Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Month: September 2011 (page 2 of 3)

Retail Employee Training in Point of Sale Software this week

We are proud to be hosting another four live and free online training workshops for retailers using our Point of Sale software text week. Each training session is timely and will add genuine value to what participants can get out of our POS software – there is plenty of time for questions too. Here are the four workshops on offer:

  1. How is your business performing? 20 Sep 2011, 11:00AM
  2. How to use an iPad in your business 20 Sep 2011, 02:00PM
  3. How to set up SMS reports and marketing 22 Sep 2011, 11:00AM
  4. How to set up a touch screen layout 22 Sep 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.

Our continuing and consistent online training program is in addition to an excellent range of advice sheets and other training opportunities provided to users of our Point of Sale software.


The challenge and opportunity of structural change in retail

salepic.jpgNewspapers are full of stories about structural change in retail channels – many read like the end is nigh. Business analysts are talking about online, the global economy and other factors playing into a generational shift in how where and why people shop and the follow on effect for retail fortunes and operations.  There is no doubt that times are changing.  This is not a bad thing.

Too often, retailers pursue discounting as the response to changed conditions.  Discounting, perpetual discounting, is a losers game.

We are helping retailers navigate the changing conditions by helping them understand the business data they can access through our Point of Sale software.

We are helping retailers transition from old product categories into new, adjust pricing to reflect the new retail order, connect with their online businesses for seamless sales processing and uncover opportunities which are not obvious from the shop floor.

Smart retailers embrace change and adapt quickly. The key to this is good data to feed quality business decisions. This is where we can and do help. We appreciate the opportunity to use our IT geek skills to help our customers refresh and even reinvent their businesses.

This time of structural change in retail is a time of excellent opportunity.

One of the reasons senior people from our company have traveled so much in recent months studying retail trends is to keep Tower Systems as the forefront and our technology relevant and useful to retailers who want to embrace and ride change to their advantage.


Excited for Reed Gift Fair in Sydney

giftfairsydsep111.JPGHere is our stand at the Reed Gift Fair in Sydney which starts today at Darling Harbor.  It looks very sexy if we do say so ourselves … as far as trade show stands go.

Our team has done a terrific job building the stand and preparing to present Tower Systems and what it stands for in a professional way.

This stand reflects the substance and thoughtfulness of our company – offering a clear and concise message, backed by sound actions in pursuit of long term and mutually beneficial relationships with our customers.

So, this trade show stand is home for the next four days for some of our team.  It should be fun and rewarding.


Happy Customer Stories Feature at Support Meeting

We had another of our regular support team meetings last week and, as we do, ended with each participant sharing a happy customer story. These are becoming legend … great stories from happy customers. Like the customer thrilled that we could help them out at 4am, or the customer who appreciated our help when the owner fell ill or the new user who loved our patience as they became familiar with our software.

By sharing good customer stories we remind ourselves of the valuable work we do and the importance of appreciation for this.

Sharing these stories is just a small part of our regular support team meetings. The key goal of each meeting is to share knowledge and through this build a better support experience for our customers.


Looking forward to Gift Fair in Sydney this weekend

We are so looking forward to the reed Gift Fair in Sydney this weekend. Starting tomorrow we have four days at one of the business trade shows on the Australian trade show calendar. We’re pumped for the opportunity to show off our software to the retailers who will walk the trade show floor.

We are set to see plenty of gift shop owners plus jewellers and newsagents. Indeed, we are likely to see more newsagents at this Gift fair than we have seen at recent newsagency trade shows – we understand that we will be the only software company there with a solution for newsagents as well as gift shops. Sweet.


Great Customer Service Helps Point of Sale Software Customers Understand Why

why.jpgToo often Point of Sale software help desks take callers through a script designed to explain how to do something with the software. Such a rigid script-based approach often fails to achieve the potential of the support contact.

Here at Tower Systems we do not use scripts on the help desk where we support users of our Point of Sale software. We rely on real conversation, driven by two way discussion with our customers about any issue, question or topic relating to our software.

