The POS Software Blog

The POS Software Blog

News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

CategoryRetail management advice

Advice from Tower Systems on how to choose the right POS software for your business

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The best advice on choosing the right POS software for your retail business is that you do it yourself. This is not something to outsource, not something to use one of the comparison (marketing) websites for. Do your own research.

Choosing POS software is an important decision, a decision for the long term, a decision directly connected to the financial viability of your retail business.

Take your time.

Start with what you want and what you need. These are different things. Write lists. yes, write them down for the more organised you are the more likely you are to make the best decision for your retail business.

Choosing POS software is not something to rush. Beware of the POS software companies that put limited time deals in front of you. Those companies likely offer POS software that is not ideal and they try and make your choice about price so as to distract you from your lists of needs and wants.

The decision is about what you need and want and each of the POS software companies that you consider. It’s not about what representatives of those companies think about software from other companies. Asking them to comment on competition is not ideal. If you do ask though and if they bag a competitor, ask them how they know this, ask them for evidence.

Be sure to gather evidence in writing. If a representative of a POS software company makes a claim that they will do this or that or that their software does a specific thing you need be sure to describe your need fully and to get their response to this in writing – it could be you rely on this later.

If being local is an important part of what you pitch for your business, think about the local situation of POS software companies you consider. Find out how local a company you are considering is, how local their people are, think about whether their answers factor into your decision making.

See, don’t hear or read. See the software for yourself. Come to the demonstration with unique sales scenarios you see play out in your shop. See how the software handles these. Ask for a recoding of the demonstration so you can share it with others in your business who will use the software for if they feel they are part of your decision making they are more likely to support the decision you ultimately make.

No marketing company, so software comparison website, no consultant can substitute for what you invest in considering POS software for your retail business. Invest the time, your time, and it will reward you with the best decision for your business, you, people who work in the business and the customers of the business.

No software is perfect, and doubt anyone who claims it is. Software that is the best will not be perfect. best is good though. This is why controlling the consideration process yourself is vital, it helps you find what you decide is best.

Small business retail advice: a busy shop can lie to you

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Hi, my name is Mark Fletcher. While here at Tower Systems we make POS software for local small business retailers, I also provide support advice to retailers. I was asked to write an article recently for a small business retail publication. Thinking about a shop I had visited recently and how the performance of the business did not match what the owner thought, I decided to write about how a busy shop can lie to you. Here is the article:

Do you get to the end of the day exhausted from how busy the shop was and feel good about the business? When I bought my first shop, I loved being exhausted by the end of the day. I thought being busy equalled success.

The thing is, a busy shop handling many low-value, low-margin transactions in a day is likely to exhaust you more than a far quieter shop handling fewer transactions at a higher value and with a higher margin.

Now, for simplicity, when I talk about margin here, I am talking about gross profit. This is what you sell an item for, less the cost of the item to your business.

The most important truth about the performance of any business is in the profit and loss statement. This is where everything comes together. On one side is all your sales revenue. On the other side is the cost of stock purchased, along with all other costs such as labour, rent and overheads.

Set yourself up to get easy access to your profit and loss statement yourself without needing to go through an accountant. This is easy to do, especially if your point-of-sale software feeds sales data and inventory purchase invoices direct to the accounting software. Being on top of performance has never been easier.

If your business features low-margin, low-transaction value products, look at opportunities to increase margin on those products and sell more higher price point items with better margins.

The price you charge should reflect what you offer. If your business is convenient, shoppers are likely to be comfortable with a higher price than they may pay elsewhere. If you offer a value-addition, such as differentiating product knowledge or follow-up servicing, this should be considered when setting pricing.

On initial consideration, this may feel too difficult to achieve. I have seen retailers think this, only to realise that they were the barriers to deciding what might work in their shop.

A while back, I was helping a retail business that was rooted in that low transaction value, low margin world. I suggested they add a product category their type of business was not known for. They did, and it was a success. Today, that initial change has led to a complete business transformation, delivering a much-appreciated profit multiple that they could not have achieved had they not changed.

In retail today, there are no rules demanding your business stay in a lane defined by the shingle above your door. By disrupting expectations for your type of business, you can create more success for you and all who rely on the business.

Don’t be duped by your business. Feeling tired is no measure of success. The only measure that matters is the one reflected in the financial statements of the business.

Local retail business advice: small is beautiful

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Hi, my name is Mark Fletcher, I am Managing Director of Tower Systems. We make POS software for local small business retailers. I have also owned retail businesses since 1996. There is plenty of noise aimed at small business owners to scale, to get big. I wrote this article to comment on that and encourage that small is beautiful. here is my article:

I enjoy working in and on my small businesses each day, more than I might if those businesses were much bigger.

Social media, business books, videos and seminars tell business owners to chase size: more likes, more followers, more customers, more revenue, more profit.

Consultants and gurus applaud people for making businesses that are scalable and replicable.

Influencers celebrate follower milestones and encourage others to join in the race for numbers.

It’s as if size is the only measure of success that matters.

Those encouraging small business owners to chase size are often people who profit from you joining the race. Doing what they exhort may serve their goals more than your own. It’s likely to benefit their interests and not be aligned with those they encourage.

The pressure to chase size doesn’t make sense to me. I see it as the pressure on people to relentlessly pursue being slim or having white teeth or a full head of hair. It’s like being happy with what you have is not an option.

Happiness should be the goal—happiness for the business owners, for those who rely on the business for income, and for the customers of the business.

A small business that is profitable can make more money for the owners than a business pursuing scale, especially if that pursuit involves considerable financial risk.

The emotional cost of taking on a loan to fund growth is considerable. Compare this to a small, debt-free, self-sustaining business.

I’ve only ever owned and run small and barely medium-sized businesses. Along the way, I have encountered many big business competitors. While some have scared me for a time, none has hurt my businesses.

I remember a time, decades ago. A supplier to a specialty retail channel my software company served made a multi-million-dollar investment into a software company. They announced they planned to become the industry standard software. I found out that a customer of ours had allowed programmers from this other company to look at how our software worked and the data structures we used. They appeared to be trying to reverse-engineer some very retail channel–specific facilities we had developed.

I was paralysed with anger as I didn’t have the money to mount a legal challenge. Then, I realised that we were already ahead technically and that we should leverage that advantage to reach even further ahead.

Within a year, the other business was in retreat from the retail channel we dominated.

