The best response to Amazon arriving in Australia: stay calm, be engaged

We are frustrated with the world is ending type reporting relating to the arrival in Australia of Amazon. More stories have been published recently. Most stories are not reporting. Rather, they are ignorant fear-mongering. Unfortunately, the wrong people are often quoted, like the ever-shrill Gerry Harvey.

We shot this video to provide some thoughts on the arrival of Amazon and to offer suggestions for small business retailers.

Helping small business retailers reduce the opportunity of employee theft

At our POS software company we actively help small business retailers who use our software to reduce the opportunity of employee theft. We do this in a range of overt and covert ways, through our software and outside off our software.

As we have decades of experience running different types of retail businesses and through our work with, 3,500+ other retailers with our software we have a deep pool of knowledge and experience on which to draw.

Employee theft is something to be managed. By managed, we mean measured, understood and mitigated.

based on our own experiences and those of others we trust, we offer refined, thoughtful, advice on managing employee theft. Here we share it with all as a free community service for small business retailers. Together, we can cut the cost of employee theft in your retail business:

  1. Track your stock. Receive all stock into your business through your computer system so you know exactly what sock you have.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
  3. Track every sale by employees. Give your employees a card with a unique barcode or have them enter a code – to track every sale they make back to them. Change the code every six months or so.
  4. Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  5. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
  6. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  7. Check your Audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Good software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  8. Check Gross Profit by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  9. Setup a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. See the last page of this advice.
  10. Keep the counter clean. An organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. It makes detection easier.
  11. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  12. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  13. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One retail business employee used the memory function to track how much cash had to be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not rung up.
  14. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  15. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high.
  16. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
  17. Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.

These steps work – based on decades of helping small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.

Theft, employee and customer, costs a typical small / independent retail between 3% and 5% of product sales revenue.  Management attention can cut this dramatically.  It does not take much time. No, it is more about having professional processes in place that everyone in the business follows.

How to compare Tower Systems POS software with Retail Express

It is easy for small business retailers looking for POS software to compare the Tower Systems POS software with the Retail Express POS software.

Here at Tower Systems we are happy to come to your business, to learn abut your needs in person and to demonstrate our software in person.

There is no substitute for being in a business that is contemplating POS software. Try and do this over the phone and you will miss things. Do it in person and you will be able to provide more useful advice to the business owner.

A Tower Systems software small business specialist will visit your business at a time that suits. The is to learn about the business needs, to see if our software is a good fit.

We are also happy to visit the business when a retail Express representative is there, so you can easily compare the software, to see which serves your needs better.

Functionality is everything and comparing two POS software programs function buy function is useful to determine which better serves your needs. This is another reason for wanting the assessment to be done in your business, at a time of your choosing.

This is what good personal service is all about – putting the needs of your business first.

How does Tower Systems compare to Retail Express? Compare the two software programs in your business side by side and see for yourself.

Why small business retailers should not be worried about software bugs

All software has bugs. The challenges are finding them and fixing them.

Any POS software company that says their POS software is bug free is either lying, delusional or not in high demand.

Here at Tower Systems our approach to software bugs is structured and professional.

  1. When a bug its suspected tests are conducted, to prove the bug exists.
  2. Proof of a bug is further tested, to ensure it is repeatable.
  3. Once proven, the bug is logged, given a bug id and sent to the development team for consideration. Only on the provision of s bug id is the bug accepted as existing.
  4. The development team fixes the bug and loads it as part of a softwAre update.
  5. The update is alpha tested in the office.
  6. A successfully alpha tested release of the software is tested in or own shops.
  7. The tested in our own shops software is released to the beta community.
  8. The successfully beta tested software is released to the wider community.
  9. On release to any end-user we provide a complete list of bugs fixed in the update along with details of all other enhancements delivered through the update.

All the way through our structured process our customers are kept in the loop and up to date with our progress on resolving issues for them.

Software bugs are not the problem. How software companies deal with them is. We are confident here at Tower Systems in our processes and in the transparency we provide to our customers.

How retailers can continue to trade if the internet is down

Here is a question we are often asked by retailers:

In a cloud environment what happens when the Internet is unavailable? The offering is for an external cloud provider, can we leverage our own cloud provider? How are hosting charges calculated, i.e. data storage charges?

