How a small discount voucher from our POS software led to a $1,500 purchase

I want to share with you a true story of what happened recently in one of my own shops – yes, I own this POS software co as well as retail shops. It is a story of how a small everyday purchase led to something bigger and how this happened as a result of fundamental changes in how the business is run.

This story could happen in any retail business – city, country, large, small, shopping mall, high street. I make that point so you do not dismiss the story and think it could not happen in your business. The elements of the story work together in any size business. In writing about it here I’m not getting you to do anything other than to consider that you could achieve the same in your business.

At its core, this is a story about shopper loyalty, especially shopper loyalty in a retail situation where between 25% and 30% of shoppers visiting the business are not local and therefore not likely to engage with the old-school points-based loyalty program.

A customer passing the shop noticed our greeting card range and stepped into make a purchase because of a specific need. They purchased two cards. On their receipt was a voucher for almost $2.00. As they are not usually in the shopping centre they looked around for something in which to spend the $2.00.

This is the key: the customer came in to make a quick destination purchase. The type of purchase where we did not matter. They were on the way to the car park and happened to pass buy our shop. Point 1: location is in our favour. The stepped in because they saw our greeting cards. Point 2: the floor placement of cards was key in getting them in the shop.

Having made the purchase, the customer then noticed, for the first time, what else we sold – because of the $2.00 discount voucher on their receipt. Point 3: we got them to look around and see what else we sold.

The customer did a 180 degree turn and saw a locked glass cabinet of beautiful collectible bears. This was in the right place at the right time as they had been looking for a gift for a child. Money was not an issue. They wanted something to last a lifetime. They purchased a $500.00 bear.

This purchase would not have been made had they not been given the $2.00 voucher on their receipt. The voucher is what got them to notice what else we sold.

Fast forward several weeks and this customer who said they don’t usually come to the shopping centre was back for another $500.00 purchase. Now, several more weeks later, the customer has another $500.00 order placed.

I can directly trace more than $1,500.00 in sales back to the $2.00 voucher.

The software produced the voucher based on rules I established. The initial staff member serving the customer made a brief professional pitch highlighting the voucher. These are both important factors as they are at the core of a structured consistent approach to what has become the most lucrative loyalty program I have seen in my 30+ years involved in retail as a retailer myself and working with retailers in many different channels.

While most times vouchers are handed out they are not redeemed, they are redeemed enough to make them worthwhile. They are redeemed for good margin product as they get people looking at the shop for the first time and discovering items to purchase they were not in our four walls to consider.

The discount vouchers are disruptive. People respond in unpredictable ways.

Best of all, the discount vouchers are profitable.

For this story to work in a newsagency you need to have the right products, placed strategically in-store. Your staff need to make the right pitch. Plus, you need to be attracting people who don’t know and probably don’t care what shop they are in.

If you have read this post and thought it does not relate to you, that you could not do this in your business I say you are wrong. I am certain the approach I have shared with you could work in any newsagency in any situation. I urge you to not hold your business back.

Using POS software to cut employee theft in small business retail

Theft is retail can be expensive, particularly employee theft. Tower systems has a structured and proven approach for dealing with employee theft in retail businesses where the Tower Systems POS software is used.

The Tower POS software has tools for reducing the opportunity for theft. Better still, the software has hidden tools for tracking theft, tools that provide evidence police and prosecutors have used to successfully deal with theft situations.

It is the secret and secure facilities where our software provides retail business owners the evidence necessary to achieve successful resolution, as we have found in many employee theft situations where our help has been called upon.

Discovering theft by an employee can be debilitating and destabilising. To help you through this, Tower Systems provides advice and support on what to do once you discover employee theft. The goal is to offer straightforward steps to help you get through as it is on the other side of this where you can find the opportunity to move on from the feeling of violation that often accompanies employee theft in small business.

In addition to being a support, we provide practical advice an help for use our our POS software to reduce  the opportunity for employee theft and shopper theft.

Follow this advice on how to use our specialist retail 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.