While it sounds cliché, I learned the value of staying the course, being true to the goal of the business regardless of the scale of a competitor confronting you.

In my experience, small businesses are more nimble, innovative and efficient than big businesses. Typically, they will be more profitable. I suspect this is because everything matters and everything is noticed in a small business, whereas inefficiency can go unnoticed in a big business.

Technology makes it easier for us to do more in our small businesses with less and to do so with less risk.

A benefit of being small is easy differentiation, thanks to your people, their knowledge, and their approach to transacting business. In a big business, such personalisation is systemised to be average and, ultimately, lost.

If you value independence and understand the importance of differentiation through personal service, you’ll probably be happier and more fulfilled running a small to mid-size business than chasing scale.

Don’t be told what to think or do. Reach your own conclusion as to what is right for you.

Local retail management advice: don’t be the shop living in the past

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Hi, my name is Mark Fletcher, the Managing Director of Tower Systems. I recently visited a regional town to talk with an innovative retailer, a newsagent who had transitioned their business way beyond tradition. On the same road was another shop, a newsagency that has not changed with the times, a newsagency that was living in the past. I made a short video about this that you might find interesting.

Small business retail advice: step off the treadmill

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Hi, my name is Mark Fletcher, managing Director of Tower Systems. We make POS software for small business retailers. Today I share with you a story about local small business retail and someone I met with plenty of times. I hope you find it helpful. here’s the story:

Alan had worked in his dad’s thriving shop in Sydney for 25 years and had pretty much run things for the last 10 years. He had spent more than half his time in recent years looking at changes they could make to enhance the relevance of the business. He went to retail conferences and trade shows. He took meetings in the shop with people who could help.

I met Alan at conferences and in the shop. Each time he was full of questions about retail trends that relate to his type of business and ideas he could implement.

I loved talking with him because Alan loved talking retail. He had excellent insights and some terrific ideas for transforming the family business.

When the shop lease came up for renewal a couple of years ago, they did not take the option to renew. Even though the business was successful, and Alan had a kit full of ideas on how to navigate changes to their type of business, they gave up and walked away.

Alan never implemented any of his ideas. It turned out he liked to think and talk about change. He and his family closed a shop doing more than $1.5 million a year in product sales.

When it came time to commit, they decided they did not have the energy to engage in change.

They’d overthought change, considered too many options, created an out-of-control project, and all the while not implemented even the simplest of changes in the shop.

There is a saying in the start-up world: Launch early and launch often.

Some repeat a related saying: Fail often.

It is the fear of failure that can get in the way of even the simplest of changes being implemented. I think that is what blocked Alan and his family. They were stuck on a treadmill that went nowhere.

If you know you need to make changes in your business, start. That’s it, start. Do something. Take a step forward. Make a change. No matter how small, it’s a start, and that’s what matters. That action fights back against any fear of failure or other hesitancy.

If you have more ideas beyond one small and simple change, embrace and implement them. The act of making changes will help you develop your plan.

In some retail settings, it is the regular small changes that bring shoppers back. They know that something will be different each time they visit.

Small changes are manageable, often affordable, and measurable.

Big changes can feel daunting and be expensive and, therefore, riskier.

Personally, I like do-it-yourself changes, things we can do in the shop without bringing in an expert.

Alan and his family made good money from their successful business over many years. Had they acted years before the lease renewal on some of the changes Alan had developed, they would have had a business to sell.

Next time you are at a conference or trade show, look for the two or three easy things you can implement at a low cost that have the opportunity of a good reward.

Retail transformation: the inspiring journey of newsXpress Sarina, QLD

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We are grateful to Shelley and Mark Petersen for the opportunity to discuss their journey from purchasing a traditional newsagency in Sarina, 25 minutes out of Mackay in Queensland and their transformation of the business into a loved gift and homewares destination.

This discussion is a deep dive into how to approach change and thrive in a local retail business in a channel that itself is experiencing considerable change.

Neither Mark or Shelley had experience in this type of business when they bought it in 2001. Today, they are experts because of the experiences they have embraced and continue to embrace.

Their pragmatic approach to business is inspiring. Their success is well deserved. Any retailer watching the video will discover how they can evolve their business in ways Shelley and Mark have.

newsXpress Sarina is seen by plenty as a newsagency and Post Office. While it is those things, it is primarily known in Sarina as the place to shop for gifts and things that will surprise. It’s a business of which Shelley and Mark can be proud.

Stocktakes are a thing of the past for retailers and here’s why

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While our POS software has stocktake facilities to enable fast and accurate counting of inventory, it’s not necessary for businesses to do a stocktake at the end of the financial year. You can ignore the end of year stocktake if you are disciplined as to how you run your retail business. here’s what you need to do:

  • Track all inventory arriving in the business at the point of arrival. This is easy with electronic invoices from suppliers or software generated order files.
  • Track all sales, at the point of sale. Scan everything you sell. This is easy to do, for anything.
  • Track all returns at the point of return. Anything you send back to a supplier, scan it out first. The same is true for any products you write off.
  • Spot stocktake parts of the business to get a read on theft.

These straightforward things done in a retail business with consistency and accuracy will provide the business with a stock listing, what you’d usually get from a stocktake, that is accurate for your financials and accurate for your taxation return purposes.

By having a tight and consistent approach to stock management at all appropriate gate points in the business and doing this work daily on stock movements, you negate the need for end of financial year work. This saves time, labour cost and results, actually, in more accurate business data.

Stocktakers, of course, will criticise this as this post makes the point that they are not necessary. the thing is, their manual processes, have been found to be inaccurate and, often, inappropriate. Stocktakers make their money from selling you their services. What we are saying is that with good business management practices you don’t need a stocktaker, you don’t need that cost.

For those who do want to do a stocktake, we make stocktake easy. We have a stocktake process in our POS software that could save you time and help you know what you need to know today.

While doing a stocktake of the whole business is the traditional way, if you break it up and do sections of the shop when it suits, you could, through a rolling stocktake process, have more accurate data with a lower labour cost for the counting of stock.

The Tower Systems POS software lets you do part of the shop if you wish. That could be a shelf, an aisle, a section of the shop or even a single item. Of course, you can do a stocktake for the whole store too.

By doing a stocktake of a section or segment of the business, you can concentrate on high moving items, items more likely to be stolen or for some other reason. You can also schedule these sectional / spot stocktakes in a way that suits your labour availability. Finding half an hour to do a section in a daily roster could save the business money compared to bring people in especially to stocktake.

