Sunday retail business management advice: how to run a fit and healthy business

Retail is tough. Small business retail is tougher. Too often, challenges encountered by small business retailers are of their own doing. Like personal health, our choices impact our situation.

Here is some of our best practice advice for a healthy and prosperous retail business from the perspective of a POS software company.

  1. Scan everything you sell.
  2. Enter into your computer system all stock you receive and all stock you return to suppliers.
  3. Use your software to create orders for replenishment stock.
  4. Balance your registers every day using your software.
  5. Do spot stock takes for popular items to check for theft.
  6. Measure performance by department, category and supplier. Do more of what works and less of what does not work.
  7. Compare your performance this year to last year. Fix what is not working.
  8. Use your software as your eyes and ears. Good POS software has excellent back end reportage to let you see how your staff use the software.
  9. Train your staff to be fit for purpose in using the software.
  10. Focus on many small steps towards success rather than one big step.

We see many retail businesses prospering through smart engagement with the facilities in our POS software.

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Sunday retail business management tip: believe in yourself

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

Take customer service, for example.

Many small and independent retail business owners I know say that 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.

Using our POS software, retailers cash build business processes for all employees to follow, to help drive consistency throughout the business.

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Sunday retail business management tip: demonstrations help drive sales

There is nothing like getting out on the shop floor and modelling, using or playing with products to help drive sales.

High street retail is, after all, tactile.

Retailers competing with online have this over online businesses – the opportunity for tactile engagement.

Our experience working with a variety of retail businesses using our POS software has revealed the wonderful and valuable success that can come from active shop floor engagement with products: from low priced impulse lines in convenience stores to high-end trees in premium garden centres to gilt-edged dinner sets in homewares stores. Engaging with a product and encouraging shoppers to touch and feel products can drive excellent sales results.

This is our retail management tip today – be tactile with products and get your products in the hands of your customers.

You can beat online businesses with an engaged touch and feel approach. The key is to follow this up with purchase. In some situations this is best achieved with an offer. In other situations it is achieved with easy shop-floor selling.

The key for high street retailers is – play to your strength of touch and feel.

Enjoy! 

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Paypal in-store payment option to help retailers attract more shoppers

Our senior management team participated in another briefing with Paypal this week as the roll out of the Tower systems / Paypal payment option integration nears commercial release.

Designed to help small business retailers in Australia to tap into new customer opportunities, this link is another valuable benefit being delivered by Tower Systems for its retail partners.

Being first to market intensifies the work involved but it also provides a platform from which to demonstrate true leadership. Tower Systems is grateful for this opportunity and for the support from Paypal on this project.

We will announce sign-up details shortly.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: be daring!

Small and independent retail businesses are often run along on conservative lines from what we see. While some embrace change, they do so within a conservative perspective, not resulting in extraordinary change.

Recently, we have been working with a retail business where they embrace the crazy. This is our retail business management suggestion today: make the change to your business that you say you should not make because it is so crazy, so left-field, so out of character.

The change does to need to be huge. In fact, for your first out of character change it should be something you can retreat from if necessary. make the change and measure the results – this is where our POS software helps.

Our experiences is that retail businesses that stand still are more likely to become targets for others taking sales from them. 

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Sunday small business retail management advice: be ready for EOFY

The End of the Financial Year (EOFY) is when many businesses do housekeeping such as stock takes, clearing out junk and resetting the business. Here is our recommended EOFY checklist:

  1. Do a stock take.
  2. Sell off stock that has not moved in six months.
  3. Audit your computer system data to ensure you are using the software well.
  4. Check margins to ensure you are earning the most from each product.
  5. Reset reorder triggers.
  6. Refresh your employee training so that they make the best use of your POS software.
  7. Step bak and look at your business as see opportunities for change in the new financial year.

Tower Systems is already helping early adopter retailers with many of these tasks as they started planning for EOFY weeks ago. Our online training workshops are filling up, our free one on one training opportunities are being embraced, our knowledge base advice on EOFY is popular. We are thrilled to see retailer engagement so early.

Big retail businesses make a lot of noise this time of the year for their stock take sales. Small and independent retailers could benefit from getting in early – ahead of the others.

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New cloud-based small business roster platform wins praise

The new cloud-based roster software developed by Tower Systems for small business retailers and others is attracting excellent feedback from a select group of beta test sites. We are thrilled with the feedback and support from colleagues working on this project with us.

The result is an excellent cloud-based roster solution that is easy to use yet deep in functionality for small through to mid-size businesses.

