Sunday small business retailer management advice: front-end shopper loyalty to change behaviour today

More and more retailers are sharing feedback on the Discount Vouchers facilities we released several months ago. the most common response is one of surprise at shopper engagement with the vouchers compared to engagement with the more traditional, but old, VIP card points-based system.

We are getting calls and emails from customers telling us of their surprise that shoppers use the voucher, and the cash discount, right away. Our response is this is what we expected.  Our data shows that around 30% of vouchers used are used the day they are issued, often to purchase items the shopper did not come into the business to purchase. This is bonus margin dollars the business can bank as a result of the Discount Vouchers.

Key to the success, beyond the excellent software facilities, is the support, assistance and advice we have provided and continue to provide on how to make the most of the opportunity. From our senior management through to the help desk, we are engaged with our customers and keen to provide practical business implementation advice.

For most retailers implementing the Discount Vouchers facilities, they are a game changer for them, a point of difference compared to other retailers. This is where our implementation advice can make a huge difference. It’s also where we get pleasure in helping our customers turn a brilliant facility into a money making opportunity … delivering a profound competitive advantage.

Our sunday advice for retailers today is to embrace Discount Vouchers and make the most of the point of difference delivered in our Point of Sale software. We’re here to help – beyond the software.

Helping small business retailers to make most of online search opportunities

Tower Systems is publishing advice to its independent small business retail community that will help them make the most of free online search and listing opportunities.

Developed to serve small retail businesses we own ourselves, this advice will help our retail community get more often noticed by shoppers doing searches online at home and when mobile commented Tower Systems Managing Director Mark Fletcher.  Our release of this advice is another example of us going beyond what is usual for a software company, it shows us connecting with our customers in a more practical and business building way beyond the software we develop and sell.

The advice is undergoing final quality assurance and peer review prior to release to the Tower retail customer community.  It will be provided without cost to all Tower Systems customers.

Supporting Plants Plus loyalty program

Garden Centres that are members of the Plants Plus group and using the Tower Systems Garden Centre software are set to benefit from the release of integration with the Plants Plus group wide loyalty prigram.

In another expansion of the loyalty facilities delivered by tower systems, the company is releasing support for the Plants Plus loyalty program in a major software update.  This work, done without cost for Plants Plus members, has flow-on benefits for all Tower Systems users looking for more alternatives in the loyalty space. The company will share details privately with customers in the coming weeks.

It’s not enough for software companies to only develop software any more

Just a retail has fundamentally changed, so has software development. There was a time when all software companies had to do was to develop software. Then there was the push to provide good customer support. Now, we have reached a time when engagement beyond the software, beyond support, is vital to success.

Growing software companies today make themselves useful and valued to their customers and businesses connected with their customers beyond the software itself and beyond traditional software support.

Growing software companies embed themselves within the channels of their customers. This benefits the retailers in the channel as well as the software company.

Tower Systems has been living this model for years, delivering valuable insights and connections with retailers in a range of channels, through embedding itself and helping beyond the software and beyond customer service. Inside our business, this non-software engagement accounts for more than half our channel level engagement.

We work with suppliers, providing advice and support. We cultivate and share data. We explore insights. Plus we help our clients and their suppliers in other practical ways.

The help we provide, beyond the software, helps us as a business and it helps our customers – through the software and outside of the software.

Helping newsagents handle changes to magazine returns processes

Newsagents using the industry standard newsagency software from Tower Systems are all set to handle changes to magazine retail days thanks to our advance planning and read communication channels. Owning newsagencies ourselves helps us be prepared well in advance for changes like this and to communicate how to handle the changes in a way that is meaningful for newsagents.

Tower Systems has briefed all its team members to be able to field any questions should newsagents be unsure of the changes.

Bike shop software helps bike shops build more valuable customer relationships

A good bike shop retains a customer for life, well beyond the first bike purchase. There are services, accessories, clothes and, the next bike and the one after that.

The Tower Systems bike shop software track customer information and nurture lifetime commercial opportunities.

