Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: Retail management advice (page 1 of 8)

Small business retail advice: how to deal with the emotional impact of employee theft

Beyond the financial cost and regardless of the size of the theft, employee theft in a retail business can come at a huge cost to the business, those who work in it and the owners.

The impact can be felt for years after employee theft is discovered. We have seen this first hand inn businesses we have worked with and counselled through the process. To be honest, we have seen it ourselves in the early years of owning our own shops.

Often, the person caught stealing from a retail business is a trusted employees. This is where the high emotional cost kicks in. It is not uncommon for them to be a long term employee who has the trust and respect of the business owners. We have seen situations where it has been a relative of the owner or at least someone treated as a relative or a member of the family.

We have seen the impact of the theft flowing in waves:

  1. Typically, the retail business owners blame themselves for the theft or at the very least for not having discovered it sooner.
  2. What follows is the extraordinary feeling of a breach of trust and violation. This can lead to a feeling of overwhelming illness. In some cases, one or more of the business owners have withdrawn from the business – such is the personal hurt and betrayal they feel.
  3. Devastation often kicks in with the owners losing focus on the business, unable to deal with the issues of today.
  4. Depending on the extent of the theft, depression can follow which requires some form of intervention to resolve.

The personal impact on the outlook and confidence of the business owner can be devastating. Unless they are able to accept what has happened and genuinely move on, they could find themselves wallowing in anger, inaction or even depression for long after the crime has bene discovered.

The key, from our personal experience, is to accept what has happened, make a decision on how to deal with it and move on… never looking back.

Discovering an employee theft problem is an excellent first step. The alternative is that it continues unabated. Discovery stops the theft and that is a great first step. It is important to acknowledge the good news of the discovery regardless of the quantum of theft discovered.

Deciding an action plan is the ideal step two. Deciding whether to report the crime or agree on an immediate financial settlement with the employee who committed the crime is the best next step. Only the retail business owner can decide whether reporting the crime is worth it or not. Sometimes, being paid a reasonable sum by the employee is better for the business and moving on than a protracted police investigation.

Talk with the team. Listen. Console. This is a time for grieving about what happened. Either gather as a group or one on one. Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to air their feelings. Business partners especially should take time to do this and explore how they feel. Do not let this process go on too long. Ensure that everyone understands that this is the time of grieving and that when it ends, it ends so that the business and those involved can move on.

Focusing on the business is the fourth important step. Once the employee theft is caught, the action plan re police versus reimbursement resolved, the next focus has to be the business. Difficult as this is, it is important to move forward rather than to stand still and wonder what might have been or worry about the betrayal one feels. Look at business practices and modify these so that theft is harder to perpetrate, implement processes which disrupt the business and make theft easier to detect.

There are excellent government and community resources which can help. Engage and use these resources and benefit from the insights of others.

How a retail business comes out of discovering employee theft is up to the leaders of the business themselves. They set the mood for the team. It is important to reach a point of moving on and not looking back as soon as possible – for the sake of the business, its employees and its customers.

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Small business retail advice: for school leavers joining the retail work force

We have some timely advice for school leavers joining the full-time workforce. It is offered here in the spirit of encouragement, that you grow professionally and serve the needs of the business employing you. This advice is especially aimed at those new to the workforce.

  1. Know the business is tough ands that retail, especially small business retail, is very tough.
  2. The business owners do not get to keep for themselves every cent that comes across the counter. Indeed, they will be lucky to keep even 5 cents in the dollar.
  3. If the business succeeds, you succeed.
  4. The business relies on customers. Every retail employee plays a role in setting how much each customer loves shopping in the shop.
  5. Learn as much about the business as you can in the businessman the job.
  6. Learn outside the business – there are many online learning / training opportunities in retail that can make you more valuable any employer.
  7. If you are not sure of something, ask. Don’t assume.
  8. Work out how to love your job, because if you don’t, working there will not be good for you or the business.
  9. Be as low maintenance as possible. Your employer is not an ATM you can tap every time you feel like sleeping in.
  10. How far you go in a business, and in your career, is up to you. You get out what you put it.
  11. Add value. If you do this a business will want to keep you and that gives you leverage in this job and your next.
  12. Every day, how it goes, what you get from it, the contribution you make … is up to you.
  13. Speak up. If you see a colleague making a mistake, stealing or misbehaving, speak up. You own it to the business to do this more than you owe your silence to a colleague or friend.
  14. Make suggestions. Even new employees have good ideas.Fresh eyes are sometimes the most valuable through which to see business.

If you are a business owner and hiring school leavers, step up to the responsibility seriously. You hire them, train them, manage them and determine their value to the business as as the value of the business to them. Oh, and being their friend is not an ideal step to good management.

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Small business retail advice: on cutting theft by employees

Employee theft continues to contribute more to the total cost of theft in retail theft than customer theft based on data we see. yet, employee theft is easier to track and manage than customer theft.

In our POS software we have hidden tools that help track and cut employee theft. Outside the POS software, we have this practical and useful small business retail advice that we know works on cutting employee theft.

Issue this Theft Policy in your business, have all team members sign it and place it is a place where team members can see it every day. Doing this establishes your commitment on the issue as well as your policy and practices related to the issue. Following through on the policy is key for without discipline in this area the cost of theft in your business will be higher than it should be.

This is the theft policy we recommend to all retailers…

THEFT POLICY OF THIS BUSINESS

  1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
  2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.
  3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
  4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.
  5. New employees may be asked to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
  6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
  7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.
  8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by labour laws.
  9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory, including unsold, topped, magazines, unsold cards or damaged stock from the store without permission.
  10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
  11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves, family members or friends.
  12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.

PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

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Small business retail advice: on competing with big business

Small business retailers often express frustration at big business competitors: they have more money for marketing, get better supplier deals and often have lower overheads per dollar of revenue. It is easy to get drawn into envy and get lost in a whirlpool of self pity for the small business situation.

In our experience in owning and running small retail businesses, there is little to be gained from worrying about these things, which we cannot change. There is more to gain from focussing on points of difference we can leverage.

This is important, that we look at the upside opportunities we have rather than the negative of envy about big business competitors. It’s tough to do, but well worth it.

For example, we can bundle items in our small retail businesses to make price comparison difficult or impossible, we can offer a loyalty pitch big businesses will not offer, we can be flexible in how and where we pitch producers while bug retail businesses are structured and, usually, inflexible.