Free POS software & e-commerce workshop for regional QLD small business retailers.

Retail is changing at a rapid rate. Changes in-store and online are making 2017 an important year.

We have see these changes first-hand at international retail conferences this year. We play with the changes in our own shops where we use our POS software and our website technology to find new customers and drive a higher average spend.

Come to one of our FREE workshops near you and find out more about how you can equip your retail business to confront the changes in retail, transact online and compete with big businesses, including Amazon.

Here are the dates for our free POS software / website workshops. Click on the city name to book your place:

  1. Cairns. June 26. 2pm. Novotel.
  2. Townsville. June 27. 10am. Mercure.
  3. Mackay. June 28. 10am. Mackay Grande Suites.
  4. Rockhampton. June 29. 10am. Quest.

We will share insights on how small business retailers around the world are using website connected POS software to win online sales.

We will explain how to get to the top of Google search results.

We will demonstrate the connection between social media posts (Facebook, Twitter etc) in-store sales and online sales.

There will be no hard sell. Our goal is to share practical information to help you better plan for the future of your regional retail business.

Anyone is welcome including people on whom you rely for advice, such as accountants and mentors.

If you have sales queries prior to these events please talk with your local account manager: QLD: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.

I hope to see you at one of these workshops. I am keen to share with you what I have seen and learnt in this rapidly changing space.

There will be plenty of time for questions on any topic connected with retail.

We have software for: gift shopsjewellersbike shops, pet shops,  toy shopsfishing/outdoorsgarden centres/nurseries, newsagentsproduce stores and firearms retailers.

Small business retail advice: how to organise your back room

The back room of a retail business is a window on the efficiency and focus of the business. This is a fair assumption because it is where the business is organized.. A disorganized back room reflects a likely disorganized business.

Organizing the back room is easy. Those who disagree are probably spending too much time thinking about it and not enough time creating an efficient and enjoyable work space.

Here are some simple tips for organizing the back room of any retail business.

Have defined areas. Separate, mark out and manage the areas for: inward goods, spare floor stock, returns, administration and employee rest space. Locate each area in a logical position.

For example, inward goods needs to be located inside the doorway away from main traffic but close enough to be convenient to delivery people. Create a defined process around this space – such as every delivery being signed for and even verified by a second person if the value of deliveries warrants this.

Administration documents and materials need to be located in an area more secure than the general back room space. It also needs to be in office cabinets and units which can be locked.

A place for everything. Pens, pencils, tape, box cutters, scissors, paper, boxes, packaging materials – everything in the back room should have its defined space. This creates a safer and more enjoyable work environment. The better organization also encourages all others in the organization to be better organized. Lead by example.

Communicate clearly. Setup a notice board or a white board onto which you can communicate with all employees. This should be located next to the door which leads from the room to the shop floor. The noticeboard can share important information about the business as well as required health and safety notices.

Don’t hoard. Retailers are notorious hoarders, handing on to everything in case they need it one day. While it is easy to say don’t hoard, the reality is different. Here is a simple tip for retailers with space available. Set aside some space, hopefully somewhat hidden – where you put anything which you are not using and don’t think you will need but are not prepared to throw out. Not the date you put it there. review this space every six months. Items you do not use in six months should be thrown out.

Structure and discipline are the keys to a good back room. get these right and the business itself will become more organized as a result.

This is an example of practical business advice we provide at Tower Systems to our retail customers, advice beyond our POS software, to help our retail business partners get more from their engagement with us.

Employee theft remains the biggest concern of small business retailers.

Employee theft in small retail businesses remains the biggest single concern among small business retailers and the biggest single cost to retail businesses.

We say this based on evidence of interaction with 3,500+ small business retailers in our user community and from working with plenty of retailers outside our user community, helping them to deal with the hurt and cost of discovering theft by retailers.

We have tried many approached to getting the attention of small business retailers on the issue of theft. One of the most successful means of engagement has been this cheeky video from us. It gets attention.

