Retailer frustration at POS software which changes without notice

We have been asked to help several retailers in recent weeks who discovered their POS software had been changed by their supplier without reference to them. The changes occurred overnight without forewarning. They introduced changes unexpected by the businesses, changes they need to adjust so they worked how the business would want.

One of the retailers commented to us they felt helpless with this change by their POS software company to a core management tool in their business without discussion or permission.

Tower Systems does not do this – we do not unilaterally make software changes in client locations without permission nor without full disclosure in advance so our customers can decide whether the changes would be useful to the businesses.

We think small business retailers should control the software they run. By this we mean – they should control when they update the software, always. This is a fundamental of good customer service in our view.

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136 POS software training videos help retail employees

Tower Systems is proud of the 136 training videos in its online POS software training library. This extraordinary resource helps retail business owners and retail employees learn and re-learn many aspects of the Tower software at their own pace and wherever they choose.

The online training library for our software is one of several exclusive resources retailers love when they switch to our POS software.

The notion of training POS software users when they first install only is old school. At Tower Systems we offer excellent one on one training at the time of purchase and many options for additional, refresh or extended training for months and years after the initial installation.

We add new content to our training resources regularly, keeping o=content fresh and relevant. We deliver training on platforms appropriate to the needs of our customers.

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Sunday retail management advice: keep your loyalty pitch simple for success

A loyalty program is only as good as the over the counter pitch through which you seek to engage shoppers. Check out this brief video we created to train retail employees on what has to be the easiest to use over the counter shopper loyalty offer.

Tower Systems leads with professional employee training videos which help retail employees leverage more value for the business from our software.

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POS software help desk live Saturday support

Today, as is usual, the office based POS software help desk of Tower Systems is up and running and providing live assistance to retailers using our POS software.

This office based service is in addition to our after hours service and our senior management escalation service.

Saturday POS software support is loved by retailers. It demonstrates an understanding of the different work cycle of retail versus office based businesses. being office based means it can achieve more than a mobile service and this enhances the customer experience.

This is another Tower AdvantageTM .

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New bike shop software facilities embraced by bike retailers

Bike shops participating in the beta release program of new Bike Shop Software are loving new facilities in our software. Their feedback has been helping us further tweak the latest release of the software to go beyond even what we had expected to achieve through the new facilities.

Having a professionally managed beta release program in partnership with engaged retailers helps us drive better outcomes for our retail partners. What has been happing over recent weeks with the beta release of our new bike shop software is evidence of this.

Using our industry standard Bike Shop Software, bike retailers have tools through which they can better serve customers, more efficiently manage repairs, resume the cost of inventory and have easy access to accurate data for business planning.

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We need to talk about mental health in small business

The importance of talking about mental health in small business newsagencies is an article by me, Mark Fletcher owner of Tower Systems, at my Newsagency Blog – a place where he write about small business retail. This is an important article dealing with personal and often unspoken off challenges dot small business owners and their employees.

Owning and running a small business can be tough – on families, relationships, finances and your mental health. The ABC published a terrific report about mental illness and small business. I urge you to read this and share it. At the bottom of the ABC article is an excellent list of resources including:

  • Lifeline – 13 1114
  • Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800 – Provides counselling and support for young people aged 5-25.
  • Men’s Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78 – Provides counselling and support services for men – especially those involved in the breakdown of relationships.
  • Suicide Call Back service – 1300 659 467 – Provides free nationwide professional telephone or online counseling.

Other national information and support services contacts available during business hours:

  • beyondblue information line – 1300 22 4636
  • SANE Helpline – 1800 18 SANE (1800 18 7263)
  • Telstra directory assistance – 1223 Call this number for contact details to the nearest public hospital, which can provide information on local services.

 

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Surge in pet shop software sales as independent pet retailers compete with big business

Tower Systems is experiencing a terrific surge in the number of pet shops installing our Pet Shop Software. Off an already good base of users, we are seeing excellent growth right across the country.

Coupled with the growth in our Pet Shop Software install base is growth in suppliers we are working with to facilitate time saving digital connections between retailers and suppliers.

All of this is good news for the competitiveness of our small business pet shop partners, their suppliers and the customers of the pet shops. Efficiency is up, relationships are stronger and business owners and employees are happier.

We are loving our engagement with the pet retail channel.

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Garden centre software helps retailers avoid the winter blues

While the cold weather is being experienced around Australia, Garden Centres using the Garden Centre Software from Tower Systems have access to tools with which to insulate the business against the traditional slow down for the retail channel at this time of the year.