Bundling is particularly useful as you can create a bundle unique to your business, which feels like it is a value proposition unlike anything they have seen to that point. While this is a product by product task, it is in these small steps that you can find success, by changing shopper perspective and winning business more direct competition may have denied.

Bundles can work in gift, stationery, cards, toys, plants, fishing and more. It is easy to use tech to manage and track this.

Big businesses do this. Its is a key reason for their price guarantees – because price comparison is harder and even not possible, ensuring they don’t pay out on the price guarantees.

Our key message today is that you can compete with big businesses in myriad ways, especially through using our small business focussed POS software that is rich in features for doing just this. We give you the tools and provide training and supporting their use, to help you compete as you may not have competed before.

Big business competitors are not going away, they are not fading in size, they are not spending less. This means we have to be smart and engaged to compete.

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Small business retail advice: how to cut the insurance overhead

Insurance is a must-have business overhead. It is critical to have the right level of coverage with a respected insurer.

As retailers, we often look at our overheads. We recently re-negotiated insurance coverage for our 3 retail shops and achieved a 30% cut in insurance costs. We reviewed the needs of each specific retail business and set about discussing these with our insurance broker, the same broker we have used for years.

We went into the discussions armed with facts about the business, accurate stock value data and accurate fixed asset value data.

Here are some of the changes we made to our insurance coverage:

  1. Property Cover – Annual Turnover adjusted to reflect trading, Contents including Re-Fit Costs adjusted, & Stock On Hand levels adjusted; These had drifted over time, adding to our costs inappropriately.
  2. Business Interruption –  Gross Profit levels adjusted; This is high cost coverage.
  3. Money Cover – Level reduced from $20K blanket cover per store to $5K (lower limit); We bank daily so there is minimal cash on hand. Also, more and more over the counter payments are non cash so the level of cash cover was too high.
  4. Glass Cover – Removed for for one store as there now is no glass window as well as no internal/external glass;
  5. POS Equipment Breakdown – Removed; We looked at the actual costs and considered that we had not claimed in our 23 years in retail and then determined that we effectively cover ourselves through the saving.
  6. Excesses – Increased from $500 per claim to $1,000 per claim since we have not claimed, ever.

The critical factor for us was that in all our years in retail we have never made a claim on insurance. Then one time our shop was flooded, we claimed against the builder for the landlord for disruption and inventory damage.

The renegotiation process took an hour. Time well spent for the 30% cut in insurance costs saving achieved.

We willingly share with our POS software customers details of our own experiences like this, in more specific detail than at this blog. We are glad to be able to help our customers in this practical way as every dollar shaved from business overheads is worth considerable more than you consider retail margins.

Yes, insurance cover is important. However, pay for what you actually need.

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Helping small business retailers leverage Boxing Day sales

Small business retailers using our POS software and following our retail management advice have had access to terrific tools with which to leverage the Boxing Day / Post Christmas sale opportunity. Our training, support and retail business advice platforms have aligned to help retailers make the most of the seasonal sale opportunity – well in advance of the big day.

Businesses in the city and country, mall and high street have terrific tools to leverage this traditional sale season in the retail year.

While Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other on line events have grown in intensity and popularity, in Australia the Boxing Day / post Christmas sales continue to be an important feature of the retail calendar. We help our retail community make the most of the opportunities.

Our focus has also included training and guiding new retailers and those who have never undertaken such sales. Owning our own retail businesses for years, we have been able to drawn on our own advice to to speak from personal experience, to help those new to the Post Christmas sale opportunity to help it work for them.

From discount facilities to inventory opportunity discovery to targeted marketing tools, our POS software is an ideal platform through which to drive additional revenue this time of the year.

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5 ways to use POS software to reduce labour costs in small business retail

Here are 5 valuable and easy to implement ways retailers are today using our Point of Sale software(POS software) to reduce labour costs in their local  businesses:

  1. Sales counter workflow. In our POS software it is smart, efficient, streamlined and labour cost saving. Best practice too. A competitively run counter can drive business success.
  2. Match revenue and roster. Focussing on rostering to revenue and revenue opportunity is a challenge for small business retailers. Tools in the POS software from Tower Systems help indie retailers do this with ease and consistency. These are tools retailers love as they can drive revenue reduction and / or labour cost reduction.
  3. Smart stock control including reordering. By eliminating manual processes around placing orders for replenishment stock, retailers are able to, in one place and at one time, accurately create orders based on business performance data.  By ordering based on business activity (sales) the business do working based on success rather than gut feel. A business switching to ordering from within their Point of sale system can expect to free up cash by reducing non-performing stock. This process is further improved through digitally engaged supplier relationships.
  4. Customer management including accounts and loyalty. Through computer-based customer accounts and loyalty management, the retail business is able to transact with customers accurately, in a timely manner and in a way which puts customers first.  Generating monthly customer statements, for example, could take a few minutes whereas manual processes could take many hours and face challenges with accuracy.
  5. Fact assisted decision making.  Too many retail businesses spend too much time spinning their wheels pursuing decisions because they are not using business facts to feed these decisions.  All to often we see poor business decisions made based on emotion and or ignorance rather than historical business data.  Replace the error prone and fact-less approach with a fact-based approach and a business will soon find that decisions are more right than wrong.  Retail businesses can bank on the results.

These are just three of the ways in which our Point of Sale software is helping more than 3,000 small business retailers across Australia to improve the management of their businesses, streamline processes and drive more efficient allocation of labour resources.

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Advice for small business retailers on shop layout

The more a retail business looks like a traditional shop in any channel, the more it will be judged as a traditional shop, the more it will perform like a traditional shop. There is nothing wrong with this, if it is a conscious choice.

Through our work at Tower Systems we see awesome and successful retail businesses and less than awesome and not so successful retail businesses.

We encourage you to not run a traditional shop because there is no evidence in performance data or in retail history to indicate that a traditional retail model has any upside in the world today.

