Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Month: April 2011 (page 2 of 3)

Free Online Training in Point of Sale Software This Week

We are hosting four free online training workshops for users of our Point of Sale software this week.  We particularly draw your attention to the training Thursday at 11am on the latest version of our software.  This is an excellent opportunity for training in the latest update to our software,.

  • New Staff Member Training 19 Apr 2011, 11:00AM
  • Gift Vouchers 19 Apr 2011, 02:00PM
  • Introduction to retailer 2.3 21 Apr 2011, 11:00AM
  • Magazine Management Workshop 21 Apr 2011, 02:00PM

Bookings can be made through our online training portal.  Access is FREE.  we even pay for the phonecall for you to participate.  All you need is a land line phone as well as a computer with broadband access.


The Value of a Loyalty Program in Your Retail Business

Loyalty marketing took off in the 1990s.  Retailers of all sizes offered points for purchases with the promise of gifts, discounts and other rewards in return for the accrued points.  Customers jumped on board in their millions, signing up chasing the promise of wonderful rewards.

Over the years, however, many customers have realised that the loyalty programs are not about them but more about the retailer.  It’s business.  Well, big business at least.

We think that there is an opportunity for small and independent retailers to use a loyalty program to show off a valuable difference they offer over big retailers.

Operating with more of a local and customer-centric focus, small and independent retailers are able to use a well constructed loyalty program to offer a genuine point of difference compared to much bigger retailers.

Retailers using our retail management software can construct and manage a loyalty program which offers genuine reward for genuine loyalty. They can do this using tools and customer connections which are comparable to those used by bigger retailers.  Executed with care and due attention, these locally run loyalty programs can drive growth for small and independent retailers.  We see it almost every day across our portfolio of retail business customers.

By delivering genuine value, small and independent retailers can help return trust to the area of loyalty marketing and show off their point of difference.

From our help desk to our senior management team Tower Systems is willing and able to help our retail partners to develop and manage a business-building customer-rewarding loyalty program. We can also help our retail customers use the collected basket data to better understand business performance and to harvest business growth opportunities.

Loyalty marketing can help retail businesses grow.  The keys are creating a program which offers valuable and attainable rewards and managing this with smart tools which respect the resources of the retail business.


Establishing a Common Category Structure for Jewellers

We are preparing to help Jewellers using our Jeweller Software to implement a common structure of product categories in our software.

This new and well thought out structure will make it easier for Jewellers and managers of Jewellers businesses to compare their businesses among colleagues they trust.  It will also enable better reporting across multiple suppliers.

The new Jeweller category structure is being provided with advice which will make it easy to convert historical data into the new structure.

With hundreds of Jewellers already partnering with Tower Systems in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, we have a good sized community among which business performance can be compared.

We have a track record for rolling out similar common data structures in other retail channels.  The benefits for individual businesses are considerable as are the benefits for retailers who work together.


Hallmark Sales Reporting Innovation Pays Off

Newsagents are loving our Hallmark Category Performance Report where we report on greeting card and other product performance at the category level and compare the current trading period to a year prior.  This enhancement was first delivered in a software update for newsagents using our newsagency software last in 2010.

A feature of the report is the MAT or Moving Annual Total reporting. This connects with hallmark’s own reporting in that it offers the same metric. Having equal metrics is helping newsagents and Hallmark engage in more valuable dialogue.

There are instances of newsagents refreshing their greeting card offer, by working more proactively with their Hallmark Account manager, as a result of the valuable data in the report. This is great news!

The development of this report and associated facilities is genuine innovation from Tower Systems.  Currently, it is exclusive to the Tower newsagent user community … all 1,700+ Tower Newsagents have access to the report.

While at leastt one competitor is scrambling to catch up, we are proud that our innovation is already delivering rewards to our retail partners.

We are working with several other suppliers on similar innovation where we will deliver practical business benefits to our user community, benefits which empower our retailers in their dealings with suppliers.


