POS SOFTWARE COMPANY OFFERS SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL VALENTINE’S DAY MARKETING IDEAS

As a further example of practical help for small business retailers, Tower Systems last week published the following suggestions / tips. This content demonstrates how the company leverages its retail experience and knowledge way beyond what it traditional for a POS software company.

FIVE FUN AND LEFT-FIELD WAYS ANY RETAILER CAN EMBRCE VALENTINES DAY

While Valentine’s Day is an unashamed commercial season, how you embrace it in your business beyond selling Valentine’s Day products can speak to your unique style of business.

Here are ways you can embrace th season without being purely overtly commercial.

  1. Love where you are. Encourage locals to love the area. Setup a noticeboard inviting them to post what they love about the area. It could be a story, a photo or some other expression of local for the town or region. The noticeboard could be in your sore on online. This promotion is you doing good for where you are situated.
  2. Love what you do. This is a bit like the first option except that you ask people to express what they love about what they do. This could be something in their lives, a hobby or their work. Promote this as an opportunity for people to share something of themselves. Stories like these make the world a better place.
  3. Love others. Invite people to express love for humankind. Choose a local charity, ask what they need and use your business as a collection point. Pitch this as your Loving Others this Valentines Day campaign. Promote the work of the charity, invite your customers to join you in supporting the group and be sure to give something of yourself.
  4. Love lists. On your business Facebook page or through your Google+ page over a series of posts invite people to list things they love. Have a separate topic each day. Ask them to list something and explain why. For example, start with share a song you love and tell us why. Other posts could be share a photo you love and tell us why. Share a recipe you love and tell us why. Share a book title you love and tell us why. The idea here is to get people sharing something of themselves.
  5. The love seat. Make room for a seat for two in your shop or out the front of your shop. Promote this as place for friend to meet up and talk, where friendships can be rekindled, stories told and memories shared. Where people can communicate the old way rather than via social media. If possible, offer free coffee and cake. The idea here si to show you and your business as promoting conversation.

Each one of these ideas is designed, of themselves, to increase your sales or foot traffic. They will, however, speak to who you are and what your business stands for in the local community.

While bigger businesses will run overt Valentine’s Day promotions screaming shop here, your focus will be on touching people’s hearts in a meaningful way, rejoicing in this day for heartfelt reasons beyond the cash register.

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HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS LEVERAGE TYRO BROADBAND EFTPOS

Small business POS software company helps small and independent retailers leverage the opportunity of the Tyro broadband EFTPOS  solutions. We do this through a direct integration with our smart POS software as well as through the friendly small business focussed help desk service.

Serving retailers across a range of retail niches, we have experience from many channels and situations from which to draw when helping retailers save time, cut mistakes and benefit from a best-practice EFTPOS integration. This is an integration supported by tower for many years.

While the Tower Systems POS software works with a range of platforms, Tyro is featured by the company thanks to the relationship with the folks at Tyro, a relationship that benefits the Tower Systems small business retailer user community.

We use Tyro ourselves in our own retail businesses. This enables us to support from a basis of personal experience. It sets us apart.

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SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS: DON’T LET FEAR RULE YOUR POS SOFTWARE BUSINESS DECISIONS

IMG_5090Too often we hear stories of POS software companies threatening small business retailers either through deliberate use of technology jargon or through threats of costs being imposed that were not part of the original contract.

As many small business retailers are not experienced when it comes to technology and not used to dealing with technology companies, they can become confused and think this is how it works, this is normal.

It is not normal.

Small business retailers deserve to be treated with respect, using terminology they understand and with business contracts that are clear and straightforward.

Any POS software company engaging in overt or covert threats ought to be ashamed of themselves. If this is what they have to do to win or keep customers then shame on them and shame on those who work for the company and support such approaches.

Tower Systems is a safe haven for small business retailers looking for an empathetic POS software company, a place where any question can be asked, where regular free training is offered, where business advice is freely available beyond what is usual for a POS software company help desk.

