Important questions small business retailers should ask POS software companies

What should a small business retailer ask a POS software company as part of your process of considering whether to use their software?

The important part of this question is small business retailer. What small business retailers need differs to what big business retailers need.

What may look good in a video or an online pitch may not be good when you need help or a specific facility or access to an integration to help you grow your business.

Beyond the functionality of the POS software itself there are questions you can ask that could inform a better business decision on what is right for a business.

To help you think about possible questions, we have put together twenty-six for your consideration. Read through these and start to think about questions that could be useful for you.

The answers to these questions will better inform you, they will help separate software companies you are considering. The answers will help you see the software company that is a better fit for your specific business today.

Take your time. The right software company will be a long-term partner of your business.

  1. Will you come my business to assess my needs?
  2. Will you come to my business and demonstrate your software?
  3. If you know your software is not a good fit for my business will you say so?
  4. Is your company Australian?
  5. Is the software developed in Australia?
  6. Is your help desk based in Australia?
  7. Is your company Australian owned?
  8. Are you selling software you developed yourselves?
  9. Can you convert data from other software?
  10. Do you sell to big businesses, 25 shops or more?
  11. Does your software link with Xero, MYOB & Quicken?
  12. Can I access your software from home and elsewhere?
  13. Do you own and run retail businesses as test sites?
  14. Can I connect your software to a website?
  15. Do you develop websites I can connect to?
  16. If you develop websites are the main platforms of Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce?
  17. Can I rent your software?
  18. Can I lease your software?
  19. Can I purchase your software outright?
  20. Is your software designed specifically for my retail channel?
  21. Will you train me on your software in my business?
  22. Will you train my staff in how to use the software?
  23. Is software support included for the first year?
  24. Do you charge to help me uncover employee theft?
  25. Do you charge to assess the performance of my business?
  26. Do I have to buy my hardware from you?

Advice for small business retailers experiencing year on year decline in retail sales

If your year-on-year sales are not down in your retail business, this advice is not for you.

If your year-on-year sales are down, something must change if you want to turn the situation around, please read on.

Sometimes, when we are asked by retailers how to deal with a year on year sales decline, our suggestions are not taken up and the business keeps doing what it was doing. In doing this, the declining trend will continue.

We appreciate it can be challenging looking outside of the fog of declining sales and worsening business performance numbers. However, if you cannot reach out beyond this fog the survival of the business is at risk.

Here is the most important statement relating to our advice:

If you keep doing what you have been doing, the sales results in your business will be what they have been, the trend is unlikely to change.

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 we can do through looking at your business performance data for you. 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.

Why ask a POS software company? We see data from many different businesses. That perspective can help. We are retailers too and have been for decades. That provides a body of experiences on which we can draw in considering advice we can provide. We will gladly leverage our experiences to help in any situation.

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.

Can we help?

Helping small business retailers not break the law in selling age restricted products

Age restricted products are a risk for small business retailers in that regulations are tight and penalties for selling to underage shoppers considerable, including the potential loss of right to sell age restricted products.

While it may sound simple to say that this product or that product cannot be sold to someone below a certain age, without the right forced checks and balances mistakenly doing just that is relatively easy.

Our advice to small business retailers selling age restricted products is that they implement appropriate barrier checks and balanced in their POS software to ensure that their age restricted product approach is best practice.

Use your POS software to fore an age check on every purchase. This shows the business having zero tolerance for avoiding the age check. Regularly remind staff about this. Do these things and any violation the retail sales person deliberately violating business policy and defrauding the business in their use of the age check facilities in the POS software.

These steps can help should the business be caught serving an underage customer. You can prove the processes were black and white and that the server needed to lie to the ach check barrier in the POS software for the transaction to proceed.

Retailers can decide for themselves which products have age check and which do not. This should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is up to date, to ensure that the right checks and balances are in place to show the business is meeting all regulatory age check obligations.

Get your age check processes right from the outset and you can layer the business with a level of protection that is vital. For sure, there is an operational delay in selling age restricted products, but this is minor when you consider the cost to the business of being caught breaking the law in this space.

Our advice to retailers is that they use the age restriction facilities in their POS software to ensure that they get it right, every time.

In our work, we deal with the issues of age restricted products in a range of retail channels including: newsagencies, firearms retail, produce stores and adult stores. In each case, there are different regulations and requirements to handle.

How poor NBN roll out hurts small business retailers

Another of our customers had their business severely impacted last week with their new National Broadband Network (NBN) connection taking almost the whole week to get up and running.

