HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CLEAN UP THEIR STOCK FILES

Tower Systems has a commitment to helping small business retailers using its POS software to clean up stock files, reduce inventory records and through this to focus on the dataset vital to the future of the business.

This work is part of our customer service commitment. It is included in our Tower AdvantageTM package of services.

Over time, stock files can become bloated with products once sold and no longer stocked. Stick files can also contain details of items provided by a supplier with a stock file, items never sold in the business.

The Tower Systems free assistance process cleans and washes the stock files, ensuring current and accurate data is maintained, removing the trash.

The result is good for small business retailers as it helps focus their attention on what matters to their business.

This is another free service from Tower Systems.

FYI it is on our mind this Monday morning because we have already helped one customer today with a stock file clean up.

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WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS?

The truth about your retail business is how it is performing now compared to the same time a year earlier. Not how you think it is performing or how you feel it is performing but how it is actually performing.

You are your most important competitor.

Report on the last period, usually three months, and compare this with the same period a year earlier. Look at revenue, units sold, traffic count, average sale value and basket depth.

Let your data be your truth, your only truth.

If someone in the business makes a statement about business performance, take a look at the truth for yourself and rely only on this for your planning.

If a supplier makes a statement about the performance of your business, take a look at the truth for yourself and rely only on this for your planning.

Next time you tell someone how business is doing, base it on the facts as facts are a currency on which you can bank and off of which you can plan.

Gut feel and opinion are nice, but they cannot be relied on as such as your own business data.

In the Tower Systems POS software there are excellent reporting tools that report the truth of business performance. We can help you access these and we can help you understand them.

We’re here to help.

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TOWER SYSTEMS: MORE THAN YOUR AVERAGE POS SOFTWARE CO.

Look at one of the retail businesses we own and operate, where we play with our software, developing facilities we, as retailers and as software experts, know other retailers will love:

newsXpress Southland from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Using our software ourselves provides an experience and value far beyond what POS software companies are used to. We walk in your shoes every day and this is part of what helps us to make better, more useful, more valuable POS software for small and independent retailers in the retail channels in which we serve.

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TOWER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES HP RP9 SLIM POS TERMINAL

As an authorised partner of respected hardware company, we are thrilled to have been able to show off the HP RP9 all in one POS terminal to prospects at several events recently.

While we have an RP9 exclusively for an event last week, we filmed this short clip showing it in all its glory.

HP RP9 from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Not all POS software companies selling HP branded hardware are authorised resellers, not all sell new equipment backed by the respected HP warranty. At Tower Systems you ave access to the real thing.

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TOWER SYSTEMS AT SHOPTALK 2016 THIS WEEK

IMG_0036Some from the leadership group of Tower Systems are at the Shoptalk 2016 conference in Las Vegas this week. Shoptalk is a leading-edge conference bringing together 3,000+ retail and technology professionals to explore the future.

Our participation here for the four agenda-filled days is with particular focus on our constituency of small and independent retailers and how tech is evolving in service of their growth.

The event is halfway through and already there are valuable learnings and future-beneficial connections as we focus on continuing to deliver best-practice POS software to our 3,500+ customers.

The photo is from the presentation by Steven Lowy of Westfield – as fascinating insight into their extraordinary innovation.

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TOWER SYSTEMS POS SOFTWARE XERO CLOUD BASED ACCOUNTING INTERFACE HELPS SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CUT ACCOUNTING FEES.

The Tower Systems POS software xero cloud based accounting link is ideal for small business retailers keen to cut accounting fees – and who doesn’t want to cut accounting fees.

We use the xero cloud based accounting link ourselves in our own retail businesses so we live the benefits every day and can speak to ease of use, ease of setup and the value of strong results for the business from immediate access to up to date accounting data.

Developed to the exacting requirements of Xero cloud based accounting and established on the Xero cloud based accounting website as an approved partner, the Tower Systems POS software Xero cloud based accounting link makes it easy to feed sales data and other data direct from the POS software to xero cloud based accounting for a small business.

