First mover advantage on Gotch magazine adjustments

As the first newsagent software company to deliver an integrated direct to Gordon and Gotch supply change request, we are enjoying first mover advantage on this and related innovation.  Yesterday, we won a sale by proving that we had a facility which one of our competitors did not have and claimed we did not have.

Here at Tower Systems we take our sales and marketing claims seriously.  If we say we have a facility, we have the facility.  It makes a competitor look dumb when they say we do not have something which we have advertised and the sales prospect contacts us to find out who is telling the truth – ourselves or our competitor.

This particular competitor has form in saying things about us which are not true.

As we proved yesterday, we were telling the truth … and another newsagent joins the Tower Systems user community.  Karma.

GNS Market Fair in Melbourne this weekend

We have some nice innovation on display on our stand at the GNS Market fair in Melbourne this weekend. In addition to the latest release of our software, we will also be showing off our exclusive Gordon and Gotch supply adjustment initiative, our Tyro broadband eftpos link – now used by 400 of our customers, the Blackhawk gift cards and a range of other facilities which help Tower Newsagents make more money from their IT investment.

If you find yourself at the Melbourne GNS Market Fair this weekend, stop by and say hello.

Improved Ezidebit handling

Thanks to terrific customer feedback we have developed some helpful enhancements to the Ezidebit customer payments facility in our software. Using Ezidebit, our Point of Sale software customers in Australia and New Zealand can more easily process customer payments. The latest enhancements are being delivered in version 2.2.3C of our software which moves into wide release in a few days.

Facebook training videos coming

Encouraged by the popularity of the Facebook training we have been running, we have been working on our Facebook training videos.  They will enable more of our retail customers to access our training in their own time.

Hiring success for the help desk

We are thrilled to announce success in filling a new Help Desk role in our Melbourne office.  This additional position will be filled on Monday.  Following intensive training our new team member will be taking calls and helping our customers.  He has experience in newsagencies, hvaing worked in several while developing excellent IT skills.  We will annouce more details once he starts with us.

Coming to GHA Home & Giving Fair Melbourne

Our Gift shop software team has been preparing for the Melbourne Home & Giving Fair in ten days time.  This is an exciting fair based on our experience last year and based on the good sales we have already achieved from the same fair in Sydney just three weeks ago.

We will have the very latest version of our gift shop software as well as our homewares software on show at the trade show … plus an exciting surprise or two.

Trade shows this year are proving to be a successful way to promote our software – and to connect face to face with our customers.

How gift cards can help increase sales and cash flow

donna-hay-gift-card.jpgMany of our customers are embracing proprietary gift cards, cards which are branded to their business.  Just like the cards we have made for the Donna Hay General Store – users of our Point of Sale software.

With these business specific gift cards, our customers are able to achieve sales when their customer is unsure.  They are also able to bring forward the cash-flow benefits of the sale.

Using the comprehensive gift card facilities in our software, our customers can manage balances and other administration aspects of their gift cards – easily and from the sales counter.

Thanks to good contacts in China and our in-house design team, we are able to produce cards to a high standard and with appropriate security for the business.

National Help Desk expansion

The interviews with candidates for a new position on our Help Desk yesterday were terrific, some excellent people presented with good skills and a strong desire to help small business retailers.  While the choice has been difficult we have reached a decision and two offers will go out today.

5 Reasons Why Customer Loyalty Programs Fail in Some Retail Businesses

I was was asked recently to write an article about loyalty programs in retail stores and to explore why some do not work as expected.  Having worked with a wide varietyof retail businesses on managing their loyalty programs through our Point of Sale software, I was able to draw on this experience to share the following thoughts…

Loyalty programs in retail stores are meant to increase sales. If a loyalty program is not facilitating this in an independent retail store then it is probably failing the business.

While some retailers, notably some national retail chains, run loyalty programs to gather data as a more important goal than rewarding customers, at the independent retail level it is usually about business growth.

