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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HOW WE MAKE BETTER POS SOFTWARE FROM LEARNING FROM OUR SMALL BUSINESS CUSTOMERS

At Tower Systems we develop and support our specialist retail software through interaction with you, our customers. Independent retail businesses are our passion. We’re here to help. Interaction is key. here are some examples:

  1. Outbound calls seeking advice and guidance.
  2. A transparent approach to voting on software change requests.
  3. Group workshops hosted regularly.
  4. User meetings.
  5. Strategic management level interaction.
  6. Trade show sessions.
  7. Business conference workshops.
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Helping small business retailers cut labour costs

Outside of inventory cost, labour is the #1 or #2 cost of business. Retailers using our smart POS software have access to a range of facilities through which to cut and manage labour costs. These facilities include:

  1. Employee roster management.
  2. Cloud based roster management – a second and unique facility.
  3. Tracking sales by employee.
  4. Tracking sales by time.
  5. Tracking basket value by time.
  6. Viewing business performance by day of week.
  7. Managing employee tasks.

These and other management tools in the software make it easier for retailers to make strategic decisions on employee management with a view to ensuring the most efficient use of this high cost labour investment in the business.

This is good POS software helping retailers run more efficient and successful businesses.

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Why local POS software matters to local retail businesses

Tower Systems is a proudly Australian POS software company. We develop software in Australia for small and independent Australian retail businesses.

  1. Our software focus is local.
  2. Our customer service team is local.
  3. Our installation team is local.
  4. Our business planning is focussed on local.
  5. We offer locally focussed facilities and services in our software.

Retailers wanting software to support their local focus ought to look at local POS software companies.

We have built a good strong business by being locally focussed. Yes, today we serve more than 3,500 retail businesses.

We are proud that in many of our specialty retail channels, we are the only locally developed and supported software. This makes us more fit for purpose for those businesses that care about living and supporting local.

As a famous song once goes so beautifully: we’re all in this together.

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WE REFUSE TO USE FAKE PHOTOS IN OUR ADS AND ON OUR WEBSITE

Here at Tower Systems we serve real people working in real businesses. They are the heroes, small business owners and team members, working to build local communities and make a stronger economy. This is why we use real people on our website and in our marketing collateral. It is easy to buy photos of pretty models placed in retail situations. We don’t do that. This helps build trust with our customers and those contemplating becoming our customers using our smart POS software.

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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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SMALL BUSINESS POS SOFTWARE UPDATE RELEASED

Tower Systems has released the latest update to its popular POS software. This commercial release followed a comprehensive in-0house quality assurance process and then an extended beta release process.

Our customers can know that the commercial release now announced is at the end of a thorough development, testing and documentation process – resulting in excellent quality software packed with enhancements suggested and voted on by users as well as enhancements developed by us as a result of what we have learned by looking at retail trends overseas.

Tower Systems customers were advised about the commercial release of the software last week – in a formal and thorough announcement with details of the enhancements.

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TOWER SYSTEMS AT ATLANTA GIFT FAIR IN THE US

A team from Tower Systems further benefited from participating in the Atlanta Gift Fair last week, networking with small business gift and homewares retailers as well as their suppliers – including suppliers from Australia. Thanks to contact since the show, the benefits are being realised quickly.

This large gift fair – representing 7,300 brands – is attended by thousands of retailers. It is the gift and homewares retailers the industry’s largest event featuring the most comprehensive collection of home décor, furniture and gifts. The venue spans multiple buildings and multiple floors in each building – it is many times larger than the largest gift fairs in Australia. This is what makes it an exciting event for us – a real eye-opener.

The range of products on show is more diverse and the types of businesses attending is equally diverse. This is why attending has been beneficial for the Tower Systems team as they have been able to expand their horizons as to how our POS software can better serves the needs of growing gift and homewares businesses.

We are not detailing takeaways here for obvious reasons.

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AMAZING NRF RETAIL BIG SHOW IN NEW YORK BENEFITS SMALL BUSINESS POS SOFTWARE CO.

IMG_4634The National Retail Federation Big Show in New York – their national conference for 2016 – is proving to be an excellent event for our team in attendance.