The Tower bike shop software tracks purchases by shoppers, identify opportunities for growth and make marketing to customers easy.  It will allow the business to be responsive to customer behaviour, taking into account how the overall customer pool responds. This is where valuable commercial opportunities are found.

Once a business understands the total value of a bike shop customer it changes their view of each customer forever.  That new contact on the phone or walking through the door could be worth more than $10,000 to the business even though they may only ask about a relatively low cost item today.

Tracking products, customers, suppliers and prospects using software designed for the bike business helps businesses make the most of their opportunities. Not using bike shop software to manage a bike shop would be like not using a shovel to dig a hole and instead using a dessert spoon.

Key to nurturing these valuable customer relationships is software designed specifically for the needs of a bike shop. This is where specialist software companies like Tower Systems play a valuable role.

If you are looking for software for your bike shop, shop around. Take your time. Focus on a company with plenty of existing bike shops using their software. Talk to them and see what they think.

Anyone can make shiny sexy software. Only a few have bike shop software that is genuinely loved by bike shop owners and employees.

End of financial year videos popular with POS software users

The three new training videos added by Tower Systems to its Point of Sale software Training Academy curriculum have made preparing for the end of financial year easier – judging by user engagement. The three new videos that enhanced the training opportunities for retailers are:

  • 30.1 Performing A Stocktake
  • 30.2 Performing A Spot Stocktake
  • 30.3 Stocktake Reports

In addition to these videos helping prepare our retail customers, we have continued our regular EOFY training workshops as well as our one on one advice and training for retailers.

This year more than ever, retailers partnering with tower Systems are ready for the end of the financial year.

Software Ideas generates excellent ideas for POS software update

The latest update to the Tower Systems Point of Sale software, which is in the final stages of quality assurance, contains eight enhancements suggested by users of the software through the Software Ideas process.

Launched in a world first in the POS software space by Tower Systems in 2009, Software Ideas provides a transparent and structured approach to suggestions by the Tower Systems user community.

Our continued release of software enhancements that have been first suggested through Software Ideas shows the value of the process not only to customers of tower Systems but to us as well – through the extension and enhancement of our Point of sale software product. it demonstrated genuine and tran sparent cooperation.

Every idea is costed and evaluated. Every idea is open for customers to vote on and comment on.

The list of ideas live at Software Ideas is considered for each software update package we create.

This is is true collaboration between a software company and its customers. We’re proud, four years on, to be able to point to the valuable two-way success of Software Ideas.

Leadership on show again

Last week we announced several free online demonstrations showing off the latest release of our newsagency software. One of our competitors loved the idea so much they announced their own online demonstration – on one of the days we’re offering ours.

Small businesses understand and respect innovation.

Yes, retail is tough … what are you doing about it?

Wouldn’t you love a dollar for every retailer who has said how tough it is in the last few years.  We could retire on the money.

The thing is, retail is tough, especially small business retail.  It’s always been tough for the little guy. We know here at Tower Systems because we serve small business retailers and we own retail businesses ourselves.

Here at Tower Systems our view is that people need to stop saying retail is tough and start challenging ourselves/themselves. Hence the question: What are you doing about it? Put another way…

  1. What are you doing to attract new shoppers?
  2. What are you doing to get your existing shoppers to spend more?
  3. What are you doing to drive down your costs?
  4. What are you doing to improve margin?

These are the four most important things for a retailer to act on. They sit at the core of every retail business failure and success.

Taking small steps in each of these areas can help you weather tough times. These same small steps can help you find success with less effort.

Tower Systems is a software company for small business retailers like you. We’re retailers too. We combine retail experience with tech smarts and a passion for small business to help our colleagues to grow their businesses. We’d like to help you.

Our Point of Sale software, used well, builds stronger and more valuable businesses.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: keep your data structure simple and manage with ease

Some retailers using Point of Sale software go overboard in what they measure and how they report – encumbering their business with information overload.

Like all good software, the Tower Systems Point of Sale software allows users to structure data to suit their needs. They can create as m,any departments as they wish. the can create as many categories within departments as they wish. This provides the flexibility retailers want. However it can also make it easier for retailers to overburden their businesses with data.