We have used it through YouTube as well as other platforms. It works a treat, gaining thousands of views.

Amazing free POS software training for small business retailers for June

We are grateful for the support from our customers for our free online POS software training. Here is the June schedule. All free. All available to any of our customers. We do so many sessions because of all our customers. Even with this list we are sure to add more closer to the time.

  1. Getting Ready for EOFY Thursday 1st June 2:00pm Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run.
  2. Stocktaking for EOFY Wednesday 7th June 2:00pm Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you.
  3. Getting Ready for EOFY Thursday 8th June 2:00pm Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run.
  4. Getting Ready for EOFY Wednesday 14th June 2:00pm Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run.
  5. Stocktaking for EOFY Thursday 15th June 2:00pm Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you.
  6. Stocktaking for EOFY Wednesday 21st June 2:00pm Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you.
  7. Getting Ready for EOFY Thursday 22nd June 2:00pm Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run.
  8. Getting Ready for EOFY Wednesday 28th June 2:00pm Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run.
  9. Stocktaking for EOFY Thursday 29th June 2:00pm Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you.

Major web development advances for small business retailers

Tower Systems has moved to the next phase of its professional website development services for small business retailers with the launch of a package of web sales fulfilment tools.

The latest enhancements extend the best-practice approach by the Tower Systems web development team and deliver wonderful website initiatives for websites developed in Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. These three platforms account for around 75% of all e-commerce sites.

Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce, coupled with the Tower Systems retail management software creates a powerful high street and online retail solution for small business retailers.

Tower Systems is proud to be using world renowned platforms and enhancing these with the latest in fulfilment facilities.

POS software WooCommerce integration live, helping small business retailers

In addition to linking our POS softer direct to magento and Shopify based websites, Tower Systems links to WooCommerce sites.

The latest integration is another example of Tower Systems delivering best practice integrations to best practice products.

When it comes to websites for small business retailers or any business for that matter, the best solution is one that has been proved around there world. Locally developed content management systems are not good for business websites as there are maintenance challenges.

WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento represent around 80% of ecommerce sites globally. There is no need to go beyond these three.

Tower Systems is grateful to the three ecommerce platform businesses for their encouragement and support of our moves in this space.  Their encouragement has helped us do this good work in the interested of our small business customers.

Small business POS software users appreciate local user meetings

We have just completed a sweep of Australian capital cities hosting face to face small business POS software group user meetings.

At these interactive sessions we demonstrated our soon to be released new software and provided a preview of our set new look and feel.

Across the country the responses have been terrific and valuable. The Q&A part of the user meeting series has ben particularly useful as we have been able to answer questions, learn from our customers and share in a practical and personal way with and for our customers.

The hosting of the user meetings is a real advantage for Tower Systems customers and a point t of difference for us. We could not have done what we have just done had it not been for engaged and connected customers who encourage us every day of the week.

Access to the sessions was free. In addition to terrific content we ensured easy access to parking. Plus we provided catering to keep attendees nourished.

By being in front of our customers through these meetings and offering face to face access to our leadership team in attendance, Tower Systems is making itself accountable to its customers. There is no more important task for a POS software company than this – than being practically accountable to those who use the software and rely on it day to day in their businesses.

Small business POS software user meetings start today, in Brisbane

Tower Systems has announced details of its first series of face to face user meetings for 2017. This is the company putting itself in front of customers in key locations.

We have scheduled sessions for Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, starting March 27, 2017.

Our first meeting starts today, in Brisbane.

We will demonstrate the new look and feel of our Retailer POS software, our Shopify / Magento and Woo Commerce integrations, our Xero integration and much more. Plus there will be time for your questions. Free training. An opportunity to pitch your suggestions.

This is an excellent chance to leverage more from your relationship with us. Click here to book and see venue details. Yes, we will announce more dates soon.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the software, discuss change requests and provide feedback on our services.

It is rare today that POS software companies offer sessions like this, except from Tower Systems – we do it regularly as a core customer service offering.

We ae grateful to our customers for their support.

