Australian newsagency sales performance benchmark study results

For fifteen years, Tower Systems has published quarterly sales performance benchmark results based on accurate data from a broad cross-section of retail newsagency businesses.

This study is the most comprehensive even for the newsagency channel. Here is the latest report, for the April – June quarter of 2017 compares to 2016 on a same store basis.

The April – June quarter was tough for core products sold through the newsagency channel. In addition to the continuing decline in print media sales, this quarter’s benchmark results reveal a troubling downturn in lottery revenue as well as card revenue.

Here are the headline numbers by key product category:

  1. Magazine unit sales declined 11%.
  2. Greeting card revenue declined 4%.
  3. Lottery revenue declines 4%.
  4. Newspaper unit sales declined 12%.
  5. Gift revenue increased by 11%.
  6. Toy revenue increased by 16%.
  7. Stationery revenue declined 8%.

These are not good headline numbers. The bottom is falling out of the historic core of the newsagency channel. This will not be news to many as it continues a trend we have seen in this benchmark study for several years.

The above percentages reflect the overall performance of the 181 newsagency businesses in this benchmark study. It includes stores from a range of banner groups as well as independents. There are large businesses and small. Some are in shopping centres while others are on then high street. The cross-section is broad.

What is concerning is the pace of decline, especially with magazines as the decline had slowed recently. Looking more closely at the data, the decline is in the volume categories. Fringe categories such as special interest titles are doing well. Indeed, some segments show terrific growth.

Newsagents need to manage the overhead cost of newspapers and magazines. Labour, space and capital investment needs to be kept in line with the gross profit contribution of these categories. Busy work relating to newspapers and magazines should be eliminated.

The decline in greeting card revenue is a surprise. The reported percentage of decline, 4%, does not read well. However, like all the above data points, it is an average from the entire data pool. There are stores experiencing decline above 20% with others reporting growth above 20%. There is a clear correlation between stores with strong gift sales and card performance – in this case card revenue is stronger.

GOOD NEWS.

The good news is the performance of businesses playing outside the traditional space. For example, the newsagency with $25,000 in toy revenue in the quarter, reflecting growth of 18% or the newsagency with $45,000 in gift revenue and year on year growth of 22% of the newsagency with card revenue of $47,000 and year on year growth of 22%.

There are many good news stories in the latest study results. However, the good news will be overshadowed by the performance of the majority. It is challenging, some days, to know what to do or say to cut through with newsagents who are not engaged.

Too many newsagents think growth will come from categories close to what they have done historically. For example, too many get into cheap social stationery thinking that is competitive with Kikki.K or Typo.

My experience is the best growth comes from turning away from traditional lines and traditional suppliers and going with products and price points you would never have considered for a newsagency business. I see this approach working well in the benchmark results in businesses of different sizes and in different situations.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE DATA.

  1. Customer traffic. 78% of newsagents report average decline of 5%.
  2. Overall sales. 53% reported an average revenue decline of 3%.
  3. Basket depth. 61% report a 2% decrease in basket size.
  4. Basket dollar value. 63% report a decrease in basket value of 3%.

It is in the overall business gross profit numbers where the differences in businesses can be seen. 62% sit in the traditional newsagency GP performance band of 28% – 30%. 7% sit below 28%. 20% sit in the GP band of 30% and 35%. 7% sit between 35% and 40%. The rest, 4%, have a GP of more than 40%.

GP is a function of what you stock and the type of shoppers you attract to the business. Buying is where it starts.

WHAT IS DRIVING THE DECLINES?

Close to 80% of the businesses in the benchmark reported a decline in traffic with the average decline set at 5%. However, just over half reported a decline in revenue. This is because plenty are selling higher priced items, usually gifts. This softens the blow of the decline in legacy products.

I think the traffic decline is being driven by a decline in interest in legacy products on which traditional newsagency businesses have relied. I have said for years it is crucial newsagents have a strategy to drive net new traffic. Relying on legacy product to sell new products is not a plan. You need to source new products and to use these to attract people to your business who would otherwise not have shopped with you.

HOW TO RESPOND TO TRAFFIC DECLINES?

