What are reasonable small business retail benchmark goals?

Benchmarks are vital in every retail business. They provide the business performance goals to aim for, target of aspiration.

In our work with small business retailers beyond our smart POS software we often help with benchmark suggestions. We offer the as a starting point, to guide.

While the data points are common, the numbers can vary by retail channel.

Here are benchmark data points and the values we have suggested to transforming newsagency business owners – these are hybrid businesses that are part newsagency, part toy shop, part gift shop. See what you think:

BENCHMARK GOALS

I am often asked for benchmark goals newsagents ought to aim for. Here are some benchmarks I have developed in my work with newsXpress and through Tower Systems:

  1. Gross profit: this is the goal gross profit for all product sales not taking into account any revenue or costs related to any agency business. The traditional newsagency average sits at 28% to 32%. For a newsagency focused on the future, the goal has to be at least 45%.
  2. Ratio of Gift revenue to Card revenue: 50% minimum. The goal ought to be 100% or more. If you do $100K a year in cards, target to do $100K in gifts, or more.
  3. Revenue per employee – $250 an hour minimum not including agency revenue.
  4. Revenue PSQM $4,500 – $8,500 depending on country vs. city / high street to shopping centre and depending of product mix. Higher GP lower revenue required.
  5. Overall revenue mix percentage targets: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 10%; magazines/newspapers: 20%; other: 15%.
  6. FLOORSPACE ALLOCATION: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 8%; magazines/newspapers: 15%; other products: 15%; office/back room / counter: 12%. It’s rare you make money from an office or store room.
  7. Mark-up goals: Stationery: 125%; Gifts 110%; plush: 110%.
  8. Occupancy cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Location and situation are a big factor in this benchmark. For example, a large shopping centre business will have a higher cost than a high street situation.
  9. Labour cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Labour cost should include fair market costs for all who work in the business. (See above).

We are sharing these benchmark goals here as a guide for other retailers to contemplate appropriate numbers for the measurement points for their businesses.

Tower Systems is not your average POS software company. We engage beyond the software, to help our small business retail partners to run more successful and enjoyable businesses.

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Extraordinary small business retailer e-commerce success

Wow!  Thank you! We have the best customers!

We are on cloud nine as a result of extraordinary sales success being achieved by retailers connecting through one of our new e-co0mmerce sites.

Tens of thousands of dollars of business generated for partner small business retailers in a few short weeks. This is cream revenue – on top 0of what these retailers are making even day in their businesses, bonus revenue, unexpected revenue for which they have had to pay nothing to achieve.

Our website has done all the work – found the customers, processed the sales, provided fulfilment guidance and delivered extraordinary customer service.

Here is a comment from one retailer who resisted being part of the Tower Systems created website:

We have just gone live on Monday, this week. It took me ages to get organised and do a stocktake. I had too many other things to do. It was the last thing on my list. Well I REGRET not doing it earlier, please hang back tonight or on the weekend and do a customised stocktake. The stocktake is NOT hard and it only took me a couple of hours and I have lots and lots of stock. But do the stocktake, then contact head office and go live. This week, not next month, not next year, THIS WEEK.

Here are comments from another small business retailer.

I am shocked. You have given us a thousand dollars in extra revenue in just two weeks. You cannot understand how important this is to me and my small business.  Thank you form the bottom of my heart.  I feel re-energised thanks to you.

And then this from another retailer.

O H  M Y  G O D!!!! It is like you turned on a tap in the middle of a drought and gave my business water. Thank you thank you thank you.

We love helping small business retailers find new customers.  8ur smart POS software connected to websites we have developed is one of the many good news stories that put wind in our sales.  We love what we do here at Tower Systems.

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New approach to jeweller software helps jewellers grow sales

Tower Systems is proud to offer the only Australian developed and supported software specifically for jewellers.

We are a software company first. What this means is we are not consultants with a prime focus on earning consulting fees.

We make good software you can use without having to pay someone to analyse this for you.

Since we make the jeweller software ourselves we have the very best control over the software. This means we are able to deliver more user-suggested changes more quickly than software that is developed overseas or from a company owned by overseas interests with more of a focus on overseas needs.

Australian software for Australian based jewellers matters as it serves local needs.

And retail is changing locally quickly.