Strong Interest in New HP Point of Sale PC

hp-pos.JPGWith final testing and pricing completed, we are proud to announce the immediate availability of the HP Touch Terminal POS hardware unit for our Point of Sale software.  This all in one Point of Sale terminal incorporates a computer, touch screen and appropriate ports for all the necessary Point of Sale peripherals such as receipt printer, scanner and customer display.

The unit has an optional large customer display (not shown in the photo) which is ideal for carrying advertising.

We are fortunate to have one of these units available for training, testing and demonstration.  We will have it on show at a trade show later this month – we are excited for the feedback we will receive.

The benefits of the unit are: compact, a better organised sales counter, flexibility and reducing the technology barrier between sales associates and customers.

While we remain a software company first and foremost, we ensure that we are up with the latest hardware opportunities and make them available to customers who which to purchase a hardware and software package through us.

Any Tower Systems sales person can offer pricing for this unit.


Helping Newsagents Handle Easter Newspaper Changes

We have published advice to our 1,700+ newsagent customers outlining how they can easily handle the various price and delivery changes through the Easter period.

Thanks to well written peer-reviewed advice sheets, newsagents using our newsagency software can go into Easter 2011 well prepared.

Every retail channel has its seasonal challenges.  We deal with these by operating off a calendar which ensures that we have good advice provided to our customers in plenty of time for them to deal with seasonal challenges.  It’s part of good customer service and part of the Tower Advantage TM program.


Continuing the Search for a Web Developer

We continue to search for a Web developer with experience necessary for helping support our web presence.  This position is proving difficult to fill despite a large pool of candidates.  Our first two rounds of interviews did not uncover a candidate we felt was appropriate to our needs.  Hopefully, the interviews we start today produce a more helpful result.


How to Use Point of Sale Software to Compete with Online Retailers

High street retailers are copping a beating from online retailers in real terms, with sames migrating, and in the media, with plenty of stories about the benefits of online versus the old word approach of high street retail.

Part of the challenge here is that high street retailers too often do not focus on their valuable point of difference over online as much as they could. This allows shoppers to forget the value of high street retail.  the risk is that it could be too late when shoppers realise what they have migrated from.

Using our Point of Sale software, smart retailers are promoting the value of a good high street retail experience. They are doing this in a number of ways:

  1. Consistent customer service.  Using the facilities in our Point of sale software around managing sales, handling LayBys, tracking customer accounts, dealing with refund requests.  Smart retailers and using our software to drive consistency across all sales counter functions.
  2. Customer follow up.  By contacting customers after a sale and in the context of their purchase demonstrates a personal appreciation for their custom.  Online retailers can try but there is nothing like personal contact.  Our Point of Sale software facilitates such contact.  The followup could be by letter, email or even phone call.
  3. Customer appreciation.  By running a loyalty program which offers genuine rewards for genuine loyalty, a retailer can differentiate their business from loyalty programs which are really about gathering data.
  4. Gentle reminders.  Letting customers know when special orders come in, items are ready to be collected, accounts are due or offers which may interest them are available can demonstrate a personal connection and care which goes beyond what a faceless website can deliver … especially if the customer can call the store to discuss the communication.
  5. Personal followup.  A structured process of following up customers after they make a purchase can demonstrate a commitment to a relationship beyond the sale.  High street retailers can use this to show off their personal credentials compared to a more impersonal website.
  6. Reminders.  Using receipts and other Point of Sale software enabled cues, high street retailers are able to subtly remind shoppers of the value of personal, face to face, contact and that you appreciate their support. That these cues are available for free and easy use makes them n even more valuable tool for retailers.

High Street retailers need to get on the front foot to promote their businesses.  Tower Systems is happy to work with any of its customers to leverage the opportunities, to help them to demonstrate and reinforce the value of the face to face shopping experience over the faceless online shopping experience.


New Point of Sale Software Helps Homewares Retailers

The latest release of our Homewares Software is helping homewares retailers to better compete in the current tough retail conditions.

