POS software Shopify link helps small business retailers enjoy Christmas

Small business retailers using the Tower Systems POS software Shopify link are reporting terrific engagement with shoppers they may not have otherwise found.

Thanks to a direct link between the POS software and Shopify, retailers have one place for managing inventory that is in-store and online. This saves time, reduces mistakes unbend makes management of the online presence easier.

The Shopify link is one of three direct POS software / e-commerce platform links in the Tower software. These three are in addition to a weblink that helps the POS software connect to any website.

Through the Shopify link, data is transferred – inventory and sales – in a structured standard way required by Shopify and in line with the requirements of that business. It is fast, easy and powerful.

Tower Systems is proud to have brought plenty more small businesses online thanks to its work with the folks at Shopify.

Christmas gift: small business POS software update launched

In plenty of time f0or Christmas, Tower Systems has commenced beta release of a beautiful POS software update that delivers access to three completely new facilities through which our customers can expand the reach of their businesses.

his update, like all of our POS software updates, will be available for o0ur customers to install when they choose. We don’t believe in surprising people with an unexpected update. hence, our process is advance-noticed, structured and considerate.

This latest update is a thrill for us thanks to the new tech areas we cover that we know will be loved by plenty of our customers as they seek to expand their small businesses.

The update is available to all Tower AdvantageTM customers at no extra cost.

Retail management advice on maximising the Christmas traffic opportunity

Every Christmas, retail businesses see more shoppers in-store, buying gifts and items for seasonal celebration. However, the shops are usually too busy for the retailer team members to engage with traditional loyalty programs that require sign up.

This is where our amazing discount vouchers loyalty program options work a treat.

Without any sign-up overhead, the vouchers work all by themselves, bringing shoppers back or, better still, getting them to spend more than expected in that visit.

Stores that want to connect with shoppers and understand who they are can do so with our discount vouchers, because they are smart and can work with card based loyalty. In fact, shippers who sign up and go that extra step for the business can get an extra reward as a result, if you wish.

Simply by offering discount vouchers this Christmas you will get a boost with monomial cost and zero labour overhead. You can enjoy the traffic, love the traffic, and do well with a loyalty offer that works brilliantly to make the most of Christmas.

Tower Systems offers the tech and business practices to back the tech into real revenue growth for small business retailers.

Proud to be a Xero partner through our POS software

Xero does not permit all POS software companies to partner with them. This can get those who miss out offside, talking their product down. Tower Systems has been a Xero partner for years, delivering a beautiful easy-to-use PO software Xero link.

Xero POS Software Integration

Save time, eliminate bookkeeping costs, cut mistakes and make better business decisions sooner with the Tower Systems POS software Xero integration.

The Xero integration designed by Tower Systems, working with the folks at Xero, makes it easy for small business retailers to cut accounting paperwork and thereby tap into time and money saving benefits.

We use our Xero integrated POS software ourselves. This enables us to provide practical advice on how to benefit the most from Xero and our POS software working together.

Our customers have access to our in-house CPA, to provide a professional accounting perspective on the link and how to get the most from it.

Tower Systems is a unique POS software company. In addition to serving 3,500+ small business retailers, we own and operate several retail businesses as live test sites. Our in-house CPA manages the accounts for these retail businesses.

Find out more, watch this video:

Helping small business retailers focus on what matters among the shrill reporting of Amazon’s arrival in Australia

We are frustrated with the world is ending type reporting relating to the arrival in Australia of Amazon. More stories have been published recently. Most stories are not reporting. Rather, they are ignorant fear-mongering. Unfortunately, the wrong people are often quoted, like the ever-shrill Gerry Harvey.

We shot this video to provide some thoughts on the arrival of Amazon and to offer suggestions for small business retailers.

Small business retailers have access to unlimited POS software training

As part of our Tower AdvantageTM customer service experience, we help small business retailers using our POS software to continuously enhance their knowledge of how to use our software and how to get the most for their business from our software.

Every business with our software has access to our unlimited free POS software training opportunity.

The training we provide, at no extra cost, is live, one-on-one, on the phone and online. It is the personal one-on-one training that our small business retail customers love the most.

In our weekly customer service email, print newsletter and through the help desk we promote access to free training.

We are grateful to be in a position to offer this free training and to make access easy.

One of the best ways to help small business retailers to compete is to arm them with tools through which they can compete. One perfect too is our software software. Our free training helps them use the software in a best-practice way, so they are better equipped to compete, and win!