We go into relationships for the long-term rather than a quick sale. This is reflected in our approach to initial training and on-going training, much of which is provided to our small business retail customers for no additional cost. We make this investment knowing the value of a happy customer, especially in small business retail circles where retailers network with colleagues in their retail channel, talking about supplier experiences.

If you are experiencing fear or anything close to fear in your dealings with your POS software company, get out, quit that software as a relationship based on any such fear is an unhealthy relationship for you personally and for your business.

Seek out a professional, respected and trustworthy POS software companies where fear has no place, where small business retailers are communicated with as a peer and not as someone to mock or confuse.

We are writing about this today as we have recently seen a stream of communication between the owner one Australian POS software company and a customer. It is appalling: unprofessional and unnecessarily aggressive. No wonder the retailer experienced fear. The threats in the communication give all software companies a bad name.

Don’t let fear rule your relationship with your POS software company.

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Helping small business retailers leverage POS software through professional communication

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 10.15.47 amSmall business retailers fall in love with POS software companies for a range of reasons, often layered upon each other to provide a comprehensive view of the software supplier business.

We know from years of experience at Tower Systems what many factors play into the small business retailer relationships on which we rely and that we cherish so dearly. The software is a factor, as is the software support. There are other factors too, such as customer communication.

Our small business retail customers love that we communicate with them across a range of platforms and at different times of the day and days of the week. From the reliable weekly email, pictured, to print newsletters, to training videos, to outbound calls to drop-ins to their businesses to user meetings, we offer touch points of a wide variety and through which our customers can connect with us and what we do, touch points on which small business retailers can rely to leverage their POS software to achieve better business outcomes.

Take the weekend email – pictured – this is sent each Sunday. Our weekly email contains news about the POS software, update information, business management advice and business management training. The weekly email from Tower Systems goes way beyond what retailers are used to from their POS software company. It is a professionally presented email. Brief yet complete, providing links to more information for those who want to explore a topic further. Most important is the contact points we publish in the email – we don’t leave small business retailers with vague information. No, we are specific in our contact points, specific with advice on the names of people they can speak with about software and general business management questions and issues.

We know from customer feedback and engagement that the email is used, shared and relied upon. It is a key differentiator for Tower Systems as we demonstrate personal and committed support for small business retailers across a range of retail channels.

Whereas some software companies rely on customers contacting them for and business to business communication, here at Tower Systems we understand the importance of professional business outcome focussed outbound contact. Our goal is to provide our customers with useful information prior to them needing it. Timely information appropriate to retail seasons. Helping information attuned to changing economic conditions. Target information specific to specialty retail channels in which we serve.

Through decade of service to small business retailers we have learned the value of this timely and professional communication. feedback from our small business retailers encourages us to continue our approach and to maintain our commitment to professional outbound contact and support.

We are careful in our communication to ensure it is not geek-talk. No, we prefer plain English help, aimed at supporting those using computers in business because they know they have to rather than because they love technology. This is where our business management advice is particularly useful – we show how our retailer customers can leverage the technology for practical business outcomes in their business. We do this weekly in the email and daily on the phone through our accessible and friendly help desk support.

We back our communication strategy with engagement on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We are where our customers want us online as well as off line. This is why mail, email, web, social media and other platforms are engaged with by Tower Systems – to reach our customers where they are and not only where it suits us. Sure, it is hard work, relentless work. However, it is rewarding work when we receive feedback fro customers thrilled with outcomes they have achieved as a result of the engagement we have driven through our communications strategy.

The consistency of our communication is a key factor in the bond of trust between Tower Systems and its customers. It drives loyalty on both sides and demonstrates an understanding of customer businesses – as the communication is more than lip-service, more than spin, it is real life action, seeking to genuinely make a difference for the positive in the small business retail businesses in which we proudly serve in Australia and New Zealand.

