Here is our stand at the Sydney Gift Fair, at Darling Harbour. We are thrilled with the look and how the first two days have gone – what a wonderful and optimistic event.
How do you identify product that is not working? When do you quit a product that is not working? Why should you quit stock? How do you quit the stock? How long should quitting stock take? What if the item does not sell no matter what you do?
These are all questions we will answer here for you in the form of suggestions. What you ultimately do is 100% up to you. Your choices need to reflect your own situation and circumstances.
Identifying product that is not working.
Product is not working if it is not paying its way – paying for the floor space it takes and the time you spend on it. Check your sales, rank all your stock based on sales – look at the bottom performing stock. Your software should have a ranked Sales Report that lets you list all your stock ranked by unit or $$ sales. Use this to create your list of items to consider.
The other way to identify stock that’s not working for you is to check your back room or other storage facility. Stock that is not generating cash regularly has to be considered dead in our view.
When do you quit a product?
You quit, exit, products when they are not paying their way, when a season is done or when you want to exit that category for some other reason.
Let’s say your rent is $1,250 per square metre per year. If your gross profit averages, say, 50%, you will need to sell $2,500 worth of product to pay for a metre of space. However, this is not the complete consideration as you have labour, power and other costs to cover. The suggested rule of thumb is that your retail sales need to be at least three times that necessary to cover the cost of the space. In the scenario covered here, you should be earning at least $7,500 from a square metre of space. If stock is not delivering this, quitting it could be necessary.
Why quit stock?
To keep your shop fresh, to not be weighed down by dead stock to make your shop look more relevant, to stop hoarding.
How to quit stock.
Here is how we quit stock in retail businesses we operate. These businesses are in shopping centres where retail space is limited and expensive. We are necessarily aggressive.
Quitting stock takes strength and commitment. We urge you to do it to keep your business fresh. Product not selling gives shoppers a bad impression of your business.
Take a look at your shop floor and in your back room. Look at what you can get rid of right away to reduce the anchor of dead stock on your business.
Too many retail businesses have old stock gathering dust. One of the best ways to separate your business is to regularly quit stock that is not performing as it should.
This advice is an example of how Tower Systems helps small business retailers beyond POS software.
In years working with small and independent retail businesses, the team at Tower Systems has learnt plenty including the indicators of in which retail businesses theft is more likely to occur.
Our experience is that theft is more likely to occur in businesses where stock is not managed properly.
By not managed properly we mean where:
Our advice on reducing the cost of employee theft and customer theft is simple – follow our advice, manage your stock and without a doubt the cost of theft in your retail business will be lower than it would have been.
If you think the cost of managing stock is too great, think about the cost of $25,000, $50,000 or even $250,000 in theft. Yes, we see this all too often in retail businesses – where stock is not managed.
Managing your stock = less theft and less theft = increases product and increased profit = you get more when you sell your business.
All sales to new customers of the Tower Systems POS software have membership to the Tower AdvantageTM support membership included in their package.
Tower AdvantageTM is what we call our support service. We trade marked it because it is unique to us.
Our small business retail support is 100% local, managed out of our Hawthorn, Victoria, office with support staff located there as well as at several interstate Australian locations.
The office based help desk is open from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 7:30 to 3:30 on Saturdays – AEST. For urgent support outside these hours we have a mobile based after hours telephone support.
Help desk access is backed by access to our escalation process whereby customers have access to our Customer Service Manager then to our Chief Operating Officer and then to our Managing Director. The direct numbers of each point of escalation are provided to all of our customers.
Each week we run online training interactive courses covering subjects with a business outcome in mind. These programs are run through our WebEx platform and Customers can attend as many of these courses as they like. We would also be happy to develop along with ARL, some ARL specific training courses if wanted.
All customers also have access to our online personal training. These sessions booked in advance deliver one-on-one training on any desired subject. We do not cap the amount of one on one training time a customer can book.
At the end of the first year customers are invoiced for support for the next year. Customers have the option to pay monthly or pay up front for discounts on multiple years of access. Our support fees are optional, meaning if a customer chooses to not be supported they can revert to a pay per call for access to the help desk.
Customer service is important to us. We know that delivering good service is as important to us as it is to our customers. We are committed.
Inner weekly customer service email we include advice and insights beyond what is usual for POS software companies. Here is one example from a recent email where we shared visual merchandising insights seen recently bye a Tower team members in Europe:
Adding value to the various touchpoints we have with our customers is important to us as it helps our customers to benefit beyond the software.
