POS software blog

About our POS software for local small business retailers

Category: Retail management advice (page 1 of 9)

Where to buy computer hardware for your retail business

Buying computer hardware for a retail business can be daunting. There are plenty of people who will offer advice and plenty of sources for acquiring hardware for a retail business.

The hardware retail businesses need is specialty in nature. You can’t put in a regular computer. Likewise, you can’t hop on eBay and buy any barcode scanner you find.

No, you need to purchase hardware that is fit for purpose for your retail business, you need hardware that is designed to work with the specialty POS software you have chosen for your retail business.

Take your time, do your research and know that you get what you pay for. Go cheap and you most likely buy hardware for your retail business that is not ideal or may not last as long as quality hardware lasts.

Not all barcode scanners are the same.

Not all receipt printers are the same.

Not all cash drawers are the same.

Not all computers are the same.

With computer hardware, you get what you pay for.

Our advice is think about your shop and what you say to people who say to you that your prices for what you sell are too high. What response do you give them. Think about whether you give yourself that same response if you are looking to buy cheap hardware for your retail business.

We have seen people buy cheap scanners who need to replace them with better and more suited scanners.

We have seen people buy cheap printers for their business only to replace them with printers that actually work in their type of business.

Yes, there really is specialty hardware for specialty retail. It sometimes costs more, but it usually saves money in the long term.

We run an online shop offering computer hardware for retail businesses. It is a small sideline for us, something we got into in service of retail businesses trading on our POS software and looking for quality hardware they could trust, hardware that we ourselves back.

The computer hardware that we recommend to retail businesses is quality hardware, recommended as ideal for the customers we serve. It is hardware backed by good manufacturer warranties, hardware with which we are personally familiar.

Our advice to retail businesses looking to buy hardware, barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, customer displays and more is take your time, do your research, do not be driven by price, make sure that the hardware you are considering is right for the software you use in your business.

Take care and buy what is best for your business.

0 likes

Small business retail advice: finding optimism

Every day can be tough in small business. You can feel like the big competitors are winning and that you can’t climb the mountain to compete. You may not know where to start.

For some, 2020 has been that year, the year of challenges and worry so much that seeing ahead to the horizon can be difficult.

There are green shoots of good news and opportunities in every small and independent retail business that we look at. The key is to find these and to leverage them for more success.

A green shoot is a product or a category of products or a supplier performing above average in the business. Often, these successes have gone unnoticed.

Finding optimism is like mining, you have to look for it, sometimes for a long time. It is there, though, in every retail business.

As soon as you hear yourself talking your business down, STOP. Look at your data, look for the good news. That is what you need to think and talk about.

By looking at your data, we mean looking at year on year, quarter on quarter or month on month comparison data for departments, categories, suppliers or even individual products. Look for growth and once you see growth, think about what you can do with and around the products achieving growth so that you can achieve other growth.

Any product achieving year on year increases in unit sales is a product to be appreciated, nurtured and used to help grow other products that can sell to the same customer.

This is how you grow optimism. Find those small green shoots, no matter how small, leverage them with some small steps and, over time, build more success for your business.

Here at Tower Systems, we go beyond our POS software in our help for small business retailers. We leverage our knowledge to deliver good outcomes for our customers based on their business performance data. We work with them, guiding them, helping them to see opportunities and encouraging them to lean in to green shoots of success.

We are grateful to our small business retail customers for their engagement with son this path to success by cultivating green shoots.

0 likes

POS software integrated buy now pay later solutions for small business retailers

POS software company Tower Systems offers its 3,500+ small business retailer community several options for integrated buy now pay later payment options for customers.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be early adopters of integrated buy now pay later solutions for small business retailers. We were the first POS software company to integrate with Humm, the terrific buy now pay later platform that now has a legion of customers and retailers engaged with it.

Our work with Humm was ground breaking, laying a path forward for many POS software companies, offering them a buy now pay later integration that suits many different types of specialty small business retailers.

The tech folks at Humm were a joy to work with as together we developed the approach for over the counter sale through POS software of products purchased using the Humm buy now pay later app.

Humm was our first POS software buy noway later integration with our POS software but certainly not our last we this space of finch has expanded rapidly. We are grateful to offer our retailers choice, with a nod to fees and charges, enabling our small business retail partners to manage their cost base and attract shoppers looking for payment flexibility.