You would think this would be okay, that they could use their old non NBN internet connection until the NBN was up and running. That smart approach was not the approach those providing their NBN connection facilitated.

At the start of the week their service provider disconnected their internet access as the NBN was about to be turned on. Five days later, after many phone calls and extraordinary business disruption, the NBN was on.

There was no apology, no compensation, no empathy.

This small business was hit hard by not having internet access. They had to spend money on temporary arrangements, which were mediocre at best. Given their location that not only cost money, it also cost time to organise.

The poor handling of the NBN roll out was caused by the Internet Service Provider of the small business. This is where the poor customer experience occurred with them disconnecting internet access prior turning NBN on and then compounding the problem with poor, almost non-existent, customer service.

There were products the business could not sell over the counter, payments they could not take, services they could not provide. Yet their ISP did not help. The biggest challenge was with cash as this business relied on close to half all transactions being cashless and they lost that, without warning, when their ISP cut them off without warning because of the imminent NBN switch over. The agreed plan was switch one off and switch one on. The operational people at the ISP were not told of the agreed plan and once they switched internet access off it appeared to be too hard to switch back on.

We helped where we could with options on lodging a complaint against their ISP and with alternative access options they could acquire. But none of this should have been necessary. Their ISP, which claims to support small local businesses, should have had the entire matter in hand.

While there is a quality issue with the current version of the NBN roll out in our opinion, there is this other problem of poor ISP management of business cut over from existing internet access to NBN access. It should be easy, well managed with easy access contact points in the event of any issue.

Internet access is vitally important infrastructure in small business retail today. This switching over to NBN must be better, faster, for small business retail.

How the retreat of banks from regional and rural Australia hurts small businesses retailers and the communities they serve

More Australian banks are pulling out of country towns, leaving local businesses and individuals without any over the counter bank services.

In one situation last week, a regional town with a population of 2,000 saw its last bank brand close, leaving locals a forty-five-minute drive to the nearest bank. This means local businesses have a round trip of ninety minutes just to bank business takings, increasing business costs by hundreds of dollars a week as banking, which used to be done locally daily, now must be done three times a week resulting in four and a half hours in the can and at least another hour and a half parking, waiting and more.

It impacts on how a business operates.

While some businesses can operate by promoting cashless trading, in regional and rural towns with an older demographic, cash is preferred.

In not banking every day, small business retailers carry more cash on their premises. This increases the risk of theft. Insurance company representatives have said this could result in higher premiums. The costs resulting from banks reducing their level of customer service cascade, hurting further these vulnerable local businesses that matter to their small local communities.

With more than half of our small business POS software customers in regional and rural Australia, matters such as the closure of local bank branches and agencies matters to us, because it matters to our customers. It is possible that a local bank closure is enough to tip a local business owner to closing their business. The knock-on effect on local jobs, local suppliers and out of town suppliers like us would be noticed.

We think there is a role for government here to offer an operating cost subsidy to banks that maintain regional and rural banks in towns with a lower than agreed population threshold. We think such a policy would not only help small businesses like our clients, it would improve the appeal of the town for new residents as well as improving security for those who use the bank.

Locally owned small business retail is vital in any situation, but more so in regional and rural towns. The retreat by banks is an operational challenge that disadvantages regional and rural Australia and this is bad for the economy.

Tower Systems actively supports calls by small business retailers for government action to provide support for local banking services.

How retailers can continue to trade if the internet is down

Here is a question we are often asked by retailers:

In a cloud environment what happens when the Internet is unavailable? The offering is for an external cloud provider, can we leverage our own cloud provider? How are hosting charges calculated, i.e. data storage charges?

Here is our answer:

Our POS software system is very configurable.  Users have the ability, if they wish, to run without being hosted.  This solves any Internet stability questions, particularly for rural/regional Australian where this may be an issue.

The other challenge with cloud is the costs. Our experience is some small business owners are not happy with the monthly hosting cost for a cloud service. However, the customer can choose the approach that is best for their specific circumstances.

These are the reasons we have configured our software to suit whatever situation a customer prefers.

Alternatively, if users want, we can host the system in the cloud, 100% in the cloud.  This can be hosted on our secure dedicated infrastructure (additional costs will apply) or on infrastructure of their choosing.  We will provide guidance on the configuration so the ideal environment is created.

If hosted on our infrastructure customers are charged on a per user per month basis.

