Tower Systems users awarded

XchangeIT, the independent EDI platform for newsagents, yesterday awarded ten newsagents for excellent compliance with its strict IT standards. Tower Systems is proud that the majority of businesses represented in the awards list are Tower Systems users.

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Newsagent sales data KPIs improve

XchangeIT has advised of a significant improvement in the timeliness, quality and consistency of sales data being sent by newsagents using our newsagency software.  This has been achieved by more of our users downloading and switching to the latest release of our software.

On our help desk team and throughout the company we are committed to helping newsagents, and indeed all of our customers, meet EDI and other standards.  We do this through providing timely software updates and backing these with documentation and accessible training.

The latest boost in performance numbers for our 1,760+ strong newsagent user community is most welcome and an indication the value of all of us working together.

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Newsagents benefit from XchangeIT time saving

Newsagents using our newsagency software and connecting with magazine distributors through XchangeIT will benefit from new time savings released by XchangeIT following this just released announcement:

We are happy to advise that we have added a new feature (XchangeIT Central) to our XchangeIT Link Client program. Details are explained on the accompanied document. This doc can be used by your support staff.

As explained in the document, this new feature reduces the time spent on File Resends, as agents no longer need to logon to the XchangeIT website or call a Distributor’s Call Centre to do a file Resend. As an added advantage Agents can also easily monitor their Sales Data Performance via XchangeIT Central.

We work hard to keep our newsagent community up to date and compliance with XchangeIT standards.

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Magazine Management Training for Newsagents

Tomorrow, Tower Systems is hosting a one hour online training workshop on magazine management including meeting the XchangeIT EDI standards.  This newsagent specific training is vitally important to all newsagents.  While based around the Tower newsagent software, any newsagent is welcome to participate and see how the majority of newsagents with a computer system can more easily and effectively manage magazines to the industry standards.  Access to the workshop is free.

This training is important given that XchangeIT Pty Ltd has announced that they will introduce penalty charges for newsagents who do not meet their IT standards.  Tower Systems is helping the small percentage of Tower Newsagents (less than 2%) who currently do not meet the standards.  We are also helping non Tower newsagents where possible and requested.

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XchangeIT Compliance Plan for Newsagents

The XchangeIT EDI standards are vitally important to newsagents and the magazine distributors.  Meeting the standards helps maintain operating costs, ensures credits are paid for unsold stock and provides a basis for a structured approach to a key part of the business.

Newsagents using our newsagency software are supported in meeting the XchangeIT standards through regular professional training, like our magazine Management workshop next week,a suite of professional advice sheets (available from our website), the most comprehensive compliance document published by a software company for newsagents and our summary 9 Point Action Plan for XchangeIT Compliance.

Together, these elements combine to help the 1,700+ newsagents in the Tower Newsagent community collectively and individually achieve and maintain commercially valuable compliance.

To demonstrate one of our points of difference, here is the 9 Point Action Plan for XchangeIT Compliance.  This plan is backed by more documentation and support.

  1. Always use the latest version of Tower Systems’ Software. Only the latest Version of the Tower Systems software is deemed to be compliant. The most recent major release of Retailer is 2.2.5C, if you are not running this version please contact Tower Systems for a version to be sent to you.
  2. Ensure XchangeIT is correctly configured. This is imperative as XchangeIT is the mechanism for the file transfers. If this is not configured correctly then you cannot be compliant, regardless of your data management techniques. To check that your system is configured correctly, see Advice Sheet N3.1 Setting Up XchangeIT.
  3. Receive your Magazine Stock through Invoice Arrivals. You must receive all stock you sell in your business. Use EDI invoices as this the only way to maintain data accuracy.
  4. Use issue Specific Barcodes. You MUST use a different barcode for each issue. It is recommended that you use the FULL magazine barcode including the addenda. The addenda is the 2 digit barcode that appears on the end normal magazine barcodes, this code identifies each issue. This should be used in conjunction with Code 128 Barcodes which will re-produce the magazines barcode on the label making scanning much more accurate. Please see Advice Sheet N3.3 EDI: Code-128 Barcodes.
  5. Implement MPA Categories. The MPA (Magazine Publishers Association of Australia) has created industry standard magazine categories and segments. This allows all magazines to be allocated the correct categories and segments making management easier. Please see advice sheet N9 MPA Categories for instruction. Once you have done this you don’t have to do it again.
  6. Labelling Stock Items. You should label about 95%-98% of your stock items. This makes the process of removing Magazines at return time easier. When labelling, place the labels in a consistent position so magazines are easy to find at returns time. We recommend you place the label in the top left hand corner of each magazine, just under the masthead. If your magazines are not labelled there is a significant chance the item will be returned too late and credits will be missed. The only exception to this is very high volume weeklies and monthlies.
  7. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department sales for any product sales. Department key sales stop the system being able to collate accurate sales files. Department key sales are ONLY acceptable for some service items like Lotteries. You should ALWAYS scan your label if it exists on the product rather than the product barcode. This is a good habit as the label is definitely linked to the correct arrival. Stock item Hot Keys are OK to be used as long as you are selling the correct issue. If not then you should scan the barcode.
  8. Complete an end of shift every day. Performing this process for all terminals ensures that the EDI sales files for that day are created.
  9. Process ALL your returns through the returns scanning screen. This maintains your stock levels and is much quicker than filling in manual forms. You should also scan all subagent returns in this screen Subagent returns scanned in this screen will be credited in the earliest open week (i.e. a week in which the subagent billing is yet to be performed). This also ensures correct issues are returned for your subagents and shop and returns data is created accurately.

