Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: newsagent software (page 1 of 39)

Helping newsagents navigate the challenges of change in print media

For many years, at the Australian Newsagency Blog, we have offered advice, support, opinion and guidance to small business newsagents, helping them to navigate changes and embrace opportunities in their channel.

As the POS software company with more newsagents as customers than all the competition combined we are invested.

Last week, Bauer Media announced their planned take over of the Pacific Magazines business. Here is a post from the Newsagency Blog, by us abut this:

What could the Bauer acquisition of Pacific Magazines mean for newsagents?

While there are regulatory processes to play out and finalisation is anticipated to be months away, the news yesterday that Bauer Media and Seven West Media had reached agreement for Bauer to acquire Pacific has captured the attention of plenty in our channel.

The most common question in emails and calls that I received yesterday from newsagents was what does this mean for us?

I think asking this question now is late. I say this because rationalisation of print media businesses has been happening for some years and has been discussed widely here and elsewhere in our channel.

If you are asking today what it means, you are already behind. If this is you, I encourage you to invest time now to catch up.

If the Bauer / Pacific news has come at a shock and you are wondering about the impact, act now, make decisions that focus on propelling your business forward. No supplier will do this for you – putting your business first in every decision.

While I don’t know what a Bauer acquisition of Pacific will or could mean, we can reasonably speculate that there will be changes over time. It cannot 100% be business as usual.There will have to be changes given the challenges faced by some of the titles involved. One benefit of single ownership of an expanded stable of titles at Bauer would be co-ordinated management of all titles. This could mean less cannibalisation between competing titles through more thoughtful and complementary coverage.

Many of us in the newsagency channel have been actively working on chasingnet new traffic for categories outside of legacy product categories for our channel for years. There have been hits and misses through. Such is the experience of chasing change.

There is no doubt we are in a period of extraordinary change in print media. Change is being driven by how news is delivered into our hands, how and when we engage with news and information, what constitutes news and entertainment, what people will and will not pay for, who is a publisher (all of us?) and how print mastheads and stories are packaged and priced.

The Australian market is small. I think that is a factor playing out here too. Print media products need critical mass. We miss that in some markets here.

Thinking about what could change as a result of the announced acquisition… It would not surprise me to see: the days of magazine delivery changed, maybe to one a week; the closure of some weekly titles; the launch of a new weekly title; changes in monthly titles; greater accessibility for over the counter purchase of titles.

What should matter most to newsagents today is focus of the business changing net new shopper traffic, broadening the shopper appeal through new products, driving overall business GP%, growing online sales so the business is less reliant on local shoppers and chasing opportunities through pursuing what we don’t know our businesses can achieve.

The Bauer / Pacific announcement is an encouragement for us to work on our businesses, to pursue change, to make our businesses more valuable in the future.

All of this, of course, means more focus away from the newsagency shingle.

Helping Australian newsagents transform their businesses

Tower Systems through its newsagency software as well as through its ownership of the newsXpress newsagency marketing group is helping Aussie newsagents transform their newsagency businesses.

Through smart tech tools in the POS software, website connectivity as well as in-store management guidance and out of store marketing, newsXpress is delivering terrific benefits to members and helping newsagents find a good path through a period of extraordinary change.

The days of the old newsagency is Australia are over as new and exciting businesses emerge. These new model businesses are offering less in the way of old-school newsagency products and more in the areas of exciting, innovative and fun products that serve consumers today and into the future.

Speaking at a recent newsagent forum, the newsXpress pitch was simple:

We give newsagents hope by providing options for finding new customers, by helping to farewell out of date practices and by providing access to better margin products. We help newsagents enjoy their businesses more and make them more valuable. This is what we do at newsXpress every day … because, we believe in local small business retail. We are not locked into the shingle of the past. On the horizon, we see a bright future.

Here are 15 things newsXpress offers newsagents. While the full lis is considerably longer, these 15 often matter to newsagents looking for immediate boost in their business.

  1. Access to more than 100 preferred suppliers offering discounts off invoice from 5% to 25% and covering key categories including: gifts, plush, toys, stationery, cards and jewellery.
  2. A monthly DEALS envelope with extra special deals from newsXpress preferred suppliers.
  3. Valuable prizes for major seasons – where one of your customers wins a prize. The total newsXpress Father’s Day prizes worth more than $55,000.
  4. A loyalty program that drives card sales – 100% funded by newsXpress.
  5. Merchandise buying advice based on your own business sales data.
  6. Exclusive product opportunities for highly sought-after products.
  7. Information that helps you sell some products faster than your competitors.
  8. In-store business management advice, training and support.
  9. Regular capital city and regional member meetings where you can network with colleagues and tap into more excellent ideas.
  10. Help in controlling magazine supply.
  11. Free labour rate and other employee management advice from a skilled industrial relations lawyer.
  12. Discount shop insurance.
  13. Marketing support from regular newsXpress funded Facebook and other social media marketing.
  14. Christmas and key seasons catalogues offering excellent value for quality products with good margins – not chasing fickle low price low margin sales.
  15. That everything is optional– newsXpress members engage as they want.

While the traditional Australian newsagency is a thing of the past, newsXpress and Tower Systems are offering newsagents a path to a bright future through opportunities and options from the newsXpress portfolio.

