Here is a new infographic we created to help small business retailers pitch their economic value. We have made this available for use at no cost.
newsXpress Southland is a card, gift and collectibles shop in the sprawling Westfield Southland shopping centre in south east Melbourne.
With rent increasing faster than foot traffic to the 300+ store shopping centre, the manager of the business needed to connect with shoppers outside.
Online was the obvious choice but time was limited. The goal was to find a solution that enabled the business to get online without any additional management or accounting time involved.
Xero partner Tower Systems provided an integrated Point of Sale software solution for in-store and well as online. This seamless link, coupled with complete xero integration, provided the time-saving solution the business was looking for.
“In the first six month, online revenue passed A$75,000”, commented Jayden Norton, Manager of the store.“This is a direct bottom line benefit for the business as there is no additional labour cost and no capital expenditure.”
“We could not have done this without the xero link as that enabled us to effectively open a second outlet without what in the past was additional accounting or bookkeeping cost.”
As the business has become more familiar with the Tower Systems and xero solutions it has evolved the online offering to be more comp0etitive against big retailers in the online space. This has seen click and collect and online LayBy launched.
It is with online LayBy where the business has benefited from the xero integration in that the shopper is able to pay over time, interest free, and the retailer is paid immediately. There is no additional accounting or bookkeeping work involved as the data flows from the website to the POS to xero without being touched by human hands.
A shopper adds items to their shopping cart, they select online LayBy, provide basic instant credit check data and fine the application approved or otherwise in seconds. The retailer is paid less a small handling fee with the finance company taking full responsibility for collecting payment.
With click and collect, the payment is handled online. This works best as to commits the shopper and turns the in-store visit to an easy collection. Experience has shown this is what shoppers prefer rather than having to worry about payment in-store. It also means one person can purchased while another can collect, with appropriate secure authority.
Doing this, flowing data from shopper through to xero in this way eliminates mistakes that can be made when data is re-keyed. It also saves considerable time and this is a tangible business benefit.
“Control and transparency of data at each step in the line is key for our business because like any small business every cent of margin is important” commented Jayden Norton. “The solution needed to be easy and neat for us and for our customers. Xero was a key part of achieving this.”
In addition to the xero integration, Tower Systems POS software integrates with Shopify, magento and WooCommerce – the three leading e-commerce platforms in the world. The web development team at Tower has enhanced these to offer a multi-store solution whereby independent retailers can trade under a single branded website rather than needing their own website.
“The xero integration is the back-office piece where real labour costs are reduced”, commented Gavin Williams, Tower Systems COO. “We only sell to independent small business retailers in selected retail niches such as bike shops, jewellers and garden centres. Having the xero integration is vital as they are all competing with big business and every saving, no matter how small, is loved.”
Tower Systems is an Australian based POS software company currently serving in excess of 3,500 small and independent business retailers. The company can be explo9red at www.towersystems.com.au.
Tower Systems owns newsXpress Southland.
Being genuinely local for any local business sounds easy, right? It can be challenging because of different expectations and experiences.
As a POS software company that only developed software and sells to small business retailers, we have plenty opt experience with retailers on thinking, living and acting local. We share this advice with our customers. Here in this post we share some of that advice, to provide a taste for the extent of business inspiration and management we provide our customers.
Being local in retail is more important than ever.
Yes, even with online, being local really does matter.
Local can mean different things to different people – it does not necessarily mean geographic proximity. Being local could be about the level of care and attention you provide customers, the additional advice you provide, that you live locally, that you source locally or that you serve the local community personally.
Locally sourced products could be products made in Australia. For example, detailing where a product is made and the family behind it pitches local compared to a similar product imported from overseas.
You can use your Tower Systems POS software to pitch local in a range of ways:
It is not enough to tell people to shop local, you need to demonstrate the value of this, you need to live it transactionally in your retail business. The best way to do this is through systems and processes in your POS software.
As employers, as retailers and as small business owners, mental health issues are often not far away from any small business retailer. The challenges confronting retail businesses today add to the challenges already there.
Sometimes, we don’t know we are experiencing a mental health challenge while other times it’s obvious and on show for all to see.
How we confront mental health challenges is important for us, our business and those presenting with issues.
While we are not trained professionals in the area, our years of working with small business owners confronted by challenges to their mental health have helped us develop some guiding principles.
Your GP is an excellent person to speak with. Explain to them how you feel and how this impacts on your life. Ask them to prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan. This is a government recognised plan. It can usually be prepared in a single double visit to the GP. This plan is the trigger to you gaining Medicare supported access to a psychologist for an initial number of visits, which can be extended depending on your situation.
Some people can feel a visit to a GP or psychologist is not warranted in their situation. While the medical professionals are the best to determine this, there are other resources you could explore:
Beyond Blue has published Business In Mind, a useful resource for small businesses on issues relating to mental health in the workplace. This is a good starting point for learning more. In the resource there are links to other resources that can help.
Finding mental health resources for small business owners dealing with mental health issues is not as easy as it is finding resources for managing the workplace for better mental health. It’s tough running any business and sometimes things can feel overwhelming. This is where networking can help as a first step, talking with others.