Having worked with 3,500+ local retail businesses for many years and participated in many stocktakes across a variety of product categories, our advice is that the rolling stocktake approach is usually more time efficient and financially beneficial to a business. This approach does provide you an earlier indication of possible theft challenges.

Good POS software gives you stocktake flexibility and this helps you drive value for your business.

Now, some quick fire stocktake questions, which we answer from the perspective of the Tower Systems software.

  • Can my shop be open while I stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I stop and start the stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I use multiple terminals to stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I use a hand help PDE or PDA? Yes, many brands are supported.
  • Can I use a laptop? Yes.
  • How long will it take? It all depends on your products, store layout and staff training. Time improves as they go usually.
  • How often should I do a stocktake? Once a year for the whole business or weekly in manageable time bites if doing the rolling approach.
  • Will you train us? Yes, we have excellent self-serve and one-on-one training resources and options.

If you are thinking about an end of year stocktake, consider changes you could implement in your business that render this usual end of financial year activity worthless.

POS software AI integrations announced to help local small business retailers stay ahead

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We launched our first POS software ChatGPT AI integration 17 months ago now. We are grateful to have kept up to date with AI developments and how they can help local small business retailers to run more successful and efficient businesses. It’s been a ride for sure.

Keeping abreast of AI developments is important. In a recent update we have done this:

Decommissioning of Legacy AI Models: In line with OpenAI’s recent announcement regarding the phased shutdown of several AI models, we have proactively taken steps to ensure a seamless transition for our users. The affected models have been decommissioned from our system to pave the way for more advanced and capable alternatives.

Introduction of New AI Models: We are thrilled to introduce the addition of two groundbreaking AI models to our system:

  • GPT-3.5-turbo-instruct: An enhanced version designed to understand and execute instructions more efficiently, providing you with faster and more accurate responses.
  • GPT-4: The latest iteration in the GPT series, offering unparalleled AI capabilities with improved understanding, creativity, and contextual awareness.

Of course, there is more work under the hood when it comes to AI and POS software. Our commitment is to help our small business retailer partners to access tools that help them run efficient and forward-leaning businesses.

Being an early-adopter of AI technology for POS software we have experiences on which we can draw. This, and relationships with AI businesses help us play ahead in this space.

Our POS software AI integrations offer practical and smart help to retailers. We back the software facilities with packaged documentation and easy to access stackable training videos. Our goal with these is to demystify the AI side of things to a level that the POS software integration is understood and useful.

Tower Systems is a small business focussed POS software company developing, and supporting POS software for niche specialty retailers. Jewellers, garden centres, bike shops, toy shops, produce businesses, farm supply businesses, fishing shops, pet shops, charity businesses, landscape gardening businesses, antique shops, sewing shops, haberdashery businesses, newsagents and more benefit from this software.

Find out more at www.towersystems.com.au Call 1300 662 957 or email sales@towersystems.com.au

Local retail business advice from our POS software company: trust your data

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Our purpose is to empower local retailers to thrive. Sometimes, that can be challenging when the retailer does not agree with the path indicated in their business data.

It’s true that if you are unhappy with how your business is performing then change is the only option for if you keep doing the same thing, you will experience the same results. In this short video from a few months ago our CEO explores this topic from a range of perspectives.

Tower Systems is a small business focussed POS software company developing, and supporting POS software for niche specialty retailers.

If you are tired of local community group donation requests of your shop, this may help

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Requests from schools, charities, and other local community groups can be a challenging for local small business retailers. They are often made by people who have never shopped with you and may never shop with you.

Guilt is a powerful emotion, and some representing charities and community groups know this. Take a beat and think through how you want to handle such requests in advance of them coming your way. If you have a process you can deal with the requests consistently and with less stress.

Here’s our advice for local small business retailers on handling community group donation requests:

  • Manage your philanthropy like any business activity. Decide how much money you’re willing to donate each year, and then stick to that budget.
  • Get on the front foot. Write to community groups at the start of the year and ask them to submit a proposal if they’d like your support. This way, you can choose the groups that are a good fit for your business and your community.
  • Support the groups that support you. Look for groups that have members who are also your customers. This way, you’re helping both the group and your business.
  • Let your shoppers choose. If you offer discount vouchers, you could let customers donate their vouchers to a local group. This is a great way to get your customers involved in your community giving.
  • Reward engagement. You could offer a discount to customers who are members of a local group. This would encourage them to shop at your business, and it would also support the group. This is critical advice. There has to be a commercial benefit for your business if you are to be able to help these community groups into the future.
  • Educate groups about good engagement. Let groups know that you’re looking for ways to work together to benefit the community. You could ask them to do things like promote your business on their social media pages, or write about you in their newsletters.
  • Write about your engagement. Once you’ve chosen the groups you’re going to support, write about it on your website and social media. Don’t be boastful or arrogant, be grateful. This will help to raise awareness of the groups, and it will also show your customers that you’re committed to giving back to the community.

Remember, your giving should serve both your heart and your business. By following these tips, you can make sure that your donations are a valuable investment for both you and your community.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Be clear about your expectations. Let groups know what you’re looking for in a partnership, and what you expect from them in return.
  • Be professional. Even if you’re dealing with a small community group, it’s important to be professional in your dealings with them.
  • Be grateful. When a group partners with you, be sure to thank them for their support.

By following these tips, you can build strong relationships with community groups and make a real difference in your community.

Why this advice from our POS software company matters: Every day we connect with small business retailers about their businesses, through our help desk, in sales situations and elsewhere. Owning and running a local small business retail shop is challenging, time-consuming. Coming up with fresh ideas is hard. It’s necessary though. The ideas we share here are things we have tried, and found to work.

Stocktakes are unnecessary in retail thanks to smart POS software tech.

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While our Tower Systems POS software for small business retail has stocktake facilities to enable fast and accurate counting of inventory, it really is necessary for businesses to do them at the end of the financial year. The better approach is to:

  • Track all inventory arriving in the business at the point of arrival.
  • Track all sales, at the point of sale.
  • Track all returns at the point of return.
  • Spot stocktake parts of the business to get a read on theft.

These things alone, done with consistency and accuracy will provide the business with a stock listing, what you’d usually get from a stocktake, that is accurate for your financials and accurate for your taxation return purposes.

By having a consistent approach to stock management at all appropriate gate points in the business and doing this work daily on stock movements, you negate the need for end of financial year work. This saves time, labour cost and results, actually, in more accurate business data.