Another buy now pay later integration we offer our small business retail customers is with the Zip platform and their Zip products that serve the buy now pay later shopper needs. Using Zip is easy, fast and secure for the shopper and for the retailer. the Zip integration with our POS software is seamless, direct. This is a perfect solution for small business retailers looking to offer respected buy now pay later payment options.

While some retailers continue to offer LayBy, it is the buy now pay later option that shoppers like, especially where they want immediate access to the product. It suits retailers, too, as they are not dealing with prescriptive LayBy regulations that can end up disadvantaging the retailer through the change of mind requirement.

Whether it is through, Zip, Humm or some other buy now pay later payment offering, Tower Systems is grateful to help small business retailers across plenty of specialty retail channels to connect with shoppers how, when and where they like, through our locally made and supported POS software. 

0 likes

Everyday retail management advice: measure everything and win

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

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

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

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

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

Advice for small business retailers on combatting the Covid recession

Whether we like it or not, the world economy is in recession, a Covid recession. While each country fares differently, the recession is global.

While small business retail is vulnerable, it is well positioned to trade out of the Covid recession. Here is our advice for small business retailers on combatting the Covid recession, or at least on guiding trading in your business to be against trend.

Our advice is based on decades of work with many different retail businesses across multiple retail channels. It also drains on our own experience running several different types of retail businesses.

  • Get shoppers buying more. Increasing your average visit spend value can be done through smart loyalty lever engagement as well as intelligent product location on the shop floor and with appropriate encouragement for multi-item purchases. Our POS software helps with all of these. It offers facilities through which you can systemise your approach to these and retailers activities.
  • Bring shoppers back sooner. You can do this with targeted emails that are based on past shopper behaviour, financial encouragement to shop sooner than they otherwise might and by offering items people collect and add to. Our POS software can support each of these activities in a consistent and easy to manage way.
  • Improve retail floorspace performance. Outside of inventory, labour and retail space are the highest costs to any retail business. maximising return from retail space and from labour engageed in managing retail space is key to success. Using our POS software you can stock more of what does sell and less of what does not sell – thereby improving the return on labour and retail space investment.
  • Broaden your shopper reach. While opening the doors is considered a marketing activity in many small retail businesses, for a small effort and investment you can be online connected to your POS software and selling products to shoppers far away, shoppers =not in your current reach … thereby improving the efficiency of the business.

Much of what a small retail business can achieve in trading against the trend of a Covid recession comes down to decisions made in the business, decisions about products, people and marketing that can be leveraged through smart POS software.

We’re here to help!

Tower Systems is grateful to serve thousands of small and independent t retail businesses in Australia and New Zealand in service of profit and enjoyment.

0 likes

Free socials to help small business retailers pitch good habits

We help our small business POS software customers with free social media content for appreciation and behavioural encouragement. Here are some of our new social media posts made available to Tower Systems customers:

Thanks to our creative in-house marketing team, plenty of social media content collateral is available to help customers of Tower Systems promote their businesses.

0 likes

Help for local small business retailers to compete from our POS software co.

Tower Systems is an Australian POS software company. We help local small business retailers compete, especially against big and better resourced competitors.

We are an unusual POS software company in that we own and run shops ourselves as well as several online businesses. We leverage our own experience in competing with big businesses in the advice, and help we provide to local small business retailers.

The work we do, the help we provide, it goes beyond POS software. While our POS software is at the core of what we deliver, the help we provide goes beyond this as we provide advice, support and encouragement to local small business retailers.

We gladly leverage our own retail marketing, small business accounting and other broader skills in service of help for local small business retailers.

The help we have provided has ranged from advice on containing employee theft, social media marketing and strategic management. However, it is our advice on how to compete with bigger and better resourced competitors that has been the most beneficial.

Through our POS software, local small business retailers can change the narrative. By this, we mean they can change the conversation such that it is difficult to compare the small business with a big business. This is done in a range of smart ways in the POS software, making it hard for shoppers to compare.

The other key move we facilitate through our POS software is through helping local small business retailers to differentiate through the added-value offered with products. This can be information and more as curated through the POS software.

Big businesses primarily compete on price. Price is their go-to move to compete. Price often does not help as it cuts margin. Our approach through our PSO software work is to help local business retailers to re-package what they sell so comparing like for like is not easy. This can show the local business as offering something more relevant and useful.