The training we provide is done outside the help desk, away from interruption and is focussed 100% on the business being trained. This ensures that our training is purposeful and useful. We know this fo0cus is what delivers loved outcomes.

Helping small business retailers reduce the opportunity of employee theft

At our POS software company we actively help small business retailers who use our software to reduce the opportunity of employee theft. We do this in a range of overt and covert ways, through our software and outside off our software.

As we have decades of experience running different types of retail businesses and through our work with, 3,500+ other retailers with our software we have a deep pool of knowledge and experience on which to draw.

Employee theft is something to be managed. By managed, we mean measured, understood and mitigated.

based on our own experiences and those of others we trust, we offer refined, thoughtful, advice on managing employee theft. Here we share it with all as a free community service for small business retailers. Together, we can cut the cost of employee theft in your retail business:

  1. Track your stock. Receive all stock into your business through your computer system so you know exactly what sock you have.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
  3. Track every sale by employees. Give your employees a card with a unique barcode or have them enter a code – to track every sale they make back to them. Change the code every six months or so.
  4. Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  5. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
  6. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  7. Check your Audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Good software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  8. Check Gross Profit by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  9. Setup a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. See the last page of this advice.
  10. Keep the counter clean. An organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. It makes detection easier.
  11. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  12. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  13. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One retail business employee used the memory function to track how much cash had to be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not rung up.
  14. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  15. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high.
  16. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
  17. Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.

These steps work – based on decades of helping small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.

Theft, employee and customer, costs a typical small / independent retail between 3% and 5% of product sales revenue.  Management attention can cut this dramatically.  It does not take much time. No, it is more about having professional processes in place that everyone in the business follows.

Free Christmas marketing ideas for small business retailers

Tower Systems works with more than 3,500+ small business retailers in speciality retail niches including jewellers, garden centres, bike shops, toy shops, gift shops, newsagents, pet shops, adult shops and more. We offer these ideas as our Christmas gift to you.

