Melbourne Gift Fair a hit for our POS software

Wow, Melbourne Gift Fair was a terrific event with plenty of new sales leads being harvested through the five day event. Our sales team is busy now meeting with the prospective new customers from the gift, newsagency and homewares channels, learning about specific business needs and showing how the software can serve these needs.

The fair was a wonderful and intensive experience as over five busy days we got to meet with plenty of engaged retailers to talk business, hear their plans and show off live some of the innovations we have released, which present them with further business growth opportunities.

The Melbourne Gift Fair is excellent like this, for talking business, exploring ideas and advancing relationships. It is a fast-track event as we have been able to progress in a few days with some opportunities that might otherwise have taken weeks to progress.

This is where trade shows really pay off for an engaged POS software company.

We are grateful for the opportunity to see so many people and offer the Tower Systems [pitch, to show business owners we care enough about them to support this event and through it their business channels.

Plans are well advanced on our next gift fair, this time in Sydney.

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Small business retailers value personal and accessible POS software customer service

We are winning good business for our POS software this year from retailers switching from other POS software. While the software is a factor in their decision to switch, customer service is top of mind.

Customers switching love:

  1. Personal service. When they call they talk to a human. And, yes, they can call any of our offices even toll free from NZ. We hear many stories of poor service from other POS software companies where personal contact is discouraged.
  2. Names.  Names matter. Were humanise our contact and support by people on our teams using their names, real names.
  3. Access to leadership. Our leadership team is directly accessible to our customers should they wish to escalate any issue. Too often we hear of other POS software companies sidestepping issues or completely ignoring requests to speak too senior management. We take personal service seriously.
  4. Free training weekly. People love our free and easily accessible live online training workshops.
  5. Free one-on-one training. People love that they can schedule top-up training long after the installation is done.
  6. Transparency on updates. People love that they can suggest changes and watch as other customers vote on their change suggestions.
  7. Extensive help desk coverage. People love our long hours and our weekend coverage.
  8. Response time. People love how quickly we respond to their queries.

These are points of difference we have invested in with infrastructure, people and management focus. We are thrilled to win business from other POS software companies because of these services we provide.

This whole package is part of our Tower AdvantageTM.

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Everyday marketing tips for small business retailers

Here at Tower Systems, through our work with our specialsist retail POS software, we get to see many different retail businesses in in our work and along the way we pick up ideas that work particularly well.

Here is a selection of everyday marketing tips we see working in almost any business. This list was first shared with our customers on the weekend, as part of our weekly email of advice, support and encouragement.

  1. Always have a value-proposition offer just inside the entrance to the business. This should be a double-sided offer, one they see as they enter and as they leave.
  2. Always have an appealing impulse purchase offer at the counter. Change this weekly. Use the opportunity to learn more about what your customers will purchase on impulse.
  3. Always know your top selling item in the store and always place products next to the top selling item thoughtfully, to leverage the eyeballs looking for and at the top selling product.
  4. Run a generous loyalty program where the value is understood. This probably means not using points.
  5. Create stunning window displays people would not expect to see in your type of business.
  6. Offer multi-buy opportunities unlocking savings for people purchasing more than would be usual in a single visit.
  7. Be brief in talking to customers about your products on social media: a single product per post. Two sentences. Short sentences. Make the post appealing beyond you trying to promote your business. Entertain them.
  8. Send customers a card for special occasions, a personal card to reinforce the personal relationship you have with them.
  9. Change the front two metres of your shop weekly, keep it fresh for your customers and your staff.
  10. Unpack and price products on the shop floor and not in the back room or outside of shopper view.

Our goal with this list is to give you ideas you can use right away as well as ideas that will get you thinking of your own ideas.

Go for it. Remember, if you do next week what you did this week you cannot expect any growth. Growth only comes from change.

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Enjoying small business retail

It is a thrill to see so many independent small retail businesses thriving through the winter of 2016. We are seeing businesses transforming from what has been traditional for their type of operation into fresh offerings that drive the appeal of the business beyond what has been traditional for them.