Tower Systems recommends retailers to keep data structures simple. Track what you can manage, track business performance to your level of focus. With most small business retailers and managers being time poor, our suggestion is to start small and expand the data setup and break out over time, let it evolve with your experience with the business and the software.

Retail business productivity boost from free POS software training

Retailers and retail employees engaging with the  Tower Systems Training Academy will achieve a boost in productivity as they make better use of the smart retail management software.

Developed exclusively by Tower Systems and delivering best-practice training to Tower Systems customers, the comprehensive new training resources make the relationship with tower even more valuable.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Enhanced LayBy facilities in POS software to better servie retailers

Tower Systems is close to releasing enhancements to the LayBy facilities in its Point of Sale software. Developed in consultation with retailers strong in the LayBy space, the latest enhancements extend the benefits delivered to retailers using the Tower software.

First pitched to the company through our Software Ideas transparent user suggestion portal, the LayBy changes were voted on by users and agreed to by the company for release in the next update. That update is now in the final stages of quality assurance.

The extension of our layBy facilities is further evidence of our approach to inviting, considering and realising software enhancements. In a unique process first introduced by Tower Systems years ago, Software Ideas has become a valuable resource of suggestion and feedback. It’s a key part of the ever growing value delivered in the Tower software.

Helping Western Australian newsagents to meet WAN newspaper circulation standards

Tower Systems is close to releasing a software update developed specifically to meet the latest newspaper circulation software requirements for West Australian Newspapers.

The latest newsagency software update is the second stage of Tower meeting the WAN requirements. The first stage was met with the company releasing WAN standards changes in its MrNews newsagency software.

This latest work brings the WAN changes to the Tower flagship product. It also provides a transition path for newsagents using the MrNews software to move to the tower software.

This move demonstrates the commitment from Tower Systems to newspaper distribution newsagents.

Help for small business gift shops in Australia

Gift shops using the gift shop software from Tower Systems have access to help in turning their business around. Thanks to a deep well of expertise and experience in retail and the ability to mine valuable business data, Tower Systems is able to deliver services beyond those one expects from a software company.

The range of services for a gift shop doing it tough or in trouble can vary from business advice to practical assistance. We assess each case on its merits and engage in business assistance accordingly.

We have developed a business cash flow as part of overall business planning,  identified dead stock and advised on how to quit this, reviewed rosters and even provided in-store staff to help reset the business.  Each case is different.

Every piece of assistance is decided on by the business owner.  We involve them in understanding their situation better and participating in working out next steps to improve the performance of their business.

The practical and professional help we provide gift shops and other struggling small business retailers is free and part of the Tower AdvantageTM service.

Yes retail is tough. Our mantra is that each business owner needs to own their situation and to actively pursue resolving this to their benefit, the benefit of employees and the benefit of all other stakeholders in the business.

Tax break for small business not a driver of capital investment

It’s been interesting seeing how small business retailers have approached the capital investment tax break from the federal government.

Ending in a few days, while there have been some who have made buying decisions based on the opportunity, many have not bought because of the break.

For the tax break to really benefit a small business, the business must be profitable. Improvement in profitability often only comes once they invest in technology like ours. So, there is somewhat of a timing issue from our perspective.

We’d like a future government to assist small business capital investment with a direct grant along the lines of grants to auto manufacturers.  Such a grant should have strings, obligations, for the small business retailers – directing spending in business efficiency and profitability improvement.

In our work with small business retailers we can see the economic benefit that could be gained from thoughtful incentives for these businesses. Indeed, many local economies could benefit significantly from a modest investment.  We are making submissions to the major parties leading up to the federal election on this topic.

POS software sales surge in Western Australia

Sales of the Tower Systems Point of Sale software have surged in Western Australia in the first six months of 2013 over the same period in 2012. This is on the back of excellent numbers in 2012 over 2011.

The surge in POS software sales this year is reported across a range of marketplaces including newsagents, jewellers and gift shops. It has resulted in an even stronger Western Australian presence for Tower Systems and its expert system installers and trainers.