Using the Tower software, Jewellers have access to terrific tools for today’s marketplace:

  1. Easy handing of special orders.
  2. An elegant solution for managing the manufacturing process.
  3. A comprehensive repairs management solution.
  4. The easy ability to fine tune marketing to reach customers when you want and need to deliver the service level you hope for. Easy website integration.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT TOWER SYSTEMS?

We were recently asked by a journalist to list other “unique” things about our software/service. Here is our answer:

  1. We are a software company, not a consulting business using software as a mechanism for driving consulting fees.
  2. Our software evolves based on jeweller needs. We have a transparent approach to learning and serving needs beyond what we do today.
  3. The proprietary TAGS facility in or software is a genuine technical point of difference jewellers have told us they love. We are grateful for their feedback.
  4. We serve jewellers, not groups. Jewellers are our customers. While we happily enhance the software to serve marketing and buying group needs, the needs of individual jewellers come first as in our experience they have the very best ideas.
  5. We are in your business. Not a contractor we hire, not over the phone, when we install the system we do it in your business, working with you.
  6. Second-hand goods. These facilities have been developed with jewellers and authorities so you have the right records on hand.
  7. These facilities have been developed to help you streamline workflow and keep in close contact with customers throughout.
  8. Manufactured goods. From concept to manufacture, you can manage and track what you make for whom and when. This is a billing and management asset.
  9. Lay-by. Our Lay-by facilities have been developed in close consultation with jewellers, making them unique and comprehensive.
  10. We offer more facilities than any other system. These offer you flexibility for driving purchases in the current visit and for bringing shoppers back more often.
  11. You have access to extraordinary customisation through settings, enabling you to represent your business how you want.
  12. Embedded in our software are facilities for tracking how the software is used. This enables us to help you reduce employee theft.
  13. Retail focussed. A challenge of retail is to uncover opportunities early. Smart reports in the Tower software unlock information about your business that too often is overlooked.

Jewellers are welcome to check us out. We are proud to serve hundreds of jewellers already.

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Tower Systems software for jewellers the only Australian developed software for jewellers

The Jeweller software from Tower Systems is the only jeweller business specific software developed and supported in Australia. We have served jewellers with software for more than sixteen years and are proud to count hundreds of jewellers as customers.

Jewellers are local businesses, seeking support from locals. Being local matters to jewellers, and to us.

There is a considerable difference between the software packages being promoted to Australian jewellers. The biggest difference is the heritage of the software.

Tower Systems is a software company. We specialise in developing excellent software specific to the needs of jewellers. We are not using the software to try and sell you consulting services. we are not repackaging overseas developed software and passing it off as Australian software. We think this is important.

It is our duty to provide you with software facilities and reports you can use without having to pay consultants to interpret the reports for you. This saves you money. Our Tower AdvantageTM service provides you with expert help.

Tower Systems is an Australian software company. The jeweller software we sell is what we develop ourselves, here in Australia.

Talk to us and you can speak with the IT professionals directly in our business who develop the software we want to sell you.

Jewellers have a direct say in all software enhancements we deliver.

These things separate Tower Systems from Retail Edge, ARMS and Swim.

Serving 300+ jewellers with our specialist jeweller software, our service is personal:

  1. We train you in your business, face to face.
  2. Our support is Australian based, 24/7 and specialist to your needs.
  3. We develop the software. We are not agents.
  4. Our software is developed for you. It is not US or Chinese software.
  5. You have access to more than 130 training videos.
  6. You have access to a comprehensive, self-serve knowledge base.

Facilities in our jeweller software include: sales, customer loyalty, integrated eftpos, repairs management, special orders, gift cards, employee tracking, inventory management, specials / catalogues / offers, web-store interface, Xero interface, product care instructions, customer follow-up marketing, performance reporting, theft management, second-hand goods management, bundling pricing, servicing assistance / management, employee rostering and plenty more.

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What being at Xerocon South means for our POS software co

FullSizeRender-1Being at Xerocon South is proving to be a wonderful experience. Spending all day talking with accountants and bookkeepers who help small business retailers run more successful businesses.

The discussions are detailed about small business challenges and opportunities, specific to specific niche retail channels that we serve such as toy shops, jewllers, garden centres and pet stores.

Talking business, talking Xero and talking smart cloud based software – we are loving it, loving the detail, loving the learning and loving the optimism.

This is an exciting and motivating event, especially for those of us serving the small business retail space.

What this event mean for us is ne connections, with accountants and bookkeepers – people like us who serve small businesses to help them run more successful businesses. This shared goal brings is close together.

