How Tower Systems helps small business retailers save time in connecting with their suppliers

Tower Systems has a structured approach to helping small business retailers and their suppliers more efficiently, effectively and accurate connect. Our approach is based on years of service including time as retailers ourselves, using our own software to work more closely with suppliers.

  1. Suppliers can provide electronic invoices.
  2. Retailers can provide a feed of sales.
  3. Suppliers can provide stock files.
  4. Retailers can provide orders.

These are just some of the ways we connect retailers and suppliers. It is structured, consistent and accurate. The benefits are time saved and mistakes eliminated. This is best practice when it comes to connecting independent small business retailers and their suppliers.

Everyone wins.

We are grateful to the suppliers with whom we partner and their retailers who help guide our work in this area. The value it adds is wonderful to see.

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Back to School marketing ideas for small business retailers who serve school students and their families

Back to School time is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with existing customers and to attract new customers to your store.

Here are some free marketing suggestions (some mainstream and some left field) designed to help you attract customers and get them shopping your Back to School range. Most of these marketing tips can be tried without spending too much money:

  1. Tell a visual story in-store. Get an old school desk and create a display showing your back to School supplies being used.
  2. Support a local school. Invite current and past students to tell their school stories through a display in your window or in store on a large noticeboard. The stories could be in the form of text on a page, a collage or photos.
  3. School stories. Invite customers, young and old to share their school stories in 50 words or less. Create an entry form. Stick the stories up on a wall for all to read. Offer a small prize for the best story.
  4. Old School Photos. Get customers 25 and over to bring in their favourite old school photo. Offer a small price for the best. Maybe group the photos: 25 to 40; 40 to 60; 60+. This could be an educational display as well as a beacon for nostalgia buffs.
  5. Run a sale for teachers. Consider giving teachers a special discount of anything (within reason) in store. Getting teachers in could help bring the students in.
  6. Discount by value. Offer a discount to customers who spend over a certain amount – respecting their loyalty to your business.
  7. Dress in uniforms. Have a day or two when all shop floor employees dress in school uniform.
  8. Be an information hub. Create a bulletin board of local school events – reminding parents of engagement opportunities. This should be maintained through the school year and done in association with the school.
  9. Host a shopping event. While you still have back to school stock on the shop floor host an event with games and prizes where you have all back to School stock on special. This should be a Back to School themed event and promoted well in advance.
  10. Host a bake sale. Invite a fund raising group connected with a local school to host a bake sale or a sausage sizzle out the front of your store on a couple of days through the Back to School sale season.
  11. Holiday fun. Run a competition for kinder and primary students inviting art entries showing their favourite part of the school holidays. Put the art on show. Offer a small prize. Parents will love the activity opportunity and the entrants will love seeing their work on show.
  12. Teacher gifts. If you have teacher gifts left over from your Christmas sales, put these out as some students may want to get the year off to a good start.
  13. Student gifts. Family and friends may want to give students a nice gift to acknowledge the start of the new year – maybe they are starting at a new school. Create a display of gifts especially for students.

No matter how big or small Back to School is in your store, it is an opportunity to have some fun and strengthen your connection with the local community.

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Multi store POS software for small business retailers

Retailers running multiple retail locations can use the Tower Systems POS software in these multiple locations easily and efficiently. Using the multi-store POS software, retailers can:

  1. Easily manage inventory across multiple locations.
  2. Run hosted – in the cloud.
  3. Transfer stock between stores – maintaining stock data integrity and accounting record integrity.
  4. Transfer sales data.
  5. Link to MYOB / Xero / Quicken.
  6. Set price controls.
  7. Set staff access controls.
  8. See stock on hand in multiple locations easily.

The multi-store POS software from Tower Systems is smart, robust and valuable in any small retail business that is growing.

We have retailers in 15 and more locations using this. Hosted in the cloud. easily managed. Serving a diverse mix of retail and management needs.

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Tower Systems at Atlanta Gift Fair where gets, homewares, jewellers and toys were on show

The Atlanta Gift Fair that wraps up this week has been extraordinary for us and our small business POS software in terms of insights gained into gift and homewares trans as well as valuable supplier connections made.

Attending international trade shows like this Atlanta event broadens our knowledge of retailers, suppliers and market trends and this is reflected in software with a broader perspective. We urge other POS software companies to attend.

We are grateful to those who shared their insights with us in Atlanta. The connections made will be insightful.

Looking back on 2016 we can see benefits in our software as a result of attending the Atlanta Fair in January 2016.

2017 is going to be an exciting year.

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Small business marketing tip: how POS software won a $500 purchase

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.

This story could happen in any retail business – city, country, large, small, shopping mall, high street. We make that point so you do not dismiss the story and think it could not happen in your business. The elements of the story work together in any size business. In writing about it here I’m not getting you to do anything other than to consider that you could achieve the same in your 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 birthday 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 purchase where we 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.