We love seeing this not only because of the pleasure of observing success but also because of a role we can play in helping to uncover and leverage good news for small business retailers.

Our commitment is to help our customers beyond the software to help them reach beyond the dreams they have for their businesses.

We are grateful every day for the opportunities that come our way.

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Toy shop software helps independent toy retailers leverage lay-by now for Christmas opportunities

Lay-By is a vitally important service for independent toy retailers in their competition with mass retailers like Target, Big W, K-Mart and Toys R Us.

Independent and small to retailers using the toy shop software from Tower Systems have in the software terrific Lay-By facilities that enable their businesses to run a professional Lay-By service that meets regulatory requirements and that competes head-on in terms of flexibility and functionality.

Now, in the middle of Winter, is the perfect time to ensure Lay-By is properly setup and promoted. This is why Tower Systems has been educating customers, to ensure they are fully prepared for the Lay-By opportunity and to ensure they are pitching the message of Lay-By opportunity to customers and prospective customers.

Here is a taste of the professional advice we have been sharing with customers:

IMPORTANT: Before you begin, familiarise yourself with Lay-By regulation as set by the ACCC: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/contracts-agreements/lay-by-agreements

Also, check the website of your state Consumer Affairs office to familiarise yourself with local requirements. Information there will help you determine your own terms.

Meeting regulatory requirements is vital. For example, if someone cancels a Lay-By 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 on the next page 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. BREAKUP. 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. CANCELLATION. Have a Lay-By 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 Lay-By 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. BREACH. 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. EXCHANGE. We suggest a no-exchange policy.
  12. DOCKETS. 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. STORAGE. 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. MANAGEMENT. 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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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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Sunday retail management advice: basket analysis helps retailers sell more

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.

Using the Tower Systems POS software, retailers are able to dig deep into basket data in recent times and into the past, to gain insights into the performance of the business for the benefit of the business and those it serves.

Basket analysis shows 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.

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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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Gift shop software helps small businesses compete with stronger K-Mart and Target

K-Mart and Target have significantly overhauled their gift and homewares offerings, expanding into design aesthetics and product categories new to them and in doing so presenting a tough competitive challenge for small and independent gift retailers.

Rather feeling defeated by these big businesses, small business retailers can effectively and successfully compete by being engaged with their businesses in fresh and exciting ways of their own.

At their heart, K-Mart and Target are all about mass, volume whereas small businesses are about being personal and local, genuinely personal and genuinely local.

There is where Tower Systems can help small gift shops and small homewares shops compete with the retail giants K-Mart and Target. We sell only to small and independent retail businesses. All our 3,500+ customers and small businesses. We like it like that.

Embedded in our software are touch points through which we reinforce the value of personal local service. These touch points make it easier for our customers to reach local shoppers and through this to better compete with the big retailers.

The Tower POS software also provides data insights that help small business retailers to see opportunities they may have missed – basket analysis, product relationships, supplier performance and comparative performance analysis … these all provide feedback and insights that retailers can leverage to make quick decisions.

Speed is something small business retailers can leverage in that a decision can be made and implemented in minutes that a big business could take weeks to deal with. Good software helps guide faster local business decisions. This is a massive point of difference in fact between small and independent gift and homewards shops compared to the giants of K-Mart and Target.

Here are sixteen ways the Tower System gift shop software can help gift and homewares retailers compete:

  1. Easy to use yet structured and professional Lay-By.
  2. Customer special orders with TXT message when stock arrives.
  3. Professional gift cards with your logo and proper management of balance.
  4. Easy to produce gift vouchers.
  5. Gift receipts that can be wrapped with a gift (no pricing).
  6. Intelligent receipts with product care information.
  7. Easy handling of hampers and bundled offers.
  8. Supplier performance comparison.
  9. Employee performance management and rewards.
  10. Importing electronic invoices from gift shop suppliers. We work with for you.
  11. Linking to your website to manage a common stock file.
  12. Loyalty options including traditional points as well as front end loyalty to drive infrequent shopper engagement.
  13. Inventory management to guide you to a more efficient inventory level.
  14. Theft reduction tools to reduce the opportunity of employee theft.
  15. It’s easy to use.
  16. It’s regularly updated based on user suggestions.
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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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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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GIFT SHOP SOFTWARE ON SHOW AT GIFT HQ IN BRISBANE NEXT MONTH

