Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

How to take your retail business online, useful advice for people starting out

Here’s a video of another online session we hosted yesterday with several retailers on taking a business online:

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Updated POS software released for small business retailers

We are pleased to announce that earlier this week we released updated POS software for small business retailers.

This latest update delivers benefits requested by customers and voted on by customers. Yes, we have a transparent democratic process to guide the content of the software updates we develop.

Even though corona is impacting plenty of businesses, here at Tower Systems our POS software development, testing, documentation and support teams are busy delivering access to ur customers, helping them to benefit from constantly evolving software.

This latest update has been made available at no additional cost to current POS software customers.

The update has been released with comprehensive support notes including information on installation and use.

The update is part of our regular enhancement program offering regular small format updates enabling the faster evolution of the software following the major release early this year that reflected a generational shift in the tech underpinning our POS software and a similar shift in the tech at the heart of our database management.

With retail changing rapidly in 2020, it stands to reason that the tools retailers get the most from are those that are evolving, too, to maximise emerging opportunities.

For any with questions about what’s in the software update, in addition to excellent documentation, we offer one on one training as well as personal support from knowledgeable team members. This is the personal human service we have known for, delivering access to helpful tools our retailer customers can rely on, bank on.

As this POS software update was released we are advanced in developing the next update with several streams of enhancement underway across the multiple development projects under way.

This is how good software is developed, multiple streams at once, bringing them to market as they pass QA and beta and are ready for wide commercial release. It’s a tried and true structured process that results in stable software for our customers.

Tower Systems serves small business retailers in niche channels. We are a specialty POS software company serving businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Being across multiple channels in multiple situations broadens our experience and everyone benefits from this diversity.

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Helping small business retailers offer POS software connected click and collect

Click and collect is now universally understood and embraced as a consequence of corona. This is especially true in Victoria Australia where in metro melbourne there is a 6-week hard hard lockdown in place. Click and collect is a lifeblood for retailers in the large lockdown area.

Here at Tower Systems we have been serving small business retailers with click and collect enabled POS software connected to Shopify and other websites all through this. Indeed, click and collect is something shops working with us have been offering for years.

Through Magento, Shopify and Woo POS software connected websites, our click and collect solution can be for drive by curbside contactless pickup, home delivery and traditional click and collect the flexibility is powerful, appreciated and easy for small business retailers as they play in this now important space for small business retailers.

Click and collect is here to stay and even more important, shoppers and retailers understand it. They understand how it works, the opportunities it brings and the health and safety imperative. It is good news for newsagents.

We are proud to have helped many small business retailers bring the click and collect opportunity to life in their businesses and to do this through a seamless connection between our POS software and their e-commerce site.

We do it ourselves in our own websites, too, offering click and collect in the shops we run, where we use our software and websites that our web team have developed, to show off our tech and business operational skills.

retail has fundamentally changes thanks to corona and wee are grateful to the thousands of retailers who partner with us, embracing software we develop and leveraging the tech integrations that we support in the work we do across a range of specialty retail channels.

While corona is challenging for so many, if we can provide income certainty for small business retailers and those who rely on these businesses then it is one less stressor for them. This is where click and collect plays a vital role, in offering an alternative and safe path to revenue for a retail business.

2020 is a year of massive change with tech being at the core of so much change. It’s not done yet as more changes are coming. Our message to small business retailers is that we are here, we have your back through these changes.

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What is epos software and is it relevant to Australian small business retailers

Epos is a term usually used in the UK by companies selling POS software to small business retailers.

So, when you read about epos software here in Australia you are usually reading about POS software. A company using the term epos software is likely to be a UK company promoting, maybe overseas developed software for Australian retailers.

We would say that any software business using the epos term is a company to be wary of if you are an Australian retail business looking to purchase Australian software for. In our experience, epos software is not Australian POS software for Australian businesses. Now, that may not matter to you. If it does not matter, okay. However, if you own an Australian retail business and you want Australian developed software then it may well matter. hence us dropping your attention to the definition of epos software in this blog post.

Knowing what you buy really does matter. Epos software could be good for your business. Locally developed POS software could be good for your business, too. This is why we say do your homework, understand where the software is developed, where it is supported, the terminology that is used in the software, to be sure if it is software for your local needs, using terms that make sense to you. This is critical in the usefulness of the software.