We can directly trace more than $1,500.00 in sales back to the $2.00 voucher.

The software produced the voucher based on rules we 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 we 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. People respond in unpredictable ways.

Best of all, the discount vouchers are profitable.

For this story to work in a newsagency you need to have the right products, placed strategically in-store. Your staff 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.

If you have read this post and thought it does not relate to you, that you could not do this in your business we say you are wrong. We are certain the approach I have shared with you could work in any newsagency in any situation. We urge you to not hold your business back.

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Ten ways small business retailers can compete with big business retailers when they run a sale

Here is practical advice for local small business retailers based on our years of service of such businesses:

Big businesses – Big W, Woolworths, Coles, K-Mart, Target, Officeworks, Staples – all need volume for any move they make, any promotion, any catalogue, any front of store offer.

The operate on seven and fourteen day cycles. Rarely, they will run something for a month.

It is almost unheard of for them to run an offer, promotion or deal longer that two weeks.

It is important to know this as it can help you deal with them competing with you on price, which they will do.

These majors set their own price. Most times they do not tell their supplier. They get the product shipped to their distribution centre and from there they ship to stores for when the catalogue hits or TVC starts. It is rare for a supplier to know any of the details – unless it is tied to a movie release or so other national promotion.

It is important to know these points as we often see retailers complain that the supplier has been complicit in a discount offer. Usually they are not. But even if they are we do not blame them as theirs (the supplier) is a volume business and small business cannot deliver the volume they need to maintain their status with the brand owner.

Here are tips for dealing with a competitor challenging you on price:

  1. Rest your products while they discount. This is not recommended but we acknowledge it is an option.
  2. Stick to your guns. Don’t change a thing. But educate your staff with a story about price, big vs. small and the importance of local small businesses.
  3. Renew the pitch of your loyalty program. For example if you run discount vouchers that could be more valuable than a short term discount.
  4. Promote your exclusive product.
  5. Keep your display full.
  6. Offer amazing shop-floor customer service.
  7. Show off your product knowledge through Facebook posts.
  8. Add value where possible.
  9. Run a competition for people purchasing the target product through you. This helps to differentiate your offer.
  10. Package to make price comparison harder.

Try and not get hijacked by stress about a competitor. Being stressed will not alter the situation. It is what you do that matters. Exercise control. Be a competitor.

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Small business paperwork campaign resonates with indie retailers

We are thrilled with the response to our paperwork campaign supporting operational efficiency in small and independent retail businesses. This is a campaign for existing Tower Systems customers as well as prospective customers.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 2.15.30 PM

Launched by Tower Systems as part of a broader training, POS software enhancements and business support package, this focus for 2017 encourages small business retailers to better manage paperwork for the benefit of the business and those served by the business.

Eliminating paperwork is easy when your POS software directly links to the right tools such as web platforms, appointment facilities and accounting software.

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Special POS software offer from Tower Systems for small business retailers

POS software company Tower Systems last week launched a special POS software offer for independent small business retailers in Australia. This offer includes several 2017 New Year bonuses that will benefit those who engage between now and January 25, 2016.

Tower Systems has written to retailers in selected retail channels with details of the offer.

The Tower Systems 2017 POS software includes bonus software, support and other valuable small business benefits.

Small business retailers keen to leverage this loved POS software can contact Tower Systems directly to find out more: via our website or by phone on 1300 662 957.

Small business retailers do not typically purchase POS software this time of the year. This offer from Tower Systems rewards those who make an unseasonal purchase.

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Advice for small business retailers: How to stop your business data being useless

Data is king in any business. This is especially true in independent small retail businesses where data is key to being competitive against better resourced businesses. To often in our work with small business retailers we find a lack of discipline around business data, too little respect.

This advice has been written for use in businesses where the business data has been found to be useless, faulty and / or of little value.

There is no doubt: poor business data = poor business decisions.

If you ever hope to sell your retail business, accurate business data is vital, it will determine the price you achieve for your business.

Don’t be one of those business owners who only cares about accurate business data when you decide to sell as that could be too late.

Here is all you need to do to ensure you have accurate business data.

  1. Ensure you have a good department and category structure. This helps ensure the reports are useful. By good we suggest no more than fifteen departments and no more than fifteen categories within each department.
  2. Arrive all stock into your POS software. The best way to do this is to receive and import into your software electronic invoices from suppliers. This is done in Invoice Arrivals.

The slower way is to manually enter invoices into your software item by item. This is done in Invoice Arrivals.

If you created an order using the software and this order subsequently arrives, you can receive the order – to save time.

