Why DOS software is dead

DOS software has no place in forward thinking retail businesses.

DOS was originally released by Microsoft 1981.  The latest version, MS-DOS 6.22, was released in 1994. It is more fifteen years old. DOS can be susceptible to file corruptions and errors because it often utilizes less reliable databases.  It’s age makes it more vulnerable to other challenges.DOS is difficult to train younger employees on. DOS does not meet supplier standards in so many retail channels.

Yes, DOS is dead.  Spending money on it is wasted and has been for the last tean years.

Point of sale integrated security camera cuts theft

Our POS software integrated security camera system has helped another of our customers address a theft problem.  While many systems claim to be integtrated with point of sale software, few are.

In this latest incident, we were able to help our customer catch someone scamming the business with bogus refund requests.  While the amount involved this time was relatively small, providing a consistent process for retail staff to follow can save a business thousands of dollars a year.

We are close to releasing an enhanced security bridge between our retail management software and the security camera system with which we link which will enhance further the Tower Systems security offer.

Second-hand good software for beta release

Our new second-hand goods software facility will be placed into beta release with our next software update – due in April.  Helping retailers meet the regulatory requirements for handling second-hand goods, this module is set to save many of our customers significant time and money.

Based on feedback, we know it will serve a broad cross-section of marketplaces – handling second-hand goods is not limited to one or two retail channels.

The initial release is a true beta.  That is, it will be bumpy.  This is a completely new area for us and while we have consulted widely – including regulators in various states – there will be areas of handling second-hand goods which we have not addressed as well as we might.

We need to get the beta release out so that we get good in-the-field feedback.  Our commitment is to quickly respond to feedback and release updates to ensure that the final commercial release is truly valuable.

In addition to serving customers already in the second-hand space, we anticipate that this new software will invite others to consider second-hand goods as a new category for their business.

Magazine management workshop features in training

We are hosting more free online training for Tower Systems POS software user community this week.  The magazine management workshop is our most popular session this year. Newsagents and their staff enjoy the new information shared and the operational tips we pass on.

  • Magazine Management Workshop: 31/03/2009 11am All you need to know
  • Retail Stock Management: 31/03/2009 2pm Configuration & Maintenance
  • Retail Stock Management: 2/04/2009 11am Retail Stock Management: Smart stock reordering
  • Point Of Sale: 2/04/2009 2pm training for sales staff and owners

Access to this training is free.  eash session includes a good Q&A time so all of your questions can be answered.  There is a short test to ensure that the workshop has been truly valuable.

Book for these sessions at our webiste – support / user meetings.

Helping newsagents navigate the News Ltd Alpha mess

News Ltd late Friday afternoon announced major changes to the distribution of Alpha, Australia’s top selling men’s monthly magazine.  News cut newsagent margin by 40% and is taking over home delivery sales won by newsagents over the last three years.

Tower Systems is committed to helping newsagents make the right business decisions through this.  Our newsagency POS software helps is in the form of guidance:

  • Our Title Detail Report shows the breadth of commercial activity for Alpha.
  • The 10×10 Report shows what sells with Alpha.
  • The Magazine Sell Through Rates Report shows the sell through performance of Alpha.
  • The Magazine Cashflow Report shows the cashflow impact of Alpha on the business.

While we have other reports in our software, those listed will be the most useful for newsagents wanting to assess the impact of this move by News Ltd.

We will help Tower Newsagents produce reports from their data.  We will assess these reports and help newsagents develop a view of the economic cost of the decision by News.

We consider the move by News Ltd to be unjust and unfair against hardworking small businesses, businesses which have played a key role in making Alpha what it is today.

We are affected by this decision as we own newsagencies too.

Use of TYRO broadband eftpos grows

We are seeing considerable growth in the uptake of Tyro broadband eftpos payment processing through our software.  We are personal champions of the service since we use it in our retail businesses.  This personal experience allows us to speak first hand about the value to the business of reduced mistakes and improved speed.

The Tyro link is by far the easier for our users to establish.

New gift shop software offer

We have just launched a new hardware and software package offer for gift shop owners.  Called our Autumn Deal, the package offer is enticing for gift shop owners who want to improve the return they achieve from their business.

Compliance strategy helps newsagents

A review of the compliance performance of Tower Newsagents shows that they are the largest group of IT compliant newsagents in the channel. Tower Newsagents are more likely to pay the lowest EDI data access fees in the channel. This is another tangible benefit of using the Tower software – a benefit of which we are most proud.

We lead on compliance by working closely with the suppliers, making compliance easy, offering considerable free training opportunities for our users and backing this with a knowledgable team of support expert.

Not wanting to rest on our laurels, we are working further with newsagent suppliers and our user community on further improving compliance. With the next round of changes on the EDI front the benefits for compliant newsagents will increase significantly.

New jeweller repairs software delayed

UPDATE (23/4/2009):  We are on track for release of our new repairs software in May.

The new repairs facility we have developed for our jeweller users is delayed. It has not passed our quality assurance hurdles to enable it to go into beta release. The current goal is that we will reach beta release by early April.

This is a completely new software module – replacing the repairs facility which we previously supplied. The scope of functionality is considerable – thanks to excellent guidance from some in our user community for whom repairs is key to their business.

Even though we call this a repairs module, it is used for a range of other business functions.

