POS software blog

About our POS software for local small business retailers

Category: Retail Advice (page 1 of 10)

Disaster planning advice for small business retailers

No one wants to plan for disaster. It’s a negative activity, easily put off for more happy and optimistic pursuits. The reality is that most business owners will confront some form of disaster at some point in their business life. This advice is far-reaching, designed to act as a broad list of steps you can undertake to be prepared. Do it all or some, but do something … otherwise when you need good planning you will not have a plan on which to fall back.

Disaster planning is vital for any retail business.  Too often, the need for good disaster planning is realised after a disaster has hit the business.  This advice sheet offers business and computer related advice which is designed to mitigate the impact of a disaster on your business.

Insurance Protection

Insurance coverage is vital to helping a retail business overcome any type of disaster.  In addition to ensuring that your insurance policy covers all disaster situations of concern to you, including flood, theft, water inundation, fire, earthquake, riot—be sure to carefully read the policy, ensure that your insurance policy / policies cover payouts for the following:

  1. Business interruption.  The amount should equal your anticipated gross profit for whatever period you choose to be covered.
  2. Data recovery.  Including the hiring of experts to recover data from backup sources or the manual entry of data which cannot be automatically recovered.  It needs to ensure that you are covered to the point of recovered data being useable in transacting business.
  3. Lost stock.  This is stock stolen, lost from the business.
  4. Damaged and unsaleable stock.  This is stock which is water damaged, scuffed or dented and which will not attract full price.
  5. Dated stock.  This is stock that you cannot sell by the due date.
  6. Many policies require explicit statement of glass coverage.
  7. Temporary trading premises.  Business interruption may cover this.  Ensure that it is explicitly stated.
  8. Key person injury and/or death. This will usually be a separate policy.  Depending on the disaster, coverage may also be available through the overall business policy.

Ensure that the value of stock, fixtures and fittings covered by your policy is an accurate reflection of the real value of these items.  Talk with your insurance company about the best approach to track this on an ongoing basis.

Insurance brokers can provide access to assessors who can advise on the appropriate level of insurance for your situation.

Use your Point of  Sale system to track all stock movements in and out.  The stock on hand in  your software should be your coverage.

Ensure that your insurance policy protects for the seasonal nature of your business

Data Protection

Business data is one of the most valuable assets of the business.  Like insurance, the value is often not understood until you need what you do not have.  Retailers who are serious about protecting their business data in the event of any disaster follow these steps:

  1. ‪Backup your business data every day, at the end of the day, without fail. Our recommendation:  use a cloud based backup service that undertakes the backup as the day unfolds without you having to every do anything to cause a backup to be taken.
  2. Maintain a separate backup for each day of the week.  Consider a separate backup for the last day of each month.
  3. Remove the backup medium, usually a USB stick, from the business premises each day – outside the business property.
  4. Store the backup in a safe, dry place.
  5. Check the usefulness of the backup by restoring and checking the data.
  6. Store original business software in a safe off-site location.
  7. Check the backup every three to six months – to make sure the backup is actually backing us current data and can be read. A backup you cannot read is a waste of time and money.
  8. Change your passwords regularly.
  9. Do not share passwords widely.

Disaster Planning

Here are some general suggestions on planning for a disaster in your business property.

  1. ‪Keep off-site copies of: Business contracts and agreements; employee contact details, business account and other passwords, insurance details, recent photographs of fixtures, fittings and stock.
  2. For records you cannot easily copy or that may change as the trading day unfurls, consider having a go bag ready for you to grab if there is a risk to the premises such as a bushfire.
  3. Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
  4. Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
  5. Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit. Have this checked regularly.
  6. Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
  7. Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
  8. Have a trained first aid officer in staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
  9. Use government resources such as the emergency planning kit at the federal government website: http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/templates-and-downloads/emergency-management-template-and-guide/Pages/default.aspx

Advice for small business retailers: helping employees understand where the money goes

It is easy for employees in a local retail business to think the owners are rich if all they have to go off is the money paid by customers to the business. In this article, we share an an approach on how a local retail business can better inform employees. Here is an information sheet we have seen work well in the back room of a shop as it explains each dollar.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Where every dollar we get from our customers goes.

Every dollar paid to us by our customers and put in the til or through the credit card terminals gores somewhere and quickly. Some of it goes right away, some of it in a few days and most of the rest by the end of the month.

Some of the money we are paid goes before we get it – like for stock we pay for before it arrives in the shop.

This graph shows where every cent of every dollar we earn goes.  The stock cost is the average cost of items we purchase. Some items cost us 90% of what we sell them for while others cost us 20% of what we sell them for. This is why we are using the overall business average for this illustration.

Based on our current numbers our profit is 4%. But we don’t get to keep that: we have borrowings to service, we don’t receive a salary for our time and any profit is taxed by the government.

We buy stock for the best price possible but with the price of many products we sell controlled we need to work elsewhere to improve things. This is why we look carefully at the roster. Even one hour saved can be like selling $100 in stock.

The best way to help the business achieve better results is for us to sell more of our stock to existing customers and for us to attract new customers.

We’d love your help in encouraging customers to buy more. You can do this with excellent displays, helping customers on the shop floor and giving customers awesome customer service.

We’d also love your ideas on attracting more shoppers.

Please don’t think we’re putting this notice up to cry poor. We share the information to give you a better understanding of what happens to each dollar we get from our customers because we believe that the more information anyone has the more informed their actions can be.

Small business retail advice: take a walk

We work with many different retailers in different situations. We are grateful for what we have learned from our diverse community. Reflecting on this recently, it is the advice we share today that we have found to work well in almost any business type. It is basic, free to action and universally useful from what our customers tell us.

Here is that advice. We offer it today as recommended advice for any local small business retailer, as a terrific assist in terms of mental and physical health for business owners, managers and the business itself …

Take a walk.

It is tough work running a small retail business, working 70, 80 and more hours a week covering many tasks from business manager to cleaner to customer service to creating retail displays.

There is always something to do. Some days, often in fact, it can feel like no matter what you do you have more to do at the end of the day than when you started.

Regardless of how busy you are in your retail business, we urge you to take time out every day for a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk outside, in the sun (or the rain), alone.

Leave your phone behind – the shop won’t burn down.

Walk alone.

The best time to take the walk is when you feel most overwhelmed.

Walking, as a brisk pace can break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, the negative feeling about what is confronting you in the business.

Getting your heart rate up will be good for your physical and mental health.

A good energetic walk is an excellent opportunity to reset.

Being away from the business, other people and the phone will give your body and mind time to process – even if you are not actively thinking about the business.

If you are like me, stepping back into the business after a brisk 20 or 30 minute walk, you see things differently, decisions are easier, progress is real.

Days with a walk are far better than days without.

Footnote: this advice for business owners and managers to go for a walk when feeling overwhelmed is consistent with advice from mental health experts around the world. Better still, following the advice costs nothing.