  1. Scan all stock you sell at the point of sale. Resist excuses like items are too small or too big or it takes too long or it is impractical. All these excuses can be countered.
  2. Scan all stock you return to suppliers. Use the Returns facility.
  3. Scan all stock you write off. Use the Write-off Stock facility.

Very simple, right?

Accurate business data is up to you. Not your software company, not your suppliers.

Accurate business data is 100% up to you.

Once you have accurate data, track business performance. Use the accurate data to see trends in your business, to guide better quality business decisions.

It is easy to create accurate business data. The operational and financial benefits are extraordinary.

How Tower Systems can help. We have articles in our knowledge base on everything discussed here. We also have training videos that show you what to do. We host weekly online training workshops, accessible from anywhere, where you can ask questions on any topic. Plus, supported customers have access to free one on one training.

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Six reasons our Australian POS software is ideal for Australian small and independent retail businesses

We are proud of our POS software designed and developed in Australia for Australian retail conditions.

  1. Serving local needs. designed with Aussie retailers, based on their suggestions and using them as part of a comprehensive beta program.
  2. Local support. Based out of our head office in Hawthorn Victoria with Australian capital city based local offices. We are local and serving you in your time zone.
  3. Connected with Australian suppliers.  yes, our software helps you link to suppliers, cutting mistakes and saving time.
  4. Local training. In your shop and over the phone.
  5. Local user meetings. Well over 50 done in regional and rural Australia offer the last year.
  6. Deep channel support. For all the specialist retail channels that we serve, we have mature and sustained engagement enabling us to provide channel specific connections.

Tower Systems is proud to serve Australian retailers with Australia POS software.

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Free POS software training for Tower Systems POS software users

Tower Systems is thrilled to announce its first free online training workshop for 2017. This is next week, Wednesday at 2pm. This session is on custom stock takes – the efficient and friendly way to count stock and eliminate the need for the end of year stock take.

January is a perfect time for retailers to learn how to do this time efficient type of stock take and we are glad to be able to help.

This free POS software training from Tower Systems is a differentiating service from us.

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Five reasons January is the ideal time to switch POS software in small business retail

January is a perfect time to with POS software in locally owned small business retail and here is why based on our years of working with thousands of small business retailers:

  1. For many retail channels in Australia this is a quiet time, ideal for making changes in the business.
  2. New software is like a spring clean off data and processes. At the start of a calendar year is a good time to do this.
  3. After Christmas and the post christmas sales stock can be depleted, making for less stock based data to transfer if you have quit lines.
  4. Suppliers are on a break meaning you will have fewer interruptions.
  5. Most retailers don;t switch now meaning software companies have even more resources to help.

If you are switching to better software, any time is a good time to switch. Doing it now, however, has added benefits. This is where Tower Systems can help.

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Seven valuable reasons small business retailers should not wait for the end of the financial year to do a stock take

Gone are the days when retailers needed to do an annual stock take. Now, with smart technology, there are valuable reasons for not waiting, for undertaking custom and spot stock takes throughout the year. Here are out top seven reasons retailers should not wait to do an annual stock take.

  1. You discover theft sooner. In many retail businesses, shopper theft is isolated to a product category and / or specific location. Target this and get hard data to guide your actions.
  2. Better manage the labor cost. Using downtime in quiet shifts is more cost effective than bringing in a team for a stock take.
  3. More accurately order. Order based on accurate on hand data.
  4. Achieve a valuable connection with your online store. Your online store needs accurate on hand data. Spot and custom stock takes are vital for achieving this.
  5. Have more accurate financials. Account for shrinkage as the year goes rather than in end of year financials.
  6. Educate staff. Knowing what is being stolen or damaged on the shop floor from spot or custom stock takes in sections of the shop can help you better inform staff.
  7. Sell more. the more work staff do on the shop floor the more they will sell.

There are many other reasons stock takes in bite-size chunks through the year are better for independent small business retail outlets. This list is our top seven based on years of work with thousands of retailers.

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How our POS software company helps small business retailers reduce the risk of ransomware

Here at Tower Systems we help small business retailers with everyday computer use advice. We have recently mailed to all of our customers this COMPUTE USE POLICY that will, if followed, reduce the opportunity for the user business to be impacted by a ransomware attack.

This advice was emailed and mailed to our customers as a service. We share it here for the broader community of small business retailers who stop by this place.

