How do you know can you trust a POS software company?

Trust is important in business. It is especially important in small and local business.

Trust is mission critical for POS software companies.

We say this because our software helps our customers engender trust in their local communities and with their customers. If our software fails, it challenges the trust local shoppers have in local businesses using our software.

Retailers rely on their POS software, they trust their POS software companies to provide software that works and that it is backed with professional assistance when they need … and that it is enhanced too meet the needs of businesses as they evolve.

This is why we say trust is vital in the choice of POS software for any small business.

So, how do you know you can trust a POS software company you are considering? Here is our advice, things to look for in assessing the trustworthiness of any POS software company you are considering:

  1. Talk to the owner. Most businesses will say this is not possible. Challenge them – see how they respond.
  2. Visit their office. This is essential to understand their capacity to serve you.
  3. Look at their website. Do they make it easy to contact them? Are the ottos real? Do the words make sense? Do you trust what they write? Are they on your level?
  4. Talk to their customers.
  5. Ask for access to their training website. See what their customer see.
  6. Ask for access to training videos. See the resources they offer for staff training.
  7. Do a Google search on them and see what comes up.
  8. Do a Google search on their owner and find out more about them.

POS software company relationships are long term so take your time, make sure the business you enter into a relationship with has the capacity, stamina and desire for an equally long term relationship.

POS software company relationships are personal. Ensure the POS software company you are talking to understands this. Too often POS software companies hide behind general email addresses and call centres where you do not know the name of the person you are speaking to. It is vital you know who they are because, yes, it is personal. Being personal is key to trust and trust is vital in this relationship.

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A note on POS software and credit card access in small business retail

The Tower Systems POS software does not store credit card numbers of customers who use cards to pay in shops using our POS software.

The customer presents their card to the Tyro terminal connected to our software the processing of the card details is done 100% by Tyro with no details being shared with our POS software other than payment success or otherwise.

This approach – of us not storing credit card details for retail transactions – is vital in providing peace of mind for retailers and their customers around customer credit card access and fraud mitigation.

Our view is: storing a retail shopper credit card number in POS software is a big mistake. It puts the security of the card number at risk. Customers will not like it.

We suggest retailers not use POS software that stores customer credit card numbers.

Our Tyro and other bank EFTPOS integrations meet the high standards set in Australia and New Zealand for electronic transactions using credit and other banking cards. Our connections are tested and authorised. They are secure.

Tower Systems takes fraud mitigation seriously.

Update: The lone voice of POS Solutions, Bernard the owner of the business, is back from a long vacation and rather than discoing topics to write about for himself, he writes about what we write about it. You can see it today on their site. They don’t name us. They rarely do. Instead, the use terms like: One software company, I know well. Yes, that’s us. His post is a ramble whereas the facts we have presented here are focussed. The two posts speak to their respective companies.

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HOW OUR POS SOFTWARE COMPANY HAS BEEN HANDLING THE WINDOWS 10 CUSTOMER SERVICE SURGE

With more than 3,500 small business retail customers using our POS software we have had to be on top of the push program engaged by Microsoft in the roll out of their Windows 10 upgrade.

The moment we saw the inevitability of the Microsoft roll out, we adjusted our customer service resource allocation to ensure the needs of our customers were well met.

Here is what we did to confront the Windows 10 challenge:

  1. We developed peer-reviewed consistent advice for the most common questions, to ensure that our customers had access to this advice in addition to personal one-on-one advice.
  2. We added to our help desk staffing resources.
  3. We re-allocated help desk time to ensure we had people at the emerging peak times of the day for Windows 10 specific calls.
  4. We doubled our Saturday office-based help desk staffing.
  5. We provided information to our customers via email and snail mail.
  6. We ensured we had Windows 10 knowledgeable escalation points for those with concerns outside those typical and that require management level insight.
  7. As a group we gathered to review progress regularly to take on bard any feedback and leverage any learning opportunities.

Even though many Windows 10 issues are outside providing support for our POS software, we have taken the calls and provided the advice, at no cost.

