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A fun and engaging sing on the footpath in front of your shop can attract people to your business. It can challenge people to consider your business beyond what the shingle above your door may say. The more creative the sign the better.
Go all out creative. Have fun. Be colourful. Shop that shopping with you will be fun. People want fun.
Here are a couple of signs we have seen recently that we love:
We are grateful for the opportunity to visit many retail businesses in our work representing our POS software. Along the way we get to see some cool visual merchandise rising. Here is one display we love:
This is warm, engaging and inviting … less about shopping and more about discovery.
There was a time when small business retailers could rely on selling their business for a handsome increase on the price they paid thereby providing a good pay day, when businesses sold for a good multiple of net earnings.
No more. Today, the best way to extract value from our businesses is to make every day your pay day, to not rely on your pay day being the day you sell the business.
The challenge is how do you do this?
Retailers need to look at their businesses differently. This starts with the mindset of every
day being your pay day. Each decision needs to be considered in this context.
Focusing on profit today will give you a better result today and make your business more valuable tomorrow.
Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:
Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.
If you relentlessly pursue profit with a clear focus you are likely to see profit grow. That’s better than waiting to make money when you sell because that’s less likely to happen in this market.
Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower software helps with this. It is easy.
Tower Systems takes a best practice approach to helping small business retailers to integrate their POS software with their websites. The company offers multiple opportunities:
Each of these is a beautiful and seamless solution from Tower Systems, cost effectively serving small business retailers.
Our in-house web development team makes it easy for small business retailers to establish a beautiful,s successful and professional website, directly and live linked to the Tower Systems POS software. We have plenty of small business retailers for whom we have done this, plenty of reference sites.
All done in-house by us.
We are thrilled to have two local development teams in our business that can deliver: web solutions and desktop in-store solutions.
Our business management advice today is to get the best tech solution for your business. the rewards will be more online and offline sales.
Small and independent retailers often feel helpless when a big national retailer opens up nearby. There is no match for their range, buying power, advertising coverage or even news coverage.
The sheer size of a national competitor is what scares many smaller retailers. This is often enough for them to give up and close the business.
Giving up and running is the easy way out. There is no lesson learned, just an escape from the fear.
The alternative is to find out how to deal with the national retailer.
Here are five tips for small businesses on how to face and deal with a national retailer moving into the area:
Not competing should include not advertising price comparisons, not focusing on the competitor at staff meetings, not expanding your range to sell more of what they sell and not obsessing about them.
I was working with an independent retailer recently who decided to offer a product they sold which is also available in a nearby national retailer for 10% less than the sale price in the national retailer. This move gave the independent retailer a margin of 15%. In discussion I discovered that most of the customers who visited the independent retailer were unlikely to shop in the national retailer. So why compete on price?
If you know why customers shop with you, you have the opportunity of not giving up margin out of fear.
Too often, independent retailers wait until the national retailer is open to react. This is probably a year or two too late.
Being smaller and independent you are better able to personally engage with the community. You and your team are the business whereas a national chain will always be the corporate. They can throw money around locally, you can throw time, knowledge and more flexible assistance.
Your stories could be about local community connection, convenience of shopping, commitment to range, personal customer service, product niche knowledge … there are many different narratives with which an independent retailer can connect. It is important that one you have your narrative you stick to is, that it inhabits your decisions, marketing and public presentation.
By acting early and in advance of a national retailer opening, you better position your business to weather their advertising and PR onslaught. Get in early, build a stronger business and understand that through this the new business in town will not be your competitor.
We get to see many different retail stores in our work serving small business retailers.
To us, the best looking stores are those that are not cluttered, that do not have too many posters, notices and displays competing for eyeball time.
Retailers tell us they like this simple advice from us:
Stand at the entrance to the business and note how many posters, signs, offers and displays are vying for attention? Next, try and cut the number by half.
Often we find in retail that less can be more. Fewer posters, signs and displays can result in those who you have generating a better return for the business.
While this advice has nothing to do with small business POS software, we are fortunate to be able to build other skills as we work with our customers. We are also grateful to have our own retail shops where we can play with these ideas for ourselves.
Here we are 100 days from the last federal election and not much has changed for small business.