Helping Australian newsagents create more valuable businesses through transformation

Tower Systems also owns newsXpress, a marketing group for newsagents who want to transform their businesses and grow them into something meaningful to today and beyond. Here are details of an offer from newsXpress…

We give newsagents hopeby providing options for finding new customers, by helping to farewell out of date practicesand by providing access to better marginproducts. We help newsagents enjoy their businessesmore and make them more valuable. This is what we do at newsXpress every day … because,we believe in local small business retail. We are not locked into the shingle of the past. On the horizon, we see a bright futureMark Fletcher, CEO, newsXpress Pty Ltd

Every day, we invest in the future of locally owned newsXpress businesses. We run as a community co-operative. There has never been a profit distribution. We are 100% focussed on helping our members be the best, most successful and happiest of retailers.

You can join us as a full-service full-benefits member. Or, you can try us out first…\

TRY NEWSXPRESS BEFORE YOU BUY OFFER.

BEYOND TRADITION, WE CAN HELP YOU FIND SUNSHINE.

We have some newsagents keen to join newsXpress but concerned about the five-year contract and the requirement that 75% of card space is allocated to Hallmark.

For a limited time and a limited number of newsagency businesses, we offer access to a valuable package of newsXpress services on a fixed one-year term trial basis.

As a friend of newsXpress you can trial newsXpress services without long-term obligation.

For a monthly fee of $295.00 (inc.GST) for twelve months only or a one-off up-front fee of $1,750.00 (inc. GST) we would welcome you as a friend of newsXpress for one year. This does not mean you would be a member of the group. There is no agreement to sign, no requirement to rebrand, no card company requirement.

Here is what you would get access to as a friend of newsXpress:

  1. In-store visits from a skilled Retail Development Manager, who will provide fresh-eyes advice on your business and suggest optional changes you could make.
  2. Access to centrally billed suppliers offering discounts off and extended terms.
  3. Access to our weekly newsXpress email, with management and marketing advice.
  4. Access to our knowledge base, an online resource with 200+ articles of advice.
  5. Access to our head office team of retail experts for tactical and strategic advice.
  6. Access to newsXpress regional member meetings.
  7. Access to the newsXpress conferences.

Here is some of what full newsXpress members have access to:

  1. Online sales through product branded websites, delivering net new revenue.
  2. Your own free website branded to your business, selling products your products.
  3. newsXpress preferential pricing from Hallmark and allpreferred suppliers.
  4. A private Facebook group – motivation and encouragement, a safe place to talk.
  5. Access to the private team member Facebook page for your staff.
  6. Financial management counselling service. We offer a deep dive into the business, develop a budget and help with resetting the business physically and financially.
  7. A secure .newsxpress.com.au email address.

At the end of the year you would either join newsXpress orcontinue to run your business without access to anything newsXpress offers.

If at any time in the year you want to switch and become a full newsXpress member, we’d apply the portion of the pre-paid one-year amount toward newsXpress member fees.

There is one catch to our offer: You need to be engagedYou need to work with us on growing your business, making it more efficient and more relevantto today.

If you are tired, we will help motivate you. If you are out of cash. We will make low / no cost suggestions. We will not force you do anything.

Become a friend of newsXpress and let is help you.

Our head office team… newsXpress has twelve full time employees working on behalf of members – merchandise experts, marketing professionals, retail advisors.

Our leadership team… is there for you, on anymatter, offering an ear, a hug, advice or representation, on any matter. We will help as much as we are able.

Free POS software e-commerce workshops for small business retailers

How to find new customers by selling online direct from POS software for your specific type of business using Shopify and Magento.

Join us for a free workshop where we will explore Shopify and Magento direct connected POS software for specialty retailers: jewellers, garden centres, produce, toy, firearms, fishing, outdoors, newsagents, pet, gift, book, bike and adult. We will focus on new online insights for 2020 and beyond

  1. Hear from current case studies what other indie retailers are doing.
  2. Find out how to use online to drive in-store shopping.
  3. Learn how click and collect actually works.
  4. Find out about the different buy now pay later options for online sales.
  5. See how stock data including images flow easily from the POS to online.

This workshop will be live and interactive and about your type of business. It could save you thousands in web developer fees. This will not be a sales pitch.

We will cover hot topics including: SEO, shipping options, free shipping, the role of social in online sales, returns, bundles, branding and a plan b for your web strategy.

Click on your preferred city below to book. Each workshop (except for online) will be in an easy to get to capital city location.

  1. SydneySept. 30. 10am.
  2. AdelaideOctober 1. 10am.
  3. PerthOctober 2. 10:30am.
  4. HobartOctober 3. 11am.
  5. MelbourneOctober 4. 10am.
  6. AucklandOctober 7. 10am.
  7. BrisbaneOctober 8. 10am.
  8. CanberraOctober 9. 10am.
  9. OnlineOctober 10. 10am. AEST.
  10. OnlineOctober 10. 2pm. AEST.
  11. WellingtonOctober 14. 10am.
  12. ChristchurchOct. 15. 10am.

We are local. Tower Systems serves 3,500+ specialty businesses – with POS software and websites. We make what we sell. We use it ourselves too, in our own retail and online businesses. If you think we could help you, please call…

  1. VIC/SA/WA: Tim Batt 0401 833 917 tim@towersystems.com.au;
  2. QLD /NT: Justin Randall 0434 365 789 justin@towersystems.com.au;
  3. NSW/ACT/TAS: Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148 nathan@towersystems.com.au.

Our goal is to help you enjoy a more successful and valuable business.

POS software from Tower Systems on TV

37 more newsagents switch to the newsagency software from Tower Systems

Thirty-seven more newsagents have chosen the Tower Systems newsagency software in the last year. We are grateful for their support of our newsagency software.

This is great news. The Tower Newsagency business community is stronger and growing. This helps us better help newsagents.

Today, we help newsagents evolve their businesses into new products, through awesome loyalty tools and online … through our POS software. We help way beyond the POS software itself.

