New Year resolutions for retailers for 2011

In keeping with the tradition of the season, we have some suggested resolutions for our customers and some resolutions of our own for this New Year’s Eve.

For retailers using our Point of Sale software and independent retailers more widely here is a wish-list of resolutions:

  1. To backup every day.
  2. To use the Point of Sale software to fully manage all inventory.
  3. To more consistently and completely use the software to reduce mistakes at the sales counter and elsewhere in the business.
  4. To use the software to streamline the business and cut labour costs.
  5. To learn how to use the software to guide better business decisions.

Here at Tower Systems we help our customers in these and other aread through our online training workshops, face to face user meetings and at other training opportunities.

Our own resolutions for 2011 are:

  1. To improve the timeliness of the provision of customer support.
  2. To improve the quality of the advice we provide.
  3. To increase the range of  training available.
  4. To enhance the value of our software for our clients through software updates.
  5. To continue to extend our market share … as we achieved in 2010.

Yes, some motherhood stuff there.  Behind the motherhood statements is our plan for 2011. We are excited by and are looking forward to the year and the opportunities we can see already.

Why retailers should backup every day

We were working with a client yesterday who had not backed up for two months.  Our system shows on the screen when they last backed up.  We also remind people in our newsletters and other advices.  Not backing up daily is inviting trouble.

Whether it is a hardware failure, fire, flood or some other damage to the business and its equipment, all too often the time you need a backup most is when you discover it has not been done.

Lost data can lead to financial loss through a hole in your business records, inaccurate stock on hand data and other holes in business data on which you rely for accurate and on time business decisions.

Our unequivocal advice to our retail customers is to BACKUP DAILY.  The consequences, financial and otherwise, for the business are too great to ignore this advice.

Helping nurseries and garden centres to better manage inventory

As we serve more businesses with our nursery software / garden shop software, we are developing helpful insights into these businesses which will help with system implementations.  We are also taking away some excellent software enhancement ideas for implementation in 2011 as we expand the capabilities of our software.

Nurseries and garden shops use our software in some traditional and non-traditional ways including…

  • Inventory management.  We track plants including date related product. The software can generate orders for replenishment stock, report on performance, track shrinkage and save time in dealing with suppliers.  Our barcode labels are weather resistant – making stock tracking outdoors easier.
  • Sales.  We make selling faster, easier and more accurate.  With nurseries operating seven days a week, our sales counter handling provides business owners with peace of mind over counter operations.
  • Seasonal trade.  Through our catalogue facilities we help nurseries move stock in line with seasonal requirements.  Our facilities make it easy to move stock which may be getting close to out of season.
  • Customer loyalty and rewards.  Our loyalty marketing tools support a variety of reward mechanisms.  Customer loyalty is vital for nurseries since they can bring shoppers back as they build and maintain their much-loved gardens.
  • Business management.  Through smart reporting we are able to provide nursery owners and managers with a valuable and insightful view of the business which goes beyond the reporting found in more generic software.
  • Business building tools.  Thanks to smart software tools backed by operating advice from our team, we are able to help our nursery and garden centre customers reach into their community to attract new traffic and more sales.  Our software offers a variety of facilities for achieving this.

While there are plenty of other ways we help retailers using our software, this list outlines the key areas through which we unlock considerable value.

Ancol Back to School stock file

The latest Ancol Back to School stock file has been tested, checked and is now available from our website for our South Australian newsagent customers.

We take great care in checking stock files provided by suppliers and are proud of our track record for discovering and clearing problems before they get to our customers.

Full strength Help Desk

Our Help Desk reopened this morning at full strength where we will remain until New Years Eve.  Following a slow start early in the morning, call traffic has been high through the morning.  This is in part due to so many suppliers to our customers being closed … we’re taking calls which the suppliers should be receiving.

We take out customer service role seriously and have configured our Help Desk to ensure that we show this.  It is a pity that suppliers did not take the same approach.