We are not your average POS software company.
Tower Systems is thrilled to be participating again in the Sydney Reed Gift Fair in a couple of weeks. On show at this wonderful event will be our Gift Shop Software. Indeed, we are launching new software at this very special event.
Tower Systems has been participating at gift fair trade shows for more than ten years and as a result have many hundreds of gift shops as customers using our Aussie developed small business software.
This year is especially editing because of what we have to show. It is fresh, exciting and innovative – aimed to help small business retailers better connect with and sell to gift, homewares and related product category shoppers.
This will be a terrific event. We are excited!
As a service to its 3,500+ small business retail customers, Tower Systems offers disaster planning advice. This advice is regularly revisited and revised to ensure its appropriateness.
Here is our current small business retailer initial steps disaster planning advice. We call this initial steps as there is more to be said, more help we provide, but were will keep that for a more confidential discussion with our customers.
How protected is your retail business in the event of disaster? Since we are a software company, our interest is more to do with data and technology.
Are you as protected as you can be?
This is an easy topic to ignore and most small business retailers do. Those most likely to plan for a disaster are those who have gone through it. Once bitten, twice shy as they say.
Insurance. Insurance coverage is vital to helping overcome any type of disaster. In addition to ensuring that your insurance policy covers all disaster situations of concern to you, including flood, theft, water inundation, fire, earthquake, riot—be sure to carefully read the policy, ensure that your insurance policy / policies cover payouts for the following:
Ensure that the value of stock, fixtures and fittings covered by your policy is an accurate reflection of the real value of these items. Use your POS system to track all stock movements in and out. The stock on hand in your software should be your coverage.
Ensure that your insurance policy protects for the seasonal nature of your business Data Protection. Business data is a valuable asset. Follow these steps:
Disaster Planning. Here are some general suggestions on planning for a disaster in your business property.
The disaster planning help for small business retailers from Tower Systems reaches way beyond what we have shared here.
Here at Tower Systems we help our customers beyond what is usual for a POS software company. One example of that help can be seen in our free weekly live online training workshops. These popular sessions offer business management advice. Take a look at three sessions from now to the end of this month:
Over the course of 2017 we will deliver more than seventy free training workshops for our customers through our professional live online platform. This is in addition to capital city and regional user meetings and one on one training sessions.
The topics range from the technical to the business management – as these three sessions for the rest of this month show.
We are grateful to our customers for their encouragement and support of the broad range of training we offer. Their support and feedback drives us.
The Tower Systems installation and training team and the customer service post sales support team both help our small business retail customers to reduce paperwork with practical business focussed advice.
From more efficiently managing regulatory obligations to managing internal business management paperwork, Tower Systems through its software and its people can help.
Our advice is founded in our own experience running successful retail businesses for more than twenty years. There is no doubt that using our software in our own businesses makes a big difference to the practical value of the advice we provide. It separates us from POS software companies where the advice is more tech focussed.
Cutting paperwork for us is more than a marketing pitch, we offer practice help in achieving this so resources in the small retail business are freed for more valuable activity.
Our company motto is we’re here to help. Our focus on paperwork is one example of how we pursue this for our customers.
We have shared an updated COMPUTER USE POLICY with our customers to reduce the opportunity of attack own their systems:
For the first time since 2014, Tower Systems is increasing its software support fees. The increase will be less than 7%. The 2014 increase was the first in four years.
Following the fee increase, Tower Sys6ems customers will be paying considerably less for software support in real terms than seven years ago.
This is an extraordinary saving for thousands of small business retailers.
We announced to our customers the plan to increase fees a month ago and provided them an opportunity to lock in the old fee prior to the increase taking effect at the end of this month.
This advance notice of a support fee increase is rare in the POS software marketplace. We did it out of respect and appreciation of our customers.
We are proud to be in a position to help our customers save money year on year on software support coverage.
Yesterday, we announced to our small business POS software customers a suite of terrific free live training opportunities for February 2017. This training goes beyond what people expect from their POS software company as it draws together best practice retail business management and other retail strategy insights in the context of how the software can help.
Tower Systems is proud to offer access to free live group training and business management inspiration every week. It is a differentiator for us.
Tower Systems has a structured approach to helping small business retailers and their suppliers more efficiently, effectively and accurate connect. Our approach is based on years of service including time as retailers ourselves, using our own software to work more closely with suppliers.
These are just some of the ways we connect retailers and suppliers. It is structured, consistent and accurate. The benefits are time saved and mistakes eliminated. This is best practice when it comes to connecting independent small business retailers and their suppliers.