Using the latest LayBy, Loyalty, Marketing, Special Orders and other facilities, Homewares retailers are able to use our software to provide the accurate and consistent customer service which is vital to business success.

Homewares retailers are finding our hamper facilities especially useful leading into Mother’s Day.  Some are also finding our marketing tools terrific for helping customers who want to collect full sets of items.

Habit is vitally important in retail, especially homewares retail.  Our Point of Sale software for Homewares businesses supports and assists habit based retail situations.

Watch for more Homewares driven software enhancements throughout 2011.


Repeating Software Update Training

Thanks to terrific feedback from our online workshop yesterday covering the latest update to our Point of Sale software, we are running this session again on Thursday next week at 11am.  Bookings can be made online at our online training portal.


How to Eliminate Expensive Stock Takes From Your Retail Business with POS Software

Using an external stock taker can cost a retail business thousands of dollars a year.  It often delivers little outcome except a stock value for the end of the financial year.

The best approach to stock taking in any retail business is to use your Point of Sale software.   Good Point of sale software offers a range of stock taking options from the portable to the hard wired. Regardless of the hardware technology you use, the result is the same: an accurate stock on hand count and value plus updated stock details.

Every time a count is done using Point of Sale software there are anomalies discovered in the stock database.  The stock take is a good opportunity to address this.  A manual stock take loses this opportunity.

Our recommendation is that once a business has undertaken a full stock take once using their Point of Sale software and if they have good processes around receiving, selling and returning stock,  a process of rolling stock takes would serve the business well in maintaining an accurate stock on hand figures.

Through the stock take facilities in our software, our retail partners have access to a suite of tools with tremendous flexibility, allowing a retail store to count in a way which suits their operational needs.  many of our customers operate with a program of rolling spot stock takes.  These are designed to ensure accurate stock on hand figures in the system as well as identify theft situations.

Expensive and single purpose stock takes can be eliminated from any retail business with the proper use of quality Point of Sale software.  Through our advice sheets, training videos, online training workshops and other opportunities, Tower Systems helps its retail customers to access the benefits of accurate stock on hand data.

Training Video A26 is the best starting point for learning about stock take using our software.


Software Update Training Today

We are running two FREE online training workshops on he latest version of our Point of Sale software today.  The sessions will cover new features and enhancements delivered in the latest update.

There will be plenty of time for questions and feedback during each of the workshops.  The sessions will be hosted by our Software Development Manager – directly connecting our customers with the person with the most influence over future software enhancements.

To book for this online workshop, please go to our Online Training Portal. There is no cost, not even for the phone call for audio participation.


How to Choose the Right Point of Sale Software For Your Business

Choosing the right Point of Sale software is an important decision for any retail business.

The right POS software will save the business time and money, it will also help the business grow, reach its potential and be more valuable when the business is sold.

The wrong POS software will hold the business back, stifle good business decisions, facilitate mistakes and cost the business money.

So, choosing the right Point of Sale software is an important business decision from a day to day operational and trading perspective as well as from an overall business value perspective.

The challenge for many retailers is: how do you choose the right software for your business?  Here are some simple guidelines which should work for any business:

  1. Buy intelligently.  Buy from a retail software specialist.  You generally won’t find good retail management software sitting on the shelf of a retail shop.
  2. Bigger is better.  Software companies have base costs regardless of the number of customers they share.  Buying from a software company with more active customers means that they are likely to be around much longer than smaller companies.
  3. Know your needs.  Be sure of your business needs before you start. Rank your needs so that you know what is a must versus what is nice to have.
  4. See it for yourself.  Make sure that every claim about what the software can do is proven.  It is easy for a salesperson to say the software does something and another thing entirely to show the software doing what you want.
  5. Beware of pressure.  A salesperson who pressures you is either hiding something or putting their needs ahead of yours.
  6. Understand the total cost of ownership.  Find out what the support and all other annual costs are and whether these are mandatory for the software to continue operating.
  7. Get it in writing. Buy only after you receive a quote in writing which documents everything agreed including all cost.
  8. See the company.  If practical, visit the office of the companies you are considering.  Seeing their location can tell you a lot about the business, their organisation and whether they are resourced to serve your needs. If you can’t visit the company, be sure to compare websites.
  9. Beware of price.  Discounting is used by some software companies to hide deficiencies elsewhere.  Beware of price deals which sound too good to be true.  They probably are.