  1. Make it easy. People often talk about how hard Christmas is. Be the local business that makes it easy. The ways to do this are with easy Lay-By, free wrapping, better shop floor help, guide buying advice or tips on perfect gifts no one else will think of. Consider making Christmas easy as being a key part of your messaging.
  2. Be thrilled people are in your shop. Your personal smile or greeting is something they may not see in a big business where employees are less invested in each shopper and where the owner is usually thousands of kilometers away.
  3. Make the giving easy. If people purchase items from you to send somewhere else. Offer a one-stop shop. Save them the trip to the post office.
  4. Make the shop less about Christmas. Consider pulling back on the Christmas visual noise. Go for something simple, muted, respecting the season but making a calm statement. Consider declaring the shop a Christmas carol free zone – not because you hate carols but because you want to help customers take a break.
  5. Help people rest and recharge. Create a Christmas shopping rest and recovery zone. Offer free tea, coffee, water and something to eat. Encourage people to take a break in your shop – without any obligation for them to spend money with you.
  6. Let your customers help each other. Setup a whiteboard or sheets of butcher’s paper, yes keep it simple. Get customers to write gift suggestions under different age/gender groups. For example: Girls 18 – 25, Boys 55+. Encourage your customers to help each other through their suggestions.
  7. Make price comparison difficult. If you sell items people are likely to price compare with other businesses, package them so price comparison is not easy. Put items into a hamper as a perfect Boy 8 to 12 bundle for example. Or offer the item with pre packages services if appropriate for an item.
  8. Less is more.  The stack em high watch em fly mantra can be wrong. Indeed, it is often wrong in retail. Shoppers can be store blind because a shop is too full or a display is too busy. Consider creating simpler less cluttered displays and window promotions. Draw attention to what you want people to see by promoting that one thing. Every time someone asks if you have something that you think through should be able to find easily – take it as a challenge for you to address rather than a commentary on a facility of the customer.
  9. Change. Christmas season in your shop should evolve. Major change weekly is vital for people to see what you have that they could buy.
  10. Be socially engaged. On Facebook, Instagram, twitter and elsewhere, be the calm voice, the person people enjoy reading or seeing photos from. Provide entertainment this Christmas rather than the usual retailer shrill of come and shop here!
  11. Be community minded. Choose a local charity or community group to support through Christmas. Consider: a change collection tin at the counter; a themed Christmas window display; promotion on your social media pages; a donation to their work; a collection point for donations from customers.
  12. Facilitate sharing stories. Find space in your shop for customers to share their Christmas stories. It could be a story wall inside or in front of the shop. This initiative encourages storytelling by locals and better connects the business with the community.
  13. Award a prize at a local school. Fund a year-end prize at a local school. Attend a school assembly to award the prize. Work with the school leadership on a prize appropriate to your business.
  14. VIP preview. Host a VIP shopper preview night when you show off your Christmas ranges ahead of being available to the general shoppers. Respect and reward your local shoppers with deals and the opportunity to preview ahead of others.
  15. Leverage Christmas traffic. Encourage the Christmas shopper traffic surge in after Christmas. Give them a reason to come back. A coupon promotion or a discount voucher on receipts could be the enticement to get shoppers back in-store. Note: the Tower POS software produces discount vouchers to rules you establish.
  16. Become a gallery. Work with a school, kindergarten, community group or retirement village to bring in local art for people to come and see through Christmas. A small space commitment can drive traffic from family and friends of those with art on show.
  17. Dress the shop. Fully embrace Christmas. Create a Christmas experience such that shoppers know they have stepped into somewhere special this Christmas. Go for more than some tinsel and a tree. Fully embrace the opportunity.
  18. Make your shop smell like Christmas.
  19. Send cards. Send Christmas cards early in the season to suppliers, key customers and local community groups. This connects you with Christmas. Invite all team members to sign each card.
  20. Host a Christmas party. For shops nearby. You are all in the season together – let your hear down before things get crazy.
  21. Ensure you have gifts targeted at occasions. For example: Kris Kringle, by price point and by recipient. Make it easy for people to know what they could give.
  22. Stocking stuffers. At your counter always have one or two stocking stuffers for impulse purchase.
  23. Offer gift vouchers – for someone to give when they are not sure what to give.
  24. Be local. Ensure you have a selection of locally sourced products available for purchase. Make it clear in-store that these products are sourced locally.
  25. Tell stories. On your Facebook page, talk about what is important to you at Christmas. Personalise the season and deepen the connection with those who could shop with you.
  26. Offer a free gift. Bulk purchase an item to offer those who spend above a set amount. For example, spend $65 and receive XX where XX may have cost $5.00 but could have a perceived value of $20.00.
  27. Keep it fresh. Every week make significant change to your Christmas displays and promotions to keep your offer fresh.
  28. Share Christmas recipes. Each week for, say, four weeks, give customers a family Christmas recipe. This personalises Christmas in your business, creates a talking point and makes shopping with you different to your bigger competitors.
  29. Free wrapping. Sure, many retailers offer this. Make your offer better, more creative and more appreciated.
  30. This is essential in any business. Manage it through your computer system with strict rules.
  31. Work the floor. Increase time on the shop floor. Be present to manage shopper flow and to facilitate purchases.
  32. Christmas is crazy busy I most retail situations. Give yourself and your team members sufficient time to recharge so the smile greeting shoppers is heartfelt.
  33. Keep a secret. If yours is a business selling gifts a partner may purchase for their loved-one, create some mystery with a closed off display for the shopper to see the products.
  34. Free assembly. If you sell items that require assembly. Offer to do this for free.
  35. Free delivery. Offer free Christmas Eve delivery for items purchased for kids for Christmas.
  36. Sell training. Leverage the specialist knowledge you have in your business by selling as gifts places at classes you run sharing your expertise.
  37. Hold back. Don’t go out with everything you have for Christmas all at once. Plan the season to show off what you have as the season unfolds. This allows you multiple launches.
  38. Share a taste. Regardless if your type of business, bake a family recipe of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or Christmas biscuits and offer tastings to shoppers on select days. This personalises the experience in your shop.
  39. Offer hampers. Package several items together and offer them as a hamper. Time-poor shoppers could appreciate you doing this work for them. We have seen this work in many different retail situations.
  40. Buy X get Y. Encourage people to spend more with a volume based deal. Pitched right, this could get customers purchasing items for several family members in order to get the price offer you have. Use your technology to manage this.

Christmas is the perfect time to plan for next year. It is the time to do everything possible to leverage bonus Christmas traffic to benefit your business through next year.

Tower Systems offers Point of sale / retail management software tailored for your specific type of retail business. Our software can help you leverage Christmas traffic for year-long benefits.

We provide you with loyalty facilities that are fresh and small-business focussed, loyalty facilities through which you can pitch a point of difference compared to big business competitors.