Retailers and other businesses will be able to use this using a low-cost subscription model that provides access to the platform as well as to email and text message communication to employees on rosters.

This is a very leading edge solution we are proud to be bringing to the market.

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Australian POS software that focuses on profit

Our core focus as a POS software company is to create software and provide services that help our retail partners improve the profit of their businesses.

Without profit, any business is dead. This is especially true in small and independent retail businesses where the hours can be long and the challenges considerable. Profit is the marker of success, the pay off if you will.

Small and independent retail business owners need to focus on profit. Our software helps them do this through smart reports, helpful guidance tools and in other ways. We help them drive gross profit per item sold, cut the labour cost of every dollar of sales revenue and guide their decisions based on facts rather than feelings.

Any POS software can transact sales and tell you what you did, who did it and when … smart POS software will tell you this and offer insights beyond these simple measures. It will guide a business to make more money. This is what makes a retail business more valuable. It helps the owner get a better price when they sell the business. It makes the business more appealing to a lender.

While some retail business owners look at a POS software purchase decision as a technical decision, the reality is that it is a business management decision. It is best to approach it as you would selecting a new partner for your business.

Software companies that are accessible to you, that offer live in-store training, that understand your unique business and that engage with you in a non technical way … these are the software companies more likely to be of use to you as you seek to make your retail business more profitable.

Tower Systems serves close to 3,000 small and independent retailers in Australia.

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Sunday retail management advice: POS software discount voucher shopper loyalty program drives sales

xxnaf99The data is in and the discount vouchers loyalty facilities in our Point of Sale software drive sales across retail channels.

When you see same store year on year growth of ten percent and more with the only change of significance being the introduction of discount vouchers the impact of the program is obvious.

While some retailers are having success with the old points-based loyalty program, some who have switched from that to discount vouchers are surprised at the almost immediate lift in sales as a result – indicating that shoppers were fatigued with the old approach to loyalty.

We think shoppers like an immediate reward and that’s what discount vouchers provide – the ability to tap into immediate savings by spending more right away and beyond what the shopper probably visited the business to spend.

The greater the basket value the greater the discount voucher opportunity. In one example recently in a garden central, a shopper spend just over $100.00 and received a voucher offer ing a $10.00 discount on their next purchase. They then bought an item priced at $175.00. This shopper was not a regular and unlikely to return. Sio, the business more than doubled the value of its sales to this shopper and the only cost was $10.00 gross and around $5.00 net - a low cost for valuable and satisfying engagement.

Our management tip for retailers today is to engage in a loyalty offering that is valuable for your customers. In the cases we have been seeing recently, discount vouchers is the right offer in a range of circumstances. Indeed, we have see it help businesses out-perform other loyalty programs / offers.

This is an easy marketing opportunity with which to engage – driving excellent outcomes. As it forms part of the base tower Systems software there is no capital or other cost in getting up and running.

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POS software helps independent retailers up-sell

kidssandOur Tower Systems Point of Sale software prompts retail associates when a customer has an opportunity for a better deal. Pitched well to shoppers this can help increase a shopper’s spend in a visit.

An example of this is on show in Australia in the current school holidays. Smart newsagents are selling kinetic sand – in three sizes. The bigger the size the better the value per kilo. Prompting the retail associate with this information during the sale can help them give the customer information that could lead to a larger purchase.

The prompt makes the associate more knowledgable and it facilitates an opportunity that customers could appreciate.

While any POS software can transact a sale, it takes smart POS software to help a retail business maximise every customer contact opportunity.

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And so starts a crazy two weeks in retail

This week is a short week for many with Easter covering Friday through Monday and then at the end of next week is Anzac Day. It’s not often that we have so many holidays so close to each other at this time of the year so it will be interesting for retailers, challenging too depending on their situation.

It’s at a time like this that retailers are likely to see shoppers who are not regulars. This is where our immediate loyalty engagement tools can be useful to grow spend per shop rather than focussing on the longer term shopper.

One of the beauties of our immediate loyalty engagement tools is that they can be turned off and on at will. For example, a retailer could fire up the brilliant and much-loved discount vouchers for these two weeks targeting infrequent shoppers with a goal of increasing spend per visit.

Sometimes we need to look at the tools we have at our disposal differently. Our discount vouchers facilities can be used in a range of different ways to drive good outcomes for our retail partners.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: make sure you have the right friends with whom to discuss business

Who do you talk to about your retail business? Are the sympathetic? Do they challenge your perception of your business? Do they agree with everything you say? Do they offer pity as a response for you explaining your situation?