Homewares stores finish 2010 on a high note

Homewares stores using our homewares software are reporting a cracker finish to 2010.  The MasterChef effect is being experienced in many homewares businesses which have configured themselves to leverage the interest in home cooking and entertaining.

We see the effect in play through homewares retailers as well as their suppliers … our software links the two, improving the speed and reliability of the supply chain, reducing the cost of stock for the retailers and providing greater certainty for suppliers.

Out customers tell us that cooking and in-home dining related items were popular Christmas gifts and are proving to be popular in the post-Christmas sales.

Our homewares specific softare provides a range of facilities for today;s homewares retailer including:

  • LayBy management.
  • Supplier comparison and management.
  • Range performance monitoring and management.
  • Customer loyalty tracking and marketing.
  • Customer special orders.
  • Hamper packaging and sales.
  • KPI tracking.
  • Fast seller reporting.
  • Supplier electronic invoices.
  • Streamlined product ordering.
  • Serial number tracking.
  • Warranty support.

2011 will see our Homewares software further enhanced thanks to the work we are doing with suppliers and retailers. We expect it to top 2010!

Helping where we can with flood victims

Some of our customers have been affected by flooding over the last few days.  We are helping where we can – like liaising with insurance assessors and preparing replacement hardware for when the roads clear.

Sometimes, being on the end of the phone is all that we can do.  It makes one feel so helpless.

Our after hours and emergency numbers have been available all through Christmas.  This provides our customers with seven numbers to call in the event that they need to access our help.

Strong Boxing Day sales

We heard from several of our Point of Sale software customers yesterday about their BOXING DAY SALES.  Good news all round. Brisk business, well worth opening.  Christmas stock clearing along with some stock purchased for sale plus some old stock finally moving.

We were able to help plenty of our customers make the most of the sale opportunity through our catalogue facilities.  These enabled our customers to be ready in advance of Boxing Day so that on the day there was not much admin work to do. Indeed, we published advice about this to our customers a few weeks ago.

We were also able to help our retail partners easily report on business from last Boxing Day to guide business decisions leading up to this year.  It is equally easy to compare yesterday’s trade with December 26 a year ago.

It is good to see more retailers getting into the Boxing Day opportunity.

Christmas greetings

All of us here at Tower Systems will everyone visiting this blog a truly Happy Christmas filled with warm memories. We hope that 2011 is a cracker of a year for your business and you personally!

Our people are now heading off for the Christmas break. Our after hours and emergency numbers are up and running for urgent calls.

Busy December starting to wind down

While many businesses have been slowing down this week, we have been operating at full steam, ensuring that our retail business customers have their questions and support queries attended to quickly with as little disruption to business as possible.

Today is the first day in December that our installation teams have not been on site working with new customers. Yes, even up to last night we were busy installing new systems!

Our plan for today is follow the flow of call traffic. Based on past years we will usually see support calls stop by lunchtime. We will let our customers know by email when we switch from the office based help desk to our after-hours network of phones.

While there has been plenty of doom and gloom in the press and other places about Christmas and retail, our experience this year is very positive … plenty of good reports of strong sales, growth over last year for many and good use of our technology driving good business outcomes.

Easier magazine distributor transition

Thanks to enhancements in our latest newsagency software, newsagents are able to more easily handle the transition of a title from one distributor to another.

While we have always facilitated magazines moving from one distributor to another, the latest enhancements take our capabilities in this area to a new level.  The enhancements maintain our status as having the most advanced and newsagent friendly software in the marketplace.

One newsagent using the latest release of the software commented on the enhancements, complimenting our development team for their obvious knowledge of how newsagents work in this part of their business.

The beta release of this new newsagency software has proceeded well, meaning we are on target for commercial release very early in 2011.

Planning to help retailers in 2011

We are in the middle of planning meetings this week and next, finalising our Point of Sale software development and marketing strategies for 2011.