One of our retail experts can help:

  • SA/WA/VIC – Tim Batt 0401 833 917;
  • NSW/TAS – Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148;
  • QLD – Justin Randall 0434 365 789.

Yes, Amazon is coming. No, the world will not end.

We are frustrated with the world is ending type reporting relating to the arrival in Australia of Amazon. More stories have been published this week. Most stories are not reporting. Rather, they are ignorant fear-mongering. Unfortunately, the wrong people are often quoted, like the ever-shrill Gerry Harvey.

We shot this video to provide some thoughts on the arrival of Amazon and to offer suggestions for small business retailers.

Software for fishing and outdoors shops Q&A

We have updated our Q&A for fishing shop retailers on our fishing and outdoors shop POS software. Here is a portion of the new Q&A:

Can I sell bundled items like a rod, reel and line?

Yes, this is easy. You can have a bundled price as well as single prices for each.

Can I sell bait by weight?

Yes, easily.

Can I sell gift cards?

Yes, easily.

Can I manage repairs for customers?

Yes, the software has a repairs facility.

Can I easily handle LayBys in the software?

Yes, you can establish your own rules and have these managed through the software.

Can I share local fishing location knowledge on receipts?

Yes, this is easily setup and changed.

Can I setup different pricing for members of a local fishing club?

Yes.

Can I sell sinkers at a multi-buy price where the per unit price decreases as the number purchased increases?

Yes, this is part of our catalogue offer in the software.

Can I handle special orders where a customer orders something I do not currently have in stock?

Yes.

Can I connect my POS software to a website?

Yes. This is very easy if Tower develops the website. If you already have a website we will provide your web developer with link instructions to connect the site to the data in the POS software. Your POS software holds all your inventory data including images. We will advise setting necessary to ensure the easy flow of inventory and sales data.

Can I buy an item, like sinkers, in bulk and separate this down to smaller retail packs?

Yes. Plus, you can set your own pricing and generate your own barcode for these packs.

I have a local technician who suppliers all my hardware. Can I still use them?

Yes, if they follow the hardware configuration advice we provide. Like any software, we expect a specific environment. We provide the information to local techs at no cost.

If I install your software do you come to my shop?

Yes. Being in your business enables us to see how and where the software could be used and to ensure what we propose is right for you.

Is there a limit on how much training is provided?

No.  Our Tackle World package includes 3 days of our time to install the system and train you. Long after the face to face training in-store Tower Systems provides access to unlimited additional training, at no extra cost.

Is there a mandatory subscription fee?

No, maintaining annual software support coverage is optional with Tower Systems. You can choose to pay per call – this means if you don’t call, there is no cost.  After 12 months initial support coverage included in the Tackle World package, we will invite you to stay supported.  If you do, the current annual support cost for fishing stores is $1,025 Inc GST no matter what the size of your store or how many computers you run in the business.

Is the software installed on my computer or in the cloud?

Whichever you prefer. Most of our customers like it installed locally and backup to the cloud so they can keep running if the internet is down. That said, running in the cloud is easy.

Is the software specific to Fishing and Outdoors businesses?

Yes, it has been highly tailored and will continue to be, based on customer feedback.

Is there a loyalty facility for people who I will only ever see once – to get them to spend more in that only visit?

Yes. We have an excellent loyalty tool in our loyalty facilities for exactly this type of shopper. It works particularly well with guys. We have businesses getting 25% engagement with it, increasing the value of the one-off shopper visit.

Can I unbundle items from a pack back to single items?

Yes, easily.

Can I have my sales and other data flow across to my accounting software?

Yes, we send your purchase & sales information across to Xero, MYOB & Intuit (Quickbooks).  While you can choose, we love Xero and use it extensively ourselves.

Do I have to buy a licence per computer?

Yes. It is like someone who wants two rods – they must pay for both. In our case, additional licences are charged for, but the charge is modest and it is once-off. i.e. no on-going fee.

Can the software run across multiple stores?

Yes.  We call this multi-store.  It allows you to easily share stock and customer information, order and transfer stock, create stock orders and produce performance reports across your multiple stores.

How can I pay for the software?

You can buy it outright, lease it or rent it. The choice is 100% yours.  Lease is popular as you can claim the cost up front and spread the payments over a set term.

POS software for small business retailers in Tasmania

See awesome POS software in Hobart & Launceston.

