The receipt is an important document and marketing tool in retail

wincarrecpTower Systems is helping small business newsagents leverage their receipts to engage with a high profile competition being run by Pacific Magazines – offering further support to our position that the receipt is a vitally important business development and marketing tool.

Beyond detailing what was purchased, a good receipt can get a shopper back sooner, it can get them spending more right away and it can make them feel even better about shopping with the business.

The key to leveraging the retail receipt for maximum value to a retail business is the relevance of what is on the receipt. It is important that any pitch or promotion is relevant to this customer at this time. This is where Point of Sale software can help.

Our experience is that retail businesses that use the receipt as a marketing tool are more likely to be growing and achieving a deeper basket with existing customers. For next to no cost they are embracing another customer touch-point. Enough customers respond to make it valuable.

In the two examples you can see a WIN A CAR promotion being pitched on the receipts. The receipt on the right includes a QR code for rapid shopper engagement. By helping our retail newsagency customers serve these coupons we are helping them connect with a major supplier initiative quickly, easily and professionally.

Learning retail insights from Monash University experts

We are benefiting from a briefing into the latest retail experts delivered today by experts from the Monach University Australian Centre for Retail Studies.  ARCS is a leader in their field:

ACRS is an independent retail and consumer research centre based within the Department of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University, Caulfield Campus. The ACRS provides a range of research and consulting services to the private sector and government clients, with a particular emphasis on retail and consumer research. Research priorities are developed in consultation with industry clients and promote research-based knowledge and thought leadership.

Participation in today’s briefing was organised through an appreciated supplier relationship.

Taking pride in POS software labels

pos-labelsThe options we offer in labels produced by our Point of Sale software are considerable and have been for many years. In addition to supporting laser labels and single strip labels, we also offer our customers tremendous flexibility in label design – and have done for many years.

Our labels  reflect a quality and professionalism customers love. They are customer friendly – easy to read. Too often labels produced by POS software are hard for the human eye to read, they are feint and for tech solution than retail solution.

Thanks to the label options offered from the Tower software retailers can produce labels they want on stock they want – punch what matters most to retailers and their customers.

Professional labels can help retail businesses grow sales and reduce theft.

Helping small business retailers enjoy their businesses more

receiptsnotesRunning a retail business is hard work in today’s retail environment. It is especially challenging for small business independent retailers. Beyond the challenges of landlord, employee, supplier and general economic issues and challenges, there is the overall motivation to be on every day, often seven days a week.

While we are a POS software company, the relationship we have with our customers is one that looks at the whole of the business. We embrace opportunities to help our customers enjoy their business more. From helpful POS software support to providing encouragement on ways to manage the business with less stress, we genuinely partner with our small business retailer customers.

Retailers can enjoy their business more by bringing more structure to what they do. The more structure the more business tasks that can be undertaken by others in the business. This helps improve certainty and it helps share the load. This can make life more enjoyable for owners and more fulfilling for retail employees.

In the Tower Systems POS software retailers can systemise / structure processes around product ordering, pricing, range reviews, rostering, selling, Lay-Bys, discounting and other business processes from the day to day through to the bigger picture tasks. we can offer our customers exampled of how to do this and through this work how to find more enjoyment in owning and operating the business.

One of the biggest stressors for retailers is that they feel alone. Through our work with retailers and the assistance services we offer we try and help them feel less alone, we try and show them practical support for the day to day and the big picture business planning and management.

We love this part of our work – the broad extent to which we can engage with our retail partners. It’s fun and rewarding. We’re grateful for the opportunity.

Ways small business retailers can refresh their view of their business

WARNING: This blog post has some crazy ideas you’d not expect from a POS software company.

In our work with small business retailers we often hear about burnout, retailers being tired and over the grind of opening the shop working all day, closing, getting little sleep and doing it all again. They are often too tired to be innovative in their approach to business.

Call us crazy but we have some ideas designed to help small business retailers reconnect with their businesses. They are unconventional. They are free. They are fun. They are designed to get you looking, hearing and smelling your business differently. They are designed to open your eyes to opportunities you may be missing.

Are you ready? Here are our unconventional ideas for refreshing your views of your small retail business – in the hope that you find opportunities you were not seeing.

