Tower Systems has a commitment to helping small business retailers using its POS software to clean up stock files, reduce inventory records and through this to focus on the dataset vital to the future of the business.
This work is part of our customer service commitment. It is included in our Tower AdvantageTM package of services.
Over time, stock files can become bloated with products once sold and no longer stocked. Stick files can also contain details of items provided by a supplier with a stock file, items never sold in the business.
The Tower Systems free assistance process cleans and washes the stock files, ensuring current and accurate data is maintained, removing the trash.
The result is good for small business retailers as it helps focus their attention on what matters to their business.
This is another free service from Tower Systems.
FYI it is on our mind this Monday morning because we have already helped one customer today with a stock file clean up.
We all look forward to dog day at the office as it makes for heaps of fun and lots of warm feelings. We are sure our customers sense that dogs are in the house and helping us enjoy our days even more. This is our tip for today. Welcome pets into your shop for a fun day.
Some from the leadership group of Tower Systems are at the Shoptalk 2016 conference in Las Vegas this week. Shoptalk is a leading-edge conference bringing together 3,000+ retail and technology professionals to explore the future.
Our participation here for the four agenda-filled days is with particular focus on our constituency of small and independent retailers and how tech is evolving in service of their growth.
The event is halfway through and already there are valuable learnings and future-beneficial connections as we focus on continuing to deliver best-practice POS software to our 3,500+ customers.
The photo is from the presentation by Steven Lowy of Westfield – as fascinating insight into their extraordinary innovation.
The Tower Systems POS software xero cloud based accounting link is ideal for small business retailers keen to cut accounting fees – and who doesn’t want to cut accounting fees.
We use the xero cloud based accounting link ourselves in our own retail businesses so we live the benefits every day and can speak to ease of use, ease of setup and the value of strong results for the business from immediate access to up to date accounting data.
Developed to the exacting requirements of Xero cloud based accounting and established on the Xero cloud based accounting website as an approved partner, the Tower Systems POS software Xero cloud based accounting link makes it easy to feed sales data and other data direct from the POS software to xero cloud based accounting for a small business.
Setup is easy.
Use is seamless, in the background.
We have our own cloud based server as the bridge between our software and xero.
Data is accurate.
Speed is brilliant.
Reporting results are valuable.
This is a link small business retailers keen save time and money on external accounting will love. The link saves accounting fees by doing some work your accountant or bookkeeper might otherwise be doing for you. The link from within our POS software feeds data to xero seamlessly and in the background. No keystrokes required. Yes, real time is saved here.
We have accountants who have recommended us to their customers because of the xero link, accountants who themselves wholeheartedly endorse xero. We are grateful for these opportunities.
Xero as a company does not automatically bring on all software companies that connect to them. We are aware of they rejecting at least one POS software company. So, we are thrilled to be a partner and appreciate their engagement with us and their listing of us as a partner on their website.
What we are doing here with the xero link is another part of what we dub the Tower AdvantageTM, yes something we have trademarked because it is unique to us. Indeed, something so unique in our specialty retail channels and niches that we have protected it with a trademark.
While Australian politicians whip themselves into a frenzy during the eight week long election campaign, Tower Systems continues to deliver genuine time-saving Point of Sale software on which small business retailers can rely to save time and cut red tape in their businesses.
Using the Tower POS software, small business independent retailers are able to save time on everyday transactions in their businesses. This time saving is thanks to red-tape cutting facilities in the software, facilities designed to streamline processing, eliminate paperwork, reduce double handling and provide a smoother customer experience in store.
Whereas politicians talk about cutting red tape, here are Tower Systems we are delivering red tape reductions for small business retailers. The time savings delivered cover plenty of areas in small business retail including these.
In each of these areas and more we focus attention on cutting keystrokes, reducing mistake opportunities and processing faster to save time for the business and its customers. What we help our customers save results in tangible benefits for each engaged business. This is a bottom line benefit.
Our savings come from careful analysis of workflow in the business, watching how people use the software and how they engage on both sides of the counter. The result is efficiency, real efficiency and not just the type of promise you get from politicians who talk and do not act.
On a table top function by function comparison, we are proud of how our software compares, of the benefits and efficiencies we deliver in the area of streamlined processing. The differences, time saved, mistakes eliminated and streamlined operation all mean a red tape busting benefit delivered by Tower Systems. This is what we dub the Tower AdvantageTM, yes something we have trademarked because it is unique to us. Indeed, something so unique that we have protected it with a trademark.