Thanks to our newsXpress relationship we offer newsXpress newsagents using our software leverage an exclusive low low EFTPOS rate. One newsagent is $200.00 a month better off while another, in regional Australia, is more than $250.00 a month better off.

Whether you are a retail or distribution newsagent, our software can help you run a more efficient, enjoyable and valuable business.

We continue to own and operate newsagency businesses ourselves and have done since 1996. This helps us make better software for you.

  1. Compliant with industry standards, using our software you can meet criteria for getting onto the no physical returns program with Gotch.
  2. We can help you reduce EFTPOS fees.
  3. Selling online is easy and sell more regardless of your local population.
  4. Offer buy now pay later with Humm, Zip Pay and more.
  5. Our innovative front-end loyalty facilities help you differentiate your business, drive deeper baskets and bring shoppers back sooner.

Our software can work with you as you evolve your product mix. Whether it is into hospitality, services, produce, repairs, online or more, our software has facilities that help make your business more relevant to today’s shopper.

Integrations can also help you cut operating costs, such as bookkeeping fees. We can help you eliminate double and triple handling. We link direct to Xero, for example.

Switching is not expensive. If you have current hardware, the cost can be as low as $2,400 a year thanks to interest free finance from us for 3 years or $49.00/wk leased or $7,200 up front. Included is:

  1. The latest Tower Systems newsagency software.
  2. On-site installation and training by a newsagency business expert.
  3. Data conversion, converting as much data as we can access.
  4. Software support for the first three years. Nothing extra to pay.
  5. Software updates for the first three years. Nothing extra to pay.
  6. Unlimited over the phone follow up training for the first three years.
  7. Access to an awesome online knowledge base with articles & advice.
  8. Access to weekly group live online training workshops.
  9. Access to a private Facebook page where you can discuss any topic.

New financial year business management tips for small business retailers

Last week, we shared advice with our POS software customers on steps they could take for a brighter and healthier 2019/2020 financial year…

Here is a list of things you could suggest for the new financial year.

  1. Change your passwords. Share them sparingly.
  2. Review your department and categories. Ensure they accurately reflect your business and how you want performance reported.
  3. Review system useto determine if fraud is an issue. Our help desk team can help business owners (and only business owners) with this.
  4. if you are not using Discount Vouchers, consider it as it continues to be the easiest and most effective revenue and return visit building tool we have see.
  5. Review your opening hours / rosterbased on a revenue by time assessment.
  6. Take a look at workflow at the counter. Look at steps you can take to streamline the experience. More efficient sales will help drive sales revenue.
  7. Set aside every invoice that you currently enter manually. Email a copy to us at support@towersystems.com.au along with supplier contact details. We will reach out to them for you, encouraging them to provide you with an electronic invoice, which will save time and improve data accuracy.
  8. Consider cloud based backupfor faster, safer, backups.
  9. If you have a website, consider an SEO campaignto lift its profile. If your website is more than two years old, consider a refresh or replacement.

We hope that the 2019/20 financial year is wonderful for you and your business. We are keen to help achieve this with and for you. That starts with your engagement.

Newsagency of the future workshops to help newsagents transform their businesses

Tower Systems is supporting this valuable free workshop series for Aussie small business newsagents as they confront disruption in several categories and through the disruption find opportunity.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW SHOPPER TRAFFIC, HIGHER GP% AND GREATER PER VISIT VALUE.

I invite you to a new free business management workshop for newsagents where I will share an insight into trends in current trading data, trends for core categories overseas and opportunities for growth as we all recast our businesses.

I will ask some tough questions and through these navigate to challenges that sit at the root of some newsagency channel core categories and work through, with you, several opportunities growth in these.

What we explore together will be relevant to any newsagent in any situation, large or small, city or country. The sole focus will be on creating a brighter future, even if that means for you your own business exit strategy.

You will receive valuable takeaways you will be able to use right away as well as thought-provoking questions each of us in retail will have to answer.

While some examples will be newsXpress related, this is not a newsXpress sales event. It is a continuation of my Newsagency of the Further Workshops, which I first ran in 2004 and have evolved ever since.

I will also share newsXpress case studies where business owners have recast their businesses through change. These will include city and country businesses. Large and small.

Please, join me as we invest in a stronger newsagency channel.

  1. May 6. 9am Melbourne. Book now.
  2. May 7. 10am Sydney. Book now.
  3. May 8. 10am Brisbane. Book now.
  4. May 9. 10am Hobart. Book now.
  5. May 10. 10am Adelaide. Book now.

These are the only dates, because of commitments for the next few months. Tower systems CEO Mark Fletcher will host each event.

POS software alternative to MYOB Retail Manager

Plenty of retailers looking for an alternative to the MYOB Retail Manger POS software are finding a good fit in the Tower Systems Point of Sale software. 

Connected to the MYOB accounting software, the Tower solution offers MYOB Retail Manager customers a familiarity with back office accounting in its POS software integrated solution.

Retailers looking for a complete change to the accounting and retail business management solution cold consider the Tower Systems Xero POS software integration. Tower directly integrates with the Xero cloud based accounting solution.

The Tower Systems installation and training team members are skilled at managing the process of transitioning a retail business from Retail Manager to the Tower Systems POS software. Our training covered differences as well as data export and import – as much as is possible and as much as a business wants … because sometimes a business likes to start again with a clean slate and with a clean dataset.

We have been told that Retail Manager by MYOB is approaching end of life – that is, no future development enhancement planned. If this is the case, the Tower POS software solution is an alternative that we would submit for consideration in any of the specialty retail channels in which we are well established.

