Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: retail (page 1 of 7)

Selling online helps small business retailers deal with the challenges of the Coronavirus

Retailers with strong online businesses are able to trade through some of the Coronavirus related challenges.

Businesses experiencing lower than usual foot traffic in-store can rely on online sales to keep the wheels of the business turning. This is where our POS software integrated Shopify and Magento website solutions have helped retailers be proactive in this space.

As people stay at home more and have less human to human contact, especially in shopping malls, retail; businesses with well-established and strong online presences are able to trade through, connecting with these home-based shoppers and arranging for purchases to be safely delivered.

Online has a much larger shopper catchment area than local high street retail. It can be a whole country, or beyond whereas a high street situation will pull from 30 fo 60 minuets away depending on the local situation.

As the challenges of then Coronavirus play out for small business retail, Tower Systems is pleased to have helped plenty of indie small business retailers take their businesses online for efficient and broader reaching shopper opportunities.

Whole one does not wish to trade off the misery of others, we are grateful to have helped retailers be prepared for a situation like this where people want / need to shop but do not wish to do so face too face.

The Coronavirus COVID19 has certainly presented complex challenges to retailers and other businesses. In our own situation we have been structured and certain in our approaches, to ensure the best customer service possible and to help the 3,000+ small businesses retailers we gratefully serve as customers using our POS software.

Early on in the Coronavirus challenge, many weeks ago, we offered advice. This was operationally practical as well as opportunistic. It included:

Health and business experts we respect are forecasting that the economic impact of COVID-19 will be similar to the global financial crisis of 2008. We think this is a reason to be prepared now, to be prepared for the worst. Here are five things we recommend you do:

  1. Hoard cash. Save money where you can. This means a trim roster, buying more carefully.
  2. Shop local. It is important not just say this, do it, live it.
  3. Stand for something. Retail businesses that are weakest are those that do not differentiate, that are not that appealing that people will drive a distance to shop with them.
  4. Be happy. A happy business attracts shoppers. Be that shop.
  5. Be opportunistic. In any challenging situation there are opportunities. Watch out for them.
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An update open Amazon Go

Here is a brief video update from us on Amazon Go, which we shared with our customers first last week.

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POS software receipts offer a proven marketing opportunity for small business retailers

For years now we have preached to the value off receipts as a valuable marketing tool for small business retailers. Today, in 2019, we see value continuing to be unlocked by retailers as these simple, low-cost, docs are handed out and turned into incremental business.

We back our awesome, flexible, beautiful and value promoting receipts with business training so that execution in any type of small retail business, through our POS software, is leveraged to fulfilment.

For many years we have offered the ability for retailers to produce advertisements, coupons and other collateral in customer sales receipts. Our Point of Sale software serves the coupons and advertisements according to criteria established and maintained by the retail business.

We recently saw an excellent example of the value of using receipts to drive sales in a retail business. This client, a gift shop, included a special offer of a percentage off the purchase of a particular but slow moving category if purchased within a few hours of the just processed sale.

The coupons were included on sales of only certain products. The retailer was keen to see if they could affect the behaviour of customers and break with usual buying traditions.

During one day, just over one hundred coupons offering the 25% off  were served to customers, as part of their sale receipt.

By the end of the day, 35 coupons had been redeemed. Product sales for the day for they target category were just over double the usual number. Some customers purchased three or more.

For no cost at all, the engaged retailer was able to leverage existing traffic to increase  sales of the target product category by more than 50% for a 25% discount off retail. Their margin on each item sold was still close to 50% thanks to proper preparation of the promotion..

This is just one example of many samples we hear about where retailers have used marketing tools in our Point of Sale software drive sales efficiency from existing customers.

Tower Systems helps its retail partners by developing coupons for printing on receipts and through through training for proper and successful in-store execution of the opportunities provided by the receipts.

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Tips for small business retailers promoting Halloween

Halloween can be a good season for indie retailers.Success depends on active in-store and out of store engagement.

We do it in shops that we own and run and have evolved it from a low price point everyday halloween offer to a higher end specialty offer that is leveraged by fewer retailers.

