Too often we hear stories of POS software companies threatening small business retailers either through deliberate use of technology jargon or through threats of costs being imposed that were not part of the original contract.
As many small business retailers are not experienced when it comes to technology and not used to dealing with technology companies, they can become confused and think this is how it works, this is normal.
It is not normal.
Small business retailers deserve to be treated with respect, using terminology they understand and with business contracts that are clear and straightforward.
Any POS software company engaging in overt or covert threats ought to be ashamed of themselves. If this is what they have to do to win or keep customers then shame on them and shame on those who work for the company and support such approaches.
Tower Systems is a safe haven for small business retailers looking for an empathetic POS software company, a place where any question can be asked, where regular free training is offered, where business advice is freely available beyond what is usual for a POS software company help desk.
We go into relationships for the long-term rather than a quick sale. This is reflected in our approach to initial training and on-going training, much of which is provided to our small business retail customers for no additional cost. We make this investment knowing the value of a happy customer, especially in small business retail circles where retailers network with colleagues in their retail channel, talking about supplier experiences.
If you are experiencing fear or anything close to fear in your dealings with your POS software company, get out, quit that software as a relationship based on any such fear is an unhealthy relationship for you personally and for your business.
Seek out a professional, respected and trustworthy POS software companies where fear has no place, where small business retailers are communicated with as a peer and not as someone to mock or confuse.
We are writing about this today as we have recently seen a stream of communication between the owner one Australian POS software company and a customer. It is appalling: unprofessional and unnecessarily aggressive. No wonder the retailer experienced fear. The threats in the communication give all software companies a bad name.
Don’t let fear rule your relationship with your POS software company.
Small business retailers fall in love with POS software companies for a range of reasons, often layered upon each other to provide a comprehensive view of the software supplier business.
We know from years of experience at Tower Systems what many factors play into the small business retailer relationships on which we rely and that we cherish so dearly. The software is a factor, as is the software support. There are other factors too, such as customer communication.
Our small business retail customers love that we communicate with them across a range of platforms and at different times of the day and days of the week. From the reliable weekly email, pictured, to print newsletters, to training videos, to outbound calls to drop-ins to their businesses to user meetings, we offer touch points of a wide variety and through which our customers can connect with us and what we do, touch points on which small business retailers can rely to leverage their POS software to achieve better business outcomes.
Take the weekend email – pictured – this is sent each Sunday. Our weekly email contains news about the POS software, update information, business management advice and business management training. The weekly email from Tower Systems goes way beyond what retailers are used to from their POS software company. It is a professionally presented email. Brief yet complete, providing links to more information for those who want to explore a topic further. Most important is the contact points we publish in the email – we don’t leave small business retailers with vague information. No, we are specific in our contact points, specific with advice on the names of people they can speak with about software and general business management questions and issues.
We know from customer feedback and engagement that the email is used, shared and relied upon. It is a key differentiator for Tower Systems as we demonstrate personal and committed support for small business retailers across a range of retail channels.
Whereas some software companies rely on customers contacting them for and business to business communication, here at Tower Systems we understand the importance of professional business outcome focussed outbound contact. Our goal is to provide our customers with useful information prior to them needing it. Timely information appropriate to retail seasons. Helping information attuned to changing economic conditions. Target information specific to specialty retail channels in which we serve.
Through decade of service to small business retailers we have learned the value of this timely and professional communication. feedback from our small business retailers encourages us to continue our approach and to maintain our commitment to professional outbound contact and support.
We are careful in our communication to ensure it is not geek-talk. No, we prefer plain English help, aimed at supporting those using computers in business because they know they have to rather than because they love technology. This is where our business management advice is particularly useful – we show how our retailer customers can leverage the technology for practical business outcomes in their business. We do this weekly in the email and daily on the phone through our accessible and friendly help desk support.
We back our communication strategy with engagement on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We are where our customers want us online as well as off line. This is why mail, email, web, social media and other platforms are engaged with by Tower Systems – to reach our customers where they are and not only where it suits us. Sure, it is hard work, relentless work. However, it is rewarding work when we receive feedback fro customers thrilled with outcomes they have achieved as a result of the engagement we have driven through our communications strategy.