Retail business advice: finding confidence in a fog out doubt

Retail can be tough. It is easy to lose your mojo, to lose your confidence. Here are things we have found nurture confidence. We share these here not as mental health experts but as business colleagues, talking with friends …

  • Know your business. This starts with knowing your business data, respecting it and basing decisions on the data. This provides a foundation for changes that are right in and for your business.
  • Take small steps. Sometimes, confidence fades or can be a challenge when the task ahead or the changes to be made appear too big. Break them down. Focus on the next step. Take that one step. Cheer the result. Next, take the next step.
  • Know you are not alone. No matter what change or challenge you face, there are people who can and will help. Put your hand up. There is no shame in this.
  • Focus on the destination. Where do you want to be as a result of a change in your business, new products or a new marketing initiative. Focus on the destination and ignore the barriers you create in your head. Often, the barriers are only there because you allowed yourself to see them.
  • Facts encourage confidence. Facts such as evidence of success of others and evidence of success in your own business underpin confidence. The key is to look at the facts, to focus on them and not the possible barriers you can create.
  • Hire confident people.
  • Let go of people who are not confident, who talk change down, who are negative at their core.
  • Play confident music in your office and in the shop.
  • Dress with confidence.
  • Know that a failure is always a success. Every change you make in your business is a success because you either make more money, enjoy your business more or learn what not to do next time because it did not go as planned. There is only upside from change.

A lack of confidence is not easily overcome. We understand that and do not seek here to be glib about it. Lack of confidence in anything is a serious challenge, yet one to overcome for the future of the business, personal achievement and the benefit of all who rely on the business.

Rather than investing time in the fog of a lack of confidence, our advice is to look out beyond the fog, to take small steps … forward.

Online Easter gift pack helps local retailers expand the reach of Easter

The Easter gift pack being sold through a local retail business connected magenta website we developed is proving popular with Easter shoppers this year.

This gift pack bundle uses smarts embedded in our POS software that enable and manage product bundling into a pack or hamper, tracking sales and facilitating easy picking and packing of the Easter gift pack opportunity.

This clever POS software tech / Magento website integration developed by us here at Tower Systems is another way we are helping small business retailers to reach shoppers beyond their local areas.

We are proud to help local retailers in this way.

Since we are retailers too we help our retailers appropriately leverage our POS software for best advantage in-store and online … whether it be with a Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce website connected to our POS software.

The online Easter gift pack opportunity is another way our POS software is helping connected retailers to make the most of the Easter retail season.

Retail business advice: how to assess gross profit by floorspace in your retail business

While there are plenty of retail performance KPIs you can use to assess the performance of your retail business, what we outline here is simple and easy … a good starting point for people not sophisticated when it comes to grad school business KPI analysis.

This advice outlines one of the first assessments we undertake when asked by the owner of a retail business to review the performance of a business. The approach we outline here provides an understanding of the return being achieved from floor space allocation. With retail space usually costing between 11% and 15% of  revenue it is usually the next highest cost outside of the cost of stock itself.

Spend half an hour on what we suggest here and the result should be a different view of the performance of your floor space allocation. This is not advice you will get from your accountant or from reviewing your P&L or computer reports. It is designed to be practically helpful in managing your business.

Please follow these simple steps.

  1. Take a blank sheet of paper, ideally A3, and roughly sketch out the layout of your shop, marking in display units, wall shelving, the counter – everywhere you have product.
  2. The floor plan layout should also include your back room if you have stock there.
  3. Colour-shade the layout by department. For example, shade all areas with magazines in yellow, all floor space for gifts in blue etc.
  4. List the departments on the side of the floor plan.
  5. Calculate the percentage of total space taken by each department. This does not need to be accurate to two decimal places. List this next to each department you have listed.
  6. Use your POS software to report on gross profit earned by each department over the last year.
  7. Calculate the percentage of total gross profit contribution earned by each department and list this next to the floor space allocated to each department.
  8. Circle in blue those performing the best and in red those performing the worst. A best performing department will typically be responsible for a significantly higher percentage of gross profit than percentage of space allocated whereas a worst performing department will be contributing a percentage of overall gross profit considerably lower than the percentage of floor space allocated.

Once you have the marked-up floor plan with the space percentage and percentage of total gross profit, think about your floor space allocation.

The above steps do not take into account product size and the average gross profit percentage from each dollar of revenue for a department.

The objective of the analysis is to provide you with fresh insights you could use when considering floor space change.

You can take the analysis a step further by looking only at one department and analysing performance by category.

This advice is an example of the practical small business retail management advice provided buy Tower Systems in its assistance to indie small business retailers. Beyond the POS software we help retailers run more valuable, successful and enjoyable businesses.

Online workshop for newsagents tomorrow @ 2pm

Tomorrow, at 2pm, we are hosting a free workshop for any newsagent interested in taking their newsagency business online.

This, itself, will be an online session, which you can access from anywhere with this link:

https://zoom.us/j/91031390280?pwd=LzFKYXFqdVJueS9iNWhNbWRJUndBUT09

Meeting ID: 910 3139 0280 Passcode: 323615

We won’t be trying to sell you anything in the session. Rather, we will share experience insights, lay out the steps involved, discuss online platform options and answer all questions.

Being online is critical to every retail business. We saw that last year and already see value from that this year. Business experts, accountants, mentors … everyone agree that being online is critical.

The hope we have for this session is that it offers a useful learning opportunity for newsagents, to encourage them to get online and to lay out several pathways through which they can achieve this.

And, if the 2pm timing does not work, let me know and we will do my best to schedule another session at a time that suits.

Small business retail advice: finding your own margin story

Here at Tower Systems, we help small business retailers get more from our specialty retail POS software. One way we do this is through sharing business insights and opportunities, like this about product margin setting.

What you charge for what you sell, what margin you set needs to be carefully considered.  Price is all about customer perception of value.  Value is based in a range of criteria including:

  • Convenience.
  • Added value – from purchasing from this business.
  • Perceived value – how you package a product compared to how others package the same product can lead to a different price.

See, margin is about more than margin from each item, it is equally about margin dollars, gross profits from each sale, eased basket.

To create the best margin narrative for your business, we suggest you …

  1. Manage labour to focus on products with the best return to the business. This is a balance between overall gross profit dollars and margin percentage.
  2. Look at items with a customer service component, where your expertise is required to make the sale or make good use of the products or where there is a reasonable after sales service component. These can usually carry a higher margin.
  3. Look at the items which are unique to your business in your location or nearby. If you are the only store serving the local community then you do have a pricing opportunity. These items can usually carry a higher margin.
  4. Assess why people shop at your shop. If they are shopping because of convenience then you have the capacity to charge more for this. This is why convenience stores charge more for items which you can buy elsewhere for considerably less.
  5. Involve others in setting sale price. Ask your team what you can charge for an item. Assess what they think you can “get away with”.  By polling team members, you may find that your perception on price is lower than what others expect.

You can build a stronger business by taking small steps each day which focus on new traffic, better margin and improved sales efficiency. No grand plan, no expert strategy – just small steps which leverage opportunities which exist in your retail business.

By paying closer attention to the margin you can achieve, you strengthen the financial foundation of the business and ensure that your return on inventory investment is more helpful to the bigger business plan.

What you do in your business is 100% up to you. Our advice here is for your information, your consideration. By sharing it here our goal is too give you more information to consider, so you can determine the path most appropriate to your own needs.

What are the benefits of the right POS software for your retail business

There is POS software and then there is the right POS software for your business. The difference between POS software and the right POS software can be huge.