Why my software company is not embracing the new lower Sunday penalty rates in our own retail business

Tower Systems owns and operates retail businesses in part to provide us with practical experience on which we can draw to provide better software support experiences for our small business retail customers.

Here are my reasons, as owner of the company, for deciding to not embrace the Sunday penalty rates decision in my retail businesses:

  1. I value my employees. To pay them less as a result of the decision could suggest to them they are worth less. I have hated it when suppliers reduced margin or commission and argued then that they value me and my business less.
  2. I want to be competitive for good labour. Paying a competitive rate is key to this.
  3. The business reward. It is open to employees who are now told their pay will not be cut to return the favour to the business.
  4. Competition. A range of competitor business have made a similar announcement.
  5. While of economy fairness. While I agree with the decision, it should only be taken as a whole of economy review that fairly adjusts economic touch-points for all and not only salaried workers.
  6. Weighing everything up it is the right thing to do.

This is not a permanent decision. It is possible I will modify my position as the marketplace situation evolves. If I did and thereby embraced a saving in labour costs, I anticipate through would be invested in more hours.

All business owners need to reach their own conclusions on this matter. Unfortunately, as a country we are bereft of leadership on broader issues that should be confronted in any economic setting adjustment as has been done with Sunday penalty rates.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director.

The Shopify POS software link small business retailers love

The Tower Systems POS software Shopify link is another smart commercial link form Tower Systems. The link connects to this professional and popular e-commerce platform.

Retailers should only ever go with well-known internationally successful e-commerce platforms. Anything else can be problematic.

Shopify is one of the easiest ways to setup and run an ecommerce store. We think it provides you with the ideal place to create you first website and gain experience in the world of ecommerce. You have complete control over the look and feel of your online store and can instant access fantastic look themes to reflect the personality of your business. For more information visit www.shopify.com.au.

How does the link work?
The link works by using the TALink platform platform to connect to the shopify API and synchronise your data.

Stock
Retailer is your master stock database. You flag what stock items you want to appear on your shopify store.
Descriptions and extended descriptions are added as your titles and descriptions in Shopify. Newly flagged products are automatically added and if you edit items in Retailer you have field level control over how these are handled in Shopify.

Department and Categories
Your Retailer Departments and Categories become collections in Shopify. You can have a chose of either
Department level collections or category level, but not both. If you choose to synchronise either a department or category, your existing structure will be mirrored and managed in Shopify automatically. If, however, you decide not link your Department and Categories in Shopify, you can allocate collections manually to products once they are added.

Prices and Quantity On Hand
You have control over your webstore pricing from within the Retailer Stock Screen. Bulk updates of the webstore prices can be performed in Stock Manager. Once new prices are set, your web store is updated automatically. Quantity on hand is also managed automatically, when your sell or arrive an item into stock these adjustments are sent directly to Shopify. If the quantity on hand of an items drops to 0, the item is marked as out of stock in Shopify.

Images
The images you set against stock items in Retailer are automatically uploaded to your website. If images change, then old one is removed and the new one is added. You can upload as many images as you like per stock item.

Customers
Customers that purchase off your webstore are added as customers in your Retailer database, allowing you to track what they buy and market to them if you desire. Existing customers with an email address will also be added to your web store to facilitate easy sales if you choose.

Sales
Sales are downloaded on a periodic basis and imported into Retailer. They are imported into our Customer Invoice Maintenance facility allowing you to place orders and print invoices if needed. Once sales are imported it reduces your quantity on hand so you maintain accurate stock control. Sales can be allocated to a specific location.

Shopify is a dream too setup and connect with our small business POS software.

Australian POS software helps specialty small business retailers compete

The most effective ways small business retailers can compete with big businesses and online is through efficient operation, accurate data and customer service touch-points that add appreciated value.

Tower Systems only sells its POS software to small business retailers.

We believe in small businesses, their importance to local communities and their broader economic value.

Through our software, our personal in-store training, 24/7 human and locally based help desk service, regional user meetings, weekly online workshops and other touch-points we help small business retailers beyond what is usual for POS software companies.