It comes back to the term epos. If you don’;t feel comfortable with that, if it is not immediately recognisable to you, then maybe the software itself will have th same challenge. Phrases and terms do matter in the sense of ease of learning and ease of use when it comes to business management software, especially small business software.

Here at Tower Systems we make, sell and support POS software. We are a local company doing this for local retailers.

Take your time. Ask questions. Do your research.  You being satisfied matters and that is why we say look into anything that feels like uneasy, like the term epos if it is not a term that is common to you.

We serve more than 3,500 small business retailers and everyday we are grateful for their support.

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Free workshop: taking your retail business online

For any small business specialty retailer.

Wednesday August 12 @ 10:30am.

We make awesome specialty POS software for speciality retailers.

We make awesome Shopify and Magento 2 websites connected to our POS software.

Join us Wednesday August 12 @ 10:30am AEST for a free live and interactive and secure Zoom workshop on taking your business online.

We will share insights, advice and experience from websites we run for our own shops and sites we have created for others.

We will talk design, smart text, SEO, SEM and other buzzwords, but we won’t use buzzwords. This will be a plain English workshop. We will be honest about the hungry beast that is a website.

The workshop is free. Just turn up. Click on this link:

https://zoom.us/j/92448828358?pwd=cllQSWFaRitJSkQwSUNYYy9ZTks1dz09
Meeting ID: 924 4882 8358 Passcode: 196319
Wednesday August 12 @ 10:30am AEST.

Or, talk with one of our sales people:

  • VIC / SA: Tim Batt 0401 833 917 tim@towersystems.com.au;
  • QLD / NT / WA: Justin Randall 0434 365 789 justin@towersystems.com.au;
  • NSW/ACT/TAS: Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148 nathan@towersystems.com.au.
  • NZ: sales@towersystems.co.nz or call 0800 444 367.

They can also show you websites connected to our POS software.

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Specialty retail POS software for specialty retailers

Our specialty POS software offers many specialty retail benefits for specialty small business retailers, including:

  1. Colour, size and style: Easily track sales at a granular level.
  2. Club pricing: Helps you attract community group members.
  3. Repairs: Easily track & manage repairs & communicate with customers.
  4. Sell by weight. Sell by fractions. Yes, this software is integrated with scales.
  5. Smart loyalty. While you can use points, we also have something better. In fact, the software offers multiple loyalty options for flexible and engaging loyalty with shoppers.
  6. BOGO: Increase sales with buy this and get that bundling.
  7. Age checking. Giving you the operational structured protection to ensure your front line people are guided to trade within the rules.
  8. Chemical risk notification by products.
  9. Product care information. This is where you can personalise advice to products and thereby better serve your customers, and differentiate your retail business.
  10. Local location product use information.
  11. Warranty: Track details and leverage this for customer service.
  12. Bring them back: Target market for birthdays, anniversaries and more.
  13. Sell anywhere: Using our Retailer RoamTM sell anywhere app.
  14. Sell anytime: With our Shopify / Magento / Woo integrations.
  15. Image flowing to online websites – flowing from the POS software.
  16. Special orders: Easily manage special customer orders.
  17. Jeweller specific product labels.
  18. Outdoor, weatherproof, product labels.
  19. The ability to design your own product labels.
  20. The ability to design your own receipts.
  21. Awesome loyalty: Guide one-time and regular shoppers to spend more.
  22. Seasonal reordering: Easily reorder inventory based on seasonal sales.
  23. Integrate direct with Xero.
  24. Integrate direct with Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce, this includes the feeding of images of inventory items to these platforms for easy online selling.

This is not the complete list. Our POS software is packed with specialty tools through which indie small business retailers can differentiate and deliver more useful outcomes to the business, those who work in the business and to customers of the business.

Our goal is to empower small business retailers with tools that encourage and nurture, tools that are at the core of the business, appreciated, loved and respected. Those are our goals for our POS software and the services we offer our specialty retail customers.

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Click & collect easy for small business retailers with Shopify connected POS software

Click & collect is the buzzword retailers are talking about and have been talking about for several years. Too often, the talk is ignorant.

What is click & collect? It is when a shopper makes a purchase online and they travel to a store and collect the item. The online purchase is the click and the in-store pickup is the collect.

Click & collect is fundamental in any retail business today as it enhances the shopper experience and shopper efficiency. It also enables retail businesses to better manage time and resources in-store.

\Also, in 2020, being the year that it is, click & collect makes for safe retail, contactless retail.

