Disaster planning: advice to help small business retailers trade manually

While we never want it to happen and know it is extremely rare, we regularly remind our POS software customers they ought to be prepared to trade manually should they not have access to their POS software for some reason. Here is our advice, which has not changed in many years.

If you lose power, have a major hardware failure or have some other unexpected problem, your computer system on which you rely to record sales may not be available for some time. Here is our advice on how to handle such a situation:

  1. Track all sales. Write down the barcode of every item you sell and the price. When you are back up and running, enter these in. This maintains an accurate stock on hand count. When you are back online, enter the barcodes, ring up the sales.

Yes, that is it. Very simple. Also, very easy to not do and thereby compromise your business data.

To prepare you for this, do the following:

  1. Create a ruled sheet to use. Two columns: barcode, price.
  2. Copy the sheet a few times and setup on a clipboard. With a clipboard made up for each register you have.
  3. Tie a pen to each clipboard.
  4. Place the clipboards in an easily accessible space.
  5. Take out the clipboards and place next to each register in the event of your system being down and you needing to transact.
  6. You are good to go.

Recording sales on scraps of paper is not good business management. It invites error and fraud.

While no one wants your computer system to be down, being prepared for this is important business planning.

Footnote: knowing a competitor as we do, they are likely to point to this post as us identifying a weakness in our software. This would be untrue. This advice is an example of our POS software company providing whole of business advice for any contingency. It is what we do and for which we are appreciated.

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Small business advice: A checklist for those buying a retail shop

A common question we are asked at our POS software company has nothing to do with software. It is from people considering purchasing a retail business. The question is:  what should I ask for when looking at buying a retail shop?

The question itself, when asked, indicates how green a prospective purchaser is when it comes to purchasing a business.

Here is a list of data points we suggest retail business purchasers access from the vendor or their representative:

  1. P&L from the accountant for the last two years. i.e. not a spreadsheet created for the purpose.
  2. A good explanation of any add-backs.
  3. Sales data reports, for the last two years, from the POS software in use – to verify the income claim.
  4. Sales data reports from the lottery terminal to verify the income claim.
  5. BAS forms to confirm data in the P&L.
  6. A list of all inventory to include purchase price and date last sold for each item.
  7. A copy of the shop lease.
  8. A copy of any leases the vendor expects you to take on board.
  9. A list of all employees: name, hourly rate, nature of employment, start date, accrued leave.

This is good basic information that will enable any purchaser to undertake reasonable assessment of a business.

A good business will shine through the numbers just as a business with upside achievable by new owners will shine through.

My advice to vendors looking to sell who are concerned about this list is: think about it now and focus on your business so the data listed looks good.

Every day you make decisions in your business that impact many of the data points listed.

This is why we say every day is your pay day. Run a smart, lean and profit focused business and you will have a good pay day today and a good one when you come to sell.

The most appealing businesses are those that are easier to run and are making money.

The time to focus on that is now.

Sure, a purchaser can turn a business around. They should get the rewards if they are expected to do that for your business.

The price you can sell your business for will be based on what it is making now.

Getting the data ready for the sale of the business could, of itself, help you improve how you run your business.

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THE TOWER SYSTEMS POS SOFTWARE SHOPIFY LINK

The direct link between our POS software and the Shopify e-commerce solution is valuable for small business retailers keen for a beautiful and easy to operate online business platform. Here is all you need to know on what we have delivered – note, delivered, yes this is live and available now.

The Retailer to Shopify Link uses the cloud-based best-practice Tower Advantage Link platform to connect or link Retailer directly to Shopify. The Tower Advantage Link platform is a subscription-based service that acts as an intermediary between Retailer and the Shopify API.

The link works by using the Shopify API allowing the TALink platform to connect to Shopify and synchronising on a periodic interval or request basis. Below is a outline of what is transferred.

Retailer becomes your master stock database. You flag what stock items you want to appear on your web store. Descriptions and extended descriptions are added as your product names and descriptions in Shopify.

Your Retailer Departments and Categories become Categories and Sub-Categories in Shopify. If you choose to link these, 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 Categories manually to products once they are added. Only Departments and Categories that have flaggged as websotre items are added to Shopify.

Retailers Classifications are treated as Attributes in Shopify. If you choose to link these in Shopify your existing Classifications will be mirrored and managed in Shopify automatically. If, however, you do not want this to occur you can manually manage your own Shopify Attributes.

You have control over your webstore pricing from within the Retailer Stock Screen. Bulk updates of the webstore price can be performed in Stock Manager. Once new prices are set, your web store is updated automatically. Quantity of 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.

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

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.