Once you have the processes down it is easy to maintain a compliant system.

Tower Systems does not charge extra to help newsagents with XchangeIT.  The training, advice and support for XchangeIT is provided as part of the regular Tower support service.  Access to XchangeIT in our software continues regardless of whether a newsagent pays their annual software support fee.  We do not remove XchangeIT access in an effort to force a newsagent to maintain the Tower support … another Tower Systems difference.

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Newsagents Risk Higher XchangeIT Costs

Newsagents not sending magazine sales data back from their newsagency software through XchangeIT to the distributors are set to be penalised with increased XchangeIT fees.  XchangeIT is expected to write to the newsagents at risk next week.

We help our 1,700+ strong newsagent customer base to be compliant with training videos, advice sheets, online training workshops, an EDI compliance manual, telephone based support and proactive outbound help to bring those few who are not complaint across to the other side.

We are proud that the Tower Systems newsagent community makes up a sizeable chunk of newsagents who are compliant.  That said, we will reach out to our customers next with a reminder about the value of compliance with the XchangeIT EDI standards.

As newsagents ourselves we understand the importance of respecting business data.

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Helping newsagents deal with XchangeIT issues

We have been helping users of our newsagency software navigate the challenges flowing from problems at the Network Services XchangeIT end yesterday and today.  There is still no certainty the magazine files will be delivered to newsagents in time for the biggest magazine delivery of the week, tomorrow.

Our Help Desk team is armed with the latest advice.  We remain in close contact with the folks at Network and will advise by email any updates we receive.

With more than 1,700 newsagents using our software, we have a bigger burden to bear through supplier outages like this.  We respond by ensuring that our whole company, from the top down, is focused on helping our customers through this issue.

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Tower Systems leads on XchangeIT compliance

In a review by XchangeIT of newsagent sales and returns data compliance by software vendor, we are proud to report that Tower Systems newsagents lead. A greater percentage of the Tower Newsagent customer base is compliant than the percentage achieved by any other software company for their customer base.

We continue to invest heavily in encouraging compliance. We do this through our regular free online training workshops, training videos, face to face user meetings and on site training.

Even though we knew we had achieved an excellent level of compliance we have continue to run these training opportunities. We understand and respect the value and opportunity of compliance for our customers.

As the largest software company serving newsagents it would have been easy for us to be beaten by a smaller company on the compliance stakes. Our success speaks to the commitment by our team of dedicated software developers and support personnel – indeed, the whole of the company. Their dedication to our customers is a key factor in driving another example of leadership by Tower Systems.

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Free magazine management workshop for newsagents today

Newsagents have an excellent opportunity later today to learn about the new XchangeIT software and the best practice processes to follow to meet magazine distributor IT standards.  We welcome Tower Newsagents as well as newsagents using POS Solutions, Access POS and Computerlink software.  Our workshop is the most widely attended newsagent IT training ever.  It will be of value regardless of the technology in use.

The workshop is also an excellent opportunity to test run our training.  This is why we welcome people who do not have our software installed.

Our magazine management workshop starts at 2pm today.  Access to our live online training workshops is free to anyone.  They are 100% free. We pay for the toll free call for the audio portion of the workshop.   Book online.

This is another Tower AdvantageTM service for newsagents.

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Additional XchangeIT support

In the ramp up to December 31 when all newsagents using EDI need to switch to the new XchangeIT Link platform, we will have additional support services. These additional services go beyond traditional support and offer business advice, help in escalating issues with magazine distributors and help installing the new XchangeIT software.