If the user runs in a hosted environment and the internet drops out the user can switch to a facility we call Outpost Mode.  OUTPOST mode allows for basic trading, scanning sales, until such time as Internet access is restored.

The level of software access in the event of internet access being down, blocked or otherwise hampered does depend on choices made by the customer. Our customers can be secure in the knowledge that we support multiple choices, we make it easy for them transact if that is the core goal of their business.

Can you continue to trade if the internet is down? Yes!

Crucially, we can train our customers on how to be ready for this in advance of any problem occurring. This is important since customers might otherwise scrambling too get up and running in the middle of a problem could be too disruptive for the business,

Planning ahead of any incident or disaster is important in our view.

Which is better: Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce for small business retailers?

Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce are the best e-commerce platforms in the world today for small business retailers. They are well established, regularly enhanced and POS software commented.

Small business retailers don’t need to consider e-commerce platforms outside of Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce

We say this based on years of experience working with e-commerce platforms and deep experience connecting our POS software with e-commerce platforms.

The question is, which of Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce is better? Which should a retail business choose.

The answer depends on what a retail business wants to do with their site.

Here at Tower Systems we agnostic about the choice as we partner and work with all three, linking them seamlessly to our POS software.

We guide our customers who ask for help based on their answers to a structured series of questions about what they want to get out of a website along with their other business needs. Their responses to our questionnaire help guide our suggestion as to the best e-commerce platform for them.

Any of Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce could be ideal. It is unlikely a platform outside of these three would be recommended as it would mean they are not in the best-practice mix. These three are classed as the best POS software connected e-commerce platforms for good reason.

The platforms are different in terms of the data structure depth they support as well as multiple store connectivity they support. They also differ in terms of design flexibility. These are all important factors that need to be considered when determining mining the e-commerce platform for yo0ur business.

A web developer will push you to the platform they like. Some POS software companies only link to one platform and they are likely to push you ton that.

While we have direct and personal experience with Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce, our generic e-commerce link links with any website, so we really don’t mind what retailers using our POS software choose. This is why we say we are agnostic. It is only if a customer wants us to develop a site that we focus on the top three in there world: Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce.

Yes, Amazon is coming. No, the world will not end.

I am frustrated with the world is ending type reporting relating to the arrival in Australia of Amazon. Most stories are not reporting. Rather, they are speculation. I even wonder if they reflect a wish. Unfortunately, the wrong people are quoted, like the ever-shrill Gerry Harvey.

I hopped into the studio last week and shot this video to provide some perspective on the arrival of Amazon and to share some thoughts that I hope are useful to small business retailers in Australia.

How we help connect our POS software users with Xero skilled accountants and bookkeepers

Here at Tower Systems we are grateful for the opportunity its to connect a growing list of Xero skilled accountants and bookkeepers with small businesses using our POS software and especially the POS software Xero link we offer.

We work closely with accountants and bookkeepers to help them better serve their customers. Having a CPA within our company as our CFO helps us provide a level of skill and attention in this area that is not commonly found in POS software companies.

That we use the Xero link to our POS software ourselves in ur own retail businesses also helps. In fact, that is an important differentiator tailor for us, k one we are proud of. Since February 1996 we have owned and operated retail businesses.

We connect small business retailers and Xero skilled accountants and bookkeepers through our participation in Xero events such as the recent Xerocon in Melbourne as well as other events we can access as a Xero partner.

We provide support for Xero skilled accountants and bookkeepers who have clients using our software. Our support for them helps them support their customers. We are grateful to be asked to do this.

We also provide training opportunities cities for Xero skilled accountants and bookkeepers so their skill with our POS software and the POS software Xero link is best-practice.

All of this combines to provide better service to small business retailers who use Xero and that is good for their business and all who rely on their business.

We are glad to help.

Xero is a pleasure to use. We say this as happy Xero users ourselves.

TO ACCOUNTANTS AND BOOKKEEPERS:

We list Accountants and Bookkeepers on our website.

To be included without obligation or cost, please email your details. We want to help retailers find Xero skilled accountants. Email: sales@towersystems.com.au with your firm name, your name, email, mobile and website URL.

If you have any clients in a retail business in any of the specialty channels in which we serve, we invite you to reach out to one of our sales team. They can arrange to meet with you and your client(s) to learn about the local business needs and see if our software is a match for them.

Why switching POS software could help your independent retail business flourish

Each time a small business retailer switches from one POS software package to another there is a cost beyond the software itself.