Stocktakers, of course, will criticise this as this post makes the point that they are not necessary. the thing is, their manual processes, have been found to be inaccurate and, often, inappropriate.

For those who do want to do a stocktake, we make stocktake easy.

No, we are not talking about cutting corners or avoiding important and vital work for the business. Rather, we have a stocktake process that could save you time and help you know what you need to know today.

While doing a stocktake of the whole business is the traditional way, if you break it up and do sections of the shop when it suits, you could, through a rolling stocktake process, have more accurate data with a lower labour cost for the counting of stock.

The Tower Systems POS software lets you do part of the shop if you wish. That could be a shelf, an aisle, a section of the shop or even a single item. Of course, you can do a stocktake for the whole store too.

By doing a stocktake of a section or segment of the business, you can concentrate on high moving items, items more likely to be stolen or for some other reason. You can also schedule these sectional / spot stocktakes in a way that suits your labour availability. Finding half an hour to do a section in a daily roster could save the business money compared to bring people in especially to stocktake.

Having worked with 3,500+ local retail businesses for many years and participated in many stocktakes across a variety of product categories, our advice is that the rolling stocktake approach is usually more time efficient and financially beneficial to a business. This approach does provide you an earlier indication of possible theft challenges.

Good POS software gives you stocktake flexibility and this helps you drive value for your business.

Now, some quick fire stocktake questions, which we answer from the perspective of the Tower Systems software.

Can my shop be open while I stocktake? Yes.
Can I stop and start the stocktake? Yes.
Can I use multiple terminals to stocktake? Yes.
Can I use a hand help PDE or PDA? Yes, many brands are supported.
Can I use a laptop? Yes.
How long will it take? It all depends on your products, store layout and staff training. Time improves as they go usually.
How often should I do a stocktake? Once a year for the whole business or weekly in manageable time bites if doing the rolling approach.
Will you train us? Yes, we have excellent self-serve and one-on-one training resources and options.

Our advice to local small business retailers about stocktake is ditch the end of financial year grind, manage stock better through the year and you will make better business decisions through the year as a result.

Small business retail advice: less is more when it comes to visual noise in your shop

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As retailers ourselves for decades, we have learnt first-hand that less is more works when it comes to visual noise in the shop.

Less signs, posters and other visual blocks can impede retail sales. Here’s our practical, no nonsense approach to reducing visual noise in pursuit of sales growth.

If you give your customers too many things to look at inside or outside your business, they will notice less.  Your choices show them what you want them to look at

Less is more. Have less visual noise, less visual pollution, and more will be noticed.

Show your customers what you want them to notice by giving that product, range or display fresh air (visually) around it.

Take a look today, right now, at the visual noise in your shop. It is easy:

Stand at the door of your business facing into the shop and scan around counting the signs you can read and displays you can see.

How many are there?

More messages, more signs = less noticing them.

Yes, less is more.

Here is advice for less visual noise in your business:

  1. Edit. Every few days stand at the front of the shop and review your signage and edit the mix.
  2. Posters and signs. Do not put up any poster or sign unless it is absolutely necessary.
  3. Housekeeping notices. Have all customer notices, such as your exchange policy, discount policy, minimum eftpos charge etc, all in the one unobtrusive place. Neat. Clean.
  4. Call to action signs. If you have items on sale or discounted, place them all in the one location, a designated sale location in your business, with simple and professional signage.
  5. Product signs. For product signage in-store, be consistent in style and look. Smaller signs next to products will work better than big signs from the ceiling – how often do your shoppers walk in looking up anyway?
  6. Colour block. Colour blocked product is more appealing to the eye, it looks less messy, less noisy.
  7. The counter.  Again, edit for clarity, edit for focus on the messages that really matter.
  8. Be clean. Look for clean sight lines, where your products are the feature. Use products themselves to tell stories.

It is common for retailers to say that shoppers don’t look in the shop. An alternative what to look at this is to say that you are going about trying to catch shopper attention in the wrong way.

Reducing visual noise will improve the experience for your shoppers and for those who work in the business. It will focus everyone on what you decide matters the most right now.

This visual boise advice applied to your front window if you have one. What’s the message? Is it clear? Is it focussed? Is it getting attention on the street? the answers will guide you as to what to do next.

…..

Thanks to our retail experience, we are able to provide suggestions b beyond the POS software. This is another differentiating factor for us, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Disaster planning for local small business retailers

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Whether it’s a natural disaster or not, businesses can be challenged by events that are outside the direct control of the business owners and managers. The key to successfully handling such events is the planning in place beforehand.

No one wants to plan for disaster, most don’t. Those who have encountered disaster, large or small, tend to wish they had better planned for it.

This advice is far-reaching, designed to act as a broad list of steps you can undertake to be prepared, or to at least get you thinking about steps you could take. Do it all or some, but do something … otherwise when you need good planning you will not have a plan on which to fall back.

Disaster Planning

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

  1. Create action plans for different events so that those working in the business know exactly what to do. here are some examples of such events:
    1. Power blackout.
    2. Payments (EFTPOS) outage.
    3. Flooding or water ingress impacting the shop.
    4. Police incident directly impacting access to the shop.
    5. Serious health situation by a customer in the shop.
    6. Attack by customer against the business on social media.
    7. Loud complaint by customer in-store impacting other customers.
    8. refusal to supply by a regular supplier.
  2. Keep in one secure place off-site copies of: Business contracts and agreements; employee contact details, business account and other passwords, insurance details, recent photographs of fixtures, fittings and stock.
  3. For records you cannot easily copy or that may change as the trading day unfurls, consider having a go bag ready for you to grab if there is a risk to the premises such as a bushfire.
  4. Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
  5. Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
  6. Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit. Have this checked regularly.
  7. Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
  8. Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
  9. Have a trained first aid officer on staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
  10. Use government resources, there are plenty at state and federal levels.

Insurance Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data Protection

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

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

Disaster planning is important. When you need it the most is when you face a disaster. Don’t be a business owner who realises that only then.

Tower Systems helps small business retailers recover EFTPOS costs with an auto-calculated surcharge

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We make it easy for local small business retailers to accurately apply a surcharge to a purchase based on the type of payment card presented.

With the cost of each card varying and some banks offering card specific costs to businesses, this approach by us makes it more certain for shoppers and retailers when it comes to a surcharge based on the type of card used.

