Sunday retail management advice: managing spinners for success

Retailers have a love-hate relationship with spinners. While some have a rule of no spinners, in many situations they are necessary.

Here is advice designed to help any retailer make the most of the spinner opportunity.

  1. Keep them tidy. Duh! This is very basic advice. But it needs to be said. Daily you should have your spinners checked and tidies. Move products to the front, keep products clean, pose products to show them off, if appropriate to the products.
  2. Keep them full. A half empty spinner will not work as well as a full spinner. This is retail 101.
    1. If you plan to keep a spinner for the long term, order stock regularly to keep it full. We know that a full spinner usually achieves around 20% more sales than a half empty spinner.
    2. If a spinner is a one-shot – get it in, sell it down, take it off the floor – once it starts to look empty, consider taking all stock off and placing it elsewhere in-store. Leaving it on the floor and half empty will hinder sales.
  3. Move your spinners. One a week tweak spinner locations to keep your shop floor story fresh. Have a plan. Don’t move them just to move them. Move them to drive sales – to get the products considered by people who may have missed them so far.
  4. Respect the brand. Never put product on a branded spinner that is not from the brand. Not only would such a move disrespect the brand it makes you look like an unprofessional retailer.
  5. Use thoughtful adjacencies. When placing spinners next to each other, think about the shopper and what they are looking for. This will encourage a shopper attracted to a spinner to consider the products on the spinner next to it.
  6. Avoid orphans. There is nothing sadder than a lonely spinner at the back of a shop. It’s usually half empty and looking tired and sad. It does nothing for the products or the business. Find it some friends or remove the stock and throw the spinner out.
  7. Spinners have a limited life. While a spinner for which you no longer have the original product can be useful for displaying other products, don’t work the poor thing beyond its useful life. Hideously bent wire, cracked and broken pockets, no signage, seriously chipped paint, broken casters … these are all indications that the poor old spinner ought to be tossed out.
  8. Leverage traffic hotspots. This only works with certain products on spinners – locate the spinner next to high traffic generating products such as weekly magazines, newspapers, lotteries etc. The products need to be products shoppers of the destination items will purchase.
  9. Leverage seasons. Around your cluster of cards for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc place spinners with products appropriate to the season.
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Repairs software helps specialty small business retailers efficiently manage repairs

Small business retailers using the repairs management software from Tower Systems can rely on the software to streamline operations, reduce paperwork, improve customer service and deliver outcomes that help the businesses grow repairs revenue.

the repairs facilities in our software have been developed in close consultation with customers across a variety of retail channels. Plus, the repairs software is regularly enhanced – too deliver evolving solutions to meet evolving needs.

Tower Systems serve a number of specialist retail channels with repairs management software appropriate to the needs of businesses in those channels. Initially developed in response to the needs of our jeweller customers, these features are now utilised by clients in a number of different retail markets.

Some of the functions our specialist retail software’s repair features are being used for include:

  1. In Jewellers: Jewellery and watch workshop repairs, dated manufacturing.
  2. In Bike Shops: Bicycle and tricycle repairs, warranty returns.
  3. In Garden Centres: Landscaping services management.
  4. In Firearms Stores: Gunsmithy and equipment repairs, warranty returns.
  5. In Pet Shops: Aquarium installations.

Repairs management software is flexible, serving a range of needs outside managing the actual repairs themselves. The flexibility in the software enables it to be used in different businesses for different purposes – from job management, to workshop management and traditional repairs management.

The software tracks the labour and resources used from a billing and inventory management perspective. It also handles allocation of repairs or parts of a repair to venues outside the business (for contracting and supplier exchanges or repairs for warranty issues, for example) and tracks repair staff and couriers used in shipping repairs. Once the repair is ready for pick-up by the customer, the software finalises the billing and advises the customer by SMS or another preferred method. Payments are processed with the usual depth of our retail software’s point of sale functionality – customers can make multiple payments against a repair or a specialist manufacturing, pay through cash, EFTPOS, PayPal or other methods.