Email marketing, text message marketing, shopper loyalty tools, over the counter immediate rewards – these are all marketing tools at the disposal of our retail partners.

From a management perspective, Garden Centres using our software have access to management insights and tools through which they can make good use of more available time resources.

We offer advice to Garden Centres beyond what is usual from a software company, to help them make this winter better for business. It is part of our commitment to help way beyond the software itself.

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Tower Systems helps newsagents deal with magazine supply issues

Last week, Tower Systems facilitated a second comprehensive submission to the ACCC as it contemplates a request for a Pilot study into changes of the rules around magazine distribution to small business newsagents.

This latest submission is detailed in its approach, building of the considerable detail in the first submission.

Newsagents have expressed appreciation to us for our support of the channel through this process.

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150 software enhancements in POS software update

The majority of the 150 POS software enhancements (new facilities as well as expanded facilities) in the latest POS software from Tower Systems have come from suggestions from users and as voted on by users – through our transparent and loved Software Ideas online portal.

Feedback from customers with early access to this update has been thrilling.

We are proud to have delivered more business enhancing facilities to our 2,800+ small business customers.

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Smart POS software helps retailers as policing of under-age retail sales increases

Policing of age-restricted products has increased this year with considerable undercover detection action in several states.

Retailers using our smart POS software benefit from being able to tag products as having an age restriction. This results in a pop-up requiring an age check prior to proceeding to process the sale.

Our age-check is a procedural intervention on which retailers can rely to reduce under-age selling mistakes by employees. It is also evidence they can provide to authorities to indicate that the business has processes to stop under-age selling.

Easily setup, the age-check facility in our software is another way business owners can establish processes and facilities through which their business can be professionally managed in their absence.

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POS software training video library helps retail employees gain skills

Retailers using the Tower Systems POS software have access to a training library of more than 130 training videos. These videos are professional in production and valuable in the content offered.

The videos can be accessed from any computer, anywhere and at any time.

The video training resources are comprehensive. They are also loved by our customers.

Regularly enhanced, the Tower Systems POS software video training library is a real asset to our business – allowing us to show a point of difference which wins us business.

In addition to POS software training, our library also includes training on business use of the software – covering how to engage on the shop floor. This is an area many POS software companies neglect in their training.

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Smart reports in POS software help small business retailers unlock value

Tower Systems hosted a free online training workshop last week on key reports in our software that can change how a retailer views and engages with their business.

This session sounded boring in that it was about report, what for some appears to be a dry aspect of POS software. The reality is good reports can be sexy in design and sexy in the numbers they present.

On top of training how to access the reports, our training took people into the value of the data in the reports, talking about the business decisions that can be made based on data points in the reports.

We selected a small number of reports so as to not overwhelm.

The reports are the icing on the cake of our software – they help retailers to learn things about their businesses they did not know, to be able to plot a path ahead for their businesses.

We do these training sessions every week and they are always free. Our customers love the diversity of training available and that we are consistent in our scheduling.

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Sunday retail management advice: helping small business retailers love their businesses

I hate going into work. These words from a friend reflected a long-held feeling, a feeling held with some shame.

Here was a retail business owner who hated going into his own business.  He had fallen out of love with what he had created. The bitterness he felt towards his business had soured to hatred.

Why do some retailers hate going to work? It is an interesting question which needs exploration before we look at strategies for countering this.

There is usually a trigger – supplier fatigue, tough economic conditions, personal challenges away from the business, a partner dispute, tiredness… there could be any combination of reasons.

If you have reached the point where you hate going into work each day it is important to take time away from the business for an honest assessment as to why you hate the business. Until you can answer the question – why do you hate going into work? – you cannot begin to work on resolution.

Once you know the reasons, think about a series of small and achievable steps you could take to turn the situation around. No matter how challenging the situation, there are always steps you could take. Focus on these, start work on them and in some instances that alone will be enough to move you through the fog of anger and ill-feeling toward the business.

If finding small steps to take does not work, get together with a trusted friend and tell them how you feel toward the business. Ask them to talk with you about the business. Reminisce about why you started or purchased the newsagency. Remember your dreams and hopes. Use the conversation to explore your emotion at the moment you decided to open or purchase the retail business.

The best advice to to get professional help from a psychologist or professionally qualified counsellor to explore your feelings for the business. Your doctor could help you access a government funded mental health plan.