Our POS software talks to the payments processor once the card is presented and instantly a surcharge is calculated and details provided to the shopper. We do this in the way the ACCC requires.

Certain rules apply when a business applies a surcharge to particular cards:

  • the surcharge must not be more than what it costs the business to use that payment type

  • the surcharge can only include costs that are for accepting that particular payment. For example, if a business pays an amount for gateway fees for processing credit card transactions only, the business cannot include this cost in its debit card transactions.

This approach meats with legal obligations of retailers in Australia. It also makes it easier for retailers to cover the cost of card payment, which can be considerable based on the type of card presented.

Using the Tower Systems POS software, local small business retailers can apply a credit or debit card surcharge with certainty, ease and confidence. They can provide good customer service and fully inform shoppers such that they may choose another method of payment.

The rules in Australia for applying the same surcharge for all payment types are that it must not be more than the lowest surcharge they would set for a single payment type. This is from their ACCC website. This is why applying a surcharge based on the actual payment type presented can matter – there is a huge different in payment type costs.

Our POS software makes it easy for small business retailers to apply a surcharge and manage toe collection of this and record keeping associated with it. We take care of business for our customers, make their job easier and provide a safe framework within which they transact with their customers.

PUSHING A CASH IS KING MESSAGE IS A FOOL’S ERRAND IN MY VIEW AND HERE’S WHY

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Too often we see small business retailers pitching cash is king on social media and shake my head. It’s a waste of time. People will pay how they want to pay, if you let them.

Berating people, telling them that cash is better for you and the economy is an argument not backed by facts.

The cost of handling cash is not dissimilar to the cost of taking cashless payments. especially today with fewer bank branches available for cash deposits and making change.

Retailers are retailers. They are service businesses. If someone wants to pay a retailer money, they need to be flexible in the forms in which they receive this. And, if one form of payment is more expensive than another, consider a surcharge for that and explain to your customers why.

Posting on social media about the cost of card payments and bemoaning money banks make from this is not cutting through. You only have to look at the continued growth in card and other non-cash payments to see that. So why waste time and energy complaining about something that has no chance in going your way. Instead, spend time celebrating what you love about your business.

Of course, what you put on social media from and about your business is 100% up to you. The challenge is that anything one retailer in a channel does can speak for more than that one business.

What we want in our business, our prime goal, is more shoppers. Anything that gets in the way of achieving this needs to be considered, and probably dropped. I think the social media posts bemoaning the cost of card payments and calling for people to pay cash are an example of a turn-off social media post. Such posts risk turning people off your business and off colleague businesses in the newsagency channel.

Yes, the payments arrangements in Australia are unnecessarily complex and they do have a cost to our businesses. But, shoppers are flocking to non-cash methods of payment and it is good for our businesses if we accept these with ease and grace.

Instead of waging an unwindable campaign about your preference for cash over card for payment, consider diverting that energy into business improving opportunities such as addressing common expensive management misses that I too often see in local small business retail. Here are low-hanging-fruit ideas I pitch to retailers:

  • Dead stock. A problem not seen is not a problem to too many. In the average indie retail business, dead stock is equal to at least 3% of turnover.

  • Running out of stock. In one business I looked at recently, being out of stock cost the business $15,000 in sales in six months. ordering based on what their software advised would have solved that.

  • Failing the price opportunity. Shoppers are less price conscious than we think they are. Have faith in your business. Price based on the value you offer and not based on fear of competitors.

  • Bloated roster. I often see a bloat cost equal to around 10% of business labour cost.

  • Wrong trading hours. Some stay open too long while others are not open long enough. Either way has a cost to the business.

  • Being blind to theft. Theft in local indie retail retail costs on average between 3% and 5% of turnover. Not watching for it, tracking it and mitigating against it has a cost to the business.

  • Ignorance. No, it’s not bliss. There are insights in software that can guide better decisions, faster decisions, more financially rewarding decisions. Yet, too many in retail don’t want to know.

This is a list of seven action items from which any small business retailer could benefit. Pick any or all of these ahead of spending time going on social media calling for people to pay by cash instead of a card and you will gain more benefit for bottom line.

Almost every survey of local small business retailers lists cashflow as their #1 challenge

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Having access to the cash you need when you need it is critical in business.

Here are some obvious but too often ignored hacks to help improve the cashflow position of a business.

  1. Quit dead stock. In every retail business we work with we find that at least 20% of stock in the business is dead. That’s cash, space and time being wasted. Identify it. Quit it.
  2. Buy better. Buy stock based on evidence from your POS software. This will result in less dead stock and less out of stock situations – a third of all retail businesses we’ve looked at lost revenue by not having in stock products when shoppers wanted.
  3. Compare suppliers. If you have multiple suppliers for a product category. Compare their performance and act on the evidence. POS software can make this easy. We did this in two of our own shops last year and added $25,000+ in high gross profit revenue to each.
  4. Make shopping easier. Do this and people will spend more: make navigating the shop easier, use signs sparingly – ensure every sign is helpful, offer bundles of products to make occasion purchasing easier, include how to sheets with products as appropriate.
  5. Roster to revenue. Labour is usually the second or third highest business cost. Have your best people selling. Make sure every costed hour adds value to the business.
  6. Pass on actual EFTPOS costs. Use your POS software to auto-calculate the actual cost of a card presented and surcharge this per transaction. Shoppers have been educated now to accept this.
  7. Know the cost of theft. Between 2% and 5% of turnover is the cost of theft (shopper and employee) in indie retail in Australia and New Zealand. Use your POS software to know your stats, and act to reduce this.
  8. Attract more shoppers. Yes, this sounds easier said than done. But … a stunning and unexpected front window or street display will catch attention, fun social media posts will catch attention, a relationship with a community group will catch attention, being online will catch attention.
  9. Get current shoppers buying more. A smart loyalty program with the right settings for your business should achieve this for you. Too often local retailers run points-based loyalty that does not differentiate their business.

This list is a start. There is no one thing you can do to improve cashflow. It takes discipline – we learnt that ourselves for our own shops.

We make POS software used by thousands of local retailers. We use our own software in our own physical shops and our consumer-facing websites.

We’re not your average POS software company. To discover more: email sales@towersystems.com.au or call 1300 662 957.

We make software for bike shops, garden centres, jewellers, gift shops, pet shops, landscape supply businesses, repairs businesses, bookshops,
fishing and outdoors shops, newsagents, produce / farm supply businesses, fabric shops, sewing shops, music shops, computer shops, firearms dealers, charity & op. shops, community enterprises and more.