Take your time.

Make the right decision.

Too often, we see POS software companies pressure small business retailers into making a quick decision. They chase sales, putting on pressure.

Don’t succumb to pressure. make the decision you feel the best about, when you are ready.

Get this right and you can tap into some awesome benefits from the right POS software for your retail business. Here are benefits we think we offer retailers we partner with:

  • Save time with electronic invoices from suppliers.
  • Offer personal customer service by tracking dates that are important to your customers.
  • Use tags to get a fresh perspective, side-view, on stock performance.
  • Leverage you. If you believe your knowledge is a differentiator, offer it through structured opportunities in the software.
  • Easily handle special customer orders. Bring product in for a specific customer and have them notified automatically by email or text when the goods are in and ready.
  • Business differentiating loyalty. Stand out from the crowd. Have customers coming back to you for this. we’re told it’s a game changer.
  • Maximise the basket with easy to use one-time shopper loyalty tools.
  • Trade and club pricing profiles. Set pricing rules based on customer type.
  • Leverage your local community with an awesome two-way benefits package.
  • Make money from pre-orders – Easily pre-sell a delivery so that when the stock arrives you can manage distribution and billing efficiently.
  • Differentiate with informative receipts. These can include product care, use and safety information based on what customers buy.
  • Differentiate with bundles. Selling items bundled together makes price comparison hard.
  • Track who sold what.
  • Say goodbye to LayBy (if you want) – with buy now pay later options.
  • Market to customers based on past purchases.
  • Save time by importing electronic invoices.
  • Sell more with a direct connect to buy now pay later services.
  • Cut mistakes with integrated EFTPOS.
  • Cut accounting and bookkeeping fees with integration to Xero and others.
  • Easily sell online with a direct to Shopify / Magento or WooCommerce link from your POS software.

These are tangible deliverables. And, the list is incomplete. Using our POS software you can expect more benefits than these.

Renting POS software helps small business retailers with cashflow

Tower Systems offers its specialty POS software for rental, making it easier for these businesses to acquire and run the POS software make for unique retail channel needs.

When you rent POS software from Tower Systems, you have access to more than the software itself. Here is what is offered for POS software rental for a few dollars a day:

  1. Australian developed and supported marketplace specific shop POS software and selected retail channels.
  2. Unlimited computer licences for your location. If you run 6 computers, you get 6 licences, bundled in for the small whole of business cost of a few dollars a day.
  3. Software updates as we release them. Each update contains thoughtfully curated enhancements that are often the product of suggestions by our customers, for which we are most grateful.
  4. Shopify / Magento / Woo link. Easily sell online from your POS software. Inventory and images flow from the POS software across, sales transactions flow back.
  5. Xero link. Easing bookkeeping costs and streamlining accounting. Xero is the best by far.
  6. Our OzBiz link. This helps you link to MYOB through OzBiz.
  7. Tyro link – safe, fast and easy EFTPOS link for streamlined sales.
  8. PC Eftpos link. This offers easy EFTPOS processing for the major banks.
  9. Easy buy now pay later options with Zip Pay and Humm.
  10. Support – help desk access. No extra charge. Call, email, test or socials – contact us how you want. There is no cap on the use of our help desk.
  11. Training – after installation one-on-one training over the phone.
  12. Video training resources.
  13. Online workshops where you get to network with other retailers using our POS software.
  14. Theft check service.
  15. Business performance check service.
  16. User documentation. Access to our searchable and ever growing knowledge base.

By renting our POS software you get all these facilities and benefits and more. We’d be glad to connect you with existing customers so you can tap into their feedback on the services we provide.

POS software rental is easy to start, easy to pause and comforting on your cashflow. There is no credit check. And, you can pause or cancel at any time.

Tower Systems is proud to offer POS software rental for small business retailers in Australia and New Zealand.

Renting POS software preserves cashflow and provides flexibility. It is a smart way to encourage growth of any specialty retail business.

POS software helps local small business retailers embrace Christmas

Christmas is the most important season for retailers, especially local high street small business retailers.

Using our POS software, retailers can leverage Christmas for maximum opportunity. How? … you may ask. Okay, using our POS software, here’s how small business retailers are able to embrace Christmas and make the most of the opportunity this year and beyond:

Price differentiation is easy in our software since retailers can bundle items and create their own, unique to their business, packs. You decide what is in the packs, their price and other details relating to sales.

Up-selling is systemised thanks to better workflow, sales prompts and additional information in-store as well as online through which the business can maximise the sale basket value,. Our POS software brings structure to the opportunity.

Bringing them back is a key focus through the POS software with tools serves as part of each sale that are designed to encourage and cajole the shopper back in-store to find other products,. That this can be done in a systemised and automated way makes it a no-brainer move in retail.

Rewarding good purchases is something you can do with software that tracks value and kicks in a reward when a value trigger is reached. This being done behind the scenes in a systemised way is valuable in any retail business but especially in local small business retail where there is tough competition.

Adding you to personalise the opportunity. Embedded in our small business POS software are tools you can use for adding valuable information to each sale, the information and knowledge that can differentiate your business and thereby establish a deeper shopper connection.

These are just some of the ways retailers can differentiate and add value to make Christmas for successful for them. In each case, the POS software from Tower Systems enables engagement with minimal labour cost and minimal capital investment. These are key factors for retailers to maximise the opportunities in their businesses, to make Christmas a more successful this season and trough the trading year that follows.

We see Christmas not only for what it brings in the lead up, but, too, in terms of what you can achieve after Christmas, through the next year, when new Christmas shoppers may come back into the business based on what you did or offered.

Small business retail advice: Unique Selling Proposition

We work with more than 3,500 small business retailers in our POS software retail community. We are retailers ourselves.

One thing we know to be true – being unique matters. It gives people a reason to consider your business, to shop with you.

Today, we share updated advice on the importance of being unique in any retail business, but especially in local small business retail.

In his 1960 book, Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, a respected US advertising executive, introduced the world to the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition, USP for short.

Reeves defined USP in an advertising context:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer: buy this product and you will get this benefit.
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it changes consumer behaviour.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of a unique selling proposition evolved from being essential to advertising to being essential in business. Finding your business USP was considered mission critical to businesses, retailers especially. Businesses drifted however and forgot about the importance of a USP.

Jack Trout told us just a few years ago that it was as relevant today. In 2000, he said that a Unique Selling Proposition was mission critical in business in his aptly titled book Differentiate or Die.

Differentiate of Die. There is no doubt about the call to action in the title, no doubt about the consequences of inaction.

You reflect the uniqueness of your business in 2020 through your inventory mix, shop floor storytelling, your online presence, your social media presence, and, how you reflect your own intellectual property, your own knowledge with and through what you sell. Indeed, you are the key, in many retail businesses, you are the USP.

A good USP will not require an advertising campaign to communicate. It will become obvious through the decisions you make and the actions that follow.

By living the USP in every facet of the business you soon become seen as unique by shoppers and this can drive excellent word of mouth and success for the business.

So, what us your USP and how is it reflected in your business in-store, online, on socials and elsewhere?

Small business retail advice: handling community group donation requests

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. The advice comes from ur experiences helping small business retailers with POS software and from years of running our own shops, places where we learn retail ourselves from inside out.