Good friends will challenge what you say. They will ask tough questions. They will not put up with a victim mentality. They will want to know what you are doing to improve your situation.

If your friends don’t challenge you when you talk about your business consider seeking out others you can talk to who do challenge you.

Owning a business of any size can be tough and lonely. In the business it is rare you will be challenged. In your immediately family, too often, you will not be challenged. This is why you need to seek out those who could and will challenge you. You need to be challenged. Your plans need to be tested through tough questioning.  While some good friend will do this for you many will not.

So, do you need to change your friends?

Seek out people who will give you truthful assessment of what you say, people who will have an opinion and be unafraid to share it. You want people who will actively listen to you and give you their insights.

Seek out people who will want the same from you.  The ideal friendship is one that is equal, open and honest in conversation.  This is what retail business owners need – people who can help them see what they may not be seeing for themselves.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: become a matchmaker and sell more

Matchmaker TV shows can be cringe-worthy and fun as contestants and hosts look at interests and other attributes to bring people together and make romantic connections. While they are made for TV, the process of taking two separate people and finding a connection is fascinating to watch.

Smart retailers do this well … making a connection between two products.

Smart retailers have good tools that help them in matchmaking. By analysing basket data and looking deep in the sales history of the business, you can find products that your customers purchase together and this provides an evidentiary basis for your shop floor matchmaking.

Oftentimes it is unusual matches, matches you would not expect, that work well together. Customers will show you these in your own sales history.

This is why having access to good data and cultivating and trawling this for opportunities is vital for your business. Knowing what sells with what helps you place products together and drive more sales. In Point of Sale software from Tower Systems you have a range opportunities for this reporting.

become a matchmaker in your retail business and sell two or more items in a sale when you might have in the past only sold one.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: use your POS data to negotiate your rent

Good POS software can be useful in a rent negotiation as it can provide irrefutable evidence necessary in discussions with your landlord about rent as a percentage of sales, percentage of gross profit and rent in the context of footfall.

Being able to slice and dice retail business data using our POS software can empower retailers with valuable data with which they can make better business decisions and through which they can navigate to a better rent outcome.

Here at Tower Systems we leverage our own experience owning and operating retail businesses and using our own POS software to help retailers negotiate rent deals. Beyond the Point of Sale software we can provide understanding and assistance to our retail partners. But it all starts with good business data. landlords cannot challenge accurate business data and often the data we can provide access to is more accurate than any data the landlord may have since we get to the source.

If you are a small business retailer and feel challenged by the rent you are paying our advice is to leverage your POS data to make a case to the landlord for more equitable retail rent terms. A good POS software company will help.

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Helping small business retailers save money on EFTPOS fees & time at the sales counter

As a POS software company working with close to 3,000 retailers, we have experience dealing with all the major banks when it comes to EFTPOS and offering EFTPOS solutions at the retail sales counter.

In our software today we have EFTPOS processing links to a range of third parties as well as direct to banks.

It is our experience that retailers linking to Tyro broadband EFTPOS experience faster processing, fewer operational problems, easier setup and better customer service than any other EFTPOS connection. This is why we recommend Tyro to our small business retail customers.

Thanks to excellent assistance and communication from and with the team at Tyro, we are able to triage any operational issue and usually resolve it immediately. This provides our retail business customers with a one stop shop. This is far better than having to navigate a third party who then has to navigate your bank’s support service. In that scenario it could take days to resolve an issue. Thanks to the Tyro approach, the few problems reported are resolved quickly.

Choosing the right EFTPOS solution is important for small and independent retail businesses. It’s what happens at the counter that matters the most. Fast and accurate processing are the most important goals followed by easy setup.

Major banks tend to lock retailers into long term contracts that have a breakage cost. This can lock small business retailers into poor service and higher than necessary fees. Thanks to Tyro we are able to deliver to small and independent retail businesses a more cost effective solution. Tyro helps newsagents ensure that the solution is right for them without the need for a long term contract.

Our advice to retailers considering EFTPOS is – buyer beware. That big bank that says it has a great deal is a big bank – when was the last time a big bank put the needs of small retailers ahead of their appetite for profit.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: manage theft!

Employee theft and customer theft, like any activity in a retail business, require management. Not encouragement! … management. It starts with tracking, understanding what is being stolen, how often and when. Whether it is cash or products or services, tracking theft is the first step to reducing the cost of theft.

