Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: Newsagents (page 1 of 25)

Helping Aussie newsagents embrace the covid pivot

The covid pivot is no more real that what we are seeing in Aussie newsagency businesses this year as they embrace change and adjust their businesses to attract new shoppers.

What is the covid pivot you say? It is that move by a business into new products, new services or onto a new platform through which they seek to attract shoppers who would otherwise not shop with the business. That is why it is a pivot. the covid part is that it provides the need, encouragement and / or cover for the change.

The covid pivot moves we are seeing newsagents make include:

  • Moving online with POS software connected Shopify websites. We have seen newsagents open up online baby shops, food service businesses, homewares businesses, made in Australia offers, fashion, services, high end collectibles and more.
  • Bringing in new product categories. This being done in-store to turn the business s90 degrees and more in pursuit of shoppers who might otherwise not have shopped the shop.
  • Offering new services. We have seen newsagents move into screen printing, office services, hot dusking and more as they serve the needs of more people working locally.
  • Location flexibility. We have seen newsagents take their businesses on the road, to shoppers who cannot get out safely because of the corona. By selling from the car or van, safely, distanced, but with full POS software access for accurate transacting.
  • Doing the Marie Kondo. Cutting back, removing products and services that do not sign joy. these moves are a pinot, too, as the business de-clutters, freeing space and capital for other operations and opportunities.
  • Re-casting. This piece of the covid pivot is the business re-positioning what it sells and how it sells. Taking singles and bundling. Reimagining loyalty. And similar moves to take what you have and freshen it so it is noticed by more people.

These are some of the examples we have seen of newsagents engaging in the covid pivot opportunities. Covid pivot is a term we started using months ago to describe this action, this movement of adjustment in a business to seek opportunities through with to broaden the appeal of the business.

More newsagents are embracing the covid pivot to change their businesses and to set them for an even brighter future outside of corona. Opportunities are endless.

We are grateful to the 1,700+ newsagents in our user community who embrace our software and services. Thank you for your business and thank you for being with us on this crazy 2020 journey.

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Newsagents accessing Epay through Tower Systems POS software

Tower Systems has released updated newsagency POS software for newsagents with Epay integrated, delivering direct newsagency sales counter access to Epay products and services.

This integration is approved by Epay through their worldwide operation. It is the result of several months work following exacting integration standards set by Epay.

From within the POS, at any point in a transaction, newsagents can vend Epay voucher product including phone recharge and more. There is an initial set of Epay voucher products in the first release with Epay set to release more as they develop more supplier relationships.

Newsagents are grateful to Epay for their embrace of newsagency POS software to provide an alternative to the POS software integrated Touch Networks IT vending platform, which is being decommissioned by Afterpay Touch.

The Tower Systems Epay POS software integration also allows for handling refunds. This, too, follows the required Epay standards.

To help newsagents be ready, Tower Systems has engaged in daily email communications with its 1,700+ newsagent customers. It haas also sent print newsletters as well as fielding many calls and other contacts from its broad customer base. The company’s goal has been to ensure that newsagents are fully informed and prepared for the switching off of Touch and the turning on of Epay in many businesses that have not been running Epay.

In addition to releasing new software, Tower Systems has published peer-reviewed advice through three comprehensive knowledge base articles on setting up and using Epay integrated with the Tower POS software. The company has also produced a training video to help newsagents make the most of the Epay opportunity in their retail businesses. Also, Tower is providing personal support and training for any customer who asks for help with the new Epay integration.

Not all newsagency software platforms have been approved for integration with Epay. Tower Systems is grateful for having been chosen and for the support of the Epay experts as we have brought the opportunity to life over the last few months.

2020 has been a challenge;lenging year for retailers. This new integration with Epay is a wonderful piece of good news, something to celebrate, something for which to be grateful.

Epay is live! The Tower Systems development and suppo9rt teams have once again delivered for small business Australian newsagents.

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Bringing Epay to life for Australian newsagents through newsagency software

The 1,700+ newsagents using our newsagency software are set to benefit from a professional and direct integration between our newsagency software and Epay, the worldwide platform for phone recharge, ticketing and other e-vouche services.

