This is not the usual advice you would expect from your POS software company. But Tower Systems is not your usual POS software company.

In our work with small business specially retailers in Australia and New Zealand 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.

We hear of retailers who are often too tired to be innovative in their approach to business, to exhausted to think about the future let alone today or tomorrow.

We get it that retail is tough, full of challenges. Our job is to help retailers see things differently.

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.
  4. Sit out the front of the shop for a day. Yes a whole day. Sit and watch, take notes and think about what you see, what you could change and ask people, as they come out, what they would change too.

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.


Sharing Useful Retail Business Sales and Performance Data

We are in a fortunate position to be able to gather and analyse a considerable pool of retail business performance data thanks to the generosity of our Point of Sale software user community.

While most data is gathered for sharing back with the user community, from time to time we are called upon by industry associations and other interested parties to share high-level data, data which does not identify any of the individual businesses which share data with us.  We do this willingly where we see that the data will be used to professionally and robustly represent the interest of small business independent retailers.

Over the many years which we have answered the call for retail business performance data the respect for the quality of the data we have access to has grown.

Not only is good business data important to each retail business, it is also useful to government and others who look at entire retail channels when making policy, supply and other decisions.

Indeed, data is probably the most valuable asset of a retail business next to cash.  Good data helps any retailer harvest more cash.

Business data and our work with it is on our mind this weekend as we have just seen a copy of a submission to the federal government on behalf of a small business retail channel which makes use of business performance data which we provided.  It is good to see our data gathering and benchmark work being put to such good use.


Newsagent sales benchmark study announced

Tower Systems is inviting newsagents using our newsagency software to provide data for our next sales benchmark study.

Newsagents keen to participate should run their Monthly Sales Comparison report for July 1 2010 through September 30, 2010 on the left and July 1, 2009 through September 30, 3009 on the right. Tick the category box.  Save the report as a PDF and email it to me. 

Our sales benchmark studies are used by newsagents and suppliers to drive business planning.


Newsagency sales benchmark study results published

We published the results of our January newsagency sales benchmark study to participating newsagents yesterday. We will more broadly release the results to others later this week.  The early release to participants is a courtesy in respect for their participation. It also offers an opportunity for discussion in advance of broader release.

Our newsagency sales benchmark study is the most comprehensive and consistent of its type.  We have been reporting on this data for close to ten years.  It is often used by suppliers to assess the health of the newsagency channel.

With data from more than 130 newsagencies, we have a good pool from which to develop an accurate assessment of newsagency performance in key product categories.

Our goal is to help the channel become better informed and to demonstrate the value of using our Point of Sale software as more than a cash register.


Newsagent sales benchmark data flowing in

The sales benchmark study I announced here yesterday has already generated an excellent response.  Data started flowing almost immediately and this has continued overnight.

This particular benchmark study is being done in association with a couple of newsagent suppliers keen for an up to date sales health check in the newsagency channel.  The size of our customer base means we are better positioned to produce a study based oin a good data set size.

We are grateful to newsagents participating and reflect this with personal business feedback based on their data compared to the broader group.