Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Month: December 2010 (page 2 of 3)

The days before Christmas

These last couple of weeks before Christmas are usually when things slow for our Point of Sale software installation teams.  Retailers prefer to focus on their own sales rather than taking time to install new infrastructure.

This year, our installation teams are busy right up to Christmas.   We have new systems being installed in every state.  This has made it difficult to find an opportunity to get everyone on our team together for Christmas.  It’s a good challenge to have.

Based on sales we are seeing, retailers are optimistic about next year.  They are happliy investing in infrastructure for 2011.

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome so many new customers this time of the year.

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How to spot fake bank notes this Christmas

Christmas is a busy time for those trying to pass counterfeit Australian bank notes.  Click here for the latest advice from the Reserve Bank of Australia for spotting fame bank notes.  Thsi is important information to share with all retail employees.

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Helping retailers protect against deadbeat customers

The latest release of our Point of Sale software introduces wider reaching control over customer credit limits, helping to protect retail businesses against the cost of deadbeat customers.

While we have supported credit limits for some time, these latest enhancements take the control available to the business owner to a new level.  They also include greater security around the credit limit, to reduce the opportunity for employee fraud.

We operate on the principle of continuous improvement with our software and these latest enhancements around credit limits further demonstrate that commitment.

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Employee theft expensive in retail

Employee theft can cost a retail business thousands of dollars a week. It is one of those business ownership or management experiences which is all too often ignored until it has happened to you.

Employee theft is real, take it from someone who has experienced it firsthand.  In my case, over fifteen years as a retail business owner, I have experienced three occasions of serious employee theft costing thousands.

The tragedy is that retailers usually have at their disposal tools which, if used properly, reduce the opportunity for theft and thereby protect the cash within the business.

Retail store managers and owners need to take the risk of theft seriously rather than thinking that it could never happen to them.  This means considering that everyone working in your retail business is a potential thief. Tough as this is, it is the only way to operate.

At every opportunity, make it clear that you have a zero tolerance approach to theft.  This will separate you from your employees, so be it.  It is essential that you put your desire to cut theft ahead of friendship with an employee.  Your business is at risk after all.

Everything in your business with value must be treated with respect.  Every day. And you, as the owner or manager, need to demonstrate leadership on the mission to keep theft at a minimum.

Cash.  Be obsessive about balancing every day. Ensure that your processes are water tight.  Eliminate opportunities in your processes for fraud.  Consider engaging a third party not connected with the business to audit your processes.  Review video footage regularly. Have yourself and your manager expertly trained in detecting employee theft at the cash register. Consider bringing in an investigator to assess the team of team members.  Best of all, use the facilities in your software.

Track stock.  Manipulating stock is one way employees steal.  By obsessively tracking stock on hand you are more likely to discover employee theft sooner. Use your Point of Sale software to track all stock in and out, do spot stock takes and reorder stock.  Making your POS software the heart of your stock management makes it harder for an employee to manipulate stock in stealing from you.

Data.  Accurate data is an excellent way to detect and resolve an employee theft problem.  Data in your Point of Sale software can provide the evidence which you denied would exist.  Be open to what the data proves.  Take time to learn about the theft tracking and management tools in your Point of Sale software. Be committed to using these. 

Take a zero tolerance approach here.  Employees stealing from you need to manipulate data in some way.  For example, if their sales per hour worked are far lower than others then they could simple not be using the computer system.  However, you would have detected off behaviour from your inventory system when reordering stock.

Good management processes followed with commitment and care will uncover theft quickly.  Businesses without these are at greater risk.  Is your retail business at risk?

Use your Point of Sale software, embrace and engage with every opportunity it presents for tracking and reducing employee theft in your retail business.

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Smaller receipts are good for the environment

Some of our customers asked us to produce shorter receipts, to save paper.  They were especially concerned about the length of receipts for electronic products like phonecards and mobile phone recharge.

We balanced their concern with the need to maintain the existing receipt for customers not keen for change.

The result is an enhancement in the latest release of our Point of Sale software which enables our customers to select the more environmentally friendly receipt.  A simple tick box saves paper.  This enhancement which is in the latest update which is in beta test with selected customers right now.

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Free online training for retailers this week

We are running anther four free online training workshops for retailers using our Point of Sale software this week:

  • Stock Management. Thursday Dec. 14 at 11am
  • Point of Sale Training. Dec.14 at 2pm
  • End of Shift. Thursday Dec. 16 at 11am
  • Magazine Management. Dec. 16 at 2pm

Bookings can be made at the online training portal at our website.

