Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Month: July 2011 (page 1 of 3)

New Point of Sale Software Customer Service Manager

Mike Hill has accepted the challenge of taking on the role of Customer Service Manager for Tower Systems.

Mike brings terrific knowledge of our software and a passion for customer service to this role. He is tasked with developing and directing our Help Desk team and delivering on the Tower Systems promise of timely, professional and engaging customer service.

This role is an important management escalation point for customers with concerns about contact with the Help Desk.

We feel that it is important to publish names when we make such changes as it demonstrates transparency. Anyone can announce anything but with a name you can check for yourself and discover that it is true. This is another customer service focused move by Tower Systems.


New Post Point of Sale Software Installation Management Role

With sales increasing and retail businesses changing hands, we have created a new role within Tower Systems to better manage the transition for new customers from just having our software installed to it being well settled and appreciated in the business.

This new role is being created by Simon Frost, someone with years of experience, in retail and on our Help Desk, with our software working for our company, who will take ownership of guiding customers and their employees in establishing their relationship with our company and software immediately following installation.

This is the first such structured post installation role in a software company in our marketplaces. Sales growth brought the opportunity for this role to our attention.

We are pleased to be able to make an investment in this expansion and another investment in delivering an exceptional customer service experience.

We feel that it is important to publish names when we make such changes as it demonstrates transparency.  Anyone can announce anything but with a name you can check for yourself and discover that it is true.  This is another customer service focused move by Tower Systems.


Newsagent Software on Show at Newsagent Trade Shows

gnsmarketfair.JPGOur industry-leading newsagent software will be on show at the GNS Market Fairs which start this weekend in Perth.

At Challenge Stadium in Mt Claremont we will be showing off the software which is being used in more than 1750 newsagencies around Australia.  More newsagents use our software than all other newsagency software companies combined.

We respect our tremendous market position and the faith invested in us by newsagents by constantly innovating with new software and y reducing the costs for newsagents engaging with us.

Indeed our newsagent community pays less today to engage with Tower Systems than a year ago.  We are able to do this thanks to our market share.

In Western Australia, for example, we introduced a local, Perth based, support call number for our WA customers.  This local support number (with multiple lines), 08 6317 0207, delivers direct access to our National Help Desk for the cost of a local call. Introducing this is a good example of Tower Systems reducing the cost working with us.

Introducing local call support access is another reason newsagents switch to Tower.

Add to this that our support costs are competitive and NOT compulsory and that we do not charge newsagents extra to access XchangeIT you can so see why our software is the most widely used in the newsagency channel.

If you are  Western Australian based newsagent we hope to see you this Sunday at the GNS Market Fair.


Increasing the Help Desk Team

We have increased the headcount with the successful hiring of Jeremy To for a new help desk role within Tower Systems.

Our new team member starts this coming Monday and following intensive training will start having contact with customers.

This new role is part of a series of changes we are making to further enhance the Tower Systems customer experience.

We feel that it is important to publish names when we make such changes as it demonstrates transparency.  Anyone can announce anything but with a name you can check for yourself and discover that it is true.  This is another customer service focused move by Tower Systems.


Pressure building on EFTPOS fees

Tyro, our preferred broadband EFTPOS partner and the EFTPOS partner small business and independent retailers love, is fighting hard against the looming EFTPOS fee hike which is being driven by the major Australian banks.  Click here to see the latest Tyro press release on the EFTPOS fee situation.

While some sections of the media are getting all worked up over the carbon tax, others are remaining silent on what is effective a new EFTPOS Tax being imposed by the banks and facilitates by the federal government.

The impact of the higher EFTPOS fees could be more significant on small businesses, especially those which cannot easily pass on or mitigate against the higher costs of doing EFTPOS transactions.  Coles and Woolworths are exempt.  They sit on the board which decided the price rise which is set to cause the EFTPOS fee hike.

With EFTPOS an important method of payment in retail today, retailers have little choice but to offer this service.  This positions them at the mercy of the major banks who control EPAL which sets pricing for services which effects EFTPOS processing fees.

We are supporting the campaign against higher EFTPOS fees in a number of ways including focusing on the topic at this blog and in direct communication with our customers.