In a click & collect scenario, the shopper chooses what they want online, browsing store inventory and making their selection. They pay on line, too. The goods are gathered together and set up ready for the shopper to collect in-store or even through curbside collection arrangement, meaning they might not even have to leave their vehicle. This is the ultimate click & collect situation, the ultimate convenient shopping experience.

Click & collect is something we have offered in our small business POS software for years, thanks to our integrations with Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. We have helped many retailers bring this experience alive in their single shop situations as well as their multiple shop situations, where shoppers purchase online and can select, if they wish, the location from where they make the collection.

Click & collect is fundamental in retail today, it is a core service, a core consumer expectation and core to the revenue model of many retail businesses. It can be easily managed from the online purchase through to the back end store management.

Tower Systems is pleased to serve small business retailers in the click & collect space, pleased to help these businesses offer this useful and beneficial service as these businesses trade in evolving and unique retail circumstances.

Click & collect has come into its own in 2020 through the greater need for contactless retail. Making it accessible to and understood by small business retailers has been another part of the Tower Systems small business focussed mission, where we help small business retailers more effectively compete with big business.

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Sleepy Saturday feels

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Busy day on the POS software help desk

We had extra people working on our POS software help desk today. It’s a crazy busy time for us, in a good way, as small business retailers are working on their businesses. Add to this plenty of new customers joining our POS software user community and people going live with new websites from us … it makes us busy. So, to manage this we added to our usual Saturday team and it paid off.

We are greatful to our help desk team members who worked today their service was appreciated by our customers and by the rest of the Tower Systems team.

Even on the middle of stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, our service of small business retailers continued, unimpeded. We are glad to have our customers.

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Hiring for the POS software help desk

We are adding another role, a new role, to our POS software help desk, the second net addition in the last month. This is necessary given a solid trajectory of new rooftops in our POS software user community.

We are looking for someone with small business retail experience as understanding the needs of our customers from their perspective is helpful. Excellent communication, a knowledge of tech, including software, and a desire to genuinely help are also key attributes we are looking for.

Serving only small business retailers, personal service matters. We will be looking particularly at candidates who can demonstrate a desire in this area.

We offer excellent training and support for this new role, a full time role, in our Melbourne based business.

If you know someone interested, please have them email me at mark@towersystems.com.au asap.

We get that there is a lot of challenging news out there right now thanks to corona and the mess than is 2020. Here at Tower Systems we serve a diverse pool of specialty retail businesses and this diversity has been key in enabling us to stay open and to add to our customer community.

With the current situation in Victoria, we would on-board the new hire remotely and provide comprehensive training through our considerable remote infrastructure. We may supplement this with some time in the office, occasionally.

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Newsagency retail sales benchmark study results

Tower Systems has completed another in its series of newsagency retail sales benchmark studies. We have been doing these quarterly for more than 15 years, serving newsagents, their suppliers and others.

We gather the data, collate it, analyse it and share the results widely, in pursuit of a stronger and healthier newsagency channel.

It is a free process for all involved, transparent, too.

This study, like all we have undertaken, reveals trends, from which we and newsagents can learn. Here it is…

The results of the June 2020 quarter newsagency retail sales benchmark show the extent to which COVID-19 is impacting businesses.

There are winners and losers.

  • The winners are regional and high street retailers.
  • The losers are shipping centre based retailers.

Looking at comprehensive retail sales data from 137 newsagencies for April – June 2020 compared to April – June 2019, the results underscore the value of the retail newsagency channel to local communities. This is a same-store comparison, making the results meaningful. FYI, I removed stores that were closed for any time in the reporting periods.

Data include a mix of rooftops from several brands. The benchmark includes data from businesses using the Tower newsagency software and several who are not.

Given the extraordinary gap in performance, I share the results separately, because reporting them as one dataset does not make sense.

Shopping centre based retail newsagencies.

  • Transaction count change: down 42%.
  • Revenue change: down 36%.
  • Basket size change: up 11%.
  • Newspaper unit sales: down 15%.
  • Magazine unit sales: down 21%.
  • Cards revenue: down 27%.
  • Stationery revenue:  down 11%.
  • Gift revenue: down 45%.
  • Toy revenue: down 42%.
  • Puzzle revenue: up 5%. A quarter of reporting businesses sell puzzles.
  • Instant lottery revenue: up 9%. Half reporting businesses have lotteries.
  • Lottery revenue:  down 5%.

