POS software helps retailers engage shoppers in competitions

hmkbbqThanks to receipt options and other facilities in our POS software, retailers can help drive shopper engagement in competitions – such as the Hallmark cards competition offering the opportunity to win a $500 BBQ in participating stores that’s running at the moment.

Retailers can promote competitions like this on their receipts. They can also promote it on customer displays. This type of promotion is free. It is excellent use of existing retail management infrastructure – manages by our POS software as directed by our retailers.

Connecting shoppers on receipts and at other touch points with in-store promotions such as the BBQ prize adds value to the in-store promotion and drives the likelihood of shopper engagement in the promotion.

Smart use of our smart POS software drives better outcomes for our retail partners.  Our help desk enjoys helping retailers to leverage these opportunities.

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Helping small business retailers manage to reduce theft

cuttheftRetailers using the Tower Systems POS software are embracing our latest online training opportunities including the How to cut theft in your retail business live and interactive workshop coming up on August 7.  This session will fill up. We have more coming on the schedule.

Tower Systems demonstrates its commitment to consistent access to free post-installation training with workshops like this one, workshops that are valuable to retailers using our software.

Theft – employee theft and customer theft – continues to have a high cost for small and independent retailers. Tower Systems actively helps retailers to recent the impact of theft through personal training like this latest workshop. Being for owners only, we have a safe place where we can take people deep into the theft mitigation facilities in 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 management advice: drive better gross profit by selling at the best price

What you charge for what you sell needs to be carefully considered.  Price is all about customer perception of value.  Value is based in a range of criteria including:

  • Convenience.
  • Added value – from purchasing from this business.
  • Perceived value – how you package a product compared to how others package the same product can lead to a different price.

a. Manage labour to focus on products with the best return to the business. This is a balance between overall gross profit dollars and margin percentage.

b. Look at items with a customer service component, where your expertise is required to make the sale or make good use of the products or where there is a reasonable after sales service component. These can usually carry a higher margin.

c. Look at the items which are unique to your business in your location or nearby.  If you are the only store serving the local community then you do have a pricing opportunity. These items can usually carry a higher margin.

d. Assess why people shop at your shop.  If they are shopping because of convenience then you have the capacity to charge more for this.  This is why convenience stores charge more for items which you can buy elsewhere for considerably less.

f. Involve others in setting sale price.  Ask your team what you can charge for an item.  Assess what they think you can “get away with”.  By polling team members, you may find that your perception on price is lower than what others expect.

You can build a stronger business by taking small steps each day which focus on new traffic, better margin and improved sales efficiency. No grand plan, no expert strategy – just small steps which leverage opportunities which exist in your retail business.

By paying closer attention to the margin you can achieve, you strengthen the financial foundation of the business and ensure that your return on inventory investment is more helpful to the bigger business plan.

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Small retailer POS software users love transparency on software enhancement suggestions

software-ideasMany small business retailers using the POS software from Tower Systems actively engage in suggesting enhancements for the software and many of these suggestions make their way into the software.

Retailers regularly thank Tower for the opportunity to publicly make suggestions and for the transparency of voting by and feedback from others about the suggested enhancements. Indeed, the level of transparency Tower Systems has offered in this area for years now is rare. Some claim user engagement but it is hard to find another software company living the transparency claim like Tower.

The real test of the exclusive Software Ideas facility from tower Systems is the enhancements that make their way into the software. Hundreds of enhancements including new facilities, large and small, exist in the software today thanks to user engagement in making suggestions and voting on these suggestions. It is proving to be a valuable process for tower Systems and its retail business customers.

It is a measure of the company’s confidence that the facility is promoted on its website home page and that the list can be accessed by anyone including competitors.

Software Ideas is managed by a senior member of the software development management team within the company and the overall Tower leadership team makes final decisions about ideas it embraces. All ideas receive feedback from the company.

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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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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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POS software support small business retailers love

Here are some of the reasons newsagents, jewellers, gift shop owners, bike retailers, garden centre owners and others love the support we offer with our Point of sale software. For a small annual fee they have access to:

  • A friendly help desk staffed 7am through to 6pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to 3pm on Saturday. Local call numbers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
  • After-hours support available 24/7 through five mobile phone numbers.
  • Free one-on-one training for every newsagency every year.
  • Free new owner training.
  • Mandarin and Cantonese language support for those who prefer this.
  • Free hardware support for all h/w sold by us plus a 3 year on-site warranty for all HP h/w.
  • Weekly free online live training workshops.
  • Access to more than 130 professionally produced training videos for business owners & staff.
  • Free theft check service – we help newsagents uncover possible theft.
  • Free business performance analysis service – we help you see growth opportunities.

This mix of support services is exclusive to us. It’s a reason our customers choose to continue with software support coverage. We don’t force them by stopping their software from working if they choose to not continue support coverage. We think this type of action by a POS software company is unreasonable coercion.

