The POS Software Blog

The POS Software Blog

News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

CategorySmall retail business management advice

Stocktakes are a thing of the past for retailers and here’s why

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While our POS software has stocktake facilities to enable fast and accurate counting of inventory, it’s not necessary for businesses to do a stocktake at the end of the financial year. You can ignore the end of year stocktake if you are disciplined as to how you run your retail business. here’s what you need to do:

  • Track all inventory arriving in the business at the point of arrival. This is easy with electronic invoices from suppliers or software generated order files.
  • Track all sales, at the point of sale. Scan everything you sell. This is easy to do, for anything.
  • Track all returns at the point of return. Anything you send back to a supplier, scan it out first. The same is true for any products you write off.
  • Spot stocktake parts of the business to get a read on theft.

These straightforward things done in a retail business with consistency and accuracy will provide the business with a stock listing, what you’d usually get from a stocktake, that is accurate for your financials and accurate for your taxation return purposes.

By having a tight and consistent approach to stock management at all appropriate gate points in the business and doing this work daily on stock movements, you negate the need for end of financial year work. This saves time, labour cost and results, actually, in more accurate business data.

Stocktakers, of course, will criticise this as this post makes the point that they are not necessary. the thing is, their manual processes, have been found to be inaccurate and, often, inappropriate. Stocktakers make their money from selling you their services. What we are saying is that with good business management practices you don’t need a stocktaker, you don’t need that cost.

For those who do want to do a stocktake, we make stocktake easy. We have a stocktake process in our POS software that could save you time and help you know what you need to know today.

While doing a stocktake of the whole business is the traditional way, if you break it up and do sections of the shop when it suits, you could, through a rolling stocktake process, have more accurate data with a lower labour cost for the counting of stock.

The Tower Systems POS software lets you do part of the shop if you wish. That could be a shelf, an aisle, a section of the shop or even a single item. Of course, you can do a stocktake for the whole store too.

By doing a stocktake of a section or segment of the business, you can concentrate on high moving items, items more likely to be stolen or for some other reason. You can also schedule these sectional / spot stocktakes in a way that suits your labour availability. Finding half an hour to do a section in a daily roster could save the business money compared to bring people in especially to stocktake.

Having worked with 3,500+ local retail businesses for many years and participated in many stocktakes across a variety of product categories, our advice is that the rolling stocktake approach is usually more time efficient and financially beneficial to a business. This approach does provide you an earlier indication of possible theft challenges.

Good POS software gives you stocktake flexibility and this helps you drive value for your business.

Now, some quick fire stocktake questions, which we answer from the perspective of the Tower Systems software.

  • Can my shop be open while I stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I stop and start the stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I use multiple terminals to stocktake? Yes.
  • Can I use a hand help PDE or PDA? Yes, many brands are supported.
  • Can I use a laptop? Yes.
  • How long will it take? It all depends on your products, store layout and staff training. Time improves as they go usually.
  • How often should I do a stocktake? Once a year for the whole business or weekly in manageable time bites if doing the rolling approach.
  • Will you train us? Yes, we have excellent self-serve and one-on-one training resources and options.

If you are thinking about an end of year stocktake, consider changes you could implement in your business that render this usual end of financial year activity worthless.

Local retail business advice from our POS software company: trust your data

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Our purpose is to empower local retailers to thrive. Sometimes, that can be challenging when the retailer does not agree with the path indicated in their business data.

It’s true that if you are unhappy with how your business is performing then change is the only option for if you keep doing the same thing, you will experience the same results. In this short video from a few months ago our CEO explores this topic from a range of perspectives.

Tower Systems is a small business focussed POS software company developing, and supporting POS software for niche specialty retailers.

Stocktakes are unnecessary in retail thanks to smart POS software tech.

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While our Tower Systems POS software for small business retail has stocktake facilities to enable fast and accurate counting of inventory, it really is necessary for businesses to do them at the end of the financial year. The better approach is to:

  • Track all inventory arriving in the business at the point of arrival.
  • Track all sales, at the point of sale.
  • Track all returns at the point of return.
  • Spot stocktake parts of the business to get a read on theft.

These things alone, done with consistency and accuracy will provide the business with a stock listing, what you’d usually get from a stocktake, that is accurate for your financials and accurate for your taxation return purposes.

By having a consistent approach to stock management at all appropriate gate points in the business and doing this work daily on stock movements, you negate the need for end of financial year work. This saves time, labour cost and results, actually, in more accurate business data.

Stocktakers, of course, will criticise this as this post makes the point that they are not necessary. the thing is, their manual processes, have been found to be inaccurate and, often, inappropriate.

For those who do want to do a stocktake, we make stocktake easy.

No, we are not talking about cutting corners or avoiding important and vital work for the business. Rather, we have a stocktake process that could save you time and help you know what you need to know today.

