End of Financial Year Last Minute Rush

While there is plenty to love about serving small businesses, of aspect we do not like is that some customers leave things to the last minute.  We will see this today with a rush of queries for handling the end of the financial year.

We have emailed and mailed customers about this for two months.  We have hosted free online training workshops and published advice sheets.  We have training videos too.

While plenty of our customers have embraced the opportunity of our training and appropriately prepared, some will soak up time today in a panic to complete stock takes and the like so that they have accurate EOFY data.

While we will cheerfully provide assistance, we can’t help but wonder about the time it would have for the entire Tower user community if everyone was prepared, in advance.

It’s all hands on deck here for today, the last day of 2010/11 … a terrific year for us.

Helping Newsagents Handle Publisher Changes

With quite a number of magazines changing publishers and distributors recently, we have been helping newsagents using our newsagency software to navigate this change and ensure that they have appropriate controls in place to check and control over supply.

With more than 1,700 newsagents in our community, we often go beyond traditional software support in helping the channel deal with structural changes.  The recent changes is one such example off that additional work.

That the change is occuring t the end of the financial year adds to the time management challenge for newsagents.

Ten Things Retailers Are Surprised to Discover About Their Business from POS Software

We are often called upon to help retailers get better understand their businesses from the context of information curated through our Point of Sale software.  We are thrilled with such opportunities for engagement with our customers for we know that the data will deliver valuable surprises for the business.

Here are ten things which retailers marvel at discovering about their businesses by using our Point of Sale software:

  1. Factual data about the performance of one supplier over another.  The facts often do not match what suppliers say.
  2. Shopping basket data about what sells with what.  You can see the real value to the business of good traffic pulling products.
  3. Details of stock items which are failing to deliver a reasonable financial return to the business.  There are several reports for listing items which have not sold in a specified period of time.
  4. Return on investment reporting where a retailer can see the genuine value delivered by inventory.
  5. Employee sales performance data.
  6. Trading period comparison by department, category and supplier – seeing, factually, how the business is tracking.
  7. Questionable behaviour.  Thanks to our thorough Audit Log retailers are able to see details of behavior which could indicate fraud against the business.
  8. Customer value.  being able to see the value of a customer over, say, a year, can give the retail business owner and manager a bigger picture view than by just looking at a single transaction.
  9. Floor space efficiency.  By being able to track and report on sales by floor space retailers love being able to measure the return they achieve per square metre of their retail space.
  10. Top sellers reporting. While many retailers know their top sellers, few understand the percentage of sales (dollars and units) delivered by these to the business.

Our software tracks and reports on far more than these ten areas.  These are some that spring to mind when we think about what our customers like when we work with them on business performance.

We are grateful of an opportunity to work with any retailer on better understanding the performance of their business.  We benefit as much as the retailer from assessing business performance data and talking about what this shows us.

Why we Choose to Serve Small Business Retailers

Here at Tower Systems we have made and continue to make a conscious choice to serve small business retailers.  While our Point of Sale software can be used by retail businesses of any size, it is in the small business retailer community where we are most comfortable.

So, why do we like small business retailers?

This is a question we confronted recently in a business review where we took some time for introspection about who we are, what we do and why we do what we do.

We believe in small business.

Small business retailers play a vital economic role, often punching above their weight in terms of economic contribution.

Small business retailers play an even more important social role, holding, sharing and even adding to the narrative of communities around the world as well as providing practical support for community based endeavours.

Small business retailers help local shoppers with a level of personal service which leads to better buying decisions.

We like these points, especially that small businesses and small business retailers in particular are more like to uphold and carry forward local customs, beliefs and stories.  Small businesses support the ,local voice.  This is why small businesses are important in countries like Australia and New Zealand.    They push back on globalisation and the dilution of the local voice to a whisper.

Whereas with big business retailers you are dealing with a person representing a corporation and focused on the goals of the corporation, in small business you are dealing with the owner or someone very close to the owner, reflecting the personal and connected nature of the business and the community in which its serves.

We also feel that we can contribute more to the community and the economy by working with small business retailers.  We are happy with our track record in this regard since starting in business in 1981.

So, yes, we enjoy serving small businesses and remaining a small business ourselves.  This is where we think we can actively contribute and do the most good.

