Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Month: April 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Points are old school when it comes to retail shopper loyalty

Tower Systems has supported shopper accrual of loyalty points for many years, delivering to retailers using its POS software excellent tools for shoppers to accrue and spend points. As more and more retailers have turned on loyalty programs, loyalty fatigue among shoppers has set in and what was a point of difference years ago is nothing special today.

Focused on leadership, Tower Systems has been working on alternatives in the shopper loyalty space, alternatives to bring shoppers back and to guide them to spend more than average.  A trial of completely new and fresh facilities is entering its third month and the results are excellent. Through our comprehensive reporting tools we are able to track shopper behaviour down to the transaction item detail and this is providing insights that will be useful when the new tools are commercially rolled out.

The new facilities, unlike anything in our retail niche channels – newsagents, jewellers, bike retailers, gift shops, homewares shops – will show off our leadership position and help retailers achieve excellent results by embracing tools that deliver an a competitive advantage. The key is the strong management and reporting tools provided as part of the new suite of facilities.

We keep hearing that retail is tough. Innovative retailers are enjoying success. Good technology can help any retail business innovate.


Helping retailers enjoy POS software best-practice training resource

Tower Systems has published an advice sheet to explain to retailers using its Point of Sale software how to access to extensive online training resource launched by the company.

This new advice sheet explains how to use our new website training facilities that were launched at the same time as the video training content.

This advice sheet itself speaks to the professionalism of the company in its approach to user training.  Click on the image to see a larger version. The content is easy to follow, professional and useful to anyone regardless of their technical expertise. This is a feature of all of the Tower Systems training materials including the new video resources – they take the user on a journey, building expertise and confidence.



Sunday small retail business management advice: how to free up capital in your retail business

Retail businesses often have more cash tied up in stock than is necessary for the profitable running of the business. Either through poor or conservative management, a business can be carrying as much as thirty percent more stock than is necessary for operation.

Stock which is not profitable for the business is of little value. Profitability is best measured by gross margin return on investment. Any good point of sale software system will report on this by stock item.

While there can be exceptions to the rule of profitability of return, they are rare.

Retailers and retail employees can permit stock which is underperforming to remain on the shelves because:

  1. It fills a space on the shop floor.
  2. They cannot afford replacement stock.
  3. They do not know which stock is under performing.
  4. They have lost interest in the business.

Regardless of the reason, dead stock is, well, dead stock and of no real commercial value to the business. For the sake of the business, action is necessary.

If you really want to unlock cash tied up in the business you will take the following steps to identify and move this stock.

  1. Indentify the dead stock. Use your Point of Sale system to list items which have not sold in the last three or six months. Look carefully at this list and consider whether you want to carry these items any more.
  2. Get all of the underperforming stock together and run a sale. Price the items to move quickly.
  3. Display the items lined up on tables for a sale – nothing too attractive as this is a sale after all.
  4. Your pricing should take into account the shelf age of the stock and your margin. Do not start with the lowest price, start with room to further discount should the need arise.
  5. Start the sale with a plan. For example, decide how long you will run the sale and whether you will operate with a steeper discount for the last day or two of the sale.
  6. Get all your staff together and train them in the items for the sale.
  7. Give the sale a name and create signed which indicate this and the discount available. Do not make the signs too attractive.
  8. Track the success of the sale and note the amount of money you are freeing as this is the cash you have available to invest in new lines for the business – as long as the sale stock has already been paid for.

Another option would be to talk to the suppliers of the slow moving stock. Some suppliers may agree to you returning the under performing stock in return for a credit for other stock you could purchase from them. This sale or return approach sees them take responsibility for stock which has not performed in your business and would be considered by some as an indicator of a good supplier.

Regardless of the method you use, the key is to be easily able to identify under performing stock in your business so that you can convert it to cash for reinvestment in your business. This is good retail management at work.

You cannot live off stock but you can live off the cash generated from profits.


Helping newsagents embrace commercial consolidation in post T2020 environment

With the largest Australia newspaper distribution business run by a newsagent using the Tower newsagency software and with this business and others evolving meet market opportunities, we are the go to software company in the marketplace for helping newsagents to navigate change.