Our planning activity includes development, marketing, sales and management teams from within the business.  It starts with an assessment of 2010, feedback from our recent customer feedback survey and consideration of feedback from suppliers.

The result of this comprehensive consultation and discussion is our 2011 BUSINESS PLAN which integrates various parts of our business in pursuit of a common goal across software development, software support and sales.

The plan is not something we will talk about publicly here in anything other than vague detail.

The key point of this blog post is to note that we undertake such comprehensive business planning and to forecast that we have an exciting and commercially valuable (for current and prospective customers) engagement opportunity for 2011.  The key elements of our plan will be made available to our existing customers at no cost.

Magazine blacklist facility set to help newsagents

In the next release of our software we introduce a new way for newsagents to deal with magazines sent to their businesses which they know for sure they will not sell.

While we have offered such facilities for decades, the latest facilities have been designed to help newsagents get around some of the processes now used by magazine distributors.

Currently in beta test, newsagents using our newsagency software will have access to these new facilities in the first couple of weeks of 2011.

Cash is king in business, especially in a newsagency business and we will continue to work hard to help our 1,700+ newsagent customers better manage cash through best practice magazine management facilities.

The Point of Sale solution for small independent retailers

Small independent retailers are benefiting from a Point of Sale hardware and software package created specifically for their needs.

Easily financed and costing just a few dollars a day, our solution is serving small retailers right across Australia.  We have specialist versions for retail niches: convenience, newsagents, gift, homewares, general  store and jewellery.

The key to keeping the entry cost low is to provide a tailored packaged solution, back this with structured installation and training services and to leverage mass.  Having 2,500 customers enables us to leverage mass for the benefit of our customers.

So, for just a few dollars a day, we can help small independent retailers operate with a toolkit which facilitates better business decisions, more efficient operation, more flexible marketing and fewer mistakes.

Our work with small independent retailers over the last thirty years has seen us develop long term relationships with many customers, relationships which we continue to cherish today.

Gift shop software helps deliver a good Christmas

Retailers using our latest gift shop software are loving Christmas.  Feedback on our enhanced lay-by, special orders, fast eftpos and gift shop management reporting tools is wonderful.

Out in plenty of time for Christmas, our new Gift Shop software is selling well thanks to great word of mouth from existing customers.

Like any retail management software, the real value is unlocked through our personal training, online training facilities and Help Desk support.  We are committed to helping our customers make the most of their investment with us … long after the system is installed.

The latest gift shop software is a result of wonderful feedback from our customers, advice from gift shop suppliers and contributions from our installation team. Our installation team picks up excellent software enhancement ideas when on site and getting deep into a business.

Work on the next release of our gift shop software is well advanced. 2011 is shaping up to be an excellent year.

Vienna’s wedding

vienna-wedding.JPGOur in-house Graphic Designer Vienna Chen was married on Saturday to Ade Saputra and some of us were priveleged to attend this very special occasion at Quat Quatta.

It was a beautiful ceromony followed by a celebration with wonderful memories.

Vienna’s design talents were on show from the invitation right through to the keepsake every guest received.

Congratulations to Vienna and Ade.

12 steps to cutting theft in any retail business

We published the following retail theft reduction advice to our 2,500 Point of Sale software customers earlier this week.

Retailers who follow this advice are better positioned to cut employee theft, customer theft and general shrinkage in their retail stores.  While we wrote the advice for our customers, it can be applied to most good Point of Sale systems.

