Helping retailers understand their Christmas business performance

Tower Systems offers retailers using its POS software a business performance analysis service whereby we analyse business sales and other data and provide a fresh-eyes assessment on the performance of the business.

The service is free to Tower AdvantageTM customers and involves a thorough year on year comparison of business performance.

Christmas is an ideal time for such an assessment since it’s the busiest time of the year, the time a business should be at its best. The higher volume of trade through Christmas enables an even more meaningful assessment of business performance.

Many retailers have appreciated this free service and taken on opportunities to change their businesses as a result.

Tower Systems is proud to offer this and other non-traditional POS software support services to its customers.

Helping retailers reduce the opportunity of theft this Christmas

Tower Systems is sharing practical advice with retailers using its Point of Sale software on how to cut the opportunity of employee theft this Christmas.

Sharing practical advice at the best possible time is an important service we provide our retail partners.

In our software we have excellent theft reduction and theft tracking tools that work well in any retail situation. Our own experience running retail businesses helps us provide retailers with advice beyond what is usual for a POS software company.

The advice we provide is based on our own experience owning and operating retail businesses in several retail channels.

Retailers following our advice can cut theft.

POS software loyalty vouchers drive double digit growth for retailers

xxnaf99Several retailers have told us their they attribute the double-digit year on year growth they have been experiencing for the last four months to their introduction of our shopper loyalty driving discount vouchers earlier this year.

There is no doubting their growth – it is indicated in the data direct from their Tower Systems Point of Sale software.

What is exciting about the growth is that it is a whole of business growth.  Tracking back through the data, including the discount voucher use data, we can see shopper behaviour being driven / guided by the vouchers, we can see shoppers responding to the voucher opportunities. This is very exciting, being able to track shopper behaviour at the basket and SKU level. It validates all the work done by so many to bring the innovative loyalty offer to market.

Two businesses we have seen data for this week are tracking close to 20% year on year sales growth. The loyalty offering is costing them less than 2%. Most of the growth is being achieved in high margin lives with GP of 60% and more.

Being able to track performance of the discount vouchers is tremendously valuable to each business and to us as we share the discount vouchers success story with more retailers and their suppliers.

Small business Christmas marketing tips for Christmas 2013

For many years we have published Christmas marketing ideas as a resource for others to use and as inspiration for newsagents to think of their own.  While developed initially for small business newsagents, here are thirty easy to implement simple Christmas marketing ideas as inspiration for small business retailers for Christmas 2014. Our advice is to pick what suits you and create your own.

  1. Promote every day items as gifts within your displays.  magazines work in this situation. Too often retailers focus on items they have sourced for Christmas and then wonder why there is little flow on once the season is over. One way to embrace the opportunity is to pitch everyday products as gifts. This could involve packaging them that’d appropriate.
  2. Pitch magazines for different groups. For example: gifts for guys: create an off-location display of magazines for guys so that those buying christmas cards and gifts in your shop can consider magazines as a gift.
  3. Pitch magazine putaways as gifts. You could offer a title put away for three or six months – something different to subscription lengths.
  4. Make sure the front of your shop, the window our the front facing the street or mall has your best offers. This is what the majors do. If you have an amazing deal, put it on show for all to see.
  5. Use a spruiker once a week at your busiest time to shout out about great items you have. If you can’t afford a spruiker, do it yourself. Go to any weekend market and see how it’s done. Have fun!
  6. Connect with a charity. In addition to products you may sell that raise funds for a charity consider a local charity and promote how every purchase in your store supports the charity.
  7. Have a box for collecting items for a local charity.
  8. Send Christmas cards to your customers – maybe invade a voucher for them to spend in-store.
  9. Give retailers nearby a discount card / coupon / voucher for them to do their own shopping. Consider a special buying night for retailers and their employees given the hours they are working.
  10. Have a crazy competition one day. Something like – come in and sing silent night in a completely fresh and crazy way and the best rendition wins, say, $100. Pitch it right and you’ll draw a crowd. Remember the crowd the now closed gaslight records in Melbourne drew for nude day.
  11. Offer a Christmas party flyer copying discount – half price copying of all Christmas party flyers.
  12. Host a colouring competition. Connect it with Christmas. Display all entries. Leverage an emotional connection through your theme such as: something good you have seen this year or your wish for someone else this Christmas.
  13. Keep it simple. While shops fill to overflowing with products this time of the year too often what you want seen can’t be seen because of the explosion of range and colour. Create space to show off your hero products, consider the less is more approach.
  14. Use stickers and or posters on your floor to show customers where you want them to go. Have Christmas themed basket builders at the counter – priced at under $10.00.
  15. Make an entrance. Create something around the entrance to your shop so that those stepping inside feel as if they are stepping into somewhere different, somewhere special.
  16. Have Christmas themed impulse items dotted next to main customer thoroughfares.
  17. Give every customer a flyer promoting your Christmas offers. Ideally you’ll have a couple of flyers through the season.
  18. Move everyday items elsewhere in the shop during the season – disrupt your regular shoppers.
  19. Dress up. Not just once but several times.
  20. Tell stories on your Facebook page about the season, what you’re doing and the fun you’re having.
  21. Have fun with your team and your customers.
  22. Thank your customers for their support.
  23. Setup a customer interaction board and invite them to post their best Christmas story.
  24. Have promotional days: free stamp Tuesday where you give free stamps with each card to people buying two or more cards; free tape Saturday for people buying two or more rolls or packs of wrap; free wrapping week where you offer free wrapping with every gift.
  25. Use your floor, Stickers and or posters on the floor can guide those customers who look down and not up.
  26. Place gifts / Christmas items in magazines. Your magazine department attracts shoppers to categories they love. leverage this with placement of appropriate items in those areas.
  27. Work the floor. At your busiest times have someone on the flor subtly showing off products you sell.
  28. Give your customers a reason to come back – an offer, a promotion, adiscount voucher.
  29. Tell a story. If space permits, show how a feature product is used. For example, if you’re selling jigsaws, have a table with one half done. Getting shoppers interacting gets them more engaged with your business and engagement = sales.
  30. Love the season. This can be challenging with the extreme business of Christmas trading and the challenges that the season presents. But each day when you step into the shop try and love it as if it’s a fresh start.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: use your software to manage your end of shift