Beyond the software itself, Tower Systems helps small business retailers by offering its software on a rental model, helping;ing retailers to access the POS software and complete training and support retailers for a few dollars a day. They can do this without having to complete an onerous finance agreement. Indeed, through the Tower Systems software, retailers are quit the software and the associated rental at any time.

Local small business retailers can compete by being engaged, creative and focussed. here at Tower Systems we will help in any way we can. We see local small business retail as key in any economy.

0 likes

Small business retail management advice: make every day your pay day

In our work with more than 3,500 small business retailers, independent retailers, mainly high street retailers, we have developed a kit of advice from which we draw to help these retailers run more successful and enjoyable businesses.

One piece of advice that we have found to be most useful is what we share here today. It is advice that is rooted in practicality and personal accountability. We offer it today and hope you find it useful…

Make every day your pay day.

Some retailers consider the day the sell their business as their pay day.  Smarter retailers know that every day the business is open and trading is a pay day.

It is unrealistic to look on a retail business as a bank accruing interest which is repaid in the form of goodwill when the business is sold.  However, this is how many retailers do view their businesses.  So much so in fact that they lose focus on the profitability of the business on a day to day basis.

The Small Steps Strategy for Growth outlined in the previous chapter is vitally important to ensuring the best possible pay day every day.

By making every day your pay day, you focus on profitability today and not next year or the year after, when you ultimately sell the business.

If you run your retail business this way, focusing on driving traffic, leveraging sales efficiency and ensuring the best possible margin every time, you will see profitability improve.  While this will drive up the ultimate sales price you can achieve for the business, it will also put more money in your pocket from the business every day.

By driving profitability on a day by day basis, as if this is all that matters, you will take more notice of employee costs, sales efficiency and other more micro factors and drivers in the business.

You are more likely to make changes if you view sales and profitability data on a daily perspective rather than for a longer period such as quarterly or annually.

Did you make enough yesterday to pay for the rent, employee costs, cost of goods sold, marketing and utility costs as well as to pay yourself?

If not, what can you do to change this?

If so, did you make enough?

These are the challenges and the opportunities we will explore in this special report.  By looking at your business as if every day is your pay day, you are more likely to look more closely at your business than if you are focused on the day you sell as your pay day.  Obsess about these things and you are more likely to bank the results.

If you don’t know how you are doing daily or weekly, you need to put in place manual or computer based systems which enable you to track and report on this.  Good or bad, it is information you need to make better business decisions.

So, how did you do today or this week?  Make enough to pay all your bills, your employees and yourself?  Look on and work on every day as your pay day.

1 likes

Staff management tips and advice for local small business retailers

In our work with more than 3,500 small business retailers across a diverse mix of retail channels, we have collected, along the way, a kit of tips and advice for managing staff in retail. We share some of these tips today here as an insight into the help we can provide beyond our POS software, beyond what you may expect from a POS software company too.

We are interested in retail business management, especially small retail business management, as we own and run shops ourselves and have done so since February 1996. We bought our first shop to give us a live test site. It’s grown since then.

Before we get to the tips themselves, we like this selection because it focusses on the management challenge as well as on the financial outcome for the business.

Here are some of the small business retail staff management tips we like:

  1. Set sales goals. In our experience, people perform well when they know the goal. It could be individual goals or a business-wide goal.
  2. Track performance. If not for reward, at least for active management engagement.
  3. Reduce mistakes and theft. Get employee code or number entered for each sale. It works.
  4. Skill your people. Make sure they understand the software and how they can use it to achieve more for the business.
  5. Change the roster. Roster changes can push back against predictability, they can also uncover opportunities.
  6. Set standards. In your POS you can establish standards for data to be followed – product naming conventions, department descriptions and more. The more consistency in your data the more valuable your data.
  7. Stop using the back room. You can’t sell product from the back room. Have staff do all pricing and other usual back room tasks on the shop floor.
  8. Track location performance. Train your staff in the process of tracking the performance of impulse locations. Moving a product could help it find customers. Make sure staff understand what you are looking for.
  9. Share basket insights. Knowing what sells alone and what sells with what can help staff make better decisions as to what is placed where on the shop floor.
  10. Ask them. Yes, ask them what you should / could stock, ask them what think a product is worth. Value their input and they will value more working for the business.
  11. Cut data handling. At every possible point, stop touching data. Having it flow from electronic supplier invoices through the POS to scanned sales through to Xero for accounting can reduce mistakes and possible fraud opportunities.