We are grateful to the suppliers with whom we partner and their retailers who help guide our work in this area. The value it adds is wonderful to see.
Back to School time is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with existing customers and to attract new customers to your store.
Here are some free marketing suggestions (some mainstream and some left field) designed to help you attract customers and get them shopping your Back to School range. Most of these marketing tips can be tried without spending too much money:
No matter how big or small Back to School is in your store, it is an opportunity to have some fun and strengthen your connection with the local community.
Tower Systems is thrilled its cloud based Back to School software facility booklist is winning plenty of business for small business newsagents in the 2017 back to school season.
Developed in close associate with small business newsagents, the booklist software has been a great and practical help this season.
From this project it is clear there is no one approach to managing school book list sales. We have sought to address the most common needs to provide a cost effective solution for our customers.
Built from the ground up, this facility provides a comprehensive solution to newsagents. The cost is $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.
Using the site you can:
In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.
This software from Tower Systems is another example of the evolving tech platforms that can be used to help small business retailers to broaden the reach and appeal of their businesses, finding new shoppers and efficiently transacting new sales – all on a subscription basis.
We are grateful to the community of newsagents who have guided us on this project.
Retailers running multiple retail locations can use the Tower Systems POS software in these multiple locations easily and efficiently. Using the multi-store POS software, retailers can:
The multi-store POS software from Tower Systems is smart, robust and valuable in any small retail business that is growing.
We have retailers in 15 and more locations using this. Hosted in the cloud. easily managed. Serving a diverse mix of retail and management needs.
I want to share with you a true story of what happened recently in my own retail business. It is a story of how a small everyday purchase led to something bigger and how this happened as a result of fundamental changes in how the business is run.
This story could happen in any retail business – city, country, large, small, shopping mall, high street. We make that point so you do not dismiss the story and think it could not happen in your business. The elements of the story work together in any size business. In writing about it here I’m not getting you to do anything other than to consider that you could achieve the same in your business.
At its core, this is a story about shopper loyalty, especially shopper loyalty in a retail situation where between 25% and 30% of shoppers visiting the business are not local and therefore not likely to engage with the old-school points-based loyalty program.
A customer passing the shop noticed our greeting card range and stepped into make a purchase because of a specific need. They purchased two birthday cards. On their receipt was a voucher for almost $2.00. As they are not usually in the shopping centre they looked around for something in which to spend the $2.00.
This is the key: the customer came in to make a quick destination purchase. The type of purchase where we did not matter. They were on the way to the car park and happened to pass buy our shop. Point 1: location is in our favour. The stepped in because they saw our greeting cards. Point 2: the floor placement of cards was key in getting them in the shop.
Having made the purchase, the customer then noticed, for the first time, what else we sold – because of the $2.00 discount voucher on their receipt. Point 3: we got them to look around and see what else we sold.
The customer did a 180 degree turn and saw a locked glass cabinet of beautiful collectible bears. This was in the right place at the right time as they had been looking for a gift for a child. Money was not an issue. They wanted something to last a lifetime. They purchased a $500.00 bear.
This purchase would not have been made had they not been given the $2.00 voucher on their receipt. The voucher is what got them to notice what else we sold.
Fast forward several weeks and this customer who said they don’t usually come to the shopping centre was back for another $500.00 purchase. Now, several more weeks later, the customer has another $500.00 order placed.
We can directly trace more than $1,500.00 in sales back to the $2.00 voucher.
The software produced the voucher based on rules we established. The initial staff member serving the customer made a brief professional pitch highlighting the voucher. These are both important factors as they are at the core of a structured consistent approach to what has become the most lucrative loyalty program we have seen in my 30+ years involved in retail as a retailer myself and working with retailers in many different channels.
While most times vouchers are handed out they are not redeemed, they are redeemed enough to make them worthwhile. They are redeemed for good margin product as they get people looking at the shop for the first time and discovering items to purchase they were not in our four walls to consider.
The discount vouchers are disruptive. People respond in unpredictable ways.
Best of all, the discount vouchers are profitable.
For this story to work in a newsagency you need to have the right products, placed strategically in-store. Your staff need to make the right pitch. Plus, you need to be attracting people who don’t know and probably don’t care what shop they are in.
If you have read this post and thought it does not relate to you, that you could not do this in your business we say you are wrong. We are certain the approach I have shared with you could work in any newsagency in any situation. We urge you to not hold your business back.