Tower Systems streamlines the repairs process, facilitates good communication and helps bring management certainty to the overall repairs process in your business. It helps local independent businesses provide the kind of professional, personal and efficient repairs services that major corporate stores and online-only offerings can only dream of.

Serving a number of specialist retail channels gives Tower Systems the opportunity to provide more comprehensive and flexible repairs/job/manufacturing management software. Our customers continue to provide feedback and influence the development and support of this software feature, from firearms stores to bike shops and more.

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Tower Systems e-commerce strategy helps small business retailers with omni-channel solution

The Tower Systems POS software e-commerce strategy is delivering online sales to small business retailers.

Representing a group of small business retailers under a common international brand platform the Tower Systems developed and managed website provides live stock availability to more than 200 retail businesses. This enables shoppers of the sought after brand to find local shops with stock.

Linked live to the independently owned retail businesses, the website provides a national view of stock availability for online purchase as well as in-store purchase.

Online purchases can be shipped or collected in-store.

Transactions are secure, without credit cards being accessed by the website nor are they stores in and POS system in the store.

The small business retailers that are part of the e-commerce strategy love that they are winning retail revenue from online sales without having to develop or maintain and online presence. The solution for their businesses is considerable and low-cost.

This is a best practice approach to online for small retail businesses today as it is fast, easy, accurate and national in its presence.

The Tower Systems desktop and web teams have worked together to deliver a series of websites, the first of which launched in 2015 and more have been added since.

Using the latest web development tools, the solution from Tower Systems helps small business retailers embrace online in a genuinely unique and valuable way.

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Tower Systems helps small business retailers achieve balance in inventory

We often see in data from retailers an imbalance in inventory performance – 20% or fewer items in-store generate 80% of the revenue.

This imbalance can often be missed if the overall business performance is good. It could be that such an imbalance is only discovered if the business falls on hard times and more thorough analysis of business performance is undertaken.

Using the Ranked Sales Report in the Tower Systems POS software you can quickly and easily see the top performing inventory items based on revenue or unit sales. Either metric could be useful in different situation.

Our advice is to run the Ranked Sales Report for a three, six or twelve month period. Look at the items in, say, the top 100 and determine the value of those items to your business compared to the rest of the business.

Usually, such analysis highlights inventory challenges business owners want to address by achieving greater balance of sales across more inventory items. This does not mean holding back the top performing lines. Rather, it means working on those outside the top performers, working on their success through work on placement, promotion, staff engagement and other factors over which you have control.

The Ranked Sales Report provides excellent insights into comparative performance of inventory items. The goal is to guide you to achieve greater balance so your business relies less on the star performers.

The danger of relying on star performers is the impact on the business should one or two stars fall. The more broadly based your business the better positioned it is to weather competition, challenges or a decline in one or two items. Broadening the base of your business from an inventory perspective strengthens the business.

We are happy to assess your Ranked Sales Report for you. Contact support and ask the settings we’d like, run the report, save it as a PDF and send it to us. We will share our feedback.

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Updated advice for POS software users in Tower Systems knowledge base

The Tower Systems Knowledge base continues to expand with weekly enhancements. We add new articles and update existing articles. This makes the knowledge base a living thing for our customers, offering fresh insights and advice through which they can learn more about how to use the software.

Here are knowledge base enhancements in the last few days.

  1. Importing The Blueshyft Stock File & Invoice File
  2. Common Problems With Magazine Arrivals
  3. Gift Vouchers / Cards Setup
  4. End Of Financial Year Procedures
  5. How To Add A New Staff Initial
  6. NETWORK Sales Data Being Sent Back To XChangeIT
  7. New PC / Windows Configuration – Operating System Configuration

Our POS software customer in their weekly email get a more comprehensive list … weekly.

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How do you know can you trust a POS software company?

Trust is important in business. It is especially important in small and local business.

Trust is mission critical for POS software companies.

We say this because our software helps our customers engender trust in their local communities and with their customers. If our software fails, it challenges the trust local shoppers have in local businesses using our software.