Our company motto is we’re here to help. We take this seriously. Everyday, out motto challenges us to help our 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.

RETAIL MARKETS

There are versions of the software serving the business specific needs of:

  1. Jewellers
  2. Bike shops.
  3. Garden Centres.
  4. Book shops.
  5. Gift Shops.
  6. Homewares Shops.
  7. Produce businesses.
  8. Fishing and Outdoors shops.
  9. Newsagents
  10. Toy Shops.
  11. Confectionery Retail.
  12. Stationery retail.
  13. Pet Shops.
  14. Pet Grooming.
  15. Whole Foods Grocers.
  16. Swimming Pool Supplies.
  17. Firearms Retail.
  18. 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.

CLOUD OR NOT

The Tower Systems POS software can run on the desktop or 100% in the cloud. Retailers decide what they prefer.

In its cloud offer, Tower Systems offers a 100% hosted solution running in a secure purpose-build location with high-level security and backup. This solution is offered on a SAAS (Software As A services) model with minimal on-boarding costs and a single monthly fee.

Retailers who prefer local control can purchase or lease-finance the software. Once acquired, there are no mandatory annual access fees.

This flexible approach to pricing provides retailers the maximum flexibility in acquisition model.

WHAT THE SOFTWARE OFFERS.

This is a comprehensive and flexible Point of Sale software package offering facilities in many areas of retail business operation.

  1. POS sale scanning.
  2. POS sales using user configures touch buttons.
  3. Tracking sales by employee.
  4. Control over the look and feel of the sale screen.
  5. Control over the look and feel of receipts.
  6. Smart receipts that add value to the customer experience with local knowledge, care instructions and more.
  7. Customer receipts that contain a $$ discount off the next purchase if loyalty engagement is achieved.
  8. Structured end of shift process to reduce mistakes and more easily track fraud.
  9. Employee theft mitigation controls.
  10. Inventory control.
  11. Multiple price levels for products.
  12. Multiple customer types.
  13. Customer marketing facilities to enable targeted marketing.
  14. Importing supplier stock files.
  15. Importing supplier invoices.
  16. Generating orders based on sales.
  17. Four different and valuable types of loyalty facilities.
  18. Comprehensive business performance reporting.
  19. Customer age controls.
  20. Serial number tracking.
  21. Repairs management.
  22. Product manufacturing management.
  23. Multiple POS terminals in a store.
  24. Multiple stores connected.
  25. More than 100 reports with extraordinary options to facilitate insights into the business performance.

PERSONAL SERVICE MATTERS.

Here are areas where the Tower Systems approach shines, where our personal service matters.

Our training is personal, one-on-one. It is delivered in-store, by someone with extensive retail experience.

Our help desk is based in hawthorn victoria. When people call, the call is answered by a human and not a computerised phone system. We believe in personal service.

Every week except at Christmas and Easter we offer free online training workshops where retailers can learn more and talk to each other about how they use the software.

Every customer has access to free one-on-one training year after year.

We regularly host user meetings around the country where people can meet our management and technical team in an open group setting for more free training and free assistance. We believe in making ourselves accessible.

WE ARE RETAILERS TOO.

We own and operate several retail businesses, providing us with experience every day that enables us to walk in the shoes of our customers. We also use these shops as test sites for early releases of software updates plus we are happy for customers and prospects to visit the shops and learn from what we do ourselves in leveraging the software.

THE CUSTOMERS ARE IN CONTROL.

At the Tower Systems website, click on Software Ideas to see our transparent approach to customer engagement on software enhancements. This is world-class.

Our customers can make suggestions. These are assessed to ensure they will actually work. All customers are then invited to vote on the suggestions. The more votes the faster we bring the suggestion to reality.

This is democratic software development in action.

We believe our customers know more about hat they need from their software than we do.