  1. Go to your shop at night time. Leave the lights off. Put a chair on the middle of the shop floor. Sit down. Take your shoes and socks or stockings off. Put a blindfold on. Soak it up. What do you smell? What do you hear? Is there any sense of place that you get from being there.  Be still for fifteen minutes or so thinking about this. Breathe deeply. How does your shop smell? Does it have a smell? If not, why not? Then take the blindfold off and look around you for another fifteen minutes. Finally, get up – with your shoes and socks or stockings still off – and walk around the shop. Take in the environment you are in control of. Let the ideas flow. If you want to take it to a deeper level, lie down on the floor on your back and look up and around – kind of up-skirt your own shop while it’s empty!
  2. Get a stool or fold up chair, pack a lunch and spend at least three lunchtimes in a week sitting opposite the entrance to your shop watching customers. Don’t write anything down, just watch. Preferably do this without people noticing you. Wear a disguise if necessary. Watch intently. See where people go, what they pick up, what they buy if possible. Try and predict what they will do. Watch and think. Watch and think.
  3. Get a small desk and a sign for the desk that says CUSTOMER SERVICE. Place the desk near the front door of your shop. Set yourself up at the desk, sitting behind it. Dress formally, old school. Like in a 1950s movie preferably. Sit up straight. Look the part. Sit and wait and see what comes your way. Have fun interactive with customers. The desk should look out of place but it should also look fun. The idea is that your customers, your staff and you will be a bit shaken up by the change. See what comes your way.

We have more crazy ideas. These barely scratch the surface of the crazy idea cupboard. Just ask.

We’re here to help small business retailers create and run successful independent small local retail businesses. Our help goes beyond our software. Were retailers too and love being able to talk retail with anyone.

Post Christmas retail sales strong

Post Christmas / Boxing Day sales have been excellent according to some of the retailers in our Point of Sale software user community over the last couple of days. Several we have spoken with indicate sales are up close to 10% on last year. This result is even better given that it is on the back of an excellent Christmas result with those sales up close to 10% as well.

Sometimes we see post Christmas sales down when pre Christmas sales are up and vice versa. This year we are seeing people growing in both situations, indicating a more general upturn being experienced by these businesses.

Sporrting trends early is vital in retail as you are then able to respond more appropriately. You don’t want to be in a situation where you you spot a trend long after it first occurred as that could mean you have missed opportunities.

Pitching savings an important use of the retail shopper receipt

rcptdiscWe encourage retailers to use their receipt as an extension of their marketing activity. An excellent example of this is when a business sells products for lower than their recommended retail. The saving is listed on the receipt – reminding the shopper of how much they saved by shopping in the business.

While some customers don’t give receipts a second look, others do read them once they return home. The discount off RRP is a terrific message for this shopper. It’s an invitation for them to consider the business again.

Even the smallest steps are important in cultivating your connection with customers. Our experience in our own retail businesses is that receipts can drive sales.

Through training videos, our online knowledge base and live support we can help our POS software customers to make better use of their receipts and through this make more money.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: spot trends relevant to your retail business sooner

Too often we see small business retailers wondering about retail trends they have read in newspapers or seen covered on TV. Trends reported publicly are most likely too late for your business if they are reported in these places.

The most valuable trends small business retailers can spot are those indicated in their own business data.

If you are not sure about what trends you could see in your data, talk to your POS software company. At Tower Systems we take your data, analyse business performance, compare trading periods and let you know the trends as we see them. This is a free service.

End of Shift resources highlight value of searchable POS software knowledge base

eosHere at Tower Systems we provide advice beyond how to use our POS software, we explain retail management processes and guide our software users to make better use of the software so as to avoid mistakes and to catch misbehaviour. This business operational advice is tagged and keyword-stored in a way that our customers can easily search using the powerful yet easy to use search tools in the new knowledge base tools released more than two weeks ago.

A good example of our practical help to retailers in in the advice, training and other assistance around End of Shift processing. Using our software to manage the EOS process retailers are able to more accurately handle the work and more accurately track cash and other methods of payment.

The information, advice and training our customers can access through our knowledge base for handling the EOS process is extensive. That this is part of a searchable resource is excellent. Customers are loving it.

 

Sunday small business retailer management advice: use your receipt as your most important retail marketing tool

The receipt is the most important yet undervalued marketing tool in and retail business. Retailers partnering with our Point of Sale software have excellent opportunities with which to leverage receipts:

  • Include your logo to professionally represent your business.
  • Include care instructions for products you sell that require care instructions.
  • List your website.
  • Include a discount voucher based on the value of the purchase to entice the customer to spend more money with you.

These are just four ways retailers partnering with Tower Systems can use their receipts to professionally promote the business and drive extra revenue. these steps are free and simple to implement in any retail business. They can help a business better connect with customers who today may have little connection with the business.