Our size in the marketplace and that we are helping many newsagents with newspaper distribution consolidation helps us help newsagents more than is usual for a software company. This is an area where our assistance goes beyond the software itself and provide a broader service and assistance to newsagents keen to successfully navigate change in this post T2020 (the News Ltd consolidation project) environment.

So, what does all this mean … newspaper distribution consolidation involved corporate structure changes, data merging, operational changes and a through overhaul of business processes. We help in several of these areas, sharing with newsagents what ewe know so that they themselves can more easily navigate these changes. It’s part of the Tower Systems service, a service available for all newsagents.


Jewellers and bike retailers benefit from comprehensive repairs training

Jewellers using our jeweller software and bike retailers using our bike shop software are benefiting from a host of training developed for their specific needs. We have also developed training for businesses areas unique to both businesses.  repairs is a good example. Both jewellers and bike retailers use our repairs software to manage workshop work.  Our new and exclusive online Training Academy offers a suite of training covering repairs including the following training videos:

  • 20.1 Repairs Setup
  • 20.2 Creating A Repair
  • 20.3 Managing A Repair
  • 20.4 Completing A Repair
  • 20.5 Repairs Reports

This business specific repairs software training provides jewellers and bike shop owners with a training path for people who work in the repairs / workshop area and who can benefit the most from learning how to use this software.


Point of Sale software help desk details for today, Anzac Day

Retailers using our Point of Sale software have access to our after hours network of support phone numbers. They also have access to our management team numbers – as published in our weekly email, print newsletter and on the support card sent our twice a year to customers.

We’re here to help when you need it.


Down in the detail with new Point of Sale software training

Here’s an example of the level of detail offered in the new Tower Systems Training Academy online training video resources. The images shows the starting shot of the setting up payment types training video. It takes the student through how to do this using the software.

The beauty of the training videos and they way they have been assembled with our exclusive online training portal is that retailers and retail employees can cover one subject or a whole curriculum. That is, if someone wants to learn how to setup payment types they can watch this video and be done. If they want to be properly trained on our software they can do the curriculum that includes this payment types video.

This is an excellent resource for our POS software retail partners, one which is already delivering value and drawing kudos.


Professional production makes POS software training videos enjoyable and valuable

The professional production values adhered to in the creation of the new comprehensive online video training library launched as our Training Academy last week make the training enjoyable and professionally useful.

Thanks to smart post production tools we add text where necessary, to make a point. We also drop in live vision of the software being used in the area being discussed. All of this provides the viewer with reference points that reinforce what they are hearing.

Mike Hill, our Customer Service Manager, is the face of the videos. He has managed content as well as production, drawing on his university degree in multi media. This education plus Mike’s considerable retail experience have proven to be a perfect marriage in creating such a valuable asset for our customers.


Retailers purchasing POS software benefit from finance deal

Retailers purchasing POS software from Tower Systems have access to a special financing deal from Flexirent. Retailers signing up soon can tap into two months free if they lease more than $5,000 worth of goods. This is a terrific deal for easy to arrange finance, finance that can be beneficial to a retail business from a cash flow perspective.


Free online POS training loved by retail employees

We have started receiving feedback from retail employees who are tapping into the online training we launched last week through our Training Academy. Thanks for letting me learn at home one retail employee said.  This is great, I love the opportunity to develop my skills said another.

In developing the training our goal has been to create training that is accessible by content and by access point. Our content is highly targeted to each task and work area in a retail business. We have specialist training for each of our retail niches too: newsagents, jewellers, gift shops, bike retailers, garden centres etc.  Our content is accessible in that any computer with internet access can access the training.

Accessing the training is free for retailers and their employees.

The training program has been put together and is fronted by Mike Hill – our Customer Service Manager and an expert in the best use of our software in any retail situation.


Sunday small retail business management advice: educate your employees

Education has proven to be key to getting retail employees more engaged and delivering more value to their retail businesses. Tower Systems has stepped up to the opportunity of education by providing access to a worlds best practice online training resource, the Tower Systems Training Academy.