The Tower Systems Point of Sale software has an excellent end of shift management facility. This guides you through the process including counting cash and balancing other payment types. Our recommendation to retailers is that they use our POS software EOS facilities and not a manual process. The more consistent controls you apply to the EOS the more accurate the result.

Tower Systems offering De Longhi coffee machines as a gift with purchase with its POS software for Christmas

TSPostcardNovDec13GIFTSHOPS_Page_1Tower Systems is offering a gift of a wonderful De Longhi coffee machine and tasty Nespresso coffee pods to jewellers, bike shop owners, retail and distribution newsagents, gift shop owners, garden centre owners, adult shop owners and pet shop owners purchasing a retail channel specific computer system in the run up to Christmas 2013. Who can say no to good and tasty coffee?!!

This special offer is courtesy of Tower Systems and our hardware suppliers as a Christmas 2013 gift opportunity. We have already started shipping the coffee machine package gift.

Packaging solutions for retailers as a one-stop shop opportunity helps retailers embrace technology more easily. We become the one place they deal with for hardware and software. We are equally happy to sell the software alone.

POS software training curriculum in full use

usertrainvidEven though retail businesses are busy with Christmas selling, plenty of retailers and their employees using our smart POS software are taking the opportunity to complete modules in our POS software training curriculum.  Using our guided self-pased online training – at a time and place that suits them – retailers and their employees are learning more how to use the software.

The image shows some of the training undertaken in the last week by one person from one business using our software.

Our offering of a comprehensive online self-serve training curriculum that is backed by live assistance and guidance is a valuable point of difference for us. We are proud of our investment and the continuing enhancement of the resources available through our online training facility.

This training is another reason for retailers comparing software to choose Tower. Being able to learn when and where you want and to repeat learning as much as you want – all for no extra cost- is loved by retailers who want to make the most of their IT investment.

Retailers love POS software video training curriculum management tools

usertrainingvideosMore retailers are engaging with the online video based training curriculum that is a key part of our online self-serve customer support resource. While the 130+ videos that make up the library are also available on a single title bases directly from our new knowledge base / online help desk facility, we also provide access through a purpose written online curriculum management facility.

The photo shows how one of our customers accessed a stream of videos to complete module of training. our users can a mange access to the videos for an employee – thereby tracking employee learning and engagement.

This is a unique and valuable service offered by Tower Systems, one we are proud of as it presents us with an excellent point of difference for our Point of Sale software customers.

Mobile access to POS software customer service knowledge base sets a new benchmark

know8The new mobile access facilities launched by Tower Systems this week as part of the new self-serve help desk facilities for retailers using our Point of Sale software take POS software customer service in Australia to a new level.

The image shows a screen on a mobile phone where someone is accessing notes on installing a new release of our software. Here our customers can access notes on their phone without having to use the computer on which they may be doing work.