Offering robust and constantly evolving POS software, Tower Systems offers MYOB Retail Manager users a path with a solid future from a technical and a business perspective. This peace of mind is something on which Tower Systems customers can bank as they plan their IT investment.

In terms of accounting solution choice, the company walks an agnostic path, leaving that choice to retail business owners and those who advise them on accounting software requirements. That said, in our own shops, we use Xero. Our fully staffed professional accounts office, where we have a CPA providing full time oversight of our retail accounting processes. Access to our accounting professionals is available to our POS software customers and their accountants who may have accounting related questions.

Tower Systems offers stable, proven and respected POS software solutions for small business retailers. Stability is at the heart of 9ur offer and ay to day operation.

Tower Systems launches new newsagency sales benchmark study

This morning, we launched a new sales benchmark study for Australian newsagents. Here are the details from the announcement:

Q1 2019 NEWSAGENCY SALES BENCHMARK STUDY.
I invite you to provide data for the Q1 2019 newsagency sales performance benchmark study. The benchmark provides data against which you can compare your business performance. Click here for my last report.

How to participate.

  1. Please run a Monthly Sales Comparison Report for 01/01/2019 – 31/03/2019 compared to 01/01/2018 – 31/03/2018.
  2. Tick the category box. IMPORTANT.
  3. Tick to exclude home delivery and sub agent data.
  4. DO NOT tick the supplier box.
  5. Preview the report on the screen. Save as a PDF and email this to me at mark@towersystems.com.au.
  6. Read the report yourself and see what it shows you about your business.

I will email the results to all participating newsagents and publish the results on theAustralian Newsagency Blog as a service for all newsagents.

My work with this channel goes back to 1981 when I wrote newsagency software to manage newspaper home deliveries. That software evolved into Point of Sale software and has been rewritten as software technology has changed. 

I own and run three newsagencies. Over the years I have had three others. I own newsXpress, the newsagency marketing group.

Tower Systems serves 1,750+ newsagents with best practice newsagency software, We are thrilled to note that our customer base is growing. Overall, Tower Systems serves in excess of 3,500 small business retailers.

Smart POS software helps Aussie newsagents create more successful businesses

The Tower Systems newsagency software today is very different to a few years ago,. Just as Aussie newsagency businesses have had to navigate change, so has our software. Indeed, our software has led changes in many ways.

Our software has helped newsagents stock new products and through thee find new customers. We have changed the conversation about loyalty. We have connected retail newsagents with completely new suppliers. We have helped them cut costs. we have helped them attract shoppers back more often. We have helped them lift the average purchase value.

These are just some of the benefits our new, fresh and ever evolving newsagency software have delivered to newsagents, helping them run more successful and enjoyable businesses that better serve their local shoppers.

With change all around, in the newsagency channel and in retail mikron broadly, Tower Systems has been the leader in the field of service of newsagents with newsagency software and with leadership advice to guide change, embrace it and leverage greater success.

Through working with newsagents like yours our software has been perfected to help you compete in a business environment increasingly dominated by national and international retailers, save you the most time and achieve your business goals sooner.

Our system integrates with suppliers, e-commerce, accounting and other solutions and is underpinned by the Tower Advantage, offering you 24/7 phone support, video training through the Tower Academy, software updates, the Knowledge Base directory and more.

Our newsagency software solution is whole of business. Comprehensive yet flexible to facilitate their engagement in new product categories. This matters given the amount of change they are going through in their channel and in many newsagency businesses. This is why newsagency software needs to be flexible … functional for today and flexible for tomorrow.

Serving in excess of 1,700 newsagents, Tower remains the largest software supplier to Aussie newsagencies. We carry this position in appreciation and with respect, serving newsagents thoughtfully and with consideration to the needs of the channel as well as the needs of each of our newsagency software customers.

While we continue to offer home delivery software services, it is in the newsagent retail space where there is considerable change. As we own newsagencies ourselves, we have intimate personal knowledge that we leverage for competitive advantage.

Specialty POS software for small business specialty retailers

Tower Systems is a specialty retail business POS software company. We are not generalists. We are not one size fits all. No, we offer specialty POS software for a range of retail channels.

We have been doing this for years, evolving or offering into new specialty retail channels as we develop expertise and software to leverage that expertise.

We do this thanks to the generosity of spirit of customers who coach and guide us as well evolve our specialty POS software. Their help and support is awesome and appreciated.

Why we write about this today is to focus on authenticity. When we claim to be specialist in a specific channel, we deliver through functionality, supplier integrations, knowledgeable support and regular updates specifically for that retail channel. Our embrace of a channel is not merely marketing.

Anyone can promote specialisation. It takes commitment engagement and knowledge to deliver. And that is what we do.

  1. Our bike shop software is specific to the needs of local bike retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  2. Our jeweller software is specific to the needs of local jeweller retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  3. Our gift shop software is specific to the needs of local gift retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  4. Our produce store shop software is specific to the needs of local produce retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  5. Our toy shop software is specific to the needs of local toy retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  6. Our pet store software is specific to the needs of local pet retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  7. Our garden centre software is specific to the needs of local garden retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  8. Our newsagent software is specific to the needs of local newsagent retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  9. Our fishing and outdoors business software is specific to the needs of local fishing and outdoors retailers and their suppliers and customers.
  10. Our adult shop software is specific to the needs of local adult shop retailers and their suppliers and customers.

This is what specialisation looks and feels like – being committed to the retail business, customer and supplier needs of the channel to create wins for all who engage with and in the channel and those who rely on them.

Newsagency retail benchmark study results

Last week, we published to Aussie newsagents the results of our latest newsagency sales benchmark study. Here they are for you…

CORE CATEGORIES IN TROUBLE. NEW CATEGORIES GROWING.