The value of a business is not only about financial performance.  Its contribution to community is, in our view, equally if, not more, important.

There was a time when small was almost considered a dirty word in business.  Not any more.  This is the time of small business.  It is a niche in which many of us choose to remain.  It is a place of profitable businesses and businesses making a genuinely valuable economic and social contribution.

We returned from our introspection about our size and focus renewed in our belief in and commitment to small business retailers and our work with them.

Comprehensive Inventory Management Advice for Retailers

Tower Systems has published new and comprehensive advice on the proper arrival of inventory data into any retail business using our Point of Sale software.

This new advice, contained in Advice Sheet G60 now available from our website, is designed to help retailers get inventory data right from the outset, when stock is brought into the business.

Accurate inventory data is vital to extracting value from data managed using your Point of Sale system.  Ensuring that all employees engaging in arriving stock are fully aware of this new advice is essential to the health and success of the business.

The new advice sheet is further evidence of the commitment of Tower Systems to continually improve the documentation of our system and to enhance the value which can be gained from professional and proper engagement with our software.

Retailers who are part of the Tower AdvantageTM support program have free and easy access to this new advice sheet and other advice sheet.

This advice sheet is part of a broader suite of advice sheets and training videos on inventory management.

New Advice Sheet to Help Address Dead Computers

hardwarefailure.jpgLast week, we published a new advice sheet providing assistance in a situation where a computer won’t start up as normal. It covers situations where the PC isn’t receiving power at all where it is receiving power but there’s no image on the screen and where the PC is cycling through the boot sequence.

While covered in other advice sheets, we wanted to bring comprehensive advice together into one place and make it freely available to all of our customers including those who choose to not pay a support fee.

This new advice sheet, ADVICE SHEET C, is accessible from our website by anyone.

The majority of calls about a computer which will not start up will be resolved by users following the advice presented in this new advice sheet.  This will help our customers help themselves without needing to make a call and help themselves regardless of where they sourced their hardware.

Comparing user documentation is a good way to compare software companies.  In addition to the content, the attention given to layout and accessibility demonstrates a care and concern about customer service and user communication.

Fairness in Software Support Fees

We have recently seen more evidence of unfair support fees in the Point of Sale software space.  One retailer showed us an invoice for more than $3,000 for a year of software support coverage.  A nearby retailer showed us an invoice from the same company for the same service to a similar sized business with a charge of under $2,000.

The retailer paying the lower fee is used by the software company tin their marketing.  Only those who know that this retailer gets a substantial discount on support fees would wonder if this is compensation for endorsing the software.

Here at Tower Systems, our support fees are published on our website.  The only exception is where a business case is made and accepted for short term relief in terms of the support fee payable.  We will happily help those in need of financial assistance.

We do not pay for people to say good words about us.  We want referrals to be genuine and for the greater good of the user community and not because there is a financial benefit.

We accept our ethical and social responsibilities for fair, honest and transparent treatment of all of our customers.

End of Financial Year Training for Retailers

Tower Systems is hosting four live and interactive online training workshops about End of Financial year Procedures and Processes this coming week for retailers and their employees using our Point of Sale software.  That’s right, the same training session, live, four times through the week.  This coupled with our stock take training video materials and our advice sheets means that the EOFY work for tower retailers is well and truly covered.

Here are the four workshops on offer:

  • End of Financial Year Procedures and Processes 28 Jun 2011, 11:00AM
  • End of Financial Year Procedures and Processes 28 Jun 2011, 02:00PM
  • End of Financial Year Procedures and Processes 30 Jun 2011, 11:00AM
  • End of Financial Year Procedures and Processes 30 Jun 2011, 02:00PM

Online training is a wonderful way to learn more about our software. The result is improved productivity and better business outcomes.Bookings can be made at our online training portal.

Security Over Retail Cost Prices

Sometimes, retailers need to hide inventory cost prices from employees.  Retailers using our Point of Sale software are able to do this thanks to an option in our software.  This is especially useful in multi-store configurations where there are multiple stores in a network using the software.

Giving retailers the ability to control the level of access to sensitive business data is important to retail business owners.  This not only keeps confidential information confidential, it also protects this data from being changes or used in a way which could be detrimental to the retail business.