Retailers using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software have excellent tools for tracking and managing theft. Some of these tools are obvious and others are hidden for security reasons.

Through advice sheets, training videos, live training and other access points we help retailers understand their theft management options – all with the goal of reducing the cost of theft to the retail business.

This is another commercial benefit for retailers using our POS software. Retailers who do not use our theft management tools are more open to theft costing more in their business.

 

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The receipt is an important document and marketing tool in retail

wincarrecpTower Systems is helping small business newsagents leverage their receipts to engage with a high profile competition being run by Pacific Magazines – offering further support to our position that the receipt is a vitally important business development and marketing tool.

Beyond detailing what was purchased, a good receipt can get a shopper back sooner, it can get them spending more right away and it can make them feel even better about shopping with the business.

The key to leveraging the retail receipt for maximum value to a retail business is the relevance of what is on the receipt. It is important that any pitch or promotion is relevant to this customer at this time. This is where Point of Sale software can help.

Our experience is that retail businesses that use the receipt as a marketing tool are more likely to be growing and achieving a deeper basket with existing customers. For next to no cost they are embracing another customer touch-point. Enough customers respond to make it valuable.

In the two examples you can see a WIN A CAR promotion being pitched on the receipts. The receipt on the right includes a QR code for rapid shopper engagement. By helping our retail newsagency customers serve these coupons we are helping them connect with a major supplier initiative quickly, easily and professionally.

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Learning retail insights from Monash University experts

We are benefiting from a briefing into the latest retail experts delivered today by experts from the Monach University Australian Centre for Retail Studies.  ARCS is a leader in their field:

ACRS is an independent retail and consumer research centre based within the Department of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University, Caulfield Campus. The ACRS provides a range of research and consulting services to the private sector and government clients, with a particular emphasis on retail and consumer research. Research priorities are developed in consultation with industry clients and promote research-based knowledge and thought leadership.

Participation in today’s briefing was organised through an appreciated supplier relationship.

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Taking pride in POS software labels

pos-labelsThe options we offer in labels produced by our Point of Sale software are considerable and have been for many years. In addition to supporting laser labels and single strip labels, we also offer our customers tremendous flexibility in label design – and have done for many years.

Our labels  reflect a quality and professionalism customers love. They are customer friendly – easy to read. Too often labels produced by POS software are hard for the human eye to read, they are feint and for tech solution than retail solution.

Thanks to the label options offered from the Tower software retailers can produce labels they want on stock they want – punch what matters most to retailers and their customers.

Professional labels can help retail businesses grow sales and reduce theft.

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Exclusive Gift shop & newsagency POS software opportunity at Reed Melbourne Gift Fair

We are had a terrific time at the Reed Melbourne Gift Fair over the last few days. As the only gift / newsagency specialist software company at the trade show, it’s been a wonderful opportunity talking with the many newsagency and many gift shop owners walking the floor of the busy trade show.

We have also enjoyed the opportunity of connecting with more suppliers in the gift space, helping them to embrace technology for more efficient and certain training with their retail customers.

In addition to new customers for our POS software and new suppliers to connect with, the fair was an excellent opportunity for us to check the state of the newsagency and gift shop retail channels, to hear what retailers plan for 2014 and to assess for ourselves how these channels will fare this year. The insights gained help us better serve the channels ourselves.

Standing on the floor of the trade show talking to many business owners as they stop and others as they pass by we tap into valuable feedback.  We can also explore some developments we are close to launching – getting insights before we go to market. This is invaluable. A good trade show is like a focus group on steroids for an engaged software company. We love it.

As the first trade show for 2014, the Melbourne fair is important to provide early indications and for that we are grateful.

Commercially, this has been a very successful trade show for us and we appreciate the opportunity to have been here. Over the next few weeks we will be banking the results.

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Helping small business retailers enjoy their businesses more

receiptsnotesRunning a retail business is hard work in today’s retail environment. It is especially challenging for small business independent retailers. Beyond the challenges of landlord, employee, supplier and general economic issues and challenges, there is the overall motivation to be on every day, often seven days a week.

While we are a POS software company, the relationship we have with our customers is one that looks at the whole of the business. We embrace opportunities to help our customers enjoy their business more. From helpful POS software support to providing encouragement on ways to manage the business with less stress, we genuinely partner with our small business retailer customers.

Retailers can enjoy their business more by bringing more structure to what they do. The more structure the more business tasks that can be undertaken by others in the business. This helps improve certainty and it helps share the load. This can make life more enjoyable for owners and more fulfilling for retail employees.