Indeed, we have processed close to 2,000 Windows 10 calls. That we have done this at no cost to our customers has collectively saved them a considerable sum.

We are proud of how we have handled this and are grateful to our customers for the opportunity to serve them in this Microsoft caused action.

Now if only Microsoft approached their own update roll out with the level of customer care we have shown through our actions.

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WINDOWS 10 MALWARE REINFORCES IMPORTANCE OF POS SOFTWARE USER CONTOL

The part about the Windows 10 update (malware) that has angered people the most is that they have had little or no control over the timing.

Tower Systems does not use automatic updates nor will we do this. Indeed, this commitment to our users is a valuable selling feature for us.

We believe small business retailers need to be able to decide for themselves when to update based on the facts relevant to them.

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HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CUT EMPLOYEE THEFT

The theft reduction training video we produced in-house – How To Steal From A Retail Business – is being used by business groups to train their members on measures to take in retail shops to reduce the opportunity for employee theft.

In addition to the YouTube views, this video has been packaged and provided outside that platform for people to embed in conference presentations, one-on-one training and elsewhere.

Using your POS software small business retailers have excellent tools with which to reduce the opportunity for theft. These have existed for years. In addition to our software work, we act as expert witnesses in investigations and proceedings that successfully prosecute employee theft cases.

What matters is that theft can be reduced and even eliminated with good management oversight in any retail business using our POS software.

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TOWER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES HP RP9 SLIM POS TERMINAL

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

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

HP RP9 from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

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

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SOFTWARE COMPANIES THAT LOCK USERS OUT FROM THEIR DATA DESERVE TO LOSE CUSTOMERS

We are helping another retailer switch to our software and in the process the retailer has discovered their old software company is blocking their access to their own business data.

This is unethical in our view. Legal advice suggests it could be challenged in the courts.

Here we have a small business retailer who has cultivated business data for twenty years and now, when they want to change software, they are locked out.

We have seen this before and are sure we will see it again. It is appalling action by the software company reflecting badly on them in this instance and into the future.

UPDATE: 5:36PM APRIL 7, 2016.

Bernard Zimmermann, director of competitor POS Solutions Australia Pty Ltd has copied text from this post and posted it on their blog this afternoon. The post appears to be a response to what I have written. This following of Tower is not the first time he has done this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 5.35.10 pm

For the record, Tower Systems does not lock users out, never has and never will. The claims by Zimmermann are false and he knows that.

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SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS: BEWARE CHEAP POS HARDWARE

Cheap POS hardware pitched to small business retailers rarely turns out to be cheap. While the initial purchase price may be lower, the breakdowns, slow speed and other issues along the way can make clean no-name brand computer hardware more expensive.

Our advice is to choose a brand name that backs its hardware with an on-site manufacturer’s warranty. This offers peace of mind. It demonstrates the brand itself standing behind what it sells.

In one business recently, we discovered computer hardware that was sold a new to a small business owner was, in fact, second hand, three years old. The unsuspecting retailer was ripped off by a POS software company through unethical representations. The quote and invoice indicated the computer was new when it was not.

We urge any retailer to do their homework, trust brands, get a second opinion from a professional. The risk to the business from cheap hardware is too great.

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POS SOLUTIONS CONTINUES ITS OBSESSION WITH TOWER SYSTEMS

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.37.46 pmBernard Zimmermann one of the owners of newsagency software co POS Solutions has continued his company’s ‘attack’ on Tower in another blog post about us today. This post, like others before it, contains inaccuracies.

Zimmermann hones in on the issue of Windows 10 and our advice to customers in the early days of Windows 10 to not install it.

Zimmermann provided the same advice to his customers at the time.

While our software worked fine with Windows 10, installing Windows 10 triggered a hog of hard disk space. As our advice to clients at the time noted, this was the reason we recommended against not installing Windows 10 at that time. We were transparent in our reasons. From the information available to us we are unable to say the same about POS.