Here is our answer:

Our POS software system is very configurable.  Users have the ability, if they wish, to run without being hosted.  This solves any Internet stability questions, particularly for rural/regional Australian where this may be an issue.

The other challenge with cloud is the costs. Our experience is some small business owners are not happy with the monthly hosting cost for a cloud service. However, the customer can choose the approach that is best for their specific circumstances.

These are the reasons we have configured our software to suit whatever situation a customer prefers.

Alternatively, if users want, we can host the system in the cloud, 100% in the cloud.  This can be hosted on our secure dedicated infrastructure (additional costs will apply) or on infrastructure of their choosing.  We will provide guidance on the configuration so the ideal environment is created.

If hosted on our infrastructure customers are charged on a per user per month basis.

If the user runs in a hosted environment and the internet drops out the user can switch to a facility we call Outpost Mode.  OUTPOST mode allows for basic trading, scanning sales, until such time as Internet access is restored.

The level of software access in the event of internet access being down, blocked or otherwise hampered does depend on choices made by the customer. Our customers can be secure in the knowledge that we support multiple choices, we make it easy for them transact if that is the core goal of their business.

Can you continue to trade if the internet is down? Yes!

Crucially, we can train our customers on how to be ready for this in advance of any problem occurring. This is important since customers might otherwise scrambling too get up and running in the middle of a problem could be too disruptive for the business,

Planning ahead of any incident or disaster is important in our view.

Personal service matters when it comes to small business POS software

Every day in small business retail shops personal service matters. For many local independent retail businesses, personal service is the differentiator, the thing that shoppers remember and brings them back.

No matter how cool products in a shop are, if the service is not personal with a shopper they may not return.

Equally, no matter how mundane or everyday products are in a shop, personal service may show them off in a light that makes the experience so delightful that the shoppers think first and only of the shop when next wanting such products.

Just as personal service matters in retail, it matters with POS software in terms of customer service and it matters with POS software and the personal service facilities in the POS software.

The Tower Systems small business POS software has encoded in to facilities that help a small business retailer show off personal service, to deliver a level of personal service consistently through shopper facing touchpoints that are managed by the software.

These personal service facilities in the software help the retailer to be personal, efficiently.

On our receipts, we can include care instructions for individual products or local advice that relates to the products in a way that only a local retailer can know. These facilities encoded within the software enable local small business retailers to personalise the experience in a structured way. Retailers have 100% control over the serving of this information.

On the customer display we can show products and other information that further enhances the personal service experience.

Retailers using our software can easily remember important dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, required check in dates, servicing dates, vaccine dates and far more. Indeed, there is no limit to the services that can be provided to personalise a shopper experience based on anniversaries and other date-based information through which a retailer can better serve customers.

For many local small retail businesses, personal service is the big differentiator. Here at Tower Systems we are committed to evolving our support for delivering more and better personal service opportunities through our software. How far we go will be a function of suggestions from our customers.

Easy synching on stock on hand for physical store connected websites

The syncing of stock on hand data between physical shops and websites is key to successful online selling.

Given that the most significant use of websites is to see what stock its available in-store, accurate stock on hand data is a core factor in driving online sales.

Retailers using our Tower Systems POS software and one of our various webstore link facilities can determine the best timing for data synch between the physical and online store. The frequency of any such synch is determined by the type of products being sold.

We have customers who prefer to synch every five minutes through to customers who synch daily, and all manner in between.

We work with our customers to understand product sale frequency and then provide advice based on this and our own experience working with many successful POS software / webstore integrations across a range of retail channels.

The way we do the synch is fast and accurate, of little drain on the retail business and the internet connection.

Given our experience in this space and the value of experience in many different businesses, we are not get four of such synching. Our approach is best-practice, fast, accurate and loved by shoppers and retailers.

Getting this synching process is right for small business retailers who want to sell with confidence online. Shoppers who purchase online only to be told sorry that item is out of stock get frustrated as they bought wanting the product.l The requirement for accurate stock on hand data on websites is critical.