Retailers rely on their POS software, they trust their POS software companies to provide software that works and that it is backed with professional assistance when they need … and that it is enhanced too meet the needs of businesses as they evolve.

This is why we say trust is vital in the choice of POS software for any small business.

So, how do you know you can trust a POS software company you are considering? Here is our advice, things to look for in assessing the trustworthiness of any POS software company you are considering:

  1. Talk to the owner. Most businesses will say this is not possible. Challenge them – see how they respond.
  2. Visit their office. This is essential to understand their capacity to serve you.
  3. Look at their website. Do they make it easy to contact them? Are the ottos real? Do the words make sense? Do you trust what they write? Are they on your level?
  4. Talk to their customers.
  5. Ask for access to their training website. See what their customer see.
  6. Ask for access to training videos. See the resources they offer for staff training.
  7. Do a Google search on them and see what comes up.
  8. Do a Google search on their owner and find out more about them.

POS software company relationships are long term so take your time, make sure the business you enter into a relationship with has the capacity, stamina and desire for an equally long term relationship.

POS software company relationships are personal. Ensure the POS software company you are talking to understands this. Too often POS software companies hide behind general email addresses and call centres where you do not know the name of the person you are speaking to. It is vital you know who they are because, yes, it is personal. Being personal is key to trust and trust is vital in this relationship.

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A note on POS software and credit card access in small business retail

The Tower Systems POS software does not store credit card numbers of customers who use cards to pay in shops using our POS software.

The customer presents their card to the Tyro terminal connected to our software the processing of the card details is done 100% by Tyro with no details being shared with our POS software other than payment success or otherwise.

This approach – of us not storing credit card details for retail transactions – is vital in providing peace of mind for retailers and their customers around customer credit card access and fraud mitigation.

Our view is: storing a retail shopper credit card number in POS software is a big mistake. It puts the security of the card number at risk. Customers will not like it.

We suggest retailers not use POS software that stores customer credit card numbers.

Our Tyro and other bank EFTPOS integrations meet the high standards set in Australia and New Zealand for electronic transactions using credit and other banking cards. Our connections are tested and authorised. They are secure.

Tower Systems takes fraud mitigation seriously.

Update: The lone voice of POS Solutions, Bernard the owner of the business, is back from a long vacation and rather than discoing topics to write about for himself, he writes about what we write about it. You can see it today on their site. They don’t name us. They rarely do. Instead, the use terms like: One software company, I know well. Yes, that’s us. His post is a ramble whereas the facts we have presented here are focussed. The two posts speak to their respective companies.

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Small business management advice: 20 tips for Christmas in July

A fun event for any small business retailer is Christmas in July. Here are twenty tips to get you started on the opportunity:

  1. Check with your local council or business association as to what they have on – more and more are running Christmas in July events. Be sure to check with charities too.  A quick search online shows plenty do. Talk to suppliers to see whether they have anything which could help you embrace the opportunity.
  2. Run the Christmas in July campaign over no more than two weeks in July. One week could be enough.
  3. Choose dates which are away from any other promotion – it works best with little competition.
  4. Get all employees together, seek their ideas and explain the value of the season you are creating.
  5. Set aside a defined space at the front of the store.
  6. Dress the team and the store to suit the Christmas theme.
  7. Display any spare Christmas stock from last year.
  8. Play Christmas music.
  9. Choose a day for an extra special celebration and make this an all-out focus.
  10. Have a competition for the kids around the theme. This could be a coloring competition –display their works of art as parents and family will visit to see.
  11. Create a giant Christmas stocking which one lucky customer can win.
  12. Use the event to discount slow moving items – try and create a real sense of bargains.
  13. Promote the event using a flyer to houses around your location – it is a great way to draw people into your shop. On the flyer, promote the activities and any specials.
  14. Call the local paper and get their attention.
  15. Connect with a local charity that is busy at Christmas time and use your Christmas in July event to raise funds for them.
  16. Use the promotion to drive interest in Lay-by for more expensive items. The sooner you lock people in on more expensive items the better.
  17. Consider running the promotion with other retailers – the more noise you create the better.
  18. Don’t wait for suppliers to offer products – ask what they have.
  19. Being Winter in Australia, Christmas in July is your opportunity to have a cold Christmas event.
  20. Have fun.
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Free training for small business retailers to increase sales

Small business retailers using the POS software form Tower Systems have access to best-practice free POS software training every week. This coming week we are re-running one of our most popular live workshops, on how to use discount vouchers to drive retail sales:

Meeting Name: Increase Sales Now! Start using Discount Vouchers.
Date: 13/07/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Start using Discount Vouchers to grow your business. A great introduction to this great feature.