We are hosting user meetings in Tasmania, showing the latest release of our POS software for: pet shopsgift shopsjewellersbike retailersgarden centresnewsagentstoy shopsfirearms retailers and produce stores.

Tower Systems currently serves more than 100 customers in Tasmania.

We invite you to come to the user meetings to see the software and ask questions about how it may serve their businesses. It’s free.

Book now.

  1. Launceston. Wednesday Nov. 15. @ 1pm. Quality Hotel Colonial, Elizabeth Street. Click here to book.
  2. Hobart. Thursday Nov. 16. @ 10am. Rydges Hobart. Cnr Argyle & Lewis Streets. Click here to book.

Helping small business retailers leverage the Facebook opportunity

Helping small business retailers beyond their POS software is a key part of the Tower Systems mission. We share insights, tips and advice with our small business retailer community through our weekly email, knowledge base, one on one advice and more.

This article is part of then Tower Systems difference.

Facebook community growth is as important as shopper traffic growth

Here is one example of advice we have provided our customers on leveraging the facebook opportunity for small business retail.

Growth in the number of likes for your business Facebook page(s) is as important as growth in shopper traffic through your front door.

I see a direct correlation between the two, if you use Facebook well. Of course, if is the important word in that statement.

I have been actively using Facebook for business for many years. It is an excellent platform of reaching new customers and talking with existing customers. It is an important tool in business growth.

HOW DO YOU GET MORE LIKES ON FACEBOOK?

This is simple, provide good content, content that gives people what they come to Facebook for – entertainment, inspiration, a laugh. The more you do this the more your post will be liked and shared. The more likes and shoes the more people you reach.

Growth in likes for your page begins with your content. If your page likes are not growing, look at your content.

While you can ask people to like your Facebook page, resulting likes may not be as valuable as those who like your page of their own accord.

You can also buy likes. That, however, is a waste of money.

HOW DOES A BUSINESS USE FACEBOOK WELL?

Businesses that use Facebook well entertain. This can be by making people laugh, smile, feel emotional or be happy overall. They do it by being human, real and engaged. They do it by not trying to sell. They do it y not being commercial.

Photos are real, not studio shots, showing products in use more so than on the shelves. They show customers, happy customers.

They share something of themselves.

A newsagency uses Facebook well by not writing about products newsagents sell.

HOW DO MORE LIKES OF YOUR BUSINESS TRANSLATE INTO MORE SALES?

Someone engaging with your business Facebook page is similar to someone browsing your shop. Both can lead to sales.

People being on your page and engaging with your page brings them close to you and proximity = sales.

The more people who like your business Facebook page the more people you can pitch and offer to or reach out with an event or product announcement, them more people who will hear what you have to say.

Take Facebook seriously as a key business tool. The benefits are real and valuable.

Fishing and outdoors shop software FAQ

With more and more businesses using our fishing and outdoors shop software we have refined frequently asked questions about the software and how it helps these specialty retail businesses with a more useful and better value business software solution.

Here are some of the fresh questions and answers.

Can I sell bundled items like a rod, reel and line?

Yes, this is easy. You can have a bundled price as well as single prices for each.

Can I sell bait by weight?

Yes, easily.

Can I sell gift cards?

Yes, easily.

Can I manage repairs for customers?

Yes, the software has a repairs facility.

Can I easily handle LayBys in the software?

Yes, you can establish your own rules and have these managed through the software.

Can I share local fishing location knowledge on receipts?

Yes, this is easily setup and changed.

Can I setup different pricing for members of a local fishing club?

Yes.

Can I sell sinkers at a multi-buy price where the per unit price decreases as the number purchased increases?

Yes, this is part of our catalogue offer in the software.

Can I handle special orders where a customer orders something I do not currently have in stock?

Yes.

Can I connect my POS software to a website?

Yes. This is very easy if Tower develops the website. If you already have a website we will provide your web developer with link instructions to connect the site to the data in the POS software. Your POS software holds all your inventory data including images. We will advise setting necessary to ensure the easy flow of inventory and sales data.

Can I buy an item, like sinkers, in bulk and separate this down to smaller retail packs?

Yes. Plus, you can set your own pricing and generate your own barcode for these packs.

I have a local technician who suppliers all my hardware. Can I still use them?

Yes, if they follow the hardware configuration advice we provide. Like any software, we expect a specific environment. We provide the information to local techs at no cost.

If I install your software do you come to my shop?

Yes. Being in your business enables us to see how and where the software could be used and to ensure what we propose is right for you.