Not one Tower Systems user was ever locked out yet Zimmermann claims: The second claim is also false, clearly users in their software were locked out some clearly for some time. Clearly, their user running old versions of theirsoftware would be locked out and forced to ring their accountancy department to gain access to their system. I say this statement by Zimmermann has been published by him to harm the reputation of Tower Systems. he offers no evidence for there is no evidence. It did not happen.

Let me be clear: No user of the Tower Systems software has ever been locked out of their software by any actions of the company.

So I have to ask, why is Bernard Zimmermann so obsessed with Tower Systems now? I think it has to do with where his company is at compared to ours.

While we have launched a series of important partnerships such as our direct Xero integration, direct Magento integration, the new Visual deck BI product, a national user meeting tour, enhancements to our knowledge base, excellent user interaction through our Software Ideas portal, and other benefits for our 3,500+ customers, he has realised our businesses are very different. It appears to me that his decision is to attack rather than innovate.

I think innovation is one reason hundreds of newsagents have switched from using POS Solutions to Tower Systems.

Never one for an original thought in my opinion, Zimmermann uses statements first published here as if they are his own, statements such as: the best way to assess a company is to see how they interact with their customers and the world. This reads as puerile to me.

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YOUR POS SOFTWARE SHOULD NOT STOP WORKING IF YOU CHOOSE TO NOT PAY AN ANNUAL SUPPORT FEE

We have competitors who install software with a lock or barrier that blocks access to the software unless an annual software support fee is paid. There are instances of retailers not being told that such a fee is payable, thus surprising retailers when they have no choice but to pay so they can use the software.

When we first heard of this we thought it was ransomware as access to business data was denied until a fee as paid, a fee not previously disclosed to the small business retailer.

Tower Systems does not do this. We think such action by any software company is unethical.

If you are considering POS software, ask the question: will the software stop working or my access be impeded in any way if I do not pay support? Get the answer in writing, on letterhead, from a director.

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Retail management advice: beware web developer promises

There are some bad web development businesses out there, charging too much and delivering website solutions that are not what customers sought. Like anything in business, when it comes to web development – you get what you pay for. Caveat emptor.

Our advice when it comes to choosing a web developer is simple:

  • Take your time to work out exactly what you need / want.
  • Put in writing what you require.
  • Get a written contract that is specific as to what will be delivered and when.
  • Pay when you are satisfied.
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For the record

POS Solutions, a small competitor of ours, published on their that an employee of a competitor had been found commenting on their blog. For the record we note the competitor is not Tower Systems and the person to whom they refer is not an employee of ours.

UPDATE: We note POS has permitted a comment on their post, a comment that seeks to link us to what the Director of POS has complained about. They are trying to spin an argument that is not supported by the facts. The commenter the post is about is/was not from Tower Systems, the actions the Director attributes to the ‘competitor’ later suggested to be us, are not true. Shame on them for this slur. To underscore this point – the same director vets every comment published. Comments are only on their company blog if he approves. This makes him and POS the publisher of the comment.

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The tell of a software company struggling for relevance

A tell that a software company is challenged for relevance is when they respond to a competitor’s launch of innovative software by promoting software from other companies that they claim covers the same application areas.

Good software companies let their own software speak for them.

Innovation is expensive and time consuming. Promoting what someone else has done in order to spoil the innovation of a competitor takes a few minutes. It shows the operators of a business up for what they are and are not.

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Helping a competitor lift their game

One of our competitors is in a tough situation with several customers complaining about support and software problems. We know about this as the customers have come to us.

In one situation we have been involved for two months, providing the customer with guidance on how to get the matter resolved with their software supplier. Our work has involved troubleshooting the issue to help focus their communication and translating some of the technical responses they have received -into non. tech language.

We have not used these situations to switch the small business to our software as we see that as something for them to consider when they are ready. Our focus has been on helping them get the immediate problems with the software and support resolved. Sometimes, a competitor being aware of our involvement is enough for them to lift their game.