We are the only vertical market POS software company here, enabling is top delve deep into our specialisation with accountants to help them be more specialist with their clients.

We took the photo early this morning before the doors opened at 8am. We love the green look.

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Jeweller shop software enhancements help independent jewellers compete

The latest jeweller shop software from Tower Systems delivers enhancements developed in close consultation with independent jewellers. These enhancements include even better facilities for professionally serving customers with elegant customer-facing documents as well as facilities unique to jeweller businesses.

Working closely with jewellers, our team continues to evolve our jeweller software to serve the unique needs of jeweller businesses, to ensure the software helps the jeweller businesses themselves evolve.

These things separate Tower Systems from Retail Edge, ARMS and Swim.

Serving 300+ jewellers with our specialist jeweller software, our service is personal:

  1. We train you in your business, face to face.
  2. Our support is Australian based, 24/7 and specialist to your needs.
  3. We develop the software. We are not agents.
  4. Our software is developed for you. It is not US or Chinese software.
  5. You have access to more than 130 training videos.
  6. You have access to a comprehensive, self-serve knowledge base.

Facilities in our jeweller software include: sales, customer loyalty, integrated eftpos, repairs management, special orders, gift cards, employee tracking, inventory management, specials / catalogues / offers, web-store interface, Xero interface, product care instructions, customer follow-up marketing, performance reporting, theft management, second-hand goods management, bundling pricing, servicing assistance / management, employee rostering and plenty more.

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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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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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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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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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EASILY LOADING IMAGES TO YOUR WEBSITE FROM OUR POS SOFTWARE

Thanks to smart facilities in our POS software it is easy for retailers running a website as well as their retail shop to load images to the website. This loading of images is simpler and easy direct for our software as part of our one stock file approach – having a single stock file between the physical high street store and the online store.

This smart online retail management – managing inventory in the one location.

This is efficient for small business retailers.  Indeed, it is how we handle online ourselves in our own retail businesses with online operations.

We load images easily and these images can be quickly and easily loaded into our POS software from supplier files provided.

A good example is the work we do with Thomas Sabo working with and for our jeweller software customers. The Thomas Sabo images file loads into our software, providing beautiful images attached to inventory items in our sock files. These can then be accessed from a store’s online webstore thanks to the links and data feeds we provide.

This is one example of smart visual inventory management for online and offline retail provided through the Tower Systems POS software.

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TOWER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES HP RP9 SLIM POS TERMINAL

As an authorised partner of respected hardware company, we are thrilled to have been able to show off the HP RP9 all in one POS terminal to prospects at several events recently.

While we have an RP9 exclusively for an event last week, we filmed this short clip showing it in all its glory.

HP RP9 from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Not all POS software companies selling HP branded hardware are authorised resellers, not all sell new equipment backed by the respected HP warranty. At Tower Systems you ave access to the real thing.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT ADVICE: CELEBRATE THE BIRTHDAY OF YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS

Business birthdays are important – for you and for your customers, especially in a locally owned small retail business.

Embrace the opportunity of your business birthday for a celebration. But be sure to not make it all about making more money. Take time to embrace the achievement and love it.

Here are practical tips for celebrating the birthday of your business:

  1. Setup a photo board and invite customer engagement. Let’s say your business is six years old: ask customers to bring a photo showing them at six years of age. Their stories become part of your story.
  2. Setup a noticeboard. Let’s say your business is twenty years old. Headline the board with: To celebrate our twenty years in business, join us and list twenty things you love about this town.
  3. Recognise local heroes. Host an after drinks night in your shop and take a moment to acknowledge and thank local heroes. The number you acknowledge should be the number of years you have been in business.
  4. Thank previous owners. Create a history board of previous owners. Where they are now. Their stories. Show the rich long history of your business from before you owned it.
  5. Hand out a flyer listing X hidden gems of your region (where X is the number of hears you have been in business). The flyer is your birthday gift to your customers.
  6. Have cake. Everyone loves cake. If for no other reason than to get to eat cake have a birthday cake. Make it special. Have a big cake or lots of cup cakes. Set and date and time for the celebration.
  7. Party favor bags. Give every customer shopping on your birthday a bag of treats and favors you have chosen to celebrate your big day.
  8. The Happy Birthday discount. Offer a big discount to any customer who comes in on the day (or through the week if you wish) and sings, at full voice, Happy Birthday.
  9. Say thank you. In your front window, create a stunning and personal display saying thank you to the town. Do it visually, creatively and with a full heart.
  10. Half price birthdays. On the day itself, offer birthday cards at half price. While you are giving away margin and will bring forward what might otherwise have been full margin sales, you could get people buying cards from you who have not done so in a while.
  11. Be thankful. On Facebook leading up to your birthday share what you are thankful for from and through your business. Be sure to write with a voice of gratefulness and celebration.
  12. Dress the shop for a party. For at least the week of the birthday dress the shop as a themed party, maybe a kids party. Get everyone involved. Have fun and bring your customers in on the fun.
  13. Maybe a birthday party celebration sale. One night, after the shop has closed, put on some wine, cheese and nibbles inviting people to join you for some party games, prizes and deals.