Small business owners feeling challenges within themselves need to treat themselves as employees and use the resources available such as:
We will help and support in any way possible. We would be glad to talk confidentially about individual situations.
It is tough work running a small retail business, working 70, 80 and more hours a week covering many tasks from business manager to cleaner to customer service to creating retail displays.
You can feel overwhelmed, snowed under and with your back against a wall … all at once, unable to make a decision, unable to move almost. It is not uncommon. Such are the challenges for small business retailers.
There is always something to do. Some days, often in fact, it can feel like no matter what you do you have more to do at the end of the day than when you started.
Here is our advice if you feel that overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do. Because doing nothing is not an option. Here is what we suggest…
Regardless of how busy you are in your retail business, we urge you to take time out every day for a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk outside, in the sun (or the rain), alone.
Leave your phone behind – the shop won’t burn down.
Listen to music or enjoy the sounds of the outdoors.
This is your time. 100% focussed on you. Your recharge. Your opportunity to think of nothing … and probably find that you have thought of everything once you return.
The best time to take the walk is when you feel most overwhelmed.
Walking, as a brisk pace can break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, the negative feeling about what is confronting you in the business.
Getting your heart rate up will be good for your physical and mental health.
A good energetic walk is an excellent opportunity to reset.
Being away from the business, other people and the phone will give your body and mind time to process – even if you are not actively thinking about the business.
If you are like me, stepping back into the business after a brisk 20 or 30 minute walk, you see things differently, decisions are easier, progress is real.
Days with a walk are far better than days without.
Footnote: this advice for business owners and managers to go for a walk when feeling overwhelmed is consistent with advice from mental health experts around the world. Better still, following the advice costs nothing.
Two weeks ago we published comprehensive advice for small business retailers on dealing with a cashflow challenge. It was not the first time we have provided business advice on cashflow management and it won’t be the last.
What makes us experts on cashflow management in small business retail?
This is a good question. We are retailers ourselves. We have 3,000+ retail businesses as customers. These points and our decades of service to small business retail position us to be able to help in this area.
Our advice was thoughtfully prepared, reviewed and edited, to ensure it spoke to the needs of local small business retailers, to help them in practical and genuinely useful ways.
We are grateful for the engagement of our small business retailer community, the follow-up questions, their engagement seeking help beyond our written advice.
Helping small business retailers beyond our POS software and with ready to use advice on managing a cashflow challenge is something we are proud of offering as part of our service at Tower Systems.
HERE IS OUR CASHFLOW ADVICE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.
In it’s simplest form, cashflow management is about ensuring a business has the cash necessary to meet its obligations and, hopefully, build reserves for the owners.
Good cashflow management starts with the understanding that this is your business. You sign the lease. You sign up for any loans. You hire, train, motivate, manage and, maybe, fire the staff. You choose what you sell. You set your prices for most of what you sell. You control how the shop looks. You manage the promotion of the business outside the business. Yes, this is your business.
The cashflow of the business is a product of your choices.
It is critical for every business owner to own their business cashflow performance. Blaming others or external factors is a cop out. harsh as it is, that’s the truth.
This list is ordered by priority.
DEALING WITH A CASHFLOW CRISIS.
A cashflow crisis is when you can’t pay your bills on time or a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the cash reserves in the business.Too often, small business retailers ignore a cashflow crisis, leaving action until it is too late.
Here is our advice on how to deal with a cashflow crisis.
The cashflow achieved by a business is a product of your decisions. Be thoughtful in each decision and single-minded in your focus on a better cashflow outcome.
Thanks for reading. We hope 2019 is awesome for you.
Tower Systems International (Aust.) Pty Ltd
E | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a new unbranded marketing video we have created for small business retailers.
This is another in our series of practical, everyday, advice for small business retailers.
Gifts for teachers can be lucrative not only at the end of the year but also through the year by establishing your business as a destination for gifts for teachers. As with much in retail, it takes a commitment of time, space and capital.
While you can make money sourcing a teacher pack from a supplier, you will make more by taking a broader approach.
Our advice is that you offer a selection of gifts for teachers including the traditional plaques, mugs, apple-themed, frames and pens but this you expand the offer to include other suggested gifts such as scarves, Charlie Bears, soap, fudge, plush, jigsaw puzzles and other premium gifts.
Don’t be restricted by the traditional teacher gifts. Also, don’t be restricted by a price point. We suggest you show how two or more students could pool funds to buy a bigger gift such as a jigsaw puzzle. Show your customers how they can do this. For example: $19.99 or $10 each if two of you share giving this gift. Maybe even consider a whole of class gift.
Promote the broader range of gifts with an appropriate sign such as: GIVE SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE USED.
Have your suggested gifts represented together in a location branded as gifts for teachers.
Be sure to include cards in your range – Thank You cards and blank cards. Consider packaging selected gifts and cards together to make buying easy.
Also consider a discount if customers purchase above a threshold for multiple teachers. For example, you could offer 10% off for purchases of $25.00 or more. Choose a spend hurdle that suits your area.
