Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday November 26, 2015 is Thanksgiving in the US and while this is part of the cultural heritage of the US, it is an opportunity for us to reflect and be thankful.

We are thankful for our customers who use our software for this not only benefits us commercially, it fulfils us as we enjoy seeing our creative efforts being of use to others.


Free marketing resources for small business retailers

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.17.28 pmTower Systems is thrilled with the use small business retailers are making of the free small business marketing resources we have made available in our website.

These free resources are another practical way Tower Systems helps small business retailers beyond our terrific POS software

Our development and free access to these resources demonstrates are acre for and commitment to the small business retail channels in which we serve. It is easy for a business to say they support their customers in a variety of ways. This investment by us is us being true to our words – walking the walk if you will.

We have happy for these and other free downloads we place on the site to be used widely.

Note we have not included our branding as we don;t want to get in the way of the businesses using the materials.


We need to talk about mental health in small business

The importance of talking about mental health in small business newsagencies is an article by me, Mark Fletcher owner of Tower Systems, at my Newsagency Blog – a place where he write about small business retail. This is an important article dealing with personal and often unspoken off challenges dot small business owners and their employees.

Owning and running a small business can be tough – on families, relationships, finances and your mental health. The ABC published a terrific report about mental illness and small business. I urge you to read this and share it. At the bottom of the ABC article is an excellent list of resources including:

  • Lifeline – 13 1114
  • Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800 – Provides counselling and support for young people aged 5-25.
  • Men’s Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78 – Provides counselling and support services for men – especially those involved in the breakdown of relationships.
  • Suicide Call Back service – 1300 659 467 – Provides free nationwide professional telephone or online counseling.

Other national information and support services contacts available during business hours:

  • beyondblue information line – 1300 22 4636
  • SANE Helpline – 1800 18 SANE (1800 18 7263)
  • Telstra directory assistance – 1223 Call this number for contact details to the nearest public hospital, which can provide information on local services.



Sunday retail management advice: helping small business retailers love their businesses

I hate going into work. These words from a friend reflected a long-held feeling, a feeling held with some shame.

Here was a retail business owner who hated going into his own business.  He had fallen out of love with what he had created. The bitterness he felt towards his business had soured to hatred.

Why do some retailers hate going to work? It is an interesting question which needs exploration before we look at strategies for countering this.

There is usually a trigger – supplier fatigue, tough economic conditions, personal challenges away from the business, a partner dispute, tiredness… there could be any combination of reasons.

If you have reached the point where you hate going into work each day it is important to take time away from the business for an honest assessment as to why you hate the business. Until you can answer the question – why do you hate going into work? – you cannot begin to work on resolution.

Once you know the reasons, think about a series of small and achievable steps you could take to turn the situation around. No matter how challenging the situation, there are always steps you could take. Focus on these, start work on them and in some instances that alone will be enough to move you through the fog of anger and ill-feeling toward the business.

If finding small steps to take does not work, get together with a trusted friend and tell them how you feel toward the business. Ask them to talk with you about the business. Reminisce about why you started or purchased the newsagency. Remember your dreams and hopes. Use the conversation to explore your emotion at the moment you decided to open or purchase the retail business.

The best advice to to get professional help from a psychologist or professionally qualified counsellor to explore your feelings for the business. Your doctor could help you access a government funded mental health plan.

Understanding your hatred for your retail business is the first step. This will usually, of itself, reveal the first steps you can take to turn the hatred around. Be open to that. Take small steps and see where they lead. The change in feeling toward the business may not be immediate so do not expect too much too soon.

If you do nothing, the hatred will be more and more reflected in the business and in your own person. Neither benefits from this.


Aussie POS software helps small business retailers grow

Small business retailers want to grow, who doesn’t? With rent and labour costs increasing each year, growth is mission critical. POS software company Tower Systems helps its customers grow by providing advice on how to use the software to grow.

As retailers ourselves we can provide practical advice on how to use the software to more than transact sales, we can help retailers use the software to grow their businesses. We do this every day on our help desk, through our consulting services, through our knowledge base and through our business mentoring assistance.

We encourage, guide, educate and support our small business retailer customers in their desire to grow their businesses. it’s something we take serviceably.

Even on the weekend. Take today, Saturday … we have been helping one business owner understand opportunities in their slow selling inventory pool to unlock cash and space for more productive use.

We are serious in our commitment to small business retailers from our software through to the practical advice and support we provide.


Small business retailers appreciate support in making the locally made pitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 3.57.45 amThe free marketing collateral we released for small business retailers is being appreciated. Retailers love that the collateral is available without strings, is free and is unbranded.

We are thrilled with the feedback and are working on adding to the suite of free collateral available from our website.

We are grateful to be in a position to give back to small business retailers.