POS software companies serving small business retailers need to quality check their contact to ensure they are genuinely helping customers in the way the customers want. While we’d be happy to win new business, this should not be needed if the sales and marketing promises made pre-sale are kept.

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POS software company says no and loses a sale

We lost a sale recently because we would not give a sales prospect exactly what they wanted. What they wanted and what we do here at Tower Systems through our POS software were not aligned.

We are a specialist retail channel software company, offering software highly tuned and tailored for a specific selection of retail channels. We do this well. We don’t offer bespoke software unless enhancements developed could benefit one or more of our specialist retail channels.

In the instance we are writing about today, a sales prospect wanted something specific to their business which had no value to any other customer. While we could have done the work it would have taken attention away from commitments to existing customers. It was for this reason we said no thanks.

While it is never easy to walk away from revenue, we appreciate the long term relationships we have in our select group of retail channels and feel we are better served serving them than investing too much time serving the needs of one customer.

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POS Solutions publishes inaccurate information on discount vouchers

POS Solutions has again written about the Tower Systems Discount Voucher facilities on their company blog.

While we will not go through all points in their blog post, we will address some in the interests of accurate representation of discount vouchers. The first point published by POS Solutions to address is:

Let first start off with the obvious, I would be delighted if Discount Vouchers worked. It would be a good for my clients, and I am in business to make my clients better. Furthermore, I do not appreciate name calling or rudeness. I am not trying to divert anything, and I have done a significant amount of research on this question.

This infers that Discount Vouchers do not work. That is not true. The Tower Discount Vouchers do work. In our own businesses we have the voucher and supporting financial data to prove this. Many retailers using Discount Vouchers say they have similar successful results. Despite this evidence, POS continues to spin that they do not work. The distinction is, the Tower Systems Discount Vouchers work.

The writer on the POS blog says they have done Wikipedia research and research on their own blog. That research is about a voucher from their own software. While that voucher may be called a discount voucher, it is not a Tower Discount Voucher, it has not been created with the same sophisticated and successful Tower software.

POS then states:

At the time I released this report, I noted that their users felt that the results I got were consistent with their results. You can read yourself the comments. Not one person said, “hey my results using Discount Vouchers are different to these figures.”

This statement is not supported by the facts – which users? Where did they say this? They publish no details supporting their claim.

Then there is what we would label as spin:

Additionally, at the time, this critic offered to release more data and then withdrew that offer immediately. See here for the formal withdrawal.

This statement not supported by the facts – there was no formal withdrawal. They engaged in a game which looked like an attempt for us to help them understand how our software worked.

Then they publish a breathtaking assumption:

That I feel that this loyalty program is expensive, well most reward programs in retail run at about 1% of sales see here. The Discount Vouchers scheme as you see from the above image run at $4,475.89/$98,299.79 = 4.6%. It is expensive!

This statement demonstrates an ignorance of how you measure the success of Discount Vouchers as the benefits are not only those directly achieved from voucher redemption purchases. No, the benefits flow deep within the business. This is a newsagency achieving 19% year on year revenue growth – many times more than the newsagency industry average. Take out the natural growth being achieved in the business and focus only on growth from the time Discount Vouchers kicked in and the benefits are more than the flawed POS Solutions assumption.

The author of the POS Solutions blog post makes another assumption about our approach to Discount Vouchers:

this scheme has minimal measurements

This is false and misleading. They do not know what reporting tools are available. The measurements available are not minimal.

Then they make another assumption:

Finally a Discount Voucher scheme, gives a voucher for every sale

This is not true of the Tower Discount Vouchers and even basic research could have helped POS Solutions avoid making such a damaging and false statement. For sales there are tight controls on the release of the vouchers. It is a considered process with excellent business rules. Also, there is the opportunity to produce vouchers for non customers. We will not go into that as it would divulge too much information the the folks at POS Solutions who appear obsessed with us.