Part of our mission here at Tower Systems is to help our retail partners cut the cost of doing business. While our software is terrific at helping retailers do this, we rely on fairness from providers such as the banks and their EFTPOS processing services. Our lobbying on the EFTPOS fee hike issue is central to our mission.  We will gladly go into bat for our customers to help them maintain a fair cost structure.

Tower Systems proudly serves over 2,500 small and independent retailers across Australia.


Homewares Retail Software Connects With Homewares Suppliers

With more homewares suppliers keen to connect with retailers through our homewares shop software, we are able to shorten the time it takes from placement of order through to inventory getting the shelves of homewares shops.

A more efficient supply chain benefits both homewares retailers and homewares suppliers.

Our homewares shop management software plays a key role in helping retailers and suppliers to access these time and financial benefits.

The facilities we provide in our software and the services we provide to back these up make it easy for suppliers and retailers in the homewares channel to connect with each other and improve efficiency around the supply chain.


Expanding the Help Desk Team

Having successfully brought on a new Help Desk team member early last month, we have decided to advertise for another team member.

While we have capacity to handle our sales growth, we prefer to resource up ahead of the need so that new team members have well established skills before we reach capacity.

We have an excellent pool of candidates already thanks to recent advertising and hope to make a decision in the next few days.

This new role, once filled, will increases the resources available to us.


Cadel Evans Win a Boost For Bike Retailers

Bike retailers we have spoken with since Cadel Evan won the Tour de France are excited about the boost in interest in cycling that the win is bound to drive. Many are looking to maximise the opportunity with displays and features in-store and externally.  More power to them for this.

With close to 18% of specialist bike retailers using our bike shop management software, we look forward to playing a role in boosting Australian bike businesses.

Bike shops use our software for transacting sales, tracking warranties, handling LayBys, managing repairs, managing customer relationships and reporting on business performance.

With just over 1,000 specialist bike retailers in Australia and plenty more in New Zealand, the bike retail channel is strong.

We are thrilled to be part of this, especially in the sunshine of the win by Cadel Evans.


Quality Assurance Check on Help Desk Performance

We are engaged in a process of checking the quality of service provided by our help desk. We do this each year in different ways.

This year we are making outbound calls to a random selection of customers to gauge their feedback on recent contact with our help desk.

In the calls we focus on what our customers think about help desk contact because we know that we are only as good as our last customer contact.

We appreciate the feedback being shared by our customers in the brief survey calls.


Five Ways Retailers Can Motivate Employees Using Good Point of Sale Software

It’s true. You can motivate retail employees through Point of Sale software. It has to be good Point of Sale software and you have to engage with facilities in the right way to get your employees working with and for the business in a more creative and valuable way.

The key is to be more open with business performance information.

Too many retailers keep secrets. They don’t want to let employees know how the business or parts of the business are performing for fear that this will make the employees think they are rich.

It is important that for every piece of income information you share, also share expenses information. This provides for a balance. Showing how the income is spent in the business can help employees better understand how what they do within the business impacts on the business.

So, on to how you can use Point of Sale software to motivate employees:

  1. Let employees see how they are performing compared to others. Presented in the right way and in a supportive environment, this can motivate employees to achieve more. Good Point of Sale software will let you track sales by employees. Further, you could track gross profit.
  2. Let employees see the economic value they bring to the business. Presented in the context of overall business performance and costs, this information can help employees want to list the business and therefore strengthen their future.
  3. Make regular, often performed and mundane tasks easier. Tasks such as pricing new inventory, ordering replacement inventory and even processing a sale. Embrace your POS software as much as possible to ensure maximum benefit accessed for the business.
  4. Train employees on reporting tools and how they can be used to make business decisions. Done properly, this can give employees a greater sense of ownership over decisions they make and help drive their accountability.
  5. Set goals and use the Point of Sale software to track the performance of the business and employees in reaching toward the goals.

There are plenty of other ways Point of Sale software can be used in retail businesses to motivate employees. The key with all of these is engagement. Using POS software as a glorified cash register is a waste of time and money. Being serious in your use of the software and making the most of it by learning and embracing it can make an average business great.