Advice for small business retailers on dealing with donation requests from local charities and community groups.

Requests from schools, charities and other community for donations can be a challenge for any size business. If you do not take a structured approach to this you will find yourself giving away plenty for little or no return.

Requests are often loaded with guilt.  People can be passive aggressive in their approach. Often, people requesting help leverage pester power. It can be hard to say no. There are too many stories of retailers giving a gift as a prize, receiving the Thank You poster and achieving no benefit for the business.

Our advice is to manage your philanthropy as you would any business activity.

THE PRIZE / GIFT

Decide the amount in cash or product value or both that you are prepared to donate in a full year, calendar year or financial year.

Our recommendation is you give away cash, but in the form of a voucher to spend in your business. This ensures that value of the gift or prize is greater than the cost of it to your business.

The best mechanism for giving away cash or an amount to spend in-store is to do it  by way of a gift voucher. Use your software to manage this as any manual approach is dangerous and time-consuming.

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

Get on the front foot and write to local community groups outlining that you budget a year in advance. Seek their submissions. With this advice sheet we have included the text of a suggested letter. Please read the letter as it outlines the approach we suggest and why. It is important you communicate this with all community groups.

On the page after the letter is a suggested notice for use in-store when you are asked for donations.

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

Focus on community groups that support you. That is, groups with members who support you. The more they support you the better you are able to support the community.

Be prepared to ask where people shop for the items you sell in your business. Ask if they will change in return for your support.

Asking these questions underscores to you the importance of approaching the decision as a business decision.

Be thoughtful and deliberate. Support the groups that support you. This is important as it helps you stay within a budget.

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

If you run discount vouchers and if customers say they don’t want the voucher, invite them to contribute the voucher to a local group – one of three you setup for in the business. Every month, two months or three months, tote up the vouchers and give the group a parentage of the total voucher value ‘voted’ for them.

This idea could be in addition to any giving program you run in the business. It offers a daily reminder of your commitment to local giving.

Grill’d burgers for years ran a program kind of like this where each shopper is given a bottle cap, which they place in a tub to vote on a group to receive a cash donation for the month. The process of groups submitting to be considered is onerous.

REWARD ENGAGEMENT

In addition to any direct gift, consider an offer whereby anyone who is a member of the group who shops with you accrues an amount you donate to the group. You could manage this through your software. It could be you offer a discount to the shopper as well as accruing a value for the group.

This type of program could also be in addition to your core giving program as the value here is driven by sales – hopefully, incremental sales.

EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT

Here are things groups you support can do to help your business. You should ask them to do these things:

  1. Tell members to buy from you.
  2. Write about your business on their Facebook page.
  3. Distribute flyers of your offers.
  4. Have you speak at a meeting.

WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT

Once you have a decision on which groups you will support, write about this in your newsletter and on Facebook. Not just once but multiple times. Invite them to provide you with content to publish too. Talk about their good works.

Ask them to write about you too.

Your giving must serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.

Here is suggested text for a notice about giving by the business:

OUR POLICY ON HANDLING COMMUNITY GROUP DONATIONS.

We receive requests to support local community groups and charities regularly. As a small family business with loans, rent, wages and other costs, we cannot say yes to everyone. We wish we could but we cannot.

To help us better connect with and serve the groups we do support, we now decide at the start of the financial year the groups we will support over the next year. The selection process is based on written submissions from groups.

Our decision to select the groups we support at the start of the year means we cannot take on additional donation requests through the year.

We hope you understand and respect this.

Please consider applying in advance of the start of the next financial year.

But all is not lost…

If your group can bring in new customers to our business to purchase items they want we may have another way we can help. Ask us for details.

Thank you and we wish you all the best in your community group.

Small business retail advice: how to take on a local competition

This article is another in our series of small business retail management advice. It comes from a deep well of experience helping small business retailers, local retailers, as well as our own experience running successful retail businesses.

How to take on a local competitor with care and respect.

If you want to grow your retail business it is likely that at some point in time you will need to take on a local competitor. By take on, we mean compete with, head-on, in a category or on a whole of store basis.

While it can sound cold-hearted suggesting you take on a local business colleague, it is survival of the fittest in the world and, especially, in business. Better you than them.

The time you might consider taking on a competitor could be when you are looking at taking on a new product category, something sold in another business nearby. Such a move could likely be seen as an attack on the other business – hence the need for careful planning and management … BEFORE you make the move.

Here is advice on how to approach taking on a local competitor.

  1. Ensure there is a need in your business or the community for you to move against a local competitor. The need could be in your business – the need for more traffic and / or revenue. The need could be in the community for better products because the competitor is doing a bad job or overcharges. Ensure you know what the need is and that it is enough to fuel your commitment for what is ahead.
  2. Make sure that the new product category fits with your business and how you and your customers see your business.
    1. The move must make sense in terms of what you sell and what you are known for.
    2. The move must have a story backing it for you and your customers to believe in the move.
  1. Thoroughly assess risks you and others working with you see.
    1. How the competitor and / or community might react publicly.
    2. How the competitor and / or community might react privately.
    3. What the competitor might invest to fight.
    4. Whether they can take on what you plan to stock and directly compete.
    5. How people might perceive you taking on a local business.
    6. To you and your health – competing takes stamina.
    7. Do you have sufficient resources for a long-term plan?
    8. What if the competitor closes? Are you ready to deal with that?
  2. What will be your Unique Selling Proposition, what will separate your offer apart from the competitor(s)?
    1. You must have a genuinely unique proposition: range (deep into a niche for example), quality, brands, price, customer service or a combination of these.
    2. The differentiating proposition must be obvious and valuable to local shoppers for it is this that will justify you taking on a competitor.
  1. DO IT BETTER. On all fronts. This is the most important factor of taking on a business.
    1. You must do it better, from the outset.
    2. Better products, better brands, better displays, better service, better marketing. Price does not have to be a factor if you are better in all other areas.

Taking on a competitor by introducing new products or product categories in your business can be tough anywhere. The goal of our advice is to have you plan for the move for good planning is a key factor in success.

We often see businesses take on a competitor without thought and eventually retreat having lost money. Avoid retreating by taking time to research and plan.

Small business retail advice: how to manage an employee theft situation

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. It comes from our experience running a POS software company that serves small business retailers and from running our own retail shops.

How to deal with an employee theft situation in small business retail

Discovering theft by an employee can be debilitating and destabilising. To help you through this, we provide here our advice on what to do once you discover employee theft. The goal is to offer straightforward steps to help you get through as it is on the other side of this where you can find the opportunity to move on from the feeling of violation that often accompanies employee theft in small business.