The words from the campaign about the importance of small business to the Australian economy appear to have been forgotten as politicians prefer to fight each other over issues of little relevance to everyday Australians and small business owners.
Take the issue of Australian banks. Small business owners are treated appallingly by by the big four banks. There are countless stories of shocking service and unfair practices yet the government refuses to establish the mechanism most Australians want for these issues to be considered – a Royal Commission.
Take the issue of red tape. We recently wrote to federal and state ministers responsible for an area related to one o our specialty software packages. In our letter we noted each state and territory has different requirements for what should be a national matter. We received responses from all the minister offices and not one letter progresses the matter – leaving small business owners navigating arcane and time –consuming red tape for the sake of red tape.
We could go on.
What we want is politicians who are true to their word, politicians who deliver opportunities for improved efficiency to small business, politicians who demonstrate through legislation that they actually believe small businesses are the backbone of Australia.
Right now, it seems to this small business that politicians are all talk and no action.
Our small business POS software company helps retailers in many different ways every day. Often, advice is sought on business management needs outside of POS software needs. In one case recently we were asked to provide advice on running Facebook competitions. Here is the advice we provided:
Running a competition on your business Facebook page is a terrific way to drive engagement and attract likes (followers).
Here is our advice on how to do this based on running many competitions on our various pages.
Here the most important advice: every competition must have a commercial imperative, a goal for the business in terms of likes, store visits, purchases. Know your goal and measure your achievement once the competition is over.
Competitions are an excellent way to drive engagement on Facebook for any business. Get it right though – otherwise you could do more damage to your brand than you would like. The old adage of measure twice and cut once works here when setting up competitions.
If your year-on-year sales are down, something has to change if you want to turn the situation around, please read on.
If you keep doing what you have been doing, the sales results in your business will be what they have been.
It would be a mistake to think that external factors are the sole reason your sales are down.
So, change is necessary – change in what you sell, how you merchandise and how you promote.
It is only from change that the sales decline could be arrested and reversed.
Our advice is to look for u-turn or right turn opportunities, changes you can implement to divert you from your current path.
Suggesting such changes is something Tower Systems can help with through our free Business Check service. Ask us to challenge you. We will first ask to see your year on year data at a detailed level as this will reveal the truth of the situation and from there we can develop change suggestions for your consideration.
We don’t have all the answers, we will even suggest ideas we later discover are mistakes. However, doing what you have been doing in a situation of declining sales is a bigger mistake.
If your year-on-year sales are down, are you open to suggestions for change?
We have seen resistance to a u-turn or right turn in the business result in the year on year sales decline continue. Don’t let this be you.
We get to see many different retail businesses in in our work and along the way we pick up ideas that work particularly well. Here is a selection of everyday marketing tips we see working in almost any business.
Our goal with this list is to give you ideas you can use right away as well as ideas that will get you thinking of your own ideas.
Go for it. Remember, if you do next week what you did this week you cannot expect any growth. Growth only comes from change.
While we never want it to happen and know it is extremely rare, we regularly remind our POS software customers they ought to be prepared to trade manually should they not have access to their POS software for some reason. Here is our advice, which has not changed in many years.
If you lose power, have a major hardware failure or have some other unexpected problem, your computer system on which you rely to record sales may not be available for some time. Here is our advice on how to handle such a situation:
Yes, that is it. Very simple. Also, very easy to not do and thereby compromise your business data.
To prepare you for this, do the following:
Recording sales on scraps of paper is not good business management. It invites error and fraud.
While no one wants your computer system to be down, being prepared for this is important business planning.
Footnote: knowing a competitor as we do, they are likely to point to this post as us identifying a weakness in our software. This would be untrue. This advice is an example of our POS software company providing whole of business advice for any contingency. It is what we do and for which we are appreciated.
The long-form training video published to small business retailers using our POS software is proving to be a hit with plenty engaging with the video and ensuring they are informed how to be fully prepared for the end of the financial year.
The training video is another free training resource produced in-house at Tower Systems by our customer service team and our video production team.
This latest video was filmed during a live online training workshop – so it shows off that free training resource as well.