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: human interaction is key to success

We switched a retailer to our Point of Sale software recently solely because of the poor support they had received from their previous POS software company. When calling their old POS company they place calls using a computerised phone system where you pressed a bunch of buttons to get to log your call for assistance.

Here at Tower Systems when you call you speak with a human, most likely our receptionist.Your query is listened to and then passed to someone, another human, who can help.

Our software company is thriving on the back of the human support we provide our retailer customers. Retail businesses can thrive on the back of human service too. There is no better way for a retailer to show off why dealing with them is better than dealing with online than by providing excellent human to human service.

Our retail management software has facilities through which retailers can improve the service they provide and thereby show off why dealing with them can be more useful and valuable for a shopper than going with an online business. Our support team can share ideas on these facilities in our software.

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Why we believe in small business retail here at Tower Systems

We are often asked why our Point of Sale software company prefers to deal with small business retailers rather than big groups.

To focus only on small and independent retailers is a decision we made when we started this business.  It is a decision we are happy we continue to embrace today.

Here at Tower Systems we have made and continue to make a conscious choice to serve small business retailers.  While our Point of Sale software can be used by retail businesses of any size, it is in the small business retailer community where we are most comfortable.

So, why do we like small business retailers?

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

We believe in small business.

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

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

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

Small businesses support the community and uphold what is important locally.

Small businesses are more likely to share valuable knowledge with shoppers and even browsers than a much bigger competitor.

It is this community connection and support which we feel is vital to the contribution small businesses make to Australia.

We like these points, especially that small businesses and small business retailers in particular are more likely to uphold and carry forward local customs, beliefs and stories.  Small businesses support the local voice.

Small businesses are important because they push back on globalisation and the risk of dilution of the local voice to a whisper.

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

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

As of today, we serve in excess of 2,500 small business retailers.  Each is as important to us as the other.  We love their differences, characters and what they teach us about many different retail businesses.

We enjoy serving small businesses and remaining a small business ourselves – yes, we are a small software company when you consider the likes of MYOB.

Being small and focused on small and independent retailers is where we think we can actively contribute and do the most good.

The value of a business is not only about financial performance.  It is also about the social contribution of the business.  In our view, this is more important as it is the foundation of communities.

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

In addition to our passion for small businesses, we have a passion for helping retail channels benefit from technology.  We feel that we can help create greater success and enjoyment … but we will leave that sales pitch for another day.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: how to make more money from every sale

Every retail business can sell more to every customer. This is easy when you have good business data and use this to make good business decisions.

Making more money from every sale starts with good Point of Sale software. This will tell you what you are selling, how often and what your top selling items sell with.

Get a report from your Point of Sale software listing your top ten selling items, by unit sales for the last three months. Do not look at dollars. Unit sales is the far more valuable count since this is a discussion about leveraging volume.

In a typical retail store, the top ten selling items will account for between 30% and 50% of revenue of the business.

Look at your top sellers report and concentrate on the top selling items. Answer these questions about the top ten selling items from the last three months:

  1. Do you have appropriate impulse purchase products located on either side of each top item?
  2. Are the top items spread through the store, to maximize customer throughput?
  3. How often do you move the top items?
  4. Do you have the top ten items in multiple locations?
  5. What impulse purchase items do you have at the counter which will appeal to customers who purchase any of the top ten items?
  6. Has the list of top ten sellers changed in the last year? If so, how have they changed and what can you learn from this.
  7. Are there products which you do not currently carry which you could add to the store to sell with the top ten sellers?
  8. Do customers who purchase the top ten sellers ask for any other items?

The idea embedded in these questions is very simple. Use the top ten sellers, or top twenty or top thirty, to focus your attention on items with which you can work to achieve more sales in your business.

By focusing on the top sellers and what you can sell with them you can increase the size of the average shopping basket.

If you can’t see opportunities for achieving more sales by placing products next to or with the top sellers then speak with your team and speak with trusted customers. Don’t rest until you unlock suggestions to try.

If what you try does not work, try more products. I know of retail businesses which have spent months finding add on items to work with their top sellers.

The key to this project is proper use of your Point of Sale software. You need this to identify the top selling items and to track the success or otherwise of your project to sell more with your top performing stock lines.

There is plenty of additional money to be made from your top sellers. Invest time and attention on this project and get ready to bank the results.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: manage your software

We have been helping a couple of small business retailer5s recently to switch from our software following frustratying experiences they had with their other software that updated without their control.

Our advice to retailers on software updates is to update when they are ready, knowing what you will be getting in the software update and how you cann use this in your business.

Be conscious about updating your business software – it’s mission critical and you needs to be in control to serve your needs.

Letting your software be updated without your knowledge or control could result in operational problems – as these retailers found. It could result in operational changes you and your team are not across.

So, take care, update your retail business software when you’re ready.  be in control.  This is retail best practice.

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