What the Tower Systems POS software offers, what it does

The POS software from Tower Systems is a comprehensive and flexible Point of Sale software package offering facilities in many areas of retail business operation. It has evolved over many years and have been enhanced thanks to generous support and advice from small business retailers.

The software have been re-written from scratch as new technologies have evolved for more efficiently serving the needs of the software and the businesses that use it.

The software offers plenty, including…

  1. POS sale scanning. Scanning product barcodes.
  2. POS sales using user configured touch buttons for fast and easy selling.
  3. Selling by weight.
  4. Selling by measure.
  5. Selling by fractions.
  6. Tracking sales by employee, by time of day, by day of week, by time and date, by supplier. There is plenty of flexibility into slicing and dicing the sales data for views you can love and learn from.
  7. Control over the look and feel of the Point of Sale screen.
  8. Control over the look and feel of receipts. In fact, you have extraordinary control over receipt design – to serve the visual representation of your business that you want.
  9. Smart receipts that add value to the customer experience with local knowledge, care instructions and more.
  10. Customer receipts that contain a $$ discount off the next purchase if loyalty engagement is achieved.
  11. Structured end of shift process to reduce mistakes and more easily track fraud.
  12. Employee theft mitigation controls.
  13. Inventory control.
  14. Multiple price levels for products. You can see by account type, business type – allowing you to be different to different customers.
  15. Multiple customer types.
  16. Customer marketing facilities to enable targeted marketing.
  17. Importing supplier stock files.
  18. Importing supplier invoices.
  19. Exporting orders.
  20. Generating orders based on sales.
  21. Four different and valuable types of loyalty facilities.
  22. Comprehensive business performance reporting.
  23. Customer age controls.
  24. Serial number tracking.
  25. Repairs management.
  26. Product manufacturing management.
  27. Multiple POS terminals in a store.
  28. Multiple stores connected.
  29. More than 100 reports with extraordinary options to facilitate insights into the business performance.
  30. Marketing by purchase history, account type, categories and more.
  31. Business intelligence interface – key business data when and where you want to access.
  32. Linking to Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce.
  33. Linking to Xero, MYOB and more.
  34. Linking to suppliers.
  35. Linking to EFTPOS terminals to cut time, keystrokes and mistakes.
  36. Linking to scales – government authorised.

This list is not complete. To find out more, to find out how it fits with your specific type of business, contact us.

Tower Systems: POS software for independent retail businesses

Our company motto here at Tower Systems is we’re here to help. We take this seriously. Everyday, our motto challenges us to help our POS software customers in ways they do not expect, ways beyond the software itself.

Founded in 1981, Tower Systems has evolved as technology has evolved. The software we sell today is generations away from where we started. We are proud to have served some of our customers for decades.

More than 3,500 specialty small business retailers in Australia and New Zealand use our specialty POS software.

To us, a specialty retailer is one that offers services unique to the channel, services that define the business.  We embed in our software for each retail channel facilities that serve needs unique to that channel. We take pride in doing this and enhancing these channel-specific facilities as the needs evolve.

We appreciate software cannot stand still. Every year we release significant enhancements, serving the needs of our customers.

POS software RETAIL MARKETS

There are versions of the software serving the business specific needs of many specialty requirements including:

  1. Bike shops.
  2. Garden Centres.
  3. Book shops.
  4. Gift Shops.
  5. Homewares Shops.
  6. Farm supply businesses
  7. Produce businesses.
  8. Fishing and Outdoors shops.
  9. Toy Shops.
  10. Confectionery Retail.
  11. Stationery retail.
  12. Pet Shops.
  13. Pet Grooming.
  14. Whole Foods Grocers.
  15. Swimming Pool Supplies.
  16. Firearms Retail.
  17. Adult Shops.

Linking directly to Xero enhances the time-saving gained through the software as well as facilitating the accuracy of data managed by the software. Our Xero link provides for a data feed of sales as well as purchases.

With a CPA working full time in our business we are configured to provide a technical solution that has been overseen by our own Accountant, to ensure it is a viable solution for the small business retailers we serve.