Take your time.  This is a long term business decisions, one which will be with you for many years.  Extra time spent now on making the right decision could save tens of thousands of dollars in the future.


Helping newsagents handle price rises for The Age

We are helping Victorian newsagents who use our newspaper home delivery software to handle the twenty cent cover price increase for The Age, The Saturday Age and The Sunday Age newspapers.  We have our advice ready to be activated well in advance of the price changes taking effect.  We are grateful to Fairfax for giving us a good heads up on the cover price changes.  We respected their embargo.


Enhanced Virtual On Site Visits

We have changed the technology platform we use for providing virtual on site visits.  The new platform is easier for our customers to setup and provides us with better tools that the platform we have been using until now.  The result is the ability to be working on a client’s Point of Sale system, as if we were on-site, in no time at all, faster than before.  This enables us to more thoroughly investigate any issue and delivery any resolution – without having to leave our own office.

We considered the increased investment in the new platform to be worth it considering the benefits for our customers as well as to our Help Desk team.

This type of virtual on-site customer service access is particularly useful in tracking down an issue or a question which is not easily described.  While it is important for software users to learn, we understand the equal importance of keeping business disruption to a minimum.

We have purchased access to the new platform following an evaluation off the platform we have been using for some years and considering the growing importance of this personal service as part of our suite of Help Desk services.

Access to virtual on site visits is provided as part of our Tower Advantage TM customer service package.  The service iss available to all of our customers including those in New Zealand, Fiji and other locations.

We have some rules around direct access to client systems to protect both sides in such situations:

  • Customers must give permission for the connection.  We cannot log in without this.
  • We prefer customers to follow where we go and what we do.
  • We keep a record of all log ins.
  • We follow up with a summary of what was done, helping to ensure there are learnings for our customers after each connection.

We are careful in our use of these virtual on-site visits.  It is important that our customers learn to use our system well.  We do not want the visits to encourage laziness.


Lobbying on the EFTPOS issue

We have continued to lobby politicians and media outlets of the EFTPOS issue which is set to hit all small businesses as a result of the decision by the EPAL Board (major banks and Coles annd Woolworths) to come up with a new fee structure which suits Australia’s biggest two retailers.

Our interest is the health of independent and small retailers.  Australia needs these businesses to thrive to serve local communities and to nurture the Australian retail narrative.  Our vested interest is that we sell to these marketplaces.  We are a small business ourselves.

We have good data on the potential impact of the EPAL EFTPOS decision and will happily share this with any independent retailer who wants to lobby their local member of parliament.  Many of our customers are having success at getting the attention of parliamentarians.  Every contact helps as it raises the profile of the issue in the stats which each of the parties keeps on issues.

Inaction could see EFTPOS fees increase for independent retailers, giving Coles and Woolworths another competitive advantage.


Point of Sale Software Update Training This Week

We are running two FREE online training workshops on our Point of Sale software this week.  On Tuesday, at 11am and 2pm, we will be hosting free online workshops in the latest version of our Point of Sale software.  the sessions will cover new features and enhancements delivered in the latest update.

There will be plenty of time for questions and feedback during each of the workshops.  The sessions will be hosted by our Software Development Manager – directly connecting our customers with the person with the most influence over future software enhancements.

It is rare that a software company directly connects the Manager of its Software Development team directly with customers.  We are proud to offer this connection.

To book for this online workshop, please go to our Online Training Portal. There is no cost, not even for the phone call for audio participation.


Garden Centre Software Interest Growing

garden-centres.jpgExcuse the pun … interest in our new Garden Centre Software is growing thanks to excellent word of mouth from existing customers.