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Working with JB HiFi, Harvey Norman and others

We are happy to work with any reputable computer hardware supplier which provides hardware to our published standards.

Recently, we have been finding ourselves working more with the folks at JB HiFi and Harvey Norman as they help local businesses source hardware to host our Point of Sale software.

In such situations we provide access to the hardware specifications and the required installation and configuration standards.  Services beyond access to our standards isto facilitate preconfiguration is available at a commercial rate.

By taking such an open approach, we are letting our customers make the hardware supply choices which best suit them – to source hardware through us or through a local supplier.

Our recent work with major hardware suppliers has been most satisfying as it has opened new sales opportunities with some of their other clients.

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New Pandora file for jewellery software users

We have tested and loaded two new Pandora stock files for users of our Jeweller software.  The files are:

  • Pandora Australia – new file listing the Pandora Australia stock list
  • Pandora New Zealand – new file listing the Pandora New Zealand stock list

Access to the files is from the doanloads section of our website.

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New Hallmark stock file available

We have tested and loaded a new stock file from Hallmark cards for customers using our Point of Sale software.  This is available from the downloads section of our website.

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Newsagents time saving on magazine returns

magazine-returns.JPGFor years now we have known that our magazine returns process is the best.  Arrogant as that may sound, newsagents who have used other systems have told us where and how our approach is better.

Our magazine returns approach is fast, accurate and compliant with supplier standards.  The time saving of our approach over the approach of some other newsagency software packages continues to be brought home to us when we switch newsagents.

It is thrill to receive a call from a recently switched newsagent telling us how many hours of their own time or the time of an employee they save each week having partnered with Tower Systems.

There is a considerable difference between newsagency software programs and the training provided on the efficient implementation of these in a working newsagency.

We have an advantage in that we own and operate newsagencies and have done for fifteen of our thirty years in business.

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ePay outage

ePay has advised that they are experiencing an outage.  This affects our customers seeking to vend mobile phone recharge and other products through our eziPass software.

UPDATE:  (5.50PM): ePay has advised that the outage is now resolved.

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Advanced jewellery software now in beta

Our advanced jeweller software is now in beta release prior to a full commercial release early in 2011.  This latest software has even better facilities for Lay-By, inventory management, loyalty marketing, customer management, theft control and overall jewellery store management.

We are thrilled with the way this new jeweller software has shaped up, after an extraordinary effort by our software development team and the customers of ours who have been working with them through this project.

With more than 300 jewellers as customers, we understand the importance of taking time to ensure that each update is genuinely useful, thoroughly tested and fully ready prior to commercial release.  Given the transaction size in many locations using our software, the cost of a mistake can be considerable.

We are pleased to count jewellers of all sizes as customers from single owner stores to multi store groups, from one kiosk type stores in malls to high end designer jewellery businesses.  Our jeweller software is broad in its range and comprehensive in its service.

Jewellers looking for new software for their business are welcome to contact us and arrange a face to face or live online demonstration.  We currently serve customers in Australia, New Zealand and across the Asia Pacfic region.

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Easier access to Advice Sheets for Tower Systems customers

The latest release of our Point of Sale software provides within the software access to our customer support advice sheets.  This new link eliminates the need for our customers to access our website and log in.  We continue to embrace opportunities to help our customers enjoy their experience with us more.

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Why newsagents switch to Tower Systems

We are often asked by newsagents switch from another computer systems to our newsagency software.  The question comes up because of our continued growth in the newsagency channel.  More than half of all newsagents with a newsagency computer system use Tower Systems.

Here are the reasons newsagents who have switched recently have given us:

Brilliant Software. Newsagents love our Point of Sale and Home Delivery software. They love how easy it is to use, they love the extensive reporting facilities and they love the benefits they unlock using the software.

Saving Time. Newsagents who have switched to Tower Systems tell us that they save hours off their roster each week.

Size. Tower Systems serves more newsagents (1,748 at last count) than all of our competitors combined. We use this strength to deliver better software and better support.

Support Cost. Your annual software support fee will be a low and fair buisness cost for the service. Many newsagents save thousands by making the switch.  Tower has had one fee increase in the last four years.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership. Newsagents who switch usually pay considerably less over time with Tower Systems.

Optional Support. Our software keeps working and you can access XchangeIT data files even if you choose to not renew software support coverage.

Online Training. Tower Systems runs four free online training workshops every week and has done for years. We pioneered online training for newsagents.

Training Videos. Tower Newsagents have access to more than 30 training videos on the Tower website, accessible at anytime from anywhere.

Business Assistance. Through our Tower Advantage TM services, we provide valuable practical assistance to Tower Newsagents. These services help our customers unlock considerably more value from their IT investment.