 

Showing off our new POS software to small business retailers

Tower Systems is close to launching new fresh software for small business retailers with software for: gift shopsjewellers,  bike shopstoy shopsfishing/outdoors businessesgarden centres/nurseriespet shopsproduce storesfirearms businesses and newsagents –

Book now for one of these free events. Any small business retailer is welcome. See the ne software. Engage in free training. Provide feedback.

  1. Brisbane. March 27. 11am.
  2. Sydney. March 28. 10am.
  3. Adelaide. March 29. 9am.
  4. Perth. March 30. 9am.
  5. Melbourne. March 31. 10am.

We will have senior management and technical people attending so any question or feedback will reach the right person.

The benefits of these sessions is they are live, face to face and easily accessible.

These sessions are in addition to our weekly live online workshops and our extensive trade show engagement.

Small business retail management tip from the Bra Bar

brabarWe love the advice on HOW TO HAVE A LOVELY DAY written on the out the front of The Bra Bar in Perth.

This sign made a walk in Perth inspiring.

This is a lesson in how to market your business without directly promoting it. The advice could be provided by anyone in almost any situation. It is practical and accessible. The inspiration to have a lovely day is subtly connected to their business, not in your face.

Well done to the folks at The Bra Bar.

We have seen people use boards like this out the front of their shop for a word of the day or a quote or a joke. The Bar Bar sign is different, more personal – we guess as personal as the products they sell. They are speaking to you. That’s how it works for me.

Local retailers could do a sign like this have and wives under headings like:

  1. What we love about out town.
  2. We love our local heroes.
  3. Guess how many babies have been born here this year.
  4. Here’s a local tradition we bet you didn’t know.
  5. The oldest club in our area is…

Think of ideas for telling stories and sharing inspiration without overtly marketing your business. It’s a terrific way to get people on the street and in the mall to stop and notice you.

Small business POS software user meetings around Australia

Tower Systems has announced details of its first series of face to face user meetings for 2017. This is the company putting itself in front of customers in key locations.

We have scheduled sessions for Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, starting March 27, 2017.

We will demonstrate the new look and feel of Retailer, our Shopify / Magento and Woo Commerce integrations, our Xero integration and much more. Plus there will be time for your questions. Free training. An opportunity to pitch your suggestions.

This is an excellent chance to leverage more from your relationship with us. Click here to book and see venue details. Yes, we will announce more dates soon.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the software, discuss change requests and provide feedback on our services.

It is rare today that POS software companies offer sessions like this, except from Tower Systems – we do it regularly as a core customer service offering.

We ae grateful to our customers for their support.

Sharing retail trends insights with small business retailers

The one constant in retail is change. already in 2017 we see more evidence of that. Amazon opening in Australia, growth in online, the launch of several disruptor models targeting specialist retail channels … these are some of the challenges we have read about in the last few weeks.

It is easy to read of what big businesses are doing and feel demotivated for one’s small business. This can be as true for your business as it is for my small software company.

As small businesses the biggest advantage is our ability to move faster. While we made not have the budget or press attention, we can move faster, we can change faster.

Here at Tower Systems, change starts with understanding trends. Already this year we have had team members have attended five international trade shows – Atlanta Gift Fair, Paperworld in Frankfurt, Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Spring Fair in Birmingham and the National Retail Federation annual conference in New York. Each conference / trade show has provided insights we will leverage.

A couple of trends stand out.

  • The first is the greater blurring of lines in retail niches. The bike shop is not a bike shop only, the jeweller is not a jewellery business only, the garden centre is not a garden centre. Being flexible beyond your traditional shingle is important.
  • The second trend is about being local. Big businesses are structuring being local in a systemised way to capture shoppers who like local … even though the big businesses are not as local as locally owned small businesses. Now more than ever you need to leverage ways in your software to demonstrate you are local. Yes, Retailer helps you do this.

As we see it, goals for any small retail business this year have to include:

  1. Traffic. Finding new shoppers.
  2. Shopper value. Using every touch point possible to increase value of existing traffic.
  3. Efficiency. To eliminate out of date time wasting practices.
  4. Performance. To make decisions based on data facts and not gut .. cutting mistakes.
  5. Experimenting. The borders of specialty retail are gone. Play outside what’s been usual.