From small retailers to large, our Point of sale software offers facilities and controls to retailer on which they can rely to protect business critical data.

New HP Point of Sale Terminal Popular

hp-pos.JPGThe new touch screen enabled and integrated HP Point of Sale computer which we launched a couple of months ago is proving popular with our customers.  They like its compact footprint, the easy to read screen, the good value customer display monitor, the on site warranty and the overall elegance of the unit.

This device is a good way to simplify the retail sales counter and create a more customer-friendly retail environment.

Our software makes good use of the facilities of this elegant hardware device, bringing to small business retailers the facilities on which national retail networks rely.

Waterproof Labels Survive The Wet Weather

waterproof-labels.JPGOur waterproof labels are proving to be most useful to our Garden Centre Software customers with the current wet weather.

Our customers love being able to price up items with barcode labels without needing to worry if the items will be displayed indoors or outdoors.

Produced on a single strip made of special material using a professional label printer, our weatherproof labels are a valuable and appreciated part of our software.

Interestingly, we have customers in other retail channels also interested in these quite unique labels.

Helping Newsagents Handle Price Increase for Sunday Mail

We have prepared advice for retail newsagents and home delivery newsagents for handling the cover price increase to $2.00 for the Sunday Mail in South Australia from July 3, 2011.  Our newsagency software enables the easy handling of this price change so that newsagents can save time on the work involved in handling this change.

Non-Home Delivery agents:
Change the Retail price of the Sunday item on 3/7/11. You can either do this in the Stock Screen, or by scanning the Sunday Mail into Point of Sale, then pressing Esc then Delete on the keyboard, and setting the new price to $2.00.

Home Delivery agents:
Our advice in this case is the same as a few months ago when the Saturday Advertiser increased. Our recommended setup is for the Sunday Mail to be set up as the Sunday edition of the Advertiser in our Retailer newsagency software (ie. in the Stock Screen, look up the main Advertiser item, and the Sunday Mail barcode should be in the Sunday field). If this is your setup, please simply change Sunday’s Retail price in the 7-day grid to $2.00 and the Sell 2 price to $1.80.

Our Help Desk team can assist with any queries from newsagents in handling this price change.  We’d be glad to help.

Focus on End of Financial Year Point of Sale Software Training

Next week, all of our online training workshops will focus solely on End of Financial year issues, questions and tasks relating to the use of our Point of Sale software.

By making this a week long focus, there will be no excuse for retailers not being ready and not handling data gathering and housekeeping which is appropriately done at the end of the financial year.

In addition to the four live training workshops, we also have training videos and advice sheets available to help our retail partners prepare for and make the most of the annual event.

Point of Sale Software Enhancements Focus on Customers

New Point of Sale software being released this week by Tower Systems targets understanding the value of customers to the retail business.  Enhancements to the popular POS software deliver valuable reporting tools with which retail business owners and managers can more easily report on customer value.

While the Tower Point of Sale software already has an excellent suite of management reports, more than eighty in fact, new reporting facilities to be released with the latest update further enhances the reporting facilities in the software.

These new reporting facilities and other enhancements being delivered with the software update continue the company’s commitment to continuous improvement.

It is not often that software companies release new reporting tools.  Tower systems is different.  We understand the value of good reporting tools and strive to continue to push the boundaries of reports available from within the software.   Almost every update to the software contains enhancements in the reporting area.

Tower Systems is known for its leadership in a range of retail business management areas including business performance reporting.

All Tower AdvantageTM customers will receive access to the software update without additional cost, as is the case with all Tower Point of Sale software updates.

More Ash Cloud Disruption for Software Installations

Our Point of Sale software installation schedule has been disrupted again today with flights today for three of our team members canceled due to the (apparently never ending) ash cloud.  This is the second time the ash cloud from the Chilean volcano has hit the east coast of Australia in just over a week and the second time our busy, end of financial year, installation schedule has been disrupted.

While we are happy for airlines to take whatever measures are appropriate for safe travel for our employees, this disruption means that the start of July will be particularly busy with the installation schedule already quite full.

Our clients are been understanding.  If only the hotels we prepaid would have been as understanding.