The best way to not be considered a traditional shop is to not look like one. Here is some of what this means based on our experience:

  1. Keep visual noise to a minimum. This means less posters and signs. Let your products be seen and be the heroes.
  2. No old-school posters out the front of the shop or hanging in the shop except in exceptional circumstances.
  3. No old-school products stand near the entrance.
  4. Make the front third of the shop open with non-permanent fixtures that are flexible and easily moved. These are best if they are everyday items: tables, a couch, boxes and more. The more colour, texture and style the less like a shop your shop will feel and the more relaxed shoppers will be.
  5. Floor rugs are effective too, under a table fixture especially.
  6. No candy or William old products at the counter. Use the counter for products that are easily purchased on impulse, that play against expectations.
  7. A feature wall behind the counter that can be changed easily.
  8. Different colours and textures rather than the usual shop-fit look.
  9. Different lighting to highlight different part of the business.
  10. Less shop-fit made fixtures and more personally made or found items.
  11. Product placement such that it encourages people to explore. Embrace treasure hunt retail… where people wander the shop hoping to find treasure.
  12. Move tasks, pricing, returns and more to the shop floor. This will reduce shopper theft and increase sales.
  13. Have the least amount of staff resources behind the counter as possible. On the shop floor the same people can guide purchases.

Change is critical in retail today. Change beyond what has been traditional, change that helps you attract new shoppers and through them new revenue opportunities.

While we are  an indie retail POS software co. we are retailers and retail experts. We’re here to help our customers through software, and beyond.

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POS software helps small business retailers add a surcharge for credit card use

Credit cards cost retailers money. Some more so than others. Indeed, some cards can cost a retailer three times as much as the lowest cost card. This is a real cost to business, a cost that retailers are seeking to m mitigate, especially in situations where they are unable to adequately cover the cost due to the fixed price nature of what they sell.

This challenge is especially real in small business retail, where economy of scale is not available and where leverage to push down other overhead costs is not an option.

Here at our POS software company, we have helped retailers for years to have options for charging a surcharge automatically through the software, tracked, managed and collected to help the businesses defray these cards costs.

While the charging of a surcharge is contentious, credit card fees are a real cost of business that is hidden, and that is why big businesses like it we think, because they have negotiating power to keep costs low and therefore not need to recover the card costs they are hit with by banks.

In charging a surcharge, small business retailers are being transparent about real costs and showing customers how they can help businesses to transact on a more equitable footing.

Tower Systems makes it easy. manageable and changeable for indie retailers to charge a credit card use surcharge, which is in line with ACCC requirements, through the software with transparency and tracking through the business and into Xero, MYOB and more through POS software integrations.

Whether you charge a surcharge or not is 100% up to you. For what it’s worth, we do not in the shops we own because they are in competitive Westfield centres and we’d rather not be that business that charges a surcharge.

Tower Systems serves indie specialty retailers with POS software designed specifically for those niche businesses, software tuned to their needs and that help businesses manage more efficiently and safely in a rapidly changing retail environment.

What we offer in the area of a credit card surcharge facility is a small part of a bigger and more valuable offering for indie retailers.

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Good POS software cannot stop poor business retains in small business retail

Good POS software offers flexibility, choices in how the software can be used in a business. What may be a good choice for one business could be a bad choice for another business.

For example, the Tower Systems small business POS software enables the sale of items by department. This could be appropriate in businesses where items are not bar-coded and where stock control is not required because of the unique nature of the products sold.

However, for most retail businesses, selling by department key only is not appropriate. It is old school, risky, poor business management.

A risk of selling items by department, by not scanning each item sold, by not tracking each item sold is loss of visibility of stock movement.

In this scenario, where items are not scanned, it is easy for stock to be stolenby customers or employees and the business owner to either not know or not know until long after the event.

yet, here we are in 2019 and we have some retailers using their POS software too sell items by using the department key, which is genuinely nuts in our humble professional opinion.

Valuable benefits of POS software are the reduction of customer and employee theft, the more efficient management of stock, faster selling and better business management.

All of these benefits are denied a business when it sells items using department keys, when it sells items by not scanning items when they are sold.

While POS software is designed to manage inventory using bar codes, sometimes people make the bad choice to not use this. The consequences of such a bad decision are on them and not on the software as it is doing what they have told it to do through settings over which they have control.

We can help you review your decisions, to improve them, so your use of the software improves. We can help make sure that you are leveraging all the time saving, money saving, mistake saving tools in our small business POS software, to ensure that the benefits flow and that poor business practices are in the past.

We’re here to help.

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How our POS software company helps retailers go cashless if they want

Cashless retail is a thing. It is growing in retail, especially small business retail where trading in cash is challenging with banks withdrawing services and some increasing fees for handling cash.

Tower Systems, in its POS software, helps small business retailers transact without cast cost effectively, safely and quickly. We do this in myriad ways including…

Lower cost direct EFTPOS. We have negotiated excellent, competitive, rates for our 3,000+ customers for direct connect broadband EFTPOS, making accessing EFTPOS cheaper as well as faster and safer. This makes using EFTPOS at the counter as fast as cash if not actually faster.

Direct integration with EFTPOS. This means there is no extra keying of sales amounts, no separate terminal. No slower process for handling. Fewer mistakes. Easier end of shift balancing. More certainty for customers and for the business.

Easier access to cashflow finance. Through the EFTPOS arrangement, there is access to cashflow finance that can help the business better managing capital needs with greater certainty given the flow of funds between EFTPOS and the business bank account.

Direct Xero integration. This means less keystrokes, less accounting and bookkeeping fees, less mistakes and greater business certainty thanks to a more robust base off data on which business decisions can be made.

Business process advice. This includes migrating your end of shift from cash and other payment methods to other only, eliminating the float, making services payments easier and more.

Tower Systems can help retail businesses that want to transition to cashless to achieve this. We are not advocating this as we recognise each business owner needs to make the decision that is right for them. Our message is we are here with a plan if you want it.

As retailers ourselves, the questions about whether to go cashless in retail as well as how to go cashless in retail are as real for us as other retailers. Indeed, these are questions we have right now … hence, our preparation of plans and considerations, so we are positioning ourselves for our retail businesses and are happy to share this with other retailers in our small business retail community.

Cashless is growing in use in retail. We think it is useful and appropriate for retailers to learn how to deal with this. We are here to be a sounding board for anyone interested.

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Let’s talk about empty shops – why there are so many and what can be done about them

Talk to any small business retailer and they will have stories about empty shops in their area that are having a negative impact on their business.

In shopping centres, suburban high streets and country town main roads, there are plenty of empty shops.

Some have been empty for years.

Empty shops make a shopping centre or area feel unpopular, making the task of attracting shoppers harder for remaining retailers. Retailers nearby who are doing it tough will point to empty shops nearby as a core cause.

Some local councils have been innovative in addressing the vacant retail space challenge by opening them to local makers and artists. This has been terrific to see. In Newcastle in NSW, for example, they did some excellent work in this area years ago. Most councils, however, have not.