Tower Systems is thrilled to be bringing its latest small business gift shop software to the Gift HQ trade show in Brisbane in a couple of weeks. At this event we will be demonstrating new software, fresh and exciting software designed specifically for small business gift retailers, to help them drive better business outcomes, compete more effectively and run a business that is more valuable.

The Gift HQ opportunity for small business retailers is excellent and exciting.

We will not only show off our POS software we will also be showing off:

  1. EFTPOS integration.
  2. Cloud backup.
  3. Cloud based business intelligence tools.
  4. Smart reporting.
  5. Xero integration. MYOB integration.
  6. Quicken integration.
  7. FlyBys integration.
  8. Authorised scale integration.
  9. Magento integration.
  10. Shopify integration.
  11. PayPal integration.
  12. Hosted options.
  13. Cloud based solutions.

We will also be showing off the latest supplier integrations that will serve small business retailers in the gift and homewares spaces – through which they can save time and money.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of Gift HQ.

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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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SUNDAY SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL ADVICE: MANAGING EMPLOYEES

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

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

SET EXPECTATIONS BY SHIFT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for a good employee task checklist.

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

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

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WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS?

The truth about your retail business is how it is performing now compared to the same time a year earlier. Not how you think it is performing or how you feel it is performing but how it is actually performing.

You are your most important competitor.

Report on the last period, usually three months, and compare this with the same period a year earlier. Look at revenue, units sold, traffic count, average sale value and basket depth.

Let your data be your truth, your only truth.

If someone in the business makes a statement about business performance, take a look at the truth for yourself and rely only on this for your planning.

If a supplier makes a statement about the performance of your business, take a look at the truth for yourself and rely only on this for your planning.

Next time you tell someone how business is doing, base it on the facts as facts are a currency on which you can bank and off of which you can plan.

Gut feel and opinion are nice, but they cannot be relied on as such as your own business data.

In the Tower Systems POS software there are excellent reporting tools that report the truth of business performance. We can help you access these and we can help you understand them.

We’re here to help.

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POS SOFTWARE LOYALTY FACILITIES HELP RETAILERS GROW SALES.

 

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

Now, businesses of all sizes use points based programs to try and drive shopper loyalty.

Our view is points based programs are out of date and no longer competitive. Shopper behaviour has changed. Often you see people once and have one shot to drive the most valuable relationship for you. These on-shot customers don’t want to sign up for something or carry a card they will never use. However, they can be guided to spend more with you.

While we offer points based loyalty facilities in our POS software, we offer alternatives some of our customers are finding far more effective:

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

These three loyalty options as well as connections to external loyalty facilities provide our small business retail customers with options.

Better still, our loyalty facilities continue to evolve. We develop enhancements based on customer requests as well as based on what we see in retail overseas.

We also offer hybrid solutions where people mix our loyalty facilities. For example, we have customers offering discount vouchers and points where regular customers are treated differently to those making a one-off visit to the store.

We’d love to meet and talk about needs in your retail business, to see if our loyalty software and other POS software facilities can help.

We are an Australian software company selling software to selected retail niches like yours.

Please talk with one of our retail experts:

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

Footnote: the photo is from a shop I visited in Hong Kong two weeks ago. Homeless is a fascinating mix of pop culture, homewares, gifts and quirkiness. I was in Hong Kong for the Gift Fair and to meet with innovative retailers.

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

 

The biggest challenges of any retail business are to get shoppers spending more in a visit and returning sooner than might usually be the case. In this article by Tower CEO Mark Fetcher, we explore a simple yet effective tool.