The biggest mistake we see made in small business retail is a lack of regard for accurate data. Customers of ours who respect data, reorder based on business, data, roster based on business data and plan based on business data usually have more successful businesses.

Online businesses, like of Amazon, are coming for high street retail. Being strong is crucial. Being smart is even more important … because Amazon and those in their league are smart.

In 2016 we released new facilities to help in some of these areas. In 2017 we have more coming. However, what you can achieve in your business in a marketplace driven by change depends on your business data.

If you want better data than you have today, we can help. We’d be glad to have the opportunity. It starts with you putting your hand up for help.

Retail management advice: How to prepare your independent retail business for sale

Selling an independent retail business is like selling a house, you need to prepare it so that it looks appealing to prospective purchasers.

The process of preparing a retail business for sale can take time, depending on the state of the business. The earlier you start the better.

The keys are too leave yourself plenty of time and have a plan. The advice we provide here is based on years of service to small business retailers across many different retail channels.

Here is our overview advice of what you need to do to prepare your independent retail business for sale.

  1. Maximise profit. What anyone will pay will depend on the profitability of the business. While you should be on this every day, if it is a new project for you, start six months prior to putting the business on the market.
  2. Eliminate dead stock. It looks bad on the shelves and looks bad on the books. Purchasers should not pay full wholesale for inventory more than six months old as your poor buying or management is not their obligation.
  3. Streamline operations. Make the business look easy to run by ensuring it is easy to run for you. The easier it looks to run the more interesting to people who don’t understand the business.
  4. Make the business look appealing. Ensure displays are stunning, the shelves full and every pitch the very best you can make. You want them to want your business because they like it.
  5. Be happy. Owners who talk their business down will find it harder to sell the business. If you are complainer, keep it to yourself or in the family.
  6. Keep your social media presence up to date. Today, many people check out a business online prior to looking at it in-store. Maintain up to date Facebook and other
  7. Get your paperwork in order. Early on, get business documents together and check:
    1. Premises lease.
    2. Equipment lease documents.
    3. Franchise document.
    4. Supplier agreements.
    5. Details of any forward orders.
    6. Any other documents relating to the operation of the business including manuals for any equipment items.
  8. Choose your broker carefully.

Success at selling your business depends in part on the work you do to prepare it for sale. Extra focus now can help you get timely price satisfaction.

Reinventing the POS software experience for small business retailers

We have begun previewing new-look POS software for our specialty retail marketplaces. This new look represents more than a year of work in design, development and testing. It offers our customers a fresh look, it keeps our software current with design standards relevant to retail in 2017.

This latest new look for our POS software continues the Tower Systems commitment to maintaining fresh and relevant software for our retail partners. It is what helps our software stay ahead, be loved by existing customers and winning the hearts of new customers.

The first personal previews of the new software started a week ago at the Sydney Gift Fair. They continue in a week’s time at the Melbourne Toy Fair. Then we will show the software off at our face to face user meetings around the country.

The new software is a result of terrific collaboration across multiple divisions of Tower Systems. It is a great team effort.

We develop, sell and support software for: gift shopsjewellers,  bike shopstoy shopsfishing/outdoors businessesgarden centres/nurseriespet shopsproduce storesfirearms businesses and newsagents.

Six things to do before you choose a POS software company for your business

  1. Compare websites. Go deep. Look at ease of contact, support connections. Look for details of the real people being the business.
  2. Compare software. On your desktop, next to each other.
  3. Compare training. Sit in on a training session. Compare usefulness, professionalism.
  4. Look at online tools. get a login and see what real users see.
  5. Use it. In a shop,l behind the counter. See first hand the user experience.
  6. Learn the total cost of ownership. Get this in writing, for the first three years. See the real cost of owning each of the software packages you are comparing.

There is a huge difference between software products. These six points could help you avoid POS software that is not right for your business.