These are downloaded into Retailer. These are imported into our Customer Invoice Maintenance facility allowing you to place orders and print invoices. Once sales are imported it reduces your quantity on hand so you maintain accurate stock control. Sales can be allocated to a specific location or merged added to you main sales data, giving you excellent control over how you report on your webstore sales.

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FREE STOCKTAKING TRAINING FOR POS SOFTWARE USERS

Our end of financial year stocktake training for our small business retail customers is proving to be popular. Even the additional events we are hoping are filling up.

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These live training workshops are supplemented with our one on one free training for individual situations as well as training through our training videos plus our training through advice sheets accessible from our online self-serve knowledge base.

We are grateful to our customers for supporting the free training opportunities. Our experience is that participating in the free training helps people get more from their POS software and makes them less reliant on our help desk for assistance.

Our free EOFY stocktake training covers all a retailer needs to know to prepare for and undertake an end of financial year stocktake.

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CLOUD OUTAGE REINFORCES THE CARE NEEDED IN POS SOFTWARE CLOUD CONSIDERATION

The outage of the Amazon cloud services caused by storms in Sydney recently serves as a reminder of the approach a business takes to moving its IT infrastructure to the cloud. This is especially true for small business retailers where IT investment tends to be in one solution or path rather than multiple paths for redundancy.

The Amazon outage knocked out access to software facilities and data for many businesses according to the news reports. Those unprepared for such an eventuality could only wait for access to be reestablished. This came at a cost to business not only from lost revenue but also from lost productivity for employees located elsewhere, far away from the storms, where the roles of employees entirely depend on access to software and data in the cloud.

The level of protection for a business against the eventuality of the storms in Sydney is up to the business. It is a function of the amount of money they might spend protecting their software and data, providing multiple paths to their software and data. This is what we mean by redundancy. Redundancy is expensive as it is effectively duplication of assets.

The questions for small business retailers is how much are you prepared to spend on such protection? As you spend more, the coast effectiveness of a cloud based solution can become prohibitive compared to the alternative.

Here at Tower Systems we offer the best of both worlds, cloud and non-cloud, from which our retailer partners can choose.

  1. Our customers and run a local desktop solution where they are in full control.
  2. They could also run a local solution with elements of clad based benefits.
  3. They could also run 100% in the cloud, fully hosted and fully shielded from managing the computer and data management infrastructure.

As we are in control of the software and the infrastructure options, our customers can choose from these options or alternatives in between that may better suit their local business needs. This the ultimate flexibility as each business different, each business faces different challenges, is at different stages in the business lifecycle and has different levels of capital available for infrastructure.

Whether cloud is right for a business is a function of many factors. Our job as a software company is to offer the ultimate in flexibility through best practice software, technical hosting and access alternatives, timely support and options around migration paths as appropriate to the needs of the businesses.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT TIP: HOW TO CHOOSE LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS AND CHARITIES TO SUPPORT

Local small business retailers are asked to support local schools, community groups and charities on an almost daily basis. While community groups and charitable organisations beat a path to the doors of local businesses, so do individuals engaged on personal fundraising of their own for a cause or for an other individual.

It is tough making the call about which organisation to support or not for there is a real fear that declining will hurt the business. Often, small business retailers do not look for an uptick in business from a charity support decision but they do worry about a decline.

So how do you choose which local business you support?

Requests from schools, charities and other community for donations can be a challenge for any size business. If you do not take a structured approach to this you will find yourself giving away plenty for little or no return.

Requests are often loaded with guilt. People can be passive aggressive in their approach. Often, people requesting help leverage pester power. It can be hard to say no. There are too many stories of retailers giving a gift as a prize, receiving the Thank You poster and achieving no benefit for the business.

Our advice is to manage your philanthropy as you would any business activity.

THE PRIZE / GIFT

Decide the amount in cash or product value or both that you are prepared to donate in a full year, calendar year or financial year.

Our recommendation is you give away cash, but in the form of a voucher to spend in your business. This ensures that value of the gift or prize is greater than the cost of it to your business.

The best mechanism for giving away cash or an amount to spend in-store is to do it by way of a gift voucher. Use your software to manage this as any manual approach is dangerous and time-consuming.

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

Get on the front foot and write to local community groups outlining that you budget a year in advance. Seek their submissions. With this advice sheet we have included the text of a suggested letter. Please read the letter as it outlines the approach we suggest and why. It is important you communicate this with all community groups.

On the page after the letter is a suggested notice for use in-store when you are asked for donations.

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

Focus on community groups that support you. That is, groups with members who support you. The more they support you the better you are able to support the community.

Be prepared to ask where people shop for the items you sell in your business. Ask if they will change in return for your support.

