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: finding optimism in your independent retail business

Retail is tough. Yes, we hear that often. Small business retail is tougher. We hear that too.

And while it is easy to be drawn to such negative sentiments, here at Tower Systems we prefer to help small and independent retailers to find shoots of optimism.

In our Point of Sale software we have reports that hone in on optimism and show this good news off for retailers around which they can create more success for their business.

In reports and on-screen facilities, our POS software helps small business retailers to see the wood for the trees, to see the good news around which more good news can be developed.

Our help desk team and our management team welcome opportunities to work with retailers, showing them how they can find good news about their business through our software.

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Thrilled with POS software stocktake surge

Checking back on POS software customer engagement out of our 2,800+ retail business customers shows an excellent surge in engagement with stock takes. More than any other year. More retailers and a greater percentage of our retail business community.

We are thrilled that so many retailers did stock takes using our software, participated in training, asked us questions and used our software facilities.

It’s a pleasure to see more retailers actually using this time and money saving facility in their software.

The greater engagement encourages us to push again in 2014/15 as it shows the lead up we engaged in this year with free live workshops, free video based training, free one on one training and more all helped to encourage retailers to use their software and benefit from this.

Today, thanks to the push, more independent retailers have accurate stock on hand data as a result of our campaign.

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Sunday retail business management tip: use your POS software to balance your register

The end of shift balancing should take only a few minutes using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software.

Once you enter the count for each denomination of notes and coins you’re done and the software does the rest of the key work: banking sheets, business performance comparisons, sales by department and other reporting as may be selected by the business.

The Tower approach is deliberately safe for the retailer in that it reduces the opportunity for theft. It is also fast and structured – helping businesses breeze through the end of shift with speed and certainty.

Good POS software gets these every day tasks right from the outset.

This is our management tip today – use your POS software to guide and manage your end of shit process.

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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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Sunday retail business management tip: be a connected local business

Tower Systems supports independent small businesses, local businesses that play a vital role in local communities. we are proud to serve close to 3,000 such small and indecent retail businesses through our POS software.

Being a connected local business is vital. Today we share advice for our retail partners on how they can improve their local connection.

  1. Establish a what’s on noticeboard in your window or on a wall for promoting local events.
  2. Sponsor a locally focused newsletter which covers issues of local interest. Create this as a forum for local groups to use.
  3. Link to local clubs and groups on your business website.
  4. Talk to your local council – they are bound to have suggestions on ways you can connect with the local community.
  5. Create or support a local traders website.
  6. Collect change from customers for local charities. Track what you collect and keep your customers aware of the value reinvested in the community.
  7. Talk to local schools, do they have activities which you can support and for which they promote your business?
  8. Sponsor an annual encouragement award at a local school and present the award yourself.
  9. Talk to local health and nursing facilities. Do they have needs which you can meet with excess stock?
  10. Create a newcomer pack with other businesses and deliver this to families new to the area.
  11. Support at least one local sports club. This is best done through either uniform sponsorship or sponsoring a regular award.
  12. If appropriate to your product mix, offer products from local businesses and individuals.
  13. Offer to sit on local boards and committees for groups known for doing good work in the community.
  14. Offer space in-store for community groups to promote their work.
  15. Office space in front of your store for community groups to run a sales stall.
  16. Offer your front window a couple of time a year for a community group to promote their work.
  17. Support local causes – offer to have petitions available for customers to sign in your store.
  18. Write to the local newspaper about local issues – let your passion be seen.
  19. Run local events which connect with the local community. The nature of the event will depend on your business niche and skills of locals nearby. For example, you could sponsor a local art show.
  20. Price compare popular items in your shop with bigger businesses further away. Promote your savings for the local community as a point of difference.

This advice is part of a broader range of business improvement advice from Tower Systems for its customers.

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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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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 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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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: roster by revenue

Using sales by time, roster and other facilities in smart Point of Sale software, retailers are able to adjust employee hours to suit the business. Too often we see retailers leaving a roster in place because it has always been set to operate in such a way whereas the actual roster does not reflect the needs of the business and the timing of customer traffic and transactions.