The consistency of our communication is a key factor in the bond of trust between Tower Systems and its customers. It drives loyalty on both sides and demonstrates an understanding of customer businesses – as the communication is more than lip-service, more than spin, it is real life action, seeking to genuinely make a difference for the positive in the small business retail businesses in which we proudly serve in Australia and New Zealand.
This is the Tower AdvantageTM. A suite of tools, software, strategies and platforms through which we serve specialty retailers, helping them create better, more enjoyable and more valuable businesses. We trade-marked the Tower AdvantageTM because it deserves it. It is unique to us, unique for our customers. The trademark represents our pride in what we do and those who we serve. It represents the difference we make in the world.
The Australian Financial Review recently published a terrific article about Xero, reporting how the company is primed for growth in Australia. We have seen this for some time through our work with Xero and retailers using Xero and their accountants. It is excellent accounting software.
Our experience is Xero is on the move. We are grateful to be part a small of the Xero story.
Being local in retail is more important than ever.
Local can mean different things to different people – it does not necessarily mean proximity. Being local could be about the level of care and attention you provide customers, the additional advice you provide, that you live locally, that you source locally or that you serve the local community personally.
Locally sourced products could be products made in Australia. For example, detailing where a product is made and the family behind it pitches local compared to a similar product imported from overseas.
You can use your Tower Systems POS software to pitch local in a range of ways:
It is not enough to tell people to shop local, you need to demonstrate the value of this, you need to live it transactionally in your retail business. The best way to do this is through systems and processes in your Tower Systems POS software.
Many retail businesses use scales to weigh products they sell. Pet shops weigh out bulk food and litter, produce stores sell feed by weight, garden centres weigh out soil and many other horticultural products, while supermarkets, whole foods stores, confectionery retailers, home brew shops and others need scales for processing many food products at the counter.
Tower Systems offers automatic scales integration with its specialist retail POS software, aspiring to government standards to ensure your independent business meets all relevant compliance requirements. We developed this feature in the software in response to feedback from our existing customers. Our independent business owner customers regularly provide feedback and feature requests direct to the company; when you buy our software, you’re entering into an equal partnership with us.
Any store selling products by weight can rely on our scales integration for fast and accurate selling. Although there are alternatives to selling by weight such as splitting and pre-packing stock and double-typing prices at the counter, both these methods waste valuable keystrokes and time while increasing the risk of avoidable mistakes that affect your bottom line. Set up your point of sale right with Tower Systems’ scales integration.
Specialist software must demonstrate specialist services and that is what Tower systems does every day through niche and unique facilities such as scales integration.
One of the benefits of using the Tower Systems POS software in your retail business is the professional training curriculum available through the company’s website.
New retail employees can undertake training specific to their role and the owner can track their progress through the training. The training is in a multi media form including text, images and video. The quality is exceptional.
This professional approach to employee training by Tower Systems helps retailers pursue consistency in their business by ensuring all employees have undertaken the same training.
Tower Systems CEO Mark Fletcher and National sales Manager Nathan Morrison are featuring on marketing material from the National retail Federation for the NRF Big Show that starts in two weeks in New York.
Attended by 30,000+ each year, the Big Show is an extraordinary business conference and trade show for large and small retailers. We have attended for many years.
The event is an excellent networking opportunity with overseas based peers as well as with engaged Australian retailers on matters of technology and retail business management.
The photo being used by the NRF was taken at last year’s event.
Tower Systems is using the rush of trade for small business retailers at Christmas to reinforce the commercial value of the Tyro integrated eftpos solution we offer. With 1,000 retailers connected through Tyro we have excellent data reflecting time saving, mistake reducing and other benefits for retailers that help at the sales counter as well as in the back office management of the business.
In the middle of the busy trading of Christmas, the benefits of the Tower Systems Tyro broadband eftpos integration are clear and felt on small business retail shops across a range of marketplaces:
A Tower Systems team members was in a retail business recently using POS software solution from another company and experienced a considerable failure of loyalty software. After making the purchase and leaving the store, our team member was called around ten minutes later with the news there was a voucher for them. It turns out this other POS software is slow at producing vouchers, meaning they often are printed minutes after the sale is completed – meaning the opportunity it lost.