Understanding your hatred for your retail business is the first step. This will usually, of itself, reveal the first steps you can take to turn the hatred around. Be open to that. Take small steps and see where they lead. The change in feeling toward the business may not be immediate so do not expect too much too soon.

If you do nothing, the hatred will be more and more reflected in the business and in your own person. Neither benefits from this.

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How POS software can help small business retailers change shopper loyalty

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with leveraging shopper loyalty.

  1. Reward to drive deeper shopper engagement.
  2. Track your loyalty liabilities to understand risk.
  3. Track shopper engagement through comprehensive date, time and person engagement to understand the loyalty buttons to push.
  4. Choose the loyalty offer right for you – good POS software will offer multiple loyalty offers for you.
  5. Be consistent in your loyalty offer such that every shopper is offered a consistent pitch.
  6. Un a loyalty program that is different to those around you. For example, if others nearby offer a points based program, go with something different.
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Some post budget commentators fail to understand the benefits of the small business instant asset write off

I write this as the owner of an Australian POS software company serving several specialist retail channels, as a newsagent and as the owner os a couple of other businesses serving small businesses in Australia.

I am disappointed at some of the commentary about the instant asset write offannounced in the federal budget this week. I have heard media commentators call it a tax break, a gift, a hand out, a return to the age of entitlement and a more. I have also heard commentators question whether small business owners will do the right thing and spend the money honestly.

These comments are ignorant, they do not reflect the thinking of small business owners. Small business owners are a passionate breed, usually putting the needs of our businesses ahead of much else in our lives. We don’t engage in tax schemes to avoid paying Australian taxes, we don’t domicile in tax havens to avoid tax, we don’t use visa programs to import workers ahead of Australians.

Most small business owners are too busy in their businesses to even dream of the schemes we read others use.

Small business owners work long hours, usually for below award rate wages – because they love the independence of working for themselves and, yes, the feeling of making a genuine contribution. I happily work a minimum of 80 hour s a week and have done for decades.

Let’s look at what the instant asset write off actually is. Check out this from the federal government’s budget website:

ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION
All small businesses will get an immediate tax deduction for any individual assets they buy costing less than $20,000. (Currently, the threshold sits at $1,000).

This $20,000 limit applies to each individual item. Small businesses can apply this $20,000 rule to as many individual items as they wish. These arrangements start from Budget night and continue until the end of June 2017.

There is no extra money, no grant or gift. All that is being done is speeding up the writing off of the expense. The budget measure improves cash flow.

A small business owner wanting to buy a new TV, to take one comment I heard several times, will still have to fund the TV – meaning they will want a business purpose for the TV.

I own a few businesses and while none is eligible for the instant asset write off, they serve small businesses which will be eligible for the instant asset write off.

Based on comments from small business owners to me since the budget, I am confident the instant asset write off is a valuable step needed to get many small business owners thinking about their businesses, considering what investments they could make knowing they get a deduction in the year of purchase and not spread over time.

Yes, I am conflicted as I stand to benefit. I mention this in case it has not been clear up to now. The economy benefits too. Take my POS software company:

  1. More small business owners like newsagents, bike retailers, pet shop owners, jewellers, gift shop owners and others will purchase our POS software.
  2. Used how we train them, our POS software will help the businesses:
    1. Cut costs.
    2. Increase sales.
    3. Reduce theft.
    4. Make better quality business decisions.
    5. In short, their businesses will be worth more. I have seen newsagents do this and hire more staff. Others have paid off loans sooner – making more funds available to banks for more lending.
  3. My software company benefits from more revenue and more customers. More customers = more staff. We benefit, the new staff benefit and the economy benefits.
  4. The software we sell is Australian. Any support for this is good for the country.
  5. The tax we pay is higher as a percentage of sales than the big companies in the news recently. Boos us and you boost the economy. You boost us by supporting our customers. You support our customers by encouraging them to invest in their businesses.

To the commentators making noise about a possible surge in TV and car sales, take a moment to think that there are ethical Aussie companies with productivity tools servicing small Aussie businesses – and that together we can deliver measurable economic benefits.

Commentators: stop talking us down.

Now, to my politics. I voted Greens at the last election as I thought their small business policy was better than the major parties. I have not voted Liberal for many elections. While this is none of your business, I felt it important to say to show I am not writing this as an ideologue.

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How POS software can help small business retailers match online services

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with competing with online competitors.