Industry Standards. Tower Systems is always first to meet newsagency industry standards. This provides peace of mind for your investment.

Support for Newsagents. This is point 11. Tower Systems delivers more than you expect. Like supporting newsagents – a national TV commercial promoting newsagents, free marketing collateral and tips, support for industry awards, events and training.

We are proud to be serving more and more newsagents every month and that software and service are being proven to count when it comes to the decisions newsagents make.

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Updated advice for Christmas 2010

We have updated Advice Sheet N13.1 with new information for newsagents using our newsagency software on handling bumper editions this coming Christmas.  We will further revise this advice sheet as new information is released by newspaper publishers.

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A baby for Amy

Amy Fussell, our Lead Receptionist for many years, late last night gave birth to a baby boy.  Many of our customers will knnow Amy as the happy voice answering the phone, organising training sessions and booking user meetings.  We wish Amy, Damien and their new baby, Kane Eli all the very best.

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Helping retailers make money on Boxing Day with POS software

boxing-day-sale.jpgWhile Christmas Day is still two weeks away, our attention is well focussed on Boxing Day and, in particular, the Boxing Day sales.

Users of our POS software are able to setup today for the discount and other rules which they want to apply for their Boxing Day Sale.

Our smart catalogue facilities make it easy for retailers to apply discounts between a date range for items selected using the software – at the department, category or item level.  The software also supports other catalogue sale related initiatives such as quantity based discounts.  These and other sale initiatives are very easy to setup, in advance.

While retailers need to price items on the shop floor for customers, our software makes the sales process easy, fast and accurate – three keys to retail transaction management.  Some simple work today can have the business ready for Boxing Day Sale trade well in advance of what is a huge retail day for many retailers.

One feature of our smart catalogue facilities is that changes can be made even once a catalogue is running, allowing a retailer to adjust to market conditions as necessary.

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Easier downloading of stock files for Tower Systems users

In the latest release of our POS software we have made it even easier for our customers to access the latest stock files by providing direct to our website download access from within the Point of Sale software.  The latest enhancements eliminate a couple of steps.  This will be a welcome move for retailers who are not that tech savvy.

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How to use our POS software to promote your retail business this Christmas

Our Point of Sale software offers plenty of facilities for promoting a retail business.  These are especially useful at Christmas time.  Consider these marketing opportunities:

  1. Coupons on receipts.  These can be served based on what is in the sale.  Make your own or use one of the coupons which we have loaded on our website.   Use your receipts to attract shoppers back into your store.  You can have multiple receipts setup and in use at any one time.
  2. Messages on statements.  Promote your business on your customer statements.  It’s free advertising.
  3. Email marketing.  Use our marketing tools to create an email marketing list based on the flexible criteria available to you.
  4. On screen up-sell.  Use your POS screen to guide employee on up-sell opportunities for specific products. This is easy to setup and can drive good business.
  5. Text message marketing. As with email marketing, you can create your target list using the marketing tools in the software.
  6. Smart decisions.  By seeing what sells with what you are able to make smarter business decisions and achieve more from this valuable intelligence.
  7. Diary reminder.  If you sell diaries, print a sticker and reminding the diary user to visit your store and order a replacement diary in September or October.
  8. Two for one, three for two etc. Use your software to offer discounts for volume purchases. Your sales staff need do nothing since the software can track the offer and apply the discounted pricing for quantity purchase. You can make this for one item or a whole catalogue. Also, you can run multiple offers at any one time or over times which crossover. The keys are: make the offer compelling, promote it in the usual place for the stock as well as at in a high traffic location.
  9. Loyalty marketing. Reward customers for spending more than usual. THIS IS IMPORTANT – too often I see newsagents for rewarding customers for doing what they usually do. No, reward them for EXTRA EFFORT. Using the loyalty facilities included in the Tower software, you are able to accrue points for customers and offer these as a form of currency. Running your own VIP Club or some similar named loyalty program is easy to setup and manage. The system tracks points and lets customers know balances etc on receipts and via correspondence generated by the software.
  10. Trawl your data. Track what sells with what. The 10×10 report is excellent for this, it lists the top ten items sold with the top ten items sold. See what customers buying your top ten items are likely to buy, place these near the top sellers so more will buy them. Just looking at this data will unlock more opportunities for you.
  11. Gift cards. Give your customers something they can buy for family and friends which locks in business for you. Gift cards only work if the giver feels that the recipient will find something they like at the store – your store.
  12. Service, service, service. Customer service is the most important differentiator in retail today, especially in newsagencies. Sure, you can discount and use price as a differentiator but where is the commercial sense in that? No, customer service is king. Customer service is a marketing activity. There are several ways you can use your Tower Systems software to drive better customer service:
    • Give out receipts. Receipts build trust. You can set the minimum value to trigger printing and reduce paper wastage. I’d suggest $4.95 – given the price of what newsagents sell, this will be more than a single item in most cases or if it is a single item it’s got a value which warrants a receipt.
    • Thank your customers. Be sure to include thank you text on your receipts.
    • Being consistent. The Tower Systems software can remind staff of your greeting and thank you process during a sale.
    • Offer extra advice. You can setup advice to share with any item you sell. This displays on the screen when you scan an item. Take time to set this up and have your team provide this advice as an extra free service.
    • Use a customer display. This shows what is being scanned and the price being charged. It will build trust.
    • Train your team. Make sure they can answer questions about accounts and stock items quickly. For example, using ALT/T you can quickly let a customer know when you next expect to receive a magazine in.
    • Use the software. Putaways are big business for newsagents who do them but frustrating. Newsagents using our putaway tools save a ton of time and improve customer service through personalised labels (and barcodes), text messages when issues come in and tracking when they are collected. This saves time and dramatically improves customer service.
    • Process cards at the register. Using the Tyro link you can process credit and debit cards at the register, cut time and improve sales accuracy. While there is a cost for this, the benefits for the business and the improved service for your customers could make it well worthwhile.

