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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More retailers driving shopper traffic and sales with

rewardsvoucherThis different type of shopper loyalty reward from within our Tower Systems Point of Sale software, a  Rewards Voucher thanks a customer for shopping and gives than $1.25 they can spend right away on something else.

Owners of gift shops, garden centres, pet shops, jewellers and newsagencies have shared data with us showing the valuable bottom-line effectiveness of these rewards Vouchers, effectiveness at bringing shoppers back days later as well as effectiveness in getting one-time-only shoppers purchasing something else in the business.

The business performance results for the vouchers in some businesses are extraordinary with many businesses reporting double-digit year on year growth … wonderful bankable results.

We are thrilled to be part of this success story.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: be ready for EOFY

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

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

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

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

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Australian POS software that focuses on profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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POS software helps independent retailers up-sell

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

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

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

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

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And so starts a crazy two weeks in retail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The receipt is an important document and marketing tool in retail

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

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

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

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

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

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Learning retail insights from Monash University experts

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

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

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

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Taking pride in POS software labels

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Sunday small business retailer management advice: spot trends relevant to your retail business sooner

Too often we see small business retailers wondering about retail trends they have read in newspapers or seen covered on TV. Trends reported publicly are most likely too late for your business if they are reported in these places.

The most valuable trends small business retailers can spot are those indicated in their own business data.

If you are not sure about what trends you could see in your data, talk to your POS software company. At Tower Systems we take your data, analyse business performance, compare trading periods and let you know the trends as we see them. This is a free service.

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End of Shift resources highlight value of searchable POS software knowledge base

eosHere at Tower Systems we provide advice beyond how to use our POS software, we explain retail management processes and guide our software users to make better use of the software so as to avoid mistakes and to catch misbehaviour. This business operational advice is tagged and keyword-stored in a way that our customers can easily search using the powerful yet easy to use search tools in the new knowledge base tools released more than two weeks ago.

A good example of our practical help to retailers in in the advice, training and other assistance around End of Shift processing. Using our software to manage the EOS process retailers are able to more accurately handle the work and more accurately track cash and other methods of payment.

The information, advice and training our customers can access through our knowledge base for handling the EOS process is extensive. That this is part of a searchable resource is excellent. Customers are loving it.

 

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: use your receipt as your most important retail marketing tool

The receipt is the most important yet undervalued marketing tool in and retail business. Retailers partnering with our Point of Sale software have excellent opportunities with which to leverage receipts:

  • Include your logo to professionally represent your business.
  • Include care instructions for products you sell that require care instructions.
  • List your website.
  • Include a discount voucher based on the value of the purchase to entice the customer to spend more money with you.

These are just four ways retailers partnering with Tower Systems can use their receipts to professionally promote the business and drive extra revenue. these steps are free and simple to implement in any retail business. They can help a business better connect with customers who today may have little connection with the business.

These ideas help a small independent retail business to present themselves as being more substantial than they are and thereby competitive with major retailers.

Consider your receipt as a marketing tool.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: leverage your top sellers

Using our 10 x 10 Report, retailers using our POS software are able to easily report on top selling items and what is selling with those top selling items. Typically, people report on the top 10 items sold with the top 10 items – hence the name.

Using data from this tremendous report you can see opportunities for product adjacencies to get a deeper basket form the top selling items. This can be more money in your pocket as a result.  We have seen many retailers using 10 x 10 Report the to drive basket depth since knowing the top selling items in a retail business can tell you where to focus your attention to get the maximum eyeball attention to other items.

The 10 x 10 Report enables easy tracking of top sellers and the items that work best with them. If, for example, top selling items with your top selling item are located some distance away you could possible boost sales with better location.

The 10 x 10 Report  is another example of a return developed by retailers for retailers. It’s a powerful report in our excellent reporting suite.

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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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POS Software helps retailers make the most of Halloween opportunity

Tower Systems has been working with a range of retailers to make the most of the Halloween 2013 opportunity using our Point of Sale software. Halloween has grown from a niche season of minimal interest outside the United States to a season of extraordinary value to retailers across the globe.

Strategically, Halloween is an excellent lead-in season to Christmas. However, to make the most o the opportunity retailers need to engage with their POS software, leveraging tools encoded in smart POS software to make the most of the Halloween opportunity.

Our own experience as retailers gives us the inside-running here to make Halloween work valuably for retailers. For example, using our software retailers are able to easily promote Halloween on receipts to shoppers, email halloween shoppers from last year, promote other products to Halloween shoppers and handle the make-up and deconstruction of Halloween hampers and gift packs.

Well before the season started we have been able to help our retail partners with product ordering based on previous sales. This is important for seasonal products since those handling product ordering are likely to not have easy recall of exactly worked and what did not work last year.

These and other benefits are helping our retail partners to make the most of the Halloween opportunity in retail this year.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: ditch poor software

We have found ourselves helping a retailer using POS software not from us over the last couple of weeks. Through this we have gained first-hand experience with a product fro a competitor in a niche marketplace.

This experience is showing us where we shine in terms of software. It’s helping to better educate our sales team.

We have also had cause to engage with the support desk from the other POS company and that experience was also educational … and frustrating given the slow response time and poor advice provided.

Poor POS software and poor support for POS software costs a business significantly. Our advice is to consider your position. If you’re not well served it could be harming your business. Look around, do your homework and consider switching to a business that will serve your needs better with on-time responses and software that is genuinely useful.

Retailers should ditch software that does not genuinely help them in their business.

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Enhancing the VIP card / discount voucher opportunity

The latest release of the Tower Systems Point of Sale software has delivered an even better solution in the VIP card / discount voucher space. By connecting twi quite different loyalty offers in our software in a unique retailer-driven way, Tower Systems is empowering retailers to run with the loyalty pitch that best suits their business needs. This includes offering either loyalty program or a blend of both or converting from one to the other in a way that carries forward value.

Tower Systems provides leadership in best practice loyalty solutions designed to provide small business retailers facilities and abilities to leverage shopper engagement to be more loyal and therefore more commercially valuable for the business as well as valuable for the shopper.

Loyalty, after all, is about driving benefits for the business and the shopper.

The latest enhancements are out now and being used by engaged retailers.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: chase what you don’t know

We love it when retailers ask us for help in better understanding their business. We embrace the opportunity, digging into their data, looking for insights about their business that they may not have been presented before.

We think it’s important for retailers to chase what they don’t know about their businesses. Often, buried in their business data, are insights into customer behaviour, supplier support and product performance that they may have missed in their day to day management.

So our tip today is for retailers to use their business data and to ask our help in doing this. We will gladly delve deep into data and present to retailers information they may have missed or not even seen before, vital information about their business that can feed better business decisions.

Chase what you don’t know about your retail business and be ready to unlock valuable opportunities. The result can be a more valuable business.

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