The latest Garden Centre software changes, developed as a result of helpful user feedback, have further enhanced our positioning in the garden space and set us up for an excellent first year in this wonderful marketplace.

Garden Centres are using our software to manage sales (at the counter as well as on the floor of the business), customer accounts, customer loyalty, business reporting, seasonal offers, catalogue promotions, inventory (including barcode labels which are weather proof), packs (where multiple items are sold in a unit) as well as more traditional business needs.

Our experience in other retail channels has positioned us well to serve the needs of Garden Centre retailers.


Advertising for a Web Developer

We have decided to advertise again for a full time Web Developer.  While our last advertisement on Seek attracted a good range of candidates, we did not feel, after thorough assessment and interview, that we got to see someone ideal for our specific needs.  So, we are going again … but with a modified advertisement.

Having a full time web developer has been a key factor in our growth and in the services we provide our customers.


Jeweller Software on Show at Autumn Jewellery Fair

We are preparing to exhibit our Jeweller Software at the Autumn Jewllery Fair in Melbourne at the Royal Exhibition Building later this month.

Showcasing our latest Jeweller Software, released earlier this month, our stand will also feature the Apple iPad, our new professional LCD customer display, the new HP point of sale terminal as well as a range of other innovations.

Jewellers will be able to see our Jeweller software and easily draw comparisons with other programs.  Our software will be loaded and live with Jeweller data, showing off a range of facilities jewellers look for in good software including:

  • Repairs management.
  • Customer loyalty management and marketing.
  • Serial number tracking.
  • Pandora and other supplier electronic invoicing.
  • Stock management.
  • Secondhand goods.
  • Manufactured goods.
  • Multi-store.
  • Theft management.
  • Professional business reporting.
  • Supplier performance comparison.
  • Electronic ordering.
  • Staff rostering.
  • Commission reporting for sales staff.
  • Professional receipting options.
  • Jeweller specific barcode label options.
  • EFTPOS integration.
  • Gift cards.
  • VIP cards.

All of these facilities and more will be on show at our stand, B85, at the trade show at the Royal Exhibition Building.


Helping Newspaper Publishers Gather Sub Agent Data

Our Help Desk team has been helping newsagents in Victoria this week with a data gathering project undertaken for the Herald and Weekly Times.  Using facilities in our newsagency software, newsagents are able to extract data in a form which is useful to the publisher for undertaking campaigns to grow and more efficiently manage the business.

Tower Systems has a track record of helping newsagents across the country to engage with their newspaper publisher suppliers in a variety of ways from in-store reporting to data extraction to synchronise newsagent data with publisher data.

Since our software is used by more newsagents than any other (by close to three times), we take our responsibility to help newsagents and their suppliers seriously throughout the company.


Local Number Help Desk Expansion Plans

We are finalising a major technology to our phone system to enable us to take local calls from more states  around Australia.  Once complete, we will be able to receive local calls from more than the current coverage of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  We hope to announce details next week.

These latest local number enhancements are in addition to the new toll free number we launched late last year for our New Zealand Point of Sale software customers.

Our investment in customer contact infrastructure is further evidence of our commitment to delivering easy access to timely and professional customer service.


Training for former POS Solutions users

We are offering another free online training session for newsagents who have switched from POS Solutions to our using newsagency software.  While newsagents continue to switch we will offer this training along with other services and facilities to ease the transition.


Electronic Voucher Product Changes

e-pay has notified us of some product updates occurring this month. We have published a list of the product updates and the instructions to implement these changes on to eziPass. The product update includes changes for Virgin, Telstra and Vodafone products.  these are available now through our eziPass electronic voucher platform.  We advised our customers yesterday by email of these changes.


POS Software Update Released Today

Thanks to feedback from users and to meet recently released supplier enhancements, we are releasing later today an update to our recent Point of Sale software update.  This will be available for downloading now from our website.  Documentation for the small update is also available from the website.  we will announce directly to our customers once the update is available.

As with all Tower Systems software updates, our customers have control over when they install this update.  This is an important point of difference which provides our customers with greater certainty.

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