Vouchers need to be printed with the sale, instantly, if the business is to leverage the maximum opportunity. This is vital to the success of any loyalty program – pitching to the shopper while they are still able to easily shop. This is what the Tower Systems POS software does – best practice loyalty in our POS software.
Calling a customer after they have left the shop is an epic fail for the POS software and a problem for the retail business.
The experience was a reminder to us that we have not the loyalty offers in our software right in terms of mix, facilities and speed. It also showed us a competitor’s weakness first-hand.
How do you identify product that is not working? When do you quit a product that is not working? Why should you quit stock? How do you quit the stock? How long should quitting stock take? What if the item does not sell no matter what you do?
These are all questions we will answer here for you in the form of suggestions. What you ultimately do is 100% up to you. Your choices need to reflect your own situation and circumstances.
Identifying product that is not working.
Product is not working if it is not paying its way – paying for the floor space it takes and the time you spend on it. Check your sales, rank all your stock based on sales – look at the bottom performing stock. Your software should have a ranked Sales Report that lets you list all your stock ranked by unit or $$ sales. Use this to create your list of items to consider.
The other way to identify stock that’s not working for you is to check your back room or other storage facility. Stock that is not generating cash regularly has to be considered dead in our view.
When do you quit a product?
You quit, exit, products when they are not paying their way, when a season is done or when you want to exit that category for some other reason.
Let’s say your rent is $1,250 per square metre per year. If your gross profit averages, say, 50%, you will need to sell $2,500 worth of product to pay for a metre of space. However, this is not the complete consideration as you have labour, power and other costs to cover. The suggested rule of thumb is that your retail sales need to be at least three times that necessary to cover the cost of the space. In the scenario covered here, you should be earning at least $7,500 from a square metre of space. If stock is not delivering this, quitting it could be necessary.
Why quit stock?
To keep your shop fresh, to not be weighed down by dead stock to make your shop look more relevant, to stop hoarding.
How to quit stock.
Here is how we quit stock in retail businesses we operate. These businesses are in shopping centres where retail space is limited and expensive. We are necessarily aggressive.
Quitting stock takes strength and commitment. We urge you to do it to keep your business fresh. Product not selling gives shoppers a bad impression of your business.
Take a look at your shop floor and in your back room. Look at what you can get rid of right away to reduce the anchor of dead stock on your business.
Too many retail businesses have old stock gathering dust. One of the best ways to separate your business is to regularly quit stock that is not performing as it should.
We have been advising our small business retail, customers our planned Christmas hours for several weeks:
We will close at 12 noon Christmas Eve and reopen 7am December 29. On December 31 we will close at 4pm. we reopoen January 4 at 7am. Our after hours numbers will be available for urgent system down queries.
There are some bad web development businesses out there, charging too much and delivering website solutions that are not what customers sought. Like anything in business, when it comes to web development – you get what you pay for. Caveat emptor.
Our advice when it comes to choosing a web developer is simple:
I am still amazed at what I can learn about your software and I’ve been using it for years already.
This is a customer comment to us from last week on discovering new training resources in our online knowledge base.
Our investment in regular enhancing of knowledge base content pays off this this type of customer love. It encourages us to do more.
New articles, new business advice and other new content each week make our small business POS software knowledge base a wonderful resource for our small business retailer community.
We especially love suggestions from customers on new content we can publish.
We love Xero. While we link to multiple small business accounting solutions, Xero is the one receiving most praise by experts and good press on a number of fronts at the moment.
Tower Systems is proud to be an approved authorised Xero POS software partner, listed on their website.
We are not surprised to see a POS software competition ignoring Xero when rating accounting software. Their ignorance is not unexpected.
The Tower Systems designed and manufactured gift cards are growing in popularity across a range of retail channels. We are thrilled to be of service to retailers keen to offer professional gift cards backed by professional gift card management software as they have access to through their smart and engaged Tower Systems POS software.
