Greeting card performance report helps newsagents and gift shops leverage card sales data

The Greeting Card Performance Report releases in early 2011 by Tower Systems is helping newsagents and gift shop owners to drive better outcomes from their greeting card supplier relationships.  The Category and Segment Performance Report has become the industry standard report for newsagents and other card retailers, delivering best practice reporting facilities to these retailers and helping them to better manage the greeting card department.

The report was the first of its kind for newsagents and other independent retailers in Australia and New Zealand.  It delivered genuine innovation. It’s the type of innovation that earns the moniker of smart software for us in the channels.

Developed over several years in close and confidential association with Australia’s best known (and loved) card company, Hallmark, the greeting card performance reporting is now well established.

A feature of this reporting is the MAT or Moving Annual Total metric. This is used in several suppliers and big businesses – we have found it tremendously useful in tracing year on year to date business performance.

We offered to share our IP with other software companies so they could catch up.

The greeting card performance reporting suite was delivered to our users at no additional cost, adding tremendous value to what our Point of Sale software customers can extract from theirs software.

The smart hardware choice for Point of Sale software users

Some years ago Tower Systems partnered with Hewlett Packard as hardware provider. the result is access to quality HP hardware backed with a three year on site warranty for retailers of the HP gear. The latest HP all in one point of sale computer was on show in Melbourne last week the the Home and Giving Fair.

This latest unit is fast, flexible, elegant, easy to use, robust and backed with a 3-year on-site warranty from HP. It’s suitable for many retail situations.

So, in addition to best practice Point of Sale software for jewellers, newsagents, bike retailers, homewares stores, gift shops, garden centres and others, Tower Systems provides access to a hardware platform from a respected international hardware designer and manufacturer and it backs this with a genuine and trusted warranty retailers like.

We understand that actions speak louder than words. This is why we align ourselves with suppliers who deliver on their promises.

Transparency important in delivering good support for Point of Sale software users

Retailers using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software have a transparent process for navigating support queries. This includes local phone numbers for live calls, email access, website support call logging access and within the software call logging access. We make contacting us easy.

All calls to our help desk are tracked and monitored by a professional CRM system tailored to our needs and targeting our customer service level commitment.

This help desk access is backed by an equally transparent customer service escalation process. Demonstrating the transparency of our escalation process, here are the escalation points we share with our customers regularly:

You can see these and other team members featured in our recent videos introducing people inside our POS software company.

Our accessibility is another point of difference for Tower Systems. We’re happy to show that we are a company of real people providing real support for users of our software.

Strong showing at Perth trade show for newsagents

The two people staffing our trade show stand at the Perth GNN Market Fair for newsagents yesterday were busy through the day. We had a support person full time offering training and assistance and a sales person talking to plenty of newsagents keen to join our growing Western Australian user community. With more than 140 newsagents using our Point of Sale software and more switching the Tower WA newsagent community is strong and happy. We’ve also got over 100 newspaper home delivery software customers in WA.

Jewellers and bike retailers benefit VIP card promotion through POS software

Promoting retail customer VIP cards using the screen on the customer side of the sales counter helps drive engagement. We see this working well in jeweller and bike retail businesses. Our jeweller software and bike shop software each offer excellent and much-loved VIP customer vacilities. Our marketing team back these up with professionally designed and made VIP cards for customers to carry.

Inviting shoppers to join with a passive yet professional pitch during the sales process can help engage shoppers without making a hard sell. This is another example of how these customer-facing screens can work well … especially in high end retail situations like bikes and jewellers.

Using the VIP card facilities in our Point of sale software, retailers are able to reward genuinely loyal software’s, more effectively engage with these shoppers and understand more about them for future business marketing planning.

Tower Systems has offered VIP facilities for many years and today has retailers across a range of retail channels using them in a variety of business beneficial ways. We back our software facilities with business advice, helping our retailer customers to get more from their software.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: drive sales with smart discount voucher engagement

The exclusive discount voucher facility released in the Tower Systems Point of Sale software early this year continues to drive excellent sales outcomes for retailers engaged with us and our smart POS software.

What sets the Tower Systems approach apart is the powerful flexibility provided through the settings available. These are settings unique to the Tower software, settings developed in close consultation with leading retailers, settings that take the facility beyond the simplicity of the name of the function.

Our retail management advice today is for retailers to try the function. It’s easy to turn on and off, easy to tweak and easy to measure. Indeed, the reporting tools are exclusive to Tower Systems – they are helping retailers drive excellent commercial outcomes.

Knowing what you are selling – images in the POS software screen

Retailers love the facility in our Point of Sale software where an image of what is being sold pops up during the sales process as it provides confirmation that the right item is being sold.

Sometimes shoppers will change a barcode to get a product at a cheaper price. This pop-up provides another measure of security for the retailer against fraud. It also protects against mistakes.