By eschewing the use of a script we can often find ourselves getting to why: why something is done in the software in a certain way, why the results are the results, why we follow a certain process, why we have a certain standard.

By explaining why we can build understanding and through this deliver better outcomes for our customers when they call our help desk.

Explaining why leads to a deeper and more valuable customer experience.

The more our customers know about our software, the better use they can make of it.


Newsagents benefit from XchangeIT time saving

Newsagents using our newsagency software and connecting with magazine distributors through XchangeIT will benefit from new time savings released by XchangeIT following this just released announcement:

We are happy to advise that we have added a new feature (XchangeIT Central) to our XchangeIT Link Client program. Details are explained on the accompanied document. This doc can be used by your support staff.

As explained in the document, this new feature reduces the time spent on File Resends, as agents no longer need to logon to the XchangeIT website or call a Distributor’s Call Centre to do a file Resend. As an added advantage Agents can also easily monitor their Sales Data Performance via XchangeIT Central.

We work hard to keep our newsagent community up to date and compliance with XchangeIT standards.


Training on How to Use an iPad in Your Retail Business

Next week we are running a free online workshop for retailers using our Point of Sale software on how to use an iPad to assist in the running of a retail business.  In this live and interactive online workshop we will show off a variety of ways retailers can use an iPad to facilitate live access go business data and to improve business productivity.

This valuable training opportunity is one of many we have just added to the curriculum of our online training academy which is available to Tower AdvantageTM customers.


Showing off Point of Sale Software Customer Display

Check out this video shot recently live in a newsagency running our Point of Sale software.  If shows off the commercial value and flexibility of the ad serving software which drives the LCD customer display we recommend.

POS Customer Display from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Helping retailers leverage more value from each customer contact adds to the value derived from using our software.

Our ad serving facilities are available in all retail versions of our POS software.


POS Software Update Imminent

The latest release of our Point of Sale software is now well into the second round of Quality Assurance testing.  We don’s rush this process.  It takes as long as it takes for the software to come out the other side and be certified by our quality experts as being ready for live in-field use.

This next update has some exciting enhancements which we will detail once it is released – no point in showing our competitors what to do.


How Point of Sale Software Helps Independent Small Retailers Compete With Big Retailers

There is a tremendous opportunity for small and independent retailers to leverage their point of difference to compete with big retailers. 

Indeed, this opportunity is stronger today than previously thanks to the more recent disruption of online and challenging economic circumstances.

Smart small and independent retailers are leveraging these opportunities, using our Point of Sale software to deliver business differentiating experiences which show off the nimbleness and flexibility of their businesses compared to their big and lumbering competitors.

Here are just some of the ways retailers are using our POS Software to successfully compete with big retailers:

  • Run a better value loyalty program.  Big retailers like Coles and Woolworths scream loudly about their loyalty programs but do little to offer genuine value.  Using our software, small and independent retailers can run a real loyalty program offering genuine value and through this show off their competitive credentials.
  • Better customer service.  By making business data and services more readily available, small retailers can trump big retailers when it comes to customer service.
  • Personal service.  By operating a comprehensive customer database you can deliver a level of personal service showing that your customers are more than numbers (as usually the case in a big business).
  • Flexible pricing.  Big retailers are slow to move.  By using the flexibility in our software around pricing, small retailers can demonstrate a pricing flexibility which separates them from the big retailers.
  • Faster service. By focusing attention on customer throughput through the use of our excellent sales counter productivity tools, small and independent retailers can provide an experience which is more respectful of shopper time than is often the case with bigger retailers.

There are plenty of other ways retailers can use our software to more effectively compete with the big end of town.  We love working with our retail partners to help them achieve this.

Small and independent retailers are vitally important to the economy.  Our mission is to help small and independent retailers more effectively and valuably compete.  we do this not only with excellent Point of Sale software but also with friendly and easily accessible customer service.