There are many opportunities for managing staff through and with your POS software. This can improve the business and enhance their experience with your business.

 

1 likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

5 steps guaranteed to cut theft in any retail business

Theft in retail costs more than money or goods taken. There is an emotional cost, which can play into an impact on business management.

In our work with thousands of independent retail businesses we have tuned a list of actions that we see work well in cutting theft in retail.

  1. Spot stock take. Allocate time daily to spot check stock on hand. We suggest 15 to 20 minutes a day to different areas of the shop could reveal customer theft challenges. Spot stock takes are fast, easy and guide data accuracy. Most important, they reveal theft.
  2. Track everything you sell. The moment a retailer does not track stock that comes in and goes out of a business is the moment the retailer takes their eye off the ball and allow people who till steal to steal. While it sounds boring, managing stock is key early identification of theft, especially employee theft.
  3. Eliminate manual handling of data. Every time data is handled manually you create a weakness that a thief can exploit. For example, if sales data do not flow automatically from your POS to your accounting software, there can be an opportunity for someone handling cash to skim prior to banking. From receiving inventory invoices electronically to scanning everything you sell to a direct connection between your POS and your accounting software, like Xero, every keystroke eliminated is potential theft avoided.
  4. Look under the hood at keystroke patterns. Smart POS software will maintain, in a secret location and under appropriate security data that could reveal misbehaviour by staff as part of a systematic theft program. This type of analysis has uncovered the deletion of sales to enable the removal of cash from a til by an employee stealing from the business.
  5. Surprise moves like roster changes, spot checks in-store, mid-day cash-outs and more can break a pattern and make it difficult for anyone who seeks to leverage a consistent pattern to engage in theft. We know of one case where the rubbing bins were emptied an hour earlier than usual and by someone who does not usually do this work and in doing so a roll of notes was found, which led to long-term theft discovery.

Theft hurts retail businesses in many ways. Independent retailers can cut the cost of theft by following steps like those outlined here.

Tower Systems works with small business retailers using its POS software to help them cut employee and customer theft. We have provided expert help to police and prosecutors. We have people in our business who have been used as expert witnesses in court cases.

We are committed to helping small business retailers cut employee and customer theft. Every Tower customer has access to a free theft check service.

0 likes

Gift shop marketing advice for small business gift retailers

How to market your gift shop … everyday ideas for gift shop marketing to help any local independent gift shop attract more shoppers and get shoppers spending more money in each visit.

We have owned our own small business gift shops since the late 1990s. These physical store and online store situations have provided us with opportunities to leverage low-cost and no-cost marketing to grow the businesses. The experience has also helped us improve our gift shop software.

Today, we share some marketing ideas for gifts shops, to help these local and vital businesses grow in service of their local communities.

  • Be smart about where you place products. Use the insights data from your POS software to see what sells with what. This usually gets you placing products together that you would usually not place together.
  • Buy smart. Too often we see gift shops filled with stock the owners like, which is often different to the products gift shop customers preference. Using the data curated by the POS software, order what sells and sell more of this.
  • Email regular customers. It’s easier to bring them back than find new customers. Email them based on past purchases and based on future life events.
  • Stop copying others. While it is tempting to copy what we see as successful moves in other businesses, copying does to differentiate. Run your own race. Play your own game. One area where doing your own thing is best does is in loyalty. While most businesses offer points, our advice is that you offer a cash discount off the next purchase. This can be easily managed through your POS software. A cash amount off the next purchase is more likely to get a one time shopper spending more in that visit, making that one visit worth more than it otherwise might to the business.
  • Pre-sell and bank the revenue before you pay for the goods. Tapping into popular licence opportunities and limited-edition ranges you can sell products before you receive them from your suppliers, before you pay for them. This pre-sell approach can differentiate your business by seeing you go out with something well before a competitor has it is stock.
  • Clip the coffee card but in a smart way for gift shops that don’t sell coffee. If your gift shop sells things people could purchase multiple times over months or a year, setup a digital coffee type cared where you stamp the card for each purchase and offer a discount or something free after the customer reaches a target number of purchases.
  • Go online, cleverly. While everyone says sell online, we say do it cleverly, do it in a way that leverages the power of search engines, do it in a way to connects your gift shop with shoppers who know nothing about you. The type of online selling we suggest is connected to your POS software and it uses the smarts you have built into the data managed by that software.