This is what we do, we help retailers build smarter, more efficient and more valuable retail businesses. We do this through our POS software and through the advice we regularly provide on the benefits within our software. It’s all part of the Tower Advantage TM.

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Software update beta release expands

Today we are expanding the beta release roll out of our latest software update by installing several more locations.

This update is the most significant, in terms of scope of enhancements, of the last year, hence the carefully stage managed release.  The beta release program is vital in providing us with in the field feedback on update performance. We need at least two weeks of live use in a range of businesses before we declare an update ready for release.

Given the high traffic season for retailers, we are not planning full commercial release of this update until early in the new year.

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Strong Christmas sales for retailers

We have heard good reports from many of our retail customers, especially from mid last week through to the weekend just ended.  Christmas sales have kicked is based on the sales uplift compared to recent weeks.

There is less margin pressure in high street and regional / rural situations than in shopping malls. The evidence reported back to us is that major retailers are already discounting heavily this Christmas and this is challenging the independent retailers we work more closely with.

The discount pressure aside, it is good to hear retailers speaking positively about Christmas 2010.  For months there have been concerns raised by commentators and some politicians about what Christmas may bring this year for retailers.  In our channels, among our customers, it looks like there will be growth based on the sales for the first few weeks of the season.

Here at Tower Systems we are pleased about the good news and offer help wherever it may be useful to our customers so that they can leverage the best result possible.

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Free online POS Software training this week

This week we are hosting another four free online training workshops for retailers using our POS software:

  • Point of Sale Training. Thursday Dec. 7 at 11am
  • New Staff Training. Dec.7 at 2pm
  • Magazine Management. Thursday Dec. 9 at 11am
  • Retail Stock Management. Dec. 9 at 2pm

Bookings can be made at our online training portal.

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Helping retailers with POS software support for the Christmas rush

While other software companies scale back heading into Christmas, we maintain full-strength software support coverage including our loved Saturday Help Desk service.  In addition to our after-hours team, we also offer (and have done for years now) a fully resources Saturday Help Desk service.  This is especially useful through the busy Christmas trading period.  Our customers know that if they have a question today, they can get an answer – at the office on one of our six widely published after hours numbers.

We are proud of our software support services, especially at the busy times of the year for retailers.

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Tax flexibility makes POS software more marketable

The GST tax changes we implemented in our Point of Sale software around two months ago for our New Zealand customers have resulted in greater flexibility for all customers in setting the GST (and related) tax rate.

With retailers using our software in six different countries, each with different taxation regimes, it has been important for us to improve the flexibility in our Point of sale software around tax rate management.

The latest changes which are in the current version of our software make it easy for our retail partners to handle a change to the tax rate.   Not that we are encouraging governments to increase the GST rate!

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Recording age verification for cigarette purchases

recording-age-check.jpgIt is one thing to remind retail employees to do an age check and another to record the proof of purchase with a sale.  Our POS software enables this with a small pop-up screen into which details can be entered.  This information is recorded for this specific sale.  Such evidence could be vital if there is any investigation.

We have several retail groups which we work with which require such data to be gathered – not only for cigarettes but for other items too.  The software is flexible in its customer age check use.

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