So when you hear politicians speak about cutting red tape, think about Tower Systems and the real difference it makes for small business retailers when it comes to cutting red tape for real. We are proud of what we do for our retail partners.
The retiree (or seniors) marketplace can be lucrative for a retail store. They tend to be loyal and engaged in word of mouth marketing about good retail experiences. They can also be flexible about when they shop and this is where a retail business can really leverage the opportunity.
Before you can market any retiree service or benefit you need to develop a plan for handling the opportunity. What products will be offered and at what special prices? The most common approach is to offer a flat discount to retirees, or seniors as they are called in some marketplaces. This discount is usually between 5% and 10%.
Price is important to the seniors marketplace since they either have a fixed income or are living off finite savings. They like businesses which help them save money.
You will also need to decide when the discount or other offer is available. Some businesses make the offer available only on certain days, usually the quietest days of the week. Others offer access to the benefits all the time. Think carefully about the needs of the business before deciding when you will provide access to the benefits – focus on the business outcome you want to achieve.
In terms of accessing the benefit, it is common and fair to ask for some form of proof of eligibility. This could be in the form of a drivers license or a seniors card as is available in some locations. This is a card usually issues by local government. Sometimes, it is issued by residences.
An alternative is to create your own retiree / seniors card for use in promoting the business. These should be professionally designed and produced. Ensure that such a card is respectful and something these customers would proudly carry. Design the card so that it promotes the benefits you offer – so that it is an extension of your marketing program.
Whatever method you use to identify your retiree customers, it has to be simple to use at the counter for processing the appropriate discount.
To market a business to retirees consider these options:
The value of the retiree market to your retail store will depend on the value of the offer available to them and how widely you promote this. While some retailers see retirees as a chore others see a business opportunity.
Now, businesses of all sizes use points based programs to try and drive shopper loyalty.
Our view is points based programs are out of date and no longer competitive. Shopper behaviour has changed. Often you see people once and have one shot to drive the most valuable relationship for you. These on-shot customers don’t want to sign up for something or carry a card they will never use. However, they can be guided to spend more with you.
While we offer points based loyalty facilities in our POS software, we offer alternatives some of our customers are finding far more effective:
These three loyalty options as well as connections to external loyalty facilities provide our small business retail customers with options.
Better still, our loyalty facilities continue to evolve. We develop enhancements based on customer requests as well as based on what we see in retail overseas.
We also offer hybrid solutions where people mix our loyalty facilities. For example, we have customers offering discount vouchers and points where regular customers are treated differently to those making a one-off visit to the store.
We’d love to meet and talk about needs in your retail business, to see if our loyalty software and other POS software facilities can help.
We are an Australian software company selling software to selected retail niches like yours.
Please talk with one of our retail experts:
Footnote: the photo is from a shop I visited in Hong Kong two weeks ago. Homeless is a fascinating mix of pop culture, homewares, gifts and quirkiness. I was in Hong Kong for the Gift Fair and to meet with innovative retailers.
The biggest challenges of any retail business are to get shoppers spending more in a visit and returning sooner than might usually be the case. In this article by Tower CEO Mark Fetcher, we explore a simple yet effective tool.
All retailers, want shoppers to spend more in each visit and to come back more often.
Yet most retailers are uncomfortable overtly engaging with shoppers to get spend more in a visit or come back sooner.
Years ago, the thought was that a shopper VIP card or points based loyalty program was the way to go. Today, with such programs commonplace, their value is diluted.
There is talk among shoppers of loyalty fatigue – they are doubting the value of cards and programs where real rewards are not what was first offered.
Change the game: front-end loyalty
Instead of making shoppers accrue points that are then converted for cash at some future stage, why not offer cash-based rewards earlier, from the first purchase?
This approach is called front-ending loyalty. It brings a reward to the front in an effort to engage shoppers in additional purchases sooner.
It’s an approach that can encourage those who do not shop with you to purchase something else right away, to get the value of the cash discount offered.
Regular shoppers can spend the cash discount right away or come back within any time limit you set.
I started trialling this front-end loyalty strategy in February 2013 in several retail businesses. I did it using the Discount Vouchers facilities in the Tower POS software.
Building the basket
From the first day, in my own shop, I saw shoppers changing behaviour.
