You can easily share your back-to-school promotions on said groups.

Back-to-school season is an exciting time for many retailers. This year, to earn your share of the shoppers’ limited budget, you will need to be prepared. Plan in advance, offer great deals earlier, and make sure people know about your promotions in as many channels as possible. But also keep in mind how you’re helping to ease some of the financial burden for families facing times of struggles.


Simply showcasing your inventory online is another great way to drive customers to your store. This is a tactic that will be even more useful for back-to-school season. With TAKU you can easily have your inventory shown online. To learn more click on the banner below!

5 Reasons Your Store Needs An Online Catalog

5 Reasons Your Store Needs An Online Catalog

In the current world of retail, having an online catalog is essential. Customers are spending so much of their time on the internet, being able to reach them online is now crucial. Yet many merchants still rely on physical print catalogs. While this is still a great strategy, there’s no reason not to add a digital catalog on top of that.

Times are different now, physical marketing materials should be an add-on, not your main strategy. After all, online ones are much easier for consumers to access since most people always have their phones on them, and they can provide a lot more information. Not to mention, they are much easier and cheaper to keep up-to-date.

Ruffins Tillsonburg's online catalog via TAKU Google Integration
TAKU client Ruffins Tillsonburg is able to display their products on Google thanks to our Google SWIS integration.

5 reasons you should have an online catalog

We understand that many brick & mortar stores may not have the resources or technical skills to set up an e-commerce store. However, it’s very important for all physical stores to at least start an online catalog for shoppers.

Here are 5 main reasons why you should:

1 – Shoppers buy more when they know what products you carry

Man checking his warehouse inventory
(Source)

Google’s research indicates that shoppers avoid stores when they do not know what’s available inside the store. After all, the majority of shoppers do research online today before heading out and stock availability helps shoppers decide which store to go to. Making it easy for shoppers to see what you have available on your shelves today drives more foot traffic to your physical store, which then increases your sales since impulse buys and upselling increase basket size.

2 – New customers can see what you offer

Man looking through binoculars at potential sales
(Source)

You’ll be able to attract more new customers if your products are showcased online. People who are learning about your business for the first time will be able to better understand what you offer, even before they step foot in your store. If you use a modern system such as TAKU, your POS will automatically update your product showcase on Google so that nearby shoppers see real-time stock levels that adjust in real-time even as you sell.

Having stock levels update automatically is a key difference with a digital product showcase vs. traditional print catalogs as shoppers today expect stock information to be accurate whether they buy in-store or online.

3 – Digital catalogs are easier to share

Illustration of sharing on social media
(Source)

Digital catalogs are great since they are so easy to share. In the age of social media people are always sharing things with others. Where a physical catalog requires someone to actually hand their friend the catalog (which may be out-of-date), a digital one can be shared around the world in a few clicks. It’s easy to see why this is a good thing, the more people that see your catalog – the more potential sales you could get. Similarly, shoppers are more likely to consider retailers recommended by their friends or contacts.

4 – Digital catalogs offer 24/7 customer assistance

Illustration of customers with questions
(Source)

Having a digital catalog reduces the amount of time spent answering general questions. If you have a product showcase, your shoppers will have 24/7 access to photos and product descriptions. This eliminates the need to have employees repeatedly answering the same questions. This also relieves some of the burden on your sales team as they will spend less time answering explaining product details and more time selling. This will in turn improve your overall customer service.

It’s best to think of an online catalog as a marketing investment. There is a cost to set it up in the beginning, but once it’s up and running, it provides free sales assistance and will quickly pay itself off.

5 – It will help you understand your customers better

Since an online catalog will be on your digital channels, you will be able to collect data that will be useful for digital marketing. The collected data will help you gain better insights into your customers and even answer a few questions along the way. Analyzing data collected from your digital catalog could help you answer questions such as:

  • Which of my products have the most views online?
  • Are people aware of my business? Are they interested?
  • How many people are making purchases based off of my catalog?
  • Do I need to change the products I am carrying?
  • How can I get more people to sign up for my email list?
  • Do my customers research products before purchasing?

Overall, a digital catalog helps to enhance your customer service. It allows shoppers to conveniently check what is available, find out information regarding products, and even share with other potential customers.

With an online catalog you will be able to reach more shoppers with less effort. It will also allow you to save money over time compared to physical catalogs. It is an investment which will quickly pay for itself. As a retailer you should consider adding or improving the digital catalog for your store. Happy retailing!


Want to start displaying your products online? TAKU’s Google SWIS integration allows your to showcase your inventory on Google in real time! To learn more click on the banner below.

Google SWIS integration for Online Catalogs
Managing Retail While Understaffed

Managing Retail While Understaffed

There is a big labor shortage in North America right now. Tons of small and big businesses are being affected by the lack of workers. Being short-staffed can lead to frustrated employees & customers, and even lead to losses on sales. In fact, a study found that 6% of potential sales are lost due to a lack of service. Retail store owners need to learn how to reduce the chances of employees leaving and maximize operations while being short-staffed. This blog will give you a guide to managing retail while understaffed.