Any newsagency business can be successful, regardless of location and situation. This is truer today than at any time in the past thanks to what we can see being achieved online – not only in newsagency businesses but through other retail channels.

The key to success is to not run the business as a newsagency. That’s is, to not obsess about legacy products. Focus on new traffic products. Focus on price points you would usually say would never work in your business. Buy products you think will never work. Be radical and through discover what is possible in your business.

I urge you to ask yourself daily, what have I done today to reach a new shopper, someone who does not know we exist? This is what successful businesses in the benchmark study are doing and doing well.

DOES THE NEWSAGENCY CHANNEL HAVE A FUTURE?

I ask this every quarter. My answer remains – Yes! Absolutely. If you are prepared to shrug off what has been traditional for a newsagency business, stop hoarding, embrace change and embrace social media – you can have a bright future. The transformation from traditional to the new world must be urgent and dramatic.

AGENCY IS OVER.

My opinion remains – there is no upside in any agency parts of the business. People saying they are proud to be called a newsagent are entitled to their view. History will show that era is behind us.

OPTIMISTIC.

I am optimistic for my own newsagency businesses and for the businesses of many newsagents. Indeed, I have opened a new outlet the last few months. It does not look or feel like a newsagency. The numbers are terrific.

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 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. This is a contentious KPI. If you think it is not for you, work the numbers back and see what your number needs to be based on each labour hour in the business.
  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).

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

Footnote: I founded Tower Systems in 1981. That company now serves in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers with its newsagency software. In 2005, I joined newsXpress. That newsagency marketing group now serves 243 retail businesses with a traffic and revenue growth strategy.

Another twenty one newsagents switch to Tower Systems

Another twenty one newsagents have switched from other newsagency software to the Tower Systems newsagency software. This is on top of newsagents installing our newsagency software where they did not have a newsagency system in place.

Many hundreds of newsagents have switched to Tower Systems as they have seen our software bring new opportunities in new revenue and new traffic areas that are valuable to evolving newsagency businesses.

Serving close to 1,800 newsagents, Tower Systems serves more newsagents with its software than all other newsagency software companies combined.

We are grateful for the support of our customers. This means the world to us, to all who work here, and to the broader Tower Systems newsagent community.

In the latest update of our newsagency software we have enhanced facilities that enable newsagents to grow their businesses. This is good news. We back the software with practical help and advice, helping newsagents engage with their businesses in more valuable ways.

While we continue to support legacy category requirements, it is in new revenue stream areas that newsagents love what we do the most.

Welcoming more newsagents to the Tower Systems community

We are kicking some terrific goals with the Tower Systems software for newsagents with strong sales to businesses switching to our software.

While newsagents love the newsagency specific facilities in the software, it is the optional software support fee that attracts people. Newsagents can use our software regardless of whether they pay a support fee or not. This use includes being able to use XchangeIT for magazine returns – at no locked-in annual cost from Tower.

Our latest software update enhances the facilities for newsagents even further. The feedback from our customers about the update is inspiring. We are grateful for their support, and inspiration.

Why newsagents switch to Tower Systems newsagency software

As the newsagency channel undergoes extraordinary change in 2017, Tower Systems remains a constant support through its best-practice newsagency management software, newsagent support and newsagent marketing help.

With more than 1,800 newsagent customers, Tower Systems serves more newsagents than all other software companies combined.

Switching is not expensive. If you have current hardware, the cost can be as low as $2,200 a year for three years after which there is no mandatory cost.

Included in the low cost is:

  1. The Tower Systems newsagency software.
  2. On site installation and training.
  3. Data conversion, converting as much data from your current system that we can access.
  4. Software support for the first three years.
  5. Software updates for the first three years.
  6. Unlimited over the phone follow up training for the first three years.
  7. Access to an online knowledge base with articles and advice on the software.
  8. Access to weekly group line online training workshops.

Alternatively, you can pay up front and not pay anything for three years.

We offer this in response to the consolidation occurring in the newsagency channel. It is our opinion that not all current newsagency software companies will remain in the channel.

As the largest we are well resourced to help you navigate change not only in your software but in your business too.