One customer came in to purchase a specific item. When I handed him the receipt I point out the voucher offering $2.00 of his next purchase. He was not a regular and so spent the $2.00, and more, right away on another item. He received another voucher and so purchased a third item. In all, he spent three times as much as the original purchase – all because of the Discount Vouchers he received.
Around 33% of all vouchers redeemed are used the day they are received. This shows customers building the basket – adding to their purchase that day as a result of the voucher. This makes each visit more valuable to us.
Bringing shoppers back
33% of redeemed vouchers are used within seven days and the remaining 33% are redeemed up to four weeks after issue, bringing shoppers back.
There is real evidence now from hundreds of retailers supporting these claims.
Here’s another real story: A few months ago, a customer came in and used a voucher she had picked up a couple of weeks earlier. She was happy to get $5.00 off a $65.00 item she wanted. This purchase resulted in another voucher so she bought another item for $29.95.
This customer said her friends had been recently talking about VIP cards and how they were useless. She then told them about us.
Changing how shoppers interact.
In another instance a customer was considering a $250.00 item but decided they could not justify the expense. They purchased some smaller items, spending $25.00.
On receiving a $5.00 voucher they turned around, immediately, and bought the $250.00 item.
We asked what happened. The answer was I don’t know. I needed permission I guess and the $5.00 did it.
This is a true story and there are many more like it in hundreds of retail businesses.
The key about discount vouchers is they change shopper behaviour, usually immediately and valuable for the business.
Indeed, discount vouchers are a game changer for many retail businesses, large an small, city and country.
We love hearing the stories of success from your customers.
You control the business rules
Like any good loyalty program, you need good levers with which to drive shopper engagement and to deliver the benefits to justify the investment.
The Discount Vouchers facilities have this.
You control the amount of each sale you are prepared to give away on the voucher.
You control the products the voucher can be used for.
You control how long the voucher is live for. I suggest 28 days but I have some retailers setting this at 90 days.
Helping your business
With most retail businesses running a loyalty program using a points based approach and only targeting long-term customers, adoption of this front-end loyalty approach can provide you with a genuine point of difference.
It is easily managed through the Tower Systems software and is backed by excellent management reports. This makes implementation and management easier than the old approach.
I’m confident this fresh approach to loyalty is a game changer for any retail business. The control you have enables you to easily manage the cost and the value you gain from the program.
This really is a new approach to bringing shoppers back sooner and getting them to spend more with you.
IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: Beware of those who claim year on year growth or numbers of people in their loyalty program. What is needed is analysis of a series of metrics on a same store basis year on year, metrics that assess carefully what is in the sample basket. For example, including lottery products in a purchase value basket does not make sense – it creates a false result of little value.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about how your business can compete a fresh approach to loyalty, talk with an expert at Tower Systems. They can share more stories. NSW/ACT/QLD: Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148; SA/WA/NT: Tim Batt 0401 833 917; VIC/TAS: Mike Hill 0423 848 482.
The Retailer Visual Deck released by Tower Systems to its small business retailer customers earlier this year is receiving kudos from retailers when they see it for the first time. Retailers used to old school reports love the visual look and feel of the data, they love the beauty expressed in the data because they can quickly grasp what is being shown.
Cloud based, this new business intelligence platform is available on a month to month or annual basis. Called the Visual Deck, It is visual because, well, your business data is presented in a visual way. It is a deck because it is a platform off of which you can see far and wide.
The Visual Deck can be accessed from any internet connected device, this platform provides you with a fresh view of your business performance data. Visually reporting on revenue, gross profit, transaction count, items per sale, units sold, average transaction value, by month, week, day and day of week – easily allowing you to compare trading periods.
Here is advice you can use to ensure computers in your retail business are used for their intended purpose:
Retailers want, need, year on year revenue growth. Here is a story of how one small business independent retailer followed our advice, used the smart loyalty facilities in our software and for one product category increased revenue by 114%. Elsewhere in the business benefits flowed too, rich benefits, bottom line benefits.
For within our POS software is a suite of smart loyalty tools that ensure you get shoppers spending more each visit. That is what this retailer has achieved. In this one department of plush items, they achieved $9,459.14 (ex GST) in revenue in April. That is up 114% on April 2015. Here is one line from the management report comparing April 2016 with April 2015. But beyond this one line, across four pages, this business is reporting excellent year on year growth – on good GP items, not low margin agency lines … and it is doing it on the back of smart loyalty facilities that are unique to the Tower Systems software.