These ideas help a small independent retail business to present themselves as being more substantial than they are and thereby competitive with major retailers.

Consider your receipt as a marketing tool.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: leverage your top sellers

Using our 10 x 10 Report, retailers using our POS software are able to easily report on top selling items and what is selling with those top selling items. Typically, people report on the top 10 items sold with the top 10 items – hence the name.

Using data from this tremendous report you can see opportunities for product adjacencies to get a deeper basket form the top selling items. This can be more money in your pocket as a result.  We have seen many retailers using 10 x 10 Report the to drive basket depth since knowing the top selling items in a retail business can tell you where to focus your attention to get the maximum eyeball attention to other items.

The 10 x 10 Report enables easy tracking of top sellers and the items that work best with them. If, for example, top selling items with your top selling item are located some distance away you could possible boost sales with better location.

The 10 x 10 Report  is another example of a return developed by retailers for retailers. It’s a powerful report in our excellent reporting suite.

Hundreds of retailers now using discount vouchers

We now have hundreds of retailers from our POS software community using our EXCLUSIVE discount vouchers facilities. The feedback is excellent with retailers telling us they love the ease of use and professionalism but most of all they love the sales growth.

There is no doubt that the discount vouchers facilities increase sales across a range of retail sectors based on the feedback we have received.  Jewellers, newsagents, garden centres, bike retailers … they are all able to drive shopper engagement through the vouchers printed on the base of receipts.

From a Tower perspective we have successfully used the discount vouchers to win business for us. In a situation recently a retailer told us a competitor offered the same facility. We suggested the retailer look at this and then at what we do. They decided to go ahead with us. Our discount vouchers implementation is unique to Tower Systems. While others may use the same descriptive label, what they have is not what we have.

Retailers who partner with Tower Systems have tremendous management control over how vouchers are issued and redeemed. This control can be money in the bank as the retailer tweaks levers and through this guides shopper engagement. This is what a good loyalty system does – it drives financial rewards for the retail business.

POS Software helps retailers make the most of Halloween opportunity

Tower Systems has been working with a range of retailers to make the most of the Halloween 2013 opportunity using our Point of Sale software. Halloween has grown from a niche season of minimal interest outside the United States to a season of extraordinary value to retailers across the globe.

Strategically, Halloween is an excellent lead-in season to Christmas. However, to make the most o the opportunity retailers need to engage with their POS software, leveraging tools encoded in smart POS software to make the most of the Halloween opportunity.

Our own experience as retailers gives us the inside-running here to make Halloween work valuably for retailers. For example, using our software retailers are able to easily promote Halloween on receipts to shoppers, email halloween shoppers from last year, promote other products to Halloween shoppers and handle the make-up and deconstruction of Halloween hampers and gift packs.

Well before the season started we have been able to help our retail partners with product ordering based on previous sales. This is important for seasonal products since those handling product ordering are likely to not have easy recall of exactly worked and what did not work last year.

These and other benefits are helping our retail partners to make the most of the Halloween opportunity in retail this year.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: ditch poor software

We have found ourselves helping a retailer using POS software not from us over the last couple of weeks. Through this we have gained first-hand experience with a product fro a competitor in a niche marketplace.

This experience is showing us where we shine in terms of software. It’s helping to better educate our sales team.

We have also had cause to engage with the support desk from the other POS company and that experience was also educational … and frustrating given the slow response time and poor advice provided.

Poor POS software and poor support for POS software costs a business significantly. Our advice is to consider your position. If you’re not well served it could be harming your business. Look around, do your homework and consider switching to a business that will serve your needs better with on-time responses and software that is genuinely useful.

Retailers should ditch software that does not genuinely help them in their business.

Enhancing the VIP card / discount voucher opportunity

The latest release of the Tower Systems Point of Sale software has delivered an even better solution in the VIP card / discount voucher space. By connecting twi quite different loyalty offers in our software in a unique retailer-driven way, Tower Systems is empowering retailers to run with the loyalty pitch that best suits their business needs. This includes offering either loyalty program or a blend of both or converting from one to the other in a way that carries forward value.

Tower Systems provides leadership in best practice loyalty solutions designed to provide small business retailers facilities and abilities to leverage shopper engagement to be more loyal and therefore more commercially valuable for the business as well as valuable for the shopper.

Loyalty, after all, is about driving benefits for the business and the shopper.

The latest enhancements are out now and being used by engaged retailers.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: chase what you don’t know

We love it when retailers ask us for help in better understanding their business. We embrace the opportunity, digging into their data, looking for insights about their business that they may not have been presented before.