This is the Tower AdvantageTM. A suite of tools, software, strategies and platforms through which we serve specialty retailers, helping them create better, more enjoyable and more valuable businesses. We trade-marked the Tower AdvantageTM because it deserves it. It is unique to us, unique for our customers. The trademark represents our pride in what we do and those who we serve. It represents the difference we make in the world.

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XERO GROWING MARKET SHARE WITH SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS IN AUSTRALIA

IMG_3466We are thrilled to be a long term development partner with the Xero cloud based accounting software and listed as this on their website.

The Australian Financial Review recently published a terrific article about Xero, reporting how the company is primed for growth in Australia. We have seen this for some time through our work with Xero and retailers using Xero and their accountants. It is excellent accounting software.

Our experience is Xero is on the move. We are grateful to be part a small of the Xero story.

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HOW TO BE MORE ‘LOCAL’ IN YOUR SMALL RETAIL BUSINESS

Being local in retail is more important than ever.

Local can mean different things to different people – it does not necessarily mean proximity. Being local could be about the level of care and attention you provide customers, the additional advice you provide, that you live locally, that you source locally or that you serve the local community personally.

Locally sourced products could be products made in Australia. For example, detailing where a product is made and the family behind it pitches local compared to a similar product imported from overseas.

You can use your Tower Systems POS software to pitch local in a range of ways:

  1. Include notes on receipts. Add product care instructions, use instructions or other useful information automatically on receipts – making your receipt a useful information platform.
  2. Tell people where you source products. For a product made by a family or small business in Australia, include details on the receipt. Shine a light on this local product – provide extra information so your shoppers can feel more locally connected.
  3. Include a SHOP LOCAL pitch. Add an image of a poster or some other promotion of the benefits of shop local to every receipt, reinforcing the value of shopping local. Tower Systems has images you can use for free – in the downloads section of our website.
  4. Thank your customers. Include text personally thanking customers shopping with you. Put our name to the message. Include your mobile. Big businesses do not do this.
  5. Track local product sales. Be aware of suppliers of locally made products and report on the performance of these through various reporting tools.
  6. Thanks for shopping local vouchers. You can use the discount voucher facilities in the software and call them Thanks for shopping local or Local shopping reward. This reinforces a value for shopping with a local business – offering $$ discount off the next purchase based on rules you establish.

It is not enough to tell people to shop local, you need to demonstrate the value of this, you need to live it transactionally in your retail business. The best way to do this is through systems and processes in your Tower Systems POS software.

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HOW TO FIND OPTIMISM IN SMALL BUSINESS RETAIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are opportunities for optimism in every business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tower Systems helps newsagents manage magazine distribution changes

The leadership team of Tower Systems has been working behind the scenes since late 2015 on changes made public today to newsagents about the imminent closure of a major magazine distributor. Our work and consultation with supplier stakeholders has been around processes to facilitate a smooth transition so that newsagents are not negatively impacted.

We are grateful to the trust shown us by the suppliers to include us in the confidential discussions.

Newsagents using the Tower Systems software can rest assured in the knowledge that we are well briefed, prepared and engaged.

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SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Small business retailers often state the point of different their small business offers but too many do not live the point of difference.

Take customer service, for example.

Many small and independent retail business owners I know say they offer a better and more personal service than big retailers.

Retail shoppers often judge service by ease of doing business, the returns policy and any barriers along the way. Too often, small and independent retailers have barriers that get in the way of their goal of better customer service. Barriers such as hand written signs about eating in the shop, a notice about a credit card surcharge or an inconsistent returns policy.

If you say your customer service is better than your bigger competitors, live it every day. Believe in yourself by doing what you say.

Small and independent retailers who do this – who carry through with actions the words they pitch about their business – tend to be more successful.

Tower Systems helps small business specialty retailers to live their belief in their business through business processes, platforms and tools that drive consistency and deliver better quality and more personal customer service. These and other benefits are at the core of the Tower Systems POS software.

While we are a POS software company, we play an important role in helping small business retailers believe in themselves.