Marketing and promotion tips:
In years working with small and independent retail businesses, the team at Tower Systems has learnt plenty including the indicators of in which retail businesses theft is more likely to occur.
we take a best practice approach to theft mitigation in our smart POS software. There are extensive tools that benefit retailer, provide peace of mind and help act against the scourge off theft be it employee or customer initiated and executed.
Our experience is that theft is more likely to occur in businesses where stock is not managed properly.
By not managed properly we mean where:
Our advice on reducing the cost of employee theft and customer theft is simple – follow our advice, manage your stock and without a doubt the cost of theft in your retail business will be lower than it would have been.
If you think the cost of managing stock is too great, think about the cost of $25,000, $50,000 or even $250,000 in theft. Yes, we see this all too often in retail businesses – where stock is not managed.
Managing your stock = less theft and less theft = increases product and increased profit = you get more when you sell your business.
2018 is not even half over and already it has seen considerable attacks on computers and on websites. Each attack reinforces the need for all businesses, including small businesses, to have appropriate security and backup measured in place to protect business data.
Appropriate backup means:
Our advice is that you use a cloud backup service, like the Tower Backup service we offer. It works in the background, backing up without you having to do a backup. If your business is attacked, getting back to a clean and safe place is easy. Any reputable backup service should be able to offer similar to you.
Please do not put this off. Get protection for your business and your business data. You don’t want to be the person who does this after you have been attacked.
At the very least, backup every day, onto a USB stick for that day. While this is an old-school approach, it is better than nothing at all.
But let’s be clear, cloud backup is our recommendation. Our service provides you with a local backup and an offsite backup, in the cloud. This gives you two backups, excellent protection. We monitor the backups to ensure they are working. If we find an issue, we proactively call you. This is rare from a cloud backup service provider.
Here at Tower Systems we take data security seriously. We provide best-pracie advice. Our customers are welcome to use our service or another, our recommendation, however, is that they do something – to be protected.
Too often small business retailers think about data security after they have been affected. Hence this advice here and in our weekly emails and elsewhere in our touch points with customers.
Small business retailers tend to like marketing they can see. Like the ad in the local paper or the catalogue in letterboxes.
You seeing your own marketing is irrelevant. In fact, it is as irrelevant as many catalogues stuffed in letterboxes.
The best marketing today is about entertainment, accurate engagement measurement, faster delivery and more immediate in-store engagement.
Take the old-school catalogue . Artwork, printing and delivery will take three to six weeks and cost you or your marketing group around $1,500, maybe more.
In many locations, that $1,500 could have funded 60 Facebook campaigns reaching 2,000+ people, carefully targeted with accurate data on engagement.
While catalogues play a role, that role today is far less than two years ago.
A retailer told me they liked the catalogue because they could see it whereas they could not see a Facebook post. This is an old-school view.
In your Tower Systems POS software, you can easily to pitch that you are locally connected business. For example, you can serve, on receipts, local information relevant in your area:
We can help you do this, we can help you show through the software how your business is better for the local community than any big business competitor.
BEING LOCAL BEYOND THE SOFTWARE.
Here are four ideas you could consider to show off a local connection. This collection of ideas is all about things you could do that are newsworthy for the local media:
While none of these ideas is about you selling product, each does better connect your shop with your local community and that is vital.
Here are other tips on boosting the local connection:
In October last year we published this short video for small business retailers with our thoughts on the imminent arrival of the first Amazon warehouse in Australia – in the context of then shrill reporting. we have received wonderful and appreciated feedback from customers about this.
The shrill reporting has continued. Our advice remains the same. We are grateful to be helping small business retailers grow in the face of change.
We get to see plenty of terrific VM displays in our travels in retail and at trade shows. here are a couple of terrific displays we saw in Atlanta a week ago.
Older employees can being terrific value to a retail business that is keen bring change to the business. Young employees cost less and this is a common appeal among retail business owners.
An older employee could bring more value to the business, they could leverage a better return on labour investment for the business. Here are other benefits that can be available depending on the background, skill set and work interest of the older employee:
When you are looking to fill a vacancy or a new role in the business, consider older person for these and other reasons you can think of. The could bring to the business skills and interest the you can leverage more valuably than the skills and interest of a younger lower cost employee.
Of course, the value of any employee depends on your hiring, training, management and motivation of them.
The post of this post is to suggest that next time you hire you think about an older employee.
Note: The federal government jobactive restart program can help Australian businesses that hire older employees financially:
Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.
Older employees can bring new insights and energy to a business. The right hire could be just want the business needs to explore new traffic opportunities.
Retailers using the Xero POS software link from Tower Systems are well positioned to reduce the impact of employee theft on their retail business. Here is how…
Also, thanks to powerful data tracking including deep security data tracking, you can rely on this software to help you manage theft so as to ensure the impact on the business is minimised compared to what would be the case if you were not using the Tow3r Systems POS software Xero interface.
There are many stories from small business retailers where Tower Systems has helped uncover, resolve and even prosecute in situations of employee theft. We have specialist experience in helping small business retailers in this stressful and expensive area of business operation.
Tower Systems has brought its theft mitigation experience to the Xero link to leverage this ti maximum benefit for its small business retail customers.