We have delivered direct access to Epay in our Retailer 3 POS software, generationally advanced newsagency software designed for the newsagency of the future. This is newsagency POS software for 2021 and beyond. It is new, fresh, energetic and flexible.

We are thrilled to bring Epay to life for newsagents through our newsagency software.

Thanks to the Epay approved integration, our 1,700+ newsagency software retailers will be able to tap into a suite of products for which they do not have to carry inventory. They can leverage basket depth as well as new traffic. The opportunities are wonderful and we are thrilled to be in a position to deliver these for our customers.

We have gone about the Epay integration in a through and diligent way, fulfilling their standards and working with their tech people on this innovation for the partnership, and all in pursuit of serving Australian small business newsagents who want to continue to offer tolling, ticketing, voucher and recharge products and services from their businesses.

By delivering the Epay POS software integration in our Retailer 3 platform we have delivered a sweeter, faster, more technically advanced and more complete solution in service of newsagents having a brighter and more relevant business future. Can you feel how excited we are to be delivering this?! We hope so. This is a good day. Especially since we have delivered this advancement for newsagents at no cost to them. We are pleased to have been able to do this, to bring inn ovation to the local Aussie newsagency sales counter for no capital investment.

Newsagents who were using the Touch Network platform on the Ezipass platform for selling these voucher based products can rely on the Tower Systems newsagency software Epay integration to provide smart and easy access to these products from the POS screen, easily, quickly and without having to connect to third party software. This is a our integration to international standards.

Tower Systems is proud to serve Aussie newsagents, a channel that remains vital to local towns in providing access to essential products and services.

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Join the largest community of newsagency software users in Australia.

There is no doubt there is strength in numbers. In a newsagency software sense, the strength of our 1,700+ Australian newsagency business community benefits from:

  • Reliability. We are here when you need support.
  • Up to date. Our customers vote on changes they want to the software. Enhancements are regular. Software value improves over time.
  • Business help. Beyond the software, we help uncover and reduce theft, as well as advice and support streamlining processes.
  • We own and operate newsagency businesses ourselves. We walk in your shoes every day and this makes a real difference.
  • We meet all industry and supplier standards in retail and home delivery.
  • Personal support. Beyond the software, we will help you in any way we can, to the best of our ability.

In addition to newsagency software, we also develop (in Australia) websites for Australian newsagents, helping plenty get online with awesome websites.

We are a well-resourced Australian POS software company serving Australian newsagents. This is good news for newsagents.

  1. Tower Systems will not leave the newsagency channel.
  2. We will fight for you. Beyond our software, we will help with supplier issues, business strategy and other challenges you confront.
  3. Our software continues to evolve. We release updates regularly. You choose when to load them. Each is thoroughly tested for you.
  4. We own newsagencies. Yes, we walk in your shoes.
  5. No locked-in support fee.
  6. Lower support costs. No mates’ rates for a select few.
  7. Fast support. Most calls are handled when you call.
  8. Transparent support. At any time, you can see how many help desk calls we are working on and how many we have closed that day.
  9. Support escalation. We have an 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 choose. Updates are not forced on you.
  12. You are listened to. We offer the only transparent, user driven, software enhancement suggestion service.
  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 WooCommerce offer direct link options to help you grow.
  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.
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Newspaper closures, small business newsagents and local communities

Toower Systems is proud to serve 1,700+ small business newsagents in Australia. Yesterday, our CIEO Mark Fletcher, shot this 10 minute video in which he talks abut the newspaper closures announced last week and the implications and opportunities.

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Thank you for shopping local for POS software for your specialty retail shop

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Major small business POS software update to round out 2019

We are grateful to our Tower Systems community of small business retailers who agree to beta test our new small business retail POS software releases. They are the front line of new software releases from us was they get to use and test this software ahead of commercial release.

Our beta testing program is comprehensive in scope and diverse in terms of the types of retail businesses that participate.

Beta testing commences only after two rounds of testing in-house and after sign-off from multiple stakeholders in our business.

Yes, we take software testing seriously.