  1. Be sure of the facts, gather the evidence. Evidence could include, video footage of cash being take from the business, business records being modified to cover tracks, stock being stolen and more. Evidence does not include gossip, feelings and opinions. Without evidence you have nothing to proceed with.
  2. Once you have all available evidence and if this clearly implicates one or more employee, quickly work out what you want.
    1. If you involve the police, they and, subsequently, the courts, will control the process including getting your money or goods back, an apology and more.
    2. If you don’t involve them, think about if you want the money or goods back, an apology, the person to stop working for you without negative impact on you – or a mixture of these.
    3. Check your insurance policy. Be sure you understand what you might be able to claim and in what circumstances. For example, your policy may require a police report. This could determine your next steps. If you are not sure what your insurance policy says, call the insurance company for advice. Knowing your insurance situation early is vital.
  3. If the person committing the crime is a minor:
    1. Advise their parents or guardian by phone. Invite them to the shop or an independent location to see what you have. Have someone else there with you, as an observer. This meeting needs to happen quickly.
    2. Present the evidence.
    3. Listen for their response.
    4. If they (their parents) ask what you want, be clear.
    5. If agreement is reached, put it in writing there and then and all involved sign it, so there is clear understanding.
    6. If agreement is not reached you need to decide your next steps and engage them with haste.
    7. A return of the money, likely by the parents, should be in a lump sum, immediately. I have seen a parent pay $22,000 where a uni student studying psychology stole and out their career at risk by being caught. I have seen another situation where a 75-year-old mum repaid the $12,000 stolen by her adult daughter so the daughter did not have to tell her husband about her gambling problem.
  4. If the person committing the crime is not a minor:
    1. Get an opportunity to speak with them face to face, ideally with another person there as a witness.
    2. Tell them you have evidence of them stealing from the business.
    3. Ask if they would like to see it. If they say no, ask what they propose.
    4. If they do want to see the evidence, show it and ask what they propose.
    5. If there is an offer of a full refund, an immediate resignation and never entering the business again it could be a good practical outcome. The challenge is you may not know the value of what has been stolen. Experience indicates that someone stealing cash will understate the amount considerably. I was involved in one case where they said they stole $10,000. The irrefutable evidence showed it was $75,000.
    6. Get any agreement in writing. If there is an offer to repay, our advice is to only accept an immediate lump sum. If the proposal is payment of, say, more than $10,000 over time, involve the police.
    7. If the person denies any wrongdoing, go to the police immediately.
  5. If you have suspicions and do not have the evidence, put in place opportunities to gather the evidence without entrapping the target, without setting them up. I have seen situations where local police have provided advice and support for this. It could be worth asking them if you are in a regional or rural situation.

If you are nervous about meeting the person or their family, write down what you plan to say. Keep it short. To the facts. No emotion. Having a script prepared can be useful even if you do not read it.

If there is any risk of violence, do not have a meeting. Go straight to the police.

Time is of the essence here. The longer you know about the situation and the longer you do not act the less useful the outcome is likely to be.

Advice for small business retailers on selling higher priced items

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. While we are a POS software company, we are retailers too. Often, we are asked for advice from retailer colleagues. Here is an example of advice we provide:

That won’t sell in my shop, it is too expensive for my customers.

Before you say something will not sell because it is too expensive, consider the actions you can take that could make the product work.

It could be that you are a factor in something not selling as in your placement, visual  merchandising, business marketing and more you set the price expectation.

When you think something will not sell because it is expensive, consider that it might sell in another business. What does that business look like? Is there an opportunity for you to connect with shoppers who might shop at that business?

Here is how you influence higher price acceptable of an item or group of items in your business.

  1. Display to the target shopper. Treat the product as special, something of quality, away from the usual cheaper products on the shelves. Respect the higher price, the higher quality.
  2. Do not place the higher price items with cheap products. Location is everything. Set aside a location that reflects the difference of these products.
  3. Price / product signs. Make them. Handwritten. Explain the product. Reflect quality.
  4. Use lighting, or darkness, to draw attention.
  5. Know the product. It is more expensive for a reason – quality, source location, rarity. Know the reason and ensure all staff can speak to it.
  6. Don’t be scared of the price.
  7. Remember you are not your customer.
  8. Know if if you don’t sell this someone else nearby might or at least products in the same price bracket. Beat them.
  9. Treat the higher priced product with respect, through your actions show that the price is worth it.

Here is why you would do this: new traffic plain and simple.

Every new item that appeals beyond the usual, the average, for your business is an opportunity to attract a new shopper.

Attracting new shoppers is, in our view, the single most important business activity for you every day.

Advice for small business retailers on running a pop-up shop

As part of our small business retail management advice series, in this article we offer suggestions on what to consider about a pop-up shop opportunity.

While we are a POS software company, we are retailers too. We are often asked by small business retailers to comment on opportunities, like pop-up shops.

Definition: a pop-up shop is a temporary shop, one that is open for a limited period of time, usually around a month, rarely more than three months.

WHY?!

Like any business decision, a decision to open a pop-up retail location needs to be based on good research and the business itself needs to have a purpose. So, before you begin, think about why.

Here are some reasons to do a pop-up shop:

  1. To test new product categories.
  2. To supplement your income.
  3. To help quit slow moving stock.
  4. To enhance your retail experience.
  5. To experiment with a plan b where you might land if you close your main shop.
  6. To engage in targeted, temporary, competition.
  7. To compete with yourself.

LOCATION.

With a pop-up shop you don’t have time to find your customers. The location needs to already have good traffic passing daily, traffic you can easily leverage. Even more so than in fixed-location retail, location is critical.

The best locations are shops that have good passing traffic that is of interest to you and that have been vacant for a while where a landlord might be happy with something rather than nothing.

OCCUPANCY COST.

Negotiate the lowest rent cost possible. Some landlords see pop-up offers as a reason to charge a premium. Only sign up for a price you are 100% happy with. If it is expensive and does not work financially, don’t sign hoping it works out, because in retail it rarely does work out better. In a pop-up business you have less time to see if it works out. Also, preferably, no contingency deposit.

LABOUR COST.

Staff the business with a lean roster. This shop is about selling. that means, products placed for a price proposition rather than beautiful displays that take time to maintain. Every staff member is there to sell and maximise revenue from every shopper visit. There is no room in the roster for fat.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS.

Don’t spend a cent on fixtures and fittings. That needs to be your starting position. It’s a pop-up shop. People expect it to be  efficient, cost-effective. Using tables and boxes adds to the feel of the shop feeling low-cost and that can help drive sales. Suppliers can be a good source for loaned fixtures.

INVENTORY.

Ask suppliers to offer consignment stock or special clearance deals they’d like to move fast. Go for items that can be sold out of a box, to make display and ranging easier. In-box displays of particularly cheap items can work very well.

PRICING MODEL.

Price to sell. This means being below usual retail. Price to understandable price points. For example, you might have a $10 table, a $20 table and so on. Consider bundling items into packs, which make price comparison difficult.

PROMOTION.

Don’t spend money on sign writing or marketing. Use social media and bargain websites and anywhere similar where you can list the store and its products.

Host an opening party. List this as a local event on Facebook.

MANAGEMENT MINDSET.

Your mindset in managing the pop-up shop needs to be different to a fixed-location retail situation. Pop-up shops are about low cost, low overheads, low prices. Be ready to do deals. Those working in the pop-up shop needs to be different to how they would be in the fixed-location retail business.

SPEED.

You need to move fast. From the moment you sign a lease or agreement, the clock is ticking. Ideally, you’d open within 24 hours and when you are done, closing and clearing out the shop is done in 24 hours or less. This is all about maximising the time for income-production.

TRACK PERFORMANCE.