New stock files available now

We have checked, tested and loaded the following new stock files onto our website for retailers using our Point of Sale software:

  • Uni-ball Pens September Stock File
  • Office Smart 2011 Q4 Catalogue

Help for Newsagents who switch from POS Solutions software

With more newsagents switching from POS Solutions software to our newsagency software, we are scheduling more special training sessions to help facilitate the transition.  The two software packages are quite different and we have found it helpful to run training which focuses on these differences, especially the operational differences which can lead to time savings.

Close to 250 newsagents have made the move and we are thrilled to be welcoming more.

For the record, our newsagency software is currently used in more than 1,760 newsagencies in Australia.  Our records indicate that the POS Solutions software is now only used in around 600.


Adelaide Jewellers Embrace Tower Jeweller Software

Jewellers in Adelaide are embracing our Jeweller Software thanks in part due to our local on the ground representation through Tim Batt.  Tim is based in Adelaide and has excellent knowledge of how South Australian jewellers are using our jeweller software to leverage good business outcomes.  He can be contacted on 0401 833 917.

Being local gives us an advantage in the vibrant South Australian retail marketplace.  Through Tim we can respond quickly to sales opportunities, help with networking among our customers and offer local assistance in other ways.

South Australian jewellers appreciate that we are local and this helps us build an even stronger presence.


Why More Newsagents Prefer Tower Systems’ Newsagency Software

We have been enjoying meeting some of our 1,750+ newsagency software users at recent trade shows around the country. This fresh contact has offered a reminder of why newsagents partner with us and stay with us year after year.

Based on the feedback at trade shows and our recent outbound calls to around 400 of our customers, newsagents prefer Tower Systems for a range of reasons:

  • Accessible and helpful customer service
  • Good quality software
  • Business management support
  • Broader support for newsagents in other ways
  • The Tower connection with newsagent and other suppliers
  • Company stability
  • Friendliness of our team

We are thrilled with the feedback and the help our existing newsagent customers provide in bringing other newsagents to our user community.

All that said, we are not resting on our laurels. We know that we are only as good as the last support call or the last software update.

We love working with newsagents (and all of our customers) and are committed to improving beyond our own benchmark.


Helping independent retailers fight an EFTPOS fee hike

We have been working with Tyro and others to help fight the expected move by the big banks plus Coles and Woolworths to increase EFTPOS fees from October 1.  EPAL, the body which governs EFTPOS fees has already announced fee changes.  While we don’t know if the big banks will increase fees to retailers, recent moves indicate that this may be on the cards.  Hence the importance of work to help protect the interests of our community of small and independent retailer.

We are working on this by making representations to politicians as well as media outlets. We have attended several meetings interstate in pursuit of fairness not only for our customers but all small and independent retailers.

Tyro has committed to not increasing its fees except for a minority of premium cards which it has no choice but to move slightly.

Pushing back against higher fees by big banks is important work.  We are glad to be in a position to help.  We see our work as part of our commitment to social responsibility.

You can read the latest press release from Tyro on this important issue here.


Trade Show Season Rolls On

We have just completed another terrific trade show – the GNS Market Fair in Brisbane.  We still have a Gift Fair in Sydney, a trade show for a new marketplace in Melbourne and two newsagent trade shows yet to run.

While trade shows are hard work, they are a wonderful experience.  At each even we connect with existing customers and win new customers – as happened this past weekend in Brisbane.   The only frustrating aspect of trade shows is stalking by competitors – while we are flattered by their interest in what we do, it is off-putting to their customers who want to talk with us.

A hot issue at the recent newsagent trade shows has been software support fees.  We don’t have compulsory software support or XchangeIT access fees.  Newsagents like this.  They like that they can keep using our software regardless of whether they pay support.  While most do pay support, they like that we don’t force them to.  Good software doesn’t require handcuffs.

We have a structured trade show follow up process – every one of our customers who visited with a query will get an answer in a timely and professional manner.  This further shows off our customer service commitment.


New Training Program For Point of Sale Software Users

pos-training.jpgWe are pleased to announce the completion of the project to revise the range of free online training offered for users of our Point of Sale software.