Why are there so many empty shops? Talk to retailers and they will blame landlords for rents that are too high. Talk to economists and others expert in retail property space as a ratio of population and they will say that Australia has too much retail space. Talk to the folks in some specific towns and they will blame the main street empty spaces on the new mall that has opened just outside town. Talk to almost anyone and they will blame online. Talk to some landlords and they will say retailers are not innovative enough.

As with any contentious issue that has opposing vested interests, it is hard to get to the truth of the situation.

For what it is worth, my opinion is that the answer to the question lies in a mixture of the reasons offered above.

I do think we have too much retail space in Australia. Rent is among the highest in the world. Retail is not that innovative. People are shopping online for convenience. So, yes, I am hedging my bets.

That said, the why does not matter as much as what to do with them.

Occasionally, you can find a pragmatic landlord who is happy to have a space filled at a lower rent than sit empty for a year or more. We think we need more pragmatic landlords.

Occasionally, we see small business retailers burst out of what has been traditional for their type of business and create something genuinely innovative, which is embraced by local shoppers. We need more of this. However, it is hard work, often capital intensive and high risk.

Occasionally, we see empty shops torn down and the space used for something difference. We need to see much more of this. Less retail space is a good thing for retailers and this is good for local communities.

The challenge for small business retailers today with empty shops nearby is how to deal with the stench of those empty shops.

If your landlord has those shops too and there is one next to you, ask them if you can use the space for display. To us, that would be a win win for you both. The key is to craft the right approach that serves the interests of the landlord as well as your own.

If the shops are not from your landlord, the most obvious response will be to be louder and bigger from your premises. By louder, we mean more events to attract shoppers, give people more reason to come to you.

The best way to deal with online is to be online yourself, with a compelling offer, probably under a brand that is not your shop brand, seeking out shoppers far from your shop location.

The alternative to action is to complain because, yeah, complaining achieves a lot … not.

Empty shops are a problem in Australia. How we deal with that in our own retail businesses comes down to us and the actions we take.

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How retail businesses do business is changing fundamentally, are you ready?

Back in the day in retail doing business with supplier representatives was all about face to face contact in-store or a nearby coffee shops. Relationships mattered. This is why suppliers and service providers invested in sales teams.

Good sales people could get a meeting and the required business from face to face interaction.

Today, things are different. Retail businesses run with less staff and management hours in the business. More business decisions are made outside the business, on the road, while at a second job or from home. More business decisions are being made and business transacted without any face to face discussion. Even phone contact matters less.

This shift is, in part, because of broader changes in terms of how we interact with friends and family.

We want to look at what is happening here from the perspective of how we do business with our customers in our retail shops.

More and more transactional business is done without live human contact. There is the obvious route of online (web) for sure. However, there is also business done through message platforms, email and elsewhere, where there is no face to face contact with shoppers.

Are you setup for this? Are you connecting with people through social media and able to sell to them through here? Are you timely in handling emails? Are you prepared with images and information sheets on products you sell so you can sell without face to face?

Without a doubt more and more retail business is being done outside of shops. We in small business retail need to configure and equip our businesses to be able to do this. This is part about technology, part about business mindset and part about availability.

Too often, we see small business retailers express anger and frustration at obvious baddies – landlords, employees, customers and more – for poor business performance.

Right now, with how the conduct of business is shifting, we, all of us – retailers and suppliers to retailers – need to look at ourselves and how we conduct business.

Further, we need to make sure that we are meeting potential customers where they are. We need to realise that more often than ever before, that is outside and, sometimes, far away from our shop. We need to do this when those customers want. Often times, that is when we are closed.

This is the new normal of retail.

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Tower Systems is not your usual POS software company. As retailers ourselves (three shops and seven consumer facing websites of our own) we live closer to your world and this is reflected in ur software and how we serve our POS software customers.

To find out more about our POS software and support for specialty retailers…

  1. WA / SA/ VIC: Tim Batt. 0401 833 917.
  2. NSW / ACT / TAS: Nathan Morrison. 0417 568 148.
  3. QLD / NT: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.
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Small business retailer advice: how to turn off, relax and unwind … to find space to be more successful

Small business retailers need to work relentlessly to find ideas of their own, ideas suited to their unique situation, big ideas and small ideas, ideas for new traffic, products and services.

Owning a business lays this obligation to be perpetually creative, perpetually innovating, on you.

Coming up with fresh ideas can be a challenge. Sometimes, retailers and retail managers experience a block, like writer’s block. Here are suggestions for ways to clear this blockage.

  1. Try a sensory deprivation tank. These are very popular now. The world outside is shut out. It’s weird at first. Your brain soon adjusts and you … relax.
  2. Cook a complex meal that you have never cooked before.
  3. Bake a cake you have never cooked before.
  4. If you don’t do jigsaws, do a jigsaw.
  5. If you don’t make models, make a model.
  6. If you don’t like ballet, go to the ballet.
  7. If you don’t like opera, go to the opera.
  8. Book in and take singing lessons.
  9. Turn your mobile phone off and go and see a movie from your favourite genre.
  10. Go to a music concert for a group you love. Let your hair down. Sing along at the top of your lungs.
  11. Go to a comedy show. Laugh out loud.
  12. Go for a walk in the forest. A long walk. Touch nature. Sit a while and soak it all in.
  13. Go and sit in front of water, preferably an ocean and look out to the horizon.
  14. Lie on your back at night time and look up to the stars. Think about out there and the bigger universe.
  15. Shut yourself in a dark room and put on your favourite music and sing along.
  16. Try yoga, even if you have never done it before.
  17. Light some incense, put on some relaxing music and meditate inwardly, shutting out the world.
  18. Have a therapeutic massage.
  19. Exercise at the gym, run or swim. Work up a sweat and get lost in exercise.
  20. Read a novel from cover to cover without interruption. Choose a work of fiction you are more likely to get lost in.
  21. Do yard work, things you have been putting off for a long time.
  22. Go for a long drive, away from work and home. Get to somewhere you have never been before.
  23. Have a romantic dinner with your partner at a place where you have never been before.
  24. Take an unexpected day off and treat yourself to guilty pleasures.
  25. Buy some lunch and sit outside your retail store, across the mall or across the road and eat.
  26. Write a fictional short story.

These ideas are about you getting lost in experiences which are unrelated to your business and unrelated to what you are used to.

By getting lost, ideas have a better opportunity of surfacing, solutions have a better opportunity of making their way out.