POS finishes their post with an example:

I remember one client of mine that ran for a while a Discount Voucher system, told me that a customer came in and took two magazines. He then purchased one and promptly used the discount voucher to buy the other one. What he felt was that Discount Vouchers produced no incremental sales lift but caused a cannibalisation of his existing revenue by selling at a discount, product that would have been bought anyway. This was the first sign, I had that something was not right.

Our Discount Vouchers setup following our rules would not have issued a voucher in this situation.

We are curious as to why POS Solutions is so interested in our discount vouchers facilities. When we launched them they said they had the same facility. While they may (or may not) have something called discount vouchers, only Tower Systems has the Tower Discount Voucher facilities.

We note that our discount vouchers are in wide use in pet shops, garden centres, bike retailers, newsagents, gift shops and other retailers.

This post is about us being on the public record abut the matters POS has raised.

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POS Solutions makes inaccurate claims about discount vouchers

Not all discount voucher facilities in POS software programs are the same it would seem. The experience we have in our own retail shops and the experiences we hear about from our customers are different to what others report with whether call discount vouchers in their software.

POS Solutions, a competitor of Tower Systems in the newsagency space has made claims about loyalty and discount vouchers which we challenge here in the interests of accuracy and robust competition.

At their company blog, POS Solutions publishes this:

Firstly i actually do not like discount vouchers as they are an incredibly costly programs, see here for numbers.

They link to an article of theirs from a year ago where they use a report from our software to claim that discount vouchers are expensive. There is no evidence in the Tower report or elsewhere to support their claim.

Our experience in our own retail businesses and the experiences reported to us others using our discount vouchers facilities is that they are not costly. We say POS Solutions makes the claim in a marketing effort to divert attention from a successful loyalty program.

It is important to note that the Tower Systems discount vouchers approach is sophisticated and exclusive to us. The calculations in our software are secured and encrypted. While we have no copyright over the term discount vouchers, we do have copyright protection over our code and protect this with care for us and our softwares.

The POS Solutions website and blog publishes this statement:

Additionally what type of a person will you be attracting, those that like perpetual discounts. I have seen a report that people whose first purchase is induced by a price reduction are 50% less likely to want to make a second purchase. This I can believe as what your discount is doing is attracting consumers hunting for a bargain, this is scarcely prone to instil shop commitment.

The evidence is that discount vouchers attract a valuable shopper delivering bonus margin dollars at the high GPO end of the range offered in the business.

They refer to a report but no link – leaving the reader to question the source of the report.

POS also publishes this about discount vouchers:

Also it has no chance of reaching those people that do not buy in your store in the first place. If they have never ever purchased something in your store, just how will you provide them with a voucher?

This statement demonstrates that POS Solutions has not researched the marketing opportunities in the Tower Systems discount vouchers facilities.

POS has previously stated that it offers discount vouchers. This was published around the time we released our facilities. In recent times they have taken to criticising discount vouchers. In the meantime, our discount voucher offering delivers for newsagents using them commercial benefits which we say provide them a terrific commercial advantage.

In the Tower software there are several loyalty options which can be used separately or together. Our discount vouchers facilities are unique to our software. They are a key factor in driving double digit sales growth and double digit gross profit growth. 

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POS software helps family businesses nurture and share intellectual property

The Tower Systems Point of Sale software helps business owners encode and share information about how the business operates. recording intellectual property about the operation of a business and making it accessible to those working in the business makes it easier for family members to grow into the business and stay close to how the family has done business over the years.

Family businesses are different to non-family businesses. They are often run on a different basis and with different goals. Having software that enables to recording of business rules and processes makes it easier for these businesses to track and manage how things are done and thereby to continue family traditions if important to the business.

The Tower software offers a range of mechanisms through which business processes are recorded – guiding those coming into roles and needing to follow tradition.

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When a competitor promotes your business

A competitor in one of our specialist retail marketplaces recently used a photo from from one of our own retail businesses where our own software is used on the landing page of their website. It took some prodding but they eventually removed the image – as they should have as it was suggesting they offered something they did not.