This latest POS software update from us is big. It delivers enhancements to existing facilities as well as new facilities. It is a terrific advancement for our customers today and for businesses that will become our customers soon. We are not going to detail the contents of the update here – we will leave that for private customer communication.

After the beta testing process and once we are all happy with the software we will release it commercially for our customers to download and update when they want. we do not force software updates on customers as we know they refer to have control over when business processes change.

Every customer involved in the beta testing process has a say in next steps for the software release. This is what good beta testing is about – it is inclusive and engaging. We are sincerely appreciative of the engagement of our active beta testing community.

Our POS software is made for a range of retail channels. This update serves each of these channels with tuned changes to serve their needs. We work with retailers and their suppliers to help them bond through better software designed for their specific needs.

Jewellers, garden centres, bike shops, gift shops, toy shops, pet shops, produce businesses, farm supply businesses, fishing businesses, newsagents and more can rely on our commitment to each of the channels individually and collectively through serving common needs.

This next update is available to our Tower Advantage customers at no cost. It is part of the comprehensive service we provide our small business retailer community.

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More newsagents choosing the Tower Systems newsagency POS software

We are thrilled to report that 2019 has been a terrific year of sales of the newsagency software from Tower Systems with many newsagency retailers join ing our user community.

Some have switched from other newsagency POS software companies with others have joined from having nothing as they are new businesses or businesses transitioning from another retail niche.

We are grateful that many retailers have joined us this year and embraced the Tower Systems software, training, support and all round good vibes for retail. We particularly appreciate those who have chosen to pay more for our software than they might have paid had they chosen another company.

In two situations in the last week newsagents have gone with the tower newsagency POS software even though doing so cost them 30% more than other newsagency software. In each case we won the business because of the truth that in business you get what you pay for. Stories about businesses that bought cheap and quickly regretted it and switched demonstrate the truth of this statement.

At Tower Systems we respect newsagents with feature-rich and regularly-evolving POS software made for newsagents, software which is backed with unlimited free training, easy access to help desk services and active engagement in business strategies to help newsagents run more enjoyable and successful businesses.

Serving 1,700+ newsagents helps us to be appropriately resourced to serve newsagents to evolve more valuable businesses. W4e actively represent our community and ensure easy access not only to our practical support services but also to a strategic business management and guidance services, for those who want to tap into this.

With newsagents changing their businesses into new areas, so does POS software need to change to serve these business needs. Thanks  to our work across multiple specialty retail channels, we can help newsagents evolve their businesses if they wish. We can engage in conversations and genuinely practical help to make their businesses more appealing.

Tower Systems serves more newsagents than all other newsagency software companies combined.  We are proud of this fact and appreciate the support from newsagents who have made this so. 2019 has been a terrific year.2020 is already looking good. We are excited for what lays ahead for newsagents and for our newsagency software.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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

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Buy your stationery from local newsagency businesses – support small business, shop local

 

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Awesome Aussie developed newsagency software helps newsagents transform their businesses

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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.

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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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How Tower Systems helps small business newsagents beyond newsagency software

Tower Systems serves in excess of 1,700 newsagents with newsagency software. Years ago, in another place online, our CEO provides practical advice to newsagents on how to do a magazine relay to increase sales.  Some months ago, that advice was updated.

Here is the post, outlining how small business newsagents today can build stronger better businesses through a magazine relay:

In the years since I published How to do a magazine relay in your newsagencyplenty has changed. In this post I provide up to date advice.

Before you start the relay, consider the amount of space you want to allocate to magazines. Do not allocate space to fit what you are sent. Allocate space to make money.

Today, magazines are best located on a wall, ideally at the rear of the shop, such that can be seen from people walking past the shop. A simple MAGAZINES sign above works well.

This back of shop placement, with magazines owning the space can work well as a traffic driver. Where I have seen this move implemented it has not increased the decline in magazine sales.

Ideally you can fit all magazines on the back wall and eliminate all aisle use of magazines.

On to the relay.

The relay you do in your business is your relay. There is no right or wrong way. What I have written here is my opinion, which may be wrong for you.