Advice from POS software co. Tower Systems on how and when to quit stock in your retail business

How do you identify product that is not working? When do you quit a product that is not working? Why should you quit stock? How do you quit the stock? How long should quitting stock take? What if the item does not sell no matter what you do?

These are all questions we will answer here for you in the form of suggestions. What you ultimately do is 100% up to you. Your choices need to reflect your own situation and circumstances.

Identifying product that is not working.

Product is not working if it is not paying its way – paying for the floor space it takes and the time you spend on it. Check your sales, rank all your stock based on sales – look at the bottom performing stock. Your software should have a ranked Sales Report that lets you list all your stock ranked by unit or $$ sales. Use this to create your list of items to consider.

The other way to identify stock that’s not working for you is to check your back room or other storage facility. Stock that is not generating cash regularly has to be considered dead in our view.

When do you quit a product?

You quit, exit, products when they are not paying their way, when a season is done or when you want to exit that category for some other reason.

Let’s say your rent is $1,250 per square metre per year. If your gross profit averages, say, 50%, you will need to sell $2,500 worth of product to pay for a metre of space. However, this is not the complete consideration as you have labour, power and other costs to cover. The suggested rule of thumb is that your retail sales need to be at least three times that necessary to cover the cost of the space. In the scenario covered here, you should be earning at least $7,500 from a square metre of space. If stock is not delivering this, quitting it could be necessary.

Why quit stock?

To keep your shop fresh, to not be weighed down by dead stock to make your shop look more relevant, to stop hoarding.

How to quit stock.

Here is how we quit stock in retail businesses we operate. These businesses are in shopping centres where retail space is limited and expensive. We are necessarily aggressive.

  1. Set a deadline. We’d suggest two weeks for quitting a product or range of products.
  2. Choose your timing. The best time to quit stock quickly is on your busiest trading days. For many this will be the weekend. Consider structuring your quitting program to run from Thursday through Sunday.
  3. Set your initial price. The discount must be compelling. We’d suggest 50% off. A smaller discount in this marketplace will not get noticed. Think about your discount words: in some areas, HALF PRICE works better than 50% OFF. Sometimes, 2 FOR 1 can be even more effective. A $$ price can work better – for example a dump bin with everything priced at $1. People then don’t have to work anything out.
  4. Move the product to a high traffic location. Display it as a line you are quitting – in a dump bin or in open boxes. This must be in a location away from where the product is usually located. Do not make an attractive display. Consider placing the stock somewhere that people almost stumble over it.
  5. Put up a sign that is either black on white or white on read. Nothing fancy. Even a hand written sign is good. Do not make a complex or attractive sign.
  6. Adjust your price. If sales are not strong enough, go harder with your discount. From 50% off we suggest a drop to a $$ price point. It can be challenging selling something you would have sold for $20.00 at $1 but that $1 is better than getting nothing for the product at all.
  7. Give it away. If the products are not selling, consider giving the stock away to a local charity. Getting it out of your shop for no compensation can be better than it taking space and giving off the wrong message about your business.
  8. Keep track of time. If you decide to be out of the stock within two weeks, stick to that and make it happen with your pricing and placement decisions.
  9. Use the bin. If you can’t sell the item and you can’t give it away, use the bin.
  10. An alternative: If you have a large amount of stock to quit, consider hiring a local hall and running an off site sale. Talk to your suppliers about getting extra stock in for this. You could even plan to do this as an annual event. Consider, too, linking with a local charity to drive interest and create a fund raising opportunity for them.

Quitting stock takes strength and commitment. We urge you to do it to keep your business fresh. Product not selling gives shoppers a bad impression of your business.

Take a look at your shop floor and in your back room. Look at what you can get rid of right away to reduce the anchor of dead stock on your business.

Too many retail businesses have old stock gathering dust. One of the best ways to separate your business is to regularly quit stock that is not performing as it should.

This advice is an example of how Tower Systems helps small business retailers beyond POS software.