INTEGRATIONS

Our Xero integration is one of many approved integrations provided by the software to serve the needs of retailers. Other integrations include:

  1. Tyro broadband EFTPOS.
  2. Links to all major banks through PC-EFTPOS.
  3. Magento e-commerce. Magento is an excellent platform for website sales for small to medium businesses.
  4. Shopify e-commerce. Shopify is an excellent entry-level solution for small to medium businesses.
  5. FlyBys in New Zealand.
  6. Transactor loyalty in New Zealand.
  7. Scale integration for selling by weight.
  8. Touch networks for vending event tickets, phone recharge, fishing licences and more.

Advice for small business retailers on theft

Most theft from independent retail businesses can be identified and reduced through a consistent application of simple management processes and smart use of specialist retail software. Tower Systems has been helping retailers cut theft for decades through issuing advice, responding to requests and by continuing to provide functions in our retail software that allow business owners to identify and track suspicious behaviour – by shoppers, managers and store employees. Over the years our expertise has been called on by police and prosecutors as well as individual retailers.

Follow this advice on how to use our specialist retail POS software to hamper opportunities for theft and bolster the certainty of detecting it before it’s too late:

  1. Employ stock control for high volume items. Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what the software says. Perform a stock take regularly each month. High volume item stock discrepancies are an indicator of theft.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department tracking only – your data needs to be granular to prevent employees taking advantage of loose stock on hand quantities. Not scanning individual stock items is unfortunately an invitation to dishonest employees.
  3. Use the software-based end of shift procedure and have a zero-tolerance policy on cash balance discrepancies. Reconcile banking to your computer software at end of shift. We have seen businesses failing to do this: one was being skimmed regularly of $200 a day.
  4. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One business owner needing to perform banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to the discovery of systematic theft.
  5. Mix up your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  6. Check your audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Our software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  7. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, always research further.
  8. Publish a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. At the bottom of this page is a sample theft policy.
  9. Keep the store counter area clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. Reducing nooks and crannies makes detection of any cash hoarding easier.
  10. Have a “no employee bags” at the counter policy. This makes it harder for dishonest employees to hide stolen cash.
  11. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  12. Beware of calculators and mobile phones at the counter. Employees can use these devices to track how much cash could be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not processed.
  13. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If an employee wants to purchase something ensure they purchase it from the customer’s side of the counter.
  14. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high. Do not take cash handling lightly; if you respect your business procedures your staff are more likely to too. Never take cash from the till for your own personal use, i.e. to buy lunch.
  15. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.

These steps work. They are based on decades of helping small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.

Employee and customer theft costs a typical independent retail business between 3% and 5% of non-agency sales revenue each year. Management attention and smart use of retail software can cut this dramatically. It does not take much time – it is simply about smart procedures and professional processes.

Indie retailers benefit from discount vouchers in Christmas sales boost

In the middle of the craziness of the Christmas retail season we retailers can sometimes lose sight of the year round needs of the business.

In our POS software and retail business management training, we guide retailers on leveraging the Christmas traffic and sales boost for year round gain… without slowing processing Christmas sales.

There are steps you can take through Christmas and other busy seasons to benefit the usually quiet periods of the year.

This is where retail channel specific POS software can make a difference.  We have software designed specifically for: gifts,  jewellers,  bikes,  toys,  fishing/outdoorsgarden centrespet shopsproducefirearmsadult shops and newsagents.

Discount vouchers, smart loyalty, are one tool retailers can use this time of the year to set themselves up for terrific return business in the new year.

Discount Vouchers don’t need a card – they print on sales receipts and offer an amount customers can spend right away. Our experience and the experience of hundreds of our customers is that Discount Vouchers drive faster and deeper engagement with the business – making a shopping visit more valuable right away.

In our own retail experience, which sees us competing against major retailers in a Westfield shopping centre, several shoppers have stated they prefer Discount Vouchers over the rewards programs of our competitors.

We are confident that Tower Systems’ Discount Voucher facilities can help you:

  1. Get customers spending more in a visit.
  2. Bring existing customers back sooner.
  3. Attract new shoppers to your business.
  4. Drive impulse purchases at the sales counter.

We are keen for relationships with small business retailers that go beyond POS software that manages fast and accurate transactions. We want to help our customers do much more, to achieve much more.