  1. Tower Systems will not leave the newsagency channel.
  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. Our software continues to evolve. We release two to three major updates each you. You choose when to load them. Each update is thoroughly tested in a comprehensive beta program.
  4. We own newsagencies. Yes, we walk in your shoes.
  5. No locked-in support fee. Taking support coverage once the three year period ends is optional.
  6. Lower support costs. Also, transparent. No mates rates for a select few.
  7. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back fast.
  8. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available if you need them. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  9. Updates when you choose. You are in control of when you load updates.
  10. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  11. Free training. Long after you install our software you have access to free personal training to refresh knowledge or provide training on new facilities.
  12. More integrations. Our direct links to Xero, Magento, Shopify and more mean you have more direct link options to help you grow your business.
  13. Business management insights. We can look at your business performance data and provide a personal analysis of what we see
  14. Owner access. Our owner, Mark Fletcher, is easily accessible: 0418 321 338 or by email on mark@towersystems.com.au.

Easy LayBy for online retailers using Tower Systems POS software

LayBy for websites is easy thanks to the Tower Systems web development team and their expert integrations with Oxipay for Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento.

POS software linked websites with the Oxipay facilities enable retail stores to transact online easily and quickly,l offering shoppers interest free payment terms.

Tower Systems is a leader in the Oxipay integrations, delivering fast and seamless solutions between physical and online store experiences.

Check out this from the Oxpipay website:

Buying the things you love has never been easier.

With Oxipay find the items you want instore or online and pay for them in 4 easy payments with no fees and no interest.

Oxipay makes it simple to shop with 100’s of your favourite online stores. Just checkout, select Oxipay and have the items you want today.

Breathe easy with Oxipay.

Add this to the wonderful Tower Systems POS software and bring it online through Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce and you have a best practice solution shoppers and retailers love.

We are thrilled to be playing at the edge of technology development for our retail partners.

Newsagents switching software – loving the low fixed cost of ownership

As the newsagency channel undergoes extraordinary change in 2017, Tower Systems remains a constant support through its best-practice newsagency management software, newsagent support and newsagent marketing help.

With more than 1,800 newsagent customers, Tower Systems serves more newsagents than all other software companies combined.

Switching is not expensive. If you have current hardware, the cost can be as low as $2,200 a year for three years after which there is no mandatory cost.

Included in the $2,200 a year (for only three years) cost is:

  1. The Tower Systems newsagency software.
  2. On site installation and training.
  3. Data conversion, converting as much data from your current system that we can access.
  4. Software support for the first three years.
  5. Software updates for the first three years.
  6. Unlimited over the phone follow up training for the first three years.
  7. Access to an online knowledge base with articles and advice on the software.
  8. Access to weekly group line online training workshops.

Alternatively, you can pay $6,600 up front and not pay anything for three years.

We offer this in response to the consolidation occurring in the newsagency channel. It is our opinion that not all current newsagency software companies will remain in the channel.

As the largest we are well resourced to help you navigate change not only in your software but in your business too.

  1. Tower Systems will not leave the newsagency channel.
  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. Our software continues to evolve. We release two to three major updates each you. You choose when to load them. Each update is thoroughly tested in a comprehensive beta program.
  4. We own newsagencies. Yes, we walk in your shoes.
  5. No locked-in support fee. Taking support coverage once the three year period ends is optional.
  6. Lower support costs. Also, transparent. No mates rates for a select few.
  7. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back fast.
  8. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available if you need them. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  9. Updates when you choose. You are in control of when you load updates.
  10. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  11. Free training. Long after you install our software you have access to free personal training to refresh knowledge or provide training on new facilities.
  12. More integrations. Our direct links to Xero, Magento, Shopify and more mean you have more direct link options to help you grow your business.
  13. Business management insights. We can look at your business performance data and provide a personal analysis of what we see
  14. Owner access. Our owner, Mark Fletcher, is easily accessible: 0418 321 338 or by email on mark@towersystems.com.au.

The $2,200.00 offer is for three years: $2,200 per year after which you own the software forever. Data conversion is included. For the three years you get full support, software updates and access to unlimited one on one training.

The Shopify POS software link small business retailers love

The Tower Systems POS software Shopify link is another smart commercial link form Tower Systems. The link connects to this professional and popular e-commerce platform.