Turning on the pop-up during sale facility is easy. This enables retailers to see if it’s useful in their type of business. Loading images of products being sold is also easy. This can be done by item or loaded en masse – depending on the needs of the business.

Helping bike retailers compete with online businesses by using bike shop software

Bricks and mortar bike retailers are doing it tough in the fight for sales with online businesses.  You are often sought out for face to face advice but lose the sale to an online operation when it comes to price comparison.

Given the different cost bases for an online business serving a country or the world compared to a retail shop serving a local community, you can’t win on price, not in the long term.

In working with hundreds of bike retailers over many years I have seen some excellent successes and some epic failures.

Success begins and ends with making good decisions based on sound facts and structuring the business for success at every possible point.

This is business

For many bike shop owners, the bike shop is part lifestyle, part sport and part business. This can complicate the decisions that need to be made to make the business successful.

Running your bike shop as a business has to come first. Get this right and you can enjoy the sport and have the lifestyle you want. If business does not come first, the other two will usually not follow.

So, competing with online begins with your headspace, it begins with committing to getting the business right and relentlessly pursuing its success.

In practical terms, this means that every business decision is based on careful consideration of sound data. If the data does not support a business decision, you don’t do it. Simple.

Five ways you can compete with online

Here are five ways you can differentiate your business from online, ways that leverage personal, human, contact.

  1. Track every contact. Treat every contact as a customer. Know who they are. Explain that it’s part of your service – to offer advice and keep in touch. This will qualify them as a customer from their very first question. While it may scare some off, better that you do it early before you give away your expert advice.
  2. Give them a gift for listening to you. Every customer who spends time taking in your advice should be given a voucher for them to spend in-store in a purchase above a certain value. This shows that you value their attention. Presented well it can better connect them with you for the longer term.
  3. Subtly share stories about the risks of online shopping. There are documented stories you can find about people being ripped off – what they ordered is not what they received, credit card fraud and the like. Arm your team with these stories … maybe a story about a customer who bought from you following an expensive rip off online.
  4. Reward loyalty with a front-end approach. Ensure that every purchase over, say, $10, comes with a voucher offering a discount off the next purchase. Factor this into your mark-up model. Cash rewards showing on a receipt can be a powerful lure to bringing a shopper back.
  5. Personalise your service. Arm all sales staff with personal business cards. Place follow up calls or emails to shoppers spending over, say, $100. Host networking events in-store. Connect with and support local clubs. Add value through personal contact at every possible opportunity. Structure regular, value-adding, contact with your customer base.

The difference between a bricks and mortar bike shop and an website selling bikes is that your business, the bricks and mortar business, is real, it can be visited, it’s personal. Everything you say and do needs to reinforce this and build trust based on this.

Be open about price

Don’t be afraid to say that online businesses can sell for less. That’s because they do less and care less. You could do this too but that’s probably not the business you want to run.

Competing on price really comes down to changing the game. This is where a properly structured and consistently run loyalty program offering an amount of cash off the next purchase based on the current purchase can make a difference for you.

Being consistent

Online businesses through the software behind their websites are consistent if nothing else. This is where good bike shop software can help a bike shop compete. It can drive consistency in the bricks and mortar business on pricing, loyalty rewards, customer marketing, buying, pricing and employee performance tracking and motivation.

Good bike shop software is designed specifically for bike shops to leverage the difference bike shops offer over online retailers. When used to the fullest, it can drive sales and bring customers back more often. It can play a key role on competing with online.

Inspirational gift shop success stories with gift shop software

While some gift shop owners concentrate on stories of doom and gloom about retail others are chasing and enjoying success large and small.

Through our work with our gift shop software we get to meet with plenty of retailers and look at many businesses.

We are certain that success is not an accident.

Success is planned for and chased. It is the goal reflected in every business decision. It comes from refusing to let the business run you.

We would like to share three real-world stories with you.

The small shop turning over $380,000 a year and growing 28%

We were talking with a gift shop owner this past week about their 28% increase in sales in the financial year just ended.

Yes, you read right, a 28% lift in sales in the 2012/13 year. This is on the back of a 17% increase the year before.  This is a business that is more than ten years old.

This is no accident. They planned for it by carefully looking at their business data and shedding products that were not working. They adjusted opening hours too as they discovered business later in the day that they had not realised was there. This knowledge opened them to opportunities for last minute shoppers.

The owner of the business decided to chase success because the turnover was barely enough to cover rent, wages and the loan taken out to fund the business. It was grow or bust.

They planned for success by using their business data. The first year – 17% up from a low turnover base – was encouraging. The 28% increase this past financial year proves value of paying attention to business data.

Sales data guided them as to the suppliers of the best to focus on. One employee was eased out of the business for failing to achieve minimum sales targets.

The owner spent more time on the shop floor selling to achieve minimum margin dollars per sale rather than just chatting with shoppers.