The business building meeting with users

We have been talking about our next round of face to face user meetings – they will commence in the first week of May and run the whole month – and especially about the content.  We like to deliver something extra, beyond what you would usually expect from a software company user meeting.

Our plan for this next round of meetings is to use them a roll-your-sleeves-up business building sessions.  This will help our users in a valuable and practical way.  We will announce the specific content next week.

We have concentrated considerable effort over the last year in developing the business analysis and advisory skills of our team so that they can offer another view of the performance of a business running our software.  We have also worked closely with suppliers to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of helping our users better interface with suppliers.

This next round of user meetings will provide an opportunity to put that to practical use and, hopefully, encourage our users to achieve money saving advances.

Tower Newsagents win Newsagent of the Year Awards

Congratulations to our customers Van Nguyen Tuan Tra of Wincamden Newsagency for winning the Distribution Newsagent of the Year Award and Allen and Brenda Kavanagh of Greenhills Newsagency for winning Retail Newsagent of the Year award. At the NANA Awards Dinner last night in Sydney.

We were pleased to have had the opportunity to be at the awards dinner and see their win first hand.

We serve more than 600 newsagents in NSW and will see this number grow significantly this year based on current numbers.

When the ISP gets it wrong

One of our Internet Service Providors made some changes two nights ago which knocked out our email access for more than a day. They claimed the problem was at our end while we claimed the problem was at their end. Our email was back online once they fixed the problem at their end. The downtime was a reminder of the importance of a robust IT infrastructure. We are having a discussion with our ISP as a result as they may not be as robust as we would have liked.  Certainly, the service we experienced was not as good as we have been promised.

Reward for effort in the cost of access to EDI

The new XchangeIT pricing for newsagents of a penalty of 50% for old technology (not ours) and 100% for non-compliant sales data demonstrates the value of using good software backed by the support necessary to be compliant.  While the price penalty does not go far enough for the old technology or non-compliant newsagents, it is a start to reward good operators.  We welcome this start.

Tower Newsagents are more likely to be compliant on the current data.  Our user community is in good shape and we will work hard to help all to stay at the financially rewarding level. We are across the detail and will announce the plan to coincide with our next national user meeting tour.

Pursuing better business data for newsagents

Thanks to openness between several newsagent suppliers and our technical support team we identify newsagents who may have data problems in their businesses and work with them on overcoming these problems.

While we have been engaged in this proactive work for years, we now receive better data from a couple of suppliers which is helping us help our customers improve their situation.

Once we demonstrate the commercial value of good data, we usually see business practices changed to maintain this.

Training topic invitation

We are looking at our Training Academy curriculum plans beyond the current schedule which ends in late April. We would welcome customer feedback on training topics which we could include. If you have suggestions, please lodge these through the contact us area of our website.

Free day of POS training for new business owners

For some years now we have been providing a day of training at no cost when someone purchases a business using our Tower Systems point of sale software.  This free day of training provides a good basic level of understanding – usually in advance of the take over.

This free day of training has been beneficial for us as it has reduced the support burden of a new owner.  It has also helped us establish good business practices before the takeover and armed new owners to resist continuing with any bad practices they encounter.

We have recently reviewed the cost benefit of providing the free days and by every measure, ours and our customer’s, it is a tremendous success.  The free day stays – it is another reason to use Tower Systems software as it is a benefit to offer when you come to sell the business.

Improving product presentation with price tickets

forchino_buggy.JPGThis buggy by renowned Argentinean artist Guillermo Forchino sells for around $300.  It it one of many beautiful and comic pieces by him.  Our customers selling this and other similarly-priced gift and jewellery lines cannot price these in the usual way.  They need a price ticket which reflects the quality and value of the item.  We have such high-end price tickets in our suite of pricing options – this comes from serving in a variety of different yet curiously complimentary marketplaces.  At the very high end, we have silver and gold price tickets which can connect to the product without sticking to the surface.  The price tickets themselves are of a quality which respects the product and shows a care by the retailer for the item.

Our software supports a range of price ticket options from the low cost sticker type to the high end butterfly slimline type which we would suggest for the Forchino piece.  This flexibility is reflected elsewhere in our software.  It demonstrates how we can evolve with our customers.

New advice on sharing sales data with newspaper publishers

Our Tower Systems Support Team has prepared advice on how to use our software to provide sales data to newspaper publishers.  This advice (N4.3) helps our users comply with latest requirements put by newspaper publishers in various states.  Given that the advice relates to the latest version of our software it is only available from the Tower Advantage tm area of our website.

Upgrading the hardware list

Thanks to recent development and testing we are in a position to extend the list of hardware which is approved to operate with our software.  The new list will be published later this week and will include additional printers and other devices.  This increases options for our users.

We have a structured process for adding hardware to this list – it needs to pass considerable tests and be backed by good manufacturer support.

Helping POS Solutions users transition to Tower

This week we run our third workshop this year for newsagents using the POS Solutions software who are moving to our Tower Systems software.  In the workshop we present the transition process, discuss the differences and outline how more than 200 other newsagents have successfully followed this path.

We understand that it can be daunting to change software and seek, through this free workshop and our face to face training, to make the road as smooth as possible.  The workshop is run by a former newsagent and is jargon-free.

The workshop is also an opportunity for newsagents to talk with each other and share ideas on practical aspects of the transition including dealing with POS Solutions once they find out.  While the workshop is for those who have moved, we are happy to add some who may be considering the move.