A note about shopping centre data. The dataset in small, just under 10% of respondents. However, the gap between respondents is small.

High street newsagencies.

  • Transaction count change: down 5%.
  • Revenue change: up 27%.
  • Basket size change: up 20%.
  • Newspaper unit sales: down 5%. early din, there was a jump, which has disappeared.
  • Magazine unit sales: up 5%.
  • Cards revenue: up 7%. There are pockets of success – female birthday and thank you cards, in particular.
  • Stationery revenue:  up 13%. Homeschooling and home office, of course.
  • Gift revenue: up 25%. Some categories are down while others, like nesting products, are in triple-digit growth.
  • Toy revenue: up 13%.
  • Puzzle revenue: up 150%. Less than half reporting businesses sell puzzles.
  • Instant lottery revenue: up 16%. Just over half reporting businesses have lotteries.
  • Lottery revenue:  up 4%.

A note about this high street data: it includes regional and rural as well as suburban high street. The performance of regional and rural is considerably better than suburban high street for the most part. How much, you ask? Around 33% better is my response.

Embarrassed.

Plenty of regional and high street newsagents are embarrassed to be reporting such good numbers. Their growth while other businesses nearby are struggling makes them not want to be too open about their success. Even within the newsagency channel there are those in growth who do not want to talk about it with newsagents who are way down.

A moving feast.

Looking at early July data, I’d note that it would be wrong to lock the April – June  results into a view for the long term. We are certainly in a period of significant change. The next quarter results could be different again.

What have we learned from the last 3 and 6 months?

  • Shopping local has been embraced.
  • The high street feels safer than a shopping mall.
  • Newsagencies are trusted and appreciated businesses.
  • Our channel is essential.
  • A newsagency is a good business to own overall.

While we have learned more, this list is my key points.

Finally, we are grateful to all newsagents who shared their data for inclusion in this study.

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What’s working in small business local retail through the second lockdown in Victoria?

We are grateful to see sales data from a range of different Victorian retail businesses using our POS software. Here are trends from the latest Victorian lockdown:

  • Relaxing products. The jigsaw surge from March and April is back but in an expanded form – adult colouring, art and craft, journaling, cross-stitch, knitting, games and art. Smart retailers are selling these items as well as offering customers opportunities to connect with others doing this.
  • Nesting. This category is surging not only in Victoria but nationally. Nesting includes candles, diffusers, essential oils, rugs, cushions, homewares, pets, cooking and related.
  • Tactile products. We have seen a surge in cuddleable (not a word I know but it best describes it) products. This segment includes plush and other soft toys, pets, rugs, blankets, pillows and similar. With touching and hugging discouraged, it stands to reason that people seek out alternatives.
  • Easy shopping. We have seen retailers gain sales by making shopping easier through packaging items often bought together and having these placed front of store and at the counter.
  • Postable gifts. People are loving that they can easily send a gift to people they are unable to see.
  • Working from home. For some, this is now a permanent arrangement. Many retail channels have offers they can make to those working from home and businesses with employees working from home. The opportunities are usually broader than retailers think.
  • Contactless retail. Having the EFTPOS machine shopper facing and situated for easy tap and having in place arrangements for the lowest cost possible to the business for EFTPOS.
  • Online. Having an online offer matters. While people like the safety of having goods shipped, they also like click and collect and they like to use the website to ensure you have something in stock before they visit the shop.
  • Online events. More retailers are hosting events to show off new products and offer education –  Zoom, Facebook live and similar events. Unboxings, educating on new products meet the maker and more.
  • Christmas has started early. Yes, we are seeing Christmas purchases already in businesses that are offering Christmas stock.

While the pandemic has disrupted business, in that disruption are opportunities. The Victorian situation is a reminder that disruption is not temporary. We think history will show that winners will be those businesses that adapted early and were able to finesse their offering and processes as the market demanded.

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Tower Systems head office remains open through stage 4 lockdown in Victoria

Working in a permitted industry and fulfilling Permitted Roles enables us to maintain our head office in Hawthorn, a suburb of inner Melbourne, open for business.

While we operate the head office with minimal staff in a Covid Safe operation, being open here at the office allows us to provide an enhanced level of service.

The majority of our team members are working from home and have been dong so since March thanks to our VoIP phone tech and our other platforms including a secure commercial Zoom account, a secret commercial Teams account and more.

Given the businesses operating in a hosted environment through data centres we facilitate and other services we provide, some out of our head office, we meet several points of criteria laid down by Justice Victoria. For our customers and the businesses they run, we are here, delivering business as usual services.