One of our retail experts can tell or show you more…

  1. WA / SA/ VIC: Tim Batt. 0401 833 917.
  2. NSW / ACT / TAS: Nathan Morrison. 0417 568 148.
  3. QLD / NT: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.

Small business retailers benefit from Tyro fast and secure EFTPOS

Tower Systems has partnered with Tyro broadband EFTPOS for many years as a preferred partner in handling over the counter payment by credit and debit cards.

We like Tyro. Their service is excellent, fast, secure and ideal for indie retailers, like our POS software customers.

We like the Tyro approach to business, like letting customers choose their settlement time. This and other features demonstrate a commitment to small business needs.

We also like the business banking services they offer our customers…

The Tyro Bank Account pays a base interest rate3 of 1.00% p.a. and for funds left for more than 90 days, you can earn up to 1.75% p.a. interest. Maintaining a balance of at least $10,000 throughout the year can give you an extra $166 in interest back in your pocket3.

To make the most of your money, have your daily settlement deposited directly into your Tyro Bank Account to begin earning interest right away, plus you can utilise the convenience of recurring payments, so you can help automate the running of your business.

From within our POS software, retailers can transact with Tyro with certainty and security, knowing that they are offering a best-practice credit and credit card solution to their customers.

We use Tyro ourselves in the retail businesses we own and operate. This gives us hands on experience that we leverage in servicing our customers.

Software for jewellers, from POS software co. Tower Systems

Let’s start with a story…

Frank got to the shop just before closing, in time to purchase a beautiful necklace as a gift for his wife for their seventh wedding anniversary. Talking about this at the counter, we explained how we could remind him next year so there was no last-minute rush.  Frank was thrilled.

Fast forward eleven months and Frank was in with two weeks to spare. He brought with him the voucher we sent as an early bird purchase encouragement. He spent $350.00 with us on another anniversary gift, bagging a $25.00 discount. Frank also told us about his daughter who had been born two months earlier. We asked for her birthday so we could remind him about that. “As long as you send me another voucher”, he joked. We will.

You can do this. It is easy. It takes a few seconds at the counter. Each time you add information about a customer you could be setting up future sales.

We can help you, through our jeweller software.

Embedded in our jeweller specific software are facilities like these and more on which you can rely to sell more to shoppers in a visit and to bring them back more often.

We believe in small business and everyday appreciate the value of locally owned businesses, like those we serve. We face big competitors too and do this head on, by following the advice we provide to you.

Software from Tower Systems has facilities designed specifically for jewellers, to enable you to do this, to leverage your point of difference at each touchpoint.

We believe that the more you leverage the specialisation in your business the more you differentiate your business from big business competitors.