All retailers, want shoppers to spend more in each visit and to come back more often.

Yet most retailers are uncomfortable overtly engaging with shoppers to get spend more in a visit or come back sooner.

Years ago, the thought was that a shopper VIP card or points based loyalty program was the way to go. Today, with such programs commonplace, their value is diluted.

There is talk among shoppers of loyalty fatigue – they are doubting the value of cards and programs where real rewards are not what was first offered.

Change the game: front-end loyalty

Instead of making shoppers accrue points that are then converted for cash at some future stage, why not offer cash-based rewards earlier, from the first purchase?

This approach is called front-ending loyalty. It brings a reward to the front in an effort to engage shoppers in additional purchases sooner.

It’s an approach that can encourage those who do not shop with you to purchase something else right away, to get the value of the cash discount offered.

Regular shoppers can spend the cash discount right away or come back within any time limit you set.

I started trialling this front-end loyalty strategy in February 2013 in several retail businesses. I did it using the Discount Vouchers facilities in the Tower POS software.

Building the basket

From the first day, in my own shop, I saw shoppers changing behaviour.

One customer came in to purchase a specific item. When I handed him the receipt I point out the voucher offering $2.00 of his next purchase. He was not a regular and so spent the $2.00, and more, right away on another item. He received another voucher and so purchased a third item. In all, he spent three times as much as the original purchase – all because of the Discount Vouchers he received.

Around 33% of all vouchers redeemed are used the day they are received. This shows customers building the basket – adding to their purchase that day as a result of the voucher. This makes each visit more valuable to us.

Bringing shoppers back

33% of redeemed vouchers are used within seven days and the remaining 33% are redeemed up to four weeks after issue, bringing shoppers back.

There is real evidence now from hundreds of retailers supporting these claims.

Here’s another real story: A few months ago, a customer came in and used a voucher she had picked up a couple of weeks earlier. She was happy to get $5.00 off a $65.00 item she wanted. This purchase resulted in another voucher so she bought another item for $29.95.

This customer said her friends had been recently talking about VIP cards and how they were useless. She then told them about us.

Changing how shoppers interact.

In another instance a customer was considering a $250.00 item but decided they could not justify the expense. They purchased some smaller items, spending $25.00.

On receiving a $5.00 voucher they turned around, immediately, and bought the $250.00 item.

We asked what happened. The answer was I don’t know. I needed permission I guess and the $5.00 did it.

This is a true story and there are many more like it in hundreds of retail businesses.

The key about discount vouchers is they change shopper behaviour, usually immediately and valuable for the business.

Indeed, discount vouchers are a game changer for many retail businesses, large an small, city and country.

We love hearing the stories of success from your customers.

You control the business rules

Like any good loyalty program, you need good levers with which to drive shopper engagement and to deliver the benefits to justify the investment.

The Discount Vouchers facilities have this.

You control the amount of each sale you are prepared to give away on the voucher.

You control the products the voucher can be used for.

You control how long the voucher is live for. I suggest 28 days but I have some retailers setting this at 90 days.

Helping your business

With most retail businesses running a loyalty program using a points based approach and only targeting long-term customers, adoption of this front-end loyalty approach can provide you with a genuine point of difference.

It is easily managed through the Tower Systems software and is backed by excellent management reports. This makes implementation and management easier than the old approach.

I’m confident this fresh approach to loyalty is a game changer for any retail business. The control you have enables you to easily manage the cost and the value you gain from the program.

This really is a new approach to bringing shoppers back sooner and getting them to spend more with you.

IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: Beware of those who claim year on year growth or numbers of people in their loyalty program. What is needed is analysis of a series of metrics on a same store basis year on year, metrics that assess carefully what is in the sample basket. For example, including lottery products in a purchase value basket does not make sense – it creates a false result of little value.

Contact the author at mark@towersystems.com.au.