With twelve new workshops being scheduled, our customers will have a greater depth of material to access.

We have also grouped the workshops by business area, to make selection of the right topics easier for our customers.

These latest changes are part of an overall refresh of the training resources which are available for our customers long after they install our software.  We understand that employees come and go in retail businesses and seek to address this by providing easy access to a broad and valuable suite of scheduled training.

From simple sales counter operation through to smart business management skills, our enhanced range of POS Software user training  shows off the Tower AdvantageTM.  This is what we do well – providing learning opportunities for our customers long after they have installed their software.

A new training schedule is being developed and will reach to the end of the current financial year.


Point of Sale Software Helps Retailers Leverage Facts

In years of working with retailers we have learned that too many business decisions are not based on facts.  This is where good Point of Sale software can make a real difference to any business.

By collecting and assembling retail business facts and presenting these in an understandable and useful way, retailers can make fact-based business decisions rather than emotion-based business decisions.

There is no doubt that fact based retail business decisions trump non-fact based business decisions.

Poor reporting is a reason some retailers have switched to our software.  We offer a diverse, outcome focused, range of business performance reports.  When compared to some other systems, our reports show smart retailers the valuable decisions we can help them make compared to what they have been able to make in the past.

In addition to excellent reporting from within our Point of Sale software, we work with our retailers to understand the reports and thereby unlock the real value based in business data collated by our system.  This personal business guidance support helps our retail partners to leverage greater value from our software and the business data it gathers and cultivates.

There is no doubt that good business data = better business decisions. 


Retailers Set to Benefit From POS Software Training This Week

We are proud to be hosting another four live and free online training workshops for retailers using our Point of Sale software text week. Each training session is timely and will add genuine value to what participants can get out of our POS software – there is plenty of time for questions too. Here are the four workshops on offer:

  1. Mastering Subagents 13 Sep 2011, 11:00AM
  2. Retailer Security 13 Sep 2011, 02:00PM
  3. Getting started with catalogues 15 Sep 2011, 11:00AM
  4. Best practice for OfficeSmart users 15 Sep 2011, 2:00PM

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.

Our continuing and consistent online training program is in addition to an excellent range of advice sheets and other training opportunities provided to users of our Point of Sale software.


GNS Market Fair in Brisbane This Weekend

gnsqld.JPGWe are thrilled and excited to be participating in the GNS Market Fair in Brisbane this weekend.  We will be showing the latest release of our newsagency software.

With 324 newsagents in Queensland already using our newsagency software we expect to be as busy with existing customers as with sales prospects … thanks to terrific word of mouth about our software and our after-sales support.

Our stand, pictured, reflects the professionalism of our company, its software and the people here who deliver on the Tower AdvantageTM on which more than 1,760 newsagents rely every day.

We are humbled by our market share and are honored by the respect newsagents have voted in us by delivering this market share.


Tyro Commits to Helping Retailers Contain Costs of Eftpos Processing

The folks at Tyro have today demonstrated excellent continuing commitment to helping retailers contain Eftpos processing costs in the face of expected higher costs to come next month from the major banks.

More than 500 of the retailers using our Point of Sale software use Tyro.  They received an excellent communication from their VP of Sales and Marketing for Tyro today. This communication said, in part:

In Brief:

1. Our costs on Commercial and Premium cards have increased. We need to pass this cost on. As of October 1st the cost of only your Premium and Commercial transactions will increase by 0.10% (one tenth of one percent).

2. Tyro continues to fight the ePAL eftpos price increase. So there is NO change to the cost of a domestic eftpos transaction i.e. when your customer presses the Cheque or Savings button.

3. Tyro’s advanced technology has been accredited with the important Payment Card Industry; Payment Application Data Security Standard. When using our technology, you are protected from card data compromise.

4. Tyro continues to invest in service availability and has achieved 100% up time of our acquiring system in FY2010/11.

I’d like to give you an update on Tyro and let you know about some recent developments.