  1. Club / community group deals / pricing.A great way to win new shoppers is through a community group. You can publish a card or voucher enabling members of a group to present this for a discount on each purchase. The software can track the purchases and at a designated time you can give the group a rebate in return for their member loyalty. Clubs are valuable places, they support businesses that support them. If they can encourage members to shop with you as a fundraiser you could attract plenty of new customers. The more groups and people you have talking about your business the better.
  2. Catalogues. Your marketing group or product suppliers can provide data files for any catalogues in which you participate. You can load these into the software making it easy to offer catalogue prices through the term of the catalogue offer. Never ever sell a catalogue line outside of the catalogue facility we have as this gives you the best level of control for your business.
  3. Events. Using this new facility, added Q1 2018, you can market to shoppers based on interests, past purchases, birthdays and other date related events in and around their lives. For example, you could run an email campaign for all who purchased a brand of jewellery or a type of jewellery item, pitching an add-on purchase. Here is another example: you could email everyone with an anniversary in the coming month, with an offer to encourage them in. Here is another example: send an offer of a free clean to everyone who purchased a ring a year ago.
  4. Special customer orders.  This is the ability to order stock from a supplier for a specific customer. On arrival of the stock item, a barcode is printed with the customer name, for placement on to the product. The software can be set to send an alert to the customer by text or email, advising the arrival of the goods into the store. Customers love this personalisation. Better still, pitch an offer to customers prior to ordering from suppliers. Pre-sell. Get a non-refundable deposit. Then place your order.
  5. Share knowledge. On receipts and other touchpoint documents, include product care knowledge that sets your business apart from others people can shop with.
  6. Multibuy. Reward your regular shoppers with a coffee card type offer. For example, buy five items, anything, over, say, six months and get 25% off your next item. We appreciate that some jewellers will consider this approach to marketing to be crass, beneath them. The reality is plenty of shoppers love deals. They show
  7. Instant loyalty rewards. Another way we can help maximise sales is with an instant loyalty reward. This is particularly useful where you see shoppers once a year or quite infrequently as is often the case in locally owned businesses. Using rules that you control, a receipt can include a voucher offering a specific amount off the next purchase if that purchase is made in a timeframe you set. An average 19% redemption rate for the vouchers with a third redeemed the day of purchase. Male shoppers are far more likely to redeem the day of purchase. This instant loyalty rewardfacility is another way we serve your type of business. In the software, we call it discount vouchers. We have one customer, a high-end jeweller, who sold a $20,000 piece for which the shopper received a $1,000 voucher. They immediately, in that visit, spent another $5,000, because of the $1,000 voucher. So, overall, they achieved $25,000 in sales with $1,000 off. The business prices on the basis of a percentage of every item being available for discount.
  8. Make what you sell. Using the manufactured goods facilities in the software it is easy to make goods. For example, you might put together a necklace and a bracelet in a single purchased pack. This is your pack, only available from you. It is easy to setup, sell and manage. This is a valuable point of difference.
  9. Gift vouchers. Sell customers who can’t decide what gift to purchase a gift voucher. Load on to this voucher any amount the customer wants. You set the rules on expiry and other voucher handling.
  10. Supplier comparison. Since you can purchase some items from multiple suppliers, use smart reports in the software to compare the performance of your various suppliers.
  11. Oxipay. Integrated in retailer is this buy now pay later finance option. You are settled quickly by the funder and the costs are like credit card costs. This can work better than LayBy in that you do not need to manage the goods in-store.
  12. LayBy.You have complete control over how this is setup including the terms, rules and more.
  13. Manage remotely. Plenty of our business owners are not in their businesses regularly. Our software has facilities that enable easy remote tracking and management. Some are obvious while others are hidden and secure, giving you peace of mind that you can leave your business.

Help for small business retailers to compete with big business

Tower Systems is not your average POS software company. Our help for small business, local business, independent business retailers goes beyond what is traditional for a POS software company.

We help small business retailers compete with big business. We do this through advice, help and support. We do it every day, with many different types of retail businesses.

Our help can be POS software related as much as it can be business management related.

We are here to help out thousands of independently owned small business retailers in any way we can, every time they ask. We are here for them, as a backstop, as a support, as a listening ear.

This support and assistance is often personal too, engaging in discussions about business performance and the intersection with family life. We draw on considerable experience to be able to do this, to help our customers confront and resolve the challenges they face.

Our help for small business retailers in confronting bug business competition is engaging and supportive. We do this because we believe in small business and the role this sector plays in any economy. While we in small business can’t beat big business in terms of buying power and might, we can beat then on the ground, in terms of local engagement and through clever flexible offers pitched through our software.

Our POS software has built into it tools that help it compete and engage at the local street level that benefits small businesses, which gives them mechanisms through which they can be competitive.

On price, service, knowledge and more our POS software helps small business retailers swim in a different ocean to big business, we help our customers to significantly differentiate their businesses to big business competitors. This differentiation can make a significant difference. It can be what is needed to calm a small business and to give them the competitive advantage they are seeking to make a strand against a big business competitor.

Using smart POS software backed by genuinely engaged and helpful POS software support you can compete with a big business competitor, you can attract new shoppers and run your business at an efficiency level that is personally and financially rewarding.

This is a Tower Systems advantage.

Advice for small business retailers doing it tough

We are often asked for help when it is too late. In this article, we outline steps any retailer can contemplate from them moment they realise their business is in trouble, from the first thought that closing may be the only option.

Tower Systems is more than a POS software company. We are retailers too. We cherish the relationships with our retail business customers. We will help whenever and wherever we can to help small and independent retail businesses survive challenges and grow. 

If your retail business is in tough times and facing imminent closure, you may be able to save it if you act quickly and ruthlessly. Based on years of working with many different retailers, I have found that some basic steps can successfully turnaround a business in trouble. But you need to be ruthless.