To be sure, we have completed the appropriate Department of Justice paperwork. We also have a visible and adhered Covid Safe plan for the office as well as protocols for those who do attend the office.

Here at Tower Systems it is 100% business as usual.

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Helping essential retailers retailers serve customers through COVID-19

As a core business software partner of retailers designated by government as being essential, Tower Systems is proud to be of service to these retailers, ensuring uptime for their POS software and other software we have provided for business management use.

In addition to our POS software, we offer other infrastructure opportunities and services in service of essential small business retailers. This includes cloud hosting, C2B and B2B online transactions, theft mitigation, food chain inventory management and more.

Our POS and other software are at the core of the operations of plenty of specialty retailers classed by governments as essential. Our role in their essential operations is important, something of which we are sincerely proud.

While most of our operation is remote and has been for months through 2020, some services, from time to time, we are office based as needed for infrastructure support and use.

Essential retailers are providing vital and essential services for communities and that is where we play a role as many essential services rely on core infrastructure providers to ensure that their essential services businesses can continue to trade through.

2020 is an odd year with plenty off challenges confronted already and plenty more to come. Here at Tower Systems we have rolled with the challenges, embracing those we can and managing our response as needed to help our customers and help others who rely on us.

Being flexible has been key in the first 7 months of this year and most recent challenges in Australia especially have been complex to confront.

Having customers across all Australian states and territories has helped as has having customers in New Zealand. This along with our placement of Tower Systems team members working across Australia and New Zealand has helped us be balanced in our work and service, especially of essential businesses.

Being a broad-based business that serves locally owned and run independent specialty retail; businesses helps us serve in 2020 in ways that matter not only to these businesses but to those served by these businesses. This is especially true in local and regional communities.

Serving essential businesses is a responsibility we take seriously and with sincere appreciation.

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Inventory software for Australian retailers – boring but essential

The topic of inventory software can be boring for small business retailers. What we say is that inventory software is not boring. Indeed, the topic of inventory software is critical to the success of small business retail, core to the success of a retail business.

Aussie POS software company Tower Systems develops and supports inventory software for small business retailers.

Our inventory software is smart and focussed on the successful, timely and cost effective management of stock, inventory, for small business retailers.

Using our inventory software we help retailers:

  1. Reduce dead stocks had inventory.
  2. Track and mitigate theft of stock.
  3. Order inventory based on sales evidence.
  4. Better locate inventory in the business based on comparative sales data.
  5. Understand changes in shopper engagement re inventory with a business.
  6. Understand the performance on inventory suppliers compared to other inventory suppliers to the business.

Our inventory software is part of our small business POS software. It is a piece of a comprehensive solution for small business retail managing retail sales, supplier relationships, mitigating theft and more.

At the individual inventory stock item level to the category level and department level, invoice level and more this POS software helps small business retailers to make smart inventory management decisions. It is comprehensive in its function and everyday useful at the small business management end.

So, yes, inventory software can be a boring topic. However, it can be a valuable topic for any retail business, valuable to the financial performance of a business. It is not boring at all. Indeed, it is essential to any retail business for success with inventory is successor the retail business.

Inventory software is core to any POS software, essential, in fact.

Here at Tower Systems, our POS software continues to evolve and serve new and expanding needs in these and other areas. This is what you expect for POS software, evolving to serve market expanding needs.

Tower Systems serves in excess of 3,500 small business retailers across Australia and New Zealand with specialty retail POS software in a broad range of areas, serving niche retail marketplaces, and including this important area of inventory software.

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Covid resources for small business retailers

We first shared these resources with our POS software customers in one of our daily update emails.

  • Click here for the SafeWork Australia Covid resource page.
  • Click here for a No Mask No Entry sign.
  • Click here for a range of poster from the federal department of health relating to covid.
  • Create your own action plan should your business be designated non essential and required to close for a while.
    • Know how to access the software from home.
    • Have a list of what to take from the shop.
    • Re-check your backup arrangements.
    • Run a trial so you can see what works and what does not work – you want to discover this in advance.
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NEW: Online workshop for small business retailers on getting online successfully

Tuesday August 4, at 12:30pm, please join us for an open workshop on selling online. Everyone is welcome. Bring your questions as they will guide where the discussion flows. We’d love to explore what to sell, how to sell, how to ship and what to consider in going online. Here is the link to join:

https://zoom.us/j/99337852843?pwd=UVRxcjJyQ0J6WG5WTlRkdFA3bCs4Zz09
Meeting ID: 993 3785 2843 Passcode: 071157

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Aussie gift shop POS software helping local gift shops deal with the 2020 retail challenges

The new gift shop software from Tower Systems is delivering practical and everyday outcomes to small business retailers on the high street and in shopping centres as they deal with an unusual 2020 in retail.