This interactive live session takes small business retailers through the process of setup and use of the popular discount voucher offering.

Tower Systems is proud to be continuing to deliver these free training opportunities for our customers – year in year out. It is a Tower Systems difference live and in action for our small business customers.

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Tower Systems POS software on show at Gift HQ this weekend

Our team is in Brisbane and ready for the Gift HQ trade show that starts tomorrow morning in Brisbane.

On show on our stand will be new software that helps gift retailers to drive shopper engagement. We will also be showing off our smart integrations that help retailers. These include our integrations with Xero, Magento, Shopify, Tyro and our smart Business Intelligence platform.

Trade shows like Gift HQ are vital in that they provide us an opportunity to connect with shoppers, gain feedback on our new facilities and provide personal training to users connecting with us at the event.

Gitf HQ is one of sixteen trade shows we will do this year, one of sixteen trade organised events where we personally face to face connect with customers and prospective customers.

We are grateful for the opportunity and appreciative of the time small business owners will give to connect with us at the event.

GiftHQEmailJuly16

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Best practice advice on how to do a stocktake using your POS software

Here is some of the advice we published to ur POS software customers in the lead up to the end of the financial year – to help them efficiently and accurately handle stock take requirements.

Take the technology to the stock and not your stock to your technology.

For the process to be as easy as possible you will need a wireless network – vital for OH&S reasons.

The best way to do a stocktake in your business is by using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer with a scanner attached. This enables you to do the stocktake live with no impact on sales and absolute integrity of your stock on hand data.

While using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer may seem cumbersome, it is our best practice advice for speed, data integrity and the ability to address data issues you may encounter on the shop floor. It enables you to do management work to ensure completely accurate data.

The alternative is to use a PDE. The challenges with this are the many different PDEs and it is challenging to be expert in all plus the PDE counts at that time and you load the data at a later time – meaning a gap in time in which sales could have been done. While PDE software is available for live to data updates, we have seen this be problematic and so we do not use it.

Given the advances in technology, our best practice recommendation is either a laptop of tablet computer as either offers a better solution than a PDE.

We suggest you setup a Laptop or tablet and use Team Viewer or the like to connect in and count this way. This approach means you do not need to purchase an additional software licence for the laptop. Team Viewer is easy to setup. If you do need our help on this there would be a support cost.

For the physical stocktake, we suggest you approach the business aisle by aisle, counting and rearranging stock as you go.

Once you have completed your first full stocktake, our advice is you engage in a rolling stocktake, doing parts of the business, through the year. The Tax Office does not require businesses with full sock control implemented to do a stocktake at the end of the financial year. They will accept data from your system if you manage stock through the year.

On the stocktake itself, follow carefully our Knowledge Base advice. Choose the type of stocktake wisely. Backup before you commence.

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Comprehensive new POS software training opportunities for small business retailers

We are proud to have scheduled the following free live online training workshops for users of our POS software. Click here for easy, fast and free online booking:

JULY
Meeting Name: Stocktaking in Retailer
Date: 06/07/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Missed EOFY? Catch up now. – Doing a stocktake in retailer and what option works best for you.

Meeting Name: Increase Sales Now! Start using Discount Vouchers.
Date: 13/07/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Start using Discount Vouchers to grow your business. A great introduction to this great feature.

Meeting Name: How to handle non EDI invoices to keep stock accurate.
Date: 20/07/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: See how easy it is to process invoice’s manually for suppliers that do not send electronic invoices to help keep your stock figures accurate.

