Sunday retail business management advice: tracking retail season performance

fdayMajor retail seasons such as Father’s Day present retailers with an excellent opportunity to assess how the business is performing this year over previous years. The challenge can be that these days fall on different dates in different years.

Using the Point of Sale software from Tower Systems retailers can easily compare floating seasons whether for a day or days or weeks leading up to a day – where the dates are different between the two years being compared.

In addition to terrific comparative reports in the Tower software, we are able to help retailers understand year on year performance, to learn what they can about opportunities for future seasons. Often we find data present different facts on seasonal performance to what people working in the business thought happened.

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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: 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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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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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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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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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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Pitching savings an important use of the retail shopper receipt

rcptdiscWe encourage retailers to use their receipt as an extension of their marketing activity. An excellent example of this is when a business sells products for lower than their recommended retail. The saving is listed on the receipt – reminding the shopper of how much they saved by shopping in the business.

While some customers don’t give receipts a second look, others do read them once they return home. The discount off RRP is a terrific message for this shopper. It’s an invitation for them to consider the business again.

Even the smallest steps are important in cultivating your connection with customers. Our experience in our own retail businesses is that receipts can drive sales.

Through training videos, our online knowledge base and live support we can help our POS software customers to make better use of their receipts and through this make more money.

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Surge in employee theft in retail businesses

With Christmas retail activity in high gear it is no surprise that there has been a surge in reports of employee theft. We have received several over the weekend and yesterday. Each report is taken through a proven process we have stablished for gathering and verifying evidence and considering an appropriate course of action.

In one case we stepped in for the retailer, at their request, and terminated employment of one staff member and laid out a framework for money being returned to the business.

While the vast majority of retail employees are honest, there are some who steal from their employer.   Here is our advice for retail business owners for cutting the cost of theft by retail employees:

  1. Change the passwords that provide access to the most sensitive data right away and do not given them to anyone unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Change the roster, shake things up.
  3. Remove all handbags, phones and personal items from the counter.
  4. Get employees out of any non-uniform clothing with pockets.
  5. Implement random end of shift cash balancing several times in the day unannounced.
  6. Use employee cards for tracking sales by employees – these are better than a three code employee code.
  7. Stop employees ringing their own purchases up.

Treat your business as you would a large bundle of $100 notes. The more serious you are about managing your cash the more of it that will make its way to your bank account.

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Hundreds of retailers now using discount vouchers

We now have hundreds of retailers from our POS software community using our EXCLUSIVE discount vouchers facilities. The feedback is excellent with retailers telling us they love the ease of use and professionalism but most of all they love the sales growth.

There is no doubt that the discount vouchers facilities increase sales across a range of retail sectors based on the feedback we have received.  Jewellers, newsagents, garden centres, bike retailers … they are all able to drive shopper engagement through the vouchers printed on the base of receipts.

From a Tower perspective we have successfully used the discount vouchers to win business for us. In a situation recently a retailer told us a competitor offered the same facility. We suggested the retailer look at this and then at what we do. They decided to go ahead with us. Our discount vouchers implementation is unique to Tower Systems. While others may use the same descriptive label, what they have is not what we have.

Retailers who partner with Tower Systems have tremendous management control over how vouchers are issued and redeemed. This control can be money in the bank as the retailer tweaks levers and through this guides shopper engagement. This is what a good loyalty system does – it drives financial rewards for the retail business.

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Tower Systems newsagents take out all major awards at Queensland Newsagent of the Year Awards

Congratulations to newsagents using our newsagency software in Queensland who won all major award categories at the Queensland Newsagent of the Year Awards last night:

  • New Technology Newsagency of Year newsagency - Macrae News Mt Isa
  • Lottery Newsagency of the Year – Northgate News
  • Distribution Newsagent of the Year  – Chirn Park News
  • Retail Newsagent of the Year – Herbert River News

Well done.  Well deserved!

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: choose the loyalty approach that’s best for your needs

Too many small business owners run a loyalty program that mimics the offering of big retailers. They use points as currency and get shoppers signing up and jumping through some hoops to accrue points that are worth what?

Small business retailers need to differentiate themselves from big business.  We, yes we are retailers here at Tower Systems too with four shops of our own where we use our Point of Sale software ourselves, need to offer a loyalty program that best serves our needs and not something done out of fear of a big competitor.

Small business retailers need to think of their customers when choosing a loyalty offering. They need to take their time to ensure that the program they choose and the rules they follow are appropriate to their needs.

Using the Tower software retailers can choose from a variety of approaches to encouraging and rewarding loyalty. In fact, our software has at least five different approaches to driving loyalty thanks to the flexibility embedded in the loyalty offerings we pitch. Within these we offer considerable points of difference – this is why we welcome head of head comparison.