This newsagency sales benchmark study reflects sales results as tracked in 147 retail newsagency businesses in Australia for the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Only businesses with accurate data are included.

Each data point is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.

In assessing results at the category level, I have only included data for each category businesses trading in that category.

OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE METRICS.

  1. Customer traffic. Down 3.5%
  2. Overall sales. Down 3%
  3. Basket depth.No change.
  4. Basket dollar value.Up .5%

CORE PRODUCTS.

  1. Newspapers. Unit sales. Down 11.5%.
  2. Magazines. Unit sales. Down 10.5%.
  3. Greeting cards. Revenue. Down 5%.
  4. Stationery. Revenue. Down 12.5%
  5. Lotteries. Revenue. Down 3%
  6. Tobacco. Revenue. Down 15%.
  7. Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 6%.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS.

  1. Gifts. Revenue. Up 4%
  2. Toys. Revenue. Up 5%.
  3. Plush. Revenue. Up 7%.
  4. Collectibles. Revenue. Up 5%.
  5. Craft. Revenue. Up 3%.
  6. Coffee. Revenue. Up 17%.

What does this mean?

It was a particularly tough quarter with all traditional, core, categories declining. Also, the gap between businesses at either end of the performance spectrum is wider than ever.

New traffic should be priority #1 in every newsagency business. By this I mean, traffic for products the business is not traditionally known for. This is hard work as it involves the whole of the business: buying, pricing, display, in-store engagement and out of store marketing … all of which needs to be done under the name of the business but in a way that keeps this connection in the background.

I think a crucial data point that would be interesting to gather and discuss internally is…

How many unfamiliar faces did we see today?

Track this as much as possible. Pursuing a goal starts with accurate base line data.

The GP challenge.

At the core of chasing new business is the need to lift the profitability of the business. A key way for doing this is making more from each item you sell. That does not necessarily mean selling everything at the highest possible price., A better approach could be to sell more items with a higher overall average GP.

If you were, for example, to decrease revenue from papers and magazines and increase revenue for gifts, you could see overall business GP grow in that the GP% of gift can be double or more than of cards.

The supplier challenge.

The mix of suppliers to the channel is changing. As a supplier learns what they could make from newsagents, they tend to seek to engage with more newsagents. This is something to be wary of as the point of difference you may have once had an as early adopter can diminish once late bloomers latch on to something.

This is a reason for change in the supply mix. While for sure there will be everyday core lines, the reality is that change for at least a third, especially in gift, is important.

Final words.

It is easy to wallow and roll around in the challenges and negativity. That will not fix anything in your newsagency business. That is 100% ion you. Take a step, no matter how small, every day, toward a brighter future. Do something, anything, that moves you beyond the current trajectory if you are unhappy with the current trajectory. Wallowing, complaining … they are not beneficial steps and usually serve to make things worse.

Own your situation and own your obligation to improve it. Do this and there are many in the channel who will help.

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

Best practice newsagency management software helps newsagents transform their businesses

Newsagency businesses today are very different to a few years ago. We are surrounded by change. Innovators are leaning into change.

Here at Tower Systems our software for newsagents has changed, helping leverage opportunities, helping to evolve businesses. This is a key factor in our market share and in net growth in customer numbers through 2018.

Whether you are a retail newsagent or a distribution newsagent, our software can help you run a more efficient and enjoyable business. We can also help you find new customers.

We own and operate newsagency businesses ourselves and have done since 1996. Walking in your shoes, confronting the challenges you confront, helps us create better software. We think this is a reason more newsagents partner with Tower Systems. 1,700+ newsagent customers make our user community strong, the biggest in Australia.

  1. Compliant with industry standards, using our software you can meet criteria for getting onto the no physical returns program with Gotch.
  2. We can help you reduce EFTPOS fees.
  3. Selling online is easy and this can help you sell more even though your nearby population may be small.
  4. First with buy now pay later for shoppers through POS software, over the counter payment options help you win more sales.
  5. Our front-end loyalty facilities help you differentiate your business, drive deeper baskets and bring shoppers back sooner.

Our software can work with you as you evolve your product mix. Whether it is into hospitality, services, produce, repairs, online or more, our software has facilities that help make your business more relevant to today’s shopper.

Integrations can also help you cut operating costs, such as bookkeeping fees. We can help you eliminate double and triple handling. We link direct to Xero, for example.

Switching is not expensive. Our system can be purchased, leased or rented. What we provide is…

  1. The latest Tower Systems newsagency software.
  2. On-site installation and training by a newsagency business expert.
  3. Data conversion, converting as much data as we can access.
  4. Software support for the first three years. Nothing extra to pay.
  5. Software updates for the first three years. Nothing extra to pay.
  6. Unlimited over the phone follow up training for the first three years.
  7. Access to an awesome online knowledge base with articles & advice.
  8. Access to weekly group live online training workshops.
  9. Access to a private Facebook page where you can discuss any topic.

See our latest newsagency software in an obligation-free demonstration. Call:  VIC/SA/WA– Tim Batt 0401 833 917;  NSW/ACT/TAS  – Nathan Morrison 0417 568 148;  QLD /NT– Justin Randall 0434 365 789.

Our training is one-on-one, in your business. Our help desk support is personal, based out of Melbourne, and personal too – because we know personal service matters in small business retail.

Our goal is to help you enjoy a more successful and valuable business.

Awesome Aussie developed newsagency software helps newsagents transform their businesses

Tower Systems participates in newsagency channel strategic planning conference

Tower Systems is the only newsagency software company to participate in the recent ALNA (industry association) hosted newsagency business strategic planning conference.