While some business has been won by switching businesses from other software, plenty of business has been won through introducing POS software to retailers for the first time.  The sales surge is as much about strength of the western Australian economy as it about the professional representation of its software in that marketplace.

Tower Systems offers excellent support services to serve the needs of Western Australian businesses, ensuring support coverage to suit their local timezone.

POS software fuel integration in final stretch of certification

Tower Systems is undergoing the final stages of certification of fuel pump management from within its Point of Sale software.

Developed for several specific client situations, the fuel integration module significantly enhances the retail channel reach of the Tower software. Some existing customers are keen to use this integration as they transition the focus of their own retail businesses.

Once final certification is achieved, Tower has installation work scheduled. This will deliver live and commercial use of the new facilities in the software.

Developed to strict industry standards and to meet the certification requirements against Postec and NSC standards and requirements, the fuel integration completed by Tower Systems reflects some very serious software development. Its completion is a testament to the professionalism of the development team at Tower Systems.

Just like the retailers POS software companies serve, software developers need to evolve their own products to broaden their base of to move with the needs of their customers.

 

Business rule advice for discount voucher retail loyalty initiative

Tower Systems last week published expert advice on making the most of the exclusive Discount Vouchers facility released in our Point of Sale software last month following three months of secret trials.

The expert advice outlined ways to guide shopper behaviour through the levers embedded in the Discount Vouchers facility.  Based on real-life retail experience with Discount Vouchers, the advice has been appreciated by retailers using the Tower software as providing helpful advice.

Developing good software is just part of what a good software company does. It must back the software with excellent documentation and training and it must provide in-context business operations and management advice to help all businesses make the most of the software.

Owning and operating retail businesses using the Discount Vouchers facility itself provides Tower Systems with a unique opportunity that the company leverages for its customers.

Working with VIP card programs and other loyalty facilities, the Discount Vouchers facility provides excellent flexibility for retailers looking to offer a competitive point of difference against larger retailers.

Sunday small business retail management advice: how to make more money from every sale

Every retail business can sell more to every customer. This is easy when you have good business data and use this to make good business decisions.

Making more money from every sale starts with good Point of Sale software. This will tell you what you are selling, how often and what your top selling items sell with.

Get a report from your Point of Sale software listing your top ten selling items, by unit sales for the last three months. Do not look at dollars. Unit sales is the far more valuable count since this is a discussion about leveraging volume.

In a typical retail store, the top ten selling items will account for between 30% and 50% of revenue of the business.

Look at your top sellers report and concentrate on the top selling items. Answer these questions about the top ten selling items from the last three months:

  1. Do you have appropriate impulse purchase products located on either side of each top item?
  2. Are the top items spread through the store, to maximize customer throughput?
  3. How often do you move the top items?
  4. Do you have the top ten items in multiple locations?
  5. What impulse purchase items do you have at the counter which will appeal to customers who purchase any of the top ten items?
  6. Has the list of top ten sellers changed in the last year? If so, how have they changed and what can you learn from this.
  7. Are there products which you do not currently carry which you could add to the store to sell with the top ten sellers?
  8. Do customers who purchase the top ten sellers ask for any other items?

The idea embedded in these questions is very simple. Use the top ten sellers, or top twenty or top thirty, to focus your attention on items with which you can work to achieve more sales in your business.

By focusing on the top sellers and what you can sell with them you can increase the size of the average shopping basket.

If you can’t see opportunities for achieving more sales by placing products next to or with the top sellers then speak with your team and speak with trusted customers. Don’t rest until you unlock suggestions to try.

If what you try does not work, try more products. I know of retail businesses which have spent months finding add on items to work with their top sellers.

The key to this project is proper use of your Point of Sale software. You need this to identify the top selling items and to track the success or otherwise of your project to sell more with your top performing stock lines.

There is plenty of additional money to be made from your top sellers. Invest time and attention on this project and get ready to bank the results.

Helping jewellers switch jeweller software from ARMS to Tower Systems

Jewellers switching from the ARMS jeweller software to the Tower Systems jeweller software can do so with confidence following the move made by a major jeweller business several months ago.