  1. Connect with your own web store easily.
  2. Have a common stock file for online and high street retail.
  3. Offer value-add on your receipts, at the counter and elsewhere thanks to prompts and the ability for you to encode your IP for more consistent delivery to shoppers.
  4. Be flexible on pricing and manage this through your technology.
  5. Connect with shoppers based on purchases.
  6. Bundle products such that what you sell is unique and not easily compared to online.
  7. Pitch the physical presence difference and reinforce this through shopper touch points.
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How POS software can help small business retailers manage specific locations

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with managing specific locations in-store.

  1. Know what sells from what location in your retail business.
  2. Stock-take by location in your business – it could be a cabinet or a shelf or some other unique and specific location.
  3. Track not only the location but each item in the location and product adjacencies.
  4. Manage products in multiple locations in store and understand the role location could play in the performance of a product.

Location specific management is helping retailers we are directly working with to improve revenue.

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Tower Systems helps small business retailers benefit from the immediate asset write-off in the federal budget

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 8.58.58 pmTower Systems has begun an education campaign for small business retailers in Australia in selected specialist retail channels outlining how they can benefit from the immediate asset write-off opportunity announced in the federal budget last night.

Retail businesses turning over $2 million a year or less can immediately write off the purchase of our Point of Sale solution.

Our software delivers the productivity benefits the federal government is keen to see small businesses access.

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How POS software can help small business retailers avoid dead stock costs

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with avoiding and clearing dead stock.

  1. Know for certain what is not selling.
  2. Know how suppliers perform against each other and use this in your buying to reduce dead stock.
  3. Offer deals which make old stock look appealing such as BUY X and GET Y.
  4. Bundle products together into a package deal hamper to make them more appealing.
  5. Run time based sales.
  6. Know what sells with what and place on the shop floor accordingly.
  7. Use evidence in your data to negotiate with suppliers on dead stock.
  8. Include bonus offers to customers passively on receipts – marketing after they leave the shop.
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How POS software can help small business retailers manage employees more effectively

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with managing employees.

  1. Easily create rosters and share these with employees how and where they want.
  2. Track sales by employees.
  3. Track sales by time – allowing shift comparisons.
  4. How employees understand performance in the context of what they can do to help the business and themselves.
  5. Cut time taken on everyday tasks such as end of shift.
  6. Eliminate often frustrating tasks such as the daily backup.
  7. Give employees information that helps them more effectively serve the business.
  8. Bring certainty to the counter and help employees be more consistent.
  9. Provide employees with vital information about products so they can be consistently knowledgeable.
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How POS software can help small business retailers in lease negotiations

POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.

Help with lease negotiations.

Landlords want facts when negotiating new leases, especially if a tenant is seeking a change in terms. Thanks to the metrics in our POS software, our customers have ready access to accurate data such as shopper traffic, basket depth, shopper efficiency, space efficiency among others. These and other data points help retailers to be more informed in landlord negotiations.

Thanks to our retail experience we also help retailers assemble information from the POS software so retailers can put forward the best case possible. We have done this many times working with retailers in different channels and different retail situations and even talking directly to their landlord to provide certainty and confidence as to the accuracy and value of the business data.

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Sunday retail management advice: challenge your POS software help desk advice

Sometimes, POS software help desk advice is not right. It could be they did not understand the question, that you did not completely explain the question or that they got it plain wrong.

A good POS software help desk will offer a structured escalation process where you can take any concern and have it considered away from the help desk. Such an escalation process will involve senior management and have at its heart good communication.

Tower Systems has a structured escalation process with three points of escalation outside of the help desk function. Customers can use this or they can bypass a step as all contact points in the escalation process are published regularly.

Tower customers can speak directly with the owner of the business, Mark Fletcher, on 0418 321 338.

We encourage customers to challenge help desk advice to ensure that the advice is right for the actual question or problem. This can be done in a respectful way with the outcome always on ensuring the best possible customer service experience.

Retailers who actively engage with the POS software help desk process usually achieve a more meaningful and valuable outcome for themselves and their business.

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POS software customer: I love your training!

We were thrilled to be able to catch up with a Tower Systems POS software customer some months after their installation so see how things were going.

I love your training, just love it. What they did in the shop was fantastic but it’s the videos I really love.

I love that I can get my staff to watch them and track their progress.

I know the importance of training and thanks to your videos I am seeing improvements in performance.

Better still, these videos help me make more money.

Tower Systems offers access to more than 130 professional videos for use by customers at any time and from anywhere. These videos significantly enhance the Tower customer experience.

Our video training library is part of a comprehensive training program of in-store, over the phone, group and local workshop training. Our offer is comprehensive and constantly evolving based on customer feedback.

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