Meeting with the top newsagency channel industry leaders, our leadership team participated in the conference and associated workshop to help develop strategies for the future of newsagency businesses in Australia.

The conference and workshop were engaging, intense and extremely valuable. We are grateful for the opportunity to represent our newsagency customer community and to work on their behalf.

Here is part of the note from ALNA outlining the plans for the day…

We believe that considering the future of customer behavior, disruption and opportunities for our retailer’s is part of our industry leadership role at ALNA. We would like to invite you to join us to learn about some insights and what we are working on for the industry, and to participate in discussion to help us to provide a focused vision for our future.

ALNA’s aim is to represent the interests of our members with innovative solutions to government, regulatory authorities, industry partners and stakeholders. Our culture of actively exploring and implementing new strategies and professional services to support continuous improvement, growth, and the success of our members and the industry, will help ensure that we remain our members and stakeholders preferred choice for professional advice, support, and educational programs into the future. It forms our core vision of being collectively invested in success.

While we will not share here details from the event, it is fair to say it was an important event focussed on the future of the channel, delivering leadership opportunities to those there based on the data insights confidentially shared and the discussions that flowed from these data insights.

Being in the room positions Tower Systems to provide more help and support to small business newsagents as they navigate challenges and change and as they embrace growth opportunities in some segments of their businesses.

New friendships were made and new opportunities explored as we worked through initiatives designed to make newsagency businesses more relevant.

Our advice to newsagency suppliers who were invited but declined is that next time they should say yes and participate. This is what being a good citizen in a small business channel is all about for a supplier.

Why you can’t trust POS software Google reviews

Google reviews can hide the truth of POS software support as people can write them for malicious reasons. Take this Google review by Ashley tester posted to our Google page:

I have been using Tower Systems “Retailer” POS system for about 2 years now and if i was able to go back in time i would never had bought it. The system offers plenty of potential but is incredibly buggy with quite a bit of stuff missing from the program. I have had multiple things go wrong with the program and the customer service attitude with it is “we’re working on it” with no communication on progress of fixing the issues. As we speak i am still waiting on a bug fix that currently has my website looking quite messy as product that has been sold from my POS in store is not displaying correctly on my E commerce website. This issue was brought to their attention a week ago, i phoned again 2 days ago and have still heard nothing. I was originally told it was a day to fix the issue. Many more examples like this have happened over the past two years. I would STRONGLY recommend not buying this product. There are better options out there but i am too invested in the software, not only with the initial 11k outlay but the hundreds of hours of data entry that i have done now.

Here is the response from our Managing Director, Mark Fletcher.

My name is Mark Fletcher, I am the owner of Tower Systems. My mobile number is 0418 321 338. My email is mark@towersystems.com.au. What sucks about Google reviews is there is no vetting and no right of reply to a specific review. The review by Ashley Tester is false and misleading. Ashley had an issue with our software that was resolved the day it was reported to the help desk. 100% resolved. However, that is not my core point here. At Tower we have a structured documented and promoted escalation process, because people do sometimes make mistakes. At no time did Ashley tester use our escalation process. Ashley Tester complained here without our knowledge, in an effort to harm our business, and based on false and misleading information. Many people work at our POS software company. They rely on the company for income and professional development. As the owner, I will not abide an unwarranted attack that, by extension, seeks to attack those we serve.

As mark is connected with the page, Google would not publish the response.

Everything published in the Tower response is verifiable by our CRM data records. The claim made by Ashley tester is false and misleading, as he would have known at the time of publishing.

There is another review at the page by a Ryan Farrow:

Overcharge for their product and services, owners are aggressive and unhelpful, and will charge for every single feature that comes standard with most products. System is often down for extended periods with most features essentially in Beta and not working as intended. Staff are uneducated in their own product and charge a premium for lacklustre support.

Ryan is not a customer of Tower Systems and never has been. Ryan is a web developer. he developed a website for a Tower client. Rather than follow our published advice for connecting the website to our POS software, Ryan demanded it be done how he wanted.

As with any engineering where you build a bridge to connect two sides of a river, there are professional processes to follow to ensure the bridge meets in the middle. Ryan did not see it this way.

We can’t change the reviews. What we can do is point to our current 3,500+ customers, our years in business and our transparent engagement. We established a private Facebook page for our customers where they can ask anything any time, where they can provide feedback and do so without moderation by us. This level of customer driven transparency reflects on our commitment. neither Ryan nor Ashley Tester used this customer forum. Instead, they sought to hurt us publicly.

Tower Systems publishes newsagency sales benchmark results

Core categories in retail newsagencies challenged while specialty categories grow.

This newsagency sales benchmark study reflects sales results as tracked in 149 retail newsagency businesses in Australia for the January through March quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

Tower Systems undertakes the survey each quarter on a pro-bono basis in support of small businesses newsagency businesses across Australia. We are grateful to newsagents and their suppliers for their interest and to others who trust the survey results.

Only businesses with accurate data are included in the study.

With under 3,000 businesses in this channel, the number of participants is considered as a good indicator of overall channel performance. In collating data, I have removed businesses at the extremes where other factors are at play such as major construction shutting a street or a newsagency in a centre with two newsagencies where one closed and thereby giving an unnatural boost to the other.

Each data point is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.

In collating results, I have only included data for each category businesses trading in that category.

OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE METRICS.

  • Customer traffic. Down 3%
  • Overall sales. Down 4%
  • Basket depth. Flat.
  • Basket dollar value. Flat.

CORE PRODUCTS.