We can offer more advice than this, more marketing advice for gift shops, to help them grow, be more successful and more enjoyable for all involved.

This is another Tower Systems advantage.

0 likes

Retail solutions for small business retailers in Australia

Small business retailers appreciate retail solutions, they appreciate real help to real everyday challenges.

Here at Tower Systems we offer retail solutions. Often, the retail solutions go beyond our POS software, go beyond what is usual for a POS software company.

Our retail solutions, retail advice and retail business counselling comes from a place of experience, from being retailers ourselves for more than 25 years and from our 40 years of service of indie retailers.

Here is one example of retail advice, retail solutions for small business retailers.

This is practical advice, practical retail solutions, designed for helping retailers. We call this our Small steps strategy for growth in small business retail. This is a good example of retail solutions beyond POS software.

The small steps strategy is about taking regular small steps in your retail store which compound in a way to dramatically enhance the value of each of three key components to the business. The key is that the business makes progress on one or more of three business growth levers every day:

  • More traffic.
  • More revenue in each sale – greater sales efficiency.
  • Better margin.

There is no grand plan needed, no master document full of words and charts. The small steps strategy is about simple achievable steps which and retailer can take in any type of business every day to build a stronger business.

The small steps strategy is made up of the following work for the three levers:

  1. More traffic, new customers, existing customers revisiting
  2. Consistent traffic generator promotion. Regularly promote a popular consumer product or product category outside your business – to attract new traffic. The product category will depend on your business. Ideally it will be habit based product for which you have a strong value proposition. A good percentage of customers you win from regular promotion are more likely to visit again. These customers are often worth more than what they purchase.
  3. Regular participation in catalogue and flyer based offers. They could be catalogues covering a numbers of businesses or just for your business. These do not have to be expensive.  Even flyers you make yourself and copy in house can work – having compelling offers is key with catalogues and flyers.
  4. Regular local newspaper advertising. Local newspapers will usually do deals if you offer a long term commitment.
  5. Support for local sports clubs and community organisations. For a few dollars you can have your business name promoted at games, in newsletters and at events.
  6. Branding of at least one vehicle. A couple of hundred dollars can get your name out in the community – everywhere you drive.
  7. In-store newsletter. Delivered outside the store. This is best done on a simple stand near the entrance to the store.
  8. On your window and walls. Use your front window and side walls to promote your business. The right campaign ought to bring people passing by into your store.

Through a consistent program of chasing new traffic you ensure the health of the business and protect against the cost of the natural loss of customers.

 

  1. More revenue from each sale – greater sales efficiency

Here are some simple strategies for achieving more from each sale.

  1. Uncluttered counter. Make conscious decisions about what is placed at the counter. Ensure clear air around each offer so it can be seen. A cluttered counter can hide good deals and block sales.
  2. Counter offers. Choose good margin low price products which work for your demographic by tapping into interests, desires (chocolate to eat on the way home) or value – quick decision small gift lines.Remember, a counter must be easily understood and be able to purchased quickly.
  3. High traffic bargain offers. Between the entrance and the highest first stop for traffic into the business have at least two dump bins or displays with compelling and easily understood offers. Move these weekly.
  4. In-store newsletter. Create a simple newsletter promoting the business and place it out the front of the business, in bags, handed out and even slipped into local newspapers. Get your message in front of customers after they leave.
  5. Hotspot promotions. Identify locations where customers stop the most in your store. Place other products at these hotspots which appeal and are easy to purchase. Use the HOT products to sell other product – but the impulse products have to change a couple of times a week.
  6. Dance floor change. The dance floor, the space in front of the sales counter, needs to change weekly. More often for busier shops. A fresh dance floor will show more customers ‘new items’.
  7. Coupons / advertising on call to action offers on receipts. i.e. bring this coupon back within two days for XXX offer.
  8. End of sale offer. Once you complete each sale, give customers an offer to make another purchase within a limited timeframe for a discount. This is best done with a coupon.  Consider structuring the offer to drive business in a particular category.  Track redemption by keeping coupons redeemed with receipts for the purchases.
  9. Parasite displays. These are small space displays which hang next to other products, encroaching on the space. You can see supermarkets use parasite displays well offering products from elsewhere in space committed to popular and often unrelated product.

