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

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

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

What does your data show?

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday retail management advice: how to pick the right POS software for your retail business

Here is our advice on how to pick the right POS software for your independent retail business. Choose:

  1. Software designed for your specific type of retail business.
  2. Software that serves your needs.
  3. Software already extensively used in your specific retail channel.
  4. A company offering face to face training in your business.
  5. A company with support that is provided by people used to supporting your type of retail business.
  6. A company offering a structured process for continuous evolution of the software to serve your needs.

While generic off the shelf software can be cheaper, what you save in price can be lost through lack of functionality to your specific type of retail business.

Good software helps make good businesses.

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Sunday retail management advice: remove barriers and red tape in your business

Business owners often call on politicians to remove red tape and make doing business easier. We think some small retail business owners create red tape of their own, red tape that makes it harder for customers to do business with the business and red tape that makes it harder for our employees to serve our business.

Common red tape we see in small retail businesses that could be eliminated and thereby help improve business includes:

  • Don’t touch. Your shop is a show room. The benefit you have over online is that people can touch. Uphold this point of difference.
  • Credit card processing fees on products where you can cover yourself in your pricing.
  • A shop layout that discourages shopping.
  • Handling returns. Have a process and ensure your people follow this as it offers certainty and comfort.
  • Slow sales processes.
  • Signs like this is not a library.
  • Poor back office processes with customer accounts.
  • Mixed messages in signs in-store leaving shoppers unsure about offers.

What red tape, what barriers could you remove from your shop thereby making doing business with you easier?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

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

If you are not tracking it you cannot manage it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday retail management advice: cut keystrokes, cut mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Small business retailer cash flow advice meeting fully booked

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 6.54.56 amSmall business retailers using our Tower Systems Point of Sale software have booked out our cash flow advice training workshop tomorrow. The final session of our live online training workshops for this year, it is a thrill to see so many business owners interested in freeing up cash so close to the Christmas season.

In each of the training sessions offered this year, our training team has focussed on topics that will immediately benefit small business retailers – helping them to leverage technology for better business outcomes.

That retailers happily book and participate is a thrill for us as it helps them get more from their software and that is the key goal of these FREE training sessions.

The comprehensive regular online training from Tower Systems is an appreciated point of difference offered by Tower. Customers benefit from learning and we benefit from active feedback in a group satiation where our users can talk with each other and we can learn. It’s proving to be a wonderful two-way resource in 2014.

reflecting on our live training workshops for 2014, we are pleased to have delivered on our promises and proven that our blog posts here about what we will do are acted on for the benefit of our customers.

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Sunday retail management advice: track sales by employees and increase sales

Retailers using the Tower POS software and tracking sales by employees are finding that the act of turning on the function of itself drives better sales for the business.

Encouraging competition between employees is at the core of the growth.

Being able to report on all sales by employee empowers business management to have more meaningful conversations with employees and through this to help the business grow.

We have seen retail businesses where managers have not become involved and where employees have delivered growth by comparing their own performance numbers.

It’s a win for the business and encouragement for employees.

This employee tracking facility is a core part of the Tower software. It’s something we commend to every retailer.

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Sunday retail business management advice: sweat the small stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff was a mantra pitch by business ‘gurus’ for years. The reality for small and independent retailers is that sweating the small stuff can be good for business.

Getting sales counter processes right can save time.

Getting all stock movement tracked can cut theft.

Getting your POS software integrated with your accounting software can cut mistakes.

Tracking sales by employee can help you better encourage success from employees.

Good POS software can help you sweat the small stuff and help you improve the performance and value of your retail business.

This is what Tower Systems offers retailers – smart POS software through which you can sweat the small stuff and benefit.

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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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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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How smart POS software helps in retail management

Retailers often think that bock office functions managed by POS software packages are the same. The reality is there is a big difference between POS software and smart POS software. Here are just some of the ways the Tower Systems retail management software helps retailers manage their businesses:

  • Easy supplier comparison = better buying, less dead stock, faster stock turn.
  • Hidden data tracking = easily identify employee theft.
  • Extensive marketing options = bring back shoppers more often.
  • Multiple loyalty solution options = shoppers spend more and enjoy loyalty rewards you prefer.
  • Connect with your accounting software = save time on book work.
  • Track YOY performance = you are your most important competitor – make more money by being certain about what’s working and what’s not working.

Helping retailers achieve these and more benefits is a committed and skilled training and support team at Tower Systems – offering live assistance tailored to your needs.

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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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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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