Retailers should only ever go with well-known internationally successful e-commerce platforms. Anything else can be problematic.

Shopify is one of the easiest ways to setup and run an ecommerce store. We think it provides you with the ideal place to create you first website and gain experience in the world of ecommerce. You have complete control over the look and feel of your online store and can instant access fantastic look themes to reflect the personality of your business. For more information visit www.shopify.com.au.

How does the link work?
The link works by using the TALink platform platform to connect to the shopify API and synchronise your data.

Stock
Retailer is your master stock database. You flag what stock items you want to appear on your shopify store.
Descriptions and extended descriptions are added as your titles and descriptions in Shopify. Newly flagged products are automatically added and if you edit items in Retailer you have field level control over how these are handled in Shopify.

Department and Categories
Your Retailer Departments and Categories become collections in Shopify. You can have a chose of either
Department level collections or category level, but not both. If you choose to synchronise either a department or category, 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 collections manually to products once they are added.

Prices and Quantity On Hand
You have control over your webstore pricing from within the Retailer Stock Screen. Bulk updates of the webstore prices can be performed in Stock Manager. Once new prices are set, your web store is updated automatically. Quantity on 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.

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

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

Sales
Sales are downloaded on a periodic basis and imported into Retailer. They are imported into our Customer Invoice Maintenance facility allowing you to place orders and print invoices if needed. Once sales are imported it reduces your quantity on hand so you maintain accurate stock control. Sales can be allocated to a specific location.

Shopify is a dream too setup and connect with our small business POS software.

Newsagency software helping Australian newsagents evolve

The best-practice newsagency software from Tower Systems was a hit at a retail trade show where the latest software was on show, demonstrating exclusive world-class tools through which newsagents can transform their businesses, finding new shoppers and winning incremental business.

The days of the old newsagents are over and Tower Systems is proud to be playing a role in redefining what the newsagency of the future looks like. This starts with good software that is fit for the needs of the modern retail business.

With more newsagents switching to Tower Systems the strength of our community is growing as are the benefits of being part of something bigger.

More small business retailers connect with our SHOP LOCAL campaign

Tower Systems is seeing more small business retailers download and use the free shop local shop small business marketing collateral we have available to anyone to use from our POS software website.

Our amazing in-house creative team developed our initial shop local support and marketing collateral for retailers years ago. We have been adding to it ever since. Access is free, no questions asked!

We are grateful to those who have used the collateral and appreciative to those who have provided feedback. This encourages us to continue to invest in helping small local retailers to pitch their messages effectively to their local communities.

What does this have to do with POS software? Plenty, we say, plenty!!! Supporting the businesses of our customers is mission critical to us here at Tower Systems. We embrace opportunities to show our support beyond the software, beyond what is usual for a tech. company. That’s what this work is about – us showing our support and encouragement to help make a stronger and more successful small business retail community in Australia.

 

Amazing back to school software helping small business newsagents win back to school business in 2017

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:

  1. Setup a new school.
  2. Setup classes in a school and load all the booklist requirements for each of the classes.
  3. The booklist items can be loaded by a CSV file. You would record item description, price, supplier and supplier stock cost.
  4. Setup order close dates.
  5. Plus you have the ability to note when an order is ready for collection.
  6. The site will allow for you not having stock, thereby adjusting the amount to be collected.
  7. Share a link for parents to sign up and add their kid(s) to a class and to either take the whole booklist or select what they want. This makes selling and paying easy.
  8. The site will allocate logins to parents so they would have access to their order.
  9. Receive payment from the parents.
  10. Alternatively, the site gives the transaction to your Retailer software for payment by the parents in-store.
  11. Export a file of all items required to fulfil booklists, by supplier and by school. CSV you could load into Excel.
  12. Report on total revenue by school and class.
  13. The site would be accessible by desktop, tablet and phone.

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.

Tower Systems at Atlanta Gift Fair where gets, homewares, jewellers and toys were on show

The Atlanta Gift Fair that wraps up this week has been extraordinary for us and our small business POS software in terms of insights gained into gift and homewares trans as well as valuable supplier connections made.