The latest design customer gift cards are being shipped right now – pitching fresh designs to retail partners in time for Christmas trade.
The image loaded with this post shows some of the cards we have designed for our garden centre customers.
We are grateful to have in-house graphic design capabilities through which we can promote deeper engagement with our software.
Basket analysis is the analysis of products purchased by transaction – shopping basket. Such analysis typically compares two trading periods overall and by day of week. It also includes this analysis by supplier comparing trading periods and day of week.
Basket analysis shows you the efficiency of product categories (departments). For example, see how many baskets include one category of item and nothing else. You can also see the numbers of times sales are single item sales.
Basket analysis underscores the value to the business of newer categories such as gifts and toys.
Basket analysis at a supplier level is equally insightful, allowing you to compare the basket efficiency and value of suppliers between two tradition periods as well as across each day of the week between two trading periods.
It is at the basket analysis level that you can determine product efficiency. A product is more efficient for you if it is purchased with other items in our view. You can drive this by careful placement on the shop floor, promotion at the sales counter and working with customers on the shop floor to guide their purchases.
It’s an example of how you can use comprehensive business data to drive your in-store actions. For example, knowing what we know about pop vinyls, Saturday is the day we really focus on them with secondary locations to do even better from the Saturday opportunity.
Basket analysis can also help you with rostering. With some category sales requiring more staff time that others, you can consider the product mix sold by day and adjust your roster accordingly. Trimming wages is an important cost saving focus in business.
The goal has to be deeper baskets (more items per transaction) and a greater spread across product categories – but with a focus on higher margin items so that also lift the overall GP performance of the business.
In the Tower Systems software the report to use for this analysis is the Basket Analysis Report. It provides an extraordinary insight into baskets.
Tower Systems offers CPA level help for retailers using the Xero accounting interface within our POS software. Guiding appropriate coding and ensuring the right data is linked to Xero, the level of help we provide is beyond what is usual for a POS software company.
Our Xero POS software link is best practice.
Beyond the help desk and beyond the usual IT support person assistance, our in-house accountant is able to help our customers to ensure accurate data and thereby leverage the better value achievable from the Xero link to the Tower Systems POS software.
We use Xero ourselves for two of our retail businesses and this enables us to speak from experience. This makes our advice more personal and experience based than what is usual for a POS software company.
Our accounting link experience includes Quicken and MYOB as well as Xero. It is the Xero experience we like the best, the accounting solution we have enjoyed the most.
This is another POS software Tower AdvantageTM.
Here is a list of POS software training available for small business retailers in the lead up to Christmas. Tower Systems is thrilled to be appropriately resourced and managed to be able to offer these free training opportunities that are a genuine point of difference for us:
Here are some tips from us on how to more effectively compete with a big business competitor located near your small business:
Magento is the world’s best online shopping cart, retail website tool in our view. We say this having worked with a host of platforms and gaining considerable experience ourselves and through people we work with.
Our POS software links to Magento through the Magento API, directly from our software into Magento for shared real-time data. We link from our software to Magento ourselves and have small business retail clients using it too.
Developed in addition to our well-established web-store link, the Magento link is deep, comprehensive and tremendously valuable.
High street retailers serious about an online presence will find it easier and faster to achieve through our Magento link, something we have been using ourselves for all this year and something with which we have excellent experience and knowledge.
Our web development team has developed multiple sites, providing us with excellent reference experiences for retailers contemplating an online presence connected to their high street POS software.
RETAIL LOYALTY INSIGHT: HOW A $2.50 DISCOUNT VOUCHER RESULTED IN PURCHASES OF $1,500 FROM A FIRST TIME SHOPPER
I want to share with you a true story of what happened recently in my own retail business. It is a story of how a small everyday purchase led to something bigger and how this happened as a result of fundamental changes in how the business is run.
To understand the personal nature of this story … Tower Systems owns and operates several retail businesses including a newsagency in a major Westfield shopping centre. We have this business to provide us with a real-world experience in retail where we can experiment with our POS software.
While this story is about what happened in my newsagency, it could happen in any type of business. This newsagency, by the way, is not your typical newsagency. Close to 70% of what we sell is non traditional. It is high margin higher price point items that sit at the core of this unique business.