We understand this because switching retailers to our small business POS software from other software is something we often do.

Retailers switch software because the software they have been using has not kept up with the times, it is no longer supported, the annual costs are too high, the support is poor, the company behind the software is not developing for the future – or a mixture of these things, or, indeed, other factors of personal interest to them.

Regardless of the reason, Tower Systems welcomes retailers who wish to switch software.

Our commitment is to help retailers enjoy a smooth transition. Here is how switching POS software to that from Tower Systems could help your retail business:

  1. Your software evolves. Here at Tower Systems we are serious abut evolving our software to serve the evolving needs of businesses in the retail channels in which we serve.
  2. It’s easy to access support. From the help desk to senior management, support and service access is easy at Tower Systems. Even customer is important to us. Every query matters. We do our best, with every contact.
  3. Training is limitless. We understand retailers and retail employees learn at different paces, often when a need arises. Were provide multiple access points for training in groups, individually, online, over the phone and in-store. We make training how to use our POS software easy to access and free.
  4. Connected. Our POS software is connected to world-class facilities that matter such as Xero the beautiful cloud based accounting software, Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce – world class e-commerce platforms, Tyro the amazing broadband EFTPOS platform, Oxipay – the buy now pay later facility that replaces LayBy and plenty more. We are masters of integrations.
  5. Facilities. Often times our software does now, and we are proud of this.
  6. Cost of ownership. With Tower Systems there are no locked in fees. If you want keep using the software but not have a mandatory software support fee, we are the company you will like.

We help small business retailers switch to our POS software for better business outcomes. We have many customers who have switched from many different systems who can speak to =their experiences with this.

Business management help for small business retailers from our POS software company

Retailers who partner with our small business focussed POS software company can rely in us for more than terrific POS software. Every day we offer business help, advice and support, beyond the software itself but using the software as a mechanism for help.

Many calls to our management and help desk team are from business owners not knowing where to turn. We help where we can, based on our experiences, but without providing advice that we are not qualified to provide.

Since we own and operate retail businesses and have done since February 1996 we can draw on considerable experiences when helping our customers.

Like any small business owner, we like to help our friends and we see any small business retailer as a friend.

There are people we help who do not even use our POS software. That is not a requirement at all. Our support is for small business owners and their businesses first. Getting a sale of our POS software is secondary.

The advice and support we can be called on to assist with includes these areas:

  1. Shop lease terms, permitted use clause, special conditions.
  2. Employee management.
  3. Employee training.
  4. Customer theft.
  5. Employee theft.
  6. Business planning.
  7. Supplier trading terms.
  8. Supplier dispute resolution.
  9. Data analysis.
  10. Cash flow.
  11. Banking relationships.
  12. Business insurance.
  13. Visual merchandising.
  14. Quitting stock.
  15. Buying stock, planning, buy lots and related topics.
  16. Creating new products beyond what has been usual for the business.
  17. Landlord disputes.
  18. Trading online.
  19. Running a high street and online business.

There are many areas where we help and discuss beyond these listed here. This list offers a flavour of the types of areas we are asked to provide advice or a comforting ear on. Often, we are able to drawn on our own personal experiences and small business retailers like that.

We are grateful for the trust our c customers show in seeking our advice or listening ear when they have concerns. We do our best, and if we are unable to speak with confidence on a query, we try and point them in a direction of someone who can.

This is all part of the Tower Systems service and assistance to small business retailers. We saw we’re here to help and try hard to live up to that.

How we choose what goes in POS software updates for our small business retail customers

Choosing what goes into each update of our small business POS software is a transparent and democratic process at Tower Systems.

We understand that good software needs to evolve as the needs of the retail channel in which it serves evolve.

This is why retailers need to look beyond what software does today and understand what they may need tomorrow. The commitment of their software provider to providing access to software enhancements is key as is their commitment to a structured process for considering and deciding on user suggested software enhancements.

It can be hard to choose a software company based on what they may do in the future as any sales person could make a promise knowing that fulfilment of the promise lies elsewhere in the company.

Here at Tower Systems we promise our POS software customers continuous evolution and improvement of our small business POS software.

Our customers can submit change suggestions.

Our customers can vote on submitted change suggestions.

The more votes, the more attention given a suggestion.

While we ourselves bump suggestions to the top of the list based on how amazing and valuable they are, others we like to see what our customers think.

We take this open and transparent approach to POS software enhancement suggestions to show our customers their active engagement with the direction of the software.