There is also no end point to a relay. What you do today will need refining next week and the week after. So, do not over think what you want to do as that would be a waste of time.

The goal of the relay has to be to disrupt magazine traffic in pursuit of an increase in sales. What I mean is: change everything, upset customers and staff, sell more magazines as people discover titles they did not know you had.

PLANNING

Map out the wall, determine your zones shopper: garden, food, men, women, sports etc.  The categories where I use less than one pocket per title are: special interest, British weeklies, food, comics and some craft segments.

Look at the percentage of sales delivered by each magazine category and look at sales trends for the categories.  Tote up broad groups. For example the percentage of sales for women’s weeklies, women’s interests, crafts & hobbies, crosswords, home & lifestyle and food & wine.  If your newsagency is like mine, this grouping will account for more than 50% of your magazine sales.

NOW, THE MAGAZINE RELAY

I suggest it is done by one person, an owner, working alone.

  1. Take every magazine off the shelves. That’s right. Don’t be precious as a jumbled pile gets you looking at the titles and categories differently. Take down all your magazines and all your posters.
  2. Clean the shelves.
  3. Start at the centre of the wall and build out. Build the women’s zone. I place this at the heart of magazines, so shoppers see it easily. I suggest you start here as it is the core from which all else flows.
  4. Place a half or full column of crossword titles next to weeklies.
  5. Next to weeklies place, in order, pockets of Better Homes and Gardens followed by Australian Women’s Weekly, British women’s magazines (yes, all of them), country living titles, home and living titles, food, wedding with a waterfall of the major title and hair.  For me, space wise, that sees out one side of the aisle.
  6. Then, I have fashion young, fashion older and I end this with a waterfall of Frankie.  Next is women’s health starting with younger target titles and blending to older ones. Next is pregnancy and baby followed by crosswords. This usually rounds out that side.
  7. Create sections, where the titles demonstrate clear zoning. But don’t be generous on space allocation as space costs money.

What I do in women’s is the same for the other zones I create.  I do each zone separately and try and get into the head space of the shopper of the zone – using the most popular titles to act as beacons, or signposts, for the zone.

I am careful what I place next to top selling titles. This is a prime spot, next to the popular titles. Choose wisely. Choose titles that naturally fit next to the big titles, titles shoppers are likely to browse and purchase on impulse.

If I am not sure about where to put a title I put it aside and move on.

I take extra time with special interest and hobby titles.  For example, I put railways and model railroad titles near each other but I am careful to ensure that they are separated as they appeal to two shoppers and only occasionally do you see titles from both segments in the same basket.

Within the zones I look for and respect specialisation. For example, within men’s lifestyle and sports I create a clean space for the quality serious fitness titles like Coach, Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness.

REVIEW, FEEDBACK, FOLLOW UP

You’re not done when you think you are done. Track sales, listen to your team and your customers. Tweak where you feel it is necessary.

Bring new issues to the fore. Continue to be engaged in how your magazine department looks.

Continue to look at your sales data.  If there is no lift be open to further change.

FINAL WORDS

Doing a magazine relay can be like doing one of those kid’s puzzles – you move them around and around until you have the completed image. That image can look and feel like a work of art once you are done.

While some readying this will be tempted to say why bother, we only make 25%. Get the relay right and sales will increase without any extra capital investment and with a lower retail space allocation. That is a win in my view.

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading.  Magazines really are a point of difference which we need to work harder at embracing – despite the challenges of the distribution system.

I’d be happy to answer questions or discuss magazine relays with anyone: mark@towersystems.com.au or 0418 321 338.

Over to you…

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Australian newsagency sales performance benchmark study results

For fifteen years, Tower Systems has published quarterly sales performance benchmark results based on accurate data from a broad cross-section of retail newsagency businesses.

This study is the most comprehensive even for the newsagency channel. Here is the latest report, for the April – June quarter of 2017 compares to 2016 on a same store basis.

The April – June quarter was tough for core products sold through the newsagency channel. In addition to the continuing decline in print media sales, this quarter’s benchmark results reveal a troubling downturn in lottery revenue as well as card revenue.