Attending international trade shows like this Atlanta event broadens our knowledge of retailers, suppliers and market trends and this is reflected in software with a broader perspective. We urge other POS software companies to attend.

We are grateful to those who shared their insights with us in Atlanta. The connections made will be insightful.

Looking back on 2016 we can see benefits in our software as a result of attending the Atlanta Fair in January 2016.

2017 is going to be an exciting year.

The secret project that is providing Australian newsagents a bright future

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.

Tower Systems helps retailers cut the time of a stock take

Stock takes in retail can be a chore, especially if you do them the old school way. Thanks to smart technology in the Tower Systems POS software our retail partners are able to get stock takes done faster.

The new approach leverages facilities unique to the Tower software. The approach is ideal for a business with stock take needs that vary based on product types, categories, suppliers and other groupings.

The custom stock take facility in the Tower Systems software is simple and elegant. Retail employees love it for its ease of use and that it delivers the outcome in much less time than the way too many other POS software programs go abut the stock take process.

This is another Tower AdvantageTM another time saving and benefit for the small business which which we partner.

Thanks to online and other trade stock takes are needed far more regularly than ever before. This is where the tower Systems approach really shines.

What are reasonable small business retail benchmark goals?

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

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

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

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

BENCHMARK GOALS

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

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

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

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

More newsagents switch to our newsagency software

We are having a terrific run up to Christmas in the newsagency software space with more newsagents switching from other software to our software. While this is not unusual, it is this time of the year as retailers are busy with the most important retail season of the year.

What is different this year is the facilities unique to our software that help engaged retailers leverage Christmas opportunities. We have embedded in our software tools and facilities that specifically help retailers make the most of extra Christmas traffic. The help leverages the traffic way beyond the busy Christmas season.

But software tools are one thing, important but only one thing. Our real help comes through advice and business guidance on leveraging the tools for genuine benefit for the the business for the longer term.

As long-term retailers ourselves in major shopping centres and high street situations we know how to make the software sing. This is where we can really help. Whether it is new traffic, strategic change or dealing with new suppliers, our newsagency a=software and retail business management experience combine to deliver to retailers benefits beyond what one might usually expect from a software company.

We are grateful to the newsagents who are in our community and welcome with open arms those who have recently joined us from other software. Hello, welcome and thank you for being part of what we are doing here.

Strap in and let’s get down to work…

Actions do speak louder than words

A newsagent called us this morning out of desperation. They use software from another newsagency software company and have been unable to reach them for help – despite claims from this other company they offer support on the weekend. The experience of the newsagent is otherwise. Calls to the help number and a call to one of th owners resulted in no returned call.

We have helped them get their system up and running and business transacting. We have done this without obligation or pressure for them to switch to us.

Our marketing claiming we are open for business over the weekend is true. Customer service matters to us.

The Tower Systems commitment to small business newsagents

As the newsagency channel undergoes extraordinary change, suppliers to the channel are also changing. Supplier support is vital to the future of many businesses.

Tower Systems remains a constant support through its best-practice newsagency management software, newsagent support and newsagent marketing help.

With more than 1,800 newsagent customers, Tower Systems serves more newsagents than all other software companies combined.

For the record, here are our commitments to small business newsagents in Australia:

  1. Tower Systems will not leave the newsagency channel.
  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 fee. Taking support coverage is optional.
  4. Lower support costs.
  5. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back fast.
  6. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available if you need them. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  7. Updates when you choose. You are in control of when you load updates.
  8. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  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. 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.

Helping small business retailers find optimism

Small business retail is tough at the best of times. On our POS software help desk we get to talk with many retailers in a range of situations. It is calls when a business is in tough times that can be challenging.

Through our work with many different retailers we have developed an approach to help retailers in tough times confront these challenges.

Here are our thoughts on this, ways we help small business retailers find optimism amid a fog of challenge.

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.

Finding optimism is important as it is through this view that you are more likely to make better business decisions.

The school booklist management software newsagents are loving

We are thrilled with the response to the school booklist management software we released for newsagents to use. Newsagents are loving the cloud based software, the subscription model and the evolution of the software since release.

Our new web based school booklist facility is now available live.