A key aspect of these ideas is to remind people that your business is stable, can be trusted, is locally connected and knows how to have fun.

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EASY ACCESS TO POS SOFTWARE DOCUMENTATION FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

When it comes to POS software, small business retailers want an easy life. This means hassle free, straightforward.

Key to achieving an easy life with POS software, besides the software itself being easy to use, is the ease with which parts of the software not often used can be learned and understood in the context of business operation.

Whereas in the past, a user manual was the key learning tool, today, the key learning tool is a good online, searchable and constantly evolving knowledge base, a knowledge base that keeps up to date with the software, evolving as the software evolves. A good knowledgeable includes how to text, step by step guides and instruction videos. It facilitates access to all these resources from anywhere including mobile, tablet and computer – at work, home and elsewhere.

This is what best practice user documentation looks like for smart POS software for small and independent retail businesses.

Whereas a printed manual is hard to update and not easily searched, evolving online searchable documentation is different, more useful and more valuable for engaged users who want to achieve more from their software.

Yes, the printed manual is so last century.

At Tower Systems we provide access to our documentation through a searchable knowledge base. This is setup in such as way so as to make searching easy for non technical people, so they can search based on plain English terms and find what they are looking for. The knowledge base is interactive too, allowing users to add comments and provide feedback. This makes it a customer driven resource and open to two-way communication.

Our experience is that small business retailers love the accessibility of the knowledge base and the documentation it contains. Better still, they love the ability to request enhanced coverage on this or that topic and then seeing us deliver this enhanced content.

Helping users enjoy easy use of our software is vital to their success and the commercial value of the software. So, to us, good documentation starts with easy to use software. Screen designs, data field descriptors, on-screen information and more combine to make using the software easy. The online documentation through the knowledge base makes it easy to, to learn more about the software.

Our approach to POS software user documentation is that the job is never done. Just as our software evolves so does the documentation supporting our software.

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DON’T BE BOUND BY WHAT IS USUAL FOR YOUR TYPE OF RETAIL BUSINESS.

Now, more than ever, retail businesses are not bound by strict borders in terms of what they sell. You only have to look at what pharmacies sell today compared to ten years ago to realise the value of change.

But this type of change, retailers trading outside what is usual for their type of business, is common. There are successful coffee shops today that started out as a customer service experience in vehicle repair shops, fashion outlets and more. 

What is it you could sell in your business that does not fit neatly into what is usual for your type of retail business?

In our work in a range of specialty retail channels we see successes where retailers play outside what is usual for their type of business, where they ignore the borders of tradition.

Doing this successfully starts with looking at the type of customers you currently attract and considering this with the capacity of the business to offer other products and services within the space and capital restraints of the business.

A good place to start is to analyse basket data in your software and, through this, to build up a better understanding of what people purchase. Using departments, categories and tags, you can build an understanding beyond what you recall from serving customers.

Use your data to explore possibilities beyond what you sell today.

  1. Who is your customer?
  2. What else do they buy?
  3. What can I sell them allied to what they buy from me yet that I do not carry today.

Data analysis shop could uncover a niche interest among customers that could be served by the business carrying something you may not usually see in a your type shop.

We see this activity as important. If you rely on traffic that is usual for your type of business your results will most likely be usual for your type of business. Whereas if you attract traffic beyond what is usual, your results ought to be beyond what is usual.

Retail today is more borderless than ever. While it is important your business can be easily understood, you can do this and reach beyond what is traditional with careful management and attention.

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SUNDAY SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL MANAGEMENT ADVICE: 6 WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR POINT OF DIFFERENCE THIS WINTER

Winter can be tough for some people. It can be tough for retail too as traffic is often down. Independent retailers have an opportunity to leverage the season, to make it more enjoyable for you and your customers.