Halloween is an excellent opportunity to ramp up traffic and sales leading up to Christmas. It is also an opportunity for the business to play outside its comfort zone. This is great news for any small business retailer.

Here is our advice from seeing Halloween in many retail businesses, advice on ways to promote Halloween to drive the opportunity further:

  1. Make your front window or front of story scary amazing, so shoppers have to step through it.
  2. Maybe host a night, after the shop closes, where people share local ghost stories. have some fun and get known as a place where local stories matter.
  3. Run a series of Facebook posts early in the season. Through these demonstrate your engagement as unique, different.
  4. Have a fancy dress competition on the weekend before.
  5. Mock yourselves in social media and elsewhere about being big kids, scary pants or more. Change how people look at your business.
  6. Run sales connected with people dressing up to access a sale price.
  7. A colouring competition for kids with a prize for the best.
  8. Have candy to give away.
  9. If you’re in a small town organise a Halloween trick or treat party for safe kid fun.
  10. Print a recipe sheet and give this away. Online you can find recipes for eyeball soup, eyeball appetisers, bloody desserts and the like.

Here at Tower systems we are all about small business retail. Anything we can do to help we will do, including providing practical business management advice for retailers on seasons such as Halloween.

Retail is all about entertainment. The more you embrace this the more fun people visiting your shop have. halloween is an ideal season for embracing retrial as  entertainment.

Sometimes, the best way to get from A to B is to take a 90 degree turn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the new normal of retail.

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

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

  1. WA / SA/ VIC: Tim Batt. 0401 833 917.
  2. NSW / ACT / TAS: Nathan Morrison. 0417 568 148.
  3. QLD / NT: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.
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Our POS software co supports small business retailers in TV commercial

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Inspiring retail displays for Australian made products

For our next in this series where we shine a light on terrific VM, we have a display from one of our own shops, where our POS software is tested and enhanced, pitching Aussie made soap:

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Welcome 2017!

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A new employee theft training video for small business retailers from Tower Systems

We are proud to have launched this new video on the weekend. It is having the desired effect of educating retail business owners.
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Sunday retail management advice: five tips to save any retailer time

  1. Tell suppliers who do not provide you with an electronic invoice that you will cut them off – they are costing you time.
  2. Put barcode and price labels on fewer products. If they have a barcode, use it.
  3. Stop ordering replenishment stock manually.
  4. Stop entering sales data into a spreadsheet for analysis.
  5. Run your business with processes as well as checks and balances that enable it to open and close without you.
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Sunday retail management advice: hampers can pitch products differently

IMG_8600Packaging a range of goods together in a hamper can change how people look at products in your business. Take the candy in the photo: these items sold singly sell at the counter as impulse purchases whereas packaged together they sell as a gift for a special occasion.

A hamper can be priced higher than the sum of the parts, making it more valuable for a business.

Using our smart POS software, retailers are able to create and deconstruct hampers such that inventory levels are accurate and total hamper sales are also tracked.

We have businesses in a range of niche retail channels using our hamper ; manufactured goods facilities including jewellers, bike retailers, pet shops, gift shops, homewares shops and garden centres. In addition to excellent software managing the creation and sale of hampers, we offer terrific training, support and other business engagement help – to help small business retailers get the most out of the opportunity.

Our retail management advice for today: look at what you sell and consider putting multiple items together as a hamper to change how people see products in your shop.

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Make Saturday your shop local small business shopping day

One a year there is a focus in the media and elsewhere encouraging people to shop in small businesses. Here at Tower Systems we would like to broaden that pitch.

Make every Saturday your shop small day.

With people home for the weekend, shopping at local shops is easier.

It puts money back into the community where you have your home.

It supports where your kids are going up, will grow up or have grown up.

It creates local jobs.

It builds local expertise.

It supports retailers of locally made products.

It supports small local businesses who support local community groups and charities.

It supports the narrative of the area.

It saves fuel.

It saves time.

We at Tower Systems encourage everyone to go out and shop local this Saturday and at the very least every Saturday.