So why do some such programs created to drive loyalty fail for a retail business?

Here are five common reasons why loyalty programs can fail a retail business.

Little reward for loyalty. This is the most common reason. There is little on offer for the consumer in return for loyalty. If you want shoppers to spend more than they would usually spend in a certain time you have to make it worth their while, obviously worth their while. Use any loyalty offer you have in your retail store to deliver genuine value and through this a real point of difference for your business.

Poor communication around the offer. If the offer is confusing to understand, shoppers may give up and ditch the program. Communication needs to be simple so that anyone can follow and be encouraged to engage in the behaviour you want. The communication in the initial paperwork, emails, posters in-store, indeed everywhere in the business around the program needs to be complete yet as simple as possible.

Not embraced by the business. The best loyalty programs are offered over the sales counter. In the sales team is not engaged then the uptake will be low. It is vitally important that the sales team members understand the role the loyalty program plays in the overall business model.

Too hard. Some loyalty offers are too hard to sign up or use or redeem or all three. Make it simple, compelling and fun. The easier it is for your customers to engage the more likely they will engage. Test the program, ask customers for feedback. Make sure that what you build is truly easy for them to use, redeem and play with. Do not be afraid to evolve the program over time.

Does not drive loyalty. The program must reward customers for spending more than they would in a fixed timeframe. There is no point rewarding customers for what they would do anyway. This is not loyalty on their part. So, a program which rewards average behaviour is a failure for the business.

Take time to structure any loyalty rewards program in your retail store. Understand what your competitors, large and small, are doing. Create a program which is sustainable, offers genuine rewards, is fun, easily understood and will bring the sales lift which is so important to your business.

Once you have the program running, track engagement and commercial results. Adjust the program as the performance data indicates.

A good loyalty rewards program can transform any retail business.  We have agood loyalty rewards program in our software and back this with good management help.

Free POS Software online training this week

Tower Systems is hosting four free online training workshops in its Point of Sale software this week.

  • Magazine Management. Tuesday July 27 at 11am.  This is the most widely undertaken training by newsagency.
  • Business Reporting July 27 at 2pm.  ideal for any retailer wanting to get more out of their software.
  • Help for former POS Solutions users July 29 at 11am.  This is for newsagents who have already switched from POS Solutions to Tower Systems.
  • Gift Vouchers July 29 at 2pm.  For any retailer wanting to implement gift vouchers.

Bookings can be made online at the online training booking page at our website. Those who do online training help us keep support costs down.

New eziPass website for retailers vending phonecards and mobile recharge

ezipass-website2.jpgSelling Phonecards, calling cards, mobile phone recharges, Citylink passes, tourist tickets and Blackhawk gift cards got easier for retailers this week thanks to the new eziPass website quietly launched.

eziPass is the preferred vending platform for well over 1,000 retailers now. It is also the preferred platform for many suppliers.

Through the new eziPass website, vendors and retailers can more easily read about and access the benefits of eziPass.

It represents further evidence of our pursuing of change for our own growth as well as the growth of the retail businesses with which we work.

eziPass is available as a standalone product working on any computer with a broadband connection as well as in an integrated form within our own Point of Sale software.  eziPass is free software for any retailer.

Help desk interviews on Monday

We have five interviews locked in for our new Help Desk role this coming Monday.  All have been pre screened and look like excellent quality candidates.  The selection is set to be difficult – in a good way.

Our goal is to have a final decision and offer made by Wednesday.

Our interview process is quite structured with three people from the company involved – usually across two interview discussions per candidate.  This has worked well for us in the past.

Helping retailers get paid sooner

The latest version of our Point of Sale software will deliver enhanced debtor management facilities.  With the economy tight, retail customers find many reasons to delay paying bills.  Our goal is to help our customers more efficiently address and deal with their debtor book.  This is the motivator for the latest changes in our software.