The following tips are designed for businesses with a little (but not too much) time available to fix things. While they are not appropriate to every business, the ideas can lead to others that may be appropriate.

This advice is also appropriate or businesses not facing imminent closure but certainly facing tough times.

Crucial to saving a business from closure is to understand why it is in this situation. You have to be honest with yourself about this. How did it get to this?

  1. Did you not make changes to your business when you should have?
  2. Has something local and unexpected impacted your business?
  3. Have you been a bad retailer, allowing the business to fade away?

Do not be afraid or ignorant in confronting these questions.

Make an honest appraisal of the state of the business as the truth can inform what you do next.

You have to own your situation. This means being realistic about what you face and what got you there. This is important as it opens you to what you need to do to resolve the situation, to rehabilitate your business.

Now, to the urgent steps you could take to avoid the closure of your retail business:

    1. Know your truth. If you run a computer system, analyse the data it collects. If you don’t know how to do this, find out. Look for surprise information in your data, things you did not know about your business. For example, look at the top selling items. If there are surprises there they could inform other decisions you make to urgently address your situation. Talk to your computer software company, ask for their assessment. Knowing your truth is key to owning your situation.
    2. Quit dead stock. If you have stock on the shop floor which is old – ‘old’ can vary between product categories – and for which you have already paid, quit it. However, stock that is greater than six months old is a reasonable guide – then take action to sell this at a substantial discount. Move the stock off display units. Line it up to look like clearance stock – stacked up on tables. Setup plain and simple signs indicating the discount prices. Create signage to show it as clearance stock. If you have enough clearance stock in your business, consider signs across your front windows. Give your sale a name that is unrelated to your situation. Here are some suggestions: MEGA SALE, FIRST EVER MARCH SALE, AUTUMN SALE, SMALL BUSINESS MIGHTY BIG SALE. Give it a name you can theme around.
    3. Run a loyalty offer. Immediately setup and run a loyalty program rewarding shoppers with dollars off their next purchase. The most successful loyalty offer in recent times is discount vouchers whereby vouchers are included on receipts offering an amount which is cleverly calculated by your software based on the items in the purchase. The goal has to be encouraging shoppers to purchase again soon based on the offer on the receipt for items they just purchased.
    4. Move things around. If your business is in trouble it is likely that it has not changed much in recent years. Change it. Move departments around, shake things up so your customers trip over things they did not think you sold.
    5. Review prices. Look at the common items you sell, consider a small increase in your prices. It could be a small increase will not hurt sales volume yet will add profit to your bottom line.
    6. Upsell well. At the counter, work to extend the basket for every sale possible. Do this with clever counter product placement and witty and engaging banter with customers offering upsell products. You goal has to be to make more from each customer.
    7. Stand for something. What is different about your business? What is special about it? What makes people want to come back? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you’re in trouble. If your answer is we’re the only shop of your type nearby you’re in trouble. If the answer is people have always shopped here you’re in trouble. You need to have a difference that people want and will talk about to others. It could be a product or a service. However, it cannot be a product line that is traditional to your type of business as that will not add value to your shingle in the way you want or need. What do you stand for?

This is a tiny snippet of advice we provide in this area, advice we share with our customers as a service beyond the POS software itself. Our advice has been developed over years of serving many different types of retail businesses. It is advice we have seen appreciated by many types of shops.

Never give up. Fight hard and fight smart to turn your business around.

Facing tough circumstances in retail can be like the deer in the middle of the road at night facing the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Don’t freeze. Take action to mitigate your situation. A series of small steps could be the difference between closure and trading out of the problem.

I have prepared this in response to a comment from a retail colleague who asked for advice on how to deal with a business facing closure.

If your business data there are bound to be opportunities and insights around which growth can be achieved. If you are not sure where to look or what they could mean, ask us. We will help.

Serving Christian bookshops and church stores with POS software

Church stores and Christian bookshops have unique needs when it comes to POS software and webstore connected POS software.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve a variety of Church owned shops across Australia and across faiths with our POS software.

We have served the Christian bookshop / church store marketplace for several years, offering POS software, inventory management, webstore connection, subscription management and other solutions for these church community businesses.

Our handling of the GST and other factors have helped us deliver a solution of value and appreciation to the committees that run these businesses.