Asking these questions underscores to you the importance of approaching the decision as a business decision.

Be thoughtful and deliberate. Support the groups that support you. This is important as it helps you stay within a budget.

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

If you run discount vouchers and if customers say they don’t want the voucher, invite them to contribute the voucher to a local group – one of three you setup for in the business. Every month, two months or three months, tote up the vouchers and give the group a parentage of the total voucher value ‘voted’ for them.

This idea could be in addition to any giving program you run in the business. It offers a daily reminder of your commitment to local giving.

Grill’d burgers run a program kind of like this where each shopper is given a bottle cap, which they place in a tub to vote on a group to receive a cash donation for the month. The process of groups submitting to be considered is onerous. You can find out more about that program with this link – it is a good place to research what others do: https://www.grilld.com.au/localmatters/

REWARD ENGAGEMENT

In addition to any direct gift, consider an offer whereby anyone who is a member of the group who shops with you accrues an amount you donate to the group. You could manage this through your software. It could be you offer a discount to the shopper as well as accruing a value for the group.

This type of program could also be in addition to your core giving program as the value here is driven by sales – hopefully, incremental sales.

EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT

Here are things groups you support can do to help your business. You should ask them to do these things:

  1. Tell members to buy from you.
  2. Write about your business on their Facebook page.
  3. Distribute flyers of your offers.
  4. Have you speak at a meeting.

WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT

Once you have a decision on which groups you will support, write about this in your newsletter and on Facebook. Not just once but multiple times. Invite them to provide you with content to publish too. Talk about their good works.

Ask them to write about you too.

Your giving has to serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.

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FREE POS SOFTWARE TRAINING FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

We are proud to offer this free POS software training as part of our weekly free training for small business retailers. For years we have delivered training like this and more, helping our customers to leverage their software investment.

  1. Getting Ready for EOFY. Date: Wednesday 15th June. Time: 2:00PM. Description: Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1230
  2. Stocktaking for EOFY. Date: Thursday 16th June . Time: 2:00PM. Description: Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1231
  3. Increase Sales Now! Start using Discount Vouchers.. Date: Tuesday 21st June. Time: 2:00PM. Description: Start using Discount Vouchers to grow your business. A great introduction to this great feature. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1232
  4. Getting Ready for EOFY. Date: Wednesday 22nd June. Time: 2:00PM. Description: Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1233
  5. Stocktaking for EOFY. Date: Wednesday 29th June. Time: 2:00PM. Description: Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1234
  6. Getting Ready for EOFY. Date: Thursday 30th June .Time: 2:00PM. Description: Get ready for End of Financial Year now. What you need to do and the reports you need to run. http://www.towersystems.com.au/free-training/book-free-training?id=1235
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HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS COMPETE WITH ONLINE

There is no doubt that every retail business, large and small, needs on online strategy. This is mission-critical to their success given the usage of online sites and tools in the shopping process, even the everyday shopping process.

Small business retailers can be part of this, they can connect with shoppers who are online and searching online by leveraging the valuable data in their in-store POS software into appropriate searchable and locatable online platforms.

The challenge is small business retailers often don;t know where to turn. Some engage a business consultant, others a web developer, others a friend with some geek-speak skills while others go it alone.

Given that successful online engagement starts with beautiful data, starting with a professional POS software company in your retail channel niche it most likely going to deliver the best outcome for your specific type of business.

The best way to do this is to partner with a POS software company with an established and successful online strategy. But this is more than a bit of tech speak and slick marketing, it has to be real, being used today and established with relationships with search engines and other valuable online platforms.

Small business retailers can grow their businesses with a smart online strategy.

Tower Systems has success in the online space, helping small business retailers to leverage local shoppers and shoppers interstate and even overseas. We do this work through several divisions in our company from desktop to web to marketing. Our approach is whole of business here and for our small business retail customers.

The outcomes we deliver are helping small business retailers to reap rewards they previously were not pursuing. In addition to the tech that makes this happen for small business retailers, we offer the business play, the why and how of business activity to help a small business retailer to find new customers, achieve net new revenue and build new connections in the wider world online.

Tower Systems has excellent success storing bring small business retailers to the engaged and exciting online marketplace locally and overseas. It is what we do everyday for our customers in a diverse mix of retail channels.

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WHY SMALL BUSINESSES MATTER TO AN ECONOMY – a view from our POS software company

We hear from politicians regularly that small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, that they are the single largest employer and that they matter in cities and towns across Australia.

Beyond Australia, politicians elsewhere make the same claims. They talk up small business as if them doing this helps the channel.

