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…
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…
In our work with Australian newsagents, one of the specialty retail channels in which we serve, we shot a video recently where we look at 2018 so far and offer commentary on the latter half of the year. Here is that in-house produced video:
2018 is not even half over and already it has seen considerable attacks on computers and on websites. Each attack reinforces the need for all businesses, including small businesses, to have appropriate security and backup measured in place to protect business data.
Appropriate backup means:
Our advice is that you use a cloud backup service, like the Tower Backup service we offer. It works in the background, backing up without you having to do a backup. If your business is attacked, getting back to a clean and safe place is easy. Any reputable backup service should be able to offer similar to you.
Please do not put this off. Get protection for your business and your business data. You don’t want to be the person who does this after you have been attacked.
At the very least, backup every day, onto a USB stick for that day. While this is an old-school approach, it is better than nothing at all.
But let’s be clear, cloud backup is our recommendation. Our service provides you with a local backup and an offsite backup, in the cloud. This gives you two backups, excellent protection. We monitor the backups to ensure they are working. If we find an issue, we proactively call you. This is rare from a cloud backup service provider.
Here at Tower Systems we take data security seriously. We provide best-pracie advice. Our customers are welcome to use our service or another, our recommendation, however, is that they do something – to be protected.
Too often small business retailers think about data security after they have been affected. Hence this advice here and in our weekly emails and elsewhere in our touch points with customers.
Small business retailers tend to like marketing they can see. Like the ad in the local paper or the catalogue in letterboxes.
You seeing your own marketing is irrelevant. In fact, it is as irrelevant as many catalogues stuffed in letterboxes.
The best marketing today is about entertainment, accurate engagement measurement, faster delivery and more immediate in-store engagement.
Take the old-school catalogue . Artwork, printing and delivery will take three to six weeks and cost you or your marketing group around $1,500, maybe more.
In many locations, that $1,500 could have funded 60 Facebook campaigns reaching 2,000+ people, carefully targeted with accurate data on engagement.
While catalogues play a role, that role today is far less than two years ago.
A retailer told me they liked the catalogue because they could see it whereas they could not see a Facebook post. This is an old-school view.
In your Tower Systems POS software, you can easily to pitch that you are locally connected business. For example, you can serve, on receipts, local information relevant in your area:
We can help you do this, we can help you show through the software how your business is better for the local community than any big business competitor.
BEING LOCAL BEYOND THE SOFTWARE.
Here are four ideas you could consider to show off a local connection. This collection of ideas is all about things you could do that are newsworthy for the local media:
While none of these ideas is about you selling product, each does better connect your shop with your local community and that is vital.
Here are other tips on boosting the local connection:
Here at Tower Systems we often help small business retailers detect and stop employee theft. One piece of advice that we see as vital to this mission is for a business to have a THEFT POLICY.
Here is a policy we share with our customers. Feel free to use it, modify it and share it.
PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
Yes, you can cut the cost of theft in any retail business. It starts with the right policies and processes.
A business owning three shops went broke months ago, owing close to two million dollars. The liquidators report was released recently, declaring that the business had been trading while insolvent for at least two years. This finding could have serious consequences for the directors.
ASIC defines insolvent trading:
An insolvent company is one that is unable to pay all its debts when they fall due for payment.
Yes, the definition is that simple. The director of the company to which I refer above was a blowhard, a gunna my mother would have called them. Gunna do this or that, with an attitude that they were an amazing business operator. Except, they were not. Many suppliers to the channel were left out of pocket along with banks and the ATO – and through the ATO, all Australians.
In my experience, often, the louder someone is about how great they are in business the worse they are.
ASIC provides advice on what to do if your company is insolvent:
If your company is insolvent, do not allow it to incur further debt. Unless it is possible to promptly restructure, refinance or obtain equity funding to recapitalise the company, generally, your options are to appoint a voluntary administrator or a liquidator. The three most common insolvency procedures are voluntary administration, liquidation and receivership.
ASIC has plenty to say on insolvent trading, including:
If dishonesty is found to be a factor in insolvent trading, a director may also be subject to criminal charges (which can lead to a fine of up to $220,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both). Being found guilty of the criminal offence of insolvent trading will also lead to a director’s disqualification.
ASIC has successfully prosecuted directors for allowing companies to incur debts when the company is insolvent, and has sought orders making directors personally liable for company debts. ASIC also runs a program to visit directors, where appropriate, to make them aware of their responsibilities to prevent insolvent trading.
If you think you may be insolvent, reach out to someone you trust for advice and to be by your side as you navigate the challenges.
The retailer in my story did not want help. They said there was no problem.