Our approach is unique in that it is highly engaged and inclusive with and for the custoemrs who like that.

The whole POS Software Ideas process is open for even those considering purchasing our software to see. While this gives our competitors a free-kick, we are confident enough of our processes and commitment to leave it as transparent.

We launched shed Software Ideas years ago. None of our vertical market competitors has anything similar. It is a genuine point of difference for us and we like that.

If you are considering POS software for your specialty retail business, make sure that the software company y you are considering will deliver access to relevant software into the future and not just today. Your software company relationship will be long-term. That is why engagement matters.

Why our CEO is accessible to every Tower Systems POS software customer

Mark Fletcher is the owner of Tower Systems. His mobile phone number is 0418 321 338. His email address is mark@towersystems.com.au. This information is on our website and almost every piece of company literature from our weekly customer email to our print newsletter to marketing literature.

It is rare for a POS software company Managing Director to be so accessible to customers and prospective customers.

We think such accessibility is important as it speaks to trust in the company, its products and its customer service. It shows the Managing Director as having such faith in the business that they are happy for people to know how to reach them directly.

To small business POS software businesses that do not publish this information, that do not make it readily available, we would say what are you afraid of? Why not let people get straight to the top?

A common contact with Mark is from customers who ring or email to say they are happy with an enhancement in the software or to compliment a team member for a service they have provided. Being accessible for this type of contact is as important as being accessible for people who would like to complain about a poor service experience.

Tower Systems is a business about people, small business people. Personal service matters in small business retail as much as it matters in a small business POS software company. It matters a lot. Therefore, we trust the process and gladly share the direct contact details of our Managing Director.

Mark’s background is diverse, meaning he can speak to a range of topics from retail strategy to retail business management to software design to actual use of our POS software. Most weeks he has time behind the counter in one or more of the retail businesses owned by Tower where he gets hands on with the software and with in-store customers. This personal engagement with the software in a regular basis provides personal experiences that not only inform the direction of the software, they also inform the services provided by the company and provide context for some direct contact with customers.

Calling a POS software company for help should be easy for a small business retailer

Here at Tower Systems we believe in making things easy for our customers.

This is why we do not use a computerised phone system with a menu a caller must navigate to get to the place in the company they want to contact.

It is also why we show our customers the people they can speak with. Real names with real photos and real contact details.

It is why we support multiple contact points such as phone, mobile phone, email, direct to our website queries, online chat, a private Facebook group, local user meetings, trade shows and more.

Yes, contacting us is easy. It is also a differentiator for us, one we are proud to support and grow.

In addition to the easy contact points we offer our customers, we support this with a structured escalation process, to provide small business retailers with escalation points on which they can rely to take any issue, concern or dispute further. These structured layers provide peace of mind to our customers and to our team members as there is knowledge that a door is never closed and that there is always an ear to listen and help.

While phone calls to our help desk are the most common method of contact with us, we are equally accessible by email, Facebook and elsewhere. We make sure we are where our customers want us to be. This is what we think good customer service is about – being accessible.

The priority service we provide our customers enables them to determine the importance of their contact with us. In setting their contact priority, they determine the speed of response they want. This is a form of self-triage for our customers. The result is greater focus on delivering to the service levels we publish.

We do not understand why POS software companies require customers to only email them with support queries. Often a query starts with a conversation. As the conversation evolves, the actual query emerges. This is important because sometimes small business POS software users don’t know what they don’t know, they are unable to ask a question that may be relevant. This is where early human to human interaction on the POS software help desk is vital.

Xerocon wow!

What a terrific conference Xerocon was. Awesome presentations about Xero. Wonderful people asking about our POS software. New friends. New clients. 100% professional. Glad to be among the best of the best with it comes to Xero.

Plenty of fun.

Retail store connected jigsaw website helps drive jigsaw sales

Tower Systems launched a new jigsaw website several weeks ago as the latest in a long line of retail business POS software connected websites.

This latest website from the Melbourne based web team at Tower Systems is another in a comprehensive strategy that has already delivered many thousands of transactions to the commented small business retailers.

Offering real time local store connection with accurate stock on hand data, the latest jigsaws website helps the connected retailers to not only sell online but to also help people find local retailers with jigsaw products they can purchase locally in-store.

Connecting independently owned shops into a single brand based website is not common because of the back-end, operation, financial and technical challenges. Tower Systems has mastered this with many websites now live based on its unique and successful approach.