Retail employees can access training for their specific area of business and thereby be skilled-up to deliver more value to the business. We have see properly trained employees save a business many rostered hours of a work a month once they were properly trained.  This saves real money. It shows the value of professional training.

The new Training Academy from Tower Systems delivers world class training at no additional cost to Tower customers.


Video promoting Tower Systems Training Academy

Here is a brief video promoting the Tower Systems Training Academy launched just a few days ago.

This is one of several ways we are promoting this wonderful new education offer for retailers using our software.


POS software training website guides access to world class retailer training

A core asset of the new Tower Systems Training Academy launched earlier this week for retailers using our Point of Sale software is the website facilities that guide retailers and their employees accessing the training resources.

Assembled by retail channel and work area within each business, the training materials can be accessed in our recommended sequence, ordered by topic.  The image shows some of the topics covered in Point of Sale training.

each training module, video, is around eight to ten minutes long. We have found this length to be ideal for people genuinely learning what is to be covered.  They can digest this is a brief break at work or at home.  The short videos make training accessible and genuinely beneficial.

This is a world class training platform packed with world class training materials. The whole initiative has been put together internally here at Tower Systems.  It is being made available to Tower AdvantageTM customers for no additional cost.


Wonderful response to POS software training academy

The Tower Systems Training Academy which we launched yesterday has already attracted extraordinary interest.  Retailers and retail employees are full of praise for the large library (more than 100) training videos now available. They especially like that we have assembled the training by retail channel and work area within each retail channel.

The training materials will evolve with the software, ensuring their relevance to the latest release.

In terms of scope, the training content is equal to what someone would receive if they were installing the software for the first time. that the training is accessible online and at any time and as often as they want, our customers can be certain of knowing what they need to know to make the most of the business management and growth opportunities in our software.

As one of our customers told us yesterday: this is the best training resource ever for retailers.

With course materials developed specifically by retail channel: bike shops, jewellers, newsagents, garden centres and gift shops, we have released a recourse of extraordinary value to each channel, resources that business owners and employees can and will use to drive business productivity and the benefits they unlok using their Point of Sale software.


World first: exclusive training curriculum for retailers and retail employees in POS software – by retail channel

Tower Systems has released the most comprehensive and most accessible training ever produced for small business retailers and their employees.

Launched as the Tower Systems Training Academy, Tower customers have access to a customised online facility through which they can access fresh, relevant and easy to follow training for their particular software.

In a WORLD FIRST for newsagents, gift shops, jewellers, bike retailers and other POS software users, business owners and employees using the Tower software can learn how to use the software when and where they want without having to pay extra for the privilege.

Separate curriculums have been developed for each retail channel, delivering retail channel specific specialist education.  The total training content available per retail channel is between seven and ten hours.

The training helps ensure new employees learn the software properly and it provides existing employees the ability to refresh knowledge and learn more.

With retail changing and demands on business owners and their employees growing, good knowledge is vital to efficient and profitable newsagency management.

This new training resource is the most comprehensive ever from any supplier in the various retail channels to address this vital training need.

This exclusive new training resource includes more than 100 training videos for each marketplace. each video is brief, allowing comfortable digestion of the content.

Covering all key aspects of the software, this training is comprehensive and accessible to retailers using the industry standard Tower software from anywhere and at any time.

Professionally produced in-house by Tower Systems and peer-reviewed, this training program is accessed through curriculum platform just released on the Tower website.

Through the Tower website facilities newsagents can create a profile for their business and each employee. This enables employees to follow the curriculum that is appropriate to there area of work in the business.

Access to this new training resource is free to all Tower AdvantageTM customers.

The content in the training program will be updated to reflect changes in the software. New modules will also be added in response to customer feedback and suggestions.

Anyone undertaking the video based training can use the resources of the Tower help desk to have any queries answered. They can also participate in any of the regular weekly live online training workshops hosted y the company. They can also attend face to face user meetings and explore queries.

Thanks to Tower Systems, Tower customers and their employees can learn what they want and need, when they want, where they want and as often as they want.

