The June 30 Help Desk rush is on today

Despite our best efforts, today is bound to be a crazy day at the office.  Over the last three weeks we have mailed and emailed advice to our user community on handling the end of the financial year.  While many of our retailers will have followed this advice and properly prepared, enough will have not and seek urgent advice in the final hours of the financial year.  We are as prepared as we can be for this one day of the year.

The Help Desk call traffic will be busier than usual for June 30 because of the Oz Lotto jackpot – this, in itself, is driving extra traffic as our users put through more transactions than ever in processing the largest lottery jackpot in the history of our country.

Our software on TV

Our point of sale software was seen in a TV report with a lottery retailer last night on the Oz Lotto $90 million jackpot.  It’s pretty cool seeing your software at work in a TV news report.

Blocking a would-be newsagent supplier

We had an opportunity to bring on another electronic product for newsagents recently.  We decided against this as it did not meet key criteria (return and newsagent relevance) we have set for new products. We established this criteria once we started receiving approaches from suppliers keen to be part of our 1,000 strong retailer network.

We take our role in representing our customers seriously.  We have to make tough calls but feel well equipped because of our years serving newsagents.

While some products we say no to will find other avenues to newsagent counters, we will stand by our criteria to protect our brand and the businesses of our customers.

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Flexible receipts

For years we have offered receipts in A4 and A5 sizes as well as on regular reeceipt rolls.  We are about to release greater flexibility in the style of these receipts, allowing for better font selection and logo inclusion.  We’re making these changes based on recent user feedback – especially in higher-end marketplaces.  The latest changes will be delivered in our next update.

No tax break for software mocks innovation and small business policies

An article in the Australian Financial Review on Friday about businesses buying art for the office because of the tax break investment allowance demonstrated the absurdity of aspects of the tax break.  Thanks to the treatment of software as an intangible, it is not eligible for the tax break.  However, art is a tangible asset and therefore qualifies.

Politicians from both sides need to resolve this. Software is a good investment for business.  Especially Australian software developed for Australian businesses.

Art, while nice in an office, will not lift business productivity the same as good software.

If our politicians wants a robust IT industry and greater efficiency from business then they need to address the treatment of software and make it eligible for the tax break.

I have written again to the Treasurer’s office about this, in response to their last letter to me.

Exciting training opportunities for retailers and retail employees

We are excited to be offering these three different and valuable FREE online training workshops for retailers and retail staff this week:

  • Software Security: 30 Jun 2009, Time: 11:00.  Learn about the many security features in Tower Systems POS software.
  • Retail Stock Management – Configuration & Maintenance: 30 Jun 2009, 14:00.  Learn how to care for your business data and get better stock management results.
  • Stock Reordering: 2 Jul 2009, 11:00.  Learn how to use our reordering facilities to reorder stock which serves your business well  This session will help you take control and cut poor stock decisions!

Each will offer practical help in getting more from our retail management software.  The sessions will be totally interactive – you get to ask questions just as if you were in a room with all workshop participants.

All you need is access to a computer with broadband connected and a phone line close by for a toll free call for the audio content.

Book online here.

Come an join us and learn how to save more time and money!

Saturday support for retailers

Our Saturday Help Desk service handles, on average, forty to fifty incidents.  Each incident could take several calls.  More than half the calls are not software related.  We are called because we are available on Saturday.  The calls which do not relate to our software are either hardware or stock supplier related.  In these instances we try and help.

Our office based Saturday Help Desk is provided in addition to our after hours coverage – two separate teams are used.

We have found that making support easily accessible to retailers, when they need access, is as important as providing high quality POS software.

Saturday support is driving excellent word of mouth for us.

This is on my mind today because I received a phone call this morning from someone grateful for our help with a hardware issue brough on by changes made to their system yesterday by a local technician.  He was not able to raise the local technician today and we were able to ge his hardware up and running and business trading.

Cutting eftpos mistakes

The most common feedback we receive from users who switch from traditional bank terminal eftpos machines to the Tyro POS integrated broadband eftpos solution is about the reduction in mistakes. There is no manual entry of the amount being billed. Each keystroke eliminated is a potential mistake eliminated.

Research we have seen indicates that eftpos mistakes can cost a retail business thousands of dollars a year as up to 1% of transactions have errors as a result of keystroke mistakes.

The user feedback we are receiving tells us that we have certainly addressed the goal of reducing mistakes.

New hardware advice released

We have updated the advice sheet which outlines hardware standards and setup requirements.  This is available now from our website.  This sheet is used by local hardware suppliers and technicians to ensure that hardware is supplied and setup to meet our standards.

XchangeIT magazine returns trial performing well

We are participating with Network Services in a pilot of the new XchangeIT new platform. This pilot is running well based on feedback we have received including this:

We have just sent a whole month of returns – Current & Supplemental (Early & Late) And It WORKED. Within 2 minutes 4 emails came flying back from Network giving all the credits, $$$ Values and an exception report for 4 magazines that were rejected. Not bad when considering it is our COMPLETE June Recalls 145current and 792supplemental magazines.

Logging in to Net Online and it took me straight to the Exception and Confirmation page where it showed all the Supplemental returns and the $$ Value. For a Supplemental claim of $4,250.45 from Retailer’s Returns Form we received $4,238.17. NOT BAD… I wouldn’t go looking for the $12 but it may be a cost price issue discrepancy with Retailer?

Well Done Tower, XchangeIt and Network. The Pilot looks like a Success!

Our development, testing and support teams have worked hard to bring this long-sought innovation to newsagents.  The time saving and cash-flow benefits will be considerable.