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POS software customer love helping us sell POS software

We invited several customers last year to have their photo taken in-store as part of a promotional series showing happy small business customers in their shops where they use our smart POS software. We were thrilled every customer we approached agreed.

Here is one photo from the wonderful LollyBomb business in Adelaide. Some of the specialist facilities in our software help this business in smart and engaging ways.

We are grateful for their help in promoting our software.

LollyBomb_Page_1

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Newsagency sales benchmark study launched

Earlier this morning we launched our next newsagency sales benchmark study. This latest study will assess the October through December quarter for 2015 against data for 2014. This same store performance comparison is key to understanding trends and uncovering opportunities.

Tower Systems has been providing these benchmark results to newsagents and their suppliers for more than ten years. This is another way we help beyond our software.

Newsagents using our newsagency software can easily participate.

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Featuring on National Retail Federation promotion

nrfTower Systems CEO Mark Fletcher and National sales Manager Nathan Morrison are featuring on marketing material from the National retail Federation for the NRF Big Show that starts in two weeks in New York.

Attended by 30,000+ each year, the Big Show is an extraordinary business conference and trade show for large and small retailers. We have attended for many years.

The event is an excellent networking opportunity with overseas based peers as well as with engaged Australian retailers on matters of technology and retail business management.

The photo being used by the NRF was taken at last year’s event.

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Helping retailers save time with integrated eftpos

Tower Systems is using the rush of trade for small business retailers at Christmas to reinforce the commercial value of the Tyro integrated eftpos solution we offer. With 1,000 retailers connected through Tyro we have excellent data reflecting time saving, mistake reducing and other benefits for retailers that help at the sales counter as well as in the back office management of the business.

In the middle of the busy trading of Christmas, the benefits of the Tower Systems Tyro broadband eftpos integration are clear and felt on small business retail shops across a range of marketplaces:

  • Fast eftpos processing.
  • Accurate eftpos processing.
  • Reduced keystrokes at the counter.
  • No clogging of the phone line.
  • Streamlined counter management.
  • Happier customer engagement.
  • Better control over possible points of fraud in the business.
  • Reduced cash handling costs.
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Massive fail in POS software loyalty offering

A Tower Systems team members was in a retail business recently using POS software solution from another company and experienced a considerable failure of loyalty software. After making the purchase and leaving the store, our team member was called around ten minutes later with the news there was a voucher for them. It turns out this other POS software is slow at producing vouchers, meaning they often are printed minutes after the sale is completed – meaning the opportunity it lost.

Vouchers need to be printed with the sale, instantly, if the business is to leverage the maximum opportunity. This is vital to the success of any loyalty program – pitching to the shopper while they are still able to easily shop. This is what the Tower Systems POS software does – best practice loyalty in our POS software.

Calling a customer after they have left the shop is an epic fail for the POS software and a problem for the retail business.

The experience was a reminder to us that we have not the loyalty offers in our software right in terms of mix, facilities and speed. It also showed us a competitor’s weakness first-hand.

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Sunday retail management advice: how and when to quit stock in your retail business

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.

  1. Set a deadline. We’d suggest two weeks for quitting a product or range of products.
  2. Choose your timing. The best time to quit stock quickly is on your busiest trading days. For many this will be the weekend. Consider structuring your quitting program to run from Thursday through Sunday.
  3. Set your initial price. The discount must be compelling. We’d suggest 50% off. A smaller discount in this marketplace will not get noticed. Think about your discount words: in some areas, HALF PRICE works better than 50% OFF. Sometimes, 2 FOR 1 can be even more effective. A $$ price can work better – for example a dump bin with everything priced at $1. People then don’t have to work anything out.
  4. Move the product to a high traffic location. Display it as a line you are quitting – in a dump bin or in open boxes. This must be in a location away from where the product is usually located. Do not make an attractive display. Consider placing the stock somewhere that people almost stumble over it.
  5. Put up a sign that is either black on white or white on read. Nothing fancy. Even a hand written sign is good. Do not make a complex or attractive sign.
  6. Adjust your price. If sales are not strong enough, go harder with your discount. From 50% off we suggest a drop to a $$ price point. It can be challenging selling something you would have sold for $20.00 at $1 but that $1 is better than getting nothing for the product at all.
  7. Give it away. If the products are not selling, consider giving the stock away to a local charity. Getting it out of your shop for no compensation can be better than it taking space and giving off the wrong message about your business.
  8. Keep track of time. If you decide to be out of the stock within two weeks, stick to that and make it happen with your pricing and placement decisions.
  9. Use the bin. If you can’t sell the item and you can’t give it away, use the bin.
  10. An alternative: If you have a large amount of stock to quit, consider hiring a local hall and running an off site sale. Talk to your suppliers about getting extra stock in for this. You could even plan to do this as an annual event. Consider, too, linking with a local charity to drive interest and create a fund raising opportunity for them.