In our work with independent small business retailers we get to see man different retail businesses up close. We have seen plenty take on young employees, right out of school. Some do it well while others struggle. Through this time we have see good attributes in school leavers that we share here…
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.
Older employees can being terrific value to a retail business that is keen bring change to the business. Young employees cost less and this is a common appeal among retail business owners.
An older employee could bring more value to the business, they could leverage a better return on labour investment for the business. Here are other benefits that can be available depending on the background, skill set and work interest of the older employee:
When you are looking to fill a vacancy or a new role in the business, consider older person for these and other reasons you can think of. The could bring to the business skills and interest the you can leverage more valuably than the skills and interest of a younger lower cost employee.
Of course, the value of any employee depends on your hiring, training, management and motivation of them.
The post of this post is to suggest that next time you hire you think about an older employee.
Note: The federal government jobactive restart program can help Australian businesses that hire older employees financially:
Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.
Older employees can bring new insights and energy to a business. The right hire could be just want the business needs to explore new traffic opportunities.
Every Christmas, retail businesses see more shoppers in-store, buying gifts and items for seasonal celebration. However, the shops are usually too busy for the retailer team members to engage with traditional loyalty programs that require sign up.
This is where our amazing discount vouchers loyalty program options work a treat.
Without any sign-up overhead, the vouchers work all by themselves, bringing shoppers back or, better still, getting them to spend more than expected in that visit.
Stores that want to connect with shoppers and understand who they are can do so with our discount vouchers, because they are smart and can work with card based loyalty. In fact, shippers who sign up and go that extra step for the business can get an extra reward as a result, if you wish.
Simply by offering discount vouchers this Christmas you will get a boost with monomial cost and zero labour overhead. You can enjoy the traffic, love the traffic, and do well with a loyalty offer that works brilliantly to make the most of Christmas.
Tower Systems offers the tech and business practices to back the tech into real revenue growth for small business retailers.
If you are new to owning or running a retail business it is likely that you have been too busy opening the business and settling in to have time to pay attention to basic advice about running the business.
Business consultants and others who advise business owners, too, often get caught up in big picture strategies and themes to deal with the basics.
In the interests of helping new retailers and retail shop mangers, here is a checklist of basic retail business advice, headlines mainly – not too much detail, just enough to remind you of key areas which need attention to build a stronger and more profitable retail business.
This checklist has been developed over the years of us supporting plenty of start-up small business retailers. The list is based on things we often see them neglect or forget.
We have grouped the advice into business areas.
Hiring, training and managing employees
Too often new retailers and retail store managers look for advice to react to situations. Consider the headline advice in this article early on and revisit it regularly to ensure that you have a strong and healthy business.
Driving shopper efficiency is key for retailers. It is easier to get a shopper in the store to purchase more than to get a new shopper into the store from outside.
In looking at shopper basket efficiency for many different retail businesses we have developed an understanding of basic steps different small business retailers can take to drive shipper efficiency. Here is our advice.
Smile, make conversation, treasure your customers. The more they enjoy shopping in your shop the more they will shop in your shop. Smile. Get good eye contact. Say hello rather than can I help you. The more personal the experience the more they will remember you. This is your point of difference. Personal service is the single most valuable way to drive shopper visit efficiency.
WORK THE SHOP.
Standing behind the counter means you’ll serve people who come to you. The more you are in the body of the shop and engaging with customers the more they will buy. In busy times work the shop – engage, offer up sells. Customer service increases revenue in every situation we have seen. Our advice is you locate a workstation on the shop floor.
Show how products are used.
THE COUNTER AS A SALES TOOL.
Go to your shop counter and look at it from a customer perspective. What’s the message? Is it inviting? Are you using the counter to drive sales? Anyone can put product at their counter. It takes a clever retailer to use the counter to entice customers to buy a product. Use your counter wisely.
It’s difficult to offer every customer an up sell. Instead, use your receipts. Include a $$ off on next purchase. Point it out. Keep it simple, have an expiry date on the coupon. This is an easy win that will bring back shoppers for sure.
TRAINING SALES EMPLOYEES.
Get your employees on side – explain your focus on growth. If they don’t support you, replace them. Respect your employees and ask for their ideas. Use their ideas! Train them. Guide them in providing exceptional service. They are your front line and need to be your most skilled team members.
TARGET, MEASURE, REASSESS.
Keep track of your success and failures. Be realistic in your assessment. Change what is not working and celebrate what is working – keeping your employees informed all the way through the process.
HOT SPOT TARGETS.
Focus on your top, say, 5 items. Watch where people buying these items go in your shop. Watch carefully. Consider what you can do to get them elsewhere in your shop. This is the key – getting people to shop outside their usual category, breaking their habits.