More than a POS software company, Tower Systems provides small business retailers a comprehensive and integrated solution in-store and online.

Toy stores using Tower Systems POS software to handle toy catalogues

With Christmas marketing well underway already in toy stores, the team at Tower Systems is busy with support and assistance for toy store owners and staff on the time saving use of catalogue facilities in the company’s toy store software.

Thanks to tremendous flexibility, toy store retailers can handle a broad range of catalogue requirements. This is vital in the highly competitive retail sector where locally owned independent businesses have mass retailers with which to compete.

Being able to offer flexible catalogue offers and to do this quickly provides a flexible advantage to toy retailers.

The catalogue facilities in the Tower Systems POS software have been developed with toy retailers. What this means is our software develo9pment leadership have spent time in toy shops, seeing first-hand the needs of toy shops in this and other business operational areas.

This first-hand experience led to development of enhancements to the Tower Systems toy shop software in the catalogue and other areas.

Retailers can have multiple catalogues running at once.

A catalogue determines how a group of products is treated. handled through the period for which the catalogue is to run.

Prices can be set for the catalogue period.

Multi-buy options can be set for the catalogue period.

The layering of catalogues enables small business retailers to be flexible and to take advantage of supplier offers that may come their way, and not be limited to only one offer.

Accessed through a beautiful dashboard, the catalogue facilities in the Tower Systems software are comprehensive, best-practice and key to helping independent toy shops grow sales, especially leading up to Christmas, when sales are strong.

Tower Systems works not only with retailers but also with suppliers and groups, enabling work by others to be leveraged into time savings for retailers. For example, we can take a catalogue file of special pricing to run for a period and turn this into a document that a retailer can import in seconds, thereby eliminating setup time in-store.

We have business skilled folks on our Melbourne based help desk who9 also help retailers to create their own catalogue from scratch, to serve local business needs.

The catalogue facilities in the Tower software run the gamut of needs, and beyond as they help toy businesses compete on a competitive stage.

This is a Tower AdvantageTM.

Tower Systems POS software at Xerocon this week

Tower Systems will be featured at Xerocon, the international Xero users conference, this week in Melbourne.

We are grateful to Xero for the opportunity to participate.

The POS software Xero link is important to our small business retail customers. Using this link, our customers are able to save time, cut mistakes and streamline business operations.

This is a direct link, not through a third party. This saves money and time. It also ensures that ti is easier for questions to be resolved about data flow and similar topics.

We back the Xero link with Xero skilled folks on our help desk. We can help small business retailers, bookkeepers as well as accounts with questions on the POS software / Xero integration. This is important as it shows the help desk service as going beyond what is usual for POS software help desks.

Xero is selective as to the software companies it approves. It is good to ask a POS software company if their link is direct or through anther party.

The Xero integration designed by Tower Systems, working with the folks at Xero, makes it easy for small business retailers to cut accounting paperwork and thereby tap into time and money saving benefits.

We use our Xero integrated POS software ourselves. This enables us to provide practical advice on how to benefit the most from Xero and our POS software working together.

Our customers have access to our in-house CPA, to provide a professional accounting perspective on the link and how to get the most from it.

Tower Systems is a unique POS software company. In addition to serving 3,500+ small business retailers, we own and operate several retail businesses as live test sites. Our in-house CPA manages the accounts for these retail businesses.

Connecting to Xero can help a small business eliminate the need for a bookkeeper and shift out of business accounting functions to the end of the year. W have seen businesses cut $5,000 form their operating costs by implementing the Xero link. This saving and more can be significant for a retail business.

If you are a Xero user and plan to be at Xerocon this week, check us out. We are thrilled to be part of this event.

Advice for small business retailers on leveraging the teacher gift opportunity

This is another in our series of practice advice for small business retailers.

How to make the most of the teacher gift opportunity.

Gifts for teachers can be lucrative not only at the end of the year but also through the year by establishing your business as a destination for gifts for teachers. As with much in retail, it takes a commitment of time, space and capital.

While you can make money sourcing a teacher pack from a supplier, you will make more by taking a broader approach.

Our advice is that you offer a selection of gifts for teachers including the traditional plaques, mugs, apple-themed, frames and pens but this you expand the offer to include other suggested gifts such as scarves, Charlie Bears, soap, fudge, plush, jigsaw puzzles and other premium gifts.