In the Tower Systems POS software retailers can systemise / structure processes around product ordering, pricing, range reviews, rostering, selling, Lay-Bys, discounting and other business processes from the day to day through to the bigger picture tasks. we can offer our customers exampled of how to do this and through this work how to find more enjoyment in owning and operating the business.

One of the biggest stressors for retailers is that they feel alone. Through our work with retailers and the assistance services we offer we try and help them feel less alone, we try and show them practical support for the day to day and the big picture business planning and management.

We love this part of our work – the broad extent to which we can engage with our retail partners. It’s fun and rewarding. We’re grateful for the opportunity.

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Ways small business retailers can refresh their view of their business

WARNING: This blog post has some crazy ideas you’d not expect from a POS software company.

In our work with small business retailers we often hear about burnout, retailers being tired and over the grind of opening the shop working all day, closing, getting little sleep and doing it all again. They are often too tired to be innovative in their approach to business.

Call us crazy but we have some ideas designed to help small business retailers reconnect with their businesses. They are unconventional. They are free. They are fun. They are designed to get you looking, hearing and smelling your business differently. They are designed to open your eyes to opportunities you may be missing.

Are you ready? Here are our unconventional ideas for refreshing your views of your small retail business – in the hope that you find opportunities you were not seeing.

  1. Go to your shop at night time. Leave the lights off. Put a chair on the middle of the shop floor. Sit down. Take your shoes and socks or stockings off. Put a blindfold on. Soak it up. What do you smell? What do you hear? Is there any sense of place that you get from being there.  Be still for fifteen minutes or so thinking about this. Breathe deeply. How does your shop smell? Does it have a smell? If not, why not? Then take the blindfold off and look around you for another fifteen minutes. Finally, get up – with your shoes and socks or stockings still off – and walk around the shop. Take in the environment you are in control of. Let the ideas flow. If you want to take it to a deeper level, lie down on the floor on your back and look up and around – kind of up-skirt your own shop while it’s empty!
  2. Get a stool or fold up chair, pack a lunch and spend at least three lunchtimes in a week sitting opposite the entrance to your shop watching customers. Don’t write anything down, just watch. Preferably do this without people noticing you. Wear a disguise if necessary. Watch intently. See where people go, what they pick up, what they buy if possible. Try and predict what they will do. Watch and think. Watch and think.
  3. Get a small desk and a sign for the desk that says CUSTOMER SERVICE. Place the desk near the front door of your shop. Set yourself up at the desk, sitting behind it. Dress formally, old school. Like in a 1950s movie preferably. Sit up straight. Look the part. Sit and wait and see what comes your way. Have fun interactive with customers. The desk should look out of place but it should also look fun. The idea is that your customers, your staff and you will be a bit shaken up by the change. See what comes your way.

We have more crazy ideas. These barely scratch the surface of the crazy idea cupboard. Just ask.

We’re here to help small business retailers create and run successful independent small local retail businesses. Our help goes beyond our software. Were retailers too and love being able to talk retail with anyone.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: create a THEFT POLICY for your shop

A theft policy is vital for every retail business. here is advice from Tower Systems on what should be in a theft policy. We first provided this to our customers years ago and have recently finessed it based on experiences helping retailers to address theft challenges.

We suggest putting this on a notice board in a common area for employees to read and sign:

THEFT POLICY OF THIS BUSINESS

1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.

2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.

3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.

4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.

5. New employees are to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment.

6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.

7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.

8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by local labour laws.

9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory from the store without permission.

10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.

11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves.

12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.

PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THIS POLICY:

Beyond excellent Point of Sale software, Tower Systems helps retailers with practical advice on how to improve their business as well as how to mitigate against expensive business challenges such as employee theft.

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Post Christmas retail sales strong

Post Christmas / Boxing Day sales have been excellent according to some of the retailers in our Point of Sale software user community over the last couple of days. Several we have spoken with indicate sales are up close to 10% on last year. This result is even better given that it is on the back of an excellent Christmas result with those sales up close to 10% as well.

Sometimes we see post Christmas sales down when pre Christmas sales are up and vice versa. This year we are seeing people growing in both situations, indicating a more general upturn being experienced by these businesses.

Sporrting trends early is vital in retail as you are then able to respond more appropriately. You don’t want to be in a situation where you you spot a trend long after it first occurred as that could mean you have missed opportunities.

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