Now in our fourth year of operation, Tyro has grown to serve over 5,000 Australian EFTPOS merchants. While we still only serve a little over 1.5% of the Australian merchant base, we believe that we’ve created a real and competitive alternative to the big banks, through value, service and security. We continue to strongly advocate the case of the often overlooked hard-working merchant. Tyro has been the only voice in the financial services industry fighting the interchange fee increase in the domestic eftpos debit system.

Visa and MasterCard Premium and Commercial Cards

We’ve recently reviewed the interchange and scheme fees of these card types. The mix used in the Australian market has changed, resulting in higher interchange scheme fees charged to Tyro. As a consequence the Merchant Service Fee (MSF) applicable to your merchant facility will increase by 0.10% (excluding GST). This increase only applies to Premium and Commercial Cards, all other cards’ fees and charges remain unchanged.

eftpos Debit Cards

Eftpos Payment Australia Limited (ePAL) announced an increase to the interchange fee of 10 cents for transactions in excess of $15 and 5 cents for transaction of less than $15 as of the 1st October 2011. Tyro has campaigned on your behalf against what we consider to be an untimely and unjustified increase. The banks however, have sided with ePAL to increase the interchange fee.

We continue the fight this increase by standing our ground on our existing interchange pricing agreements. For as long as we can hold this position, we will protect you from the ePAL interchange increase, in effect delivering the same base interchange transaction costs as Coles and Woolworths.

Tyro’s System Availability

We have designed and invested in technology that eliminates service interruptions. This now includes terminal technology that switches over automatically between servers and data centres. I’m happy to report that the result for fiscal year 2010/11 has been 100% availability of our acquiring system.

Having said this, our service is affected by the availability of our suppliers; we have suffered degradations of service through card issuer outages, Medicare system failures, merchants’ firewalls or ISPs failures and an instance of slow terminal printer performance. We are working with our suppliers, partners and merchants to improve their resilience.

Tyro’s Security Architecture

You might have followed recent reports in media about the increase in crime syndicates targeting Australian merchants, who are hacking into retailer’s computer systems and EFTPOS terminals to steal the customer’s confidential card data. I’m pleased to report that Tyro has had no data security incidents.

Tyro is the only independent Australian merchant services provider whose EFTPOS solution has been certified by Payment Card Industry Council (PCI) accredited independent security specialists, as PCI PA-DSS compliant. Whether operating in stand-alone mode or integrated with your POS systems, you can have confidence that your Tyro EFTPOS terminals read and exchange sensitive card holder and transaction data securely. With Tyro, sensitive data is quarantined from your computer, network or other devices.

The last financial year at Tyro has been very exciting. Being a small institution competing directly with the big banks is more challenging than ever. With your ongoing support, I’m confident that we can continue to grow to ensure that there is a real competitive alternative in the Australian EFTPOS business.

We love working with Tyro because it’s easy to setup, easy to support, fast, accurate and good value for our customers.


Tsunami Impacts Barcode Label Supply

the tsunami in japan a few months ago wiped out the main plant for the production of rolls of high quality barcode labels.  This has caused challenges for us following the shipment of the last of our stored supply some weeks ago.  We appreciate the consideration of our customers while we have made alternative arrangements in what is a busy time of the year for barcode labeling in several of our retail channels.


Updated Electronic Voucher Product Mix

We have announced to retailers using our integrated eziPass electronic voucher and mobile recharge software details of product changes now ready for their use.


How to Access Point of Sale Software Customer Service

customer-service.jpgAccessing Customer Service is vital for retailers using Point of Sale software.  Reflecting our commitment to make accessing support as easy as possible, we have published a fresh guide to our suite of customer service facilities and access points.  This has been sent to all of our customers.  We have two versions: one for Australia and one for New Zealand.

By publishing this guide, we are ensuring that customers have easy and direct access not only to our friendly and knowledgeable Help Desk team but also to self help services and senior management.

Our customer service advice also includes details on online training, advice sheets and other customer service access points we provide to our customers.

Making all levels of our company easily accessible shows that we back what we sell and embrace accountability.

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