While most questions do not relate to our software, we have a team of industry experts and we’re happy to make them available to help newsagents making this important transition.

The key to a good transition is to read all of the information provided, follow all steps and take your time. There will be bumps but they are management is you keep a cool head.

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XchangeIT countdown starts in earnest

At the end of this month, the old XchangeIT newsagent EDI platform will be shutdown.  We are urging all newsagents to switch to the new XchangeIT Link platform urgently, in plenty of time prior to the shutdown.

The latest version of XchangeIT Link is 1.0.40. The version of Tower Systems software you will need to run this is Retailer 2.2.14B.  Go to the XchangeIT website for their information pack on getting the latest version of their software.

If you need help installing XchangeIT Link please call XchangeIT on 1300 551 212. If you need help on the Tower software specifically, please call 03 9524 8000.

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December 18 deadline for newsagents on XchangeIT

XchangeIT has confirmed that it wants to move all newsagents to the new XchangeIT Link EDI platform by December 18 so that it can completely turn off the old XchangeIT platform by December 31.

Tower Systems has been using email, mail, fax, this blog and other forums to communicate the importance of the deadline to newsagents.

We will intensify our communication next week.  With the largest newsagent customer base of all software companies, we have a challenge to get all to the new platform.

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XchangeIT training video tops download list

Our XchangeIT compliance training video topped our video download list last week as newsagents make sure they have a fully compliant XchangeIT system by the deadline of next month. It takes newsagents through all the key points of the industry standard EDI facility.We back the video up with excellent documentation.

Our online video is the only such training available freely to all newsagents – we made it as a service to the whole newsagency channel. Half the downloads of the video so far have been from non Tower newsagents. This is because the majority of Tower Newsagents are compliant with the new standards.

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Newsagents acting on our XChangeIT advice

We continue to receive an excellent response from newsagents following our communication over the last two weeks that the old XChangeIT platform is to close next month.  As a result of this engagement, more Tower Newsagents are making the necessary moves to get across to the new platform.  We are helping with software updates where necessary and plain English advice in most instances.

The decision by the magazine distributors to turn off the old platform is real.  We want to ensure that Tower Newsagents are not among those who make a last minute rush to get across – hence the considerable effort in communicating with our customers.

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Guidance for newsagents on XChangeIT Link migration

xchnageit_offer.jpgWe faxed newsagents yesterday with an offer of assistance on moving them to the new XChangeIT Link platform.  This fax is further evidence of our commitment to helping newsagents transition to the new EDI platform.  Key to the fax is advice on transition moves.

With the old XChangeIT being shutdown by the magazine distributors next month, we along with magazine distributors and XChangeIT themselves are communication across multiple channels to help newsagents make the transition in time.

We can provide more practical help than any other software company as we are using the new XChangeIT Link in our own newsagencies -this personal experience helps us create more useful and plain-English advice.

Newsagents needing to upgrade hardware to cope with the new XChangeIT Link platform will most likely be eligible for the federal government 50% tax break.  We can point them in the right direction on this.

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XChangeIT day at Tower Systems

With the old XChangeIT newsagent EDI platform to close in a few weeks, we are investing considerable effort in communicating with our customers to switch them to the new EDI standard, XChangeIT Link.

Yesterday, we sent communication to all of our newsagent customers with advice on switching to the new platform and our latest software. We backed this with online training and an up to date free training video. The response over the last 24 hours has been excellent – plenty of Tower Newsagents checking that they have the latest XchangeIT software running. Those with software not to standard have been given advice and assistance to make the right moves.

We are committed to Tower Newsagents remaining the most compliant in the newsagent channel. Watch for more innovation around helping newsagents meet the new XChangeIT standards.

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XChangeIT compliance training video for newsagents

Tower Systems has published a training video for newsagents on XChangeIT compliance. Access to this video is free to all, it is not behind any password or pay wall.  This is video A16 on the How To Videos page on our website.  While we have published this for Tower Newsagents, we are certain that it will help newsagents not using our software to better understand key elements of the new XChangeIT Link Platform.

Created by Gavin Williams, our General Manager and previously our Software Development Manager, the XChangeIT compliance video delivers newsagent channel best practice advice in an accessible way for all newsagents.

Tower Systems is committed to helping all newsagents make this important transition to the new XChangeIT Link platform.  We have been instrumental in driving benefits exclusive to our 1,600 strong network of newsagent partners.