Three Proven Ways to Use Point of Sale Software to Cut Labour Costs

Here are three valuable and easy to implement ways retailers are using our Tower Systems Point of Sale software to reduce labour costs for their businesses:

  1. Full stock control including reordering. By eliminating manual processes around placing orders for replenishment stock, retailers are able to, in one place and at one time, accurately create orders based on business performance data.  This sets the business up to save time on bringing the stock in.  It also improves accuracy.  However, the key benefit is in what is ordered.  By ordering based on business activity (sales) the business do working based on success rather than gut feel. A business switching ot ordering from within their Point of sale system can expect to free up cash by reducing non-performing stock.  It will also save time on the roster through use of automated processes replacing manual paper based processes.
  2. Customer management including accounts and loyalty. Through computer based customer accounts and loyalty management, the retail business is able to transact with customers accurately, in a timely manner and in a way which puts customers first.  Generating monthly customer statements, for example, could take a few minutes whereas manual processes could take many hours and face challenges with accuracy.
  3. Fact assisted decision making.  Too many retail businesses spend too much time spinning their wheels pursuing decisions because they are not using business facts to feed these decisions.  All to often we see poor business decisions made based on emotion and or ignorance rather than historical business data.  Replace the error prone and fact-less approach with a fact based approach and a business will soon find that decisions are more right than wrong.  Retail businesses can bank on the results.

These are just three of the ways in which our Point of Sale software is helping more than 2,000 small business retailers across Australia to improve the management of their businesses, streamline processes and drive more efficient allocation of labour resources.

Tower Systems serves retailers right across Australia as well as in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Good (but late) Decision by Fair Work Australia

We were pleased to hear of the decision by Fair Work Australia to ease the restrictions on after school work.  many of our small business retail customers found the requirement to offer minimum three hour shifts restrictive.  many cut the hours offered to students as a result.  The backdown by Fair Work Australia brings common sense to the situations.

The contribution by school students to retail businesses in terms of insights, energy and relief toward the end of the day for full time employees and business owners is considerable.  This decision will be a relief to many of our customers.

Magazine Putaway Labels Help Newsagents

putawaylabel.jpgPutaway orders for magazines are vital to Australian newsagents.  Using our newsagency software, newsagents are able to easily track these regular orders for customers.  Using our software, newsagents easily and instantly can know who is yet to pick up what titles at any point in time.  This enables newsagents to better manage putaway magazine inventory and make at the sales counter decisions which can help improve the valuable magazine putaway business.

Labels produced by our software facilitate accurate filing of putaway magazines.  They also demonstrate a valuable level of professionalism to customers.  Customers like seeing a professionally produced label with their name on a magazine … this is far better than a hand written label.

Magazines putaways are unique to Australian newsagencies.  It is natural, therefore, that newsagents invest time in ensuring that this point of difference is fully embedded withing the business to ensure that the business makes the most of the opportunity.

More than 1,700 newsagents use software from tower Systems to help manage their businesses.  Magazine putaway management is one small part of our industry standard software for newsagents.

This Week at Tower Systems

After the ash cloud disruption last week with Tasmanian installations delayed and some other team members unable to travel due to cloud disruption, this week already looks better.  We have a busy week ahead with a number of activities including (but not limited to):

  1. Beta release of Point of Sale software update.  This is a sizeable update, packed with enhancements, many of which were requested by users through our Software Ideas facility.
  2. Getting in the thick of the rush to install upgrades and new installations prior to June 30.
  3. Further company-wide planning for the next six months of development work.
  4. Helping many of our customers plan for and undertake stock takes.
  5. Running four free online training workshops.

The week is only a few hours old and already it is busy.  The Help Desk team is busy with calls an dispensing advice in the usual Monday morning rush.

Repair Software Enhancements for Jewellers

The next release of our Software for Jewellers goes into beta release this week.  Jewellers are set to benefit from a range of enhancements including eight enhancements for our repairs management software.

The latest repairs enhancements represent further investment by Tower Systems in enhancing its Jeweller Software and in our jeweller customer community.  Discussed and developed in association with existing Tower Systems customers in Australia and New Zealand, these software enhancements add value to already in place Tower Systems software.

All Tower AdvantageTM customers have access to the software update as part of their total care package.