Don’t be restricted by the traditional teacher gifts. Also, don’t be restricted by a price point. We suggest you show how two or more students could pool funds to buy a bigger gift such as a jigsaw puzzle. Show your customers how they can do this. For example: $19.99 or $10 each if two of you share giving this gift.  Maybe even consider a whole of class gift.

Promote the broader range of gifts with an appropriate sign such as: GIVE SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE USED.

Have your suggested gifts represented together in a location branded as gifts for teachers.

Be sure to include cards in your range – Thank You cards and blank cards. Consider packaging selected gifts and cards together to make buying easy.

Also consider a discount if customers purchase above a threshold for multiple teachers. For example, you could offer 10% off for purchases of $25.00 or more. Choose a spend hurdle that suits your area.

Marketing and promotion tips:

  1. Offer a $50 shopping voucher for one lucky teacher. To get an enter customers should purchase a card and gift from you.
  2. Include a flyer with all purchases announcing your teacher gift range.
  3. Leverage the local parents association to have them help you promote the offer. Consider having them hand out a coupon offering 5% off for purchases a 5% to them for each coupon redeemed.
  4. Setup a THANK YOU TEACHER WALL where anyone can write a note thanking their teacher – from any generation or year.
  5. Maybe run a Teacher of the Year competition where students vote. This could work well in a smaller location. However be careful as it could be seen as divisive if not done well.

What makes Tower Systems an ideal POS software company for small business retailers?

Tower Systems is an Australia based POS software company with thousands of customers in a range of retail niches:  gift shopsjewellersbike shopspet shops,  toy shopsfishing/outdoorsgarden centres/nurseriesnewsagentsproduce stores and firearms retailers.

  1. We are a software company, not a consulting business using software as a mechanism for driving consulting fees.
  2. We are in your business. Not a contractor we hire, not over the phone, when we install the system we do it in your business, working with you and your people.
  3. We offer more facilities than any other system. These offer you flexibility for driving purchases in the current visit and for bringing shoppers back more often.
  4. You have access to extraordinary customisation, enabling you to represent your business son receipts, invoices and other documents how you want.
  5. Embedded in our software are facilities for tracking how the software us used. This enables us to help you monitor and reduce employee theft.
  6. Retail focussed. The big challenge of retail is to uncover opportunities, which you can still leverage them. We have smart reports, which unlock for you information about your business, which can help you plan and grow.
  7. Our customers have access to the owner of our company as well as other senior management people.
  8. We have a loved escalation process.
  9. Our documentation is online and 100% searchable.
  10. We develop our own software. This means when we promise something, we rely on our software development and testing team to deliver, not a contractor, not another company.
  11. We have a transparent process through which our customers can suggest software enhancements. All of our customers can vote on these enhancement suggestions. Many of our software changes have come from customer suggestions.
  12. We designed the software ourselves. What we sell today has evolved over many years working in close consultation with our customers – many of whom have been with us for more than twenty years.
  13. The software we sell to retailers has been developed for retailers, by us.
  14. Each specialist retail channel has its own version of the software. Interestingly, our software for each sector has benefited from experiences with other sectors.
  15. We only sell to independently owned retail businesses in selected specialist retail channels.

We could add many more reasons. This list is a start. As our motto says: we’re here to help.

Helping small business retailers sell online with POS connected websites

Tower Systems has rolled out the next release of its POS software connected website solutions, offering small business retailers a stronger armoury of tools with which to compete with global and national online businesses.

Offering POS software direct links to Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce websites, the Tower Systems integrations bring new business opportunities to small business retailers, opening doors to finding new customers.

Embedded in the new software are facilities that are fresh for the small business online space, fresh for POS software integrated websites.

Tower Systems has gone beyond the usual approach of announce and then deliver some time in the future. the company has developed, delivered and then announced. This is the company proving what it has done before making any noise about it.

We think actions speak louder than words.

Small business retailers who want to compete with online have Tower Systems in their corner. Our beautiful web connected POS software works for retailers in different channels. It helps retailers attract new shoppers. We deal with the challenges of freight. We make shopping easy. We help win business from the tricky abandoned cart situation and more.

Being a local POS software company, we leverage our local marketplace knowledge not only for ur POS software but also for the websites we create for our customers.

We make selling online easy for small business retailers.

We develoop websites for Tower Systems customers. We have web developers working in ur Melbourne office with skills in Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce.

Having websites developed by us ensures a best-practice connection between your POS software and the websites.