The needs of church owned businesses are unique and require thoughtful attention. This goes beyond the software itself and into the implementation in the businesses. We have a gentle and inclusive approach that ensures that all stakeholders within the church organisation are served.

Our accounting software integration, especially to Xero, makes our POS software solution for church stores appealing as it reduces the bookkeeping overhead and serves into the need for transparency when it comes to church funds. These are important factors.

Within our business we have team members with wonderful expertise in serving the needs of church owned businesses. This expertise is leveraged to offer our church business customers complete insights into business operation options using our software.

We have been grateful for opportunities to speak at church business conferences and other events, to outline what our software does and to share how the software can be used to further the mission of church owned businesses.

Church and christian bookshops and related businesses are another niche served by Tower Systems. This is what we do, we tailor our POS software to serve the unique needs of specialist retailers so that they, in turn, can serve their specialist mission.

In terms of acquisition, we are used to presenting to committees and being patent while volunteers go through a selection process. Our sales team members answer all questions and demonstrate the software as often as needed so that everyone responsible is comfortable they have the information necessary to make the right decision.

When it comes to church owned shop software, Tower Systems is ready to serve.

Why our POS software company only sells to small business retailers

Here at Tower Systems, we only sell to and support small business retailers with our POS software. There is a good reason for this.

Small business retail is different to big business retail.

A company with one big business customer and many small business customers will always put the big  business first.

By serving only small business retailers with our POS software we get to treat everyone the same. We respect everyone on the same level.

This is fair. This is just. This is how we want to run out software business.

All customers are equal. In a software company with big business customers and small business customers this is not the case. Indeed, in that type of company, small business customers can be lost and not heard.

Here at Tower Systems every customer matters, every customer has direct contact details for real people in our company, decision makers. There is no hurdle, no secret door, no access based on your size because, here, size does not matter.

We hear from politicians all the time about the importance of small business. Often, their words, from either side of politics, do not go beyond the words. We are different. We live, breathe and act small business every day. It has been in our DNA since we began.

Yes, we have said no to big business customers.

Yes, we have turned down opportunities to sell to a 50+ store network. That is not us.

We are comfortable serving independently owned small business retailers. We do it well and we know our customers appreciate it.

We say this today as there are POS software companies out there who take on all customers, big and small. If you are a small business owner and want your voice heard, consider this, consider how you might be heard as our customer versus as a customer in a business where you are mixing it with much bigger customers.

Size does matter. Being part of a community of like sized and like minded retailers is good for you and it is good for us as the goals of service will be more closely aligned.

Advice on small business websites: don’t bloat

While what you put on your website for sale is your business, our advice is don’t bloat … don’t load the website with everything thinking that the more you have online the more you will sell. That is not true. Loading everything on is, in our view, a mistake.

Oh, and while we are talking about websites, the best practice approach, our approach, is that our Retailer POS software controls the inventory and feeds this to the site. You can’t and should not try to do it the other way. We say this based on years of service in this area.

POS software advice for small business retailers

Retail is tough. Small business is tough. In our POS software, small business retailers have tools that help them compete, tools through which they can differentiate their businesses and reach new opportunities and customers.

Sometimes, the best way to compete is to stop competing. That is what we want to talk abut here today.

What is competition anyway. Often, it is inn our head and there it swirls around and does bad things. Let’s take a moment to look at competition differently.

Too often we in small business see competition and get angry. We ignore the opportunity to change gears and stop competing

In our Tower Systems POS software our retail small business customers have facilities through which they can change gears, through which they can recast your offer so it cannot be compared to those from a competitor.

These gear changing competitive tools in your current software include:

  1. Discount Vouchers. This is the most effective form of immediate loyalty rewards we have ever seen, driving excellent sales results. Charge more for an item and reward shoppers with cash off their next purchase.
  2. Buy X get Y – Multibuy. This focuses people on a volume based offer rather than a direct simple purchase.
  3. Package multiple items together for a price you set. Done right you can get more than the total value of the items in the package.
  4. Special orders. Major retailers tend to prefer to sell what they have. Special orders are often considered too difficult. If you manage it well and make it easy, you can pitch your business competitively.
  5. Sell you. Include insights, knowledge and advice with purchases, on receipts, automatically. Show, through every sale, that buying from you is different to other retailers where they could have purchased the same item.