A common question we are asked at our POS software company has nothing to do with software. It is from people considering purchasing a retail business. The question is: what should I ask for when looking at buying a retail shop?
The question itself, when asked, indicates how green a prospective purchaser is when it comes to purchasing a business.
Here is a list of data points we suggest retail business purchasers access from the vendor or their representative:
This is good basic information that will enable any purchaser to undertake reasonable assessment of a business.
A good business will shine through the numbers just as a business with upside achievable by new owners will shine through.
My advice to vendors looking to sell who are concerned about this list is: think about it now and focus on your business so the data listed looks good.
Every day you make decisions in your business that impact many of the data points listed.
This is why we say every day is your pay day. Run a smart, lean and profit focused business and you will have a good pay day today and a good one when you come to sell.
The most appealing businesses are those that are easier to run and are making money.
The time to focus on that is now.
Sure, a purchaser can turn a business around. They should get the rewards if they are expected to do that for your business.
The price you can sell your business for will be based on what it is making now.
Getting the data ready for the sale of the business could, of itself, help you improve how you run your business.
Lay-By is vital to small business retailers, especially gift shops, jewellers, garden centres, toy shops and homewares shops. Tower systems offers structure support for managing Lay-Bys in its POS software. We help small business retailers meet their regulatory obligations, serving the needs of customers and their businesses with a best practice approach.
We offer written advice, video training, one on one training and more to help small business retailers run professional Lay-By services.
Here is a glimpse into some of the professional Lay-By advice provided to our small business retailer community:
Meeting regulatory requirements is vital. For example, if someone cancels a LayBy you must refund their payments less a termination fee. You can set this fee and advise as part of your terms and conditions.
Our advice guides you through key rules and steps to success with Lay-bys.
These rules and steps may feel complex. They are necessary for the small number of times something goes wrong and you need to rely on them to help you deal with a situation.
Local small business retailers are asked to support local schools, community groups and charities on an almost daily basis. While community groups and charitable organisations beat a path to the doors of local businesses, so do individuals engaged on personal fundraising of their own for a cause or for an other individual.
It is tough making the call about which organisation to support or not for there is a real fear that declining will hurt the business. Often, small business retailers do not look for an uptick in business from a charity support decision but they do worry about a decline.
So how do you choose which local business you support?
Requests from schools, charities and other community for donations can be a challenge for any size business. If you do not take a structured approach to this you will find yourself giving away plenty for little or no return.
Requests are often loaded with guilt. People can be passive aggressive in their approach. Often, people requesting help leverage pester power. It can be hard to say no. There are too many stories of retailers giving a gift as a prize, receiving the Thank You poster and achieving no benefit for the business.
Our advice is to manage your philanthropy as you would any business activity.
THE PRIZE / GIFT
Decide the amount in cash or product value or both that you are prepared to donate in a full year, calendar year or financial year.
Our recommendation is you give away cash, but in the form of a voucher to spend in your business. This ensures that value of the gift or prize is greater than the cost of it to your business.
The best mechanism for giving away cash or an amount to spend in-store is to do it by way of a gift voucher. Use your software to manage this as any manual approach is dangerous and time-consuming.
YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS
Get on the front foot and write to local community groups outlining that you budget a year in advance. Seek their submissions. With this advice sheet we have included the text of a suggested letter. Please read the letter as it outlines the approach we suggest and why. It is important you communicate this with all community groups.
On the page after the letter is a suggested notice for use in-store when you are asked for donations.
HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT
Focus on community groups that support you. That is, groups with members who support you. The more they support you the better you are able to support the community.
Be prepared to ask where people shop for the items you sell in your business. Ask if they will change in return for your support.
Asking these questions underscores to you the importance of approaching the decision as a business decision.
Be thoughtful and deliberate. Support the groups that support you. This is important as it helps you stay within a budget.
LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE
If you run discount vouchers and if customers say they don’t want the voucher, invite them to contribute the voucher to a local group – one of three you setup for in the business. Every month, two months or three months, tote up the vouchers and give the group a parentage of the total voucher value ‘voted’ for them.
This idea could be in addition to any giving program you run in the business. It offers a daily reminder of your commitment to local giving.