To find out more about how your business can compete a fresh approach to loyalty, talk with an expert at Tower Systems. They can share more stories. NSW/ACT/QLD: Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148; SA/WA/NT: Tim Batt 0401 833 917; VIC/TAS: Mike Hill 0423 848 482.

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KUDOS FOR TOWER SYSTEMS XERO POS SOFTWARE INTEGRATION

You know you are doing when when small business accountants recommend your POS software and its link with the highly-regarded Xero cloud based accounting software.

That is what’s been happening to us. We are winning new customers who are discovering us thanks to recommendations from their accountants, in part due to the Xero approved and endorsed POS software Xero accounting software link.

Creating an approved link is not an option for all POS software companies. Indeed, Xero says no to some POS companies that approach them. We are thrilled to have been approved and to be able to help small business retailers save time and money through the linking of their POS software to Xero.

As our software evolved as does our partnerships and interfaces. That iOS what we have delivered with our successful Xero interface – a facility backed by knowledgable accounting related support and assistance.

What is Transferred to Xero?

Sales
End of Shift based department-level sales are transferred to Xero via a sales invoice. Each department can be assigned its own Xero account.

Invoices
Invoices received into Retailer are transferred to Xero at department level. No individual stock items are transferred.

Write Offs & No Sales
These are transferred to individual expense accounts depending on the transaction reason chosen.

Cost Of Sales
An option on sales exporting is to export Cost of Sales. While not a full implementation of COGS it does transfer over the cost price of items sold each day to reduce the value of Stock On Hand in Xero. If you use this option you will export Write offs, not as expenses, but as adjustment to your Stock on Hand. This makes processing stock adjustments for the End Of Month much easier.

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THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLOUD BACKUP SERVCIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

The cloud backup service offered by Tower Systems to its small business retailer customers is best practice, offering the ultimate in protection for our customers.

The features of the service include:

  1. Whole of PC backup. This is crucial.
  2. Local copy storage.
  3. Cloud based storage in a secure independent server farm location.
  4. Speedy recovery back to a selected data.
  5. Certainty over the management of the processes.
  6. No user triggered backup activity required.

While there are free cloud based backup services, when it comes to protecting your business data a free service is most likely not the best.

Your business data needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.

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WHY WE THINK XERO IS THE BEST ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

We have used MYOB, Quick Books and xero in retail businesses we operate. It is this experience with all three from a bookkeeping through to a finalized accounts perspective that has helped us reach a view that xero is the best solution.

Each professional position in our company agrees from bookkeeper to management to our in-house CPA. xero is the best accounting solution for small business retailers.

There is an ease of use backed by excellent support as well as an easy and direct integration between our POS software and xero that helps us save time and money.

Retailers using xero can see this for themselves.

So this is how we came to our preference, our recommendation, through our own experience on a range of levels.

While our software supports MYOB, Quick Books and xero, our experience with xero is roe complete and our integration more direct. It is an integration tested and endorsed by xero, something the company gives out only after it is satisfied.

The above commentary from us aside, xero don’t just connect with any POS software company. They check out the business and their software. They research whether they want to partner with a business. I am aware they say no, that they reject proposals of integration. That we are integrated is a valuable point of difference for us.

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MELBOURNE RETAILERS EMBRACE POS SOFTWARE USER MEETING

IMG_7450We were thrilled with the participation at our first Melbourne retailer POS software user meeting yesterday. This was day three of a tour that will cover every state and territory, capital cities and major regional centres, offering free training, small business retailer networking and open-ended Q&A sessions.

Every session is different thanks to the mix of attendees. We are loving it.

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FOR SMALL BUSINESS WHO FIND RETAIL IS TOUGH

Yes, retail can be tough.

What are you doing about it?

Here is a letter we sent to retailers recently who have said it is tough. It is part of a confronting education campaign based on a truth that even in the toughest of circumstances, retailers can grow their businesses – yes, even small business retailers who are facing tough competition from big businesses.

We have used this letter to try and jog people to see their businesses differently…

I’d love a dollar for every retailer who has told me how tough it is in the last few years. Heck I’d retire with the money I’d have.