The training program has been produced by Mike Hill, Tower Systems Customer Service Manager.  Mike has excellent knowledge of the Tower software. He grew up in a retail environment and worked in both distribution and retail businesses. His multi media degree provided him with the production skills to deliver professional grade training packages.

This is a genuine first from Tower Systems. While we have had training videos in the past, we have not offered complete curriculums with this much content and with the ability for a business owner to register employees and track progress.

This is a truly wonderful resource that will bring more retailers to the Tower communities of newsagents, jewellers, bike retailers, gift shops, homewares stores, adult shops, garden centres and gun shops.


Retailers will switch to Tower Systems for a fresh approach to shopper loyalty rewards

Two months ago we quietly released new shopper loyalty facilities to a select group of our Point of Sale software beta release sites. The comprehensive data gathered through the trial shows that these new facilities are guiding changes in shopper behaviour, increasing the value of participating shoppers.

While we already offer a more traditional points based loyalty program, we wanted something completely different and genuinely fresh. Our new facilities, to be offered as an option with our software, do just that.

Our customers are able to provide shoppers with a reward to spend in-store right away. They can control the value of the spend and the items it is used to purchase. This is where the new facility is very clever.

Shopper feedback at trial sites indicates that this new loyalty program, as opposed to the traditional points offering, will get got shoppers making a conscious choice to purchase from the business what they may purchase from a supermarket or elsewhere.

The new loyalty facilities are backed up with excellent reporting tools, enabling retailers to manage the program with little time involvement and to track shopper behaviour.

The features of the new facilities are:

  • No shopper sign-up necessary to get them started.
  • Immediate rewards on offer fro first purchase – but accessed on next purchase.
  • Easy local settings available to newsagents to drive what is important to them.
  • No extra card for shoppers to carry.
  • Targets shorter term loyalty engagement – that visit or soon after.
  • Easy management of breakage.
  • A whole of business offer – i.e. not just targeting magazines or cards.
  • Hard for majors to replicate.
  • Easy harvesting of shopper contact details at point of redemption.

Data from beta sites indicates that these new loyalty could be a game changer for our current and future customers, especially in locally competitive situations.

The new facilities are in version 2.5 of our software.  This is expected to be commercially available late next week.


Tower Systems publishes latest newsagency sales benchmark report

Tower Systems yesterday published the latest sales benchmark report for the Australian retail newsagency channel. This latest newsagency sales benchmark report delivers access to vital accurate performance data on which newsagents and their suppliers rely. The preparation of the report is a free service from Tower Systems for the newsagency channel.  Tower Systems serves more newsagents with its newsagency software than any other software company.


New like for like magazine performance report in newsagency software

We have developed a new report that makes it easy for newsagents using our newsagency software to compare the performance of like for like magazine titles.

The comparison can be YTD, date range or MAT. Newsagents can select the titles to compare. They could compare two titles, such as Woman’s Day and New Idea or they could compare all titles in a segment, such as wedding.

The purpose of the report is to provide newsagents with accurate data on the performance of titles competing for the same customer. We expect the data to facilitate placement, co-location and other engagements in better magazine space and time allocation.

With publishers telling newsagents that their title is the best in a competitive situation, we felt it important to give newsagents a tool that inserts facts into their consideration.

The new report is in version 2.5 in our software. It’s in beta release right now.


Open forum for bike retailers

Tower Systems is hosting a live open forum for bike retailers who would like to network with others to discuss business.  This agenda-free session is being funded by Tower Systems to help bike retailers connect with each other to discuss any topic of interest.  Book here. This is another way Tower Systems is helping bike retailers in the running of their businesses.


Helping retailers cut employee and customer theft

Tower Systems is delivering practical advice and help to retailers keen to cut employee theft and customer theft in their retail businesses with a free online training workshop this Thursday.  Using our best-practice Point of Sale software we provide access to valuable tools, controls and monitors that actively reduce the cost of theft to a retail business.