Scheduling time to nurture yourself with ideas like those noted above could help you become more productive and creating for the business.

While the activities should be enjoyable, the business stands to benefit from greater creativity and more focused mental energy.

Have fun and let the great ideas roll!

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Small business retail advice on quitting stock

This advice could be useful to any type of retail business that wants to quit stock, especially if they ant to quit stock quickly. Too often in our work with retailers we see processes in place for quitting stock where speed is not the focus. We think that is unhelpful for once you decide to quit stock, it needs to go, quickly.

If you want to quit stock, quit it, quickly. Quickly means different things to different people. I think it means 7 days … gone and out of the shop in 7 days from when you decide to quit the products. Of course, this will vary based on your own local circumstances.

The easiest way to quit stock is for your shoppers to understand the deal. Understanding the deal starts with how you brand the sale.

A sign with SALE on it could mean anything. Do NOT use this. There are too many around, each meaning a different thing.

A sign with, say, 50% off could be confusing as they don’t know the starting price and some may not understand percentages.

Sign with HALF PRICE is more easily understood but they still do not know the starting price.

If you really want to quit stock, we suggest you have tables or dump bins at price points: $1, $2, $5 – or that ever is appropriate to you.

We, in one of our own shops, tried a $9.99 priced item at 50% off, half price and $5.00. The $5.00 pricing worked the best, by far.

This is my recommendation on quickly quitting stock: get the price messaging right.

If your price messaging is hard to understand or if there are too many different price messages you could be creating a barrier and this could stop you achieving the sales outcome you want.

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The Retail Doctor Podcast

Tower CEO Mark Fletcher was a guest on a recent Podcast by The Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs. Click here for a listen to the thirty-minute program.

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Diversity in retail

Here is an article I have recently completed about diversity in retail, as a management approach to help you attract more customers to your business. I have been thinking about diversity because of an inspirational presentation I heard by Aubrey Bergauer, Executive Director of the California Symphony, in which she outlined how a commitment to diversity has helped the Symphony become more successful.

Diversity in retail.

This is not about what you may think it is about.

For years, retailers, especially small business retailers have been told do one thing right, be known for something.

They have been told that a unique selling proposition(USP) is about that one thing and getting it so right that you are known for it.

This singular focus began in an era when people often discovering a business did so by being in front of the business.

While pursuing a USP has worked for many, the world today has changed. Technology has changed us, it has changed how people find retail businesses.

Whereas in the past, there was often one major path delivering traffic to a business, today, thanks to technology, there are usually many paths, often not as obvious to us as the path of years ago.

Technology has also changed what businesses can and do offer.

Most important, technology has changed the ease of reaching customers.

Being local is not as important as it used to be.

While local small business retailers wish being local is all that matters, it is not. Often, the local community is not sufficient to serve the growth needs of a business, often because locals themselves are shopping elsewhere because doing so is easier.

Retailers need to reach more people. This means reaching beyond what has been traditional. For local retailers it means reaching beyond local. It can mean reaching beyond what you are known for.

Thanks to cool personalisation technology and targeted marketing, businesses interstate or overseas can provide a special interest product in a way that locals can love. Big businesses, especially, can leverage technology to reach local shoppers in personal and local ways.

Being local is notas important as it used to be for plenty of specialty retail businesses.

A commitment to diversity could help local retailers in this changed world.

I am not talking here about diversity in the manner in which the term is often used.

To me, diversity in small business retail is about a business, your business, being diversein the customers it pursues and diversein the ways it seeks to connect with potential new customers.

Customer diversityis about being relevant, appealing and of value to different groups of customers to those you pursue today. No, not everyone, because that does not work.

Diversity in customers is about targeting very specific, new, groups that you are certain you can satisfy.

Why do people shop with you?

Think about what brings people through your front door right now. Typically, a majority of shoppers will come through for one reason, one product or service category.

Is there another product or service category not too distant from what you focus on today that you could introduce to broaden the appeal of the business, to help you reach people who are not interested in your prime product category or service today?

This is one example of diversity … making your business appealing to a group of people who do not find your current offer appealing.

It is not about becoming a general store. Rather, it is about making thoughtful moves, based on research, to broaden the pool of people who couldwant to shop with you.

This is about you reaching more customers.

Diversity in ways of connecting with potential new customersis about how you communicate, how you connect.

Multiple touchpoints matter in this connected world.

While we all get sick of emails, text messages, social media ads and the like, they are sent for a reason, by big businesses with strong tech infrastructure to take care of this follow up.

Think about the new shopper journey in your shop today. Think about how they found you. In small business retail, word of mouth remains important as does store location. But what about other new shoppers, how can they be found?

Diversity in how, where and when you promote your business matters as does diversity in your voice.

How you reach out to an older shopper should be different to how you reach out to a young mum.

How you reach out to someone new to your core product category should be different to how you reach out to someone deeply engaged with your core category.

A more diverse pool of shoppers requires a more diverse approach to find them.

Here’s what I mean: use diverse avenues of marketing and through these use diverse marketing pitches, targeted for a more diverse pool of customers.

Marketing avenues can include social media paid and free, Google Ads, with each being thoughtfully created to pursue a specific type of shopper, one that fits a diversity goal.

Just as you expand what you offer to appeal to new consumers, you expand how you appeal to reach new customers.

Local businesses often promote local. It made sense for years. Today, specialty retailers can easily sell outside the local area, making a commitment to diversity also being about reaching beyond local as that in itself is about pursuing diversity.

It’s about more than what you are known for today.

Here is what it comes down to. What you are known for today is not enoughsince that will limit your appeal to customers interested in that. Smart and tech engaged businesses are chipping away at your core, what you are known for.

Thoughtfully, carefully, broaden the appeal of your business through what you sell and how you pitch. Pursuing a more diverse pool of customers will buttress your business, help it weather change.

This is why diversity matters. It is why you have to make your business appealing to more people and why you have to be more diverse in how you try and find them.

Now, an action plan.

Write down your target customer today. Describe them in a concise way.

Now, think about another customer you could target, a different customer you would like to reach but do not reach today. Think about what you need to do in terms of inventory, shop layout, online engagement and other changes to reach this new customer.

Write down how you promote your business today. Now, think about other ways you could promote your business and other voices, styles, tones you could use to appeal to people you do not appeal to today.

New products, new services, pitched through new voices in new mediums, this is how to attract a more diverse customer pool to your business.