  1. Only sell what you arrive through our software.
  2. Track ALL sales – by scanning, touch screen button or PLU.
  3. Stop all department sales.
  4. Scan our ALL returns.
  5. Undertake regular spot stocktake throughout the business. The discrepancy between what you have and what the system has reflects theft.
  6. Reorder stock using the software. This stops poor buying decisions. It also identified stock theft and employee fraud around stock.
  7. Use employee initials, codes or barcodes for each sale. Yes this adds time to each sale. The benefits far outweigh the time cost.
  8. Set an end of shift balance target of $5.00. Many Tower customers achieve this – it takes discipline.
  9. Change your system password regularly.
  10. Do random, during the day, register balance checks.
  11. Use your software to check and report on behaviour which could indicate employee theft.
  12. Follow your suspicions regardless. Put your business ahead of friendships.

We have been on a mission in 2010 to get our retail partners to engage more actively in using the facilities within our software to cut theft.

Based on the feedback we have received and the police investigations in which we have been involved in providing evidence, our focus has been beneficial to many of our customers.

The cost to any retail business of customer and employee theft can be significantly reduced. The keys are retail owner and management engagement, full use of the software and relentless application of a zero tolerance approach.

Saturday support for Christmas

Our Saturday Help Desk is operating today for the last time for a few weeks while we rest the service over the Christmas / New Year break.  This Help Desk service is in addition to our regular after hours coverage which continures regardless of holidays.

Today’s office based help desk coverage will be helping plenty of customers with Christmas related questions.  Since it is office based we are equipped to log into customer systems and provide a higher level of support than a mobile phone based after hours service.

Christmas 2010 retail sales tracking well

While not wanting to get ahead of ourselves and call it too soon, Christmas 2010 appears to be delivering good sales for retailers using our Point of Sale software.

During customer service calls and other contact, comments from our customers have common themes – that Christmas is better than expected and looks likely to be better than last year.

Retailers in our community are optimistic, contrary to what the media is reporting for other retailers.

We are seeing the optimism among retailers ourselves in sales and installation numbers across all marketplaces.  Retailers are optimistic and showing this by investing in their businesses.

Roll on Christmas 2010 and a bountiful 2011!

POS software as a Christmas gift for your retail business

What better Christmas gift for your retail business than POS software?  It’s the gift that keeps on giving … throughout the year.

Good POS software, like we create here at Tower Systems, helps retailers streamline their operations, reduce expensive mistakes, make better quality business decisions, cut theft and uncover genuine growth opportunities.

Give your retail business a Christmas gift of Point of Sale software from Tower Systems.

This idea was put to us yesterday by a sales prospect calling to say this is what they are considering – cutting back on Christmas cheer for customers and investing what they would have spent into our Point of Sale solution.  They say they got the idea from the Gift card we sent out last month, offering $500 off any system purchased up to December 31, 2010.  This was our Christmas gift to sales prospects.

Few POS software companies have the back end resources and commitment to help customers ensure they access the benefits promoted with their systems.  Our track record shows that we do have the resources and commitment.  We work hard to help our customers unlock the benefits we promise.  Strong word of mouth about Tower Systems is proof that our customers feel these benefits.

We are proud of the perpetual Christmas gift we are delivering with the systems we are installing in what is a very busy season for us.

Christmas cheer in the office

tower-christmas-2010.JPGWe have dressed up our Head Office for Christmas, recycling decorations from past years and adding some new decorations.  Today our NSW team and some of our Melbourne team are getting together for a Christmas lunch in Sydney whiel tomorrow our Victorian team will be enjoying a spit roast lunch and some refreshments.

We are being careful to ensure that customer service access is not impeded through these celebrations.

Helping retailers move into second-hand goods

The considerable research we have undertaken into regulations surrounding the trading in second-hand goods around Australia helps us help our Point of Sale software customers, especially those considering moving into secondhand goods for the first time.

In addition to excellent software for second-hand goods dealers, we are able to answer questions and point people to the appropriate authorities for more complex issues.

With second-hand goods managed at the state level here in Australia, considerable work was necessary to ensure that our solution met all regulatory requirements across multiple jurisdictions.

Our second-hand goods software module can be used by retailers in any of the retail channels in which we serve.

Helping newsagents deal with XchangeIT issues

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

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

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