Setup is easy.

Use is seamless, in the background.

We have our own cloud based server as the bridge between our software and xero.

Data is accurate.

Speed is brilliant.

Reporting results are valuable.

This is a link small business retailers keen save time and money on external accounting will love. The link saves accounting fees by doing some work your accountant or bookkeeper might otherwise be doing for you. The link from within our POS software feeds data to xero seamlessly and in the background. No keystrokes required. Yes, real time is saved here.

We have accountants who have recommended us to their customers because of the xero link, accountants who themselves wholeheartedly endorse xero. We are grateful for these opportunities.

Xero as a company does not automatically bring on all software companies that connect to them. We are aware of they rejecting at least one POS software company. So, we are thrilled to be a partner and appreciate their engagement with us and their listing of us as a partner on their website.

What we are doing here with the xero link is another part of what we dub the Tower AdvantageTM, yes something we have trademarked because it is unique to us. Indeed, something so unique in our specialty retail channels and niches that we have protected it with a trademark.

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CUTTING RED TAPE FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS WHILE SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS FAIL

While Australian politicians whip themselves into a frenzy during the eight week long election campaign, Tower Systems continues to deliver genuine time-saving Point of Sale software on which small business retailers can rely to save time and cut red tape in their businesses.

Using the Tower POS software, small business independent retailers are able to save time on everyday transactions in their businesses. This time saving is thanks to red-tape cutting facilities in the software, facilities designed to streamline processing, eliminate paperwork, reduce double handling and provide a smoother customer experience in store.

Whereas politicians talk about cutting red tape, here are Tower Systems we are delivering red tape reductions for small business retailers. The time savings delivered cover plenty of areas in small business retail including these.

  1. Lay-By.
  2. Special customer orders.
  3. Customer accounts.
  4. Ordering stock.
  5. EFTPOS processing.
  6. Account sales.
  7. Gift cards.
  8. Stock returns to suppliers.
  9. Stock returns by customers.
  10. GL / Balance sheet integration.
  11. Business performance tracking.
  12. Staff communication.

In each of these areas and more we focus attention on cutting keystrokes, reducing mistake opportunities and processing faster to save time for the business and its customers. What we help our customers save results in tangible benefits for each engaged business. This is a bottom line benefit.

Our savings come from careful analysis of workflow in the business, watching how people use the software and how they engage on both sides of the counter. The result is efficiency, real efficiency and not just the type of promise you get from politicians who talk and do not act.

On a table top function by function comparison, we are proud of how our software compares, of the benefits and efficiencies we deliver in the area of streamlined processing. The differences, time saved, mistakes eliminated and streamlined operation all mean a red tape busting benefit delivered by Tower Systems. This is what we dub the Tower AdvantageTM, yes something we have trademarked because it is unique to us. Indeed, something so unique that we have protected it with a trademark.

So when you hear politicians speak about cutting red tape, think about Tower Systems and the real difference it makes for small business retailers when it comes to cutting red tape for real. We are proud of what we do for our retail partners.

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MORE EXPANSION OF THE POS SOFTWARE HELP DESK

We are thrilled to have been successful in expanding our help desk team with another hire for a new position. This is the second in a few months. We will share details with our customers in our weekly email once training is completed and the new team ember is taking calls.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT ADVICE: HOW TO MARKET YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS TO RETIREES

The retiree (or seniors) marketplace can be lucrative for a retail store. They tend to be loyal and engaged in word of mouth marketing about good retail experiences. They can also be flexible about when they shop and this is where a retail business can really leverage the opportunity.

Before you can market any retiree service or benefit you need to develop a plan for handling the opportunity. What products will be offered and at what special prices? The most common approach is to offer a flat discount to retirees, or seniors as they are called in some marketplaces. This discount is usually between 5% and 10%.

Price is important to the seniors marketplace since they either have a fixed income or are living off finite savings. They like businesses which help them save money.