Here are six suggestions to get you thinking abut winter differently:

  1. Reach out to retirement villages and nursing homes. Pack up key items from your shop and tele it on the road – go to those customers who can’t come to you because of the cold.
  2. Offer free delivery. If option one does not work for you promote a delivery service so people shut in can still get their  fix. Be the retailer who goes the extra mile.
  3. Add to your customer service. have somewhere people can place their umbrellas and raincoats when they enter.
  4. Keep your shop warm. Offer hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Maybe have a slow cooker with some delicious home cooked vegetable soup using a recipe from a magazine you have in-store.
  5. Have a summer sale. In the middle of winter, at the coldest, have a blow-out sale and call it something like a SIZZLING SALE. Get people warm with great prices.
  6. Change your music playlist. If you’re using an online music service, select brighter, warmer music.

If your shop is in a really cold area consider an outer door to keep the warmth in. They do this a lot in Europe and the US in Winter.

Winter is a seasoning which you can show off your point of difference and get people seeing your retail business differently.

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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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INVITING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS TO POS SOFTWARE USER MEETINGS

The best way to assess a POS software company is to see first-hand how they interact with their customers.

Starting next week, Tower System is hosting its first round of free face to face retail business user meetings for users of its POS software.

We invite you to attend – without obligation or cost – to check us out. CLICK HERE TO BOOK.

Come and see how we work with small business retailers from a  range of channels to help them drive more value from their technology investment. At these sessions we will talk about shopper loyalty, business intelligence reporting. webcore integration and retail trends we have seen overseas.

Launceston User Meeting
Date: 07/03/2016   Time: 8:00am
Venue: Quality Hotel Colonial Launceston
Address: 31 Elizabeth St Launceston TAS 7250
Breakfast: Coffee, Tea and Egg & Bacon Muffins on arrival
Parking: Limited Free onsite parking

Hobart User Meeting
Date: 08/03/2016   Time: 8:00am
Venue: Hotel Grand Chancellor
Address: 1 Davey St Hobart Hobart TAS 7000
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee and Swiss cheese and ham croissants on arrival

Melbourne User Meeting
Date: 09/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Hawthorn Art Centre, Mayor’s Room
Address: 360 Burwood Rd Hawthorn VIC 3122
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee and mini tomato and cheese croissants on arrival

Brisbane User Meeting
Date: 10/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Quality Inn Airport Heritage
Address: 620 Kingsford Smith Drive Hamilton QLD
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee, selection of biscuits, slices, cakes and muffins on arrival

Adelaide
Date: 11/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Rydges South Park
Address: 1 South Terrace Adelaide SA 5000
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee, egg and bacon muffin as well as fresh fruit served on arrival
Parking: Limited Free onsite parking as well as 2 to 3 hour free street parkingSydney User Meeting

Sydney
Date: 15/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Novotel Sydney Olympic Park
Address: Olympic boulevard Sydney Olympic Park NSW 212
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee and ham and cheese croissants on arrival
Parking: Hotel car park fees apply: All day rate $25.00, or $13.00 for 1 hour, every additional hour charged at $5.00.

Canberra
Date: 16/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Mercure Canberra
Address: Cnr Ainsille & Limestone Ave Braddon ACT 2612
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee and a chefs selection of breakfast items on arrival

Perth User Meeting
Date: 17/03/2016  Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Assured Ascot Quays Apartment Hotel, Marina Room
Address: 150 Great Eastern Highway Ascot WA 6104
Breakfast: Tea, Coffee, whole fruits and warm muffins served on arrival

Gold Coast User Meeting
Date: 05/04/2016  Note date change.
Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Mantra Twin Towns
Address: Wharf Street Tweed Heads NSW
Breakfast: Coffee, Tea, Mini ham and cheese croissants and mini Danish on arrival

Geelong User Meeting
Date: 06/04/2016
Time: 8:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Mercure Geelong
Address: Cnr Gheringhap & Myers St
Breakfast: Coffee, Tea and Breakfast muffin on arrival

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TOWER SYSTEMS AT THE HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL JEWELLERY SHOW

IMG_7255We are grateful to be at the Hong Kong International Jewellery show this week.

Yesterday was fascinating seeing the range of products here and understanding the opportunities with and for retailers and jeweller suppliers.