Tower Advantage TM customers will receive information about availability of the latest update shortly.

Helping newsagents leverage the Blackhawk giftcard opportunity

blackhawk.JPGWe have published a Frequently Asked Questions document for Tower Newsagents implementing the Blackhawk giftcard offering.  This document addresses the most common questions we have been asked and provides more training opportunities for our customers and their employees.  It also helps more Tower Newsagents join the community promoting the Blackhawk platform.

In addition to the FAQ document, we have publisherd a Tower specific sign up form, a collateral order form and a commission / price list.  All of this documentation demonstrates our professional approach to building a solid business with our customers and our supplier partners.

We will continue to develop and promote opportunities through which our customers can build a better return from their IT investment.

Discussing the new Fairfax magazine distribution opportunity

Yesterday morning we participated in a productive face to face meeting with senior management from Fairfax Media Publication Solutions to discuss the transition from NDD to Fairfax. FMPS is a separate division of the Fairfax company, operating at some distance from the newspaper distribution side. The discussion canvassed direct accounts, supply and return arrangements and promotional opportunities.  While their model is still being developed, they have committed to using XchangeIT and adhering to the industry’s magazine distribution IT standards 100%.

We expect to have further discussions once they have met with other newsagency channel stakeholders.

The value of comparing retailer supplier performance

Using our latest Tower Systems Point of Sale software, retailers are able to compare the performance of key suppliers across trading periods.

This comparison will empower retailers to more easily identify suppliers who are delivering less value to their business today than for the same period a year ago – a likewise, the suppliers delivering greater value.

The comparison will also help in understanding the value of the supplier compared to other suppliers in the product category or segment.

The latest reporting enhancements evolved out of customer consultation where we sought to understand how we could improve our reporting to deliver better business outcomes for our customers.

Constant enhancement of our software is a key point of difference offered by Tower Systems to our Tower Advantage TM customers.

Blackhawk giftcard surge continues

We now have 75 of our newsagent customers signed up to sell the popular Blackhawk giftcard range. Our customers receive tactical advice which will drive Blackhawk giftcard business.

Our unique approach to the Blackhawk offer is the Tower Advantage TM in action.  Too often, software companies deliver technology without tools, advice and assistance to enable customers to convert the tools into income.  This is what we do here at Tower Systems every day.

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Innovation at Avanti bike retail outlets

As the preferred software partner for the prestigious Avanti bike brand in Australia and New Zealand, we get to see some terrific innovation in bike retailing.  We also get to participate in enhancing our software to help drive better outcomes for Avanti retailers.

Through our bike shop software, Avanti bike retailers have access to leading-edge facilities including electronic invoices, repair management, warranty control and customer marketing tools.

Our experience is that bike retailers are among the most innovative retailers in the country, pursuing business efficiency through clever customer engagement and a respect for technology as vital to the core of their success.

Many features in our software used by newsagents, jewellers and convenience stores emerged from our work with smart bike retailers.

Good quality Help Desk candidates

We have received applications from some high quality candidates for a new Help Desk role we are looking to fill in Melbourne.  We have completed our first and second cull of the list and let those know who missed the cut.

Even after the two cuts we have twenty five quality candidates to review.  This will be reduced to an interview list by Wednesdaywith interviews early next week.

While it is tough culling a pool of good quality applicants, it is a good position to be in.

Point of Sale software update moves to beta release

Our latest Point of Sale software update moved to beta release last week with the new version made available to our beta test sites.  This is the second round of live testing for this update.  New software has to pass through rigorous in-house as well as life testing before we consider wide release.

With so many retailers and other businesses relying on us we are cautious and thorough in scheduling the release of any software update.

This is an exciting update with some excellent new facilities … but more on that once we release the update more widely.

Welcome Natasha!

We are thrilled to welcome a new receptionist, Natasha, to our Melbourne office this morning.  Natasha joins Amy who will leave in a few months on maternity leave.