Small business retail management advice: greeting customers

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The sales clerk asks Can I help you?  You answer No thanks, I’m just looking. You wander ar=round the shop and the sales clerk goes back to what they were doing.

It’s a fail in retail.

If you don’t ask a shopper if you can help them, they don’t have an opportunity to say I’m just looking thanks.

Consider changing your opening with shoppers, ditch the old script of opening by asking how can I help?

Consider a welcome greeting of it’s great to see you today or thanks for stopping by or even simply hi. You could try more active engagement like we just got this in, or have you seen this, it’s really cool while showing a product.

Too often in retail team members are trained in scripts to use and requested to follow them by rote. Scripts dehumanise human interaction, they can make what is meant to feel like conversation shallow, useless, noise.

We think it is critical retail team members are encouraged to ditch scripts and be in the moment when engaging with shoppers. It is important all team members feel trust from the business in their ability to engage.

Oh, and who are we? We’re Tower Systems, makers of POS software used by thousands of local small business retailers, and we are retailers ourselves – have been since the 1990s. We’re not your usual POS software company.

One way to make opening conversation with shoppers on the shop floor easier is doing more work on the shop floor, moving tasks there that may otherwise be done in a back office or at the sales counter.

You can nurture conversation skills in the shop by engaging with the team in active conversation.

Now, if a customer does say they are just looking, a simple no worries is a good response. Certainly, don’t follow them around or try more questions. Leave them be.

Years ago, retail staff were told to engage with shoppers, pressured even. It was as if staff engagement was the key to sales success. While, for sure, it can play a role in some settings, there are many other factors that drive sales: the right products, a well laid out shop, a happy shopping environment, compelling offers and happy team members to name a few.

Shoppers who are looking are wonderful to have, much better than no shoppers at all.

Small business retail advice: help! No one engaged with my social media posts

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If people don’t engage with your social media posts it is probably because your posts suck.

People use social media for entertainment. You need to share more entertaining content.

Think about the how of what you sell: How do I use it? How do I care for it? How do I maintain it? Show your products in use; show the outcome, as that sets aspirations that can drive sales.

Show fun ways people can engage with what you sell, especially if these fun ways make fun of you. Having fun in social media content entertains and people use social to be entertained.

Practical social media advice:

  • Be yourself.
  • Be grateful.
  • Have fun.
  • Make fun of yourself every so often.
  • Never post a photo showing too many products. People won’t spend the time zooming in. Stick to one product per photo, and make it good, with the product the hero.
  • Don’t pity post—you know, the oh-poor-me type posts where you can come across as a complainer.
  • Don’t tell people to come buy something. Instead, share people why you love something, how it makes you feel, and what it means to you.
  • Don’t write too much.
  • Ignore advice from social media experts about what to write and when to post.
  • Write from your heart, and post any time.
  • Support your local community in your posts, and support other locally owned businesses near you.
  • Don’t use AI, we can tell.

If a particular type of post doesn’t work, don’t repeat that topic and/or style. Do something different.

Eventually, you will see what works best, and once you do, do more of that.

For ideas, look at social media pages for businesses near you. Look particularly at those with many more followers and more post engagement. Learn from their examples.

Don’t expect to be a social media expert right away, Take your time. Learn. Fall. Pick yourself up. Learn.

The world is full of those who claim to be expert at social media. It’s likely these people are not experts despite a certificate. Anyone can print a certificate. Success is shows in actions, and not words.

We are not social media gurus or experts. we know what works for us in our software company and for the various shops and online businesses we run. The advice we have shared here is advice that has worked for us.

Advice for retailers frustrated about EFTPOS fees

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Retailers often complain about the cost of accepting payment by cards compared to cash.

The thing is, every method of payment has a cost, including cash. In my experience working with retailers, the cost of cash is higher because of theft. However, it is not easily seen, especially in retail businesses that do not research or teach theft.

Here are some business ideas for addressing the cost of EFTPOS:

  1. Promote cash payment – if you want the costs associated with cash of course.
  2. Be clear as to the cost of using a card. You could apply a surcharge, which I think is a ridiculous idea though.
  3. Price knowing that cards will be used by customers. Build the cost into your pricing model. Keep the bump under 1.5% and it is less likely to be noticed.
  4. Lower a cost elsewhere to cover the cost. Shaving a hour of employee rostered time can save you around $30.00, that’s equal to purchases of $3750.00 on a card – depending on the type of card used.
  5. Increase sales. While you should be focussed on this anyway, increasing sales helps you address the EFTPOS cost and more in the business.

If you are annoyed/upset/angry about EFTPOS fees, we suggest you look at parts of your business over which you have control and that offer a better return from your physical and emotional attention:

  1. Dead stock. A problem not seen is not a problem to too many. In the average indie retail business, dead stock is equal to at least 3% of turnover.
  2. Stop running out of stock. Manual process for stock reordering, by retailers and suppliers, regularly result in sell-outs, and, therefore, missed sales. Every time that happens it is a cost to the business. In a retail business I looked at recently, the cost of sell-outs was more than $12,000 in a year, or $6,000 in gross profit, all because of poor re-ordering management.
  3. Bloated roster. Some prefer to spend money on people so they have time to themselves for relaxing, golf or to sit in the back office, where no customer purchases from. I often see a bloat cost equal to around 10% of the roster.
  4. Wrong trading hours. Some stay open too long while others are not open long enough. Either way has a cost to the business.
  5. Being blind to theft. Theft in local indie retail costs on average between 3% and 5% of turnover. Not watching for it, tracking it and mitigating against it has a cost to the business.
  6. The wrong product mix. GP% is a key measure of retail business performance. Increasing yours beyond what is traditional for your channel provides you with a buffer. For example, transaction count / sales can decline and you can be okay. Measure GP%. Set a goal. Chase it. The air is cleaner in above average.
  7. Ignorance. No, it’s not bliss. There are insights in your software that can guide better decisions, faster decisions, more financially rewarding decisions. Yet, too many in retail don’t want to know. That failure costs them plenty.

The items on the above list are all on the retailer to address. The benefit is that addressing these results in a stronger, leaner and more valuable retail business.

Retail business advice: make every day your pay day

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This is advice we first shared many years ago. We have updated it, updated it more, and updated it again this morning.