COMPUTER USE POLICY

  1. The computers in this business are business tools. Their security is vital to the safe running of the business.
  2. Do not use any computer for any form of personal use without permission. This means:
    1. No playing games.
    2. No looking at porn.
    3. No Facebook.
    4. No downloading movies, TV shows, music.
    5. No browsing websites unless they are websites used regularly by this business for running the business.
    6. No connecting your phone to the computer.
  3. Do not open emails including business emails unless you have permission.
  4. Do not click on any link in any email unless you are 100% certain the email is from a trusted source.
  5. Do not clear the browser cache.
  6. Never put a USB stick in a computer unless you are certain of the source.
  7. Never permit anyone to use a computer in the business unless you have permission.
  8. Never give anyone a computer password from the business.
  9. If someone you don’t know calls and tells you to do something with the computer, make sure they have authority.
  10. Never write down any business password you are entrusted with.
  11. Never connect a USB stick with the computer unless you have permission.
  12. If you do something wrong own up to it immediately.
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All ready for Boxing Day sales in small business retail

BoxingDaySaleA4In keeping with tradition and our help for small business retailers beyond the POS software w develop and support, we are posting here artwork for A4 and A4 Boxing Day sale posters for anyone to use.

Click here for the A4 PDF.

Click here for the A3 PDF.

Boxing day is massive in some states. It can be as valuable as the two weeks before Christmas.

We are thrilled to help small business retailers attract new shoppers through marketing like this.

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In retail today

IMG_2339Being Christmas Eve it has been crazy busy in the shops today with last minute shopping.

Since we are a POS software company that owns retail shops we have been personally and practically involved in retail today, behind the counter, using our software serving shoppers with last-minute Christmas purchases. This photo is from our shop at Knox City in Melbourne today before we opened for customers. Thankfully it is the only time of the day the shop was empty.

We are grateful for another busy day in retail and another day of retail experience that inform some choices we make in our software.

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The POS software help desk is winding down for Christmas

As is always the way with the last office day prior to Christmas, help desk calls have stopped as retailers focus on selling.

We are calling it a day and switching all support coverage from now until December 28 at 7am to our after hours numbers. Here are our contact points. This is a copy of the card, which we sent to all customers last month by mail and by email:

SupportCardOct16

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Tower Systems helps retailers cut the time of a stock take

Stock takes in retail can be a chore, especially if you do them the old school way. Thanks to smart technology in the Tower Systems POS software our retail partners are able to get stock takes done faster.

The new approach leverages facilities unique to the Tower software. The approach is ideal for a business with stock take needs that vary based on product types, categories, suppliers and other groupings.

The custom stock take facility in the Tower Systems software is simple and elegant. Retail employees love it for its ease of use and that it delivers the outcome in much less time than the way too many other POS software programs go abut the stock take process.

This is another Tower AdvantageTM another time saving and benefit for the small business which which we partner.

Thanks to online and other trade stock takes are needed far more regularly than ever before. This is where the tower Systems approach really shines.

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Managing the POS software help desk in this busy week before Christmas

The types of calls our POS software help desk receives in the week before Christmas changes. This week, calls will all be about quick resolution, the calls will be about the now rather than with an eye to the future.

Retail businesses will be busier this week than any other week of the year in most situations.

To serve the needs that we know will be unique to this week we have our help desk team focussed and our processes tuned to serve our customers, to provide the best possible outcome as quickly as possible.

We understand time is especially short this week. We have structured our approach to ensure we meet the expectations of our customers.

We have a fully staffed help desk. We back them with our escalation team and senior management.

We want this week before Christmas to be happy and valuable for everyone!

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Small business retail marketing advice: protect your business data against disaster

Data is as valuable as cash to any retail business yet many do not treat data with respect. Our advice to small business retailers is to get real about data, to get serious about protecting this important asses.

In terms of protecting your business data against disaster, here is our most important advice:

  1. Backup your business data every day, at the end of the day, without fail.
    1. Better still: use a cloud based backup service that undertakes the backup as the day unfolds without you having to every do anything to backup.
  2. Maintain a separate backup for each day of the week.
  3. Remove the backup from the business property.
  4. Store the backup in a safe, dry place.
  5. Check the usefulness of the backup by restoring and checking the data.
  6. Store original business software in a safe off-site location.
  7. Check the backup every three to six months – to make sure the backup is actually backing us current data and can be read. A backup you cannot read is a waste of time and money.
  8. Change your passwords regularly.
  9. Use hard to crack passwords.
  10. Do not share passwords widely.
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Extraordinary results for Tower Systems small business retailer e-commerce sites

Retailers are thrilled with the results of several Tower Systems created, hosted and managed e-commerce sites in the rush to Christmas.

Delivering extraordinary sales, the sites are helping small business retailers find new customers.

The thrill is heightened in regional and rural situations where retailers are able to win sales that are substantially more valuable than they ever see in their out of the way situation.

Call from retailers winning this unexpected windfall business is a wonderful experience for us. We love to hear the stories about the several hundred dollar sale completed online and shipped to a happy customer across the other side of the country.

Tower Systems created a series of sites and managed the marketing of the sites to make them highly sought after, compelling and enjoyable for shopper experiences. This is a 100% in-house project for our retail partners.

We are proud of the technology and even more proud of the commercial outcome we have facilitated for our customers.

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