Is there a limit on how much training is provided?

No.   Long after the face to face training in-store Tower Systems provides access to unlimited additional training, at no extra cost.

Is there a mandatory subscription fee?

No, maintaining annual software support coverage is optional with Tower Systems. You can choose to pay per call – this means if you don’t call, there is no cost.  After 12 months initial support coverage included in the package, we will invite you to stay supported.  If you do, the current annual support cost for fishing stores is $1,025 Inc GST no matter what the size of your store or how many computers you run in the business.

Is the software installed on my computer or in the cloud?

Whichever you prefer. Most of our customers like it installed locally and backup to the cloud so they can keep running if the internet is down. That said, running in the cloud is easy.

Is the software specific to Fishing and Outdoors businesses?

Yes, it has been highly tailored and will continue to be, based on customer feedback.

Is there a loyalty facility for people who I will only ever see once – to get them to spend more in that only visit?

Yes. We have an excellent loyalty tool in our loyalty facilities for exactly this type of shopper. It works particularly well with guys. We have businesses getting 25% engagement with it, increasing the value of the one-off shopper visit.

Can I unbundle items from a pack back to single items?

Yes, easily.

Can I have my sales and other data flow across to my accounting software?

Yes, we send your purchase & sales information across to Xero, MYOB & Intuit (Quickbooks).  While you can choose, we love Xero and use it extensively ourselves.

 

Can the software run across multiple stores?

Yes.  We call this multi-store.  It allows you to easily share stock and customer information, order and transfer stock, create stock orders and produce performance reports across your multiple stores.

How can I pay for the software?

You can buy it outright, lease it or rent it. The choice is 100% yours.  Lease is popular as you can claim the cost up front and spread the payments over a set term.

Advice on converting data from one POS software program to another

Retailers switching from one POS software program to another usually want to convert their business data. Rather than saying yes this can be done, our approach is to provide our customers with advice on what can be done and what cannot be done and to explain the processes and the whys.

WHY CONVERT DATA

Converting data from your current software eliminates the need to manually key data into the Tower software. The time saving is considerable. If the current data is good data, the value of bringing that across can be vital to any business.

UNDERSTANDING THE RISKS

Converted data is only as good as the source data.

In other words, if the data in your current system is of poor quality, the quality will not improve in the converted data – unless you clean up the current data prior to conversion.

Simply converting data does not make the data better data. Here is advice on cleaning up the data prior to conversion:

  1. Delete all stock items you no longer carry and will not carry in the future.
  2. Delete all customers you have not served in more than five years.
  3. Delete all supplier details where you no longer deal with the supplier.

WHAT IS CONVERTED

What we convert depends on the software we are converting from. Some software is restrictive, to lock you into it while other software calculates data such as loyalty points live, rather than storing a number by customer.

Here is a list of what we most commonly bring across in a conversion:

  1. Customer details. Name, address, phone, email.
  2. Supplier details. Name, address, phone, email.
  3. Inventory. Description, stock code, bar code, quantity on hand, department, category and supplier.
  4. Loyalty. Name. ID code / number and points value.

WHAT IS NOT CONVERTED

Due to data complexities here is a list of data we do not convert. We developed this list to ensure we provide to you the best converted data outcome:

  1. LayBys.
  2. Sales history.
  3. Accounting system data.
  4. Gift voucher balances.

A PRE-CONVERSION CHECK

The best way to be prepared for and certain about a conversion is a pre-conversion check. To do this we would need full access to your data well before the installation. This check will help us see any issues and either resolve them or raise them with you prior to the actual conversion. This check is done at our head office by a senior member of our team.

We will advise you of any issues we encounter during the per conversion check.

THE CONVERSION PROCESS

This is done either on site or at our office during or immediately prior to the installation process as it must be done using up to date data as you switch from one system to another.

The conversion is at a moment in time. In other words, you cannot flip from system to system if you want to have accurate data. Once converted, you are on the new system.

Conversions can take considerable time, overnight, or even longer than a day, depending on the amount of data to convert. Therefore, we encourage you to clean up your data prior to the conversion.

WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: THE HAND OVER OF CONVERTED DATA

Once the conversion is done and you are advised it is complete it will be important you check the converted data. Check customers, balances, points and other data to ensure you are confident the data you need has been converted.

We say we don’t know what we don’t know as it is true. You know your data better than us, you are better positioned to see mistakes we might otherwise miss – hence our reliance on you checking the converted data.