From our unique and thoughtful discount vouchers facility through to our VIP card to our bundled package offerings our Point of Sale software provides retailers with choice. We will happily work with any retailer using our software to guide the implementation of these and other loyalty offerings.

In our own retail businesses we are using the discount vouchers to effectively compete with like for like businesses located near us that use other POS software.  We can speak from experience with various loyalty options.

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More retail employees benefit from comprehensive video training curriculum

More and more retail employees working in businesses using our Point of Sale software are enjoying and benefiting from our comprehensive video based training.

Made up of more than 130 videos, access to the library is guided through a web based curriculum facility we have developed that tracks videos watched y employee per business. This gives retailers visibility over employee engagement and can help with better management of team members.

Everyone completing a curriculum will be provided a professional certificate of achievement – something that will be a good addition to any resume pack.

The development of the certificate is another level of thoughtfulness by Tower Systems of those engaged in the professional training being delivered through this program to small business retailers and their employees.

The training program is unique for small business retailers like newsagents, jewellers, bike retailers, gift shops and garden centres. It’s been delivered as a result of considerable investment by Tower Systems.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: drive sales with smart discount voucher engagement

The exclusive discount voucher facility released in the Tower Systems Point of Sale software early this year continues to drive excellent sales outcomes for retailers engaged with us and our smart POS software.

What sets the Tower Systems approach apart is the powerful flexibility provided through the settings available. These are settings unique to the Tower software, settings developed in close consultation with leading retailers, settings that take the facility beyond the simplicity of the name of the function.

Our retail management advice today is for retailers to try the function. It’s easy to turn on and off, easy to tweak and easy to measure. Indeed, the reporting tools are exclusive to Tower Systems – they are helping retailers drive excellent commercial outcomes.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: rewarding staff

Thanks to the ability to track sales by employees, our Point of Sale software helps retailers to share commission or some other form of financial reward with retail employees. Turning this on has helped some of our retail business customers to increase sales by motivating shop floor staff to more proactively engage with shoppers.

The process in the software for setting this up is easy. Once turned on, the software tracks sales by employees and the business can use this data for the rewarding of employees for over target sales achieved in a period set by the business.

By giving retail employees a KPI to reach and rewarding them for over-achievment can get them more engaged with the business and the customers for a genuine win win.

Our support team welcomes helping retailers to make better business use of our software, especially in areas like this where a retail business can increase sales.

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Sunday small retail business management advice: track all sales through one system

Occasionally, we see retailers tracking the sale of some items outside their Point of Sale software. While the retailer usually presents what they think is a sound reason, the reality is that tracking sales in any retail business through more than one system is poor management.

We have seen several situations of employee fraud where some sales were tracked outside the POS software. This is one key risk. The risk is diminished if you put all sales through the one software package.

While some present excuses such as delays at the counter, we can point to enough success stories to dispel such concerns.

Retailers who want fast and accurate sales processing at the counter will track all sales through the one software package. If you’re not sure how to achieve this, talk with one of our support people.

 

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Why we serve small business retailers

Tower Systems was created to serve small business retailers and we happily remain focused on that mission today.

We love small business retail for the people, their passion and the contribution to communities around the country.

While our Point of Sale software can be used by retail businesses of any size, it is in the small business retailer community where we are most comfortable.

So, why do we like small business retailers?

This is a question we confronted recently in a business review where we took some time for introspection about who we are, what we do and why we do what we do.

We believe in small business.

Small business retailers play a vital economic role, often punching above their weight in terms of economic contribution.

Small business retailers play an even more important social role, holding, sharing and even adding to the narrative of communities around the world as well as providing practical support for community based endeavours.

Small business retailers help local shoppers with a level of personal service which leads to better buying decisions.

We like these points, especially that small businesses and small business retailers in particular are more like to uphold and carry forward local customs, beliefs and stories.  Small businesses support the ,local voice.  This is why small businesses are important in countries like Australia and New Zealand.    They push back on globalisation and the dilution of the local voice to a whisper.

Whereas with big business retailers you are dealing with a person representing a corporation and focused on the goals of the corporation, in small business you are dealing with the owner or someone very close to the owner, reflecting the personal and connected nature of the business and the community in which its serves.

We also feel that we can contribute more to the community and the economy by working with small business retailers.  We are happy with our track record in this regard since starting in business in 1981.

So, yes, we enjoy serving small businesses and remaining a small business ourselves.  This is where we think we can actively contribute and do the most good.

The value of a business is not only about financial performance.  Its contribution to community is, in our view, equally if, not more, important.

There was a time when small was almost considered a dirty word in business.  Not any more.  This is the time of small business.  It is a niche in which many of us choose to remain.  It is a place of profitable businesses and businesses making a genuinely valuable economic and social contribution.

