Small business retail advice: never let a stock item celebrate a birthday

Inventory in retail is worthless unless it sells. The longer it sits on the shelf of a retail business the greater the cost of the inventory to the business.

A good basic inventory management principle is: never let a stock item celebrate a birthday. That is, never have an item in the business for more than a year. In fact, we would suggest six months is too long for most items.

Using good POS software you can easily track how long a stock item has been in the business. Stay on top of the age of an item. Work the item to ensure it does not celebrate that birthday. Focus on placement, promotion, adjacency and more to ensure the item is turned within the time necessary for you to achieve a good return for the business.

Ensuring all team members working in the business understand your commitment to never let a stock item celebrate a birthday will help make this happen.

You could take the commitment a step further. Put a sign up in the back room. Make it a discussion point at staff meetings. Encourage anyone to run a report at any time on the age of inventory in the business. Make everyone accountable for the mission.

Tower Systems regularly offers advice to retailers beyond what is usual for a POS software company. The advice demonstrates our commitment to helping beyond the software, to add value to the relationship to benefit the whole of the business.

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

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

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

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

Online purchases can be shipped or collected in-store.

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

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

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

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

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

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Small business Newsagents trust Tower Systems to help build more valuable businesses

Hundreds of newsagents have switched their software to Tower Systems. We can connect you with reference sites who will speak to the commercially valuable difference between our software and what you use today.

Here are our commitments, our promises, to you:

  1. We will not leave the newsagency channel. With more than 1,750 newsagent customers today we are here for you.
  2. We will fight for you. Beyond our software, outside of support, we will help with supplier issues, business strategy and other challenges you confront.
  3. No locked-in support. Taking support coverage is optional. We never block access to your software if you choose to not take support coverage.
  4. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back fast.
  5. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available if you need them. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  6. Updates when you choose. You are in control of when you load updates.
  7. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  8. Regular user meetings. Around the country, in city and regional locations – we offer free face to face training and networking through the year.
  9. Free training. Long after you install our software you have access to free personal training to refresh knowledge or provide training on new facilities.
  10. More integrations. Our direct links to Xero, Magento, Shopify and more mean you have more direct link options to help you grow your business.
  11. Business management insights. We can look at your business performance data and provide a personal analysis of what we see
  12. The Tower AdvantageTM. Our professional and friendly help from training to support to business advice. We are not your average software company.
  13. Owner access. Our owner, Mark Fletcher, is easily accessible: 0418 321 338.

You can purchase our software, lease it or even rent it by the month. You choose the path most appropriate to your needs. We make doing business easy.

Tower Systems has more newsagents using its software than all other newsagency software programs combined.

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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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Tower Systems helps small business retailers achieve balance in inventory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Updated advice for POS software users in Tower Systems knowledge base

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

Here are knowledge base enhancements in the last few days.

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

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

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Tower Systems newsagency benchmark performance results help newsagents

This study is based on data from 161 newsagencies in city and country, high street and shopping centre situations, newsagencies in different groups and trading alone.

Overall, Q2 2016 delivered better results than Q1. There is good news in these benchmark results, especially for newsagents who are working their business as retailers.

  • Customer traffic. 57% of newsagents report average decline of 1.4%.
  • Overall sales. 59% reported an average revenue decline of 2.2%.
  • Basket depth. 64% report a 1.9% decrease in basket size.
  • Basket dollar value. 61% report a decrease in basket value of 1.1%.
  • Discounting. 35% of respondents use a structured loyalty offer such as points or some other discount.

Benchmark results by key departments:

  1. Magazines.  78% of report an average decline in unit sales of 7%. The average decline in weeklies was 8.4%. 20% report an increase in unit sales.
  2. Newspapers.  77% report average decline in over the counter unit sales of 6.1%.
  3. Greeting cards.  56% of report average revenue increase of 2.9%.
  4. Lotteries. 68% of those with lotteries report average decline of 5.5% in transactions.
  5. Stationery.  77% of newsagents report a decline, with an average of 1.7%.
  6. Ink.  23% of stores report ink separately. Of these, 51% reported increase of 2%.
  7. Gifts. Of the 78% with gifts, 61% report average growth of 5.1%. Note: for the purposes of this analysis I roll gift related departments such as plush, collectibles, homewares and gifts into one.
  8. Tobacco. Of the 45% with tobacco, 73% report an average decline of 17%.
  9. Confectionery. 66% of stores reported an average decline of 3%.
  10. Toys. Of the 25% with toys, 70% report growth of 4.5%.