Using this POS software for gift shops, small business retailers can tap into many benefits, including these …

  • Get rid of manual books at the counter for LayBys, special orders, stock you need to order and more.
  • Cut dead stock and re-order based on data facts.
  • Cut theft by knowing what is being stolen.
  • Eliminate LayBy and get you paid sooner with buy now pay later.
  • Make price comparison harder with bundled packs.
  • Easily and consistently pitch locally sourced products.
  • Drive community group member engagement with group pricing.
  • Get one-time-only shoppers spending more with loyalty tools.
  • Bring customers back with reminders on dates important to them.
  • Save money on bookkeeping by integrating with Xero.
  • Leverage your knowledge on receipts and elsewhere. Sell you.
  • Reach beyond your four walls with a directly linked Shopify store.

The latest version of our Aussie made and supported gift shop software, released two months ago, is visually and technically fresh. It’s made for Australian gift retailers to help you run a more valuable business.

It is designed for gift shops large and small, on the high street and in shopping centres – specialty and niche and broadly based. Homewares shops, too. This is terrific software designed to help gift retailers land more business locally and thanks to the Shopify link on line too.

Packaged into a small weekly rental price, here is what gift shop retailers get from our gift shops POS software:

  1. Australian developed and supported jeweller business POS software.
  2. Unlimited computer licences for your location.
  3. Software updates as we release them.
  4. Tyro link – fast and easy EFTPOS link – plus access to our least cost fee.
  5. Shopify / Magento / Woo link. Easily sell online from your POS software.
  6. Xero link. Easing bookkeeping costs and streamlining accounting.
  7. Our OzBiz link. This helps you link to MYOB and Quicken through OzBiz.
  8. PC Eftpos link. This offers easy EFTPOS processing for the major banks.
  9. Easy buy now pay later options with Zip Pay and Humm.
  10. Support – help desk access.
  11. Training – unlimited one-on-one training over the phone.
  12. User documentation. Access to our searchable knowledge base.
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More advice for small business retailers connecting POS software to a Shopify website

What you get out of having a Shopify site or any website created for your retail business is up to you. This is important to consider because we see retailers sometimes think that turning on a website drives success. That alone does not.

Here in this article we seek to provide an example of some advice we share with retailers considering a website created by us. This information, along with other comprehensive information and advice we provide, is intended to educate and guide small business retailers in getting online and getting online through us.

A Shopify site, like any website, is a hungry beast. By this we mean that it  needs to be fed, with new content and changes, regularly.

  1. Continue to add products and ensure they are named and described how people would search for them. For example, if you sell a Mickey Mouse teacup, in your POS software you might call it teacup – Mickey. From a search perspective, it needs to be called: Disney Mickey Mouse teacup.
  2. Refresh your landing page descriptions. A landing page is a collection page on which you have items for that collection. Write 3 or 4 crisp sentences of 15 or 20 words each with the sentences punching keywords people are likely to search for. Remember, you are writing more for the search engines than humans.
  3. The best photos are those you take, of single products. A photo of a display is not easily understood by humans or Google.
  4. Add articles. Your knowledge could be what differentiates your business from any competitor. Indeed, non-product content will most likely drive more traffic than product content. Write articles about what you sell and your business more broadly. Fresh text-based content helps drive the authority of your website. Each article should these rules to engage with Google:
    1. Be at least 350 words.
    2. Use a keyword or key phrase at 5+ times through the article.
    3. Be your own written fresh content.
    4. Cover a single topic or focus.
  5. Get suppliers and others to link to you. The more the better.
  6. Sell products on additional channels: Facebook, Instagram & eBay.
  7. Regularly pitch your site on social media.
  8. Use Shopify’s abandoned cart feature to push sales.
  9. Pitch promotional discounts to draw in new customers.

This is not everything. It is designed to be a guide, to get indie retailers thinking early.

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Advice for retailers considering establishing a POS software connected website

With so many small business retailers implementing POS software connected websites, we are leaning into providing fresh and useful advice for for retailers early for them to consider this prior to making plans for their website.

