Sunday retail management advice: how to cut employee theft in retail

Employees can steal from retail businesses in a variety of ways. Often, such theft goes undetected because of poor or unmonitored business processes.

The best way to cut employee theft or fraud is to commit to a consistent approach to theft management:

  • Ask prospective employees if they object to a police check. Those with something to hide will let you know they have found a job elsewhere.
  • Implement zero tolerance for abuse of systems. For example, ensure that every item sold is scanned.
  • Implement zero tolerance for an end of shift discrepancy of, say, $5.00 or more. Once employees know you will be fierce about this sales will be more accurate.
  • Reduce manual eftpos transactions – connect your eftpos terminal to your point of sale.
  • Change responsibilities – sometimes changing who handles money can uncover fraudulent behavior.
  • Change your timing. Habits are what allow people to think they can get away with theft.
  • Modify your counter policies:
    • No refunds.
    • No credits without management approval.
    • No employee bags at the counter.
    • No jackets or cardigans with pockets.
    • No calculators with memories – I have seen these used to record how much cash in the register is theirs.
    • Track every sale by employees – using a card with an employee barcode and making it harder for an employee to use the system as someone else.
  • Track all cash movements from the sale through to your bank account. Many retailers do not do this and open themselves to blatant and regular theft. Employees do it because they know they can get away with it.

Cutting employee theft can be achieved with vigilance. A small time investment in developing and following processes will find you with more money in your bank account.

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Sunday retail management advice: hampers can pitch products differently

IMG_8600Packaging a range of goods together in a hamper can change how people look at products in your business. Take the candy in the photo: these items sold singly sell at the counter as impulse purchases whereas packaged together they sell as a gift for a special occasion.

A hamper can be priced higher than the sum of the parts, making it more valuable for a business.

Using our smart POS software, retailers are able to create and deconstruct hampers such that inventory levels are accurate and total hamper sales are also tracked.

We have businesses in a range of niche retail channels using our hamper ; manufactured goods facilities including jewellers, bike retailers, pet shops, gift shops, homewares shops and garden centres. In addition to excellent software managing the creation and sale of hampers, we offer terrific training, support and other business engagement help – to help small business retailers get the most out of the opportunity.

Our retail management advice for today: look at what you sell and consider putting multiple items together as a hamper to change how people see products in your shop.

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Another POS software training video from Tower Systems

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.59.19 amWe have launched another training video for retailers using our POS software. This new video is not your usual training – no, it highlights a new feature of the software, something fresh for all users. It provides a high level introduction from one of the architects of the new facility. All customers have been provided free access to the video and plenty have viewed it already. We are thrilled for such terrific engagement.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: are you open the right hours?

When was the last time you assessed sales by time and particularly at sales revenue at the start of the day and at the end of the day?

It could be that you are opening your small business retail shop too early or too late or that you are closing too early or too late.

What does your data show?

Use your POS software to assess sales at the fringe of the day for, say, the last six months. Look overall and then for each day of the week. Good software should allow you to do this level of reporting. Work out the slew revenue per hour, apply your overall gross profit percentage and then deduct the hourly cost of being open.

If, for example, your average revenue is $30 for an hour at the start of the day and you have staff working this time and they don’t have much else to do those days and you have, say, GP of 32%, your GP is $9.60. Once you pay wages for the hour you are losing money. If the customers are not regulars it could be that you are better off closing.

If, on the other hand, your sales are $100 or more in the first hour, it could be that opening earlier could win even more business.

Only you can make the assessment of what is right for your business.

Our advice today is look at your data and make sure you are open the right hours for the best possible financial outcome for your retail business.

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Smart POS software helps small business retailers sell Spiderman

IMG_7982Spiderman is a superhero loved by generations. He is more popular today than decades ago thanks to a reinvigorating of the franchise by Marvel.

Retailers using our POS software can track the success of superheroes in their retail businesses. They can do this through a range of views, providing insights beyond what is common in POS software.