Cultivate good data that can guide business decisions for your next moves.

Is a pop-up shop worth doing? Only you can determine that. We have seen plenty of pop-up shops work well for the retailers, contribute good GP, help move slow stock and help open to the owners category opportunities not previously considered.

Helping retailers sell bundled gift packs this Christmas

Using our POS software it is easy for retailers to sell bundled gifts at Christmas time and any time of the year. Our POS software makes it easy to bundle multiple items together for single scan selling. This can be done in-store as well as online though a Shopify website or a Magento website.

Take this Christmas Beanie Boo pack:

This is a special pack of 8 Christmas Beanie Boo stock items bundled together with several special freebies thrown in, put together in a special pack with some Christmas cheer tissue and tinsel and delivered anywhere in Australia for $64.99.

Online, a bundle like this plays well in that with a couple of clicks, a Christmas gift for a child, niece, nephew, related family or the child of a friend can be handled. Shopping is easy and fast and the purchase is presented in a nice way ready for giving.

Better still, a bundle like this makes price comparison hard because of the various items in the pack and because of the freebies included, which while free, have value to the recipient.

Packs like this can change shopper perspective and this can help drive sales.

Using our POS software, local retailers can easily bundle items for in-store and online sales and through these cleverly differentiate their businesses.

Through our work with local retailers we provide advice on how to use the POS software to create the bundle and how, with one click, to have its details and image loaded onto a website for easy online sales.

In the bundled product space this is where online can be particularly helpful as this is where time poor shoppers shop, especially late at night. having an appealing mix in a bindle for easy purchase can drive terrific incremental business. Key is finding ways to add value to the bundle that help you to differentiate your offer from the offer of others.

As retailers ourselves, we bring to the conversation about using POS software in local retail to sell bundled gift packs real life experience and knowledge and through this to help retailers make the most of the opportunity. We willingly share our knowledge and experience to help retailers in our community to make more informed business decisions.

46 Christmas marketing tips for small business retailers

Yeah, it’s odd for a POS software company to offer Christmas marketing tips to retailers because … we are tech people and not retailers. That may be true for some.

Tower Systems has owned and run retail businesses since 1996.

We are not your usual POS software company. We actively share marketing tips with our customers. Here are some Christmas marketing tips for retailers that we hope some find useful, or at least inspiring to you to develop your own.

We offer you 46 low cost and no cost Christmas marketing tips for retailers  ideas to help create a different Christmas experience in your business.

  1. Always:
    1. Have tape with wrapping paper.
    2. Have wrapping paper with cards, at the counter and with magazines.
    3. Have Christmas bags at the counter.
    4. Have tape at the counter.
    5. Pitch easy to purchase ready to go hampers close to the counter.
    6. Keep displays fresh.
    7. Run your loyalty programs through Christmas – to bring them back.
  2. Make it easy. People often talk about how hard Christmas is. Be the local business that makes it easy. The ways to do this are with easy Lay-By, free wrapping, better shop floor help, guide buying advice or tips on perfect gifts no one else will think of. Consider making Christmas easy as being a key part of your messaging.
  3. Host a simple party. To preview Christmas, say thank you to shoppers and support a local cause. Do it when the shop is closed. Limit numbers. have some drinks and food. Have fun. Celebrate.
  4. Use video. To promote products on social media.
  5. Offer impulse purchase of often forgotten lines. At the counter, with newspapers, next to weekly magazines.
  6. Offer help. For kids and others who ,may find choosing a card or writing a card difficult.
  7. Visit nursing homes. With some gifts and cards for easy shopping.
  8. Be thrilled people are in your shop. Your personal smile or greeting is something they may not see in a big business where employees are less invested in each shopper and where the owner is usually thousands of kilometers away.
  9. Make the giving easy. If people purchase items from you to send somewhere else. Offer a one-stop shop. Save them the trip to the post office.
  10. Make the shop less about Christmas. Consider pulling back on the Christmas visual noise. Go for something simple, muted, respecting the season but making a calm statement. Consider declaring the shop a Christmas carol free zone – not because you hate carols but because you want to help customers take a break.
  11. Help people rest and recharge. Create a Christmas shopping rest and recovery zone. Offer free tea, coffee, water and something to eat. Encourage people to take a break in your shop – without any obligation for them to spend money with you.
  12. Let your customers help each other. Setup a whiteboard or sheets of butcher’s paper, yes keep it simple. Get customers to write gift suggestions under different age/gender groups. For example: Girls 18 – 25, Boys 55+. Encourage your customers to help each other through their suggestions.
  13. Make price comparison difficult. If you sell items people are likely to price compare with other businesses, package them so price comparison is not easy. Put items into a hamper as a perfect Boy 8 to 12 bundle for example. Or offer the item with pre packages services if appropriate for an item.
  14. Less is more.  The stack em high watch em fly mantra can be wrong. Indeed, it is often wrong in retail. Shoppers can be store blind because a shop is too full or a display is too busy. Consider creating simpler less cluttered displays and window promotions. Draw attention to what you want people to see by promoting that one thing. Every time someone asks if you have something that you think through should be able to find easily – take it as a challenge for you to address rather than a commentary on a facility of the customer.
  15. Change. Christmas season in your shop should evolve. Major change weekly is vital for people to see what you have that they could buy.
  16. Be socially engaged. On Facebook, Instagram, twitter and elsewhere, be the calm voice, the person people enjoy reading or seeing photos from. Provide entertainment this Christmas rather than the usual retailer shrill of come and shop here!
  17. Be community minded. Choose a local charity or community group to support through Christmas. Consider: a change collection tin at the counter; a themed Christmas window display; promotion on your social media pages; a donation to their work; a collection point for donations from customers.
  18. Facilitate sharing stories. Find space in your shop for customers to share their Christmas stories. It could be a story wall inside or in front of the shop. This initiative encourages storytelling by locals and better connects the business with the community.
  19. Award a prize at a local school. Fund a year-end prize at a local school. Attend a school assembly to award the prize. Work with the school leadership on a prize appropriate to your business.
  20. VIP preview. Host a VIP shopper preview night when you show off your Christmas ranges ahead of being available to the general shoppers. Respect and reward your local shoppers with deals and the opportunity to preview ahead of others.
  21. Leverage Christmas traffic. Encourage the Christmas shopper traffic surge in after Christmas. Give them a reason to come back. A coupon promotion or a discount voucher on receipts could be the enticement to get shoppers back in-store. Note: the Tower POS software produces discount vouchers to rules you establish.
  22. Become a gallery. Work with a school, kindergarten, community group or retirement village to bring in local art for people to come and see through Christmas. A small space commitment can drive traffic from family and friends of those with art on show.
  23. Dress the shop. Fully embrace Christmas. Create a Christmas experience such that shoppers know they have stepped into somewhere special this Christmas. Go for more than some tinsel and a tree. Fully embrace the opportunity.
  24. Make your shop smell like Christmas.
  25. Send cards. Send Christmas cards early in the season to suppliers, key customers and local community groups. This connects you with Christmas. Invite all team members to sign each card.
  26. Host a Christmas party. For shops nearby. You are all in the season together – let your hear down before things get crazy.
  27. Ensure you have gifts targeted at occasions. For example: Kris Kringle, by price point and by recipient. Make it easy for people to know what they could give.
  28. Stocking stuffers. At your counter always have one or two stocking stuffers for impulse purchase.
  29. Offer gift vouchers – for someone to give when they are not sure what to give.
  30. Be local. Ensure you have a selection of locally sourced products available for purchase. Make it clear in-store that these products are sourced locally.
  31. Tell stories. On your Facebook page, talk about what is important to you at Christmas. Personalise the season and deepen the connection with those who could shop with you.
  32. Offer a free gift. Bulk purchase an item to offer those who spend above a set amount. For example, spend $65 and receive XX where XX may have cost $5.00 but could have a perceived value of $20.00.
  33. Keep it fresh. Every week make significant change to your Christmas displays and promotions to keep your offer fresh.
  34. Share Christmas recipes. Each week for, say, four weeks, give customers a family Christmas recipe. This personalises Christmas in your business, creates a talking point and makes shopping with you different to your bigger competitors.
  35. Free wrapping. Sure, many retailers offer this. Make your offer better, more creative and more appreciated.
  36. This is essential in any business. Manage it through your computer system with strict rules.
  37. Work the floor. Increase time on the shop floor. Be present to manage shopper flow and to facilitate purchases.
  38. Christmas is crazy busy I most retail situations. Give yourself and your team members sufficient time to recharge so the smile greeting shoppers is heartfelt.
  39. Keep a secret. If yours is a business selling gifts a partner may purchase for their loved-one, create some mystery with a closed off display for the shopper to see the products.
  40. Free assembly. If you sell items that require assembly. Offer to do this for free.
  41. Free delivery. Offer free Christmas Eve delivery for items purchased for kids for Christmas.
  42. Sell training. Leverage the specialist knowledge you have in your business by selling as gifts places at classes you run sharing your expertise.
  43. Hold back. Don’t go out with everything you have for Christmas all at once. Plan the season to show off what you have as the season unfolds. This allows you multiple launches.
  44. Share a taste. Regardless if your type of business, bake a family recipe of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or Christmas biscuits and offer tastings to shoppers on select days. This personalises the experience in your shop.
  45. Offer hampers. Package several items together and offer them as a hamper. Time-poor shoppers could appreciate you doing this work for them. We have seen this work in many different retail situations.
  46. Buy X get Y. Encourage people to spend more with a volume based deal. Pitched right, this could get customers purchasing items for several family members in order to get the price offer you have. Use your technology to manage this.