We think this is the best advice we could give any local small business retailer as it focuses you on what matters most – nurturing daily value from your business.

Everything you do today has to about making money today because what you make today may matter more than what you make when you sell your business.

Let’s get into it:

Retail business advice: make every day your pay day.

It starts with the mindset of every day being your pay day. Every decision needs to be considered in this context.

Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:

  1. Make your shop happy, appealing. Play good music. Smile. be happy to be there. Greet shoppers. Offer free samples. Be engaged.
  2. Make sure your sales counter maximises the opportunity. Keep it efficient. Pitch products that are easily understood and easily bought on impulse.
  3. Charge more every time you can. Where you can, charge more. Even and extra 1% or 2% can make a difference. In our experience, price is often not the factor retailers think it is.  So, look at your prices for opportunities to increate margin.
  4. Get people buying more each visit. Look at what you have where and make sure that key traffic lines have impulse purchase opportunities along the way.
  5. Stock what sells. Use your data. Make sure you don’t run out of good selling items. 75% of retailers miss revenue by not having items shoppers want when they want them. Buying stock based on evidence is more valuable than buying based on emotion.
  6. Be cleverly frugal. When you are considering spending money, think about the value for the business from the spend. Think about the return you could get and the speed of the return. Have some checks and balances in spending decisions to slow them down.
  7. Seek out new customers. New customers are the future lifeblood of any retail business. Attract them with smart and entertaining social media posts, a window display that plays outside what people expect from your shop.
  8. Run with the leanest roster possible. Just about every retail business we review has capacity to lower labour costs. Trimming the roster can come at a cost for the owners – putting in more hours.
  9. Bring people back sooner with a thoughtfully calibrated loyalty offer that funds itself, and drives value. Every retail business needs a core action designed to bring people back. A timed loyalty offer, which expires, is a good way to do this.
  10. Have your best people working the floor, helping customers spend more. Today, retail is not about may I help you. Rather, it is about engaging with the products and subtly showing them off, like theatre.
  11. Have at least one stunning display that attract people from outside the shop, a display people talk about.
  12. Buy as best you can. Take settlement discounts where possible. Pick up supplier offers. never pass on your better buying to customers, unless it suits for some event you are running. Oh, and with this advice about buying – only do it for items you know you will sell for buying product at a discount and having it on the shelves too long is too much of a cost for the business.
  13. De-clutter. Sometimes the best way to be able to see your business and what it can do is for you to have less to look at. This means getting rid of dead stock, dead fixtures, dead corners of the shop. Always be trimming, cleaning and looking.
  14. Change. Every day in your shop change something. Get known as the shop that is never the same. This can be a reason to visit for some shoppers. If you run a  business that rarely changes, you give people a reason to walk on by. So, every day, make a change or two. Encourage your team members to suggest changes. By moving a small stand from one part of the business to another could get it noticed and boost sales.
  15. Stop all busy work. It is easy in a local small business retail to get caught up in doing things. Often, things can be what you do to be busy. Being busy is only good if it is profitable, productive. Declutter your schedule.

Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.

By making every day your payday you bring focus on what matters today and what will matter when you’d decide to sell your business.

Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower Systems POS software helps with this. It is easy.

My name is Mark Fletcher. I am the owner of Tower Systems. I also own retail shops and several online businesses. Every day here at Tower Systems we live what we say, in our software company and in our shops. We make mistakes, and learn from them. It’s some of those mistakes that got us thinking about this, about the approach of making every day your payday.

While our core mission is to grow the customer base for Tower Systems, we know that key to achieving this helping retailers. Plenty of the help we provide is not software related.

In sharing this advice we demonstrate a care for local small business retail and a transparency as to the advice and help we provide.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-fletcher-tower/

Advice for small business retailers on dealing with increasing retail theft

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We know from the news that retail theft has increased. Shoplifting, stealing, retail theft, call it what o=you like, has a financial cost as well as an emotional cost. It can debilitate business owners, managers and team members, multiplying the total cost to the business.

Employee theft is easier to uncover, track and address than shopper theft.

Good POS software will offer proven tools for indicating potential employee theft and do this in a way that empowers business owners to act before the cost to the business is out of control.

The challenge is that many small business retail owners and managers do not use theft discovery and mitigation tools in POS software. We know because our Tower Systems POS software is well resourced in theft detection and mitigation and too often in talking with customers it is discovered later rather than earlier.

Our advice for retailers on employee theft is to use your software, check regularly, act on the indicators to see if there is something concerning there. In our case here at Tower systems – call or email – one of our senior theft mitigation specialists will help. These are people who have worked with the police and insurance companies on such situations. They will Bring that experience to the table for you.

Shopper theft, shoplifting, stealing of products is best discovered by a regular process of what we call spot stock takes. Choose several high interest product categories and every week check stock on hand. This will indicate if there is an issue. If there is not, choose another.

Having a consistent approach to spot stock takes if key to the discovery point of shoplifting.

The best deterrent is your action. Here is our advice to be known as a shop not worth stealing from:

  1. Greet people when they enter the shop. Them seeing you see them, eye to eye, will deter some people planning to steal.
  2. Have systems to collect evidence: CCTV and, when appropriate, matching POS software data.
  3. Always report people caught to the police.
  4. Write about reporting it to the police on social media.
  5. If you have camera evidence of theft but no knowledge of the name, use the photo to try and figure out the identity.

If the problem in your shop is serious and at a point where it is distressing you, consider bringing in a uniformed security guard for a week or two. While there is a cost with that, it makes a physical statement about your approach to the security of your space.

Complaining about theft is not action.

Catching someone and getting your goods back is inadequate action.

Not acting on a hunch because of a fear for what you might discover is not action.

Theft requires action. Typically in local small business retail it is costing the business somewhere between 3% and 5% of turnover. In our experience, retailers trend to not act because they are not sure where to start.

Here at Tower Systems we offer guidance to retail business owners on what to do, actions to take, processes to establish to at least get a handle on what might be happening. That is the best place to start if the business has not been acting consistently up to that point.

Free small business retail advice: Bing Business Profile. Steps you can take to be more easily found.

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Further to our advice in recent emails on how to setup your Google Business Profile, here is advice on doing the same for Bing:

How to set up Bing Places for Business and Connect it with Google My Business

Yes, Bing is a thing. It is growing in popularity as a search engine. It’s leading on Ai integration and that is one reason for growth in its use.