A good website will not only show products that are currently available, they will go further and show the actual quantity on hand of every item. While this can benefit a competitor targeting a business, in most cases the customers love it and gain confidence in a business as a result of this.

As POS software developers and website developers Tower Systems is skilled on both sides of the tech solution. We are able to demonstrate local retail business connected POS software that is discovering new shoppers for local businesses. The win is valuable, bankable. It all starts with a fast and accurate synch between the POS software and the website.

The importance of a POS software co visiting your business prior to you purchasing their software

Tower Systems offers retailers considering POS software a personal visit to assess the needs of the business, to understand if our software is right for the business.

Doing this on the phone may not be ideal. Doing it by email is nonsense.

As a company dedicated to personal in-store service, we start the relationship off right with a personal visit to see iff we are right for you. This visit is often the beginning of a long and personal relationship;ationshiup with our customers.

Retail is personal. So is POS software for local retail businesses.

Get your needs right and match these with then right software and you are better positioned to achieve great outcomes for the business.

Here at Tower Systems we are committed to personal service.

What small business retailers need to know about Amazon setting up shop in Australia and how to best respond

There have been many reports about Amazon opening distribution centres in Australia, with the first, in Dandenong Victoria, well advanced in preparation.

Little advice has been provided to small business retailers on what is needed to compete in this ever evolving online-focussed world.

At this workshop we will share insights from the various retail store connected websites that were run. We will show when, hope and why people shop. We will take you under the hood, back to what they search Google for.

We will explain steps you can take in your business to win business that Amazon sellers m might otherwise try and win from you.

We will show how you can get online in any type of business, without breaking the bank and without needing your own tech employee.

Plus, we will answer every question you have.  Without obligation.

Book now. These workshops are free. All welcome.

  • August 24, 8am. Figtree Conference Centre: Mission Room, 5 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park NSW.
  • August 24, 11am. Figtree Conference Centre: Mission Room, 5 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park NSW.

We will demonstrate live websites that are connected to our small business POS software in local businesses. we will also show how to transfer stock to a website and how to manage images. We will answer all your website related questions. Bookings are essential.

We develop software and websites for: gift shopsjewellers,  bike shopstoy shopsfishing/outdoors businessesgarden centres/nurseriespet shopsproduce storesfirearms businesses and newsagents.

If you have questions, please call our Sydney Account Manager, Nathan Morrison on 0417 568 148.

Designer receipts make our POS software elegant

Small business retailers are loving our designer receipts. They love the ease of change. They love the beautiful outcome. They love the flexibility.

We think receipts should help a retail business win more sales. Ours do … thanks to you being able to create what ou want, how you want.

Tower Systems offers designer receipts as part of its comprehensive POS software and through these we offer a beautiful point of difference.

They are another Tower AdvantageTM.

For too long receipts have been seen as a necessary accounting function in retail businesses. designer receipts are different. They are an extension of marketing in any business. They are smart, appealing, elegant – a wonderful way to help grow the business.

While other POS software companies may say they allow you to customise receipts, none has the Tower Systems designer receipts facilities.

Does your POS software have a mandatory weekly, monthly or annual fee?

We are welcoming another customer this week who is switching from another POS company because they were told, when they purchased the system several years ago, that there would never be a mandatory support fee.

Despite the promise, they have been hit with ever an increasing mandatory software support fee. This year, the fee approached $4,000.

The company has never responded to their complaint. It was only through a chance meeting with another business owner that they released they could switch software companies and not have a mandatory software support fee.

Tower Systems does not have a mandatory software support fee. Customers can continue to run the software if they are not covered by support. This has always been the case with us.

Any time a POS software sales rep makes a claim on which you rely, get it in writing on their letterhead with a person in authority signing. It is the only way.

While we are thrilled to welcome another customer, it is disappointing for them they have had such a bad experience.

Free POS software ecommerce workshop for small business retailers in Sydney

We are bringing our free workshop: Connecting online and in-store, how to make ecommerce work for your small business to Sydney next month. Click the links below to book. each session will run for 2 hours. Refreshments provided:

  • August 10, 8am. Figtree Conference Centre: Mission Room, 5 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park NSW.
  • August 10, 11am. Figtree Conference Centre: Mission Room, 5 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park NSW.