Christmas is the perfect time to plan for next year. It is the time to do everything possible to leverage bonus Christmas traffic to benefit your business through next year.

Feel free to share these Christmas marketing tips with others.

Everyday retail management advice: measure everything and win

Measurement is key to the success of any retail business, especially in small business retail where competition is tough.

Measuring sales, stock, employees and suppliers will profit a business if those in charge act on what measurement reveals.

This is small business retail management advice we share with our POS software customers. While it is a boring topic, it is a business critical topic for if you measure and act on the evidence you are on a path to success. Ignorance may be bliss … it is also a road to failure in business.

Without accurate and consistent measurement, you are not able to make good business decisions or to hold others to account for their actions.

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

  1. Only sell what you can track – by scanning a barcode or pressing a PLU (stock code) to track the item.
  2. Do not use department keys to sell items as this denies you the opportunity of tracking individual items you sell. Scan the barcode every time!
  3. Enter into your computer system everything you sell. Record stock you receive by supplier so that you can track supplier performance.
  4. Enter into your computer system everything you return to suppliers – consignment stock, returns or damaged goods.
  5. Record all sales and other activity at the sales register by employees.
  6. Reorder replenishment stock by using your computer system to create orders for you.

My making your business data driven you are better equipped to take the emotion and gut feel out of business decisions.  This will improve decision quality and accountability and, hopefully, the return you achieve from these decisions.

Businesses which do not measure stock, suppliers, employees and sales accurately often find themselves faltering without knowing why – because they have no accurate data on which to base research.

Measuring everything reveals a path forward and this path is success.

Yes, this is a snooze of a topic. However, it is also a business critical topic offering a bankable result – if you measure everything and act on the results as revealed by the measurement.

Tower Systems helps small business measure, analyse and act. Our advice for small business retailers is considerable – reaching as far as retailers ask. It starts with our POS software and offering retailers opportunities to fully learn how this software can serve any specialty retail business that chooses it.

What does Q4 2020 look like for small business retailers

Welcome to the last quarter of 2020. What a year it’s been already.

For many in retail, what happens over the next 3 months traditionally determines the success of the full year for the business. We have been asked several times recently what the next three months look like.

Considering sales data from plenty of business and from many different types of retail businesses, we share some thought below on what we expect. Of course, our expectations are based on current Corona trajectories as at the start of October 2020. Any change to that will impact these.

  • Christmas is here, now, early. Christmas purchasing started over a month ago with sales of specific Christmas products including cards, decoration and Christmas themed items already good. People appear to be shopping to be prepared for possibly another lockdown. Some are also buying because of worries regarding the supply chain.
  • Working from home is here to stay. retailers selling products that help with working from home should have a good quarter if they continue to leverage this opportunity. There is no sign of working from home slowing, which will impact businesses that rely on major CBD business worker traffic.
  • Regional / rural property sales are strong. Property sales in regional and rural locations have surged, bringing in more people and plenty of new faces, which bring in new shopper opportunities. Serving new residents plays well for some retail sectors like garden centres.
  • People want to be happy and give happiness. Offering products that will make people happy is key to a good fourth quarter.
  • Locally made. This matters more than ever.

Focussing on these and related points positions your business well for a good last quarter.

Thinking predictions, we think that businesses that rely on strong Christmas trade have reason to expect this year to be at least as good as last year. We know one business that does more than 50% of their revenue through the Christmas season and current indications comparing this year to the last 2 years suggest they will be up this year by 20%. The product mix is the same.

The success of this last quarter really relies on your product sourcing, in-store messaging and out of store marketing … your connection with the emotional messages that matter to people, that will get them purchasing through you.

The time to act on Christmas 2020 was months ago. If you are starting now, go for it, quickly and engagingly as Christmas shoppers are spending today.

We hope that this last quarter of 2020 is awesome for your retail business and all who rely on it!

Some retail businesses are having an awesome 2020

Yes, some retail businesses are having an awesome 2020, plenty in fact. However, most of those having success this year do not want to talk too much about it. They want to keep a low profile because most of what’s in the media about business in 2020 is negative and they do not want to distract with what they think is a unique good story. Some even feel ashamed at their success.

The reality is that many retail businesses, especially local small retail businesses, are having a good 2020.

Yes, there is excellent good news out there. Here are some good news stories we see in our work with specialty retail channels, without identifying store details. These are channel-wide stories with many businesses in each channel having success.