The insights can help retailers undertake more finely tuned marketing.

Spiderman, for example, can appeal to a young kid discovering their first superhero as much as he can appeal to a baby-boomer reliving memories of their first Spiderman comic back in the day.

These different customers engage with their fan driven interests in different ways. Thanks to a clever approach to viewing data, retailers are able to treat both interests differently and the same as may be needed from time to time.

This is another smart approach to inventory management from the smart software development team at Tower Systems.

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Sunday retail management advice: cut keystrokes & cut mistakes

Keystrokes = mistake opportunities in small business retail.

Our best practice advice to small business retailers is to do everything possible to cut keystrokes.

This is easy with good POS software.

  1. Scan what you sell as doing it any other increases opportunities for mistakes and or employee fraud.
  2. Integrate your Eftpos terminal as double entry increases opportunities for mistakes, employee fraud and customer fraud.
  3. Receive new stock electronically as entering new stock manually opens more opportunities for supplier and or employee fraud.

These three simple keystroke cutting steps alone will improve your situation. They will cut keystrokes, reduce mistakes and reduce fraud opportunities.

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Best practice stocktake advice for small business POS software users

This advice is about the best business approach to undertaking a stocktake. Please refer to other Knowledge base articles on how to actually use the software. All retailers using our POS software have access to our knowledge base.

Please ensure you have the latest version of the Tower Systems Retailer POS software installed prior to undertaking a stocktake.

For the process to be as easy as possible you will need a wireless network – vital for OH&S reasons.

The best way to do a stocktake in your business is by using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer with a scanner attached. This enables you to do the stocktake live with no impact on sales and absolute integrity of your stock on hand data.

While using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer may seem cumbersome, it is our best practice advice for speed, data integrity and the ability to address data issues you may encounter on the shop floor. It enables you to do management work to ensure completely accurate data.

The alternative is to use a PDE. The challenges with this are the many different PDEs and it is challenging to be expert in all plus the PDE counts at that time and you load the data at a later time – meaning a gap in time in which sales could have been done. While PDE software is available for live to data updates, we have seen this be problematic and so we do not use it.

Given the advances in technology, our best practice recommendation is either a laptop of tablet computer as either offers a better solution than a PDE.

We suggest you setup a Laptop or tablet and use Team Viewer or the like to connect in and count this way. This approach means you do not need to purchase an additional software licence for the laptop. Team Viewer is easy to setup.

For the physical stocktake, we suggest you approach the business aisle by aisle, counting and rearranging stock as you go.

Once you have completed your first full stocktake, our advice is you engage in a rolling stocktake, doing parts of the business, through the year. The Tax Office does not require businesses with full sock control implemented to do a stocktake at the end of the financial year. They will accept data from your system if you manage stock through the year.

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Sunday retail management advice: keep your loyalty pitch simple for success

A loyalty program is only as good as the over the counter pitch through which you seek to engage shoppers. Check out this brief video we created to train retail employees on what has to be the easiest to use over the counter shopper loyalty offer.

Tower Systems leads with professional employee training videos which help retail employees leverage more value for the business from our software.

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Sunday retail management advice: helping small business retailers love their businesses

I hate going into work. These words from a friend reflected a long-held feeling, a feeling held with some shame.

Here was a retail business owner who hated going into his own business.  He had fallen out of love with what he had created. The bitterness he felt towards his business had soured to hatred.

Why do some retailers hate going to work? It is an interesting question which needs exploration before we look at strategies for countering this.

There is usually a trigger – supplier fatigue, tough economic conditions, personal challenges away from the business, a partner dispute, tiredness… there could be any combination of reasons.

If you have reached the point where you hate going into work each day it is important to take time away from the business for an honest assessment as to why you hate the business. Until you can answer the question – why do you hate going into work? – you cannot begin to work on resolution.