Diversity in retail is simple really. It is about expanding your reach through thoughtful planned actions to reach a more diverse group of customers.

The alternative is to keep doing what you have been doing. That will maintain your current business trajectory.

Mark Fletcher is the owner of Tower Systems, newsXpress and several niche retail businesses.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TOWER SYSTEMS:

NSW / ACT / TAS: Nathan Morrison. 0417 568 148.
QLD / NT: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.
VIC / SA / WA: Tim Batt. 0401 833 917.

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Instant asset write-off benefits for small business retailers

The immediate asset write off benefits that have been further enhanced by the federal government this year present small business retailers investing capital in their businesses tax and other benefits that are worth considering.

The details of what we in small businesses can do are outlined in the simpler depreciation for small businesses information from the Australian Taxation Office:

Right now, the threshold is $30,000. Spend this much on a depreciating asset and you can write it off this financial year. If your business books a profit, the benefit of the write-off can be considerable.

The Tax Office website has excellent details. Your accountant can help too.

The Small Business Development Corporation in Western Australia has an excellent explainer of instant asset write off on their website. Click here to access it.

Click here to access an explainer from Finstro, a business finance company.

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Small business retail advice: making the most of election day

We are getting in early with refreshed election day advice for small business retailers.

Election day in Australia is a terrific opportunity for small business retailers with a spike in the number of people who are out and about. Smart retailers will embrace this opportunity as well as the opportunity of people standing in line waiting to vote and on their phone.

Here are some tips to get you thinking about marketing opportunities for any small retail business this weekend on election day:

  1. Set the front of the shop so it looks completely different – make the most of the extra people out and about. You want people seeing the shop for the first time ages to be surprised at the changes.
  2. Have a party. Plenty of music, activities, drinks and food. Make the day a celebration – to celebrate the end of the dreary campaign.
  3. Have an election sale – but make it fun. Do better than a straight sale. For example, in good Asssie tradition call it keeping the bastards honest sale.
  4. Setup sale tables in the name of local candidates.
  5. Give a discount to any customer who tells you and everyone in the shop a joke about politicians.
  6. Have a game of pin the tail on the politician in the shop.
  7. Declare the shop an election free zone. Maybe have a fine jar for anyone talking about the election on the day – raise money for a local charity.
  8. Promote your business online all Saturday with a series of social media posts so those out and about in lines waiting can see you are engaged.

All these ideas are about having fun on the day and offering a different shopping experience to usual. We hope they get yo8u thinking of what you could do, thinking of ideas of your own.

Here at Tower Systems we are not your usual POS software company. We are engaged with our customers deeply on a range of fronts to help them enjoy their businesses more and to get more from their businesses every day. In addition to excellent POS software for specialty retail businesses, we provide business management advice and support – way beyond the POS software itself.

Whatever you do this election day, have fun.

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How our POS software company helps small business retailers set their businesses for sale

Selling an independent retail business is like selling a house, you need to prepare it so that it looks appealing to prospective purchasers.

The process of preparing a retail business for sale can take time, depending on the state of the business. The earlier you start the better.

The keys are too leave yourself plenty of time and have a plan. The advice we provide here is based on years of service to small business retailers across many different retail channels.

In our work with small business retailers we have been able to build knowledge assets in many areas, including how to set a business up for sale, how too make the offer compelling and the business manageable and enticing. We share a glimpse here into some of our knowledge assets in this area.

Here is our overview advice of what you need to do to prepare your independent retail business for sale.

  1. Maximise profit. What anyone will pay will depend on the profitability of the business. While you should be on this every day, if it is a new project for you, start six months prior to putting the business on the market.
  2. Eliminate dead stock. It looks bad on the shelves and looks bad on the books. Purchasers should not pay full wholesale for inventory more than six months old as your poor buying or management is not their obligation.
  3. Streamline operations. Make the business look easy to run by ensuring it is easy to run for you. The easier it looks to run the more interesting to people who don’t understand the business.
  4. Make the business look appealing. Ensure displays are stunning, the shelves full and every pitch the very best you can make. You want them to want your business because they like it.
  5. Be happy. Owners who talk their business down will find it harder to sell the business. If you are complainer, keep it to yourself or in the family.
  6. Keep your social media presence up to date. Today, many people check out a business online prior to looking at it in-store. Maintain up to date Facebook and other
  7. Get your paperwork in order. Early on, get business documents together and check:
    1. Premises lease.
    2. Equipment lease documents.
    3. Franchise document.
    4. Supplier agreements.
    5. Details of any forward orders.
    6. Any other documents relating to the operation of the business including manuals for any equipment items.
  8. Choose your business broker carefully.

Success at selling your business depends in part on the work you do to prepare it for sale. Extra focus now can help you get timely price satisfaction.

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Tower Systems helps small business retailers deal with cashflow challenges

Two weeks ago we published comprehensive advice for small business retailers on dealing with a cashflow challenge. It was not the first time we have provided business advice on cashflow management and it won’t be the last.

What makes us experts on cashflow management in small business retail?

This is a good question. We are retailers ourselves. We have 3,000+ retail businesses as customers. These points and our decades of service to small business retail position us to be able to help in this area.

Our advice was thoughtfully prepared, reviewed and edited, to ensure it spoke to the needs of local small business retailers, to help them in practical and genuinely useful ways.

We are grateful for the engagement of our small business retailer community, the follow-up questions, their engagement seeking help beyond our written advice.

Helping small business retailers beyond our POS software and with ready to use advice on managing a cashflow challenge is something we are proud of offering as part of our service at Tower Systems.

HERE IS OUR CASHFLOW ADVICE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. 

In it’s simplest form, cashflow management is about ensuring a business has the cash necessary to meet its obligations and, hopefully, build reserves for the owners.

Good cashflow management starts with the understanding that this is your business. You sign the lease. You sign up for any loans. You hire, train, motivate, manage and, maybe, fire the staff. You choose what you sell. You set your prices for most of what you sell. You control how the shop looks. You manage the promotion of the business outside the business. Yes, this is your business.

The cashflow of the business is a product of your choices.

It is critical for every business owner to own their business cashflow performance. Blaming others or external factors is a cop out. harsh as it is, that’s the truth.

MANAGING CASHFLOW.

This list is ordered by priority.