Here are the headline numbers by key product category:

  1. Magazine unit sales declined 11%.
  2. Greeting card revenue declined 4%.
  3. Lottery revenue declines 4%.
  4. Newspaper unit sales declined 12%.
  5. Gift revenue increased by 11%.
  6. Toy revenue increased by 16%.
  7. Stationery revenue declined 8%.

These are not good headline numbers. The bottom is falling out of the historic core of the newsagency channel. This will not be news to many as it continues a trend we have seen in this benchmark study for several years.

The above percentages reflect the overall performance of the 181 newsagency businesses in this benchmark study. It includes stores from a range of banner groups as well as independents. There are large businesses and small. Some are in shopping centres while others are on then high street. The cross-section is broad.

What is concerning is the pace of decline, especially with magazines as the decline had slowed recently. Looking more closely at the data, the decline is in the volume categories. Fringe categories such as special interest titles are doing well. Indeed, some segments show terrific growth.

Newsagents need to manage the overhead cost of newspapers and magazines. Labour, space and capital investment needs to be kept in line with the gross profit contribution of these categories. Busy work relating to newspapers and magazines should be eliminated.

The decline in greeting card revenue is a surprise. The reported percentage of decline, 4%, does not read well. However, like all the above data points, it is an average from the entire data pool. There are stores experiencing decline above 20% with others reporting growth above 20%. There is a clear correlation between stores with strong gift sales and card performance – in this case card revenue is stronger.

GOOD NEWS.

The good news is the performance of businesses playing outside the traditional space. For example, the newsagency with $25,000 in toy revenue in the quarter, reflecting growth of 18% or the newsagency with $45,000 in gift revenue and year on year growth of 22% of the newsagency with card revenue of $47,000 and year on year growth of 22%.

There are many good news stories in the latest study results. However, the good news will be overshadowed by the performance of the majority. It is challenging, some days, to know what to do or say to cut through with newsagents who are not engaged.

Too many newsagents think growth will come from categories close to what they have done historically. For example, too many get into cheap social stationery thinking that is competitive with Kikki.K or Typo.

My experience is the best growth comes from turning away from traditional lines and traditional suppliers and going with products and price points you would never have considered for a newsagency business. I see this approach working well in the benchmark results in businesses of different sizes and in different situations.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE DATA.

  1. Customer traffic. 78% of newsagents report average decline of 5%.
  2. Overall sales. 53% reported an average revenue decline of 3%.
  3. Basket depth. 61% report a 2% decrease in basket size.
  4. Basket dollar value. 63% report a decrease in basket value of 3%.

It is in the overall business gross profit numbers where the differences in businesses can be seen. 62% sit in the traditional newsagency GP performance band of 28% – 30%. 7% sit below 28%. 20% sit in the GP band of 30% and 35%. 7% sit between 35% and 40%. The rest, 4%, have a GP of more than 40%.

GP is a function of what you stock and the type of shoppers you attract to the business. Buying is where it starts.

WHAT IS DRIVING THE DECLINES?

Close to 80% of the businesses in the benchmark reported a decline in traffic with the average decline set at 5%. However, just over half reported a decline in revenue. This is because plenty are selling higher priced items, usually gifts. This softens the blow of the decline in legacy products.

I think the traffic decline is being driven by a decline in interest in legacy products on which traditional newsagency businesses have relied. I have said for years it is crucial newsagents have a strategy to drive net new traffic. Relying on legacy product to sell new products is not a plan. You need to source new products and to use these to attract people to your business who would otherwise not have shopped with you.

HOW TO RESPOND TO TRAFFIC DECLINES?

Any newsagency business can be successful, regardless of location and situation. This is truer today than at any time in the past thanks to what we can see being achieved online – not only in newsagency businesses but through other retail channels.

The key to success is to not run the business as a newsagency. That’s is, to not obsess about legacy products. Focus on new traffic products. Focus on price points you would usually say would never work in your business. Buy products you think will never work. Be radical and through discover what is possible in your business.

I urge you to ask yourself daily, what have I done today to reach a new shopper, someone who does not know we exist? This is what successful businesses in the benchmark study are doing and doing well.