Once you know the reasons, think about a series of small and achievable steps you could take to turn the situation around. No matter how challenging the situation, there are always steps you could take. Focus on these, start work on them and in some instances that alone will be enough to move you through the fog of anger and ill-feeling toward the business.

If finding small steps to take does not work, get together with a trusted friend and tell them how you feel toward the business. Ask them to talk with you about the business. Reminisce about why you started or purchased the newsagency. Remember your dreams and hopes. Use the conversation to explore your emotion at the moment you decided to open or purchase the retail business.

The best advice to to get professional help from a psychologist or professionally qualified counsellor to explore your feelings for the business. Your doctor could help you access a government funded mental health plan.

Understanding your hatred for your retail business is the first step. This will usually, of itself, reveal the first steps you can take to turn the hatred around. Be open to that. Take small steps and see where they lead. The change in feeling toward the business may not be immediate so do not expect too much too soon.

If you do nothing, the hatred will be more and more reflected in the business and in your own person. Neither benefits from this.

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Sunday retail management tip: small business retail success starts with good measurement

Measurement is key to the success of any retail business. This is especially true for small retail businesses.

Measuring sales, stock, employees and suppliers is mission critical.

Without accurate and consistent measurement, you are not able to make good business decisions or to hold others to account for their actions.

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

  1. Only sell what you can track – by scanning a barcode or pressing a PLU (stock code) to track the item.
  2. Do not use department keys to sell items as this denies you the opportunity of tracking individual items you sell.
  3. Enter into your computer system everything you sell. Record stock you receive by supplier so that you can track supplier performance.
  4. Enter into your computer system everything you return to suppliers – consignment stock, returns or damaged goods.
  5. Record all sales and other activity at the sales register by employees.
  6. Reorder replenishment stock using your software to create orders for you.

If you are not tracking it you cannot manage it.

By making your business data driven you are better equipped to take the emotion and gut feel out of business decisions. This will improve decision quality and accountability and, hopefully, the return you achieve from these decisions.

Businesses which do not measure stock, suppliers, employees and sales accurately often find themselves faltering without knowing why – because they have no accurate data on which to base research.

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POS software helps small business retailers sell more gifts

exchreceiptPeople purchasing gifts want to ensure that the recipient can exchange the gift if it is not quite right.

Retailers using the Tower Systems specialist gift shop POS software have the ability to print a gift exchange receipt detailing the items purchased but not the price paid.

This facility has been in our software for years. It was developed with retailers offering gift exchange services. The receipt printed was recently enhanced to connect with quality gift purchases.

This gift / exchange receipt facility is another point of difference for Tower in several of our retail channels it is am important pert of the Tower AdvantageTM.

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Sunday retail management advice: how to cut employee theft in retail

Theft is something to be managed in your business. You will be stolen from. Good management is about reducing the opportunity for and instances of theft.

Follow this advice and the opportunity for theft will be lower and the certainty of detecting it higher.

Unfortunately, many retailers read up to here and think this will to happen to them.  Too many of these business owners are the ones who do experience the hurt of employee theft.

If you are still reading, well done. Here are simple steps you can take to catch and manage employee theft:

  1. Use stock control for a high volume high interest category (if not all stock). Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what you software says. Every month do a stock take. Stock discrepancies of the right item are an indicator of theft. Had one retailer we know of been doing this they would have caught their $250 a day employee theft months earlier.
  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. 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 retail business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  4. 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.
  5. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  6. 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.
  7. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  8. 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.
  9. Keep the counter clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft as it makes detection easier.
  10. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  11. 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.
  12. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One 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.
  13. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 newsagents to reduce and manage employee theft.

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

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POS software helps gift shops, small business retailers handle special orders

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 10.14.08 amThe POS software from Tower Systems has excellent facilities for handling special orders, pre-orders and other forms of orders for customers that are unique to the customer and a point of difference for the business to offer.