You will also need to decide when the discount or other offer is available. Some businesses make the offer available only on certain days, usually the quietest days of the week. Others offer access to the benefits all the time. Think carefully about the needs of the business before deciding when you will provide access to the benefits – focus on the business outcome you want to achieve.

In terms of accessing the benefit, it is common and fair to ask for some form of proof of eligibility. This could be in the form of a drivers license or a seniors card as is available in some locations. This is a card usually issues by local government. Sometimes, it is issued by residences.

An alternative is to create your own retiree / seniors card for use in promoting the business. These should be professionally designed and produced. Ensure that such a card is respectful and something these customers would proudly carry. Design the card so that it promotes the benefits you offer – so that it is an extension of your marketing program.

Whatever method you use to identify your retiree customers, it has to be simple to use at the counter for processing the appropriate discount.

To market a business to retirees consider these options:

  1. Train employees to offer the discount or other benefits to someone who looks eligible. While this could cause embarrassment, it could also extend the word of mouth around the offer.
  2. Promote to retirement villages in the local area.
  3. Advise local government authorities that you offer a benefit to retirees.
  4. Contact local clubs and organisations likely to connect with retirees.
  5. Promote the benefits in-store and in your business newsletter. You want to spread your offer as far and wide as possible, so that retirees beat a path to your door.
  6. Visit local retirement residences and offer assistance.
  7. Advertise in trailer parks.
  8. Look up clubs the Internet – there are plenty of groups, clubs and forums for older folks travelling around. They share tips about places they like.

The value of the retiree market to your retail store will depend on the value of the offer available to them and how widely you promote this. While some retailers see retirees as a chore others see a business opportunity.

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POS SOFTWARE LOYALTY FACILITIES HELP RETAILERS GROW SALES.

 

IMG_9511Shopper loyalty became a thing around thirty years ago when UK supermarket giant Tesco tracked the results if its basic points based program.

Now, businesses of all sizes use points based programs to try and drive shopper loyalty.

Our view is points based programs are out of date and no longer competitive. Shopper behaviour has changed. Often you see people once and have one shot to drive the most valuable relationship for you. These on-shot customers don’t want to sign up for something or carry a card they will never use. However, they can be guided to spend more with you.

While we offer points based loyalty facilities in our POS software, we offer alternatives some of our customers are finding far more effective:

  1. Discount Vouchers. Through settings you control in your software, a voucher prints on receipts offering customers an amount off their next purchase. We have customers reporting double-digit growth and success attracting shoppers away from major retailers.
  2. Multi Buy. This works like a coffee card. Buy, say, 8 of an item over time and you get your 9th for free. You control the numbers, timing and how the program works in your business.
  3. Buy X get Y. This works per visit to the story, encouraging shoppers to purchase more in each visit. You have absolute control over the settings.

These three loyalty options as well as connections to external loyalty facilities provide our small business retail customers with options.

Better still, our loyalty facilities continue to evolve. We develop enhancements based on customer requests as well as based on what we see in retail overseas.

We also offer hybrid solutions where people mix our loyalty facilities. For example, we have customers offering discount vouchers and points where regular customers are treated differently to those making a one-off visit to the store.

We’d love to meet and talk about needs in your retail business, to see if our loyalty software and other POS software facilities can help.

We are an Australian software company selling software to selected retail niches like yours.

Please talk with one of our retail experts:

  1. NSW / ACT / QLD: Nathan Morrison. 0418 568 148. Nathan@towersystems.com.au
  2. SA /WA. Tim Batt. 0401 833 917. tim@towersystems.com.au.
  3. VIC / TAS. Mike Hill. 0423 848 482. mike@towersystems.com.au.

Footnote: the photo is from a shop I visited in Hong Kong two weeks ago. Homeless is a fascinating mix of pop culture, homewares, gifts and quirkiness. I was in Hong Kong for the Gift Fair and to meet with innovative retailers.