Once you have had a look around, if you want to proceed and use Booklist in your business, please sign up for a year access and you are good to go.

Built from the ground up, this facility will provide all we outlined in our earlier email. The cost will be $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.

Using the site you will be able to:

  1. Setup a school.
  2. Setup classes in a school and load all the booklist requirements.
  3. The booklist items could be loaded by a CSV file. You would record item description, price, supplier and supplier stock cost.
  4. You would setup order close dates.
  5. Plus you would have the ability to note when an order is ready for collection.
  6. The site would allow for you not having stock, thereby adjusting the amount to be collected.
  7. Share a link for parents to sign up and add their kid(s) to a class and to either take the whole booklist or select what they want.
  8. The site would allocate logins to parents so they would have access to their order.
  9. Receive payment from the parents.
  10. Alternatively, the site would give the transaction to your Retailer software for payment by the parents in-store.
  11. Export a file of all items required to fulfil booklists, by supplier and by school. CSV you could load into Excel.
  12. Report on total revenue by school and class.
  13. The site would be accessible by desktop, tablet and phone.

In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.

How we handled the Blueshyft debacle demonstrates our customer service commitment

A couple of weeks ago start-up Blueshyft mishandled communication with small business newsagents – saying POS software companies were responsible that Blueshyft ought be responsible for. The result was many POS software help desk calls that caused use to spend money on calls that were 100% the responsibility of Blueshyft.

Here at Tower Systems we did the work, provided the service. Then, we took a look at what Bluieshyft did and wrote to our customers:

Poor communication from Blueshyft disrespects you and us.
Blueshyft emailed newsagents today asking them to call their POS software company for a file update.

Blueshyft had not told us about the update, we did not have the file, we had not seen the file and could, therefore, not help.

But the support calls came. In huge number. Newsagents calling us because Blueshyft told them to. Some customers were rude to Tower employees, saying we were fools for not knowing about this.

This all happened when Gavin Williams, our COO, and I were on a flight from there Gold Coast back to Melbourne. We had been on the Gold Coast on business.

Our help desk was slammed – all because Blueshyft had kept us in the dark and because some newsagents didn’t believe that we had no knowledge of this new file.

I spoke with Blueshyft CEO Kain Warwick 45 minutes ago and expressed by frustration at what is, in my opinion, appalling communication from Blueshyft and a lack of respect for what Tower Systems does for them.

We get no compensation for any work related to Blueshyft. XchangeIT is paid to do what they do. I suspect Blueshyft pays VANA for their support and kind words. Yet the POS software company with the most newsagents is expected to be mind readers and know about a file we have never seen.

What happened today is ridiculous.

I have told our help desk we will not take calls on this new file. Instead, we have updated our online advice. This has all the instructions you need to load the file. Click here for our advice.

Had Blueshyft been professional, they would have provided the file, let us test it, let us provide them with advice on loading and then communicated with you. Instead, they dumped the heavy lifting on companies like ours for no compensation at all.

But on the file, it has 2,700 stock items. It does not make sense they want to bloat your system with all these but that is a separate issue.

Yes, I am frustrated as it is things like this that divert our attention from providing support individual customers of ours call us for – calls from the businesses that pay for our support services.  Blueshyft is freeloading at my expense and, ultimately, at your expense.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director
0418 321 338

Why newsagents trust Tower Systems more than any other POS software company

More newsagents are switching to the Tower Systems newsagency management software. We can connect you with reference sites who will speak to the valuable difference we offer.

Here are our commitments 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. Lower support costs.
  5. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back fast.
  6. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available if you need them. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  7. Updates when you choose. You are in control of when you load updates.
  8. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  9. Regular user meetings. Around the country, in city and regional locations – we offer free face to face training and networking through the year.
  10. Free training. Long after you install our software you have access to free personal training to refresh knowledge or provide training on new facilities.
  11. More integrations. Our direct links to Xero, Magento, Shopify and more mean you have more direct link options to help you grow your business.
  12. Business management insights. We can look at your business performance data and provide a personal analysis of what we see
  13. The Tower AdvantageTM. Our professional and friendly help from training to support to business advice. We are not your average software company.
  14. 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.