Now that the business is well settled, Tower Systems is able to add another jeweller location to its reference sites, sites that have deliverately chosen our jeweller software and have successfully transitioned their business to it.

While ARMS is an admirable software program, the Tower software is proving itself to be a robust and loved competitor. This latest move is further evidence not only of the power of the Tower software but also of the excellent support provided by the company to jewellers working on their businesses.

Garden centre software on show at nursery and garden industry conference

Garden centre software company Tower Systems is thrilled to have been the only software supplier present and participating in the NGIQ conference in Brisbane last week.

Sharing insights into the use of technology in growing stronger and more valuable garden and nursery businesses, Tower Systems outlined how today’s garden centre can better compete with best-practice software developed for garden centre and nursery businesses.

the presentation included an outline of the options for handling loyalty with the Tower garden centre software offering three distinct approaches and a fourth to be released in July. It’s this approach to flexibility that appeals not only to retailers but to their partner suppliers.

Garden centres are in a competitive marketplace and the need best-practice tools with which to actively compete. This is what Tower Systems delivers.

Newsagency software helps newsagents handle magazine delivery day change

Newsagency software market leader Tower Systems is helping newsagents handle the major changes to magazine distribution in Australia with considered advice on the best-practice approach to the changes.

The approach will be advised to newsagents well in advance of the changes taking place in mid July. It’s been decided following a series of meetings in-house, discussions with magazine distribution experts and discussion with a range of newsagents. The Tower Systems approach is well thought out. It’s also an approach that will deliver the most certain and useful result for newsagents. Plus it will be easy to implement.

The magazine distribution changes are significant in that they change the workflow in a newsagency and have the potential to impact on a considerable set of data curated by newsagency software. These are the reasons the approach has to be well considered … which is what the team at Tower systems has done.

How repairs / workshop software helps jewellers, bike shops and other retailers

Jewellers, bike shops and others offering workshop facilities often think of software for their business in the context of Point of Sale facilities, how the software can help the business at the front of the store.

Good repairs management software helps with customer service, protecting the piece itself and with overall jeweler business management.

State of the art repairs facilities cut management time, reduce mistakes and make it easier to bill for each task in a repair job and thereby more completely cover the business costs with appropriate margin.

Here are some of the features you can expect to see in the repairs management facility incorporated in our POS software:

  • Scan receipts or job card to find a repair in the system. Alternatively, quickly find repairs based on customer details.
  • Track repairs by customer.
  • Support multiple repairs per customer.
  • Accommodate multiple repairers per job.
  • Easily schedule in-house or outsource repairs.
  • Store quotes for later reference when it converts to a job.
  • Manage partial payments of an account.
  • Track repairs by repairer.
  • Track repairs by courier.
  • Automate pricing for popular repair jobs.
  • Allocate staff and repair instructions.
  • Allocate existing stock used for a repair job.
  • Print bar-coded job cards and receipts automatically.

The sophistication now available in good repairs facilities plays out in other parts of the software. It’s like the NASA mission to the moon – there are many side benefits along the way for all.

Today’s full service retailer needs to manage every part of the business for efficiency, profit and repeat business. This is where repairs management software plays a vital part in the mission of the business.

Mix ‘n Match product options in POS software help retailers offer flexibility

The Point of Sale software from Tower Systems offers excellent Mix ‘n Match facilities for retailers in a range of retail channels. Using this facility, retailers can nominate a series of barcodes into a Mix ‘n Match group so that special pricing applies if shoppers purchase a minimum number of any of the barcodes.

It’s this type of facility and especially our execution of the facility that positions the Tower software favourably compared to many other POS packages. It’s come from years of use in a broad range of retail situations and use in our own retail businesses – this personal experience counts!

Using the facilities, retailers can build offers to serve needs and offers unique to their businesses. The flexibility is excellent. We help our users understand the Mix ‘n Match facilities though an advice sheet as well as a comprehensive training video – plus there is one on one training and support available.

Mix ‘n Match is a valuable retail tactic that Tower Systems helps its customers employ.