Small local businesses thank you for your support.

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Optimism in small business retail

Every day in our POS software company we see and hear examples of optimism in small business retail from a boost in traffic to an increase in sales revenue to an increase in the overall average gross profit percentage achieved by a business.

We are thrilled to play a part of helping independent small business retailers realise their dreams through our software.

In one situation this week we learned how a retailer using our software achieved thousands of dollars of incremental business in a three month period by using a facility they had never used before. By turning on this facility in their software, for no additional cost, they were able to achieve sales they were up until then losing. This was done with no increase in inventory investment.

Small business retailers can increase sales through smart shopper engaging tools in our software. Beyond the usual help desk facilities, we enjoy talking business management with our customers – to help them leverage even more value from their relationship with us.

Here at Tower Systems our focus is solely on independent small business retailers in a select number of retail channels. This helps us provide specialist advice to our specialist retailers.

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Sunday retail management advice: keep your loyalty pitch simple for success

A loyalty program is only as good as the over the counter pitch through which you seek to engage shoppers. Check out this brief video we created to train retail employees on what has to be the easiest to use over the counter shopper loyalty offer.

Tower Systems leads with professional employee training videos which help retail employees leverage more value for the business from our software.

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Sunday retail management advice: how to cut employee theft in retail

Theft is something to be managed in your business. You will be stolen from. Good management is about reducing the opportunity for and instances of theft.

Follow this advice and the opportunity for theft will be lower and the certainty of detecting it higher.

Unfortunately, many retailers read up to here and think this will to happen to them.  Too many of these business owners are the ones who do experience the hurt of employee theft.

If you are still reading, well done. Here are simple steps you can take to catch and manage employee theft:

  1. Use stock control for a high volume high interest category (if not all stock). Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what you software says. Every month do a stock take. Stock discrepancies of the right item are an indicator of theft. Had one retailer we know of been doing this they would have caught their $250 a day employee theft months earlier.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
  3. Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One retail business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  4. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
  5. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  6. Check your Audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Good software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  7. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  8. Setup a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. See the last page of this advice.
  9. Keep the counter clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft as it makes detection easier.
  10. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  11. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  12. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One employee used the memory function to track how much cash had to be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not rung up.
  13. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  14. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high.
  15. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
  16. Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.

These steps work – based on decades of helping newsagents to reduce and manage employee theft.

Theft, employee and customer, costs a typical retail between 3% and 5% of sales revenue. Management attention can cut this dramatically. It does not take much time. No, it is more about having professional processes in place which everyone in the business follows.

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Learning from US retail experiences to provide enhanced POS software

usretailWe are fortunate to have been part of a retail study tour of innovative retail situations in the US over the last ten days across three states.

We have looked at large, small, city, regional, specialty, mass, experimental and traditional businesses.

The insights gained are feeding into plans for our software beyond the wonderful advice and feedback from our existing customers.

The insights gained range from the retail management practical through to next-gen opportunities.Being on-trend is an important to retail focussed POS software companies as it is to retailers themselves.

Competition in our various specialist retail channels being what it is, we will not be sharing any insights here. Rather, our customers will have more private briefing opportunities and our software will deliver insights through change.

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Sunday retail management advice: cut keystrokes, cut mistakes

Every keystroke using POS software at the counter is a possible mistake. Eliminating keystrokes at the retail counter ought to be mission critical for retailers.

The fastest way to sell is to scan a barcode. If that is not appropriate for a product, you need alternatives appropriate to the product, the frequency of sale and the traffic flow of the business.

Our retail management software offers options via which you can sell for the fewest number of keystrokes possible. Whether the items are high end jewellery selling for tens of thousands of dollars, a collectible piece, a magazine or pet food, we have rapid and accurate sales recording options to suit.

In one case recently we showed a retailer how they could eliminate close to 1,000 keystrokes. That is 1,000 possible mistakes eliminated, time sale and business performance and efficiency approved.

Look at your keystrokes on any given day and consider whether you could benefit your business by eliminating keystrokes.