Tower Systems provides excellent facilities for motivating, managing and tracing employees in retail businesses using its Point of Sale software.


Point of Sale Software Customer Display Advertising

Here is a video of our new Point of Sale software customers display in action in a newsagency.  See how it seamlessly advertises products while transacting a sale.

Tower Systems POS Customer Display from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Very nice if we do say so ourselves. This facility is available for any of our retail customers.


New Darrell Lea Stock File Available Now

We have tested and loaded a new stock file from Darrell Lea to the stock files available from our website for download by our customers.


Australian Point of Sale Software for Australian Retailers

Tower Systems is an Australian software company developing Point of Sale Software for the Australian and New Zealand retail marketplace.  We currently serve close to 2,500 retailers in a number of specialist retail channels.

Local software companies are more likely to be able to serve the needs of local retailers.  While readers here might expect us to say this, our experience working with retailers over many years bears it out.

Generic POS software and overseas sourced POS software often misses business enhancing facilities, making them less financially rewarding for retailers.

Indeed, our experience in replacing many Point of Sale systems over the years indicates that local and generic systems are less valuable to retail businesses with specialist needs.  This is why we invest co considerable time in understanding the needs of the retail marketplaces in which we serve.  It is also why we continue to evolve our software to meet the evolving needs of these marketplaces.

Australian Point of Sale software is not only good for the Australian retail businesses which purchase this, it is also good for the Australian economy.


Heading into Point of Sale software Trade Show Season

This is our last free weekend for a couple of months as trade show season starts next weekend.

We will have our Point of Sale software on show at trade shows across Australia and New Zealand over the next eight weeks including several weekends with multiple trade shows and industry events.

At each of the events we will represent Tower Systems through technical, sales and management people.  The commitment through each of these key parts of our business to trade show representation demonstrates our accessibility and transparency to our customers as well as to sales prospects.

All too often software companies load their trade show stands with just sales people or just geeks.  By having technical support, sales and management people available we take a more whole of company approach to showing off the tower AdvantageTM.

We treat each trade show differently, considering the marketplace it serves as well as the geographic location it serves.  We recognise that there are differences in businesses based on these factors.  By serving these differences we also show off our commitment to local and specialist engagement.

Next weekend we kick off with the GNS Market fair is Perth for newsagents.  It is shaping up as a good start to our busy trade show season.


Four POS Software Training Opportunities Next Week

We are hosting another four live and live online training workshops for retailers using our Point of Sale software this coming week. Each session is timely and will add genuine value to what participants can get out of proper use of our software. Here are the four workshops on offer:

  • Lay bys 26 Jul 2011, 11:00AM
  • Business Reporting 26 Jul 2011, 02:00PM
  • Retailer Security 28 Jul 2011, 11:00AM
  • Repairs 28 Jul 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.


How to Compare Point of Sale Software Companies.

The companies behind Point of Sale software being considered by a small or independent retail business are as important as the software itself for it is the companies which determine the future direction of the software.

When you purchase POS software for your retail business you are not purchasing a completed product. It is not like a motor vehicle, a refrigerator or a hammer. No, those items, when purchased, are complete. They are not enhanced by the manufacturer as part of a process of continued improvement.

If you want the new and improved model of a car, a refrigerator or a hammer you need to purchase a new one.

Software is different, especially good Point of sale software. Good Point of sale software will evolve with business practices. It will be enhanced as new opportunities and standards emerge. It will change and morph into a new product – in the hands of a good and committed software development company.

This is why assessing the company behind the software is vitally important.

If you are considering POS software for your business, take a look at the company and its people. Look at their track record for delivering an enhanced solution. Make sure that their focus matches your focus.

Consider assessing these areas of the developer and supplier of software which you are considering for your retail business:

  1. What is their software update commitment. What is their policy on updated? Frequency? Ease of Delivery? Control over delivery? QA?
  2. How transparent is their process for considering user change requests? Some software companies make a show of transparency but do not deliver.
  3. How many user change requests were in their last three updates?
  4. How accessible is the company – at all levels from operational through to management? It is important that there is a process of escalation and that you can get to the highest level with ease if necessary.
  5. Does the person who sold you the system maintain contact with you? This is important as it keeps them honest. Ask other users, not ones suggested by the software company, about this.
  6. How open are they in allowing you to verify their claims for yourself? A request for visit to their offer is a good test. A good an open company will welcome you.
  7. How does their website compare to others?