DOES THE NEWSAGENCY CHANNEL HAVE A FUTURE?

I ask this every quarter. My answer remains – Yes! Absolutely. If you are prepared to shrug off what has been traditional for a newsagency business, stop hoarding, embrace change and embrace social media – you can have a bright future. The transformation from traditional to the new world must be urgent and dramatic.

AGENCY IS OVER.

My opinion remains – there is no upside in any agency parts of the business. People saying they are proud to be called a newsagent are entitled to their view. History will show that era is behind us.

OPTIMISTIC.

I am optimistic for my own newsagency businesses and for the businesses of many newsagents. Indeed, I have opened a new outlet the last few months. It does not look or feel like a newsagency. The numbers are terrific.

WHY I DO THIS STUDY

My interest in the study is as a newsagent and as a supplier to the channel through Tower Systems and through newsXpress. I want the channel to grow for selfish reasons and because it has been my life since 1981. I am invested.

BENCHMARK GOALS.

I am often asked for benchmark goals newsagents ought to aim for. Here are some benchmarks I have developed in my work with newsXpress and through Tower Systems:

  1. Gross profit: this is the goal gross profit for all product sales not taking into account any revenue or costs related to any agency business. The traditional newsagency average sits at 28% to 32%. For a newsagency focused on the future, the goal has to be at least 45%.
  2. Ratio of Gift revenue to Card revenue: 50% minimum. The goal ought to be 100% or more. If you do $100K a year in cards, target to do $100K in gifts, or more.
  3. Revenue per employee – $250 an hour minimum not including agency revenue. This is a contentious KPI. If you think it is not for you, work the numbers back and see what your number needs to be based on each labour hour in the business.
  4. Revenue PSQM $4,500 – $8,500 depending on country vs. city / high street to shopping centre and depending of product mix. Higher GP lower revenue required.
  5. Overall revenue mix percentage targets: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 10%; magazines/newspapers: 20%; other: 15%.
  6. FLOORSPACE ALLOCATION: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 8%; magazines/newspapers: 15%; other products: 15%; office/back room / counter: 12%. It’s rare you make money from an office or store room.
  7. Mark-up goals: Stationery: 125%; Gifts 110%; plush: 110%.
  8. Occupancy cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Location and situation are a big factor in this benchmark. For example, a large shopping centre business will have a higher cost than a high street situation.
  9. Labour cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Labour cost should include fair market costs for all who work in the business. (See above).

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

Footnote: I founded Tower Systems in 1981. That company now serves in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers with its newsagency software. In 2005, I joined newsXpress. That newsagency marketing group now serves 243 retail businesses with a traffic and revenue growth strategy.

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Amazing back to school software helping small business newsagents win back to school business in 2017

Tower Systems is thrilled its cloud based Back to School software facility booklist is winning plenty of business for small business newsagents in the 2017 back to school season.

Developed in close associate with small business newsagents, the booklist software has been a great and practical help this season.

From this project it is clear there is no one approach to managing school book list sales. We have sought to address the most common needs to provide a cost effective solution for our customers.

Built from the ground up, this facility provides a comprehensive solution to newsagents. The cost is $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.

Using the site you can:

  1. Setup a new school.
  2. Setup classes in a school and load all the booklist requirements for each of the classes.
  3. The booklist items can be loaded by a CSV file. You would record item description, price, supplier and supplier stock cost.
  4. Setup order close dates.
  5. Plus you have the ability to note when an order is ready for collection.
  6. The site will allow for you not having stock, thereby adjusting the amount to be collected.
  7. Share a link for parents to sign up and add their kid(s) to a class and to either take the whole booklist or select what they want. This makes selling and paying easy.
  8. The site will allocate logins to parents so they would have access to their order.
  9. Receive payment from the parents.
  10. Alternatively, the site gives the transaction to your Retailer software for payment by the parents in-store.
  11. Export a file of all items required to fulfil booklists, by supplier and by school. CSV you could load into Excel.
  12. Report on total revenue by school and class.
  13. The site would be accessible by desktop, tablet and phone.