Meeting Name: Free Up Cash in Your Business Today
Date: 27/07/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Find stock that isn’t selling and turn it into cash quickly.

AUGUST

Meeting Name: Reports that will change your business
Date: 03/08/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Reports in retailer that will help you drive sales and increase profit.

Meeting Name: Understanding the End of Shift Reports.
Date: 10/08/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Why is the End of Shift important? How do I check my settings are correct? What do the reports mean? And what parts of the report do I need to use for my accounting.

Meeting Name: Loyalty Programs. What works best for you.
Date: 17/08/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: There are 4 ways to do loyalty in retailer. Find out which will work best for your business.

Meeting Name: Trouble free handling of Cartons and Boxes in your retail business using Tower Systems
Date: 24/08/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Handle Cartons and Boxes of stock simply and easily. Especially useful if you sell singles and cartons of stock.

Meeting Name: How to discount easily for Seasonal Sales
Date: 31/08/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Quickly and easily setup automatic discounts for seasonal sales using catalogues

SEPTEMBER

Meeting Name: Using Targeting Marketing in Retailer
Date: 07/09/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Use marketing to target specific types and groups of customers.

Meeting Name: Retailer software settings you will be shocked you have access to.
Date: 14/09/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Help desk expert Colin Harris will show you settings you most likely don’t know exist that can help your enjoyment of the software

Meeting Name: Increase Sales Now! Start using Discount Vouchers.
Date: 21/09/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Start using Discount Vouchers to grow your business. A great introduction to this great feature.

Meeting Name: Re-Ordering stock with Retailer
Date: 28/09/2016
Time: 2pm
Description: Make Retailer work for you. Re-order based on solid data and spend less time on re-ordering.

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Small business retail advice: make every day your pay day

There was a time when small business retailers could rely on selling their business for a handsome increase on the price they paid thereby providing a good pay day, when businesses sold for a good multiple of net earnings.

No more. Today, the best way to extract value from our businesses is to make every day your pay day, to not rely on your pay day being the day you sell the business.

The challenge is how do you do this?

Retailers need to look at their businesses differently. This starts with the mindset of every day being your pay day. Each decision needs to be considered in this context.

Focusing on profit today will give you a better result today and make your business more valuable tomorrow.

Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:

  1. Run with the leanest roster possible. Just about every retail business we review has capacity to lower labour costs.
  2. Have your best people working the floor, helping customers spend more.
  3. Have stunning displays that attract people from outside the shop.
  4. Have compelling displays in-store that encourage people to browse beyond their destination purchase.
  5. Always have impulse offers at high traffic locations.
  6. Charge more every time you can. Loyalty programs such as discount vouchers, bundling into hampers, multi buys such as 2 for 3 and other opportunities enable you to do this by blocking price comparison.
  7. Buy as best you can.
  8. Grab settlement discounts every time you are able.
  9. Promote outside your store using online and social media opportunities.
  10. Leverage adjacency information. Chase a deeper basket – people purchasing more each visit.

Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.

If you relentlessly pursue profit with a clear focus you are likely to see profit grow. That’s better than waiting to make money when you sell because that’s less likely to happen in this market.

Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower software helps with this. It is easy.

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Disaster planning: advice to help small business retailers trade manually

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

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

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

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

To prepare you for this, do the following:

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

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

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

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

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A fresh approach to POS software EOFY training from Tower Systems

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 8.14.19 AMThe long-form training video published to small business retailers using our POS software is proving to be a hit with plenty engaging with the video and ensuring they are informed how to be fully prepared for the end of the financial year.

The training video is another free training resource produced in-house at Tower Systems by our customer service team and our video production team.

This latest video was filmed during a live online training workshop – so it shows off that free training resource as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time to focus on that is now.

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

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

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

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THE TOWER SYSTEMS POS SOFTWARE SHOPIFY LINK

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

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

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

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

Your Retailer Departments and Categories become Categories and Sub-Categories in Shopify. If you choose to link these, your existing structure will be mirrored and managed in Shopify automatically. If, however, you decide not link your Department and Categories in Shopify, you can allocate Categories manually to products once they are added. Only Departments and Categories that have flaggged as websotre items are added to Shopify.