  • Newspapers. Unit sales. Down 9.3%.
  • Magazines. Unit sales. Down 8.8%.
  • Greeting cards. Revenue. Down 2.7%.
  • Stationery. Revenue. Down 7.6%
  • Lotteries. Revenue. Flat.
  • Tobacco. Revenue. Down 16%.
  • Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 6%.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS.

  • Gifts. Revenue. Up 2%.
  • Toys. Revenue. Up 9.2%.
  • Plush. Revenue. Up 3.1%.
  • Collectibles. Revenue. Up 2.4%.
  • Craft. Revenue. Up 3.1%.
  • Coffee. Revenue. Up 11%.

What does this mean?

These core products numbers reflect continuing challenges in the core for newsagency businesses. This is not news given the benchmark results for years now.

In my opinion, the decline in newspapers, and magazines to a lesser extent, impacts the results for other products in the core such as stationery and cards. If this is true, it reinforces the importance of having other traffic drivers in a retail business, giving shoppers other compelling reasons to visit.

The occupancy cost challenge – a note for landlords.

Landlords want newsagency businesses in their retail mix. They want the store with papers, magazines, lotteries and other core items for the channel. Often, they restrict the space available for non-core, imposing a low gross profit model on businesses, thereby increasing occupancy cost.

Newsagencies today cannot sustain occupancy costs of more than 15%. The goal must be 11% for the business to be profitable and able to serve the usual level of debt needed for such a business.

Landlords need to be aware of the changes in product mix, the challenges of low-margin core products and restrictions they place on what businesses can sell. They need to be flexible on rent so newsagency businesses can be sustained and thereby provide the service they want in their centre.

If landlords want a newsagency business they need to price the space to reflect the nature of a sustainable business in that location rather than any premium rent they could get from a retailer with higher margins.

Labour cost – dealing with the challenge and opportunity.

Labour cost for an average newsagency sits at 16% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus agency commission.

On a pure benchmark analysis, this is too high. However, the right labour invested in the right location in-store generates a good return. For example, a skilled person working the shop floor in high margin product categories can deliver valuable benefits whereas the right person working newspapers or magazines is less valuable.

When it comes to labour investment and management the core focus must be on customer-facing. That means having the maximum labour time possible situated to be accessible to customers. You do this by shifting to the shop floor as much work as possible – pricing, returns etc.

Newsagents need to manage their roster carefully and manage employee hours to be customer facing focused and engaged on a shared goal of driving revenue from each customer visit. Sharing information with employees is key to achieving this.

The specialty opportunity.

It is easy to say to newsagents get into one or more of the specialty areas. There are suppliers who will pitch products in these areas. The challenge is how you drive success. Getting the right product is part of the story. Visual merchandising, employee training, shop floor engagement and out of store marketing are all important factors. These all require relentless focus. Putting a category of products on the shelves is not sufficient.

Specialty products are rapidly evolving, presenting more opportunities over time. Keeping yourself informed of the opportunities, especially ahead of any wave, is key.

Tower Systems serves more than 1,700 newsagents with awesome newsagency software.

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

Help for POS Solutions newsagency software users

Tower Systems has been quietly helping more users of the POS Solutions newsagency software switch to Tower Systems newsagency software.

What we have learned from the many hundreds who have switched already have blazed the path for others.

We help people switch with personal and timely support access, one on one training, data conversion and more. As the company serving in excess of 1,700 newsagency businesses we have the critical mass to serve newsagents keen for then Tower Systems experience.

As the newsagency channel undergoes extraordinary change, Tower Systems remains a constant support through its best-practice newsagency management software, newsagent support and newsagent marketing help.

Size matters. Tower Systems serves more newsagents than all other software companies combined.

Tower newsagency software customers receive:

  1. The latest Tower Systems newsagency software.
  2. On-site installation and training.
  3. Data conversion, converting as much data as we can access.
  4. Software support for the first three years.
  5. Software updates for the first three years.
  6. Unlimited over the phone follow up training for the first three years.
  7. Access to an online knowledge base with hundreds of articles and advice on the software, which you can easily search 24/7.
  8. Access to weekly group live online training workshops.
  9. Access to a private Facebook page where you can discuss on any topic.

More broadly, we are well resourced to help newsagents navigate change.

  1. Tower Systems will not leave the newsagency channel.
  2. We will fight for you. Beyond our software, outside of support, we will help with supplier issues, business strategy and other challenges you confront.
  3. Our software continues to evolve. We release two to three major updates each year. You choose when to load them. Each update is thoroughly tested in a comprehensive beta program.
  4. We own newsagencies. Yes, we walk in your shoes.
  5. No locked-in support fee. Taking up support coverage once the three-year period ends is optional.
  6. Lower support costs. Also, transparent. No mates’ rates for a select few.
  7. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call. If not, we call back.
  8. At any time, you can see live how many help desk calls we are working on and how many we have closed that day.
  9. Support escalation. We have a structured escalation process should you be unhappy with a support call.
  10. Easy management access. The leadership team of Tower Systems is available to you. We take customer service seriously and personally.
  11. Updates when you want. You are in control of when you load updates.
  12. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service. All our customers are listened to.
  13. Free training. Long after you install our software you have access to free personal training to refresh knowledge or cover new facilities.
  14. More integrations. Our direct links to Xero, Magento, Shopify and more mean you have more direct link options to help you grow your business.
  15. Business management insights. We can look at your business performance data and provide a personal analysis of what we see
  16. Owner access. Call Tower owner, Mark Fletcher, on 0418 321 338 or email mark@towersystems.com.au.

What we learned visiting the Amazon Go store in Seattle

We are grateful to have visited the ground-breaking Amazon Go store in Seattle twice this year. This is an extraordinary shop, built by an extraordinary business.