The result shows what can happen when you focus on being a retailer, the owner said to me with a huge smile.

A gift shop reengineers and saves itself

Another gift shop we have been working with was in trouble.  Shops nearby were closing and the small shopping strip had a dark feeling. For a while they were sucked into the cloud of doom and gloom.

Checking their data we saw that several special interest items sold well and provided an above-average margin. They used this knowledge as the basis for small expansion.

Over six months they increased their range of the special interest items and they connected with community groups to share knowledge.

Over six months sales grew, not into double-digit growth but they were happy to have at least stopped the decline.

In the second six months sales grew further. Now they were into double digit growth territory.  Shoppers happy with their specialisation were telling others. Word of mouth was driving extra traffic.

That was a year ago. Today, this business is very different. People travel for up to two hours to see their range. The average sale value has more than doubled, margins are up 15% and customer traffic is up 25%. Combine these three and you can see why the owner is very happy.

They did not plan to become a product specialist. The survival of their business demanded it.

How a product category drove sales and profit

This gift shop owner came to us because they were in trouble. Sales were falling. Together, the owner and our people took an in-depth look at their data.

The category performing best in terms of return on investment and return on floor-space was plush, teddy bears and some soft toys. That can’t be right, said the owner, it’s stuck in the back of the shop.

Data does not lie. It revealed that their small selection of plush was selling well despite the owner and the employees not being all that interested in it.

Fast forward six months and this business has turned around. They are now a plush shop at the front with other gifts. Sales are up 65% and climbing. They have increased their margin too – because they have products others nearby don’t have.

Turning this business around was easy as the data offered the guide. The changes took a week to complete and initially required only a $5,000 capital investment in additional stock.

Own your success

Gift shops of any size can achieve growth in any economic situation.

People don’t stop giving gifts in tough times – they just change what they give.

By taking a fresh look at business data gift shop owners can change focus, attract new shoppers and get existing shoppers spending more.

Software helps gun shop owners save time

Today’s gun shop has to be lean, efficient, good at detail and good at retail.  Achieving this takes time and an attention to business data.

Using gun shop software, gun shop owners can save time and take care of the detail in a consistent way.

From the sales through to back office admin, gun shop software can help gun retailers and their employees to run an efficient business.

Business efficiency benefits not only the business, it also benefits a purchaser should the business be sold. Indeed, it makes the business more appealing in the event of a sale.

Gun shop software used properly can bring structure to the business and ensure that processes and requirements are adhered to by everyone in the business using the software.

Age check

From even the simplest task like checking the age of a shopper, gun shop software can ensure that it’s done and have the employee record this prior to moving to the next step of a sale. This is especially useful in the business has casual employees.

Serial number tracking

Tracking items with unique serial numbers is important in a range of retail businesses. The Tower Systems gun shop software first did this for jewellers many years ago so it was easy to bring this online for gun shops in the gun shop software.

Easy ordering of stock

Knowing exactly what you have in stock all the time makes tracking stock easy. It also sets you up to be able to reorder at the push of a button and to check stock on hand easily.

Thanks to flexibility in reordering, good gun shop software brings to your business facilities to control your investment in stock and through this to drive a better financial return for your business.

Bringing good business controls to stock can save a gun shop thousands of dollars every year through fewer ordering errors.

Managing repairs and servicing

Tracking repairs and servicing jobs from the moment the item is dropped off through to collection is easier thanks to the good repairs facilities in gun shop software.

Being able to properly price the work based on parts and time used helps from a financial perspective.

A real treat is the ability to send your customer a text message when the item is ready to be collected.

Reconnecting with customers

Like any retail business, gun shops rely on customers returning for additional purchases over time. Sound marketing tools in the gun shop software make it easy for you to email or mail customers based on what they purchased and when. This can bring them back into the shop sooner.

Cutting theft

Theft hurts any retail business. Gun shop software can cut theft – shopper theft and employee theft. The key is to use all the theft management tools in the software to their fullest.

By imposing business rules on the operation of the business and using the software to enforce the rules I have seen various types of retail businesses cut theft and thereby save thousands of dollars in a year.

Gun shop software designed for gun shops

Through my software company we have developed software for gun shop management. This software continues to evolve thanks to advice and guidance form gun shop owners and their employees.

Just as you’d advise anyone looking to purchase a gun to go to an expert so to should you when it comes to gun shop software. An off the shelf computer system will not offer the same level of specialist services you need from your gun shop software.

This is where specialisation counts.

Own your success

Gun shops of any size can achieve growth in any economic situation.

People don’t stop spending on their interests in tough times – they just change what they give.

By taking a fresh look at business data gun shop owners can change focus, attract new shoppers and get existing shoppers spending more.