Comparing software companies can be time consuming for retailers. If the difference is between a system which genuinely helps you unlock incremental value from your business compared to you going along as you were before installing the software then the time investment is well spent.

Take your time. Compare your Point of Sale software companies as much as the software itself. Choose the company which you think best fits with the needs of your business.

Remember, you are not buying a fixed or set in stone object. You are buying an evolving product and this evolution will be vital to the benefits you unlock through the investment.


See the New LCD Customer Display in Use

Click here to see the new customer display processing a sale.  The iPhone shot video shows how the LCD display beautifully transitions from promoting products to completing a sale while maintaining promotion of products through the sale.  As our customers are saying, this new display a very nice.  We know from installations already completed that it drives sales.


Wash up from the News International Scandal: a Case For Smaller Businesses

The phone hacking scandal which has engulfed News International in the UK over the last two weeks is a reminder of a key difference between big businesses and small businesses.

The CEO of a small business is less able and less likely to rely on a defence of I didn’t know what my employees were doing.

In small business we are closer to each other, more aware of what is being said and done in the name of the company and more accountable for these words and actions.  We cannot rely on the defence of size making ignorance acceptable.

It was a shock to see Rupert Murdoch effectively use the defence of we have 52,000 people and I don’t know what they say or do and therefore should not be held accountable.  His responses to the House of Commons Inquiry earlier this week make a strong case for fewer big businesses.  Commentary is certain to turn to this in the coming weeks, looking at business size and wondering if big really is better.

Of course, from a shareholder value perspective, size probably will always matter.  There is more to this discussion than shareholder value however.  We must consider the role business plays in society and in that consideration is the question of ultimate accountability.

A world of many more smaller businesses would be far more economically valuable, socially responsible and ethically accountable than a smaller collection of massive corporations .

While we continue to grow we have a long way to go before we could be called big.  Even after thirty years in business and more than 2,000 customers, we remain a small company serving small businesses. We like that, we feel comfortable with our size and the size of our customers.


Coming to Perth GNS Market Fair

We will be at the GNS Market Fair in Perth next Sunday, August 31.  This is the first of four newsagency supplier trade shows.  We will be showing off our latest newsagency software including some yet to be announced innovation.

We appreciate the work of GNS in putting on these event.  They provide an excellent opportunity for us to connect with more newsagents and share with them the tower Systems story.

If you are a West Australian Newsagent drop in on our stand and see the Tower Systems difference in action. 


Avanti Retailers Conference in New Zealand

We are thrilled to be participating in the Avanti bike retailers conference being held in New Zealand in two weeks.  We will have the latest release of our bike shop software on show as well as great representation from tower team members to answer questions and show off this latest bike shop software.

The Avanti conference is an excellent run up to the popular Ausbike event which will be held in Melbourne later this month – at which we will have a stand


The Long Road to Finding Ideal CRM Software

For more than six months we have been looking at replacement CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software for our business.  We have trialled two solutions and looked at plenty of others.

This is an important project as the resulting solution will replace the Sage application which is at the heard of all customer contact with our company.

We have a small team tasked with considering possible solutions from a range of criteria.  Our commitment back to the business is that we will not compromise of factors which we know to be crucial to our business needs.  We want a solution which helps us even further improve the customer experience.

There is no time deadline on this project as we want to ensure that we make the right decision for our customers and for our business.


Gift Shop Software Enhancements Ready for Christmas 2011

We are completing development of the next release of our Gift Shop software. This next update will be released well in time for preparing for Christmas 2011. Packed with some excellent enhancements, including suggestions from our customers (thank you!) this next update is set make us even more popular in the gift shop marketplace.

Gift retailers are using our software to not only manage retail sales and lay-bys, they are also using it for business planning, supplier negotiation, trade show buying and managing the rewarding customers for their loyalty.