Here is practical advice for local small business retailers based on our years of service of such businesses:
Big businesses – Big W, Woolworths, Coles, K-Mart, Target, Officeworks, Staples – all need volume for any move they make, any promotion, any catalogue, any front of store offer.
The operate on seven and fourteen day cycles. Rarely, they will run something for a month.
It is almost unheard of for them to run an offer, promotion or deal longer that two weeks.
It is important to know this as it can help you deal with them competing with you on price, which they will do.
These majors set their own price. Most times they do not tell their supplier. They get the product shipped to their distribution centre and from there they ship to stores for when the catalogue hits or TVC starts. It is rare for a supplier to know any of the details – unless it is tied to a movie release or so other national promotion.
It is important to know these points as we often see retailers complain that the supplier has been complicit in a discount offer. Usually they are not. But even if they are we do not blame them as theirs (the supplier) is a volume business and small business cannot deliver the volume they need to maintain their status with the brand owner.
Here are tips for dealing with a competitor challenging you on price:
Try and not get hijacked by stress about a competitor. Being stressed will not alter the situation. It is what you do that matters. Exercise control. Be a competitor.
We are thrilled with the response to our paperwork campaign supporting operational efficiency in small and independent retail businesses. This is a campaign for existing Tower Systems customers as well as prospective customers.
Launched by Tower Systems as part of a broader training, POS software enhancements and business support package, this focus for 2017 encourages small business retailers to better manage paperwork for the benefit of the business and those served by the business.
Eliminating paperwork is easy when your POS software directly links to the right tools such as web platforms, appointment facilities and accounting software.
POS software company Tower Systems last week launched a special POS software offer for independent small business retailers in Australia. This offer includes several 2017 New Year bonuses that will benefit those who engage between now and January 25, 2016.
Tower Systems has written to retailers in selected retail channels with details of the offer.
The Tower Systems 2017 POS software includes bonus software, support and other valuable small business benefits.
Small business retailers keen to leverage this loved POS software can contact Tower Systems directly to find out more: via our website or by phone on 1300 662 957.
Small business retailers do not typically purchase POS software this time of the year. This offer from Tower Systems rewards those who make an unseasonal purchase.
Tower Systems has been engaged in a secret project for small business newsagents in Australia that has passed proof of concept.
Of all retail channels in Australia the newsagency channel is anticipating the most significant changes in 2017. The anticipation of change and the opportunity of new advances make 2017 a year of opportunity for newsagents.
Serving in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers using its best practice newsagency software, Tower Systems has the largest single grouping of tech based newsagents in the world, making this community a perfect fit for the project.
The project is well advanced with many newsagents already engaged and banking valuable results. The advantage for newsagents who partner with Tower Systems is measurable and valuable.
This project is one of several being run by Tower Systems for its large community of users. It is another way the company reinvests for the benefit of its customers.
We are grateful to our small business newsagent customers for their support and encouragement. This new project is thanks to them.
Data is king in any business. This is especially true in independent small retail businesses where data is key to being competitive against better resourced businesses. To often in our work with small business retailers we find a lack of discipline around business data, too little respect.
This advice has been written for use in businesses where the business data has been found to be useless, faulty and / or of little value.
There is no doubt: poor business data = poor business decisions.
If you ever hope to sell your retail business, accurate business data is vital, it will determine the price you achieve for your business.
Don’t be one of those business owners who only cares about accurate business data when you decide to sell as that could be too late.
Here is all you need to do to ensure you have accurate business data.
The slower way is to manually enter invoices into your software item by item. This is done in Invoice Arrivals.
If you created an order using the software and this order subsequently arrives, you can receive the order – to save time.
Very simple, right?
Accurate business data is up to you. Not your software company, not your suppliers.
Accurate business data is 100% up to you.
Once you have accurate data, track business performance. Use the accurate data to see trends in your business, to guide better quality business decisions.
It is easy to create accurate business data. The operational and financial benefits are extraordinary.
How Tower Systems can help. We have articles in our knowledge base on everything discussed here. We also have training videos that show you what to do. We host weekly online training workshops, accessible from anywhere, where you can ask questions on any topic. Plus, supported customers have access to free one on one training.
Tower Systems is thrilled to announce its first free online training workshop for 2017. This is next week, Wednesday at 2pm. This session is on custom stock takes – the efficient and friendly way to count stock and eliminate the need for the end of year stock take.
January is a perfect time for retailers to learn how to do this time efficient type of stock take and we are glad to be able to help.
This free POS software training from Tower Systems is a differentiating service from us.