This small list is a taste of the game changing opportunities though which you can compete in non traditional and often more valuable ways. These are ways we can help – through the software and through business advice that helps you leverage the software for wonderful times and insights.

Next time you feel competitive pressure from a big business, ask what you could change gearsin your business to position you differently, to not look like you are competing.

The more you can do to block direct price comparison the better. But don’t block, change the playing field. That is what we like to do.

Here at Tower Systems we can help with these and other initiatives in this area of smart competition.

Disaster planning advice for small business retailers

here at our small business POS software company y we gratefully engage with our customers to help them understand and plan for disaster scenarios. Here is advice we have shared with our customers:

How protected is your retail business in the event of disaster? Since we are a software company, our interest is more to do with data and technology.

Are you as protected as you can be?

This is an easy topic to ignore and most small business retailers do. Those most likely to plan for a disaster are those who have gone through it. Once bitten, twice shyas they say.

Insurance. Insurance coverage is vital to helping overcome any type of disaster.  In addition to ensuring that your insurance policy covers all disaster situations of concern to you, including flood, theft, water inundation, fire, earthquake, riot—be sure to carefully read the policy, ensure that your insurance policy / policies cover payouts for the following:

  1. Business interruption. The amount should equal your anticipated gross profit for whatever period you choose to be covered.
  2. Data recovery. Including the hiring of experts to recover data from backup sources or the manual entry of data that cannot be automatically recovered.  Ensure you are covered to the point of recovered data being useable.
  3. Lost stock. This is stock stolen, lost from the business.
  4. Damaged and unsaleable stock. This is stock which is water damaged, scuffed or dented and which will not attract full price.
  5. Dated stock. This is stock that you cannot sell by the due date.
  6. Many policies require explicit statement of glass coverage.
  7. Temporary trading premises. Business interruption may cover this.
  8. Key person injury and/or death.This will usually be a separate policy.  Depending on the disaster, coverage may also be available through the overall business policy.

Ensure that the value of stock, fixtures and fittings covered by your policy is an accurate reflection of the real value of these items.  Use your POS system to track all stock movements in and out.  The stock on hand in your software should be your coverage.

Ensure that your insurance policy protects for the seasonal nature of your business

Data Protection. Business data is a valuable asset. Follow these steps:

  1. ‪Backup your business data every day, at the end of the day, without fail.
    1. Better still: use a cloud based backup service that undertakes the backup as the day unfolds without you having to every do anything to backup.
  2. Maintain a separate backup for each day of the week.
  3. Remove the backup from the business property.
  4. Store the backup in a safe, dry place.
  5. Check the usefulness of the backup by restoring and checking the data.
  6. Store original business software in a safe off-site location.
  7. Check the backup every three to six months – to make sure the backup is actually backing us current data and can be read. A backup you cannot read is a waste of time and money.
  8. Change your passwords regularly.
  9. Do not share passwords widely.

Disaster Planning. Here are some general suggestions on planning for a disaster in your business property.

  1. Ensure your roof is secure and free of leak points.
  2. Do not place computers on the floor. Put them on a riser.
  3. Use a power filter.
  4. Ensure all electrical wiring is to code.
  5. Keep off-site copies of: Business contracts and agreements; employee contact details, business account and other passwords, insurance details, recent photographs of fixtures, fittings and stock.
  6. For records you cannot easily copy or that may change as the trading day unfurls, consider having a go bag ready for you to grab if there is a risk to the premises such as a bushfire.
  7. Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
  8. Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
  9. Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit.Have this checked regularly.
  10. Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
  11. Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
  12. Have a trained first aid officer in staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
  13. Use government resources such as the emergency planning kit at the federal government website: http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/templates-and-downloads/emergency-management-template-and-guide/Pages/default.aspx

How we see our POS software for small business retailers

We did an exercise in the office this week, thinking about how we see our software and what we do for small business retailers. Using a single word to describe what we dock to make a statement about what we stand for, aspire to, deliver and achieve for our customers in their businesses and in their lives as a result of engaging with our small b business POS software.

Here it is. Here is the list. the single word., Each word is, of itself, a statement of aspiration and / or achievement. We share it here as this is a shared goal we have with our customers and businesses owners who would be our customers. Here is the list in no special order…

Useful.