We think it’s important for retailers to chase what they don’t know about their businesses. Often, buried in their business data, are insights into customer behaviour, supplier support and product performance that they may have missed in their day to day management.

So our tip today is for retailers to use their business data and to ask our help in doing this. We will gladly delve deep into data and present to retailers information they may have missed or not even seen before, vital information about their business that can feed better business decisions.

Chase what you don’t know about your retail business and be ready to unlock valuable opportunities. The result can be a more valuable business.

More retailers choosing the ad screen on POS software to promote their business

More and more retailers implementing our Point of Sale software are choosing the respected HP all in one unit for their register. This compact unit can include a quality customer-facing display that enables the business to promote products it sells for impulse purchase by the customer at the sales counter. This is a far more practical and valuable solution for the business than a large screen display located elsewhere in the business that may promote products available from other retailers.

Supported by good ad serving software in our POS software, our customers are able to promote what they want when they want.

This is another way we are helping retailers make money from their IT investment.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: use your POS software to protect against retail failure

Good Point of Sale software used well and with commitment offers excellent opportunities for a retail business to reduce the risk of business failure. There are many situations where poor software has led to business failure or where poor use of good software has led to business failure.

Here are five ways that retailers have used our smart Point of Sale software to avoid business failure:

  1. Cutting theft. Theft can kill a retail business. Using our theft tracking, management and reduction tools enables retailers to reduce the impact of theft, especially employee theft, on the business. We have seen businesses eliminate hundreds of dollars in employee theft a week by following our advice. We look at hidden data and provide advice on steps to take.
  2. Being certain of performance. By knowing exactly what is working and what is not working, retailers are able to make fact-based decisions. We have been fortunate to be in a position to compare gut-feel decisions with the opportunity of fact-based decisions and the latter always wins out. In a couple of instances recently retailers were able to save mistakes which could have cost them thousands.
  3. Driving sales. By making it easier to identify retail hot spots, retailers are able to drive this success even further. Retailers are able to use hot products to sell other products – through tactical adjacencies. We have reports which can help identify and track these opportunities.
  4. Managing employees. Labour is is usually the most expensive or second most expensive cost for a retail business. labour managed poorly can impose a high cost on the business. Labour managed well can drive business success. Our Point of Sale software enables retailers to more completely manage, guide and leverage their labour force.
  5. Respecting cash. In many points in a retail business cash can be abused. By respecting cash from the sales counter through the back office and into the bank the business owner can rest comfortably knowing that Point of Sale software is reducing the opportunity for mistakes and fraud.

Retailers can rely on Point of Sale software from Tower Systems to drive better business outcomes and insure their business against tough times. retailers who embrace all that our Point of Sale offers set themselves up for greater success regardless of the economic challenges swirling around them.

The key is proactive engagement. This is where a good Point of Sale software company can help. Beyond the support call, we can assist retailers to genuinely leverage their Point of Sale software make the most of business every day. We have business advisors who will willingly help our retail customers to leverage their software for valuable success.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: drive sales with smart discount voucher engagement

The exclusive discount voucher facility released in the Tower Systems Point of Sale software early this year continues to drive excellent sales outcomes for retailers engaged with us and our smart POS software.

What sets the Tower Systems approach apart is the powerful flexibility provided through the settings available. These are settings unique to the Tower software, settings developed in close consultation with leading retailers, settings that take the facility beyond the simplicity of the name of the function.

Our retail management advice today is for retailers to try the function. It’s easy to turn on and off, easy to tweak and easy to measure. Indeed, the reporting tools are exclusive to Tower Systems – they are helping retailers drive excellent commercial outcomes.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: rewarding staff

Thanks to the ability to track sales by employees, our Point of Sale software helps retailers to share commission or some other form of financial reward with retail employees. Turning this on has helped some of our retail business customers to increase sales by motivating shop floor staff to more proactively engage with shoppers.

The process in the software for setting this up is easy. Once turned on, the software tracks sales by employees and the business can use this data for the rewarding of employees for over target sales achieved in a period set by the business.

By giving retail employees a KPI to reach and rewarding them for over-achievment can get them more engaged with the business and the customers for a genuine win win.

Our support team welcomes helping retailers to make better business use of our software, especially in areas like this where a retail business can increase sales.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: blame your computer system for saying no to a supplier

Small business retailers often find it hard to say no to a representative in their shop asking for an order. Even though they want to say no to an offer they find it too hard and end up spending money they should not have spent.