IN STORE SPRUIKER.
In your busiest time in the week bring in a spruiker for use INSIDE your shop. Create some buzz and excitement to draw people away from their usual shopping areas.
A key reason people will stop visiting your shop is that they know what it will be like. A changing shop can be exciting. Good changes will make people want to come in and check out new products and other changes you’ve made.
While much of this advice reads like common sense. Too often we see retailers who have missed the opportunity.
Photos are very important to retailers who sell online. The better the photos of a product the easier it is for an online shopper to purchase.
This is tough small business retailers as they often need to photograph products themselves if they want photos that look different from the stock photos provided by suppliers.
Photography for online sales is different to personal photography.
We get involved in this as it is in our POS software where small business retailers store photos and other content for each product they wish to sell online. Having the one repository for inventory information and images is important. It assists management and provided ease of change should the need arise.
To take better photos, retailers need to have the right tools:
Once photos are taken and the actual ones to be used have been selected, these are loaded into the POS software for use there and for feeding to any ecommerce site used by the business.
If there are bulk photos to be uploaded to an ecommerce site, there are easy ways to do this without having to go through the POS software if that is a preference.
While none of this is related directly to help desk support using our POS software, we happily get involved, sharing the expertise of our team gained from our own retail businesses and the various ecommerce sites with which they connect.
Dead stock is dead money for small business retailers. Too often we see businesses where buying mistakes have been made and action has not been taken to correct the situation.
Using our POS software, small business retailers can make better buying decisions. They can buy based on evidence, hard data showing what works, hard data showing exactly what they need to satisfy demand, based on past performance data.
Small business retailers who buy by the numbers, who buy based on data, are less likely to have dead stock challenges in their businesses.
Here at Tower Systems we provide the software with tools to reduce the incidence of dead stock. We back the software with practical advice and help for our small business customers on how to actually use the tools.
It is one thing to sell someone a hammer and another thing entirely to show how to best use the hammer for safety and efficiency. That is what we do but here the hammer is our smart POS software.
Our goal is to stop the dead stock problem before it is a problem, before the business purchases stock. This can be done as we can show in many businesses with which we engage regularly today. We can show it in our own shops where we use our advised principles to reduce the incidence of dead stock and thereby save the businesses significant costs compared to others.
We work with retailers, retail business employees and suppliers on a range of tech and business solutions to ensure that dead stock is minimised, to provide commercially sound outcomes for small business retailers such that the cost of dead stock reduces in businesses with which we engage.
Our POS software is part of the solution. Training is another. Business management processes are another. Together we combine these and offer our partner small business retailers a solution on which they can rely to achieve better outcomes for themselves and their businesses.
The how, the real nuts and bolts of how are a discussion for a more private place as it is part of our IP, something that separates us in how we have the retailers who use our POS software and who rely on our support and business assistance services.
Through its help for small business retailers, POS software company Tower Systems helps beyond the software, beyond what is usual for a POS software company.
The most recent help has been through practical advice on how to deal with feeling overwhelmed…
If you feel overwhelmed and can’t work out what to do, reach for this list and try one of the practical and safe ideas. They cost nothing.
The goal is to help you see small steps you can take to walk through whatever it is that makes you feel overwhelmed.
If you are struggling beyond what these suggestions can help with, consider speaking with your GP about a mental health plan. This provides access to medical professionals who can help you more effectively deal with what it is that leads you to feel overwhelmed.
Tower Systems develops and supports small business POS software. Our advice and help often reaches beyond what is usual for a POS software company. www.towersystems.com.au
This is another in our series of practice advice for small business retailers.
How to make the most of the teacher gift opportunity.
Gifts for teachers can be lucrative not only at the end of the year but also through the year by establishing your business as a destination for gifts for teachers. As with much in retail, it takes a commitment of time, space and capital.
While you can make money sourcing a teacher pack from a supplier, you will make more by taking a broader approach.
Our advice is that you offer a selection of gifts for teachers including the traditional plaques, mugs, apple-themed, frames and pens but this you expand the offer to include other suggested gifts such as scarves, Charlie Bears, soap, fudge, plush, jigsaw puzzles and other premium gifts.
Don’t be restricted by the traditional teacher gifts. Also, don’t be restricted by a price point. We suggest you show how two or more students could pool funds to buy a bigger gift such as a jigsaw puzzle. Show your customers how they can do this. For example: $19.99 or $10 each if two of you share giving this gift. Maybe even consider a whole of class gift.
Promote the broader range of gifts with an appropriate sign such as: GIVE SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE USED.
