Preparing POS software users for a confidential trial

Tower Systems has started contacting customers to invite them to be part of a trial group to play with something completely different. In return for confidentiality, early adoption and detailed feedback, participating retailers will be given free access to software that breaks with tradition.

Two years in the making, this project is another example of Tower Systems investing in software for small businesses. Leadership in action will be clear when the software steps into the public eye, soon.

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Throwback Thursday at the POS software company

beginningsThis is where it all began for Tower Systems – back in 1981 – before we sold our first system. This photo shows the first computer in which we started developing small business applications.

This tiny Apple II+ with dual floppy drives was our first development platform. It was new and exciting and fun to develop on. While storage on the Apple II+ was limited we made the most of the opportunity to provide small businesses with tools that cut labour intensive data related tasks.

While the software we sell today is generations beyond what we developed in 1981, the principles are the same – to offer our customers software facilities through which they can save time and money and on which they can rely to make better quality business decisions sooner.

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A behind the scenes look at how our POS software company rolls our a major software update

Here is an internal communication sent by our Managing Director to all Tower Systems team members last week in advance of wider release of a major POS software update. We share this here to show how internally we are committed to the quality and engaged customer services we promote in our marketing pitch:

The next two months will present us with many challenges and opportunities as our customers load and engage with 2.6. For many in the company you will face new experiences as this is the biggest update ever in the history of the Retailer product.

There will be people who blame things on the update that have nothing to do with the update.

Many will not read the instructions prior to loading the update.

Most will be nervous.

Plenty will be happy with what’s in the u0date and some will want more changes urgently.

Others will say their systems are slower as a result.

Some will realise that they need to upgrade their hardware.

Please actively listen to what people have to say, make sure they know you are listening to them – even if what they are saying has been said to you many times before by others. People calling about the update is what we are here for. We promise them we are not your average software company. We promise to listen to them and serve their needs. This is where your contact, each contact, is vital.

While Ben owns 2.6, it is on all of us to serve our customers as they install, learn and start to use 2.6. Their experience will depend on each of us. What they think about Tower Systems for the future will depend on each of us.

Thank you in advance for your commitment through what will be a busy and challenging time.

We are committed to providing an enjoyable experience for our customers. This email and the considerable training of our team which preceded it is further evidence of that commitment.

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While Apple gets all the attention real innovation for small business happens much closer to home

Apple has received extraordinary attention for its announcements last week as is always the case when the tech giant announces new models and new products. While we applaud Apple’s innovation and its ability to engage people all around the world with its technology, there are many businesses and individual innovators who receive little or no attention.

Take POS software, the spare we work in. It’s not glamorous or fashionable. However, if we get it right and engage appropriately with our customers, we make small retail businesses more profitable.

This coal face work with small and independent retailers is more important economically to Australia and New Zealand, the two main countries in which we trade, than Apple selling its devices and paying minimal tax.

We help people into business by making it easier for them. We help people find work by providing a skill they can learn and that is transferable.

What we do in our small and independent software company is economically valuable.

Later this week we release a software update that takes what we do to an entirely new plane. We won;t get Apple like hype but we do hope to help our customers enjoy their businesses more and make more money from them.

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Tower Systems POS software PayPal integration excites retailers

paypknxHaving briefed retailers using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software at user meetings in recent weeks one of the most exciting features in our new software is the PayPal integration.

Being first to market and with a solution developed in close consultation with and at the request of PayPal, we are positioned to help retailers leverage the marketing and management opportunities available.

At our user meetings we demonstrated PayPal live to our customers, making it easier for them to understand how it could be useful to their businesses.

The PayPal integration is an excellent point of difference in our software compared to others. The user meetings are an excellent point of difference in the service we offer compared to others.

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Tower Systems announces national user meeting tour

usermeetTower Systems earlier this week announced details of a national capital city newsagent user meeting tour to provide newsagents with wonderful learning opportunities, marketing insights, newsagency management advice and other content that will add value to the Tower relationship with newsagents.

While travelling on the national roadshow, Tower will make its leadership team available to other users for one on one discussions and assistance as the company demonstrates its commitment to meet with customers.

Access to the user meetings is open to any newsagent. It’s free, breakfast included.

Numbers are limited. Booking is essential.

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All POS software has bugs – it’s how the company responds that matters

All POS software, and all software for that matter, has bugs. Some are known and others are yet to be discovered. Having bugs is a function of the human involvement in software development. Bugs are, usually, not deliberate and users of the software are often the first to discover bugs.

What is most important about software bugs is how software companies react.

At Tower Systems we have a structured approach for investigating bug reports and dealing with bugs. We have several checkpoints in the company for proving a bug and ensuring its is resolved. We also have escalation points where team members and users can take queries about a bug to ensure it has the level of attention they want.

Through a structured process of research, development and quality assurance, Tower Systems takes bugs seriously. With thousands of businesses relying on our software we understand the importance of software quality.

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Tower Systems expands team

Tower Systems last week added a new full-time role to its Head Office team. With a title of Product Marketing Associate, this new role has a broad remit within the business to research and develop opportunities and services in existing and new marketplaces.

The new role will also benefit existing customers with some exciting enhanced resources being developed in training and support areas.

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Tower Systems team members on Linked In

The Tower Systems team makes itself accessible and contactable in a range of ways including through LinkedIn profiles. Click on the name to check out the profiles of some of our team

We have many more team members than this. Inclusion in this list was optional.

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When a software company competitor runs out of steam

You can tell when a software company you’re competing with runs out of steam when they use truckloads of words targeting your business and people in your business. The announcements here in recent weeks about Paypal, Xero, Plants Plus, Transactor, Postec fuel integration and other developments speak for our innovation and focus. We are loving customer responses.

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Tower Systems delivering Paypal payment option in another first

Tower Systems has been working with Paypal since last year on an innovative in-store payment option for small business retailers in the Tower Systems community. This work has resulted in an interface between the Tower Point of Sale software and a new consumer App being from Paypal.

Having passed tests, trials and rigorous acceptance testing, the next release of the Tower software will support Paypal as a method of over the counter payment for shoppers shopping in retail businesses using the Tower software.

This is genuine innovation that has come about as a result of professional development between Tower Systems and Paypal.

We are thrilled to be the partner chosen by Paypal for this work last year – giving Tower Systems customers a wonderful commercial advantage.

We will announce sign-up details shortly.

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Free QR code marketing tools for small business retailers and others

Here at our Point of Sale software company we seek out opportunities to support small businesses, especially small and independent retail businesses as part of a whole of business social responsibility commitment.

We often invest our own time and money in projects where we feel we can help these businesses grow. It is part of our pro-bono work helping small business without an expectation of any revenue benefit for us.

QRki, a QR code generation and content access platform for retailers and other small businesses as part of our social responsibility commitment.

Retailers and other small business operators can make videos, files, competition entry forms, Facebook links and other online content accessible through a unique QR code they generate using the QRki website.

We created QRki to help small businesses harness the opportunity of QR codes without needing to invest in software of their own.

QRki is free.

Developed in Australia but for use from anywhere in the world, QRki is another example of cloud based innovation for small businesses.

QRki is available now for anyone from anywhere to use regardless of POS or other software used in the business.

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POS software lower cost of ownership than cloud software

While there is plenty of noise about cloud based POS software supplied under a SaaS model, Tower Systems is winning business by demonstrating that its Point of Sale software pricing model is more attuned to the cash flow needs of a business than noisy cloud based applications chasing some of the marketplaces in which we serve.

In a recent price comparison over three years the price difference was considerable. Once we layered in functional differences and commercial opportunities compared with cloud opportunities, the retailers involved quickly discarded the options that initially looked cheaper.

With software you get what you pay for.

Good cloud offerings have an infrastructure cost. They also have a support opportunity cost in that most do not provide live in-store training and this can limit the benefits accessible to the retailers and their associates using their software.

In being armed with accurate information, Tower Systems is able to give retailers more information with which to make business decisions when comparing to some cloud based alternatives.

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More retailers engaging with our free QRki QR code cloud based platform

qrki-logoWe are thrilled to see more retailers using QRki to generate QR codes and host videos, PDFR files and other content as well as to harvest competition entries and other data from shoppers. We launched QRki last year to give small and independent retailers a platform to use to compete with major national retailers. We made it free as part of our commitment to giving back to small and independent retailers.

Anyone anywhere in the world can use QRki. There is no barrier to entry. No cost. QR codes can be used immediately.

QRki speaks to our creativity as well as our social conscience.

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A family wedding

teamweddingphotoSome of our team were able to share in the wedding of our Customer Service Manager Mike Hill to the beautiful Kim Tran yesterday in the Hunter Valley in NSW.

The wedding was wonderful and the socialising at the reception a treat. The photo shows team members and some loved-ones who were able to make the special occasion.

We are thrilled to have been able to be part of such a special occasion.

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POS software support escalation software helps retailers

With more and more POS software companies pushing customers to help desks where people follow call scripts so as to not deviate off the path and with many software companies not offering personal contact details of management, here at Tower Systems we are proud to have a documented escalation process through which any of our customers can access senior management assistance on any issue.

Here is what we include in all customer communication and have done for many years:

SUPPORT ESCALATION PROCEDURE: Our help desk is always your first port of call.  If you are unhappy with progress please escalate to our Customer Service Manager.  If you are unhappy with their response please contact our COO, Gavin Williams gavinw@towersystems.com.au or our CEO: Mark Fletcher 0418 321 338 mark@towersystems.com.au.

Our escalation process is used often – usually not for a complaint but to seek more business operational related assistance that it outside the scope and knowledge of the usual help desk call. We appreciate the opportunity to serve our customers with this assistance.

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Anyone can make an announcement, real change must be visible

Here at Tower Systems we believe that actions speak louder than words. While we can make all sorts of announcements about new software or customer service changes, only proof counts when it comes to such announcements.