Software for jewellers helps jewellery retailers in Australia and New Zealand more effectively compete

Software for jewellers or jewellery management software as it can be called is software written especially for retail jewellery businesses.

Tower Systems has been serving jewellers and jeweller suppliers in Australia and New Zealand with jeweller management software since 2000 when the company purchased RED Software.

Covering the sales counter to the back office to the workshop, Tower Systems Point of Sale software helps jewellers run more efficient and profitable businesses.  We have hundreds of jewellers who will happily tell you their stories of success with the software.

The jeweller software from Tower Systems covers many in a jewellery business including:

  • Point of Sale – sales at the sales counter.
  • Tracking sales by employees.
  • Flexible receipts – suited to your business.
  • Marketing tools for email and text message marketing.
  • Stock control.
  • Reordering.
  • Staff roster management.
  • Lay By.
  • Catalogue offers.
  • Special orders.
  • Gift Cards – including your own unique artwork.
  • Fast sellers reporting.
  • Comprehensive sales reporting.
  • Business security including theft minimization tools.
  • Repairs management including printing job cards and tracking external jobs.
  • Business performance analysis.
  • Jeweller supplier electronic invoice support.

This list is by no means complete but to demonstrates the scope of Tower Systems jeweller software.  The software continues to evolve through three major software updates each year.  Update content is determined in consultation with the user community.

Tower Systems helping navigate newspaper distribution changes

Tower Systems has been participating in further meetings over the last two weeks with newspaper publishers on changes to newspaper distribution and newspaper home delivery arrangements.

The latest discussions centre around regional newspaper changes. The changes require finessing of newspaper home delivery software to create a more useful connection between the distribution newsagent and the newspaper publisher.

As the software company serving more newsagents than all other software companies Tower Systems is able to bring a broad perspective to the discussions along with an understanding of what has already been done elsewhere.

While some discussions are the subject to confidentiality, our newsagency software experts are able to outline opportunities for a common approach without breaching confidentiality.

Tower Systems appreciates its position in the marketplace. With not all software companies participating in these discussions we are seeing more evidence of changes in the engagement of software suppliers to newsagents.

POS software stand at Melbourne Gift and Home & Giving Fair busy

Our Point of Sale software stand at the Home & Giving fair this weekend has been busy and we still have three days to go – usually the busiest for this event.

While we have our gift shop software on show, we’re seeing jewellers, garden centre owners, newsagents, pharmacists and other retailers we can help with smart POS software.

Having support as well as sales people enables us to answer queries for existing customers – adding value of their fair experience.

The photo shows just one end of our wide stand.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: rewarding staff

Thanks to the ability to track sales by employees, our Point of Sale software helps retailers to share commission or some other form of financial reward with retail employees. Turning this on has helped some of our retail business customers to increase sales by motivating shop floor staff to more proactively engage with shoppers.

The process in the software for setting this up is easy. Once turned on, the software tracks sales by employees and the business can use this data for the rewarding of employees for over target sales achieved in a period set by the business.

By giving retail employees a KPI to reach and rewarding them for over-achievment can get them more engaged with the business and the customers for a genuine win win.

Our support team welcomes helping retailers to make better business use of our software, especially in areas like this where a retail business can increase sales.

Gift shop software on show at Melbourne Home & Giving Fair

The Tower Systems gift shop software is on show this weekend and beyond in Melbourne at the Home and Giving Fair that makes up part of the three trade show gift fair. The largest event of its type in Australia this is the must-attend gift and homewares trade show event for retailers and suppliers in the gift and homewares channels.

Tower Systems has been participating in and supporting this event for the last six years and most of those as they only specialist software company. This experience is proving to be invaluable to our customers and to suppliers to gift shops who want to leverage technology to drive their own sales.

We are flying experts in to man our stand for the event to provide broad sales and support coverage across the full five days.

POS software update released

Tower Systems has this week released to retailers using our Point of Sale software. The update contains a range of enhancements, some of which were suggested by our customers through our exclusive and transparent Software Ideas facility.

The update has been made available online for our customers to install when it suits them. This is the approach they prefer, controlling when changes are live in their businesses rather than us forcuing an update on them outside of their own control.

Work is already well advanced on the next update to the software with beta testing starting in a few weeks.

Terrific Garden Centre trade show

We had a terrific time at the NGIA garden centre trade show earlier this week in Queensland. In addition to excellent networking we got to show off our garden centre software to new prospects as well as suppliers to garden centres and nurseries. We were showing a new release of our software released this week.

Trade shows continue to be important in marketing activity supporting our Point of Sale software.

Inside our POS software company part 14

Ben Kay has had many years experience with Tower Systems in a range of roles including retail management. This broad experience brings to our software development team a knowledge and experience that helps us provide our customers with relevant and genuinely useful Point of Sale software. Meet Ben…

This video is another in our Conversations with series showing off the real people in the Tower Systems team, people we are proud of.