We will demonstrate live websites that are connected to our Retailer software in local businesses. we will also show how to transfer stock to a website and how to manage images. We will answer all your website related questions. Bookings are essential.

Tower Systems small business POS software frequently asked questions

Where are you based?
Our head office in in hawthorn, Victoria – 3A Lynch Street. We’d love you to visit! We also have offices interstate.

Who owns Tower Systems?
Mark Fetcher. Ph: 0418 321 338 or email: mark@towersystems.com.au.

How many customers do you have?
More than 3,500.

Do you sell to big business?
No.

Why do you only sell to small business retailers?
There is a difference between the needs of small business owners and big business owners. We prefer to have manny customers than a few big customers. We understand small business retail and we love helping small retail businesses flourish.

How can I find out more about your software?
Contact one of our sales people and they will show you our software for your type of business. This demonstration can be online or in your business.

How often is your software updated?
Constantly. We usually release three major updates a year.

What is in the updates?
The majority of enhancements are determined by our customers through a transparent suggestion and voting process.

Do I have to pay for software updates?
Updates are included in our software support package.

How can I get support for the software?
You can call or email our help desk. Plus, our comprehensive knowledge base is available online 24/7.  Plus we have a user Facebook group.

Do I have to buy hardware from you?
No. We have a hardware spec sheet that is freely available from our website.

Do I have to keep paying to access your software once I purchase it?
No.

Is software support coverage mandatory?
No.

How can I tell how busy the help desk is?
If you log into our website, the first screen you see shows the current call queue as well as how many calls we have handled so far today.

Can I rent your software?
Yes, for as long or as short as you want.

Can I lease the software?
Yes.

Your software is more expensive than other software I am looking at – why?
It could be that the other software you are looking at is not as comprehensive as ours. It could also be you have not been informed of the total cost of ownership of the other software. We think our pricing is fair based on what we have invested in our software and the comprehensive services with which we back our software. We believe in the maxim – you get what you pay for.

How can I learn more about your software once I have it installed?
We run weekly online live training workshops. They are free. Supported customers can have as many telephone based one on one training sessions as they want. 24/7 you can access our knowledge base that includes training videos.

What does “off the shelf software” mean?
It means the software3 offered for purchase is sold as is at that point in time. Unless your contract states otherwise, no customisation is offered.

What if I want a facility that is not in your software?
If you already use our software, suggest it via our transparent Software Ideas facility. If you do not currently use our software, please outline your requirements to your sales person, preferably in writing.

Can I backup to the cloud?
Yes. We offer a safe and secure service for this.

Can I use the software for a pop-up shop or outpost?
Yes.

Can you covert data from other software?
Usually we can. Let us see your data first before you provide a certain answer for you.

Do you sell through agents?
No.

Small business retailers need to take care with the choice of a cloud backup service

Choosing a cloud backup service takes care. As with any business service, you have businesses out there claiming to offer a service that they do not actually offer.

We suggest you take care to find the right service, a professional service, one that provides your business with the care and backup you seek for your specific type of business.

The cloud backup service offered by Tower Systems to its small business retailer customers is best practice, offering the ultimate in protection for our customers.

The features of the service include:

  1. Whole of PC backup. This is crucial.
  2. Local copy storage.
  3. Cloud based storage in a secure independent server farm location.
  4. Speedy recovery back to a selected data.
  5. Certainty over the management of the processes.
  6. No user triggered backup activity required.

While there are free cloud based backup services, when it comes to protecting your business data a free service is most likely not the best.

Your business data needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.

Tower Systems regional meetings a hit with small business retailers

Too often POS software companies hide from customers, offering little in the way of face to face engagement.

Tower Systems is different. We actively participate in trade shows, group conferences and more. Plus we host our own sessions around the country – l capital city and regional centre face to face sessions were our POS software customers can meet with us, learn more about our software and provide feedback.

Over the last two weeks we have run sessions in Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

Its was terrific to see so many customers as well as many prospective customers there. We had a terrific time exploring the new software, the new web strategies and plenty more in the open forums and discussions that followed.

We are an engaged POS software company. We believe in the value of personal contact supporting personal service.