Special orders and customer pre-orders are a point of difference for small independent retailers over big businesses. Being bale to do this with consistency and certainty can help these businesses more successfully compete.

Thanks to years of refinement and working with retailers in a wide variety of retail situations, Tower Systems offers a competitive advantage from the recording of customer details, tracking an order,k advising its arrival and handling a range of payment options including time payment.

We have retailers today transacting valuable business in pre-orders of highly valuable product as a result of these tools in the software. They are financially better off today and over the long term as special order customers tend to return for more orders.

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Learning from US retail experiences to provide enhanced POS software

usretailWe are fortunate to have been part of a retail study tour of innovative retail situations in the US over the last ten days across three states.

We have looked at large, small, city, regional, specialty, mass, experimental and traditional businesses.

The insights gained are feeding into plans for our software beyond the wonderful advice and feedback from our existing customers.

The insights gained range from the retail management practical through to next-gen opportunities.Being on-trend is an important to retail focussed POS software companies as it is to retailers themselves.

Competition in our various specialist retail channels being what it is, we will not be sharing any insights here. Rather, our customers will have more private briefing opportunities and our software will deliver insights through change.

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Sunday retail management advice: adopt a zero tolerance of data laziness

Retailers need to get serious when it comes to business data.

They need to demand everyone entering data into their systems to live by strict rules.

They need to police and enforce the rules.

They need to use data to drive business decisions.

Too often we see businesses suffering because there is no care for data and where there is no care there is no tangible benefit to the business from access to accurate business data.

Our retail management advice today is: get serious about data. Import accurate invoices. Track all sales. Reorder based on what your software indicates. You will make more money as a result.

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Sunday retail management advice: cut keystrokes, cut mistakes

Every keystroke using POS software at the counter is a possible mistake. Eliminating keystrokes at the retail counter ought to be mission critical for retailers.

The fastest way to sell is to scan a barcode. If that is not appropriate for a product, you need alternatives appropriate to the product, the frequency of sale and the traffic flow of the business.

Our retail management software offers options via which you can sell for the fewest number of keystrokes possible. Whether the items are high end jewellery selling for tens of thousands of dollars, a collectible piece, a magazine or pet food, we have rapid and accurate sales recording options to suit.

In one case recently we showed a retailer how they could eliminate close to 1,000 keystrokes. That is 1,000 possible mistakes eliminated, time sale and business performance and efficiency approved.

Look at your keystrokes on any given day and consider whether you could benefit your business by eliminating keystrokes.

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POS Software company supports shop local promotion for small business retailers

LocalPosters2015_Page_3POS Software company Tower Systems is helping small and independent retailers to promote the support of local retailers through an innovative campaign of collateral created by the company for its retailers.

We are thrilled to be investing our creative resources in support of our retailer partners in this way.

This latest artwork is part of a series we have developed in-house through our amazingly creative marketing team to give our retailers different voices and platforms through which to pitch their shop local credentials.

This is another Tower AdvantageTM.

The free marketing collateral will be released next week.

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Sunday retail management advice: how to quit non-performing stock in your retail business

Too often retail businesses hand on to stock that is not working for too long, so long that it is losing money for the business. Today, we offer advice to retailers on how to suit non-performing stock. This advice is for any retailer, not just those using our Point of Sale software.

Product is not working in a retail business 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.

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 our corporate stores. Remember, these businesses are in shopping centres where space is limited and expensive. We are deliberately 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.

This advice, like all our advice, is published to help any retailer make better decisions for their businesses.

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Sunday retail business management tip: small steps matter

We often see small business retailers focus on grand plans, big moves they intend to make to lift their business. Our experience is that many small steps deliver a better result to a retail business and for a lower cost.

Using our retail management software, retailers are able to uncover and nurture small steps to growth in their business.

Every retail business has small steps they can take to drive traffic, achieve a better margin from products, get shoppers purchasing more, reducing wastage, reducing theft and more. Each of these alone done in a step step strategic way will compound on the other and deliver a greater than the sum of the parts benefit to the business.