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

You have control over your webstore pricing from within the Retailer Stock Screen. Bulk updates of the webstore price can be performed in Stock Manager. Once new prices are set, your web store is updated automatically. Quantity of hand is also managed automatically, when your sell or arrive an item into stock these adjustments are sent directly to Shopify. If the quantity on hand of an items drops to 0, the item is marked as out of stock in Shopify.

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

Customers that purchase off your webstore are added as customers in your Retailer database, allowing you to track what they buy and market to them if you desire. Existing customers with an email address will also be added to your web store to facilitate easy sales.

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

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The visual deck helps small business retailers see business data differently

vdeckA couple of months ago we announced the launch of the Visual Deck, a cloud based business intelligence platform we developed here at Tower Systems for small business retailers. The visual deck gives small business retailers a visual insight into business performance and from this flows a brighter future based on data evidence from the business itself.

The visual deck is a game changer in the small business POS space as it delivers to small business retailers a set of tools that provide easy access from anywhere to elegant representation of business performance data.

This new platform is a completely new product from the Tower development team. It leveraged data cultivated by the Tower Point of Sale software and makes it available anywhere, in a stimulating visual form and in a way than encourages the discovery of business performance insights.

Introducing the Retailer Visual Deck.

Retail business performance, seen differently.

The Visual Deck is a platform through which you can see the performance of your business, visually. Graphs replace reports, making trends obvious and a path ahead clearer to follow. Graphs that change with time and through which you can dive deeper into what is happening in your business.

Why did we call it the Visual deck? It is visual because, well, your business data is presented in a visual way. It is a deck because it is a platform off of which you can see far and wide. It is a perfect place to see what you cannot see when you are on the ground.

Retailers can access the Visual deck from anywhere, anytime, and through this access their business data in a way not previously accessible ninth small business retail world. You can compare periods, graph using a broad selection of formats, dive deep into the data as well as focus on data points that matter including transactions, revenue, grow profit and more.

Better still, the visual insights can easily be shared with colleagues.

The Retail Visual Deck is a fresh approach to sharing business intelligence and business performance insights with small business retailers. It is mass retailer computing in a small business retailer’s hands. This is the tool join which you can rely to grow your business.

This is 100% Tower Systems innovation.

Having been tested with data from a range of businesses and trialled for months on many different platforms, the Visual deck is ready for small business retailers to engage, to use it to better manage and grow their businesses.

Footnote: If things go as usual, at least on competitor will claim they had this before us and that we copied them. Such a claim is not true. Prior to our launched last week we checked all our competitors in each specialty marketplace in which we live and not one has a product like this.

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HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS ON BEST PRACTICE LAY-BY

Lay-By is vital to small business retailers, especially gift shops, jewellers, garden centres, toy shops and homewares shops. Tower systems offers structure support for managing Lay-Bys in its POS software. We help small business retailers meet their regulatory obligations, serving the needs of customers and their businesses with a best practice approach.

We offer written advice, video training, one on one training and more to help small business retailers run professional Lay-By services.

Here is a glimpse into some of the professional Lay-By advice provided to our small business retailer community:

Meeting regulatory requirements is vital. For example, if someone cancels a LayBy you must refund their payments less a termination fee. You can set this fee and advise as part of your terms and conditions.

Our advice guides you through key rules and steps to success with Lay-bys.