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.

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Retail management advice: beware web developer promises

There are some bad web development businesses out there, charging too much and delivering website solutions that are not what customers sought. Like anything in business, when it comes to web development – you get what you pay for. Caveat emptor.

Our advice when it comes to choosing a web developer is simple:

  • Take your time to work out exactly what you need / want.
  • Put in writing what you require.
  • Get a written contract that is specific as to what will be delivered and when.
  • Pay when you are satisfied.
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Great gift cards for small business retailers through POS software from Tower Systems

GardenGiftCardsTSThe Tower Systems designed and manufactured gift cards are growing in popularity across a range of retail channels. We are thrilled to be of service to retailers keen to offer professional gift cards backed by professional gift card management software as they have access to through their smart and engaged Tower Systems POS software.

The latest design customer gift cards are being shipped right now – pitching fresh designs to retail partners in time for Christmas trade.

The image loaded with this post shows some of the cards we have designed for our garden centre customers.

We are grateful to have in-house graphic design capabilities through which we can promote deeper engagement with our software.

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Sunday retail management advice: basket analysis helps you 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.

Basket analysis shows you 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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CPA level help for POS software Xero interface

Tower Systems offers CPA level help for retailers using the Xero accounting interface within our POS software. Guiding appropriate coding and ensuring the right data is linked to Xero, the level of help we provide is beyond what is usual for a POS software company.

Our Xero POS software link is best practice.

Beyond the help desk and beyond the usual IT support person assistance, our in-house accountant is able to help our customers to ensure accurate data and thereby leverage the better value achievable from the Xero link to the Tower Systems POS software.

We use Xero ourselves for two of our retail businesses and this enables us to speak from experience. This makes our advice more personal and experience based than what is usual for a POS software company.

Our accounting link experience includes Quicken and MYOB as well as Xero. It is the Xero experience we like the best, the accounting solution we have enjoyed the most.

This is another POS software Tower AdvantageTM.

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Smart newsagency software helps newsagents cut returns processing time

Tower Systems helped another newsagent switch to our newsagency software last week by showing how to process magazine returns compared to the software the newsagent had been using.

Comparing the process step by step between our software and the other company software they were using, the newsagent soon saw the time they would save and the mistakes they would eliminate with our more professional software. This newsagent will cut paid hours by between eight and ten man-hours a month. That is a saving of close to $300.00 a month.

There is no doubt that owning a newsagency makes it easier for us to ensure our software is best-practice, that it is a solution for newsagents rather than a solution for computer programmers.

Now more than ever the difference between newsagency software packages is extraordinary. We appreciate opportunities to show off what we do and how we supplier newsagents through our software and through our support

This is another POS software Tower AdvantageTM.

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POS software training heading in to Christmas

Here is a list of POS software training available for small business retailers in the lead up to Christmas. Tower Systems is thrilled to be appropriately resourced and managed to be able to offer these free training opportunities that are a genuine point of difference for us:

  • Don’t miss a sale this Christmas! Use Gift Vouchers Wednesday, 09 December 2015 02:00pm
  • Free up cash in your business today Wednesday, 16 December 2015 02:00pm
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