  1. Budget. Have one. Until you do, do nothing. This is priority #1. The budget should include an inventory spend allowance, so you know what you can spend. Plan the budget for the business to be profitable / viable without the need for agency to support it. Business budgeting should involve provision to grow savings / emergency funds without having to borrow / lifestyle choices / exit strategy if you cannot sell the business.
  2. Funding. Before you borrow from any source, get advice as to the appropriateness of this funding. Too often we see expensive, unsecured, loans taken out at ridiculous interest, to the significant cost and harm to the business.
  3. Shop lease. Only sign a lease you are happy with. Be prepared to walk away at the end of the current lease if the new one offered is not good. Run your business through the life of the lease as if you will not take up a new lease in the same location.
  4. Labour costs. Run a lean roster. $25.00 a day saved in labour costs is like $50 to $75 in retail sales. That is, $15,600 to $23,400 in revenue for a six day week over a year.
    1. Ensure every team member has a role description.
    2. Set business performance targets:daily revenue / revenue per labour hour or similar. It is critical everyone working in the business understands the goals and that they support them.
  5. Price for margin. Understand retail price psychology. For example, $13.50 is seen to be the same as $14.99. So, price at $14.99. By pricing to a higher price point you can discount back or fund a loyalty program that discounts for loyalty. Also, choose .99 over .90 or .95.
  6. Loyalty. Run a loyalty program that focusses on people shopping more often with you. Be consistent in your pitch. Do not waver over the offer. It rewards loyalty, not laziness. The focus on loyalty needs to be whole of business, whole of team in pitch and management.
  7. LayBy. Stop it. Instead, offer Oxipay, ZipPay or AfterPay.
  8. Basket depth. Maximise every touchpoint.
    1. Counter. Always have multiple offers at your counter, offers that are easily purchased on impulse, offers that deepen the basket and make a shopper visit more efficient for you.
    2. Top selling items. Look at what is on either side. Make sure the products are relevant and easily purchased with the popular item.
    3. Exit pitch. Make sure you have a compelling and regularly changed pitch to shoppers as they leave the business.
  9. Inventory.
    1. You control your buying. Not a rep of a supplier ordering on your behalf.
    2. A full shop is not necessarily a good shop. A smart shop is better. This is, one that people love to browse, love to shop. Often in retail less is more.
    3. Consider establishing a buying approval process where more than one person participates in buying decision. The goal is to slow impulse purchases. This could be someone outside the business.
    4. If you doubt your ability ton pay, don’t buy.
    5. Move, move and move. Every day there should be movement of products in the sore to keep it feeling fresh.
    6. If products don’t work, quit them as they are worthless if you put them in storage for later.
    7. Work with suppliers, exploring delayed terms or consignment opportunities.

DEALING WITH A CASHFLOW CRISIS.

A cashflow crisis is when you can’t pay your bills on time or a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the cash reserves in the business.Too often, small business retailers ignore a cashflow crisis, leaving action until it is too late.

Here is our advice on how to deal with a cashflow crisis.

  1. Own the problem. Fixing this is on you.
  2. Bring in outside help. This could be a friend, a financial counsellor. The best person will be someone who understands your type of business who can help you see what you don’t see and support you in tough decisions to be made.
  3. Understand the problem. Know if it is short term or long term. Be certain about the role you have played.
  4. If you run customer accounts, collect with urgency.
  5. Ask the landlord for immediate rent relief. The more transparent you are with them the better. Document your case. Be prepared to show your P&L in support of your request.
  6. Cut your roster to bare bones.
  7. If you have stock on sale or return and it is not selling, return for credit.
  8. Immediately start a sale.
    1. Give it a cool, non scary, name.
    2. Price items to sell, especially items for which you have already paid. Even selling below cost frees cash to the business.
    3. Get everything on the shop floor.
    4. Display to clear. i.e. not pretty displays for sale items.
  9. For inventory that you cannot sell, consider eBay.
  10. Consider selling assets. If you have equipment in the business that you no longer use, sell it.
  11. Talk to all your creditors, apologise, outline your plan, ask for help.
  12. When making progress payments on creditors, respect all with payments. NOTE: small regular payments could be key to you not facing debt collection action.
  13. Act. Every decision, every action you take must work to addressing the cashflow challenge. If you have created a plan act on it immediately. This is not a time to overthink things.
  14. Invest. If your cashflow challenge is because of a decline in traffic, not spending money chasing traffic will only make the problem worse. Spend carefully.
  15. Plan for the end point. This will be either coming out on top or closing the business.

The cashflow achieved by a business is a product of your decisions. Be thoughtful in each decision and single-minded in your focus on a better cashflow outcome.

Thanks for reading. We hope 2019 is awesome for you.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director
Tower Systems International (Aust.) Pty Ltd
E | mark@towersystems.com.au.

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Advice for small business retailers on theft

Most theft from independent retail businesses can be identified and reduced through a consistent application of simple management processes and smart use of specialist retail software. Tower Systems has been helping retailers cut theft for decades through issuing advice, responding to requests and by continuing to provide functions in our retail software that allow business owners to identify and track suspicious behaviour – by shoppers, managers and store employees. Over the years our expertise has been called on by police and prosecutors as well as individual retailers.

Follow this advice on how to use our specialist retail POS software to hamper opportunities for theft and bolster the certainty of detecting it before it’s too late:

  1. Employ stock control for high volume items. Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what the software says. Perform a stock take regularly each month. High volume item stock discrepancies are an indicator of theft.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department tracking only – your data needs to be granular to prevent employees taking advantage of loose stock on hand quantities. Not scanning individual stock items is unfortunately an invitation to dishonest employees.
  3. Use the software-based end of shift procedure and have a zero-tolerance policy on cash balance discrepancies. Reconcile banking to your computer software at end of shift. We have seen businesses failing to do this: one was being skimmed regularly of $200 a day.
  4. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One business owner needing to perform banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to the discovery of systematic theft.
  5. Mix up your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  6. Check your audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Our software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  7. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, always research further.
  8. Publish a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. At the bottom of this page is a sample theft policy.
  9. Keep the store counter area clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. Reducing nooks and crannies makes detection of any cash hoarding easier.
  10. Have a “no employee bags” at the counter policy. This makes it harder for dishonest employees to hide stolen cash.
  11. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  12. Beware of calculators and mobile phones at the counter. Employees can use these devices to track how much cash could be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not processed.
  13. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If an employee wants to purchase something ensure they purchase it from the customer’s side of the counter.
  14. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high. Do not take cash handling lightly; if you respect your business procedures your staff are more likely to too. Never take cash from the till for your own personal use, i.e. to buy lunch.
  15. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.