  1. WHAT TO LAY-BY. Set a minimum item and or purchase value. We’d suggest $80.00.
  2. DATA REQUIRED. Always ensure you are satisfied you know who your customer is. Require proof of ID from a driver’s licence or similar legal ID document.
  3. DEPOSIT. 20% of the total GST inclusive purchase price.
  4. AGE. Only Lay-by to people 18 and over.
  5. DURATION. Lay-bys should run for between eight and twelve weeks. You could run for longer pre Christmas to get early toy sales.
  6. PAYMENT CYCLE. Require payments to be made weekly or fortnightly.
  7. PAYMENT METHOD. Accept any payment form you choose.
  8. Do not allow someone to take home a single item from a group of items on Lay-by together in one purchase. It’s all or nothing.
  9. Have a LayBy termination policy you are comfortable with. We suggest a 20% termination fee. Alternatively, set a dollar amount to reflect the work. Also, consider setting the LayBy to auto terminate if it extends beyond a period of time you nominate. Note that you could equally choose to have no cancellation given that Lay-by product may not be able to easily re-sold.
  10. Decide what you would consider a breach. This has to be something you stand by. We suggest two missed payments without reasonable excuse or rectification. On breach, cancel and charge the cancellation fee.
  11. We suggest a no-exchange policy.
  12. When a customer Lay-bys, print two dockets – one for them to take immediately and one to be placed with the goods. Have your customer sign both copies, accepting your terms and conditions.
  13. Set aside a clean and secure storage location for Lay-bys in your business where locations are coded for easy finding. Place Lay-by goods into a single clear plastic bag per transaction for clean and safekeeping. Staple to this a copy of the Lay-by docket. Let your customers see you do this so there is no doubt when it comes time to collect the products.
  14. Have one person responsible for Lay-bys to ensure product care, track payments and contact customers.
  15. TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Enter these into your software so they are included on every Lay-by docket. Points 2 through 11 above are a good example of what to include in your terms and conditions.
  16. COMPLETE PAPERWORK. To not over complicate things, rely on your software’s Lay-by docket as your complete paperwork / contract. Get that right and Lay-by management will be easier.

These rules and steps may feel complex. They are necessary for the small number of times something goes wrong and you need to rely on them to help you deal with a situation.

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FREE STOCKTAKING TRAINING FOR POS SOFTWARE USERS

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

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

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

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

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CLOUD OUTAGE REINFORCES THE CARE NEEDED IN POS SOFTWARE CLOUD CONSIDERATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do you choose which local business you support?

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

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

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

THE PRIZE / GIFT

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

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

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

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

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

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

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

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

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

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

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

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

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

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

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

REWARD ENGAGEMENT

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

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

EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT

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

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

WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT

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

Ask them to write about you too.

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

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SCALE INTEGRATION WITH POS SOFTWARE HELPS SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

The integration with scales for the Tower Systems POS software provides retailers with options for how they sell. While selling packaged goods is no doubt faster at the sales counter, offering ‘bulk’ prices can change the pitch of the business.

The Tower Systems POS software scale integration is in use today in:

  1. Confectionery shops.
  2. Fruit shops.
  3. Supermarkets.
  4. Pet food shops.
  5. Garden centres

In each case while the business may be significantly different, the principle is the same – the software handles the sale of items based on weight and this is a terrific differentiator for plenty of businesses that want to sell items by weight and thereby offer a volume type of pricing.

The POS software scale integration completed by Tower Systems has gone through the processes required for authentication and certification. This enables us to sell it to small business retailers with confidence and certainty. This is vital to their leveraging the facilities for their business.

Scale integration is one of a range of specialty integrations in the Tower Systems software to help small business retailers drive better business outcomes. We are experts at delivering seamless trusted integrations that serve the needs of our large small business retail community.

We recommend integrating our specialist retail software with the Data Logic Magellan 8400 scales and scanner. This powerful POS scanner/scales hybrid installs directly into your counter top and provides:

  1. All-Weighs Scale Platter with integrated Produce Lift Bar or Produce Rail™
  2. FirstStrike advanced decoding software delivers the best performance in reading poor quality labels
  3. Aggressive and ergonomic 360° 5-sided scanning
  4. Host Download – Lowers Service Cost and Improves Operations
  5. Diagnostic Reporting – For improved preventative maintenance
  6. Productivity Index Reporting™ – Helps identify poorly printed labels
  7. Cashier Training™/ Ergonomic Index – Identifies Poor Scanning/Weighing Habits

Our expert staff can install and activate the scales integration module into your Tower Systems retail software remotely.

And with each integration comes a new relationship that can help our retailers in their businesses.

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