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HOW ANY SMALL BUSINESS RETAILER CAN GET SHOPPERS SPENDING MORE AND RETURNING SOONER

 

The biggest challenges of any retail business are to get shoppers spending more in a visit and returning sooner than might usually be the case. In this article by Tower CEO Mark Fetcher, we explore a simple yet effective tool.

All retailers, want shoppers to spend more in each visit and to come back more often.

Yet most retailers are uncomfortable overtly engaging with shoppers to get spend more in a visit or come back sooner.

Years ago, the thought was that a shopper VIP card or points based loyalty program was the way to go. Today, with such programs commonplace, their value is diluted.

There is talk among shoppers of loyalty fatigue – they are doubting the value of cards and programs where real rewards are not what was first offered.

Change the game: front-end loyalty

Instead of making shoppers accrue points that are then converted for cash at some future stage, why not offer cash-based rewards earlier, from the first purchase?

This approach is called front-ending loyalty. It brings a reward to the front in an effort to engage shoppers in additional purchases sooner.

It’s an approach that can encourage those who do not shop with you to purchase something else right away, to get the value of the cash discount offered.

Regular shoppers can spend the cash discount right away or come back within any time limit you set.

I started trialling this front-end loyalty strategy in February 2013 in several retail businesses. I did it using the Discount Vouchers facilities in the Tower POS software.

Building the basket

From the first day, in my own shop, I saw shoppers changing behaviour.

One customer came in to purchase a specific item. When I handed him the receipt I point out the voucher offering $2.00 of his next purchase. He was not a regular and so spent the $2.00, and more, right away on another item. He received another voucher and so purchased a third item. In all, he spent three times as much as the original purchase – all because of the Discount Vouchers he received.

Around 33% of all vouchers redeemed are used the day they are received. This shows customers building the basket – adding to their purchase that day as a result of the voucher. This makes each visit more valuable to us.

Bringing shoppers back

33% of redeemed vouchers are used within seven days and the remaining 33% are redeemed up to four weeks after issue, bringing shoppers back.

There is real evidence now from hundreds of retailers supporting these claims.

Here’s another real story: A few months ago, a customer came in and used a voucher she had picked up a couple of weeks earlier. She was happy to get $5.00 off a $65.00 item she wanted. This purchase resulted in another voucher so she bought another item for $29.95.

This customer said her friends had been recently talking about VIP cards and how they were useless. She then told them about us.

Changing how shoppers interact.

In another instance a customer was considering a $250.00 item but decided they could not justify the expense. They purchased some smaller items, spending $25.00.

On receiving a $5.00 voucher they turned around, immediately, and bought the $250.00 item.

We asked what happened. The answer was I don’t know. I needed permission I guess and the $5.00 did it.

This is a true story and there are many more like it in hundreds of retail businesses.

The key about discount vouchers is they change shopper behaviour, usually immediately and valuable for the business.

Indeed, discount vouchers are a game changer for many retail businesses, large an small, city and country.

We love hearing the stories of success from your customers.

You control the business rules

Like any good loyalty program, you need good levers with which to drive shopper engagement and to deliver the benefits to justify the investment.

The Discount Vouchers facilities have this.

You control the amount of each sale you are prepared to give away on the voucher.

You control the products the voucher can be used for.

You control how long the voucher is live for. I suggest 28 days but I have some retailers setting this at 90 days.

Helping your business

With most retail businesses running a loyalty program using a points based approach and only targeting long-term customers, adoption of this front-end loyalty approach can provide you with a genuine point of difference.

It is easily managed through the Tower Systems software and is backed by excellent management reports. This makes implementation and management easier than the old approach.

I’m confident this fresh approach to loyalty is a game changer for any retail business. The control you have enables you to easily manage the cost and the value you gain from the program.

This really is a new approach to bringing shoppers back sooner and getting them to spend more with you.

IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: Beware of those who claim year on year growth or numbers of people in their loyalty program. What is needed is analysis of a series of metrics on a same store basis year on year, metrics that assess carefully what is in the sample basket. For example, including lottery products in a purchase value basket does not make sense – it creates a false result of little value.