Here are some insights from analysis of the data:

  • High street and regional newsagencies were among the best performers.
  • The traditional newsagencies: papers / magazines / lotteries / cards / stationery and little or no gifts fared the worst.
  • Newsagencies with a strong gift department performed better with cards.
  • Newsagencies selling higher value gifts did better than those at the low (under $20) end.
  • Newsagencies in a group usually, but not always, perform better than those not.
  • In the successful group, the ratio of gift to card revenue continues to grow.
  • The most significant growth year on year is in the businesses where significant shop floor change has been undertaken. i.e. increasing gifts, shifting to higher price point products, introducing homewares and / or introducing toys – but not the usual low end toys we see in newsagencies.

I say the results this quarter are better than last because there is evidence of the value of embracing change. While there is no doubt that print media continues to challenge as does tobacco and lotteries, newsagents acting as retailers can achieve gains as the results show.

HOW TO USE THESE RESULTS
Look at your own situation. Compare your year on year results with those detailed here. If you are doing worse, act. If you are doing better, celebrate briefly and then get back to it.

There is no time to lose. We are in a period of extraordinary change and challenge on many fronts and the best way to confront change and challenge is to lean in and bring it on.

The business owners of any newsagency are the single most important influence on their results.

WHY I DO THIS STUDY
My interest in the study is as a newsagent and as a supplier to the channel through Tower Systems and through newsagency marketing group newsXpress. I want the channel to grow for selfish reasons and because it has been my life since 1981. I am invested.

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).

If you want help transforming your newsagency business reach out for help to people you trust. The earlier you reach out the better.

Here are my contact details: Mobile – 0418 321 338; email – mark@towersystems.com.au. I will help as much as I am able.

Tower Systems serves in excess of 1,750+ newsagents with newsagency software. newsXpress has 220 newsagency businesses as members.

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Tower Systems helps newsagents engage with $150,000 competition

towerreciptWUT150Klong-1Newsagents using the Tower Systems newsagency software were provided coupons for auto-serving on customer receipts to help drive shopper engagement with the Pacific magazines shopper promotion.

We worked with Pacific Magazines on the production of several coupons and provided advice to our 1,750+ newsagent customers on how to include the coupons on receipts to leverage the competition opportunity.

This supplier engagement on behalf of our customers is another way Tower Systems adds practical value to its customer relationships. It is a service we provide suppliers serving all marketplaces in which we have specialist software.

The auto-serving of ads and coupons on receipts is something we have done for many years.

This is another example of the Tower AdvantageTM.

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

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

Trust is mission critical for POS software companies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Free training for small business retailers to increase sales

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

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

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

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

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Tower Systems POS software on show at Gift HQ this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

GiftHQEmailJuly16

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Comprehensive new POS software training opportunities for small business retailers

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

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

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

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

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

AUGUST

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

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER

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

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

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

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

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Small business retail advice: make every day your pay day

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

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

The challenge is how do you do this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Q2 newsagency benchmark study launched for small business newsagents

Tower Systems this morning launched its latest newsagency sales benchmark study:

Q2 2016 NEWSAGENCY SALES BENCHMARK STUDY.
I am preparing a fresh benchmark study for the newsagency channel to look at the latest sales trends overall and in key product categories. This quarterly newsagency sales performance study will help newsagents see the future based on the data trends. It will also reveal the difference between emerging newsagency model changes. Click here for my last report.

I see many newsagency businesses embracing tremendous change already in 2016. In the sea of change are wonderful opportunities. These opportunities are revealed in the business data in each business and in the benchmark results I publish.

How to participate.

  1. Please run a Monthly Sales Comparison Report for 01/04/2016 – 30/06/2016 compared to 01/04/2015 – 30/06/2015.
  2. Tick the category box. IMPORTANT.
  3. Tick to exclude home delivery and sub agent data.
  4. DO NOT tick the supplier box.
  5. Preview the report on the screen. Save as a PDF and email this to me at mark@towersystems.com.au.

I will email the results to all participating newsagents and publish the results on the Australian Newsagency Blog as a community service.

Tower Systems serves in excess of 1,750+ newsagents with best practice newsagency software.

Note: the study reflects performance as reported by a range of newsagency businesses trading under a range of brands.

The results of each study are backed up by circulation results published later by the Audit Bureau.

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Disaster planning: advice to help small business retailers trade manually

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

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

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

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

To prepare you for this, do the following:

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

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

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

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

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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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THE TOWER SYSTEMS POS SOFTWARE SHOPIFY LINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The visual deck helps small business retailers see business data differently

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

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

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

Introducing the Retailer Visual Deck.

Retail business performance, seen differently.

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

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

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

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

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

This is 100% Tower Systems innovation.

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

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

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FREE STOCKTAKING TRAINING FOR POS SOFTWARE USERS

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

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

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

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

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