By focusing on sales efficiency and driving a bigger basket for each sale, you set yourself up to make more from every sale.

  1. Better margin – by selling for the best price

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

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

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

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

0 likes

ABC The Money looks at small business retail in this covid world

Tower CEO Mark Fletcher is  grateful to the team being The Money program on ABC radio for shining a light on the impact of Covid on retail. In the 30 minute program they look at retail through an economists’s lens and then through the eyes of several small business retailers. At about 22 minutes in Mark talks about shopping centre challenges and small business retail more broadly into the future.

If you’d like to hear the show, here is the link: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/themoney/retail/12370682

0 likes

Retail coaching tips for small business retailers in Australia

We are grateful to have a diverse and engaged community off small business retailers using our Point of Sale software on which to draw when putting together tips and advice for retailers.

Daily, we are engaged in coaching retailers, providing advice and practice al support to help create more valuable and enjoyable businesses. Our coaching advice ranges from motivational to the practical. Sometimes it is Point of Sale software related while other times it is not.

Always, though, our advice is shared openly and with supporting reasoning and evidence. We want what you want – a more successful and enjoyable retail business.

Here is an example of one aspect of coaching for small business retailers. It’s related to our Point of Sale software:

Measurement is key to the success of any retail business. 

Measuring sales, stock, employees and suppliers.

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

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

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

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

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

Tower Systems develops Point of Sale software for a range of select specialty retail businesses.

0 likes

Small business retail advice: as we come out of lockdown

With several state and territory governments easing movement restrictions, people are talking more about life after lockdown, business owners are talking about this. If you have not done so already, we urge you to consider what your retail business looks like after lockdown or as lockdown provisions are eased.

Here is advice were provided to our POS software customers over a week ago.

While only you can know what is right for your own business, we offer this list of suggestions for your consideration:

  1. Change everything. This is the best opportunity to make major change. Move whole departments, change prices, change the counter focus, the counter process. Right now is a perfect opportunity for sweeping change in any business.
  2. Look at your pricing. Is it appropriate? Could adjustments be beneficial?
  3. Look at every supplier. Ask yourself, do they bring value (and joy) to the business.
  4. Make the shopping experience fresh, more appealing. Help your shoppers feel that they are in a new business.
  5. Quit hard and quick. Dump bins at the front of products you are exiting. This is the perfect time to make the move.
  6. Reconsider every business process. Is it beneficial to the business? If not, why continue with it? Be frugal with your time and capital investments.
  7. Share appreciation. From your front window to inside the shop, demonstrate shopper appreciation.
  8. Play uplifting music. Celebrate any step away from lockdown.
  9. Celebrate stories. Encourage people to share positive lockdown stories, somehow in-store on online through social media.
  10. The past is the past. It is tiresome hearing about how tough things have been, how troubling the times are, how difficult things are. People are living this. We are living this. Reminding people does not help in our view.

Now really is the opportunity for significant change in any business. Opportunities like this are rare. I urge all retailers to seize the opportunity.

Tower Systems helps small business retailers beyond POS software. We provide business management advice in pursuit of more enjoyable and successful retail businesses. As retailers ourselves for many years across several retail formats we draw on personal experiences as well as the collective experiences of our broad user community.

0 likes

Small business retail advice: how to prepare your retail shop for sale

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

The process of preparing a business for sale can take time, depending on the state of the business. It needs to start early and based on comprehensive planning.

Here is an overview from our advice as to what a small business retailer needs to do to prepare their retail business for sale.

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

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

This is another way Tower Systems helps small business retailers.

0 likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

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

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

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

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

0 likes

Small business retail advice: on cutting theft by employees

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

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

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

This is the theft policy we recommend to all retailers…

THEFT POLICY OF THIS BUSINESS

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

PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

0 likes

Small business retail advice: on competing with big business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

Small business retail advice: how to cut the insurance overhead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes

Helping small business retailers leverage Boxing Day sales

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

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

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

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

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

0 likes
« Older posts