Contact the author at mark@towersystems.com.au.

To find out more about how your business can compete a fresh approach to loyalty, talk with an expert at Tower Systems. They can share more stories. NSW/ACT/QLD: Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148; SA/WA/NT: Tim Batt 0401 833 917; VIC/TAS: Mike Hill 0423 848 482.

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AT THE JUST FOR PETS CONFERENCE IN ALICE SPRINGS

We are grateful for the experience of being in Alice Springs this week and participating in the Just For Pets national conference as a platinum sponsor.

From the business sessions to the trade show to our free training workshops to the networking, we are having a blast making friends, catching up with plenty of customers and planning for a stronger future together, especially in the area of supplier integration.

Trade shows and conferences like these offer us excellent opportunities to get closer to customers to help them get more from their software relationship with us.

IMG_9812 IMG_9816 IMG_9817 IMG_9837

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VISUAL DECK CHANGES REPORTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

The Retailer Visual Deck released by Tower Systems to its small business retailer customers earlier this year is receiving kudos from retailers when they see it for the first time. Retailers used to old school reports love the visual look and feel of the data, they love the beauty expressed in the data because they can quickly grasp what is being shown.

Cloud based, this new business intelligence platform is available on a month to month or annual basis. Called the Visual Deck, It is visual because, well, your business data is presented in a visual way. It is a deck because it is a platform off of which you can see far and wide.

The Visual Deck can be accessed from any internet connected device, this platform provides you with a fresh view of your business performance data. Visually reporting on revenue, gross profit, transaction count, items per sale, units sold, average transaction value, by month, week, day and day of week – easily allowing you to compare trading periods.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT ADVICE: COMPUTER USE POLICY FOR RETAIL EMPLOYEES

Here is advice you can use to ensure computers in your retail business are used for their intended purpose:

  1. The computers in this business are business tools, they are important to the running of the business. Their security is vital to the safe running of the business.
  2. Do not use any computer for any form of personal use without permission. This means:
    1. No playing games.
    2. No looking at porn.
    3. No Facebook.
    4. No browsing websites unless they are websites used regularly by this business for running the business.
    5. No connecting your phone to the computer.
  3. Do not open emails including business emails unless you have permission.
  4. Do not click on any link in any email unless you are 100% certain that the email is from a trusted source and you have permission to access email.
  5. Do not clear the browser cache.
  6. Never permit anyone to use a computer in the business unless you have permission.
  7. Never give anyone a computer password from the business.
  8. Never write down any business password you are entrusted with.
  9. Never connect a USB stick with the computer unless you have permission.
  10. If you do something wrong own up to it immediately.
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HOW ONE SMALL BUSINESS RETAILER HAS USED OUR POS SOFTWARE TO INCREASE REVENUE BY 114%

Retailers want, need, year on year revenue growth. Here is a story of how one small business independent retailer followed our advice, used the smart loyalty facilities in our software and for one product category increased revenue by 114%. Elsewhere in the business benefits flowed too, rich benefits, bottom line benefits.

For within our POS software is a suite of smart loyalty tools that ensure you get shoppers spending more each visit. That is what this retailer has achieved. In this one department of plush items, they achieved $9,459.14 (ex GST) in revenue in April. That is up 114% on April 2015. Here is one line from the management report comparing April 2016 with April 2015. But beyond this one line, across four pages, this business is reporting excellent year on year growth – on good GP items, not low margin agency lines … and it is doing it on the back of smart loyalty facilities that are unique to the Tower Systems software.

pluissuccess

This is what matters in a small and independent retail business, good year on year growth for high margin product. This unit sales and revenue year on year comparison is vital as it is the truth of this retail business, raw data on which they can rely to measure success and guide next steps.

Our role, beyond providing excellent POS software, is to provide training and support for small business retailers to help them get the best possible value from the software and to understand the data on which we report.

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