In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.

This software from Tower Systems is another example of the evolving tech platforms that can be used to help small business retailers to broaden the reach and appeal of their businesses, finding new shoppers and efficiently transacting new sales – all on a subscription basis.

We are grateful to the community of newsagents who have guided us on this project.

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The secret project that is providing Australian newsagents a bright future

Tower Systems has been engaged in a secret project for small business newsagents in Australia that has passed proof of concept.

Of all retail channels in Australia the newsagency channel is anticipating the most significant changes in 2017. The anticipation of change and the opportunity of new advances make 2017 a year of opportunity for newsagents.

Serving in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers using its best practice newsagency software, Tower Systems has the largest single grouping of tech based newsagents in the world, making this community a perfect fit for the project.

The project is well advanced with many newsagents already engaged and banking valuable results. The advantage for newsagents who partner with Tower Systems is measurable and valuable.

This project is one of several being run by Tower Systems for its large community of users. It is another way the company reinvests for the benefit of its customers.

We are grateful to our small business newsagent customers for their support and encouragement. This new project is thanks to them.

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More newsagents switch to our newsagency software

We are having a terrific run up to Christmas in the newsagency software space with more newsagents switching from other software to our software. While this is not unusual, it is this time of the year as retailers are busy with the most important retail season of the year.

What is different this year is the facilities unique to our software that help engaged retailers leverage Christmas opportunities. We have embedded in our software tools and facilities that specifically help retailers make the most of extra Christmas traffic. The help leverages the traffic way beyond the busy Christmas season.

But software tools are one thing, important but only one thing. Our real help comes through advice and business guidance on leveraging the tools for genuine benefit for the the business for the longer term.

As long-term retailers ourselves in major shopping centres and high street situations we know how to make the software sing. This is where we can really help. Whether it is new traffic, strategic change or dealing with new suppliers, our newsagency a=software and retail business management experience combine to deliver to retailers benefits beyond what one might usually expect from a software company.

We are grateful to the newsagents who are in our community and welcome with open arms those who have recently joined us from other software. Hello, welcome and thank you for being part of what we are doing here.

Strap in and let’s get down to work…

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The school booklist management software newsagents are loving

We are thrilled with the response to the school booklist management software we released for newsagents to use. Newsagents are loving the cloud based software, the subscription model and the evolution of the software since release.

Our new web based school booklist facility is now available live.

Once you have had a look around, if you want to proceed and use Booklist in your business, please sign up for a year access and you are good to go.

Built from the ground up, this facility will provide all we outlined in our earlier email. The cost will be $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.

Using the site you will be able to:

  1. Setup a school.
  2. Setup classes in a school and load all the booklist requirements.
  3. The booklist items could be loaded by a CSV file. You would record item description, price, supplier and supplier stock cost.
  4. You would setup order close dates.
  5. Plus you would have the ability to note when an order is ready for collection.
  6. The site would allow for you not having stock, thereby adjusting the amount to be collected.
  7. Share a link for parents to sign up and add their kid(s) to a class and to either take the whole booklist or select what they want.
  8. The site would allocate logins to parents so they would have access to their order.
  9. Receive payment from the parents.
  10. Alternatively, the site would give the transaction to your Retailer software for payment by the parents in-store.
  11. Export a file of all items required to fulfil booklists, by supplier and by school. CSV you could load into Excel.
  12. Report on total revenue by school and class.
  13. The site would be accessible by desktop, tablet and phone.

In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.

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TOWER SYSTEMS HELPS SMALL BUSINESS NEWSAGENTS WITH NEWS CORP. OFFER

image[1]Tower Systems has published advice for newsagents to work with the latest News Corp. newspaper retail offer that has been timed to run for the last weeks of the federal election campaign.

Our advice is comprehensive and was released to newsagents, after thorough testing, in time for the News announcement to newsagents.

Providing newsagents with step by step advice on how to easily handle supplier marketing initiatives is what Tower Systems does across its various vertical marketplaces.

This is another example of the value of the Tower AdvantageTM in action for the small business newsagents we serve.

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