By releasing the entire database of advice sheets, customer service knowledge base and user training videos through mobile devices we have significantly enhanced the customer experience. While our users have had access previously, the new platform significantly improves the user experience thanks to completely new technology now deployed for our customers.

Tower Systems introduces a fresh approach online to serving POS software customers

know1Tower Systems today launches another major online customer service initiative with a new self-serve platform of advice, training and information accessible direct from our website.

This new facility is a one-stop-shop for people using our Point of Sale software who want to find answers for themselves. We have loaded this self-service facility with existing advice sheets, new advice sheets, all of our training videos, all forms for accessing other tools, conversation videos introducing our team, common questions – a live knowledge based of the questions our help desk team are most often asked and something called our procedures and processes – a section with information about us, our policies and how we do business.

Every item of content we have loaded can now have comments made on it. This opens our extraordinary library of advice sheets, videos and more to feedback – we’re looking forward to this so we can learn.

All content is searchable by keywords.

We have used a worldwide renowned content management and delivery platform as the basis for this major website upgrade to manage all of the content and provide easy access. This allows us to focus on the content – our area of expertise.

Check out the new online support platform here: http://support.towersystems.com.au/. If you go here without logging in you see the free content. Once you log in you get access to everything.

Our customers can access the new facility using their existing Tower website log in.

Our live national help desk service remains in place – we’re happy to take support calls from our customers. This self-serve service is for those who want to get answers for themselves 24/7.

Our approach with this launch is how we approach business. We have been developing the new content and delivery platform for some months. Today is the first time we have mentioned it as we’re ready to go live. We prefer to announce when we have something ready for people to use.

How retailers can break free from the old school approach to loyalty and give shoppers loyalty rewards they love

Close to a year ago we started secretly experimenting with a completely fresh approach to shopper loyalty. For many months we had been working on our discount vouchers facility, evolving it from an idea into a robust solution backed by excellent reporting while at the same time maintaining support for our traditional points-based VIP card and other loyalty offerings in our Point of Sale software.

In discount vouchers we wanted to deliver something genuinely unique, something that our customers could use to guide shopper loyalty. To achieve this it needed to be sophisticated yet easy to use. It also needed to be easily understood by customers. Oh, and it needed to have obvious value in the hands of shoppers. Finally, we need to undertake the final phase of development while it was being used in retail, so we could respond to retailer and shopper feedback.

While we knew the value of the old-school points-based VIP cards was falling rapidly since they no longer offered a point of difference, we committed to maintaining our support for this approach for those retailers who wanted to remain in this space.

Today, close to a year on from our first trial site, we are thrilled with the results achieved by discount vouchers – or whatever retailers call them … yes, they can give them their own name thanks to naming flexibility in the software. Also a year on, no one has delivered what we have. Sure they have tried, even explicitly saying they have what we have. but they don’t. What we have is unique because it can’t be copied by looking at it from the outside.

Deep within our software retailers partnering with us have options they can set to deliver shopper rewards through discount vouchers that are truly unique to their business even if a retailer nearby is running the same software from us. This is the beauty of the flexibility and power we have built into the software. Settings are personal to each business and they can be changed easily and immediately. This provides retailers with flexibility. They can also change by day and by type of shopper. Indeed, the flexibility and power multiply with each layer of flexibility that we provide.

So, how can retailers using a points based system break free? With our PSO software it’s easy. They can convert points to a voucher value from and from then on run with the vouchers. Or, they can use both. Retailers have the flexibility they want at their fingertips.

Tower Systems backs its exclusive and best-practice shopper loyalty solutions with mature and considered advice to help retailers make the most of the opportunities – to drive shopper traffic and sales. Our experience as retailers helps us take retailers bend technical advice. We have a loyalty rewards specialist in our help desk who helps our retailers embrace the opportunity in these facilities inn our software.

Adult shop software cuts adult shop employee theft

Thanks to the theft tracking and reduction tools in our smart adult shop software we have been able to help an adult shop identify and stop an employee theft situation. This most recent situation came to us as a customer expressing concern about data in their software. We were quickly able to show a pattern of misbehaviour. Our evidence helped identify the employee involved and as a result the owner of the business was able to mitigate what could have gone on to be an even more expensive situation.

We are attentive to customer calls for help and think beyond the question put and consider whether there are other factors at play. This enables us to, from time to time, uncover misbehaviour of which the owner of the business was not aware.

The owner of the adult shop was grateful. They have changed some business processes as a result of the evidence we presented.

