Good file management practice can improve efficiency

3 File Management Tips for Retail Businesses

There is an old saying that goes, “You can judge someone’s personality based on the tidiness of his/her car.” The same can be said about the arrangement of files and icons on a person’s desktop.


A study on desktop psychology by Donna Dawson, a psychologist specialising in personality and behaviour, suggests that a desktop with scattered icons across the screen may imply that a user is “disorganised and tends to lose focus easily.” What would this mean for enterprises then?


Imagine how your employees will have to navigate past a chaotic desktop or archives if there are no clear standard operating procedures on file upkeeping…


A desktop with icons strewn across in a disorderly fashion.


Poor file organisation becomes problematic for businesses. Without good file management practices, employees will end up working with inaccurate information that may lead to inefficient work processes, increase in unnecessary expenses and lost of revenue.


In this article, we will seek to understand the importance of file management. Then, we will proceed to discuss actions that can be put in place to rectify and prevent similar problems from arising.



Why is file management important?


Organising documents into neat categories or files can help improve work productivity and reduce response time during audits. Systematic filing makes it easier to recover old files and potentially saves on resources that could be poured into retrieving or rectifying lost and damaged data. Particularly for retail stores, poor business documentation can result in low productivity, hampered by unnecessary work processes that could actually be eliminated with good file management practices.


Retail businesses have much more to gain when due diligence is taken to ensure documents are filed methodically. Well-archived data can provide insights into consumer purchase patterns or trends, allowing businesses to make informed and strategic enterprise decisions, which include targeted customer services.


Without further ado, here are some recommended best practices on how you can improve your business’s file management procedures to streamline workflow.



1. Digitise Documents and Cloud Solution


Paper documents can be hard to manage; documents may go missing or even stolen. Moreover, physical documents are unable to offer flexibility in file sharing.


A study on enterprise content management (ECM) by M-Files showed that 62% of organisations were able to cut down on paper usage and reduce employee overhead costs through enterprise content management (ECM). Furthermore, the same study states that 38% of organisations had benefited indirectly – in terms of productivity – after adopting the use of such document management solutions.


ECM solutions can summarise documents and promote team collaboration.


Also, with technological revolution comes online tools like Google Drive – a cloud storage solution which allows digitised documents to be stored on remote servers. These files can be accessed from the internet at anytime and anyday, improves file shareability amongst colleagues and also reduces paper wastage.



2. Categorise & Label Files Meaningfully for Quicker Search


Good categories and labels make it easier to locate files. First of all, start by creating a robust file hierarchy and meaningful labels for your documents. This helps to simplify tasks such as supply management in stores and retrieval of past transactions.


Group and label files clearly so that they can be retrieved easily.


An example of a file hierarchy for a retail business follows:


An example of a file hierarchy for a generic retail business.


Next, how should files be labelled? Let’s take naming of an invoice as an example. Would invoice.pdf be considered a good file name? Absolutely not! There are definitely more than one invoice that you will receive and hence, this file name needs to be more descriptive or specific.


When you are naming your files, think about how you may look up for it in the future.


A well-named file should illustrate what are the contents within without the user having to open files or squint at thumbnail views. For the above scenario, an expressive and suitable name for identifying an invoice document would be:



[Date]_[Company Name]_[Document Type]_[Version]


Good file naming conventions should apply across the board, regardless of industry or business type. Here’s another situational example:


If your retail outlet distributes images to internal and external stakeholders for promotion, a relevant and descriptive name can help your collaborators identify the file for action. An example of such would be:



[Season SS/AW]_[Brand]_[Short Description]_[Sharing Platform]_[Version]


Finally, avoid storing ongoing or incomplete assignments with finished ones as it would make it difficult to track changes and may cause further confusion amongst team members.



3. Shred Documents to Prevent Information Leak


Files continue to sit on shelves even though information may be outdated. With hardcopy documents, manual effort is needed to maintain and keep files up to date.


While ensuring archives are stored under lock and key, it is also important to dispose these documents safely when it is time to clear them out. As these files may contain sensitive records containing trade secrets, past deals or even your employees’ personal data, it is advisable to shred them to prevent information leak.


Shred documents that may contain sensitive information.


This would be of utmost concern for companies dealing with stakeholders located in the European Union (EU) member countries, where the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires companies to ensure reasonable use and protection of all personal data acquired. Non-compliance will result in penalties of up to 4% of global profit or €20 million, whichever higher.



How good file management is beneficial for your retail business?


With a well-organised digital file management system, retailers stand to benefit as employees are able to easily track and account for stock movements, as well as manage customers’ information more accurately and systematically.





File management is “mission-critical”. Categorise and label your files well as this makes retrieving of information faster and easier. What’s more, digitised cloud-stored documents also help to encourage collaboration and bring about convenience. Finally, maintain your files well and shred confidential documents to ensure file security.


We hope these tips can help you improve work efficiency, reduce unnecessary labour costs and deter inaccurate information from being passed on. Start practicing these tips today!


Linus Low
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