This is an extraordinary event companies like ours benefit from in terms of how we can better serve our customers – through understanding more about their businesses.

The more time POS software companies look and work outside their businesses the more their customers benefit.

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TOWER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES NEW MAGENTO POS SOFTWARE LINK

Several weeks ago Tower Systems launched a direct Magento e-commerce platform link, in addition to the excellent web-store link in our smart POS software.

The Retailer to Magento Link uses the Tower Advantage Link platform to allow Retailer to connect directly to Magento. The Tower Advantage Link platform is a subscription-based service that acts as an intermediary between Retailer and the Magento API.

What is Magento?
Magento is one of the world’s most popular e-commerce or webstore platforms. Being built on open source technology provides a flexible shopping cart system, giving you control over the look, feel, content and functionality of your online store. Magento offers powerful marketing, search engine optimization, and catalog-management tools. Find out about Magento at www.magento.com

How does the link work?
The link works by using the Magento API allowing the TALink platform to connect to Magento and synchronising on a periodic interval or request basis.

Stock
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 Magento.

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

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

Prices and Quantity On Hand
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 Magento. If the quantity on hand of an items drops to 0, the item is marked as out of stock in Magento.

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

Customers
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.

Sales
These are downloaded on a periodic basis and imported 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.

This is just some of the information we have to share about this exciting and leadership innovation from Tower Systems.

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JEWELLER SOFTWARE HELPS JEWELLERS TO HELP CUSTOMERS REMEMBER IMPORTANT DATES

The Tower Systems Jeweller Software helps independent jewellers increase business by bringing shoppers back for important life event purchases. It is easy to set this up, to remind shoppers to come shop with you. Date related reach-outs to customers are another way we help retail jewellers to personally invite shoppers back into the business. But don’t rely just on this as it is one of many ways you can use this software to personally connect with your customers and through which you can demonstrate a care and attention from your business that is heartfelt and useful.

The Tower Systems training, support and retail business management teams can help with implementing these and other retail business growth opportunities that are embedded in the Tower Systems Jeweller Software.

With hundreds of jewellers using this software, Tower Systems is able to draw on experiences gained from years of service in-store with jewellers to help others deepen shopper engagement with the result of increasing sales. This is vitally important in the competition with online businesses. Being personal matters yet it can have a high cost. By leveraging smart tools in the software, your jeweller business can appear personal without the labour cost of being personal. Helping you achieve this is part of what Tower Systems offers its customers every day.

Being personal matters in retail, especially small business local retail serving a local community. It matters in small business POS software companies too. This is why, when you speak with someone at Tower, you know who they are. It is also why you can connect with our leadership team, personally and on any business matter – beyond the software even. This retail business advice and management assistance is another differentiating service for Tower Systems. We take the assistance we provide beyond the usual help desk engagement seriously because we know that it is in this space where we can make the most positive impact on a jeweller business – using the software as a tool and layering this with smart business knowledge we can help in practical and valuable ways.

So what we do is about much more than helping you remember dates. We welcome opportunities to engage deeply and personally for the good of your business.

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SUNDAY RETAIL MANAGEMENT TIP: 5 WAYS TO MANAGE EMPLOYEES USING YOUR POS SOFTWARE

Good POS software gives you a range of options for managing, tracking and engaging employees using the software itself. In the Tower Systems POS software, there are plenty of employee touch points. Here are five we want to call out today as part of our Sunday tip series.

  1. Track sales by employee code or barcode. This will cut mistakes and improve accountability.
  2. Include employee name on the receipt – to personalise the contact.
  3. Report sales by employee to compare performance.
  4. Manage your roster through your POS software, manage to a budget.
  5. Set security settings in your software to ensure people only have access to parts of the software appropriate to their level of responsibility in the business.
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GIFT SHOP SOFTWARE A HIT AT REED SYDNEY GIFT FAIR

Being the only software company exhibiting at the Sydney Gift Fair has been terrific for tower Systems and we have two days to go. Already the company many new prospective customers looking at the software and even better connections with many existing customers.

The experience over the first three days is a reminder of the value of being at trade shows such as this to help small business retailers learn more abut the software and improve the returns they achieve from their IT investment.

While we are happy to have the show to ourselves, any POS software company serious about newsagents, gift shops, garden centres, pet shops or jewellers ought to be at this show given the mix of retailers we have already seen. It is good customer service to do so.

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