We are seeing good growth in customer numbers for our gift shop software thanks to the continued enhancement of the software and kind words from existing users.

We are also finding ourselves offering our gift shop software to newsagents as some of them evolve their newsagency businesses more into gift shops.


The High Cost of Helping Retailers Deal With Employee Theft

While we willingly help our retail customers deal with employee theft situations, we would much prefer that all of the theft tracking, management and reduction tools in our software were used to their fullest to stop employee theft getting out of hand.

One of our senior managers was recently out of the business for two days having been summonsed interstate for a committal hearing in a case involving employee theft. Our senior manager was an expert witness.

This is not the first time and will surely not be the last.

While smart retailers embrace theft reduction opportunities in our software, too many face up to the employee theft risk only when theft becomes evident through an analysis of their profit and loss statement.

Employee theft can kill a retail business in no time at all.

The time to engage is now, when you think that things are okay. We will gladly help with tips and advice.


Five Ways Retailers Can Use Good Point of Sale Software to Grow Sales Without Running a SALE

SALE signs have been hanging in the windows of too many retail businesses for too long. It seems that retailers have forgotten how to be different, how to play to their strengths.

Chasing sales only on price is a mugs game. There is no differentiation. Every day a retail business trades with a SALE running beyond a week or two for a specific purpose is another day the value of the retail brand is discounted.

Running sales perpetually, as so many retailers are doing today, tells shoppers that prices in the business have been reset.

Countless studies have shown that shoppers often buy on more than price. Service, convenience and value are key factors. None of these factors are represented in the perpetual SALE sign.

Smart retailers, and there are plenty of these, are attracting shoppers and demonstrating value in ways other than by handling a SALE sign for months. They are using business data and businesses systems, like Point of Sale software, to promote their point of difference through value.

Here are five ways retailers can use good Point of Sale software to promote their business without running a traditional SALE and without devaluing their brand:

  1. Loyalty. Run a customer loyalty program and deliver genuine rewards for genuine loyalty. This will quickly separate your business from the faux loyalty systems one often sees in national retailers. Focusing on quick access rewards is the key to rapidly building shopper satisfaction.
  2. Appreciation. By tracking your shoppers and what they purchase you can show your appreciation through a text message, email or letter. Thanking your shoppers in a structured way can help build their appreciation of your business.
  3. Add value. A three for two or four for three offer is quite different to a SALE. Using your Point of Sale software to manage and offer these volume purchase offers can help drive sales, especially is the threshold for accessing the bonus product is above what a shopper would usually purchase.
  4. Promote at touch points. By consistently promoting on shopper receipts, point of purchase customer displays, customer accounts and other common customer touch points in the business can expect to achieve incremental business. The keys are a simple consistent message promoted consistently.
  5. Reward employees for sales growth. By rewarding employees for sales growth, achieving sales beyond your set sales targets, you empower and motivate your shop floor team to grow the business. The right reward should encourage your team to work smarter and be more engaged in pursuing sales growth. Your software can track sales and rewards for you.

Any retail business running a sale in today’s retail climate is running a me-too campaign. They are begging for the business to be compared to every other business running a sale.

Retailers who engage in a mixture of the five suggestions in this article set themselves apart. They also respect their brands by making it about value more than price. These businesses which play outside the most common and expensive sale game are the businesses which can expect to do well in tough times.

Good Point of Sale software is the key to such creative and value-based engagement. It helps with execution as well as tracking of results. Tower Systems works with retailers on such campaigns, helping to find the best mix of ways Point of Sale software can help a retail business grow.


Multi Store Point of Sale Software Upgrade This Week

We move our latest Multi Store Point of Sale software upgrade into beta release later this week following an intensive development process and thorough quality assurance process in house.

This latest upgrade will help retailers with multiple retail locations to unlock greater efficiency and leverage the value of their group of store regardless of size.

The upgrade is another example of our commitment to continued improvement of our Point of Sale software.

We are deliberately not publishing details of the upgrade as we want to enjoy the benefits of delivering such a valuable upgrade at this time. There is no point in giving away all of our secrets in this place.

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