Retailer experience helps drive POS software quality assurance

The addition of an experienced retailer to our software development team in a quality assurance role a year ago has enhanced the retail friendliness of our software even further. We are seeing workflow issues and opportunities earlier in the software development and testing processes and addressing these before the software is released.

In addition to testing our software for functionality and traditional usability, we test it for appropriateness of function and workflow. And this is before we get to beta release. The result really is better software.

Having someone with active and current behind the counter retail experience is another point of difference for our point of sale software.

Brilliant POS software training opportunities in November 2013

Check out the Point of Sale software training opportunities this month for retailers using our POS software:

  • Processing Manual Invoice Arrivals 7 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • How to Cut Theft in your Business 12 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • Getting started with Stock Management 14 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • Using the new Discount Feature in Retailer and other new features in Retailer 19 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • Getting started with Stock Reordering 21 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • Getting started with Laybys 26 Nov 2013, 02:00PM
  • Using Catalogues and Promotions to build your Business 28 Nov 2013, 02:00PM

Catalogue season in full flight for small and independent retailers

Our Point of Sale software in in high use right now in managing the setup and management of catalogues in all sorts of retail businesses for the Christmas season. Being able to handle multiple catalogues at once, our software is loved by retailers as they service every day discount business alongside Christmas sales.

We work with suppliers, retail marketing groups, wholesalers and retailers to make running catalogues as easy to operate and straightforward to manage.

By enabling the easy management of special pricing and other terms for a collection of products and for a specified date range, retailers using our Point of Sale software are able to track and handle a variety of Christmas related offers.

While we call the facilities catalogue management, they go way beyond this, delivering access to whole of business tools of value to retailers.

It is at the sales counter where our catalogue management facilities save time as they enable the sales team to focus on selling rather than having to check pricing to ensure they charge correctly.  Our software applies pricing according to the rules created in our catalogue management facilities.  these rules can be price based.  They can also volume based – i.e. buy this and get that for free.

In the back office, we track catalogue performance and provide management reporting to enable appropriate business management attention to be paid on this.

Tower Systems leadership role in POS software / supplier EDI engagement

Thanks to ou work across a range of retail channels and with several EDI platform partners Tower Systems brings to any EDI discussion broad experience and insights.

This was particularly useful recently when an EDI partner in one retail channel wanted to take an approach that we knew would not work as it disregarded best practice in EDI. We shared our experiences from another channel and our suggested approach is now being adpoted.

We’re not out to control anything in the EDI arena. No, our goal is to help retailers have access to best-practice EDI solutions that serve their needs and do not burden them with unnecessary operational overhead.

We are grateful to our various EDI partners for the experiences they are giving us for it is these experiences that help us be more knowledgable in the EDI area.

POS software makes emailing purchase orders easier

The latest enhancements in our Point of Sale software make the emailing of purchase orders from retailers to suppliers even easier, thereby building a stronger connection between retailers and their suppliers. Doing this in a structured and standard way provides retailer greater certainty over business data dn replenishment stock than if manual paper-based processes were to be followed.

By initiating replenishment of inventory from within the POS software, retailers are able to control data from their end. This helps fuel certainty for the businesses from their end rather than relying on supplier driven data. This is vitally important for business owners who are actively engaged in making decisions based on accurate business data.

Tower Systems actively works with suppliers across a range of retail channels including jewellers, bike retailers, garden centres, adult shops, homewares shops, pet stores and newsagents to serve the various industry-specific needs and thereby provide maximum flexibility to retailers.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: 10 ways POS software can save money

  1. Roster based on sales. Look at your sales by time and roster accordingly.
  2. Order based on stock sales – using a recorder report is more efficient than manual ordering.
  3. Use integrated eftpos – Tyro connected directly to your Tower software – eliminate costly mistakes.
  4. Eliminate keystrokes at the counter. Every keystroke eliminated is a potential mistake saved. Scan all you sell for a good start.
  5. Manage your end of shift. Use the end of shift processes in our software and get rid of challenged manual processes.
  6. Backup when you want. Using flexible backup processes save time with an off site backup done when you choose.
  7. replace manual processes where appropriate in your business: customer age checking, LayBy, serial number tracking, shopper loyalty, shopper special orders.
  8. Easily transfer accounting related data to your accounting system and eliminate double handling.
  9. Catch shopper theft through structured spot stock takes.
  10. Catch employee theft through consistent use of theft management tools.

Tower Systems offers more money saving opportunities in its Point of Sale software for a broad range of retail niches. We will help you get the most from our software.