We have developed this advice based on years of experience in creating Shopify sites for small business retailers.

This is written for people who think they want a Shopify website for their business but don’t know where to start, don’t know which option to go with, can’t see how you can make money, worry that you won’t have the time. If any of these is you, please start here.

You are not alone. These concerns, feelings, are common.

The reality is that a Shopify site will take more time than you can imagine. It most likely will not obviously make money, most don’t. We say obviously because there are ways websites make money beyond direct sales.

We suggest you approach launching a website as a start-up business. Sure, it may sell some or all of what you sell in your shop. However, it is different, it is its own thing with different needs and different opportunities. Seeing it as a start-up can help. Also, seeing it as a start-up could take you on a fresh path.

You need to love your website. If you don’t it will not get the attention and support it needs from you. By lovewe mean love what it sells, how it does this and how it represents you.

This brings us to what you sell online. That can only be resolved by you. It needs to be something, or a category of things, that people are searching for because if they are not looking, finding shoppers is much harder, something you feel good about.

Starting is key. In our experience, where people land with a website a year on, 2 years on and more is different to where they start. They would not have got there if they had not started. That is key in our view – starting, gaining experience, maybe stumbling or falling before moving on.

Think carefully about what you would like to sell, research it. Take your time. Make the move once you know. Starting before you know what you want to do could be a mistake.

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Helping small business retailers deal with the evolving COVID-19 situation

This week has been particularly challenging in this 2020 time of COVID-19, especially in small business retail where impacts have been considerable. From the challenges of masks in some locations to supply chain issues elsewhere, COVID-19 is imp-acting everyday retail.

We have shared with our customers some thoughts, revisiting past comments and advice…

With the second wave in Victoria now 3 weeks old and problematic infections in NSW and SE Queensland, and with restrictions being tightened as a result, retailers are noticing a fall in foot traffic, with Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the exceptions.

With foot traffic down, it can be disheartening. You can push back on this by having projects in the business on the go, working on the business. We are reminded on earlier advice on day to day operations:

  1. For inventory purchase decisions, be safe and frugal, stick to winners.
  2. Be aware of changes in what will sell now compared to what might be usual for this time of the year.
  3. Look at your data and focus on moving stock that’s not been selling.
  4. Reset the look and feel of the business from existing products and resources.
  5. Be positive on social media.
  6. Tap into any state government grants that may be available.
  7. Keep the business clean and safe, and your employees safe.

In our own business, our approach is to look at corona being with us for the long term. The moves we made re working from home, remote training, remote installs were all for the long term. In our own retail shops our focus has very much been about being online with a terrific surge in sales being experienced.

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Mental health matters, especially for small business retailers

2020 is a tough year, on the back of plenty of tough years for small business retailers.

Drought, bushfires, corona, these and other factors have been impacting communities and small businesses serving those communities.

Small business retailers, their employees and their customers are on the front line, impacted often all to regularly by the mental health challenge.

We think it is timely to pause for a moment in any business and consider how it approaches the issue of mental health, to ensure it has up to date information and leverages the appropriate practices in the business and with all team members.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reinforce why mental health is a 365 day a year challenge:

The stat for suicide among young people is horrifying.

While we are not mental health professionals, we have been in the software and retail businesses for many years and have had experiences working with and supporting people.

We share here today a revised version of information we have shared here before on this.

There are wonderful resources from government departments available. For example, The Victorian Government has a page online on this topic, which includes good practical advice, advice we remind our own team members of regularly:

  1. Make time to exercise each day: For example, a simple daily lunch time walk can help maintain a positive outlook.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness means being aware of your reactions/feelings/thoughts as you have them. This helps you choose how to manage matters as they arise. Mindfulness is a great tool to help lower stress and anxiety levels.
  3. Adopt work/life boundaries: Don’t let work overtake your life. Set some boundaries to ensure you have time for both work and a social life. You might decide not to discuss work from 5pm Friday night to 8am Monday morning because weekends are for family time only.
  4. Connect with others: Find someone worthy of your stories – a confidant or mentor you can talk to about your business experiences. Make sure this person is supportive, a good listener and someone whose opinion you value.