Grill’d burgers run a program kind of like this where each shopper is given a bottle cap, which they place in a tub to vote on a group to receive a cash donation for the month. The process of groups submitting to be considered is onerous. You can find out more about that program with this link – it is a good place to research what others do: https://www.grilld.com.au/localmatters/
In addition to any direct gift, consider an offer whereby anyone who is a member of the group who shops with you accrues an amount you donate to the group. You could manage this through your software. It could be you offer a discount to the shopper as well as accruing a value for the group.
This type of program could also be in addition to your core giving program as the value here is driven by sales – hopefully, incremental sales.
EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT
Here are things groups you support can do to help your business. You should ask them to do these things:
WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT
Once you have a decision on which groups you will support, write about this in your newsletter and on Facebook. Not just once but multiple times. Invite them to provide you with content to publish too. Talk about their good works.
Ask them to write about you too.
Your giving has to serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.
The retiree (or seniors) marketplace can be lucrative for a retail store. They tend to be loyal and engaged in word of mouth marketing about good retail experiences. They can also be flexible about when they shop and this is where a retail business can really leverage the opportunity.
Before you can market any retiree service or benefit you need to develop a plan for handling the opportunity. What products will be offered and at what special prices? The most common approach is to offer a flat discount to retirees, or seniors as they are called in some marketplaces. This discount is usually between 5% and 10%.
Price is important to the seniors marketplace since they either have a fixed income or are living off finite savings. They like businesses which help them save money.
You will also need to decide when the discount or other offer is available. Some businesses make the offer available only on certain days, usually the quietest days of the week. Others offer access to the benefits all the time. Think carefully about the needs of the business before deciding when you will provide access to the benefits – focus on the business outcome you want to achieve.
In terms of accessing the benefit, it is common and fair to ask for some form of proof of eligibility. This could be in the form of a drivers license or a seniors card as is available in some locations. This is a card usually issues by local government. Sometimes, it is issued by residences.
An alternative is to create your own retiree / seniors card for use in promoting the business. These should be professionally designed and produced. Ensure that such a card is respectful and something these customers would proudly carry. Design the card so that it promotes the benefits you offer – so that it is an extension of your marketing program.
Whatever method you use to identify your retiree customers, it has to be simple to use at the counter for processing the appropriate discount.
To market a business to retirees consider these options:
The value of the retiree market to your retail store will depend on the value of the offer available to them and how widely you promote this. While some retailers see retirees as a chore others see a business opportunity.
With the growing number of retailer supplier relationships passing through our POS software, we can see the value of these increasing in the businesses run by our customers.
Whereas for years the electronic data flow was about invoices, now it is about much more. We are grateful to suppliers for working with us to deliver more value to retailers.
From small wholesalers to large, suppliers are keen to help independent small business retailers improve productivity, data accuracy and other commercial outcomes as they know from these achievements will flow more commercially valuable relationships.
We bring a better understanding that other POS software companies to these discussions as we are retailers too on many years standing. We are able to bring a practical element to the consideration, to help suppliers better understand the value to their businesses of engaging beyond electronic invoices and stock files.
In the last two weeks we have been able to participate in several meetings with key suppliers that will take relationships a step further and thereby help drive more value for our customers.
The strategic work we are doing with suppliers is differentiating for us in several retail channels. We are excited for the enhancements coming.
Good POS software gives you a range of options for managing, tracking and engaging employees using the software itself. In the Tower Systems POS software, there are plenty of employee touch points. Here are five we want to call out today as part of our Sunday tip series.
There is no mystery to choosing goos POS software for your retail business. It is simple and straight forward. Here is a video from us explaining how:
Small business retailers fall in love with POS software companies for a range of reasons, often layered upon each other to provide a comprehensive view of the software supplier business.
We know from years of experience at Tower Systems what many factors play into the small business retailer relationships on which we rely and that we cherish so dearly. The software is a factor, as is the software support. There are other factors too, such as customer communication.
Our small business retail customers love that we communicate with them across a range of platforms and at different times of the day and days of the week. From the reliable weekly email, pictured, to print newsletters, to training videos, to outbound calls to drop-ins to their businesses to user meetings, we offer touch points of a wide variety and through which our customers can connect with us and what we do, touch points on which small business retailers can rely to leverage their POS software to achieve better business outcomes.