This is what matters in a small and independent retail business, good year on year growth for high margin product. This unit sales and revenue year on year comparison is vital as it is the truth of this retail business, raw data on which they can rely to measure success and guide next steps.
Our role, beyond providing excellent POS software, is to provide training and support for small business retailers to help them get the best possible value from the software and to understand the data on which we report.
We stay close.
Not only do we offer easy communication via email, online, by voice and face to face, we have a snail mail newsletter that offers tips and advice – delivered the old fashioned way so the information can be shared with all users of the software in the business.
The image shows one of the pages of our May newsletter put i the mail this week.
Communicating with customers by mail demonstrates our care of service for those not keen for electronic communications.
Business birthdays are important – for you and for your customers, especially in a locally owned small retail business.
Embrace the opportunity of your business birthday for a celebration. But be sure to not make it all about making more money. Take time to embrace the achievement and love it.
Here are practical tips for celebrating the birthday of your business:
A key aspect of these ideas is to remind people that your business is stable, can be trusted, is locally connected and knows how to have fun.
Change is the order of the day for retail as it has been since the first shops opened. What is different in 2016 is that the pace of change has picked up. Indeed, the pace of change today is greater than at any time in the past. Technology is playing a key role in that: online and offline technology is facilitating, pushing and even forcing change.
Staying up to date is a challenge, especially in small and independent retailer businesses where having the time and resources to stay open can be difficult.
Tower Systems tries to insulate its customers from some of the challenges of change by leveraging changes in the software without needing to change hardware infrastructure.
In software updates we bring to the businesses of our customers tools and resources they can use to be more competitive. Tools and facilities through which they can enhance the relevance of their businesses in a changing retail landscape.
We think and work strategically on such technical changes, always thinking about what we can do to help our customers drive their relevance for we know if you customers feel more relevant and are more successful as a result of our software then a need of our business plan is satisfied.
What we do is more than about the software though. Enhancing our POS software is only part of what we do. The even more important aspect of helping our small business retailers compete is how we communicate with them about the enhancements. Our live training workshops, regional user meetings, training videos, advice sheets, personal training and other touch points help our customers learn about and embrace opportunities for change in their retail businesses through what we deliver in our POS software.
In our latest work we have helped retailers redefine the over the counter sales experience, leveraging important touch points, driving value from shopper engagement. For retailers, changes like these are money in the bank.
Our work directly linking with Magento, Shopify, Xero and other respected and widely used platforms is an example of us delivering on our commitment to help our small business retail community to embrace change and leverage change for their commercial success.
Tower Systems offers help, advice and assistance beyond traditional POS software support and has done for many years.
Our small business retail management advice is fresh and developed from our own hands-on retail experiences and from suggestions from our helpful customers. Each article of advice is jargon-free and accompanied by how-to steps and practice advice any retailer in any situation can read and use.
Here are topics we have published advice for our customers on in recent months.
This is a small sample of the advice from us and available to our POS software customers through our searchable and accessible from anywhere Knowledge Base.
Memorable customer service is the most important point of difference a retail business can have, especially a business which does not make what it sells and therefore could have its products being sold by any other business apple to reach the same pool of shoppers.
We call it memorable customer service because it truly has to be that … memorable. So memorable that it is praised by your customers to others.
Good customer service should be the norm, the lowest hurdle any retail business can jump. Memorable customer service, the level of customer service that makes a shopper talk about the experience to their friends, must be the goal and it is the word of mouth from these customers that is a factor in driving traffic growth.
Memorable customer service is just as vital to Point of Sale software companies as it is for retail businesses. Since we own retail businesses as well as our POS software company we see it, live it and reach for it from both sides.
This is why we work hard to encode the ability to focus on customer service in our Point of Sale software. That’s right, retailers using our software have touch points they can leverage using software which help deliver the kind of memorable customer service we are talking about here.
Memorable customer service in retail, just as in a software company, is experiences which exceed expectations, it delivers benefits outside of what you expect even from a good business. In our IT company we compete with big IT companies and small, like us, IT companies. While we want our software to be the point of difference customers notice and talk about positively, it is our customer service which is loved and mentioned to colleagues more. Realising this was an epiphany for us.
We focus on building stronger, better and more valuable software. But we also surround this, completely, with customer service experiences which are the very best of the best. This gives us, and our customers, the best of both worlds. And we love it ourselves.