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Nero fiddles while Rome burns

While we have announced our PayPal integration and started active in-store testing of an innovative link developed in partnership since last year with PayPal, a competitor has published material to suggest they are working on this too.  We urge retailers to ask to see the technology running and to see evidence of any claim of working with PayPal. We can demonstrate the integration and prove the long-term active engagement with PayPal.

Anyone can make an announcement. It takes leadership to deliver on the announcement with a useable product.

Footnote: what is hilarious is when the competitor published their post about Paypal they linked to a video that showed Paypal being used by other software – not theirs. If they had what they vaguely infer they have they would have shown a video of their software.

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Tower Systems welcomes ACCC focus on drip pricing

Rod Sims, the Chairman of the ACCC, this week laid out in a speech to the CEDA conference the priorities for the organisation for 2014. Included in the priorities is attention on drip pricing:

Drip pricing involves the incremental disclosure of fees and charges over an online booking process. It causes both competition and consumer detriment.

Consumers see a ‘headline’ price advertised at the beginning of the booking process but when they progress to the payment phase, additional fees and charges have been added. Consumers purchasing airfares or sporting event tickets are all too familiar with this practice. Drip pricing involves a lack of transparency which may mislead consumers, and it can also make it difficult for businesses to compete on a level playing field.

Drip pricing can also exist where a customer signs up for a product expecting the price to be X and subsequently, once using the product, that the price is Y. Y pricing could be a mandatory annual fee that was not adequately disclosed in the initial sale process and that is not clearly documented in any contract.

We see this in the POS software space – where customers find that the cost of ownership of software is much higher than as represented in the sales process.

We will watch with interest engagement by the ACCC on this.

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Catching a competitor spying on our POS software company

We have evidence of a competitor seeking to download confidential company information from our server on several occasions. This has prompted another review of our security arrangements. While it’s flattering the amount of time the competitor obsesses and has obsessed in the past about us, we want to make it harder for them to copy our innovation.

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Tower Systems website and phone system attacked

Last week, our VIOP phone network and our website were attacked in two separate and sustained attacks. The Optus fraud team has got to the bottom of the phone hack and in working with them and our in-house technical specialist we have increased fortification to stop this type of attack in the future.

Our VOIP network covers several Australian states as well as New Zealand.  While the attack did not impact inbound services, we had challenges making overseas calls and so switched to mobile use to maintain support coverage.

The website attacks are on-going as those perpetrating them are on the move. Our external hosting provider is working with us to mitigate the situation. The worst case scenario is short-term outage for our website. Thankfully, redundancy provisions mean outage is minimised.

It is frustrating having to spend time and money protecting your business from those externally who are seeking to disrupt you.

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Retail business POS software support fee rip off

We have been given a copy of a support invoice from a competitor which software that software support coverage is labelled as compulsory registration. The invoice indicates that if this is not paid, access to electronic invoices will be cut off. Since this is an important time-saving facility for retailers some will feel economically pressured to pay the ‘registration’ fee to keep getting the time-saving electronic invoices.

Our view is that once someone has paid for the software, paying for software support should be optional. This is how it has been always at Tower Systems and how it will continue. We want our customers paying support because they like what we do and not because of a threat of economic and operational hardship.

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Retailers should check the claims made by POS software companies

We encountered a situation recently where a retailer said they were leaning toward a competitor because they were bigger than us. This competitor claims to have 50 employees, more than us.

Anyone can make a claim in a sales situation. We encourage retailers to respond to any claim with prove it. In this case, we’d say to the sales prospect – ask this other software company to prove they have 50 employees. We know they can’t.  They have fewer employees – not that employee team size matters.

The truth is what matters in any sales situation, especially in a Point of sale software sales situation since it’s a relationship for the long term. Make a good decision and your business will prosperfor years. make a bad decision and you could experience significant costs for years bundled with plenty of regret.

The best decisions are those based on the truth. Chase the truth more than a feel good experience as any good sales person can make you feel good for as long as it takes to get your order.

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