Sadly, most politicians only talk about small business when they want votes. Once in government, they do too little to support this most vital of economic sectors.

Here at Tower Systems, we only serve independent small businesses. Every one of our POS software clients is a small business owner. We prefer small businesses because we understand them, believe in their importance and provide a type of service tailored specifically to them.

Thinking about our commitment to small businesses recently we engaged in a discussion internally about why we think small businesses matter to the economy. This was interesting as the discussion showed that our belief and commitment go beyond the company position. Deep in the company we believe in small business.

Economically, small businesses make an extraordinary contribution to the economy. They pay a higher proportion of income as taxes than big businesses – because small business owners are less likely to engage in tax minimization or to send income offshore like we see from bug businesses.

Small businesses serve local communities with local employment, local community engagement and local infrastructure support.

Small businesses move quickly. There is less red tape, meaning small businesses can embrace opportunities faster and thereby deliver outcomes sooner than big businesses.

Small businesses are terrific labs for change. We have seen valuable changed in how things are done evolve from small business engagement.

Small businesses foster entrepreneurship. Economic growth comes, in part, from business start ups. Small businesses are excellent incubators for business start ups, keeping this part of the economy moving at a valuable pace.

These are just some of the reasons we came up with on why small businesses matter to any economy. We publish them today to reinforce our commitment and show that our support for the sector is based on firm beliefs and deeply help commitments.

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SUNDAY SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL ADVICE: MANAGING EMPLOYEES

We have helped many small business retailers confront their employee management challenges. Based on years of assistance and advice, we have developed some simple guidelines, which we share here today for others:

You hire, train, manage, motivate and, ultimately, fire your employees. Their performance is on you. Next time you go to complain, first ask: what could I have done as leader to avoid this?

SET EXPECTATIONS BY SHIFT.

Key to good management and leadership is good communication. In a retail situation, good communication starts with setting expectations.

People forget. This is why a checklist is helpful in guiding the tasks you want completed.

It is important to be specific in your delegation – setting tasks for specific people rather than listing generally what you want done.

It is also important to be transparent, so everyone working on any given day knows what is to be done that day. Consider posting the list on a noticeboard or have the sheets in a clipboard at the counter for all to see.

Do not list on here things to keep people busy as they will see through it and be half-hearted. List what is important to the business, tasks against which you will judge your team members.

The more consistent and structured your setting and communication of tasks for and to your team members the easier it is for them to follow your direction and for you to you to measure their performance.

Tips for a good employee task checklist.

  1. Be clear and concise. Ensure that your directions are understood.
  2. Where appropriate, explain why, why a task will benefit the business.
  3. Fairly allocate tasks across the people working on any given day.

On the following page is a checklist you can use as a template. It is in a format you can easily change to serve your needs.

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TOWER SYSTEMS HEADED TO XEROCON, XERO CONFERENCE

Tower Systems is proud to be headed to Brisbane to participate in Xerocon South 2016, the Xero event unites the network of Xero accounting, bookkeeping and ecosystem partners under one roof for a collaborative and transformative experience. Xerocon has a history of accelerating innovation within the industry and fuelling small business success.

Tower Systems will be showcasing our latest small business POS software and our live and direct POS software Xero integration. We will have software and sales experts on hand to show off our Xero capabilities to accountants and other attendees at what is expected to be a sold out event for the Xero community in Australia.

This is a major event and we are grateful to Xero for the opportunity to participate.

As we get closer to the event we will share more about what we are doing for our growing Xero user community and those who support them.

Exciting times ahead.

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WEBSTORE / POS SOFTWARE INTEGRATION STRATEGY DRIVES RETAIL SALES FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

We are thrilled with feedback from retailers using our POS software webstore integrations. The best feedback of all is the news of sales they are achieving that they would otherwise not have achieved.

Through websites we have developed and connections back to high street retail businesses using our POS software we have helped small business retailers achieve significant sales from shoppers interstate and overseas.

The sales success is as much a testament to our search engine work as it is to our web development and POS software / webstore integrations.

What is most interesting is the sales we are helping our customers achieve outside their usual trading hours. A retailer arriving in the morning at 6am to three sales totaling close to $1,000 is exciting. We hear about it because our retail partners like to share with us the success they are having. And we gratefully receive stories of their success because we know their success feeds into our success.

We have wonderful reference sites doing good business online thanks to the technology and backup business strategic advice we have provided.

Small business retailers can compete online, they can achieve sales they otherwise might have missed. They can reach into geographic locations where they are not known. They can easily serve these locations thanks to smart tools that make shipping each, transacting payments easy and providing personal customer service easy.