One way retailers can avoid feeling bad is to blame their computer. By saying sorry all orders are generated by the computer now and it says I don’t need additional stock.

A retailer we started working with just over a year ago has reduced inventory value by $15,000 while increasing sales by 8%. They achieved this by ordering based on what the Tower Point of Sale software advises rather than gut feel or emotional decisions by team members.

It’s easy to transition from ordering manually to using your Tower software. We can help.

Sunday small business retailer management advice: front-end shopper loyalty to change behaviour today

More and more retailers are sharing feedback on the Discount Vouchers facilities we released several months ago. the most common response is one of surprise at shopper engagement with the vouchers compared to engagement with the more traditional, but old, VIP card points-based system.

We are getting calls and emails from customers telling us of their surprise that shoppers use the voucher, and the cash discount, right away. Our response is this is what we expected.  Our data shows that around 30% of vouchers used are used the day they are issued, often to purchase items the shopper did not come into the business to purchase. This is bonus margin dollars the business can bank as a result of the Discount Vouchers.

Key to the success, beyond the excellent software facilities, is the support, assistance and advice we have provided and continue to provide on how to make the most of the opportunity. From our senior management through to the help desk, we are engaged with our customers and keen to provide practical business implementation advice.

For most retailers implementing the Discount Vouchers facilities, they are a game changer for them, a point of difference compared to other retailers. This is where our implementation advice can make a huge difference. It’s also where we get pleasure in helping our customers turn a brilliant facility into a money making opportunity … delivering a profound competitive advantage.

Our sunday advice for retailers today is to embrace Discount Vouchers and make the most of the point of difference delivered in our Point of Sale software. We’re here to help – beyond the software.

Helping small business retailers to make most of online search opportunities

Tower Systems is publishing advice to its independent small business retail community that will help them make the most of free online search and listing opportunities.

Developed to serve small retail businesses we own ourselves, this advice will help our retail community get more often noticed by shoppers doing searches online at home and when mobile commented Tower Systems Managing Director Mark Fletcher.  Our release of this advice is another example of us going beyond what is usual for a software company, it shows us connecting with our customers in a more practical and business building way beyond the software we develop and sell.

The advice is undergoing final quality assurance and peer review prior to release to the Tower retail customer community.  It will be provided without cost to all Tower Systems customers.

Sunday small business retail management advice: play to your strength – keep moving

Small independent retail businesses have one major benefit over their big business competitors – their size. Being small makes it easier to implement change and change is where innovation can be tested, refined and leverage.

Big retail businesses, by their very size, take time to develop new initiatives and roll them out through their network.  Small business retailers can move fast and they can change from a plan fast. This is an opportunity.

Tower Systems will happily work with any of its small business retailer customers on assessing plans and opportunities to make changes in the business. We can look at your data and talk with you about opportunities. We will happily do this with any of our customers as often as they like – because change is important in retail.  The days of set-and-forget retail are over.

So, small business retailers can embrace the opportunity of their size and change regularly. We’ll help in any way we can.

How discount vouchers are giving small business retailers an advantage & changing shopper behaviour

Thanks to the secret trial release of the EXCLUSIVE Discount Voucher facilities in the Tower Systems Point of Sale software in February this year, the company has access to insights into how shoppers are interacting and changing behaviour as a result of the new tools.

From anecdotal evidence of behavioural change at the sales counter to shopper returns a week or more out from receiving a voucher, the Discount Vouchers are changing shopper behaviour.  We see this across various businesses.

Thanks to smart tracking and reporting, we see how every voucher is treated. If someone comes back in 20 days after receiving a voucher, the software knows what was in the original purchase and what is in the purchase in which the voucher is redeemed. This data provides retailers with evidence backing up anecdotal data – it can feed fact-based decisions on adjusting the levers of the Discount Vouchers tools.

One retailer shared this story:

We had one customer shopping with us for the first time buying ink for work. The voucher he received was enough for him to buy a magazine he’d only occasionally treat himself with. He said for sure he will be back within the month for more ink and another free magazine. We expect this customer to be worth $1,500 a year.

And here is another story:

A mum bought some birthday cards and gave the voucher to her daughter who used this and her pocket money to buy a Beanie Kid.  She’s a Beanie Kid collector and said she will be back for more.  A young Beanie Kid collector can be worth hundreds of dollars a year.

Every day in the secret trial stores since February there have been stories like these playing out, stories of customers deepening their engagement with retail businesses because of the Discount Vouchers.