Exciting.

Expanding.

Helpful.

Responsive.

Customers.

Helpful.

Simple.

Stable.

Strong.

Powerful.

Easy.

Fast.

Accurate.

Safe.

Reliable.

Evolving.

Happy.

Trustworthy.

Peaceful.

Helpful.

Growing.

Calming.

Enlightening.

Aussie.

Me.

Focussed.

Structured.

Empowering.

Partner.

Collaborator.

Protected.

Rainbow.

Happy.

Relaxing.

Local.

Small.

Planning.

Smooth.

Personal.

Cool.

Future.

Flexible.

Changes.

Insights.

Peaceful.

Sure, they are single words. They are part of what came out of a workshop we did looking at who we are, what we do and why we do it. We do this from time to time, checking in with each other and our goals and the goals of our customers. We think this is good practice for any POS software company, especially one that focusses on the needs of small business retailers.

We take what we do here seriously and thoughtfully. We take great care to get it right even time. Pursuing this means we need to understand the goal. These single word responses help define the goal and the diversity of the goal.

Newsagency retail benchmark study results

Last week, we published to Aussie newsagents the results of our latest newsagency sales benchmark study. Here they are for you…

CORE CATEGORIES IN TROUBLE. NEW CATEGORIES GROWING.

This newsagency sales benchmark study reflects sales results as tracked in 147 retail newsagency businesses in Australia for the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Only businesses with accurate data are included.

Each data point is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.

In assessing results at the category level, I have only included data for each category businesses trading in that category.

OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE METRICS.

  1. Customer traffic. Down 3.5%
  2. Overall sales. Down 3%
  3. Basket depth.No change.
  4. Basket dollar value.Up .5%

CORE PRODUCTS.

  1. Newspapers. Unit sales. Down 11.5%.
  2. Magazines. Unit sales. Down 10.5%.
  3. Greeting cards. Revenue. Down 5%.
  4. Stationery. Revenue. Down 12.5%
  5. Lotteries. Revenue. Down 3%
  6. Tobacco. Revenue. Down 15%.
  7. Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 6%.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS.

  1. Gifts. Revenue. Up 4%
  2. Toys. Revenue. Up 5%.
  3. Plush. Revenue. Up 7%.
  4. Collectibles. Revenue. Up 5%.
  5. Craft. Revenue. Up 3%.
  6. Coffee. Revenue. Up 17%.

What does this mean?

It was a particularly tough quarter with all traditional, core, categories declining. Also, the gap between businesses at either end of the performance spectrum is wider than ever.

New traffic should be priority #1 in every newsagency business. By this I mean, traffic for products the business is not traditionally known for. This is hard work as it involves the whole of the business: buying, pricing, display, in-store engagement and out of store marketing … all of which needs to be done under the name of the business but in a way that keeps this connection in the background.

I think a crucial data point that would be interesting to gather and discuss internally is…

How many unfamiliar faces did we see today?

Track this as much as possible. Pursuing a goal starts with accurate base line data.

The GP challenge.

At the core of chasing new business is the need to lift the profitability of the business. A key way for doing this is making more from each item you sell. That does not necessarily mean selling everything at the highest possible price., A better approach could be to sell more items with a higher overall average GP.

If you were, for example, to decrease revenue from papers and magazines and increase revenue for gifts, you could see overall business GP grow in that the GP% of gift can be double or more than of cards.

The supplier challenge.

The mix of suppliers to the channel is changing. As a supplier learns what they could make from newsagents, they tend to seek to engage with more newsagents. This is something to be wary of as the point of difference you may have once had an as early adopter can diminish once late bloomers latch on to something.

This is a reason for change in the supply mix. While for sure there will be everyday core lines, the reality is that change for at least a third, especially in gift, is important.

Final words.

It is easy to wallow and roll around in the challenges and negativity. That will not fix anything in your newsagency business. That is 100% ion you. Take a step, no matter how small, every day, toward a brighter future. Do something, anything, that moves you beyond the current trajectory if you are unhappy with the current trajectory. Wallowing, complaining … they are not beneficial steps and usually serve to make things worse.

Own your situation and own your obligation to improve it. Do this and there are many in the channel who will help.

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338