POS software blocks access by retailers

pos_solutions_newsagent_software.jpgTower Systems refuses to block users from accessing their software or business data should they choose to not continue with support coverage.  Not all software companies are the same.  Click on the image for a larger version of a photo of a screen which appeared on a computer in one newsagency earlier this year.  Contact with the company left them with no doubt that they would be blocked from accessing their software and their business data if they did not pay the support fee.

As I said at the start of this post, Tower Systems does not block access.  Our view is that once a business buys our computer software, they have a licence to use the software for as long as they like and without any requirement to pay annual support fees.

While the majority of our users do pay a support fee, it is their choice and not done as a result of blackmail to give them access to their own business data.

Attending Sydney Home and Giving Fair and Brisbane Gift Fair

We are making our final preparations for our stands at gift fairs in Brisbane and Sydney.  Next weekend, we will be at the GHA Home and Giving Fair in Sydney and the Reed Gift Fair in Brisbane.  It has been a challenge to double our trade show equipment and collateral to ensure that we look 100% at each event.

Trade shows are proving to be very successful for us this year, leading to excellent supplier relationships and new customers.

If you find yourself at either of these trade shows please be sure to stop by and say g’day.

Meeting newsXpress members

We have been appreciating the opportunity to meet with newsXpress newsagents at their Market Fairs around the country this past week. We have taken the opportunity to show off some innovative work we have done to help newsXpress members improve business efficiency and work more cohesively.

Promoting the OzLotto jackpot

Newsagents using our software are able to easily promote the OzLotto jackpot, the largest ever in Australia, automatically on their receipts thanks to a free facility in our software.  Advice sheet G32 at our website advises how to use this facility.

Police compliance and secondhand goods

We have been careful to ensure that our new secondhand goods facilities meet police reporting and EDI requirements.  NSW Police are the most advanced in this area and their standards have offered us good guidance.

Our secondhand goods facilities will be useful across several marketplaces with jewellers, newsagents and bike retailers all faced with secondhand goods opportunities.  From within our software, our retailers will be able to track necessary details when trading in secondhand goods and, in doing so, fulfil their legal obligations.

The beta release of our secondhand goods software will be released next month.

Multiple barcodes for one stock item

linkedstock2.JPGChanging barcodes can be a pain for retailers.  This can happen when a supplier pulls stock from one country to another.  Ink cartridges, for example, have been known to have three or four different barcodes for the one stock item. Binders are another example where a binders of different colours may have separate barcodes yet are reordered in a pack of mixed colours.

There are plenty of examples in other areas of retail where multiple barcodes relate to the same item – for stock reordering purposes at least.

Our Link Stock Items facility is receiving kudos from a number of quarters including newsagents who have recently switched from other software which does not offer this facility.

Helping retailers manage items with different barcodes is another way we are delivering genuine value through our software.

Retail employee and owner training in POS software

Those participating love learning through our free online POS software training workshops. Retailers and their employees learn from home or your shop. FREE. Yes, free. . Here is a list of Tower Systems free online training available for the rest of this month:

  • XchangeIT EDI Compliance 23/06/2009 11am
  • End Of Financial Year Procedures 23/06/2009 2pm
  • Second Hand Goods 25/06/2009 11am
  • Magazine Management Workshop 25/06/2009 2pm
  • Retailer Security 30/06/2009 11am
  • Retail Stock Management – Configuration & Maintenance 30/06/2009 2pm

It’s easy to book online.

How valuable is postcode data to retailers?

We are helping several retailers analyse sales by postcode for their businesses. The results are truly fascinating.

In one case we are tracking the success of external marketing – for the first time this business can see results directly tied to a recent consumer focused letterbox campaign. This is enabling an accurate assessment of the return on investment in marketing.

In another case we are tracking the word of mouth spread relating to a new product being carried by the business. They are able to track sales and geographic spread of this new product compared to another new product introduced into the business.

Postcode sales data, laid alongside basket and other sales data from a retail business can provide a more useful of the performance of products and categories. We are grateful for opportunities to work with our customers to help them unlock the value of this data.

These experiences add to our understanding of what we can achieve through better data cultivation.  They also show that postcode data is tremendously valuable to retailers.

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Tyro broadband eftpos available for bike retailers

Our integrated Tyro broadband eftpos solution is now available for bike retailers using our software. This brings the time and money savings of Tyro to a whole new marketplace.  Bike retailers, like other retailers using our Tyro eftpos interface, will enjoy:

  • Faster processing.  Approvals are achieved in one or two seconds.
  • Fewer mistakes.  Fewer keystrokes means fewer mistakes.
  • Lower costs.  The Tyro fees are usually considerably less than for a regular bank eftpos service.
  • Cleaner counter.  The Tyro pinpad is setup in such a way to de-clutter the counter.

The high cost of viruses

Computer viruses can really hurt small business users.  Often, the virus presents as some other problem.  This causes a call to our Help Desk.  It is only after some research that we find a virus to be the cause.

The cost of not having up to date virus protection software can be high.  We charge for work we undertake to fix up problems caused by viruses.  This is only fair given that the cost to us can be hours of lost Help Desk time.

It is important to small business software users to protect their businesses.  Virus protection software is like insurance – you cannot want it after the loss has been incurred.

We repeat our virus warning advice regularly.

POS software security facilities enhanced

Last month, we quietly released enhanced security facilities in our point of sale software.  The new facilities focus on reducing employee and customer fraud against businesses using the enhanced software.

Months in development, the enhaanced security facilities are truly state of the art and unique to our software in our marketplaces.  Our work has been done in association with experts in retail security.

We know that fraud / theft in retail costs between 3% and 5% of turnover.   Risk of discovery is key to reducing the cost to a business.  Our enhanced facilities provide the business owner with better facilities with which to discover a problem.