At its core, this is a story about shopper loyalty, especially shopper loyalty in a retail situation where between 25% and 30% of shoppers visiting the business are not local and therefore not likely to engage with the old-school points-based loyalty program.
A customer passing the shop noticed our greeting card range and stepped into make a purchase because of a specific need. They purchased two cards. On their receipt was a voucher for almost $2.00. As they are not usually in the shopping centre they looked around for something in which to spend the $2.00.
This is the key: the customer came in to make a quick destination purchase. The type of business we were did not matter. They were on the way to the car park and happened to pass buy our shop. Point 1: location is in our favour. The stepped in because they saw our greeting cards. Point 2: the floor placement of cards was key in getting them in the shop.
Having made the purchase, the customer then noticed, for the first time, what else we sold – because of the $2.00 discount voucher on their receipt. Point 3: we got them to look around and see what else we sold.
The customer did a 180 degree turn and saw a locked glass cabinet of beautiful collectible bears. This was in the right place at the right time as they had been looking for a gift for a child. Money was not an issue. They wanted something to last a lifetime. They purchased a $500.00 bear.
This purchase would not have been made had they not been given the $2.00 voucher on their receipt. The voucher is what got them to notice what else we sold.
Fast forward several weeks and this customer who said they don’t usually come to the shopping centre was back for another $500.00 purchase. Now, several more weeks later, the customer has another $500.00 order placed.
I can directly trace more than $1,500.00 in sales back to the $2.00 voucher.
The software produced the voucher based on rules I established. The initial staff member serving the customer made a brief professional pitch highlighting the voucher. These are both important factors as they are at the core of a structured consistent approach to what has become the most lucrative loyalty program I have seen in my 30+ years involved in retail as a retailer myself and working with retailers in many different channels.
While most times vouchers are handed out they are not redeemed, they are redeemed enough to make them worthwhile. They are redeemed for good margin product as they get people looking at the shop for the first time and discovering items to purchase they were not in our four walls to consider.
The discount vouchers are disruptive and this is why I love them. People respond in unpredictable ways.
Best of all, the discount vouchers are profitable.
For this story to work in any retail business you need to have the right products, placed strategically in-store. Your employees need to make the right pitch. Plus, you need to be attracting people who don’t know and probably don’t care what shop they are in.
Tower Systems offers not only excellent software but also the business acumen, experience and drive to help you make the most of the opportunities in the software.
From points on a purchase to buy X and get Y FREE to Discount Vouchers, the Tower software offers flexibility in loyalty offerings that enable you to make the pitch right for your business to bring shoppers bag to spend more than might usually be the case.
Managing staff can be a challenge for small business retailers as too many operate more on a friendship basis than through structured processes and using accurate business data to guide decisions.
Thanks to smart tools in the Tower Point of Sale software, our retail partners have at their disposal tools on which they can rely to bring consistency, planning and comfort to employee management.
Here are four of the tools available to retailers for managing employees using the Tower software:
Using these tools and other facilities in the smart Tower retail management software retail business owners and their managers can build strong outcomes for their business and provide better oversight and management of employees.
Knowing the economic value of an employee to a business can help the business manage good outcomes for the business and for the employee. This is where data plays a key role and where Tower systems can help retailers improve their situation.
Tower Systems is actively engaged with Plants Plus retailers already using its Garden Centre Software to help them navigate away from the current Plants Plus loyalty program to an in-house offer. This change is necessary because of the decision by HTH to withdraw from Plants Plus.
Having met with folks from Plants Plus we are well prepared to assist with the transition to provide local Plants Plus business owners with certainty and comfort not only in handling the transition for loyalty rewards points but also to enable them to sell gift cards for their own business with certainty and ease.
Our most recent meeting with Plants Plus was Friday last week, enabling us to provide certainly and direction for local Plants Plus owners. We are working with them and our customers to deliver the best possible outcome to Plants Plus retailers and their customers.
The work tower systems is doing in this area is important for our existing Plants Plus customers and those joining our community of garden centre Software users.