  • Garden centres are doing very well, offering customers the ability to grow their own produce, be more self sufficient, eat more healthily. Many garden centres we are working with have been challenged to keep up with demand. They have risen to the occasion, helping many folks into their first ever veggie patch.
  • Farm supply / rural produce businesses have had a big and successful year. Sales are up as more people are living in regional and rural locations and needing more materials as they work on their properties in these locations.
  • Toy shops are doing well helping people enjoy their time at home. Those who engaged online have done especially well. Those that expanded their jigsaw, game and relaxation product ranges have done well.
  • Pet shops have done well as pets have become even more important this year, offering comfort and company, making isolation easier.
  • Bike shops are having a terrific year as they offer people enjoyable ways to remain healthy in a safe way.
  • Fishing and outdoors businesses are doing well, too, thanks to their ability to help people be more self sufficient for food.
  • Newsagents are having an awesome 2020 as they have become more relevant through offering essential services, keeping people informed and helping people enjoy home time more through their games, jigsaws, crosswords and more.

We know many small local and independent retail businesses that have done so well that they do not qualify for government pandemic assistance. Double digit growth in 2020 is real for them. They are loving being in business and serving their local community. They are loving that local shopping is more popular in 2020 too.

So, while the TV news and current affairs programs focus on stories of doom and gloom, there are many, hundreds and thousands of good stories, happy stories, stories of growth and success in small business retail … stories of success in 2020.

For many of the business owners enjoying success this year, they have made it happen through their decisions and actions, they have pursued success and for this they have every reason to be proud.

Well done to all of these small business retailers having an excellent 2020, well done!

We are grateful to be part of this, part of the community of businesses having a good year. We are thankful that through what we make we are able to play a role in helping retail businesses find and nurture success.

Now, if only media outlets could share some of the good news stories. They don’t have to look far to find them.

11 mistakes small business retailers make with their websites when selling online

Here at Tower Systems we develop POS software for small business retailers. We are grateful to serve 3,500+ customers in Australia and New Zealand. We also develop beautiful websites for small business retailers.

Leveraging that experience, we have evolved a suite of knowledge about works for small business retailers going online. We have plenty  of advice to offer retailers about going online.

Today, we flip that consideration, we want to take a look at common mistakes retailers make when they go online, mistakes that can cause their shop connected websites to fail or, at least, to not achieve what they hoped for.

These are mistakes we have seen retailers make, advised against and, often, had to fix once the retailers agree they were mistakes. They make our mistake list once corrective action is shown to fix an issue, thereby proving the first move was a mistake.

  1. Poor navigation. A site that is hard to get around will see people leave quickly.
  2. Unclear shipping charges / policy. People want to know what it will cost.
  3. Inadequate payment options. Credit card is as essential as PayPal, buy now pay later like Afterpay, ZipPay and Humm, Apple Pay and Shopify pay.
  4. Using photos are are blurred or with more than. one product in them. Good photography is key – yes, you can do it yourself.
  5. Using stock photos that are already on many other websites. Google likes unique photos. Take them yourself.
  6. Using the same text that is on plenty of there websites. Google likes fresh text, fresh content. Write this yourself and follow consistent standards.
  7. No chat. Chat is key because shoppers have questions.
  8. Secrecy – not including an email address, phone number and actual street address.  People want to know they can trust you.
  9. Having no USP – unique selling proposition. Really, why should people shop with your website if your website offers nothing unique.
  10. Poor fulfilment. If you take too long to fulfil, people will know and they will complain to others.
  11. No support. Your website needs support online and elsewhere, so people can find it. This could be marketing, links on other sites, links on socials and more.

Our advice for small business retailers with websites goes beyond the 11 points we have noted here. Take these as a start. Anyone with a website can address these without additional cost. Fix these mistakes and you should start to see growth non engagement with the website. This is another step to growing online sales.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve thousands of small business retailers. Working with them helps us learn every day, which we love.

Retail management advice to guide stronger, more valuable, retail businesses

As owners of retail businesses, especially small retail businesses, local retail businesses, know … everyone is an expert, everyone has advice on what to do, what to stock, how to grow the business.

Our retail management advice has been fine-tuned over decades of service of local small business retailers in a range of specialty retail channels. It has come, too, from our own ownership and operating of a range of retail businesses across four different specialty retail channels. We own three online shops and several online businesses today.

The retail management advice we share here is a taste of the support we offer small business retailers beyond the POS software we make, sell and support.

Today, in this post, our focus is on what we consider to be the most important advice for small business retailers. We call it bankable advice, advice you can rely on to add measurable value to your business.

  1. Use your data. Yes, that sounds boring. The thing is, the data curated by your POS software can help you buy better, sell faster, make more from each shopper visit, reduce theft, get more value from employees, make fewer mistakes, cut labour costs … and more. Yes, good data, leveraged consistently, will achieve all this and more.
  2. Connect. At every opportunity, connects your systems and processes from suppliers to your goods inwards to your POS to product returns to your business accounting software. The less you rely on manual processes the better your business decisions and the lower your costs.
  3. Look under the hood. Good POS software gives you eyes in the back of your head, it can show you what you don’t know and may not want to know. Ask what you can find out that may surprise you as it is in these surprises where you may find more value.
  4. Set goals for the business and measure performance. Revenue. Unit sales for key products. Sales by team member. Revenue by supplier. ROI. ROFS. Measure, report, discuss, improve.
  5. Reorder what sells.
  6. Place products next to products they are usually purchased with.
  7. Ensure your staff know how to use the tools you have. Take POS software, too often we see poor use hurting the performance of the business.

Success in small business retail is there for the taking, through management action. Success comes from consistent pursuit of success. Systems helps you consistently pursue success.

Good POS software companies can help you with this, they can help you drive a more successful and valuable retail business. That’s certainly our goal at Tower Systems.

3 shop local community connection and marketing tips for small business retailers

2020 is the year of shop local with a surge in people shopping locally. In our work with 3,500+ small business retailers, we have seen a surge in sales, both in -store sales and online sales with small business retailers.

It is wonderful to see, this authentic support for shop local in 2020.

Today, we share some tips for small business retailers on how to maximise the shop local opportunity, marketing advice on how to make shop local work better for you. These are marketing tips you can use right away without spending any money in most cases.

  1. What makes your business local? Know this and you can know much more about your message and how you can leverage it. For many retailers, their local connections are a point of difference. usually, what makes your business local is local knowledge. If this is you, serve this knowledge through touchpoint in your POS software. It is easy to encode local knowledge is related to what you sell and auto-serve this through customer purchases.
  2. Connect with the local community. Offer community groups fund-raining opportunities when your members choose your local business over other local businesses. It’s easy to manage through your POS software, to track the purchases by group members, given them a benefit and gift the community group itself a benefit in appreciation for their recommendation. This can be a perfect win / win / win for all in the local community.
  3. Stay connected. Through social media, email and other platforms, keeping connected with locals by sharing locally relevant information you can connect and share knowledge and this will be appreciated by locals. Your POS software can capture email addresses and share these with mailChimp for safe and spam free emails.

Know where your customers live. It’s easy to capture the postcode of shoppers. In every business we see doing this they learn things about shoppers that they can leverage, for better local community engagement especially.

Nurturing local shoppers really is all about your local community connection. It helps to have ways to do this that do not take too much time, ways that are consistently leveraged. This is where good POS software with tools for pitching your local connections can help.

Here at Tower Systems we care about small business retailers. We care for your businesses, those who rely on the business for income and your local shopper customers. We only work with and help local small business retailers with our POS software.

« Older posts