Have your suggested gifts represented together in a location branded as gifts for teachers.
Be sure to include cards in your range – Thank You cards and blank cards. Consider packaging selected gifts and cards together to make buying easy.
Also consider a discount if customers purchase above a threshold for multiple teachers. For example, you could offer 10% off for purchases of $25.00 or more. Choose a spend hurdle that suits your area.
Marketing and promotion tips:
Tower Systems understands the importance of branding in its business serving small business retailers with POS software. We also understand the importance in shops.
We enable beautiful branding opportunities for retailers using our POS software with professional branding of receipts and other customer touch points produced and managed through our software.
It is easy to do this.
Providing retailers with opportunities for concisely pitching branding helps locally run independent retail businesses to be consistent in their messaging.
We know from expert marketing research that multiple touch points for a brand is vital to brand awareness and trust. This is one of several key reasons why independent retailers need to embrace branding opportunities on everyday contact points, such as receipts, customer displays, shelf talkers, barcode labels, outdoor product tags and more.
By enabling beautiful customised customer touch points, Tower Systems helps small business retailers shine a light on their brand. We are proud to do this.
The photo is of a box of receipt rolls. We provide theses with fresh hardware installations by our team and sell them to our customers. Even at this level of our business, professional branding matters.
The importance of accurate stock on hand data is critical, especially for retailers with online sales.
We recommend regular custom stock takes for the categories where you transact online.
A consequence of more regular stock takes is greater understanding of theft from the business. Rather than getting angry about discovering the extent of theft, which a lot of retailers do, act to manage theft. This is the best reaction you can have to theft of stock.
Too often, retailers sit in the office or the back room. Problems like this are not fixed from the back room – they are fixed from the shop floor.
Too often work is done in the back room or away from customer sight that could be done on the shop floor and thereby reduce shopper theft. The more work you do on the shop floor the greater deterrent to those who would steal.
The only way to reduce theft is to change things. If what you change does not work, change more. Keep changing until you find the answer.
Note: those often stealing the most are not those you suspect.
In our weekly email to retailers using our POS software we including images of retail businesses we have recently seen that inspire us. Here is one of a suite of images we shared recently of a very different gallery / store we visited. It is inspiring as the other photos shared with our customers show.
There have been many reports about Amazon opening distribution centres in Australia, with the first, in Dandenong Victoria, well advanced in preparation.
Little advice has been provided to small business retailers on what is needed to compete in this ever evolving online-focussed world.
At this workshop we will share insights from the various retail store connected websites that were run. We will show when, hope and why people shop. We will take you under the hood, back to what they search Google for.
We will explain steps you can take in your business to win business that Amazon sellers m might otherwise try and win from you.
We will show how you can get online in any type of business, without breaking the bank and without needing your own tech employee.
Plus, we will answer every question you have. Without obligation.
Book now. These workshops are free. All welcome.
We will demonstrate live websites that are connected to our small business POS software in local businesses. we will also show how to transfer stock to a website and how to manage images. We will answer all your website related questions. Bookings are essential.
We develop software and websites for: gift shops, jewellers, bike shops, toy shops, fishing/outdoors businesses, garden centres/nurseries, pet shops, produce stores, firearms businesses and newsagents.
If you have questions, please call our Sydney Account Manager, Nathan Morrison on 0417 568 148.
Check out a display we saw last week at the Gift Fair in Atlanta. This is from a wholesaler of Halloween related products. The display is inspiring for the way it makes a statement about this terrific seasonal opportunity.
Our advice to small business retailers when it comes to the best training hours too open is to consider carefully the evidence available, for your specific business.
When was the last time you assessed sales by time and particularly at sales revenue at the start of the day and at the end of the day?
It could be that you are opening your small business retail shop too early or too late or that you are closing too early or too late.
What does your data show?
Use your POS software to assess sales at the fringe of the day for, say, the last six months. Look overall and then for each day of the week. Good software should allow you to do this level of reporting. Work out the slew revenue per hour, apply your overall gross profit percentage and then deduct the hourly cost of being open.
If, for example, your average revenue is $30 for an hour at the start of the day and you have staff working this time and they don’t have much else to do those days and you have, say, GP of 32%, your GP is $9.60. Once you pay wages for the hour you are losing money. If the customers are not regulars it could be that you are better off closing.
If, on the other hand, your sales are $100 or more in the first hour, it could be that opening earlier could win even more business.
Only you can make the assessment of what is right for your business.
Our advice today is look at your data and make sure you are open the right hours for the best possible financial outcome for your retail business.
We get to see plenty of retail businesses in our ravels here at Tower Systems. Here are some recent displays we have in retail that we like: