POS software company Tower Systems offers practical everyday advice for indie small business retailers. Our advice serves not only our 3,500+ retailer partners but many other retailers. The advice we share in this post is from our portfolio of management advice for small business retailers.
Definition: a pop-up shop is a temporary shop, one that is open for a limited period of time, usually around a month, rarely more than three months.
We have assembled our pop-up shop advice and tips into key topic areas.
Like any business decision, a decision to open a pop-up retail location needs to be based on good research and the business itself needs to have a purpose. So, before you begin, think about why.
Here are some reasons to do a pop-up shop:
With a pop-up shop you don’t have time to find your customers. The location needs to already have good traffic passing daily, traffic you can easily leverage. Even more so than in fixed-location retail, location is critical.
The best locations are shops that have good passing traffic that is of interest to you and that have been vacant for a while where a landlord might be happy with something rather than nothing.
Negotiate the lowest rent cost possible. Some landlords see pop-up offers as a reason to charge a premium. Only sign up for a price you are 100% happy with. If it is expensive and does not work financially, don’t sign hoping it works out, because in retail it rarely does work out better. In a pop-up business you have less time to see if it works out. Also, preferably, no contingency deposit.
Staff the business with a lean roster. This shop is about selling. that means, products placed for a price proposition rather than beautiful displays that take time to maintain. Every staff member is there to sell and maximise revenue from every shopper visit. There is no room in the roster for fat.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS.
Don’t spend a cent on fixtures and fittings. That needs to be your starting position. It’s a pop-up shop. People expect it to be efficient, cost-effective. Using tables and boxes adds to the feel of the shop feeling low-cost and that can help drive sales. Suppliers can be a good source for loaned fixtures.
Ask suppliers to offer consignment stock or special clearance deals they’d like to move fast. Go for items that can be sold out of a box, to make display and ranging easier. In-box displays of particularly cheap items can work very well.
Price to sell. This means being below usual retail. Price to understandable price points. For example, you might have a $10 table, a $20 table and so on. Consider bundling items into packs, which make price comparison difficult.
Don’t spend money on sign writing or marketing. Use social media and bargain websites and anywhere similar where you can list the store and its products.
Host an opening party. List this as a local event on Facebook.
Your mindset in managing the pop-up shop needs to be different to a fixed-location retail situation. Pop-up shops are about low cost, low overheads, low prices. Be ready to do deals. Whoever manages the pop-up shop needs to be different to how they would be in the fixed-location retail business.
You need to move fast. From the moment you sign a lease or agreement, the clock is ticking. Ideally, you’d open within 24 hours and when you are done, closing and clearing out the shop is done in 24 hours or less. This is all about maximising the time for income-production.
Cultivate good data that can guide business decisions for your next moves.
Is a pop-up shop worth doing? Only you can determine that. We have seen plenty of pop-up shops work well for the retailers, contribute good GP, help move slow stock and help open to the owners category opportunities not previously considered.
Do the planning and you should expect to benefit.
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.
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…
The direct Xero interface in the POS software from Tower Systems helps indie and small business retailers save time and money, every day, easily, consistently, with surety appreciated by accountants and business owners.
Tower Systems has been integrated with Xero for many years, delivering a time saving and accuracy focussed solution to small business retailers. We are a Xero partner and have actively participated in the awesome Xerocon conference events several times as well as having been featured in the Xero users magazine.
We are grateful to the uplifting of the Xero community, for their support and endorsement though active use of our POS software Xero interface.
Through our direct POS software Xero interface, purchase, sales, credits and other business critical data flows direct to the accounting software, ensuring accurate record keeping without the need fort double handling of data. This improves accuracy. It saves time. It helps businesses make better quality business decisions.
This is what a good, safe,. stable and endorsed POS software / Xero like works like … it serves the needs of small business retailers and helps them with business efficiency and accuracy.
This is an advantage from Tower Systems. Something that delivers good outcomes to our business partners, the small business retailer community who rely on our software, the thousands we serve every day with awesome software and awesome software support.
Our Xero like has been developed by us. It is supported by us. It is direct. This saves time and ensures better data accuracy. Indeed, we use it ourselves for shops that we own and run. yes, we walk in the shoes of our customers every day. This is important in that we can speak from first hand experience when helloing 0ur customers, advising them, training them and guiding their experiences with our software and with Xero.
Having skilled in-house accountants helps us to provide access to a level; of expertise and experience small business accountants appreciate and benefit from. We help way beyond the software, we help by bring professional accounting expertise to the table to make our POS software Xero link genuinely valuable.
This is another Tower Advantage.
There was a time when small business retailers could rely on selling their business for a handsome increase on the price they paid thereby providing a good pay day, when businesses sold for a good multiple of net earnings.
No more. Today, the best way to extract value from our businesses is to make every day your pay day, to not rely on your pay day being the day you sell the business.
The challenge is how do you do this?
Retailers need to look at their businesses differently. This starts with the mindset of every day being your pay day. Each decision needs to be considered in this context.
Focusing on profit today will give you a better result today and make your business more valuable tomorrow.
Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:
Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.
If you relentlessly pursue profit with a clear focus you are likely to see profit grow. That’s better than waiting to make money when you sell because that’s less likely to happen in this market.
Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower Systems POS software helps with this. It is easy.
Too often we in small business see competition and get angry. We ignore the opportunity to change gears and stop competing
In our Tower Systems smart POS software we offer facilities through which you can change gears, through which you can recast your offer so it cannot be compared to those from a competitor.
Sometimes, the best way to complete is to not compete, to change the conversation, to get people seeing your business through a fresh lense.
These gear changing competitive tools in our current POS software include:
Now, to some more practical ideas…
Next time you feel competitive pressure from a big business, ask what you could change gearsin your business to position you differently, to not look like you are competing.
The more you can do to block direct price comparison the better.
Here at Tower Systems we can help with these and other initiatives in this area of smart competition.
Here is an article I have recently completed about diversity in retail, as a management approach to help you attract more customers to your business. I have been thinking about diversity because of an inspirational presentation I heard by Aubrey Bergauer, Executive Director of the California Symphony, in which she outlined how a commitment to diversity has helped the Symphony become more successful.
This is not about what you may think it is about.
For years, retailers, especially small business retailers have been told do one thing right, be known for something.
They have been told that a unique selling proposition(USP) is about that one thing and getting it so right that you are known for it.
This singular focus began in an era when people often discovering a business did so by being in front of the business.
While pursuing a USP has worked for many, the world today has changed. Technology has changed us, it has changed how people find retail businesses.
Whereas in the past, there was often one major path delivering traffic to a business, today, thanks to technology, there are usually many paths, often not as obvious to us as the path of years ago.
Technology has also changed what businesses can and do offer.
Most important, technology has changed the ease of reaching customers.
Being local is not as important as it used to be.
While local small business retailers wish being local is all that matters, it is not. Often, the local community is not sufficient to serve the growth needs of a business, often because locals themselves are shopping elsewhere because doing so is easier.
Retailers need to reach more people. This means reaching beyond what has been traditional. For local retailers it means reaching beyond local. It can mean reaching beyond what you are known for.
Thanks to cool personalisation technology and targeted marketing, businesses interstate or overseas can provide a special interest product in a way that locals can love. Big businesses, especially, can leverage technology to reach local shoppers in personal and local ways.
Being local is notas important as it used to be for plenty of specialty retail businesses.
A commitment to diversity could help local retailers in this changed world.
I am not talking here about diversity in the manner in which the term is often used.
To me, diversity in small business retail is about a business, your business, being diversein the customers it pursues and diversein the ways it seeks to connect with potential new customers.
Customer diversityis about being relevant, appealing and of value to different groups of customers to those you pursue today. No, not everyone, because that does not work.
Diversity in customers is about targeting very specific, new, groups that you are certain you can satisfy.
Why do people shop with you?
Think about what brings people through your front door right now. Typically, a majority of shoppers will come through for one reason, one product or service category.
Is there another product or service category not too distant from what you focus on today that you could introduce to broaden the appeal of the business, to help you reach people who are not interested in your prime product category or service today?
This is one example of diversity … making your business appealing to a group of people who do not find your current offer appealing.
It is not about becoming a general store. Rather, it is about making thoughtful moves, based on research, to broaden the pool of people who couldwant to shop with you.
This is about you reaching more customers.
Diversity in ways of connecting with potential new customersis about how you communicate, how you connect.
Multiple touchpoints matter in this connected world.
While we all get sick of emails, text messages, social media ads and the like, they are sent for a reason, by big businesses with strong tech infrastructure to take care of this follow up.
Think about the new shopper journey in your shop today. Think about how they found you. In small business retail, word of mouth remains important as does store location. But what about other new shoppers, how can they be found?
Diversity in how, where and when you promote your business matters as does diversity in your voice.
How you reach out to an older shopper should be different to how you reach out to a young mum.
How you reach out to someone new to your core product category should be different to how you reach out to someone deeply engaged with your core category.
A more diverse pool of shoppers requires a more diverse approach to find them.
Here’s what I mean: use diverse avenues of marketing and through these use diverse marketing pitches, targeted for a more diverse pool of customers.
Marketing avenues can include social media paid and free, Google Ads, with each being thoughtfully created to pursue a specific type of shopper, one that fits a diversity goal.
Just as you expand what you offer to appeal to new consumers, you expand how you appeal to reach new customers.
Local businesses often promote local. It made sense for years. Today, specialty retailers can easily sell outside the local area, making a commitment to diversity also being about reaching beyond local as that in itself is about pursuing diversity.
It’s about more than what you are known for today.
Here is what it comes down to. What you are known for today is not enoughsince that will limit your appeal to customers interested in that. Smart and tech engaged businesses are chipping away at your core, what you are known for.
Thoughtfully, carefully, broaden the appeal of your business through what you sell and how you pitch. Pursuing a more diverse pool of customers will buttress your business, help it weather change.
This is why diversity matters. It is why you have to make your business appealing to more people and why you have to be more diverse in how you try and find them.
Now, an action plan.
Write down your target customer today. Describe them in a concise way.
Now, think about another customer you could target, a different customer you would like to reach but do not reach today. Think about what you need to do in terms of inventory, shop layout, online engagement and other changes to reach this new customer.
Write down how you promote your business today. Now, think about other ways you could promote your business and other voices, styles, tones you could use to appeal to people you do not appeal to today.
New products, new services, pitched through new voices in new mediums, this is how to attract a more diverse customer pool to your business.
Diversity in retail is simple really. It is about expanding your reach through thoughtful planned actions to reach a more diverse group of customers.
The alternative is to keep doing what you have been doing. That will maintain your current business trajectory.
Mark Fletcher is the owner of Tower Systems, newsXpress and several niche retail businesses.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TOWER SYSTEMS:
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The immediate asset write off benefits that have been further enhanced by the federal government this year present small business retailers investing capital in their businesses tax and other benefits that are worth considering.
The details of what we in small businesses can do are outlined in the simpler depreciation for small businesses information from the Australian Taxation Office:
Right now, the threshold is $30,000. Spend this much on a depreciating asset and you can write it off this financial year. If your business books a profit, the benefit of the write-off can be considerable.
The Tax Office website has excellent details. Your accountant can help too.
The Small Business Development Corporation in Western Australia has an excellent explainer of instant asset write off on their website. Click here to access it.
Click here to access an explainer from Finstro, a business finance company.
By offering access to innovative and inspiring marketing collateral…
The Tower Systems POS software actively helps small business retailers to reduce the time it takes to comply with government requirements.
We do this in a range of ways. We also enhance our engagement with this as government regulations change. By evolving our software offering, we ensure we help businesses leverage time-saving opportunities.
Preparing the BAS, Business Activity Statement, is easier and faster thanks to easy access to accurate data collected and managed by our POS software This is a key time saving. It also helps reduce stress by ensuring the provision of data that is accessible and useful to business owners.
Managing accurate business performance tracking through the profit and loss statement and the balance sheet is facilitated through automatic data flow between the POS software and Xero, MYOB or Quicken. Indeed, the accounting software links we provide in our POS software make it easier for small business retailers to undertake more accounting work in-store, reduce accounting fees and facilitate more accurate accounting records.
So, time saved, mistakes cut, errors voided, accurate data curated and managed – all through there work we do for small business retailers in 0ur POS software – these are real benefits for small business retail.
We see businesses put in our POS software, connect it to xero and cut bookkeeping costs. This can save a business thousands of dollars a year without any additional spend within the business beyond the low cost of POS software and attendant support services.
This is good business that we are proud to deliver for the small business retailers we serve through our smart POS software.
Saving time takes careful thought and planning on the software design end. As retailers ourselves, doing this time saving work in our own retail businesses, we know what is needed first hand. Having a CPA in our office, working with us enables us to be knowledgable for an accounting perspective too. These two things – being a retailer and having in-house accounting capabilities – ensure that we prove a proven and practical solution to our small business retail customers.
This is another bankable Tower Systems advantage for small business retailers.
A week ago we shared with our customers an updated THEFT POLICY, and suggested they print this and seek employee engagement.
The reaction has been terrific with plenty downloading and pricing the policy. We have had calls, too, from retailers seeking our suggestions on other actions they can take. Some have called with their stories of theft in their businesses.
Our work in the area of retail employee theft is comprehensive and on-going.
We welcome opportunities to work with our thousands of small business retailer customers to help them mitigate the theft situation in their businesses.
Here is the latest version of our THEFT POLICY that we shared a week ago:
PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
Click here. No sign up, no registration. 100% free. ready for small business retailers to use right away. A gift from us.
In our work with small business retailers our help often passes from POS software help to business management help.
recently, we were asked for advice on when and how to quit stock. here is the template advice we have created, which is useful in many types of retail businesses.
Advice for small business retailers on quitting stock
If you want to quit stock, quit it, quickly. Quickly means different things to different people. To me, this think it means 7 days … gone and out of the shop in 7 days from when you decide to quit the products.
The easiest way to quit stock is for your shoppers to understand the deal. Understanding the deal starts with how you brand the sale.
A sign with SALE on it could mean anything. I suggest you NOT use this.
A sign with, say, 50% off could be confusing as they don’t know the starting price and some may not understand percentages.
Sign with HALF PRICE is more easily understood but they still do not know the starting price.
If you really want to quit stock, I suggest you have tables or dump bins at price points: $1, $2, $5 – or that ever is appropriate to you.
I have tested this. I have tried $9.99 priced an item at 50% off, half price and $5.00. The $5.00 pricing worked the best, by far.
This is our recommendation on quickly quitting stock: get the price messaging right.
If your price messaging is hard to understand or if there are too many different price messages you could be creating a barrier and this could stop you achieving the sales outcome you want.
Also: display the product for a sale. i.e. not pretty. Reorganise it daily. Keep it separate to the premium merchandise.