  1. No sales counter.
  2. No cash or credit cards processed in-store.
  3. Choose what you want, and leave.

In this video we explain what we saw and try for context for small business retailers.

POS software connected websites help small business retailers leverage high street and online

Tower Systems specialises in developing and supporting POS software for specialty retailers in selected  retail channels as well as developing and supporting POS software connected websites for these businesses.

We with with these retailers: giftsjewellersbikestoysfishing/outdoorsgarden centrespet shopsproducefirearms, adult shops and newsagents.

Our Magento websites are best practice, bringing the latest e-commerce facilities to high street retail, enabling these retailers to connect with shoppers anywhere in the world.

The benefits of a POS software connected website are considerable:

  1. Accurate stock on hand data for the website.
  2. Time saved in managing inventory and sales data.
  3. Fewer mistakes thanks to the elimination of double handling of business data.
  4. Easy management of inventory data with only one entry point of data – the POS software – feeding the website automatically, efficiently and accurately.
  5. Easy tagging on and off of what you sell online.
  6. Fast photo upload.
  7. Whole of business management.
  8. Easy management of click and collect.

Managing the physical and online outlets through a linked and integrated platform is good business. It is also good for the customer.

Thanks to a skilled web development team and a skilled POS software team, Tower Systems is able to offer a whole of business solution from within the one company, not using any external resources. We bring to the table focus, consistency and a track record of success in POS software as well as retail business websites.

Working with small business retailers across a variety of channels has exposed us to experiences that have been invaluable in developing our skill set.

Working on developing websites for our own retail businesses makes this personal for us. We can take you deep into our own experiences of POS software integrated websites, showing not only the how but also the why and when. Thanks to our own personal experience we can provide context and this is a differentiating factor for us.

We can talk about going from start-up to half a million dollars in online sales in a year: the impact on the high street, the back end processes necessary for fulfilment, the financial side as well as how we got the level of exposure necessary to drive the sales we achieved.

If you want to grow online sales, talk with us. We can talk about web development as well as business management and marketing necessary to achieve this. We start with a business to business discussion as getting that right is vital to the tech delivering the benefits you want.

You will find us open about the experience. We take education seriously and will happily share what we know.

Tower Systems helps Aussie newsagents go beyond newspapers and lotto

Newsagencies are evolving. Be part of the vibrant future of Australian newsagencies with Tower | #tower #local #retail #newsagency#smallbusiness #smallbiz | www.towersystems.com.au

The best newsagency software in Australia

It is easy to claim that you offer the best newsagency software in Australia. The challenge is to prove it.

For Tower Systems, the proof is in the numbers. More newsagents have chosen the Tower software than any other. Around three times more.

With close to 1,800 newsagent customers and around 3,200 newsagency businesses in the channel and six other newsagency software companies and the knowledge of the Tower newsagency customer base at close to 1,800, the numbers are compelling.

We are grateful to Australian newsagents for their support.

More newsagents switch to the Tower Systems software

In 2017 Tower Systems switched more users from other newsagency software to its best-practice newsagency software.

Serving in excess of 1,750 newsagents in a retail channel of 3,400 newsagency businesses, Tower Systems is proud of its national base and commitment and appreciates the support of small business newsagents.

Newsagents tell us they switch to Tower Systems for:

  1. Easy access to professional support.
  2. Terrific newsagency-specific software.
  3. Business growth advice and encouragement.
  4. The ability to choose when to date the software.
  5. Optional support fees.
  6. Strategic guidance.

Newsagents large and small, city and country, shopping centre and high street … they are all welcome at the Tower Systems newsagency community. We work hard to help newsagents enjoy their businesses more, every day, in many different ways.

This is our mission. Well, part of our mission … as serve a range of retail business channels with specialty software.

Is the Tower Systems software the best newsagency software? Only those with experience using different software packages can say. What we do know, however, is that we are the only newsagency software company that runs newsagency businesses. We walk in your shoes, every day.

Helping Australian newsagents grow their businesses

Ideas for transforming your newsagency in 2018.

A free management workshop for newsagents.

newsXpress invites newsagents from across Australia to free management workshops. We also offer to fund air travel for newsagents to ensure easy access to this important event.

Hear how newsagents are transforming their businesses, finding new customers, enjoying a new lease on life. We will share case studies from city and country newsagencies.

  1. See new, exclusive, product that is attracting new shoppers, product you have never seen at a gift fair or trade show before.
  2. See greeting cards not available in any other newsagency, greeting cards that appeal to shoppers beyond the usual caption range in Australia.
  3. See the evidence of success of the newsXpress multi-site web strategy that is driving online as well as in-store sales. We will share the latest sales data.
  4. See the newsXpress P&L – demonstrating transparency.

Here are the only dates in this series. Please tick your selection.

  • ADELAIDE: 5th Feb, 10am @ Rydges South Park, 1 South Terrace SA 5000
  • SYDNEY: 6th Feb, 10am @ Hilton Sydney, 448 George St Sydney NSW 2000
  • BRISBANE: 7th Feb, 10am @ Brisbane Riverview Hotel, Kingsford Smith Dr,
  • PERTH: 8th Feb, 10am @ Parmelia Hilton Perth, 14 Miller St Perth WA 6000
  • MELBOURNE: 9th Feb, 10am @ Grace Park Hawthorn Club, 6 Hilda Crescent

I am posting this here as I am a director of newsXpress and will be hosting each workshop.

Book by emailing help@newsxpress.com.au or by using the booking form.

If you have any questions, call me – 0418 321 338.

Tower Systems is proud to be affiliated with newsXpress.

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