These steps work. They are based on decades of helping small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.

Employee and customer theft costs a typical independent retail business between 3% and 5% of non-agency sales revenue each year. Management attention and smart use of retail software can cut this dramatically. It does not take much time – it is simply about smart procedures and professional processes.

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Advice for small business retailers on how to quit dead stock

Beyond being a POS software company, Tower Systems often provides business management advice to small business retailers.

How do you identify product that is not working? When do you quit a product that is not working? Why should you quit stock? How do you quit the stock? How long should quitting stock take? What if the item does not sell no matter what you do?

These are all questions we will answer here for you in the form of suggestions. What you ultimately do is 100% up to you. Your choices need to reflect your own situation and circumstances.

Identifying product that is not working.

Product is not working if it is not paying its way – paying for the floor space it takes and the time you spend on it. Check your sales, rank all your stock based on sales – look at the bottom performing stock.  Your software should have a ranked Sales Report that lets you list all your stock ranked by unit or $$ sales. Use this to create your list of items to consider.

The other way to identify stock that’s not working for you is to check your back room or other storage facility. Stock that is not generating cash regularly has to be considered dead in our view.

When do you quit a product?

You quit, exit, products when they are not paying their way, when a season is done or when you want to exit that category for some other reason.

Let’s say your rent is $1,250 per square metre per year. If your gross profit averages, say, 50%, you will need to sell $2,500 worth of product to pay for a metre of space. However, this is not the complete consideration as you have labour, power and other costs to cover. The suggested rule of thumb is that your retail sales need to be at least three times that necessary to cover the cost of the space. In the scenario covered here, you should be earning at least $7,500 from a square metre of space. If stock is not delivering this, quitting it could be necessary.

Why quit stock?

To keep your shop fresh, to not be weighed down by dead stock to make your shop look more relevant, to stop hoarding.

How to quit stock.

Here is how we quit stock in retail businesses we operate. These businesses are in shopping centres where retail space is limited and expensive. We are necessarily aggressive.

  1. Set a deadline. We’d suggest two weeks for quitting a product or range of products.
  2. Choose your timing. The best time to quit stock quickly is on your busiest trading days. For many this will be the weekend. Consider structuring your quitting program to run from Thursday through Sunday.
  3. Set your initial price. The discount must be compelling. We’d suggest 50% off. A smaller discount in this marketplace will not get noticed. Think about your discount words: in some areas, HALF PRICE works better than 50% OFF. Sometimes, 2 FOR 1 can be even more effective. A $$ price can work better – for example a dump bin with everything priced at $1. People then don’t have to work anything out.
  4. Move the product to a high traffic location. Display it as a line you are quitting – in a dump bin or in open boxes. This must be in a location away from where the product is usually located. Do not make an attractive display. Consider placing the stock somewhere that people almost stumble over it.
  5. Put up a sign that is either black on white or white on read. Nothing fancy. Even a hand written sign is good. Do not make a complex or attractive sign.
  6. Adjust your price. If sales are not strong enough, go harder with your discount. From 50% off we suggest a drop to a $$ price point. It can be challenging selling something you would have sold for $20.00 at $1 but that $1 is better than getting nothing for the product at all.
  7. Give it away. If the products are not selling, consider giving the stock away to a local charity. Getting it out of your shop for no compensation can be better than it taking space and giving off the wrong message about your business.
  8. Keep track of time. If you decide to be out of the stock within two weeks, stick to that and make it happen with your pricing and placement decisions.
  9. Use the bin. If you can’t sell the item and you can’t give it away, use the bin.
  10. An alternative: If you have a large amount of stock to quit, consider hiring a local hall and running an off site sale. Talk to your suppliers about getting extra stock in for this. You could even plan to do this as an annual event. Consider, too, linking with a local charity to drive interest and create a fund raising opportunity for them.

Quitting stock takes strength and commitment. We urge you to do it to keep your business fresh. Product not selling gives shoppers a bad impression of your business.

Take a look at your shop floor and in your back room. Look at what you can get rid of right away to reduce the anchor of dead stock on your business.

Too many retail businesses have old stock gathering dust. One of the best ways to separate your business is to regularly quit stock that is not performing as it should.

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Advice on avoiding the impact of a ransomware attach on your retail business

Ransomware / malware can come in many forms. Every computer connected to a network in any way is at risk.

There is no guaranteed protection but there are important steps to take. This advice sheet provides advice designed to reduce the risk to your business. Ransomware often comes in the form of a harness looking business email, seeking you to click on something that makes sense.

Often, if the recipient clicks on the attachment in the email, the ZIP file, on a PC running Windows they would have been locked out of the computer and subject to ransomware.

A ransomware attack is where money is demanded to unlock your computer. Often, the computer is not unlocked even after a payment is made.

More and more businesses including small business retailers are being affected by these malicious attacks, they are being locked out of their businesses.

You can reduce the opportunity of being hit by an attack by taking care with emails.

If you are not sure of the sender, ignore the email. Tell everyone who has access to your email. Lay out your ground rules and demand discipline.

Here is our best-practice advice to protect against Ransomware:

  1. Ensure you use professional, up to date, virus protection.
  2. Ensure you have a good firewall with strong settings.
  3. Do not click on emails or attachments unless you are sure of the sender.
    1. Be particularly wary of ZIP files in emails.
    2. The ATO will not email you.
    3. Your bank will not email you.
    4. Australia Post will not email you, not like the example I have posted.
  4. Ensure all passwords you use are strong.
  5. Consider using an email filtering facility.
  6. Do not allow remote access to your computer unless you are certain of the person accessing.
  7. Ensure you have strong passwords. A strong password should include: some CAPS, some numbers and at least one special character. Check your password at: https://howsecureismypassword.net
  8. Change your password regularly.
  9. Run an up to date operating system.
  10. Have rules on computer use: no games, no online gambling, no porn, no personal emails.
  11. Have an overarching rule: do not open any email or go to any website unless you are certain.
  12. Use a cloud backup service like the Tower backup service. This provides the fastest recovery.
  13. Have multiple backup devices for additional protection.
  14. Do not use automatic file replication programs / facilities such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If a file is encrypted with malware / ransomware it will upload to the account and infect other files.

Most ransomware attacks can be avoided by careful scrutiny of your emails and websites you visit.

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How we help small business retailers

In another part of our business we create awesome and engaging marketing collateral for retailer we work with to use in social media, like this…

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