New release POS software moves to beta

The next update to our POS software has moved to beta release with test sites now running this latest software. Early feedback from the beta sites has been excellent. We are excited to be preparing to make this latest software update more widely available. We need some more beta site time under our belts before we set a release data – we take quality assurance seriously.

Tower Systems supports EROS Association as gold level sponsor

Tower Systems is proud to sign on as a gold level sponsor of the EROS Association – serving adult shops and their suppliers. As developers of adult shop software that is already in use in many adult shops around Australia as well as supplying software to a major adult shop wholesaler, Tower Systems is well engaged with the channel.

Our sponsorship of EROS is in support of an association vital to the industry and the health of the retail and wholesale businesses in the industry. Through the relationship tower Systems will be in communication with EROS members, sharing business management and growth insights that should serve these businesses into the future.

Across a range of retail channels Tower Systems leads in providing industry-standard software that connects retailers and suppliers. Our common approach to all is to provide professional and proves software solutions backed by understandable and accessible support.

How to use POS software to cut employee & customer theft

One of the most valuable benefits of Point of Sale (POS) software used by any retail business is a reduction in employee and customer theft.

Used properly, good POS software can significantly cut the cost of theft.

Theft reduction is achieved through consistent use of the software throughout the business. The less consistent a business the less likely they are to uncover theft. Those most likely to steal will notice how the software is used and through this reach a conclusion as to the likelihood they will be caught.

Tracking stock from when it enters a business to when it leaves is the key to detecting and reducing theft by employees and customers. Too often, small and independent retailers do not fully track and manage stock – making them appealing businesses for people likely to steal.

Here are the steps involved in tracking stock and reducing the cost of theft:

  1. Enter all incoming stock into your POS software. Include the quantity received to ensure that the current quantity on hand is accurate.
  2. Write off stock that is thrown away.
  3. Scan-out all stock that is returned to the supplier for any reason. Good software will have
  4. Sell items by scanning the barcode. Too often items are sold using department keys and therefore not tracking each specific item sold.
  5. Reorder stock by producing a reorder report using your software. This can usually be done by using a desired quantity on hand as the guide for the software to reorder to. Note: this process alone will highlight stock on-hand discrepancies.
  6. Undertake a spot stock-take: count the quantity on hand of an item and enter that into your POS software and compare this against what the software thinks should be on-hand. A discrepancy can indicate theft.

Once all stock is setup in your software, the time taken for spot stock-takes is minimal. This time is funded from the reduced theft that will certainly result.

Employees who see you track stock movement through spot stock-takes and other activities listed here will be deterred from stealing from the business as they will see the risk of being caught is higher.

Manage your business professionally and consistently and theft will cost less.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: market to your customers based on purchases

Thanks to the marketing module available with our Point of Sale software, retailers partnering with Tower Systems are able to target market to customers based on purchases.

While this facility has been available for years, it is becoming more used as retailers reach out to shoppers based on their past activity. Through email, mail and text message marketing, retailers are able to market to customers using finely tuned search criteria to create the target list.

Tower Systems partners with a text message marketing service that facilitates text message sending for day to day use in the software as well as for bulk marketing campaigns.

This highly targeted marketing is low cost and easy to run thanks to the marketing tools in the software.

We have video and written training available for retailers wanting to engage in this marketing.

Tower Systems provides POS software users and suppliers with more EDI options

The release of the Sprint 3 EDI integration by Tower Systems increases the options available to the many retailers and their suppliers already using our Point of Sale software. Sprint 3 is an easily accessible EDI platform developed to serve retailers and suppliers in a range of channels. The Tower integration serves two-way traffic covering purchasing and invoicing.

Giving retailers and suppliers more options in the EDI area provides better customer service to the Tower community of retailers and their suppliers. It means that suppliers especially can shop around for the EDI platform that best suits their needs.

Our work with Sprint 3 in meeting their compliance standards is another example of Tower Systems leading in several channels in which it operates.

EDI is the glue between retailers and suppliers. In presenting options Tower Systems is facilitating competition and offering flexibility – a move welcomed by those who have become frustrated by EDI services in monopoly situations.

Easier automated backups for POS software users

The latest release of our Point of Sale software includes more backup options. Responding to user requests we have increased the flexibility of backup services including our automated backups, cloud backups and non traditional external backups. The backup options provided as part of the Tower software are comprehensive and reliable.

In providing our customers with more options we are demonstrating a commitment to flexibility to best serve the needs of our customers.

We don’t lock our customers into our software so keeping it best-practice is important to our customer retention.

The backup enhancements in the latest release demonstrate our commitment to excellent customer service.