Using reports and other tools in our POS software, we can help retailers either trim rostered hours or redirect time to when there could be a greater need in the business.

Adjusting hours is a valuable benefit from good use of our software. We back the facilities with advice and assistance to retailers on actually achieving the changes necessary in their arrangements.

The assistance from Tower Systems to retailers in this area of employee scheduling is another way Tower Systems helps its customers beyond the software – drawing on our many years experience using our POS software in our own retail businesses.

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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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Sunday small business retail management advice: 3 easy steps to reduce mistakes at the sales counter

Retailers who do these three things will reduce mistakes at the sales counter. We say this based on years of experience working retailers in many different situations. If you want to cut mistakes, here is what to do:

  1. Scan everything you sell, yes, everything!
  2. Use employee codes or barcodes with every sale – so you know who did what.
  3. Process credit cards and EFTPOS transactions through your POS software and not on a separate device.

Do these three things and the accuracy of what you transact will improve considerably.

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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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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: keep revenue in-store

Smart retailers offer gift cards for use in their business. While anyone can sell gift cards and gift EFTPOS cards for use in other businesses, only you can sell gift cards for redemption in your business. This provides the best commercial outcome for any retailer from a gift cards.

Whereas you might mage a coupe of dollars selling a gift card or a gift EFTPOS card for use in another store, you keep 100% of the gift card value for a gift card sold by your for redemption in your business.

We are having success with gift cards in a range of specialist retail businesses including jewellers, bike retailers, gift shops, newsagencies, garden centres, adult shops, pet shops to name a few. We can share experiences from these businesses to illustrate the value the drive for those businesses and the benefits of not leaking cash out of the business in the form of cards to be used elsewhere.

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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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Sunday small business retailer management advice: understand the psychology of pricing

Too often we see retailers apply an arbitrary mark-up to an item without carefully considering what they could actually sell the item for. By carefully considering price in the context of the psychology of pricing, retailers can lift gross profit on some items and thereby improve the overall performance of the business.

To help our help desk team members in providing advice to our customers on pricing we have shared expert retail expert insights. These insights better inform our team and help them help our customers to maximise gross profit.

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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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Sunday small business retailer management advice: care for your hardware

While computers are pretty resilient to the rigours of a busy retail environment, the most common problems we see relate to environmental issues that can be addressed. For example, cleaning some hardware components will make them less likely to fail.

Here’s some safe actions anyone can take to facilitate more stable hardware:

  1. Disconnect your receipt printer. Turn it upside down. Open the tip. Tap it and see what falls out. Often, plenty of dust and other junk. You could also gently vacuum the printer.
  2. Turn your keyboard upside down and tap it the same as the printer. Paper clips and staples are especially damaging.
  3. With the power off, cables disconnected and the case removes, blow compressed air from a can through your computers.
  4. Make sure airflow in and around the computer is good.
  5. Use compressed to clean the vents of your monitors.
  6. make sure your uninterruptible power supply is working. They need replacing every few years.

If you’re not sure, call in a computer technician and ask them to clean your gear.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: make sure everyone in your business is on message

It’s not enough in retail to have the right products as the right price supported by marketing and in-store promotions. It is essential that all team members are consistent in their support of the business and its initiatives. The moment an employee in retail puts their own spin on a promotion or offer there is the risk that the message opt the business may be mis represented.

This is why it is vital for retailers to use structured and disciplined tools at their disposal to present messages of the business in a consistent way.

Tools in your POS software can help retail team members stay on message when presenting opportunities to customers. For example, products with customer care information could have this information printed on the receipt, stores with shopper loyalty programs can include value and details on the receipt and businesses offering LayBys could include terms and conditions printed on a LayBy docket.

There are many ways good POS software can help retailers to deliver a more consistent service at the counter and the shop floor. By using these facilities retailers can expect to improve the performance of their business.

Use your software to get everyone on message and everyone benefits.

 

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