We have plenty of store connected websites we can show you, where shoppers can shop online with interest free online lay-by, shop using click and collect, pay by PayPal and more. We can sync the data between your shop and online as frequently ads you want. We have sites doing it every five minutes and others doing it daily.

We have seen retailers choose to have their website developed by a low-cost offshore web developer only to have to spend considerably to have it fixed. We have had to do this for several of our customers, where offshore developers have delivered a broken website.

To find out more about our web development services as well as our SEO (website marketing) services, please email sales@towersystems.com.au.

Advice for small business retailers on finding confidence

Change of any sort can be challenging. Part of our role as a POS software company is to offer encouragement for continuous change. While we cannot force you to be confident in embracing change, we can provide a safety-net of sorts and a cheer-squad of encouragement.

In our own situation we are confronted with change and challenges every day. What we do today is very different to what we were doing five and ten years ago. Here are things we have found encourage confidence.

  1. Know your business. This starts with knowing your business data, respecting it and basing decisions on the data. This provides a foundation for changes that are right in and for your business.
  2. Take small steps. Sometimes, confidence fades or can be a challenge when the task ahead or the changes to be made appear too big. Break them down. Focus on the next step. Take that one step. Cheer the result. Next, take the next step.
  3. Most of what we suggest is based on either direct experience or considerable research. Trusting this could see you embrace change sooner and, hopefully, thereby enjoy more success sooner. This, in turn, will boost your confidence.
  4. Know you are not alone. No matter what change or challenge you face, we are part of your community, part of your cheer-squad. Talk with us before, during and after change. We will help in any way we are able.
  5. Focus on the destination. Where do you want to be as a result of a change in your business, new products or a new marketing initiative. Focus on the destination and ignore the barriers you create in your head. Often, the barriers are only there because you allowed yourself to see them.
  6. Facts encourage confidence. Facts such as evidence of success of others and evidence of success in your own business underpin confidence. The key is to look at the facts, to focus on them and not the possible barriers you can create.
  7. Hire confident people.
  8. Let go of people who are not confident, who talk change down, who are negative at their core.
  9. Play confident music in your office and in the shop.
  10. Dress with confidence.
  11. Know that a failure is always a success. Every change you make in your business is a success because you either make more money, enjoy your business more or learn what not to do next time because it did not go as planned. There is only upside from change.

A lack of confidence is not easily overcome. We understand that and do not seek here to be glib about it. Lack of confidence in anything is a serious challenge, yet one to overcome for the future of the business, personal achievement and the benefit of all who rely on the business.

Rather than investing time in the fog of a lack of confidence, our advice is to look out beyond the fog, to take steps out of the fog and to do so knowing we are with you.

Changing LayBy in small business retail forever

Tower Systems brought interest free immediate shipping LayBy to websites months ago. It has helped many retailers win sales they otherwise might have lost, and at minimal cost to the retailers.

Now, we are bringing immediate collect interest-free LayBy to physical retail businesses.

Thanks to months of behind the scenes tech innovation in our software and with a respected public company in the finance space we are on the cusp of launching a game changer for in-store LayBy.

Shoppers can purchase and take goods away with them immediately.

Payments are made over an agreed period of time.

The retailer is paid right away.

The retailers is not responsible for collecting payment from the customer.

The cost to the retailer is fractional thanks to the Tower relationship.

The customer has the items for immediate giving if gifts or for use if they have purchased for personal use.

There is no need to store lay-by items.

There is no paperwork to follow up lay-by payment and collection.

In all, for everyone, life is easier.

This is a game changer for locally owned small family run retail businesses. It brings big business tools to these local independent retail businesses. It empowers them to be more competitive.

Bringing a comprehensive professionally backed interest free lay-by facility to our POS software has taken time because of regulatory requirements and given the size of the necessary finance company backing.

Tower Systems has brought together a range of resources, tech skills and retailers to bring this opportunity to live, to do it in a way that is best practice and meets all necessary regulations.

Now, if a shopper is passing through and wants an item for which they cannot pay right away, using this new soon to launch facility the retailer has an alternative with which to win the sale today. This is especially valuable in tourist locations.

Integrated with the POS software and offering a fast (60 second to 120 second) approval process, this game changing solution will help many local retail businesses win sales leading up to Christmas 2017 that they might otherwise have lost.

Like AfterPay but not AfterPay, the solution being delivered by Tower Systems is easy to use, easy to understand, fast to leverage and loved by shoppers. We have been using it all year online and it is a dream.