GO LIVE

Once you have the converted data in our software and are happy with it, you will be advised to run a go live. This sees you enter up-to-date account balances. No line items are entered, only the balance.

TIMING

It is important we know if you want data converted when you order your system from us. We are unable to do the work if it is requested during the installation as we have allocated time for the installation and training only, not for conversion.

Important questions small business retailers should ask POS software companies

What should a small business retailer ask a POS software company as part of your process of considering whether to use their software?

The important part of this question is small business retailer. What small business retailers need differs to what big business retailers need.

What may look good in a video or an online pitch may not be good when you need help or a specific facility or access to an integration to help you grow your business.

Beyond the functionality of the POS software itself there are questions you can ask that could inform a better business decision on what is right for a business.

To help you think about possible questions, we have put together twenty-six for your consideration. Read through these and start to think about questions that could be useful for you.

The answers to these questions will better inform you, they will help separate software companies you are considering. The answers will help you see the software company that is a better fit for your specific business today.

Take your time. The right software company will be a long-term partner of your business.

  1. Will you come my business to assess my needs?
  2. Will you come to my business and demonstrate your software?
  3. If you know your software is not a good fit for my business will you say so?
  4. Is your company Australian?
  5. Is the software developed in Australia?
  6. Is your help desk based in Australia?
  7. Is your company Australian owned?
  8. Are you selling software you developed yourselves?
  9. Can you convert data from other software?
  10. Do you sell to big businesses, 25 shops or more?
  11. Does your software link with Xero, MYOB & Quicken?
  12. Can I access your software from home and elsewhere?
  13. Do you own and run retail businesses as test sites?
  14. Can I connect your software to a website?
  15. Do you develop websites I can connect to?
  16. If you develop websites are the main platforms of Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce?
  17. Can I rent your software?
  18. Can I lease your software?
  19. Can I purchase your software outright?
  20. Is your software designed specifically for my retail channel?
  21. Will you train me on your software in my business?
  22. Will you train my staff in how to use the software?
  23. Is software support included for the first year?
  24. Do you charge to help me uncover employee theft?
  25. Do you charge to assess the performance of my business?
  26. Do I have to buy my hardware from you?

Advice for small business retailers experiencing year on year decline in retail sales

If your year-on-year sales are not down in your retail business, this advice is not for you.

If your year-on-year sales are down, something must change if you want to turn the situation around, please read on.

Sometimes, when we are asked by retailers how to deal with a year on year sales decline, our suggestions are not taken up and the business keeps doing what it was doing. In doing this, the declining trend will continue.

We appreciate it can be challenging looking outside of the fog of declining sales and worsening business performance numbers. However, if you cannot reach out beyond this fog the survival of the business is at risk.

Here is the most important statement relating to our advice:

If you keep doing what you have been doing, the sales results in your business will be what they have been, the trend is unlikely to change.

It would be a mistake to think that external factors are the sole reason your sales are down.

So, change is necessary – change in what you sell, how you merchandise and how you promote.

It is only from change that the sales decline could be arrested and reversed.

Our advice is to look for u-turn or right turn opportunities, changes you can implement to divert you from your current path.

Suggesting such changes is something we can do through looking at your business performance data for you. Ask us to challenge you. We will first ask to see your year on year data at a detailed level as this will reveal the truth of the situation and from there we can develop change suggestions for your consideration.

Why ask a POS software company? We see data from many different businesses. That perspective can help. We are retailers too and have been for decades. That provides a body of experiences on which we can draw in considering advice we can provide. We will gladly leverage our experiences to help in any situation.

We don’t have all the answers, we will even suggest ideas we later discover are mistakes. However, doing what you have been doing in a situation of declining sales is a bigger mistake.

Can we help?

Helping small business retailers not break the law in selling age restricted products

Age restricted products are a risk for small business retailers in that regulations are tight and penalties for selling to underage shoppers considerable, including the potential loss of right to sell age restricted products.

While it may sound simple to say that this product or that product cannot be sold to someone below a certain age, without the right forced checks and balances mistakenly doing just that is relatively easy.

Our advice to small business retailers selling age restricted products is that they implement appropriate barrier checks and balanced in their POS software to ensure that their age restricted product approach is best practice.

Use your POS software to fore an age check on every purchase. This shows the business having zero tolerance for avoiding the age check. Regularly remind staff about this. Do these things and any violation the retail sales person deliberately violating business policy and defrauding the business in their use of the age check facilities in the POS software.