The software industry is littered with businesses that make announcements in an effort to keep up with their competitors who spend more time and resources delivering than making announcements.

For example, we announce changes to our website when they are real and can be seen. We announce new software when it is available to be used.

Our advice to small business retailers is to beware of announcements without proof of what the announcement claims.

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Hey small and independent retailers, what is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

In his 1960 book, Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, a respected US advertising executive, introduced the world to the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition, USP for short.

Reeves defined USP in an advertising context:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer: buy this product and you will get this benefit.
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it changes consumer behaviour.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of a unique selling proposition evolved from being essential to advertising to being essential in business. Finding your business USP was considered mission critical to businesses, retailers especially. Businesses drifted however and forgot about the importance of a USP.

Jack Trout told us just a few years ago that it was as relevant today. In 2000, he said that a Unique Selling Proposition was mission critical in business in his aptly titled book Differentiate or Die.

Differentiate of Die. There is no doubt about the call to action in the title, no doubt about the consequences of inaction.

Yet many retailers, for the most part, have remained still in the face of an onslaught of competition.

Retail is tough today. We don’t need to tell you that. The differences between competitors fewer and the burdens between types of businesses are more vague than ever. Yet many small business retailers have not responded to these challenges.

Smart retailers have a Unique Selling Proposition, they leverage this to their commercial advantage.

Differentiation could be service, products or location or a combination of these. Differentiation will not be price as anyone can match price easily. Price is, after all, the last line of defence in any business battle.

To develop your USP, engage with your employees and other stakeholders. Take your time. Determine what you and your business stand for. Following open and honest discussion and debate, the USP around which everyone in the business can willingly congregate will emerge.

A good USP will not require an advertising campaign to communicate. It will become obvious through the decisions you make and the actions that follow.

By living the USP in every facet of the business you soon become seen as unique by shoppers and this can drive excellent word of mouth and success for the business.

While differentiation in retail is more important today than ever thanks to today’s economic conditions, the approach to the challenge is the same as in the 1960s.

This information is provided by Tower Systems, an Australian software company serving close to 3,000 independently owned small retail businesses. Our POS and retail management software helps you encode and live your USP in many ways.

Our mission is to help independent small retail businesses thrive.

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Love is in the air

loveIt’s Valentine’s Day and we’re sharing the love here at Tower Systems. One of the very talented people who works in our office made the bouquets and more to share around.

Heartwarming.

Romantic.

Software people have a heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Helping start-up retailers realise on their business plans

Navigating a business idea through start-up can be challenging, especially a high street retail idea in a tough economic climate for retail and amongst a sea of competitors in a retail landscape where borders between types of retail businesses are blurred.

Choosing the right POS software company to partner with through start-up and beyond is vital to the success of the business plans.

POS software needs to be flexible for the business and embedded with opportunities beyond what the business needs today in start-up mode and packed with facilities for operation well into mature operation. This is challenging because the needs of a start-up retail business evolve with the business, especially in terms of marketing. Good POS software will be flexible and feature-rich with facilities for the start-up business to leverage as the different phases in its development and operation.

Tower Systems has worked with many retail start-ups. We have developed unique software for some and leveraged our existing Point of Sale software for others. In each situation, we have enjoyed working with and learning from start-up opportunities. We have appreciated being able to share our own experiences as retailers and as service providers to retailers.

Before a new retail business opens and before much money is spent, the people behind the start-up are usually excited and full of dreams. This is a joyful time. We try and not dent to joy but to buttress it with business processes, experience and knowledge to help the joy of start-up last longer.

In our Point of Sale software we have facilities to help a start-up retail business hit the ground running with many facilities such as ready to use loyalty options from INSTANT REWARDS to the more mature points-based loyalty cards. Indeed, in the area of loyalty we can see an excellent example of good POS software that can grow with the needs of a business.

While a start-up retail entrepreneur may want to run a points-based system in the long-term, the commercial needs of the business may be better served by an immediate rewards approach as supported by our robust and deeply mature discount voucher facilities. This is just one of the areas where we can have a data-based business discussion with those behind a retail start-up – to explore the options that work best for them.

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Christmas cards appreciated

cardsonshowWe’re thrilled to receive Christmas cards from suppliers and customers and have a small selection on display in the reception area of our business. The thrill is two-fold – the greeting and the use of the traditional greeting card. Since newsagency businesses – who sell greeting cards – are a key pool of our customers, we like that they are being supported. The photo from our reception desk this morning shows some of the cards we’ve received.

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Kris Kringle fun in the POS software office

kriskringleWe had some fun with our Kris Kringle gifts in our head office yesterday with everyone participating in the Christmas gift giving and receiving.

People can steal a gift that’s already been opened – and this happened a lot – or take a Christmas gift from the table. It’s tons of fun with some excellent gifts on offer.

We’ve been having fun with Kris Kringles for many years.

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