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Helping retailers manage employees through POS software

Managing employees in retail businesses can be a challenge, especially where the owner is not able to be in the business all the time.

The Tower Systems Point of Sale software offers access to some excellent employee management tools, some known and others hidden and known only to the business owners.

Through these smart business management tools, retail business owners and managers are able to: manage rosters, track employee sales, track employee activity, motivate employees, guide employee training and help employees better serve customers on the retail shop floor.

Helping retail employees to reach their full potential for a business can be liberating for them and for the business. This is a terrific win win and we are here to help our retail partners to achieve this.

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Working with suppliers to understand retail business performance

For several months we have been working with an international supplier to help retailers using our retail management software to understand retail performance in depth.  The result is a slide deck of fifteen slides presenting an analysis of business performance. The visual representation of dat from a high level is providing tremendously valuable insights.

While the results are confidential, we can share one simple insight – transaction volume versus transaction value over the course of a day.  The graph for just one of the participating stores and one of around fifteen for this store, shows the gap between volume and value. It is this type of insight that can help a retailer to better schedule people and resources to maximise opportunity for the business.

Our exclusive work in the newsagency channel with this supplier of international standing is resulting in commercially valuable insights for our customers, the supplier and other key stakeholders.  We are thrilled to be part of such a valuable project.

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Beware Game, Retravision and the electronic and whitegoods contagion

The news reports of retailers in trouble are bad enough. The commentary suggesting a broader retail problem is more worrying.

While there is no doubt that some retail channels are doing it tough, there are other retail channels enjoying success and plenty of retailers enjoying success.

All of us in retail need to shin lights on the success stories to get the attention of the commentators and their editors who seem to think that stories of dark clouds around retail attract readers.

100% of our revenue comes from retailers. We will end the 2012 financial year with a wonderful sales increase on FY 2011. Retailers are investing in their businesses. Every day we hear success stories.

Many success stories we hear are from small and independent retailers, business owners who are active in their local shop, managing their business with a focus on a genuine local point of difference. We are thrilled to be part of some of these success stories.

While the media will continue to report retail bad news, we will continue to live success in selling to retailers and through them the success they achieve in their retail businesses.

Tower Systems sells Point of Sale software to retailers in a range of retail channels including: garden centres, jewellers, bike retailers, newsagents, homewares shops, gift shops and bookshops. The company serves in excess of 2,500 retailers in Australia, New Zealand and several other countries.

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Fries with that? An opportunity for small business retailers

In just abut every retail situation retailers can add to a sale by offering an additional product or service. the key is to make an offer which is relevant to the product being purchased.

Fast food chains have mastered the up-sell with fries, drinks and larger meals. Their consistency of promotion is what makes this work for them. Tower Systems helps small and independent retailers tap into the up-sell opportunity with facilities in our retail management software to remind retail staff of this during the sale.

Retailers using our software can easily write their own script prompt to appear as staff process a sale with certain items. They can also control the content displayed on LCD customer displays to further encourage additional purchases by shoppers.

By giving small and independent retailers the ability to guide consistency of sales counter up-sell opportunities, Tower Systems is helping these small businesses to maximise the opportunity of every contact with retailers.

Asking the right question in a sale can add valuable dollars and drive retail business profitability.

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Driving impulse purchases at point of purchase with LCD customer display

More and more of our retailers are using LCD customer displays and our Point of Sale software to drive impulse purchases at the point of purchase.

Thanks to smart POS software integrated technology retailers are able to serve ads before, during and after sales which can guide shoppers to increase their spend in-store.

While retailers have complete control over what is shown on their displays, from video to stills, we work with a range of national suppliers to provide consistent content connected with national campaigns.

The current Win a Barina Spark! Campaign from Pacific Magazines is a good example of the use of the clever POS software / LCD technology pairing. At the sales counter, shoppers are reminded of the opportunity to purchase a magazine to get in the running to win a car.

Professional and appealing content like we see for the Win a Barina Spark! campaign connects the business with whet they see on mainstream media and elsewhere and this is more like to drive shopper engagement.

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Great news! Retailer adds $8,000 profit in a year from our advice

A retailer using our Point of Sale software approached us at one of our user meetings last week to share their story of following some very specific advice we provided at a user meeting two years ago.

As a result of following our advice, our customer added $8,000 to their bottom line that year.

Talk about the value of user meetings!

We were thrilled to hear this story not only recognising the value of our specific retail advice but also for the fact that it is good retail news.  With so many happy to report doom and gloom about retail, we have many in our tower Systems user community who are enjoying success and we’re happy to share this success.

A key part of our user meetings is the retail advice we share. We always look to go beyond the software and leave our customers with changes they can make, decisions they can implement which add dollars to their bottom line and reinforce the commercial value of partnering with us.

Anyone who wants details of the advice just ask and we’d be happy to share one on one.

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