The thing is, retail is tough, especially small business retail like a gift shop. It’s always been tough for the little guy. I know because I own a small retail business myself.

We really do think we need to stop saying retail is tough and start challenging ourselves. Hence the question: What are you doing about it? Put another way…

  1. What are you doing to attract new shoppers?
  2. What are you doing to get your existing shoppers to spend more?
  3. What are you doing to drive down your costs?
  4. What are you doing to improve margin?

These are the four most important things for a retailer to act on. They sit at the core of every retail business failure and success.

Taking small steps in each of these areas can help you weather tough times. These same small steps can help you find success with less effort.

Tower Systems is a software company for small business retailers like you. We’re retailers too. We combine retail experience with tech smarts and a passion for small business to help our colleagues to grow their businesses. We’d like to help you.

Using our Point of Sale software for gift shops like yours we can help you

  1. Attract new shoppers.
  2. Get your existing shoppers to spend more.
  3. Drive down your costs.
  4. Improve margin.

Big claims yes … we have existing customers who will tell you that we do this.

Our system can cost as little as $7 day. Besides great software, hardware you can trust, friendly training and software support, you have access to our business skills, acumen and passion. We have your back, helping where we can with advice and ideas to help you grow your retail business.

We’re not your average software company. Tower Systems is a full-service passionate and engaged software company that wants you to succeed. We firmly believe…

In business, through our own actions we make our own success.

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POS SOFTWARE COMPANY ADDS MORE USER MEETINGS

Tower Systems is thrilled to add more dates and capacity to the national POS software user meeting tour that is ti kick off in the next few weeks. With strong demand for these free training sessions, the event management team at Tower has found rooms with more capacity.

Offering a free breakfast to make the early start more enjoyable, the Tower sessions are set to be satisfying in ways more than software knowledge. Providing training, support, business insights and more, these free sessions are POS software customer service at its best. It is another feature of the Tower AdvantageTM that thousands of small business retailers love.

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HOW TO FIND OPTIMISM IN SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL

Every day can be tough in small business. You can feel like the big competitors are winning and that you can’t climb the mountain to compete. You may not know where to start.

There are green shoots of good news and opportunities in every small and independent retail business. The key is to find these and to leverage them for more success.

A green shoot is a product or a category of products or a supplier performing above average in the business. Often, these successes have gone unnoticed.

We were working with a retailer recently who said business was down by 20% and they did not know what to do. It turned out that the best performing product category in their business was ‘failing’ for six months because they had not replenished stock.

They invested, instead, on new lines that had not gone as well as the successful product.

They, in part, created their own downward spiral and had not looked at their business data to understand that contributed to the problems they were confronting.

Once they realised the situation, they re-stocked the successful range of products and numbers started to improve. More important, their confidence level grew and with this their business decisions improved.

There are opportunities for optimism in every business.

Finding optimism is like mining, you have to look for it, sometimes for a long time. It is there, though, in every retail business.

As soon as you hear yourself talking your business down, STOP. Look at your data, look for the good news. That is what you need to think and talk about.

By looking at your data, we mean looking at year on year, quarter on quarter or month on month comparison data for departments, categories, suppliers or even individual products. Look for growth and once you see growth, think about what you can do with and around the products achieving growth so that you can achieve other growth.

Any product achieving year on year increases in unit sales is a product to be appreciated, nurtured and used to help grow other products that can sell to the same customer.

This is how you grow optimism. Find those small green shoots, leverage them with some small steps and, over time, build more success for your business.

While overall revenue, traffic count and profitability may be down, growth even at the smallest data point, such as for one or two products, could be enough to get you looking at your business differently.

In the Tower Systems POS software, the best initial reports for good news are: Monthly Sales Comparison (department level, category level and / or supplier level), the 10×10 Report, Ranked Sales Report (by units) for one period and then for the comparative period.

We’re here to help you find the good news in your business. Your business data is the key.

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