Covering a range of themes, the example included with this post is most popular as it promoted LOCALLY MADE – a very strong message in any retail situation.


POS Solutions publishes inaccurate information on discount vouchers

POS Solutions has again written about the Tower Systems Discount Voucher facilities on their company blog.

While we will not go through all points in their blog post, we will address some in the interests of accurate representation of discount vouchers. The first point published by POS Solutions to address is:

Let first start off with the obvious, I would be delighted if Discount Vouchers worked. It would be a good for my clients, and I am in business to make my clients better. Furthermore, I do not appreciate name calling or rudeness. I am not trying to divert anything, and I have done a significant amount of research on this question.

This infers that Discount Vouchers do not work. That is not true. The Tower Discount Vouchers do work. In our own businesses we have the voucher and supporting financial data to prove this. Many retailers using Discount Vouchers say they have similar successful results. Despite this evidence, POS continues to spin that they do not work. The distinction is, the Tower Systems Discount Vouchers work.

The writer on the POS blog says they have done Wikipedia research and research on their own blog. That research is about a voucher from their own software. While that voucher may be called a discount voucher, it is not a Tower Discount Voucher, it has not been created with the same sophisticated and successful Tower software.

POS then states:

At the time I released this report, I noted that their users felt that the results I got were consistent with their results. You can read yourself the comments. Not one person said, “hey my results using Discount Vouchers are different to these figures.”

This statement is not supported by the facts – which users? Where did they say this? They publish no details supporting their claim.

Then there is what we would label as spin:

Additionally, at the time, this critic offered to release more data and then withdrew that offer immediately. See here for the formal withdrawal.

This statement not supported by the facts – there was no formal withdrawal. They engaged in a game which looked like an attempt for us to help them understand how our software worked.

Then they publish a breathtaking assumption:

That I feel that this loyalty program is expensive, well most reward programs in retail run at about 1% of sales see here. The Discount Vouchers scheme as you see from the above image run at $4,475.89/$98,299.79 = 4.6%. It is expensive!

This statement demonstrates an ignorance of how you measure the success of Discount Vouchers as the benefits are not only those directly achieved from voucher redemption purchases. No, the benefits flow deep within the business. This is a newsagency achieving 19% year on year revenue growth – many times more than the newsagency industry average. Take out the natural growth being achieved in the business and focus only on growth from the time Discount Vouchers kicked in and the benefits are more than the flawed POS Solutions assumption.

The author of the POS Solutions blog post makes another assumption about our approach to Discount Vouchers:

this scheme has minimal measurements

This is false and misleading. They do not know what reporting tools are available. The measurements available are not minimal.

Then they make another assumption:

Finally a Discount Voucher scheme, gives a voucher for every sale

This is not true of the Tower Discount Vouchers and even basic research could have helped POS Solutions avoid making such a damaging and false statement. For sales there are tight controls on the release of the vouchers. It is a considered process with excellent business rules. Also, there is the opportunity to produce vouchers for non customers. We will not go into that as it would divulge too much information the the folks at POS Solutions who appear obsessed with us.

POS finishes their post with an example:

I remember one client of mine that ran for a while a Discount Voucher system, told me that a customer came in and took two magazines. He then purchased one and promptly used the discount voucher to buy the other one. What he felt was that Discount Vouchers produced no incremental sales lift but caused a cannibalisation of his existing revenue by selling at a discount, product that would have been bought anyway. This was the first sign, I had that something was not right.

Our Discount Vouchers setup following our rules would not have issued a voucher in this situation.

We are curious as to why POS Solutions is so interested in our discount vouchers facilities. When we launched them they said they had the same facility. While they may (or may not) have something called discount vouchers, only Tower Systems has the Tower Discount Voucher facilities.

We note that our discount vouchers are in wide use in pet shops, garden centres, bike retailers, newsagents, gift shops and other retailers.

This post is about us being on the public record abut the matters POS has raised.


POS software company supports local retailers and local communities

TOWERShopLocal_Page_6-1POS software company Tower Systems is releasing a range of promotional collateral for use by any small local retail business in promoting the shop local message. This collateral has been created for any type of retail situation where local connection with the local community is important to the business and the community.

This artwork is available at no cost to any retailer. The company has not included it’s logo on the artwork so as to not pull focus.

What does this have to do with POS software? Plenty. Tower Systems believes in helping in any way it can to encourage, guide and facilitate stronger and more valuable locally owned retail businesses.

While Tower Systems invests in enhancing its POS software for its customers and in its support team to provide timely and professional advice, it also invests outside the squall to help its customers in a more whole of business way.


Supporting World’s Greatest Shave

wgs-logoWhen an employee supports a respected and independent charity we sponsor them as measure of support of their commitment as well as support for the charity itself. This is why we are supporting the World’s Greatest Shave fundraising drive. We have a team member here at Tower Systems who we are hoping to see with a shaved head real soon.