Now, the why: Establishing a strong online presence is crucial to being found, especially by people nearby, searching on their phone. One effective way to ensure your business gets discovered by potential customers is by leveraging local search platforms like Bing Places for Business and Google My Business. In this article, we guide you through the process of setting up Bing Places for Business and offer advice on connecting it with Google My Business to maximise your online visibility.

Here is our advice, which we have followed for our Malvern store.

Part 1: Setting Up Bing Places for Business

  1. Create a Microsoft account: To get started, you’ll need a Microsoft account. If you don’t already have one, visit the Microsoft account creation page and follow the instructions to sign up.
  2. Access Bing Places for Business: Once you have a Microsoft account, navigate to the BingPlaces for Business website (https://www.bingplaces.com/) and sign in using your account credentials.
  3. Claim your business listing: On the Bing Places for Business homepage, search for your business using its name, address, or phone number. If your business appears in the search results, claim it as your own. If not, proceed to create a new listing by selecting the “Add new business” option.
  4. Provide accurate business information: Fill out the required fields with accurate and up-to-date information about your shop, such as the name, address, phone number, website URL, and category. Make sure to be consistent with the details you provide across different online platforms.
  5. Enhance your listing: Bing Places for Business allows you to enhance your listing by adding photos, business hours, descriptions, and other relevant information. Utilise these features to make your listing more appealing and informative to potential customers. These details also help when people search.
  6. Verify your listing: After submitting your business information, you’ll need to verify your listing to prove that you’re the rightful owner. Bing Places for Business offers various verification methods, including phone verification, email verification, or postcard verification. Choose the method that suits you best and follow the instructions provided. We used the phone verification and it was fast, and easy.
  7. Keep it up to date. This is important. It’s also why we outline advice on connecting to Google My Business.

Part 2: Connecting with Google My Business

  1. Sign in to Google My Business: If you haven’t done so already, sign in to your Google account and visit the Google My Business website (https://www.google.com/business/) to access the platform.
  2. Add your business: Click on the “Manage now” button and enter your business name in the search field. If your business appears in the results, select it and proceed to claim it. If not, click on the “Add your business to Google” option.
  3. Provide accurate business details: Fill in the required information about your shop, including the name, address, phone number, website URL, and category. Ensure that the information matches what you’ve provided on Bing Places for Business.
  4. Verify your business: Google My Business requires verification to confirm your ownership. Similar to Bing Places for Business, you can choose from various verification methods, such as phone verification, email verification, or postcard verification. Follow the instructions provided to complete the verification process.
  5. Optimise your listing: Take advantage of the features offered by Google My Business to optimise your listing. Add high-quality photos, specify your business hours, provide a detailed description, and encourage customers to leave reviews. The more complete and engaging your listing is, the better it will perform in search results.
  6. Link Bing Places for Business and Google My Business: To connect the two platforms, visit the Bing Places for Business dashboard and locate the “Connect to Google My Business” option. Follow the provided instructions to link your Bing Places listing with your Google My Business account. This connection enables seamless sharing of your business information across both platforms.

Here are some additional tips to consider:

  1. Consistency is key: Ensure that the information you provide on both platforms is consistent and matches the details displayed on your website and other online directories. This includes your business name, address, phone number, and website URL. Consistency helps build trust and avoids confusion for customers.
  2. Utilise keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords in your business description, category selection, and other fields. This helps search engines understand the nature of your business and improves your chances of appearing in relevant search results. And, you can adjust these as you go.
  3. Monitor and respond to reviews: Regularly check and respond to customer reviews on both BingPlaces for Business and Google My Business. Engaging with your customers demonstrates excellent customer service and shows potential customers that you value their feedback – even if it is negative.
  4. Add additional business attributes: Both platforms offer the option to add extra attributes to your listing. Take advantage of these features to highlight special offerings, amenities, accepted payment methods, or any other relevant details that may attract customers to your shop.
  5. Share photos and videos: Visual content plays a crucial role in attracting customers. Add high-quality photos and, if possible, videos that showcase your products, services, and the ambiance of your shop. This visual representation helps potential customers get a better sense of what to expect when visiting your business.
  6. Monitor analytics: Both Bing Places for Business and Google My Business provide analytics and insights on how users are interacting with your listings. Monitor these analytics regularly to gain valuable insights into customer behaviour, popular search terms, and the overall performance of your listings. Use this information to optimise your strategies and improve your online visibility.

Remember, maintaining an active and updated online presence is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your information, respond to customer inquiries, and adapt your strategies based on analytics to stay ahead in the competitive online marketplace.

By following these steps and implementing effective strategies, you can leverage the power of BingPlaces for Business and Google My Business to enhance your shop’s visibility, attract more customers, and boost your local presence.

We get that this can feel daunting, time consuming and not necessarily immediately valuable. Our advice is that it is valuable, and well worth doing.

Do not pay someone to do this work for you. It’s your business, your digital shop front, your responsibility to set your own narrative.

Aussie small business retailers love using AI to create better product descriptions

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ChatGPT integrated POS software from Aussie company Tower Systems auto-generates more meaningful products descriptions, saving time and removing a pain-point for small business retailers.

Released in February 2023 and fine-tuned since, the ChatGPT integration is loved by retailers.

The product descriptions are concise and tuned for search engine success.

“We run 3 shops ourselves and love the time this saves,” commented Mark Fletcher, Managing Director of Tower Systems. “The ChatGPT integration generates the description based on simple prompts. The retailer can review the text, and adjust if necessary.”

“Local small business retailers are time-poor so anything we can do to save time is a win.”

In a typical shop, coming up with a description for a new product can take several minutes with a range of factors to be considered. The ChatGPT integration eliminates this. The feedback from customers using the new facility are encouraging and motivating to the software developers as it recognises the practical value of their focus on productivity enhancements.

“Looking at product descriptions from many small business retailers, we found many were overwritten and not tuned to search engine needs, thereby denying sales opportunities to these businesses.”

The ChatGPT integrated POS software update was provided to the Tower customer community for no cost. Retailers using the software have the option to not use the AI integration.

It is part of a suite of POS software enhancements that targeted productivity improvements for local small business retailers who use the Tower Systems POS software.
Here is what the ChjatGPT integration looks like live:

Tower Systems serves more than 3,000 local specialty retailers in Australia: newsagents, pet shops, jewellers, garden centres, farm supply businesses, bike shops and gift shops.

The company also owns and runs 3 high street shops in Melbourne and 6 online retail businesses.

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