Take the weekend email – pictured – this is sent each Sunday. Our weekly email contains news about the POS software, update information, business management advice and business management training. The weekly email from Tower Systems goes way beyond what retailers are used to from their POS software company. It is a professionally presented email. Brief yet complete, providing links to more information for those who want to explore a topic further. Most important is the contact points we publish in the email – we don’t leave small business retailers with vague information. No, we are specific in our contact points, specific with advice on the names of people they can speak with about software and general business management questions and issues.
We know from customer feedback and engagement that the email is used, shared and relied upon. It is a key differentiator for Tower Systems as we demonstrate personal and committed support for small business retailers across a range of retail channels.
Whereas some software companies rely on customers contacting them for and business to business communication, here at Tower Systems we understand the importance of professional business outcome focussed outbound contact. Our goal is to provide our customers with useful information prior to them needing it. Timely information appropriate to retail seasons. Helping information attuned to changing economic conditions. Target information specific to specialty retail channels in which we serve.
Through decade of service to small business retailers we have learned the value of this timely and professional communication. feedback from our small business retailers encourages us to continue our approach and to maintain our commitment to professional outbound contact and support.
We are careful in our communication to ensure it is not geek-talk. No, we prefer plain English help, aimed at supporting those using computers in business because they know they have to rather than because they love technology. This is where our business management advice is particularly useful – we show how our retailer customers can leverage the technology for practical business outcomes in their business. We do this weekly in the email and daily on the phone through our accessible and friendly help desk support.
We back our communication strategy with engagement on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We are where our customers want us online as well as off line. This is why mail, email, web, social media and other platforms are engaged with by Tower Systems – to reach our customers where they are and not only where it suits us. Sure, it is hard work, relentless work. However, it is rewarding work when we receive feedback fro customers thrilled with outcomes they have achieved as a result of the engagement we have driven through our communications strategy.
The consistency of our communication is a key factor in the bond of trust between Tower Systems and its customers. It drives loyalty on both sides and demonstrates an understanding of customer businesses – as the communication is more than lip-service, more than spin, it is real life action, seeking to genuinely make a difference for the positive in the small business retail businesses in which we proudly serve in Australia and New Zealand.
This is the Tower AdvantageTM. A suite of tools, software, strategies and platforms through which we serve specialty retailers, helping them create better, more enjoyable and more valuable businesses. We trade-marked the Tower AdvantageTM because it deserves it. It is unique to us, unique for our customers. The trademark represents our pride in what we do and those who we serve. It represents the difference we make in the world.
Basket analysis is the analysis of products purchased by transaction – shopping basket. Such analysis typically compares two trading periods overall and by day of week. It also includes this analysis by supplier comparing trading periods and day of week.
Basket analysis shows you the efficiency of product categories (departments). For example, see how many baskets include one category of item and nothing else. You can also see the numbers of times sales are single item sales.
Basket analysis underscores the value to the business of newer categories such as gifts and toys.
Basket analysis at a supplier level is equally insightful, allowing you to compare the basket efficiency and value of suppliers between two tradition periods as well as across each day of the week between two trading periods.
It is at the basket analysis level that you can determine product efficiency. A product is more efficient for you if it is purchased with other items in our view. You can drive this by careful placement on the shop floor, promotion at the sales counter and working with customers on the shop floor to guide their purchases.
It’s an example of how you can use comprehensive business data to drive your in-store actions. For example, knowing what we know about pop vinyls, Saturday is the day we really focus on them with secondary locations to do even better from the Saturday opportunity.
Basket analysis can also help you with rostering. With some category sales requiring more staff time that others, you can consider the product mix sold by day and adjust your roster accordingly. Trimming wages is an important cost saving focus in business.
The goal has to be deeper baskets (more items per transaction) and a greater spread across product categories – but with a focus on higher margin items so that also lift the overall GP performance of the business.
In the Tower Systems software the report to use for this analysis is the Basket Analysis Report. It provides an extraordinary insight into baskets.