We are proud to support the Leukaemia Foundation.


Helping newsagent suppliers help newsagents

newssessTower Systems is funding an opportunity for newsagent suppliers to meet in three states to discuss and work on the health of the newsagency channel and explore how they can help newsagents grow their businesses.

The Newsagent Supplier Forum has been in development for some months and is open to all suppliers to participate. Our hospitality extends to our software company competitors – we want the sessions to as broadly based as possible.

Newsagents think they are doing it tough and while some are for others it is a mindset thing. We hope the focus can help navigate a path ahead which benefits newsagents, their employees and newsagent suppliers.

Click here to book.

Funding these sessions is another way we can give back to our customers.


Preparing POS software users for a confidential trial

Tower Systems has started contacting customers to invite them to be part of a trial group to play with something completely different. In return for confidentiality, early adoption and detailed feedback, participating retailers will be given free access to software that breaks with tradition.

Two years in the making, this project is another example of Tower Systems investing in software for small businesses. Leadership in action will be clear when the software steps into the public eye, soon.


Raising money for the Pancare Foundation

lunchWe took a break in the office today to enjoy a pot-luck lunch to raise funds for the Pancare Foundation. Everyone in the office brought in a dish to share from soup to salad to sushi to delicious cakes.

Once we were full of delicious food we shared some happy stories that reflected on the importance of family and the value friendship from work colleagues.

This was a very special lunch.

The Pancare Foundation raises awareness of and funds for research into pancreatic cancer.

We are grateful to the patience of our clients as the took a break for today’s lunch.


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.


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.


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.


Reaching out to severe weather affected small business retailers in Queenssland

We have reached out today to our customers in the severe weather affected areas of Queensland.  While many were uncontactable, those we did speak with were offered help as soon as conditions permit and if they need it to get the business operating again.

For many retailers, other businesses and individuals the worst is yet to come.  As we do in times of significant natural disaster, we give priority to affected businesses.


Continuing to support Make A Wish

We renewed our support for the Make A Wish Foundation this year as part of our corporate giving program. While our Make A Wish support is in the form of a cash donation, our other giving is often more practical … helping small businesses in their times of need in more practical ways.

We are grateful to the support of our customers who enable us to be sufficiently strong as a company to be in a position to support Make A Wish.


Roadmap for handling GST issue on imported online purchases

On Thursday, the federal government released the report from the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce. The taskforce was a government initiative as a result of  from last year’s Productivity Commission report on the Australian retail sector recommending that while the low value threshold should be lowered or removed, it shouldn’t happen while the costs compliance outweighed revenue gained.

This taskforce report identifies how the government can make the collection of revenue more cost effective and provides a roadmap for getting there.

We like the recommendations put forward. They make sense. They will, if implemented, benefit the Tower retailers using our Point of Sale software who have online stores locally. They will also benefit our retail partners who lose business every day to online businesses trading from offshore. However, there is a long road ahead if they are to be implemented.


Helping community groups with POS software

We are pleased to have been able to help several community groups recently to install our Point of Sale software and hardware solution.  Provided through our community support program, these systems help community groups that provide employment to people who might otherwise not be able to find work.

The latest group we are supporting is ConnectGV.

At ConnectGV we see the possibility, not the disAbility and therefore seek partnerships that allows us to offer many of these options within the local community.

Since its inception in 1954, ConnectGV has continually evolved and now offers day options, supported employment, residential options and outreach services and is now seen as a leading disability provider in the Goulburn Valley.

This community engagement work helps us learn more about community groups and the valuable work they do.

The most recent work for us has been in the nursery and garden centre area.  We have helped a regional organisation in Victoria with a solution for their wholesale nursery business as well as their retail operation.


No Carbon Tax price rise from Tower Systems

We have taken time to consider the impact of the Carbon Tax on our software development and sales business, to determine how our operating costs will increase and when. There is no doubt that we face some cost pressure.

We will not be increasing our prices and fees as a result of the Carbon Tax.

Retailers using our Point of Sale software now and those who contemplating the purchase of our software can rest assured that our pricing will not alter because of the Carbon Tax.

We are making this announcement to provide the 2,000+ small businesses we serve with certainty and to reflect our confidence that we can manage the financial impact of the Carbon Tax on our business in a way which serves our needs and the needs of our customers.

There is plenty of negative noise from some politicians and certain sections of the media about the Carbon Tax. Our view is that this talks down consumer and business confidence. This is unfortunate since we should be focused on the considerable good news in the marketplace at the moment.

We are ending the 2011/12 financial year on a strong footing and are happy to share the fruits of this with this announcement about the carbon tax and our announcement at the start of the year that for the fourth year in a row we will not increase our software support fees.