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Discussing the future of retail

touchThe CEO of Tower Systems is today participating in a retail forum in Sydney hosted by Touch and featuring a range of speakers from around the the world and representing businesses such as 7-Eleven, Amazon and others.

In addition to gaining retail insights from presentations we are tapping into valuable networking opportunities with others engaged in supporting retailers. the case studies so far are fascinating.

Tower Systems is a partner of Touch and offers its suite through the Tower software.

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Helping retailers prepare for BOXING DAY SALES

discoubtWe’ve had plenty of POS software help desk calls this week from retailers asking questions about setting their businesses up to handle Boxing Day sales.

Using our software it’s easy and flexible to setup for handling special event sales – retailers have many options for sales from individual to price to volume and mix and match discounts – that run by date and by time. flexibility is discounting is important in retail today as retailers compete with each other – especially at these major sale times.

Our smart POS software makes managing discounting easy and secure for our partner businesses.

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Sunday retail management advice: use QR codes to drive shopper engagement

logo138Tower Systems has developed for small business retailers a FREE cloud based QR code accessible content hosting and shopper interaction platform.

QRKI offers excellent facilities for allowing in-store and out of store access to product videos, instruction files, competition entries and other information sharing and harvesting opportunities.

Free from Tower for any business, QR code is another example of Tower Systems helping small and independent retail businesses to use technology to compete.

We created QRki to help small businesses harness the opportunity of QR codes without needing to invest in software of their own.

We’ve kept the price low to make access affordable. It’s part of our commitment to small businesses and independent retailers.  We’ve also enabled QRki for anyone to use – you don’t need to be a Tower Systems customer.

Developed in Australia but for use from anywhere in the world, QRki is another example of cloud based innovation for small businesses.

Share your feedback at info@qrki.com.au.  You can also speak direct with the owner of Tower Systems, Mark Fletcher, on 0418 321 338 (+61 418 321 338).

We hope your like QRki.

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Retailers invited to participate in trial of a new software product

Tower Systems is inviting retailers to apply as alpha test sites for new software outside of the traditional POS software space. With development completed and in-house QA completed, this new product si ready for field experience prior to commercial release.

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How to cut theft in your retail business using smart POS software

Here’s another video from us for our POS software customers on how to cut theft in retail.

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Sunday retail business management tip: have your employees sign up to a theft policy

Tower Systems senior management have been called on by prosecutors in several jurisdictions as expert witnesses in situations of employee theft. This work as well as our investigative work leading up to capture and prosecution has provided us with many insights.

One key insight is that businesses need to be clear with employees from the outset about business policies regarding theft.

Here is our suggested Theft Policy advice retailers should have employees agree to:

  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 are 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 local labour laws.
  9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory 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.
  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.

Feel free to copy.

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Retailers love POS software Saturday help desk support

Retailers using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software can relax and enjoy Saturday knowing we have their back.

Our help desk is open and taking calls this morning – in addition to our after hours mobile numbers.

We have offered a help desk based Saturday service for many years. Our customers appreciate the extra commitment. It’s another Tower AdvantageTM.

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Sunday retail business management advice: how to run a fit and healthy business

Retail is tough. Small business retail is tougher. Too often, challenges encountered by small business retailers are of their own doing. Like personal health, our choices impact our situation.

Here is some of our best practice advice for a healthy and prosperous retail business from the perspective of a POS software company.

  1. Scan everything you sell.
  2. Enter into your computer system all stock you receive and all stock you return to suppliers.
  3. Use your software to create orders for replenishment stock.
  4. Balance your registers every day using your software.
  5. Do spot stock takes for popular items to check for theft.
  6. Measure performance by department, category and supplier. Do more of what works and less of what does not work.
  7. Compare your performance this year to last year. Fix what is not working.
  8. Use your software as your eyes and ears. Good POS software has excellent back end reportage to let you see how your staff use the software.
  9. Train your staff to be fit for purpose in using the software.
  10. Focus on many small steps towards success rather than one big step.

We see many retail businesses prospering through smart engagement with the facilities in our POS software.

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