Store manager working while understaffed
(source)

Why are stores understaffed?

Firstly, it is important to understand why there is a labor shortage in the first place. If you can understand what is going wrong, then you can take the steps to fix the problem. The low staffing problem boils down to the following: jobs don’t feel worth it anymore, demographic issues, and a disconnect between workers and employers.

Is this even worth it?

Retail employee feeling burned out from labor shortage
(source)

Many workers are coming to realize that they are no longer fulfilled by their jobs. Worse yet, the people who feel no satisfaction from their job are also not being paid enough. Would you want to work somewhere that drains you and doesn’t even compensate you to make it worth it? Well, many people are starting to say no. The COVID-19 situation opened up this realization for many. Millions of people decided to quit their job during the pandemic. But even though the pandemic is over for the most part, these attitudes have become permanent. Many people are feeling burnt out from their jobs, and the companies they work for needlessly add to this. Employers should be seeking to make work something their employees don’t hate if they want to win the battle against low staffing. If possible offer flexible work schedules, better pay, better breaks/off time, and check in on your employees’ mental health.

Demographics in the labor shortage

Retired baby boomers
(source)

There is a large number of workers who are at retirement age. This number is bigger than the number of people entering the workforce. This surely creates a shortage in workers: leading to short-staffed businesses. On top of all of this, immigration slow-downs have created bigger gaps in labor. As a business owner there isn’t much you can do to combat this problem. However you can try to start appealing to younger demographics in your hiring practices.

The disconnect in the job market

Increased hiring wages to keep up with short-staffing
(source)

There is simply a problem between the communication of employers and employees right now. Poor hiring practices are leading to many people missing out on jobs, and growing anti-work sentiments are leading to companies missing out on employees. Wages and expectations are not keeping up with each other. Many people are finding the jobs that they are qualified for do not pay enough. On the other hand, people are finding jobs that pay well but the requirements are not realistic.

These three factors seem to be some of the biggest contributors to businesses being understaffed. So what can you do as an understaffed retailer?

How to manage retail while understaffed

Better working conditions will lead to less low staffing

Happy Apple employees
(source)

Did you know more than half of the people who believe their work schedules are inconsistent end up quitting their jobs? It is essential to make sure your employees have a consistent schedule which will give them a sense of security and fulfillment. Additionally, as we previously mentioned – giving workers some flexibility will help them want to work more as well. Things like offering better lunch breaks, days off, or even providing your employees lunch every now and then. When an employee feels like their company cares about them then they will care about their company. Also make sure you aren’t overworking your employees when you are short-staffed. When you set realistic expectations for your workers, and they will deliver realistic results.

Take advantage of your online channel

Using an online channel to work around low staffing
(source)

Why not reduce some of the work load by letting your online channel do a lot of the grunt work? Making sure your website, ecommerce store, or social media accounts can advertise and sell products will give your employees more time to take care of other tasks. Things like buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) can help speed up the closing of sales. Make sure you are using an omnichannel system to take the advantage of BOPIS. Being able to offload work to your online channel will be a great help in times your store is understaffed.

Understand your store

Employee who became an owner through understanding the business
(source)

If you are a store owner and can’t tell us when your peak days are, then you got a big problem on your hands. In order to make the best scheduling decisions you need to be able to understand when your store is the most busy. Once you do, you can schedule more workers during that time and less during off-peak hours. This will help you to make the most out of your payroll budgeting. You should also be able to understand which tasks are higher priority for your store. This will help you increase efficiency in store operations. Omnichannel systems like TAKU provide business owners like YOU with this type of data. Bringing us to our next and final point:

Managing retail while understaffed with efficiency

Efficiency is all about making the most with the least. If you don’t have that many workers, you need to make sure that workers you do have are taking care of the essential stuff. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule. Workers and managers should dedicate 80% of their time and effort to the 20% of work that matters the most. Things like serving customers, and keeping shelves stocked.

Man using TAKU Self checkout

In order to help maximize efficiency in your store consider using TAKU’s new self-checkout kiosk. This amazing new channel for your retail business will open up more time for your team who are following the 80/20 rule. Once customers can complete transactions on their own, less employees are needed to do so. This allows you to assign other important tasks to your staff. There is a reason why so many retailers have implemented self-checkout during the pandemic.

These tips will help you manage retail while understaffed. Remember it is important to keep your employees as happy as you can. Be sure to also use tools which will further optimize your operations. This will lead to better customer service and in turn sales.


TAKU Retail uses state-of-the-art retail technology to provide one of the best omnichannel systems for retailers. TAKU’s omnichannel offerings allow retailers to optimize their business for efficiency and continue to manage retail while understaffed. Learn more by tapping on the banner below.