Beware the software “licence” trap

access_pos_newsagency_software.jpgThis is the message which appeared on the computer screen of a newsagent when his software support fell due. What was once an optional fee was now mandatory for this business owner. We do not use tactics like this to force our users to may a support or “licence” fee.   Our Tower Systems software for newsagents continues to work regardless of whether you pay for support.

By forcing users to pay a support fee to access the software suggests that users will not find value in the support service.

POS software theft

We found a business using an illegal copy our POS retail management software a few weeks ago.  The receipts listed details for a different business in a different location.  Unless a customer questioned the receipt details they would be none the wiser.

While we have protection built into the software to prevent theft, if someone takes a computer from one location to another and makes no changes to hardware or business trading details they can get away with it – as happened in this instance.

We have been patiently trying to resolve this matter.  Our lack of success is likely to leave us with no option but bring in the police to consider the evidence.

WORLD FIRST: Tower Systems software makes coffee

The latest release of Tower Systems software makes coffee! Latte, short black, cappuccino. You name it, the software will make it for you. A perfect cup every time. There is a button on the point of sale screen.  Click this, select your coffee and the software will do the rest for you.

We are pleased to have delivered this facility free in the latest update to our software and thereby added greater value to the businesses using Tower Systems’ software. This is another way Tower Systems is innovating for our customers and another reason business owners are making the switch to us.

My plan was to leave this joke blog post up and see how one of our competitors reacts. A check between this blog and their shows the considerable influence we are having on their business, well their announcements at least. So, I figured I’d make a joke announcement and see if they copy that too.

A couple of days ago I wrote about point of sale speed. They followed. On March 13 we launched Software Ideas, the most transparent and innovative approach to having users control over the direction of software. They followed, tried to at least. We announced our involvement in Sales Based Replenishment. They followed. We announced our compliance program for newsagents. They followed, sort of.  We wrote that DOS is dead.  They, well they took a different approaach and said DOS is alive an well.

While all this following is flattering, it confuses some prospects. Not many any more thankfully. This is where blogs help. We can use them to demonstrate leadership and following.

Maybe I should have left the joke blog post up and waited for their announcement that their software was about to deliver a coffee making facility.

Helping newsagents navigate the News Ltd Alpha mess

News Ltd late Friday afternoon announced major changes to the distribution of Alpha, Australia’s top selling men’s monthly magazine.  News cut newsagent margin by 40% and is taking over home delivery sales won by newsagents over the last three years.

Tower Systems is committed to helping newsagents make the right business decisions through this.  Our newsagency POS software helps is in the form of guidance:

  • Our Title Detail Report shows the breadth of commercial activity for Alpha.
  • The 10×10 Report shows what sells with Alpha.
  • The Magazine Sell Through Rates Report shows the sell through performance of Alpha.
  • The Magazine Cashflow Report shows the cashflow impact of Alpha on the business.

While we have other reports in our software, those listed will be the most useful for newsagents wanting to assess the impact of this move by News Ltd.

We will help Tower Newsagents produce reports from their data.  We will assess these reports and help newsagents develop a view of the economic cost of the decision by News.

We consider the move by News Ltd to be unjust and unfair against hardworking small businesses, businesses which have played a key role in making Alpha what it is today.

We are affected by this decision as we own newsagencies too.

Access POS continues to dupe newsagents

access_pos.JPGAccess POS, the NSW software company serving newsagents, continues to pay Google to come up in searches when people type in Tower Systems.  Their ad has Tower Systems in the headline yet has nothing to do with Tower Systems.  This would be laughable if they were not paying money to pass themselves off as Tower Systems.  Google, unfortunately, refuses to act.  Access has lost more than 40 of their users in recent times to Tower Systems.

Why blog about this?  Well, by blogging it gets indexed by Google and hopefully goes some way toward mitigating the damage done by the Access paid ads.

Comparing the price of receipt printer

t88iv.jpgThe Epson TM-T88IV is a good workhorse receipt printer, ideal for our high volume customers.  We use it in our own retail businesses and recommend it as do many other POS software companies.  Our price for the Epson TM-T88IV is $525 including GST.  This has been our price for a year despite the fall in the Australian dollar.  I mention it today because our price excellent.  It is evidence of our commitment to keep hardware prices low and help our customers save money when upgrading hardware.

It would be reasonable to ask what this has to do with software.  Our relationship with our customers is more than just for our software.  We are often a hardware supplier, general IT consultant and business advisor.  The commitment we make on price is important to us, even for a receipt printer.

Blogging helps word of mouth about our software

A newsagent has selected our software because of the difference demonstrated through this blog and my newsagency blog compared to the blog operated by a competitor. What is interesting is that a friend did the research for them and emailed through links to several blog posts from each software company to graphically illustrate why they recommended going with us.

What we publish here provides a view deep into our business, our values our mission.  While we slip a marketing hat on from time to time, we try keep spin to a minimum.  This blog and the newsagency blog certainly make us accountable.

Navigating the mud, how do we handle misleading blog posts?

We have a robust debate going on within Tower Systems at the moment about whether we should respond to a competitor who publishes untrue statements about us and our software.

My view is that we need to correct the record when this happens and provide commentary about why they might be doing this.

Some of our sales team, Tim, Nathan and Luke, want us to ignore the comments. Their view is that small business owners don’t like to see competitors at each other’s throats in public.

Our Marketing Manager, Andrew, says we should ignore them based on their market share.

While I think they are right, my concern is that silence gives these claims credence.

We are trying to find common ground inside Tower Systems on this. Even though I own the business, I see everyone on the team as a stakeholder and therefore holding an opinion which needs to be considered.

This is why we have not responded as we might have to the attacks over recent days.

While we are not done with this debate yet, the lack of tit for tat blog posts from us shows that the team is likely to win.

I’d be interested in what others think. Should a company respond to untruthful comments published about them? Or, should we, as they say in cricket, let these comments go through to the keeper. In this analogy, the keeper is our customers and others who stop by this and other blogs.