These steps can help should the business be caught serving an underage customer. You can prove the processes were black and white and that the server needed to lie to the ach check barrier in the POS software for the transaction to proceed.

Retailers can decide for themselves which products have age check and which do not. This should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is up to date, to ensure that the right checks and balances are in place to show the business is meeting all regulatory age check obligations.

Get your age check processes right from the outset and you can layer the business with a level of protection that is vital. For sure, there is an operational delay in selling age restricted products, but this is minor when you consider the cost to the business of being caught breaking the law in this space.

Our advice to retailers is that they use the age restriction facilities in their POS software to ensure that they get it right, every time.

In our work, we deal with the issues of age restricted products in a range of retail channels including: newsagencies, firearms retail, produce stores and adult stores. In each case, there are different regulations and requirements to handle.

How poor NBN roll out hurts small business retailers

Another of our customers had their business severely impacted last week with their new National Broadband Network (NBN) connection taking almost the whole week to get up and running.

You would think this would be okay, that they could use their old non NBN internet connection until the NBN was up and running. That smart approach was not the approach those providing their NBN connection facilitated.

At the start of the week their service provider disconnected their internet access as the NBN was about to be turned on. Five days later, after many phone calls and extraordinary business disruption, the NBN was on.

There was no apology, no compensation, no empathy.

This small business was hit hard by not having internet access. They had to spend money on temporary arrangements, which were mediocre at best. Given their location that not only cost money, it also cost time to organise.

The poor handling of the NBN roll out was caused by the Internet Service Provider of the small business. This is where the poor customer experience occurred with them disconnecting internet access prior turning NBN on and then compounding the problem with poor, almost non-existent, customer service.

There were products the business could not sell over the counter, payments they could not take, services they could not provide. Yet their ISP did not help. The biggest challenge was with cash as this business relied on close to half all transactions being cashless and they lost that, without warning, when their ISP cut them off without warning because of the imminent NBN switch over. The agreed plan was switch one off and switch one on. The operational people at the ISP were not told of the agreed plan and once they switched internet access off it appeared to be too hard to switch back on.

We helped where we could with options on lodging a complaint against their ISP and with alternative access options they could acquire. But none of this should have been necessary. Their ISP, which claims to support small local businesses, should have had the entire matter in hand.

While there is a quality issue with the current version of the NBN roll out in our opinion, there is this other problem of poor ISP management of business cut over from existing internet access to NBN access. It should be easy, well managed with easy access contact points in the event of any issue.

Internet access is vitally important infrastructure in small business retail today. This switching over to NBN must be better, faster, for small business retail.

How the retreat of banks from regional and rural Australia hurts small businesses retailers and the communities they serve

More Australian banks are pulling out of country towns, leaving local businesses and individuals without any over the counter bank services.

In one situation last week, a regional town with a population of 2,000 saw its last bank brand close, leaving locals a forty-five-minute drive to the nearest bank. This means local businesses have a round trip of ninety minutes just to bank business takings, increasing business costs by hundreds of dollars a week as banking, which used to be done locally daily, now must be done three times a week resulting in four and a half hours in the can and at least another hour and a half parking, waiting and more.

It impacts on how a business operates.

While some businesses can operate by promoting cashless trading, in regional and rural towns with an older demographic, cash is preferred.

In not banking every day, small business retailers carry more cash on their premises. This increases the risk of theft. Insurance company representatives have said this could result in higher premiums. The costs resulting from banks reducing their level of customer service cascade, hurting further these vulnerable local businesses that matter to their small local communities.

With more than half of our small business POS software customers in regional and rural Australia, matters such as the closure of local bank branches and agencies matters to us, because it matters to our customers. It is possible that a local bank closure is enough to tip a local business owner to closing their business. The knock-on effect on local jobs, local suppliers and out of town suppliers like us would be noticed.

We think there is a role for government here to offer an operating cost subsidy to banks that maintain regional and rural banks in towns with a lower than agreed population threshold. We think such a policy would not only help small businesses like our clients, it would improve the appeal of the town for new residents as well as improving security for those who use the bank.

Locally owned small business retail is vital in any situation, but more so in regional and rural towns. The retreat by banks is an operational challenge that disadvantages regional and rural Australia and this is bad for the economy.

Tower Systems actively supports calls by small business retailers for government action to provide support for local banking services.