Given that most retailers do not have products unique to their businesses, delivering memorable customer service is critical to the business plan. Small and independent retailers can do this more easily and effectively than big retailers. From the genuine smile to shoppers to product knowledge to that extra information which helps a shopper get more out of the product purchased than they would have had the purchased the product elsewhere. This added value is the key and it can be delivered in almost any situation and with any product from a stapler through to a high-end road bike.
So, beyond our software and as part of our customer service focus, we seek out opportunities to help our customers deliver memorable customer service. Indeed, this was one topic we covered in the recent face-to-face user meetings we ran in capital cities and major regional centres around Australia.
As a Point of Sale software company, our mission is to deliver constantly improving retail management software backed with memorable customer service and going beyond this with business insights and assistance which helps our retailers themselves deliver exceptional and memorable experiences to their customers.
Retailers using the Tower Systems POS software can easily handle package or bundled offers, like the JB Hi Fi 3 for $10 offer they are running for greeting cards.
Using our smart small business POS software, retailers can run bundled deals like we see in JB Hi Fi with ease. Small and independent retailers can match the retail giant simply and easily. This is important as offers like this make price comparisons difficult.
In addition to bundled offers like this, the Tower software also handled multi buys where shoppers can purchase over time, reaching an award point where they get free product.
These facilities are in addition to myriad other discounting options including catalogues, loyalty facilities, discount vouchers and more.
All of these tools help small business retailers to be competitive in their offers, competitive against other local businesses, competitive against online and competitive against big businesses, like JB Hi Fi.
The beauty of offers like the JB Hi Fi offer is shoppers are drawn to the deal of Three cards for $10 and often times purchase one card at a higher margin for the retailer. Our software handles this, kicking in the Three for $10 pricing offer only when the shopper purchases the three cards. This counter management based on volume is easy and automatic – delivering good outcomes for the retailers and ensuing maximum margin.
As overseas online businesses compete with local retailers for sales of almost anything, so too do overseas based POS software companies compete with Australian software companies.
Here at Tower Systems, we understand local. We understand our local retail business customers. we understand their shoppers. We understand what being local is all about and why it matters to our customers and the communities in which they serve.
This is what being local is really about, it is about being knowledgable of and engaged with your local community.
Through our POS software and through our customer service we live and breathe the local message. Our actions speak for us through locally focussed software changes and how we serve and connect with our customers.
here is a short video explaining our local pitch. This video serves multiple purposes: it speaks to our in-house video production facilities, it has our owner speaking up for us and what we stand for, it shows our commitment to plain speaking anyone can understand and it speaks to our professionalism that you can trust.
This is the Tower Advantage, our Tower Advantage, offered to you.
Security is important in any business but especially in a small independent retail business. Here is a list of actions we recommend you consider to ensure your business is secure.
Now, more than ever, retail businesses are not bound by strict borders in terms of what they sell. You only have to look at what pharmacies sell today compared to ten years ago to realise the value of change.
But this type of change, retailers trading outside what is usual for their type of business, is common. There are successful coffee shops today that started out as a customer service experience in vehicle repair shops, fashion outlets and more.
What is it you could sell in your business that does not fit neatly into what is usual for your type of retail business?
In our work in a range of specialty retail channels we see successes where retailers play outside what is usual for their type of business, where they ignore the borders of tradition.
Doing this successfully starts with looking at the type of customers you currently attract and considering this with the capacity of the business to offer other products and services within the space and capital restraints of the business.
A good place to start is to analyse basket data in your software and, through this, to build up a better understanding of what people purchase. Using departments, categories and tags, you can build an understanding beyond what you recall from serving customers.
Use your data to explore possibilities beyond what you sell today.
Data analysis shop could uncover a niche interest among customers that could be served by the business carrying something you may not usually see in a your type shop.
We see this activity as important. If you rely on traffic that is usual for your type of business your results will most likely be usual for your type of business. Whereas if you attract traffic beyond what is usual, your results ought to be beyond what is usual.
Retail today is more borderless than ever. While it is important your business can be easily understood, you can do this and reach beyond what is traditional with careful management and attention.
The cloud backup service offered by Tower Systems to its small business retailer customers is best practice, offering the ultimate in protection for our customers.
The features of the service include:
While there are free cloud based backup services, when it comes to protecting your business data a free service is most likely not the best.
Your business data needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.
A backup of business data is only any good if it can be restored. For decades, Tower Systems has offered a free backup check. Our customers are welcome to post us a backup. We will restore this and check that the backup is current. This provides a real peace of mind that is better than any other approach.
Any of our customers is welcome to use this free service.