Helping and independent small retail business add thousands of dollars of gross profit to their bottom line in a year is a result we love here at Tower Systems. It is real thanks to the professional work of teams within our company in pursuit of our mission to help our small business retail customers to make money.

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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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INTRODUCING TOWER SYSTEMS – YOUR LOCAL POS SOFTWARE COMPANY

Tower Systems is an Australian POS software company that develops, sells and supports software for selected specialty marketplaces including toy, pet, produce, gift, newsagent, bike, garden and fishing businesses.

We only serve independent small retail businesses. This is important.

Our mission is to help retailers run more successful businesses. Our definition of success is a business that is making money, where the owners and employees enjoy what they do and where suppliers enjoy transacting.

Good software can play an important role in nurturing business success as it sits at the heart of the business: transacting sales, managing stock, tracking customer activity and shining a light on business opportunities.

What makes us different is how we engage. We go beyond what is traditional software company.

  1. We welcome working with product suppliers to create data links that save you and them time, data links that improve data accuracy, data links that feed more accurate business reports.
  2. We provide business insights based on data cultivated through the software – to business owners who ask. This is a free service.
  3. Our help desk provides context for advice. Rather than the turn it off and turn it on advice, our help desk team members explain the why, why from a business perspective the advice they are providing matters.
  4. Our software updates contain enhancements suggested and voted on by customers. You can have a direct say in the evolution of the software.
  5. Our communication is in plain English. While we are a company of IT geeks, when talking with customers we keep it simple. We know technology scares people. We don’t want it to scare our customers.
  6. We are accessible. You get to talk with real people all the time, including our leadership team.

We mention these capabilities today as they reflect what we stand for, what is important to us in our service of small business retail. Most important of all is our focus on small business retail, our commitment to helping small and independent retail businesses thrive as they compete with online a bigger retail businesses.

We take our mission seriously and personally. It is our reason for being in business. We are grateful to be of service to valuable and locally connected businesses.

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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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HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CLEAN UP THEIR STOCK FILES

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.

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TOWER SYSTEMS AT SHOPTALK 2016 THIS WEEK

IMG_0036Some 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.

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TOWER SYSTEMS POS SOFTWARE XERO CLOUD BASED ACCOUNTING INTERFACE HELPS SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CUT ACCOUNTING FEES.

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.

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CUTTING RED TAPE FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS WHILE SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS FAIL

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.

  1. Lay-By.
  2. Special customer orders.
  3. Customer accounts.
  4. Ordering stock.
  5. EFTPOS processing.
  6. Account sales.
  7. Gift cards.
  8. Stock returns to suppliers.
  9. Stock returns by customers.
  10. GL / Balance sheet integration.
  11. Business performance tracking.
  12. Staff communication.

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.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT ADVICE: HOW TO MARKET YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS TO RETIREES

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:

  1. Train employees to offer the discount or other benefits to someone who looks eligible. While this could cause embarrassment, it could also extend the word of mouth around the offer.
  2. Promote to retirement villages in the local area.
  3. Advise local government authorities that you offer a benefit to retirees.
  4. Contact local clubs and organisations likely to connect with retirees.
  5. Promote the benefits in-store and in your business newsletter. You want to spread your offer as far and wide as possible, so that retirees beat a path to your door.
  6. Visit local retirement residences and offer assistance.
  7. Advertise in trailer parks.
  8. Look up clubs the Internet – there are plenty of groups, clubs and forums for older folks travelling around. They share tips about places they like.

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.

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POS SOFTWARE LOYALTY FACILITIES HELP RETAILERS GROW SALES.

 

IMG_9511Shopper loyalty became a thing around thirty years ago when UK supermarket giant Tesco tracked the results if its basic points based program.

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:

  1. Discount Vouchers. Through settings you control in your software, a voucher prints on receipts offering customers an amount off their next purchase. We have customers reporting double-digit growth and success attracting shoppers away from major retailers.
  2. Multi Buy. This works like a coffee card. Buy, say, 8 of an item over time and you get your 9th for free. You control the numbers, timing and how the program works in your business.
  3. Buy X get Y. This works per visit to the story, encouraging shoppers to purchase more in each visit. You have absolute control over the settings.

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:

  1. NSW / ACT / QLD: Nathan Morrison. 0418 568 148. Nathan@towersystems.com.au
  2. SA /WA. Tim Batt. 0401 833 917. tim@towersystems.com.au.
  3. VIC / TAS. Mike Hill. 0423 848 482. mike@towersystems.com.au.

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.

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HOW ANY SMALL BUSINESS RETAILER CAN GET SHOPPERS SPENDING MORE AND RETURNING SOONER

 

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 mark@towersystems.com.au.

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.

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