This online training is part of a broader live training program we have for retailers using our software. Through this program we deliver not only training but also opportunities for retailers to network. This is invaluable when it comes to theft as retailers get to talk with each other about their situations and from this learn and, hopefully, exert better control over their own businesses.

Too often, retailers act to reduce theft after theft has been discovered. This has proven too late for some businesses. Our theft management tools are comprehensive, secure and ready for use right away without the need to spend any money. This is why it’s vital for retailers to seize the opportunity, to chase a reduction in the cost off theft in their businesses.


Sunday small retail business management advice: track all sales through one system

Occasionally, we see retailers tracking the sale of some items outside their Point of Sale software. While the retailer usually presents what they think is a sound reason, the reality is that tracking sales in any retail business through more than one system is poor management.

We have seen several situations of employee fraud where some sales were tracked outside the POS software. This is one key risk. The risk is diminished if you put all sales through the one software package.

While some present excuses such as delays at the counter, we can point to enough success stories to dispel such concerns.

Retailers who want fast and accurate sales processing at the counter will track all sales through the one software package. If you’re not sure how to achieve this, talk with one of our support people.



Retailers appreciate regular POS software customer service communication

Weekly email is one way Tower Systems communicates with retailers using its Point of Sale software. We keen it simple and easy to read. We respect that retailers are time-poor and therefore keep the weekly email comms to topics they need covered. Those who want more information can easily dig deeper.

The image is from our email this week. Click on it for a larger version.

The consistency and efficiency of our weekly email reflects on the consistency and efficiency of our POS software and the support we provide.

We supplement our weekly email with communications for specific retail channels in which we serve so as to not confuse other retailers with information that is channel specific.

Why does all this matter? Retail success can depend on making the most of your software. Tower Systems provides many opportunities for retailers to know what they need to know to make the most of their POS software.


New stock files now available for POS software users

We have tested and added the following stock files for retailers using our POS software:

  • Hallmark Cards April 2013
  • Spirit Publishing April 2013

Helping retailers manage customer credit using POS software

credit-limit.jpgSmart retailers in today’s economic climate want to remove as many barriers as possible between an opportunity and a sale.  This is why LayBy is important in many retail situations.  Retailers who want the business sometimes need to provide funding.  While this approach has been common in big box and furniture situations, it has been less common in marketplaces in which we serve: jewellers, bike retailers, gift shops, homewares stores and newsagents … until recently.

Our Point of Sale software provides robust and flexible facilities which enable retailers to provide and manage the LayBy, store credit and other flexible payment options.

Using the credit limit facility, partially shown in the image, our retail business partners are able to control the acceptable credit limit balance at the customer level.  This can bee set and controlled by senior management, thus removing the challenge for retail associates having to deal with this as they can say that ‘the system’ does not allow an increase.

By managing credit limits, retail businesses can better manage their exposure.  This is vital as the provision of credit to customers increases as economists predict.  One report recently said that while credit card debt is not growing as fast as it used to in Australia and New Zealand, there has been somewhat of a transfer of debt to store credit as discussed here.

We are committed to ensuring that our software maintains relevant and useful facilities which enable our retail partners of ensure that barriers between opportunities and sales are kept at a minimum as far as our Point of sale software is concerned.


Helping gun shops, jewellers & bike retailers track products by serial no.

The serial number tracking services available through our smart Point of Sale software are appreciated in several of our marketplaces.

Developed with jeweller and bike shop retailers originally, the serial number tracking tools in our POS software have been enhanced to meet evolving needs of these retailers as well as gun shops.

Serial number tracking requires accuracy and focus in serving the needs of the retailer, customer and other parties. Achieving this without negatively impacting the traffic flow at the counter is a challenge we address in our software.

Using serial number tools, retailers are able to track individual items sold to meet regulatory record-keeping requirements as well as track items for the benefit of the customer and the business in terms of warraty and other future activity around a specific item purchased.

retailers using our software can also find previous sales by searching using a serial number.

In addition to specifically serving the needs of tracking serial numbers of items sold, the software tools also work well in areas with similar needs. The software gives even more flexibility to the overall Point of Sale software package.

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