This government website also lists indicators that are helpful for business owners and managers to be across:

  1. Physical signs: For example, a constant knot in your stomach, tense neck and shoulders, feeling nauseous, heart palpitations or chest pains.
  2. Changes in behaviour: For example, being unable to sleep, crying regularly, feeling moody or often irritable, increase or loss of appetite.
  3. Unclear thinking: For example, not being able to make decisions, not understanding directions, not being able to focus, being inattentive.
  4. Feeling sad or anxious regularly: We all have bad days – they’re a normal part of life. This flag needs attention if you begin to notice feeling like this regularly.
  5. Disconnecting from others: This may include not joining in social activities, choosing to spend time away from family and friends or stopping hobbies/sporting activities.
  6. Feeling overwhelmed: It is difficult to find solutions to problems, and in some instances it feels like they are insurmountable. Problem solving becomes difficult

There are links to some excellent resources too:

  1. Business In MindAn online resource specifically designed to support business owners who may be experiencing mental health challenges.
  2. Beyond Blue beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
  3. The Ripple Effect: A resource for rural communities that addresses suicide in rural areas.(Ph: 03 5551 8587)
  4. Sane provides online information, support and connection for every Australian affected by complex mental illness through its website, peer-to-peer forums and helpline. SANE also has a range of factsheets on managing mental health in the workplace. (Ph: 1800 18 7263)

Our approach to mental health as business owners has to be continuous, on-going. It can’t be a one day of the year focus or a stunt. It has to be part of how we run our businesses, everyday.

In our experience, talking is key – offering an environment where people can talk, where they know it is safe to talk, where they are encouraged to talk and where active listening happens. While it is not always perfect and does not always achieve what is hoped for, it is documented as being valuable.

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Our TV commercial…

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New website pitching Father’s Day cards in Australia

We are thrilled to launch Card Emporium, a new online card shop. It launches with Father’s Day cards.

The Father’s Day card range at Card Emporium has been carefully chosen, selected to suit all sorts of Father’s Day card giving occasions.

The site includes advice on what to write on a Father’s Day card.

The online card offer includes dad, grandpa, pop, pa and more. There is step-dad and friend cards, too, serving the broader Father’s Day card need.

Father’s Day 2020 is an interesting occasion with many unable to see dad and connect with him so a card is the safe hun, the healthy hug in the corona world. sending a Father’s Day card could be the ideal gift opportunity for a dad who has been there for their kids through thick and tin, the card says I remember what you have done and what you mean and I appreciate you.

Father’s Day is a big celebration, a big season in the card calendar and this year there are many new Fatjer’s Day cards released to make the season a good and fresh experience for old-hand dads as well as the new dads who are celebrating Father’s Day for the first time.

Through Card Emporium you can order cards to be sent to you. Or, you can order one card for the team to write on it for you and port it to your dad. This is a personal Father’s Day card service, helping you connect with the seasonal occasion 24/7, when it suits you and without having to go outside … which we think is a preferred way off shopping right now.

Shopping online for cards is changing and at card Emporium your goal is to help more card shoppers to have access to more designs that are fresh, fun and emotionally engaging. That is what we have sought to do with our, launch Father’s Day card range.

This Father’s Day, our cards are Australian made and Australian designed. Plus, they raise funds for R U OK?, an important mental health focussed charity in Australia.

For Father’s Day cards in 2020, consider Card Emporium, a new Shopify site from the Tower Systems team. We are here to help you express yourself this Father’s Day and beyond.

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Update on COVID-19 arrangements at Tower Systems

The headline is that it is business as usual at Tower Systems, as it has been all through Covid.

Since March 2020, most of our team members have been working from home. Our head office is open with a skeleton staff covering essential services.

  • Our POS software development team members are all busy enhancing our software, working on updates, new facilities and fine-tuning what we have.
  • Our web development team is business creating several new web and app products as well as creating beautiful Shopify websites.
  • Our customer-facing help desk team members are busy delivering personal support to people who call, email or message us with queries or requests for help.
  • Our new customer trainers are busy training people new to our software, as we are adding new customers weekly.
  • Our leadership team is busy designing strategic moves for the software into 2021, positioning the company for another strong year.

The commitments we made at the start of Covid continue to be held: our support fees have not increased, the free software licence offer for folks working from home is still in place, the no credit card fee policy is still in place, our hardware discount offer is still in place and our specific retail channel support packages are still in place.

Our goal from early March was to provide our customers with a regular year regardless of what Covid brought. We think this focus has been appreciated by small business retailers who, themselves, have sought as normal as possible a year.

Stay safe and well everyone.

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