In addition to valuable networking with suppliers, we are meeting retailers we can serve with our POS software and developing relationships with allied companies we can each support.

The small business sessions on Sunday were right on point for what we do at Tower Systems. The insights and case studies were terrific – a pleasure to absorb and learn from. The trade show, too, has been enlightening and a wonderful opportunity for comparison.

For years Tower Systems has participated in this event along with tens of thousands of retail professionals and every year we gain new insights that are reflected in what we do in the year ahead. The value of mixing with peers from around the world is reflected in the whole of our business.

We appreciate the support of our hardware partner HP towards the cost of attending this wonderful event.

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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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POS software co. Tower Systems at CES in Las Vegas

Members of the Tower Systems leadership team were at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, checking out trends, talking to start-up and innovators, renewing business connections and getting a feel for 2016 and beyond.

While our plans for this year were locked in months ago, it has been wonderful to consider these in the context of the latest trends.

There is no substitute for being there, in the amazing halls of CES with close to 200,000 others to see what appeals.

For commercial reasons, the insights of CES will be kept internally within the company for now.

IMG_3558 (2)

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THE SUPPORT CARD MAKES POS SOFTWARE SUPPORT EASIER TO ACCESS

FullSizeRender (1)For years Tower Systems has provided its customers with a professionally printed support card. Indeed, we provide several cards to new customers, updating customers and yearly to all customers – to help make contacting our help desk and the after hours support service easier. We also had the card out at trade shows, user meetings and other customer events.

We know small business retailers prefer to speak with an engaged human rather than deal with a nameless person by email or through a third-party call centre. This is why we make contacting us, at all levels of the company, easy.

The blue card published with this post is the latest version of our support card. It’s professionalism reflects the professionalism of the software it supports.

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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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Professional communication key to smooth POS software update installation

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 12.58.55 pmAs with each POS software update released by Tower Systems, the communication provided announcing the release of the latest update is thorough, professional and easy to understand. This good advance communication is key to confidence in the software. It encourages trust.

Our communication helps customer decide when they want to install the software. We do not force any update on our customers. There are no surprises.

The latest communication lists all enhancements and changes in the software – showing the value of our commitment to software development and the extent to which we listen to our customers in deciding what is to go into an update.

In addition to testing the software itself, our comprehensive beta release program tests the communication announcing the update.

All Tower systems customers can vote on items to be included in an update through our transparent software ideas process.

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Tower Systems expands POS software development team

Tower Systems is thrilled to announce the successful hiring for two new POS software development positions in the business.

The expansion of our software development team in our head office is a reflection of the growth of the business in terms of customers and in anticipation of further considerable enhancement of software capabilities through 2016 and beyond.

The latest hires are a result of an extensive search for candidates appropriate to our needs.

Our new colleagues are settling in and familiarising themselves with our professional software development environment.

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POS software help desk quiet between Christmas and New Year

This week between Christmas and New Year is usually the quietest for the POS software company help desk with many retail businesses either closed or busy with post Christmas sales.

Regardless, the Tower Systems help desk has been open for business, taking calls, checking supplier stock files, providing free training, enhancing Knowledge Base content and undertaking installations.

As with other years we have used the opportunity for housekeeping – as have many retailers. We support this with assistance in running housekeeping tasks including sales to quit dead sock and other tasks retailers like to reset their businesses for the new year.

Hence the decision to ensure we have been at full strength and capable of serving any needs expressed by our customers.

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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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Christmas / New Year POS software support calls

In the first three days of Christmas / New Year most support calls have been from people wanting advice on how to do things they might not have got to through the regular busy trading period. Being accessible has been key to the service we provide – accessibility like regular blog posts here, access by email, access by phone and the continuation of our weekly support email.

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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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Major POS software update the perfect Christmas gift

Tower Systems is thrilled with the structured professionally managed beta release of a major POS software update. Representing many man-months of software development, this latest update delivers new facilities along with user-requested enhancements, taking our software into new areas and leveraging new opportunities.

The roll out is proceeding well and at the pace chosen by our customers.

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