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Excellent free training for newsagents and retailers this week

We are hosting for free online training workshops for newsagents and other retailers this week. Book now at our website (support / user meetings) for you and your employees next week:

  • General Q&A Session Nov. 17. 11:00 All questions about our software answered by an expert – live and in an inclusive group session.
  • XChangeIT Compliance Nov. 17. 14:00 The most widely attended XChangeIT training in the newsagency channel. Learn from the experts and participate in this live and interactive session.
  • Magazine Management Nov. 19. 11:00 From arrival to return and all in between including XChangeIT, we make managing magazines easier.
  • Home Deliveries and Customer Management Nov. 19. 11:00 We have managing home deliveries more straightforward in this live and interactive training workshop.
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More newsagents to switch to XChangeIT Link

With the old XChangeIT newsagent EDI platform due for retirement next month, more newsagents are switching to the new platfrom.  The folks from XChangeIT sent out a new communication to newsagents today:

The latest XChangeIT LINK platform has been operating very well for the last 5 weeks and so it is now time for you to upgrade to the new LINK platform.

Some of you are due for renewal in the next month or so anyway, and some who are paid up can get their renewal at no extra cash outlay because we’ll credit you for unused days.

Either way, we are closing the old platform at the end of December, so by renewing now you are getting yourself better prepared for the Christmas season.

Visit the XChangeIT web site www.xchangeit.com.au and find the link that says “click here to download an instruction pack”.

Simply follow the instructions and it should take under 30 minutes to complete your upgrade.

If you need assistance or have any questions call our support line at 1 300 551 212.

We support and back this move and will help any Tower Newsagent with issues, concerns or questions.

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Helping newsagents with XChangeIT

With more newsagents migrating to the new XChangeIT Link platform we are building a stronger community of newsagents who understand the importance of consistent use of technology.  Their feedback and our close work with suppliers is enabling us to provide more focused businesses assistance around the use of XChangeIT.

XChangeIT has overcome a rocky start this year and evolved into a glue between newsagents and suppliers which is key to driving down back end costs and facilitating better business decisions.

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Helping resolve XChangeIT Link issues

With more newsagents switching to the new XChangeIT Link platform, we have enhanced our XChangeIT support services.

The biggest challenge newsagents face is getting their query in front of the right person. Here at Tower Systems we have a straightforward escalation process. Our help on XChangeIT calls of focused on navigating issues outside Tower.

We navigate (escalate) unresolved magazine distributor and XChangeIT queries to the right people in the respective organisations. We don’t do this on every occasion – only those where we know that escalation is the most appropriate course of action.

While not our obligation to help resolve issues with magazine distributor data or the operation of XChangeIT software in a newsagency, we gladly get involved because we understand the bigger picture of the opportunity for newsagents.

As newsagents ourselves we are keen for the rest of the channel to be using the new XChangeIT Link as this will deliver channel wide benefits which have eluded newsagents for too many years.

To access the supplier escalation services, Tower Newsagents only need ask and one our senior management team will take care of this.

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Big IT changes for newsagents

Network Services, one of three magazine distributors to newsagents, has advised that effective 1st November, they will no longer be accepting or crediting paper Supplementary Return forms. This includes any old paper template forms and POS printouts. This is the next step in the modernisation of the newsagency channel, a project near to our hearts as it helps newsagents cut time out of the operation of their business.

All Supplementary returns are to be submitted by one of two ways – XChangeIT LINK or NETonline.

Network Services has indicated that all returns will be online by 1st December.

Those retailers left currently on monthly and paper are missing out on cash flow due to long paper timeframes as well as greater chance of forms going missing in the mail. The days of missing credits will be gone and all returns will be available to be completed via XChangeIT LINK or NETonline.

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XChangeIT compliance training

Three of our experts presented four XChangeIT compliance training sessions at the newsXpress conference in Melbourne last week.  This training by far the most widely presented XChangeIT training delivered to newsagents.  It has been presented more than 100 times this year.  It is key to the high level of compliance among Tower Newsagents.

We have adjusted the training as XChangeIT itself has been adjusted.  This will continue as it evolves.

Getting industry specific training right for small business owners is a challenge given the diversity in IT skills and interest in following uniform procedures.  We have learnt from our training experiences this year  and are reflecting these learnings in the latest training offers.

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Software user training from Tower Systems this week

In addition to new video training releases planned for this week, we are running three free live and interactive online training workshops:

  • Magazine Management Workshop Oct. 13 11:00  Learn about arriving magazines, managing returns and being XChangeIT compliant.
  • Putaways Management Oct 15, 11:00 Find out how easy Putaways can be.
  • Retailer software security Oct 15, 2009 14:00 Important for every retailer concerned about customer and employee theft.

All bookings are confirmed by email.  We also provide written, easy to follow, advice for connecting with the session.

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