Beyond its terrific POS software, Tower Systems helps retailers to see what they may be missing, to understand the opportunities for growth through a small steps strategy.

Leveraging our own retail experience and our intimate knowledge of what our software cal do, we can help retailers to lift their businesses through co-operative partnership.

Not all POS software companies are the sale. We’re here to help.

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Good POS software can drive the relevance of your small or independent retail business

Choosing the right POS software for your business can re-energise, refocus and redefine your retail business.

Choosing the wrong software can hold you back.

The challenge for small and independent retailers is: which POS software is the right POS software.

Leading Australian POS software developer Tower Systems is clear that its software is not right for all retail businesses. Indeed, the company focuses on a select group of retail niches, vertical markets as they are called, in which it refines software to specific needs of teach of the markets.

This specialisation sees Tower Systems become deeply involved in and knowledgeable about each of the retail channels in which it serves. It’s deep specialisation results in offering software functions through which specialist niche retailers can reinforce their relevance.

For example, a pet shop using the specialist pet shop software from Tower Systems has pet shop management facilities that are unique and tailored to their needs whereas a generic POS software package only offers generic facilities that are offered to all retailers. These generic facilities are less likely to enable the pet retailer to reinforce their specialisation compared to a general retailer.

Specialist software in retail niches helps specialist retailers embrace their specialisation.

This is the Tower AdvantageTM in action. A suite of specialist tools that are constantly evolving thanks to the engagement of its 2,850+ customers.

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Sunday retail management advice: use your POS software to tell your stories

One way independent retailers can compete with big businesses is by telling stories about products – how to use them, how to care for them, where they come from, who made them, why the products matter.

Using the Tower Systems POS software retailers are able to share these stories in a consistent and professional way – on receipts and other document communications with customers.

This is our management advice for today – use the ability to personalise receipts and other documents for sharing stories with customers – to enhance their experience with what they purchase from you.

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Sunday retail business management advice: use your POS software to cut keystrokes, cut mistakes & save time

Speed is vital at the retail sales counter. Once they have made their product selections, shoppers want fast and accurate service. This is best achieved by using as few keystrokes as possible.

Tower Systems specialises in helping retailers cut keystrokes at the counter.

Every keystroke you cut is a potential mistake eliminated. This is good news for retailers and shoppers.

Following our personal training and engaging with our advice certainly helps retailers streamline the counter, serve more customers in less time and maintain accurate quality data. This helps feed more accurate business decisions offering wins all round.

Good POS software helps retailers cut keystrokes. Excellent training for good software goes further – making it easier for retailers to tap into these terrific benefits.

We urge retailers to take note of keystrokes used in transacting sales and to work hard with their software provider on cutting keystrokes.

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Sunday retail management advice: email campaigns drive shopper engagement

We are seeing more and more evidence of successful use of email campaigns by retailers in driving traffic and sales in their businesses.

Using our POS software, retailers are able to easily harvest shopper email addresses and to use this in targeted marketing based on shopper interest.

being able to select shoppers based on interests and habits allows for more personal communication and our experience is that personal communication sells – especially when initiated by small local businesses to their local comm8unity.

Providing retailers with personal marketing tools which feed into email and other tools is a terrific benefit from our POS software – and another way we are helping retailers grow their businesses.

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Sunday retail management advice: helping retailers embrace collections

mcCollections come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and collectors, too, are a diverse group. Serving the collector is easier for a retailer thanks to the collector management facilities in the Tower Systems POS software.

Retailers selling to collectors are urged to use these tools to leverage collection knowledge and the drip feed release of new collection items.  Tower Systems can help retailers in the collector space be more appealing to collectors.

We have been learning more about collectors in recent weeks as we have visited with a number of importers in the collector space to help build a better interface between them and their retail partners.

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