While doing a stocktake of the whole business is the traditional way, if you break it up and do sections of the shop when it suits, you could, through a rolling stocktake process, have more accurate data with a lower labour cost for the counting of stock.

The Tower Systems POS software lets you do part of the shop if you wish. That could be a shelf, an aisle, a section of the shop or even a single item. Of course, you can do a stocktake for the whole store too.

By doing a stocktake of a section or segment of the business, you can concentrate on high moving items, items more likely to be stolen or for some other reason. You can also schedule these sectional / spot stocktakes in a way that suits your labour availability. Finding half an hour to do a section in a daily roster could save the business money compared to bring people in especially to stocktake.

Having worked with 3,500+ local retail businesses for many years and participated in many stocktakes across a variety of product categories, our advice is that the rolling stocktake approach is usually more time efficient and financially beneficial to a business. This approach does provide you an earlier indication of possible theft challenges.

Good POS software gives you stocktake flexibility and this helps you drive value for your business.

Now, some quick fire stocktake questions, which we answer from the perspective of the Tower Systems software.

Can my shop be open while I stocktake? Yes.
Can I stop and start the stocktake? Yes.
Can I use multiple terminals to stocktake? Yes.
Can I use a hand help PDE or PDA? Yes, many brands are supported.
Can I use a laptop? Yes.
How long will it take? It all depends on your products, store layout and staff training. Time improves as they go usually.
How often should I do a stocktake? Once a year for the whole business or weekly in manageable time bites if doing the rolling approach.
Will you train us? Yes, we have excellent self-serve and one-on-one training resources and options.

Our advice to local small business retailers about stocktake is ditch the end of financial year grind, manage stock better through the year and you will make better business decisions through the year as a result.

Disaster planning for local small business retailers

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Whether it’s a natural disaster or not, businesses can be challenged by events that are outside the direct control of the business owners and managers. The key to successfully handling such events is the planning in place beforehand.

No one wants to plan for disaster, most don’t. Those who have encountered disaster, large or small, tend to wish they had better planned for it.

This advice is far-reaching, designed to act as a broad list of steps you can undertake to be prepared, or to at least get you thinking about steps you could take. Do it all or some, but do something … otherwise when you need good planning you will not have a plan on which to fall back.

Disaster Planning

Here are some general suggestions on planning for a disaster in your business property.

  1. Create action plans for different events so that those working in the business know exactly what to do. here are some examples of such events:
    1. Power blackout.
    2. Payments (EFTPOS) outage.
    3. Flooding or water ingress impacting the shop.
    4. Police incident directly impacting access to the shop.
    5. Serious health situation by a customer in the shop.
    6. Attack by customer against the business on social media.
    7. Loud complaint by customer in-store impacting other customers.
    8. refusal to supply by a regular supplier.
  2. Keep in one secure place off-site copies of: Business contracts and agreements; employee contact details, business account and other passwords, insurance details, recent photographs of fixtures, fittings and stock.
  3. For records you cannot easily copy or that may change as the trading day unfurls, consider having a go bag ready for you to grab if there is a risk to the premises such as a bushfire.
  4. Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
  5. Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
  6. Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit. Have this checked regularly.
  7. Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
  8. Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
  9. Have a trained first aid officer on staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
  10. Use government resources, there are plenty at state and federal levels.

Insurance Protection

Insurance coverage is vital to helping a retail business overcome any type of disaster.  In addition to ensuring that your insurance policy covers all disaster situations of concern to you, including flood, theft, water inundation, fire, earthquake, riot—be sure to carefully read the policy, ensure that your insurance policy / policies cover payouts for the following:

  1. Business interruption.  The amount should equal your anticipated gross profit for whatever period you choose to be covered.
  2. Data recovery.  Including the hiring of experts to recover data from backup sources or the manual entry of data which cannot be automatically recovered.  It needs to ensure that you are covered to the point of recovered data being useable in transacting business.
  3. Lost stock.  This is stock stolen, lost from the business.
  4. Damaged and unsaleable stock.  This is stock which is water damaged, scuffed or dented and which will not attract full price.
  5. Dated stock.  This is stock that you cannot sell by the due date.
  6. Many policies require explicit statement of glass coverage.
  7. Temporary trading premises.  Business interruption may cover this.  Ensure that it is explicitly stated.
  8. Key person injury and/or death. This will usually be a separate policy.  Depending on the disaster, coverage may also be available through the overall business policy.

Ensure that the value of stock, fixtures and fittings covered by your policy is an accurate reflection of the real value of these items.  Talk with your insurance company about the best approach to track this on an ongoing basis.

Insurance brokers can provide access to assessors who can advise on the appropriate level of insurance for your situation.

Use your Point of  Sale system to track all stock movements in and out.  The stock on hand in  your software should be your coverage.

Ensure that your insurance policy protects for the seasonal nature of your business

Data Protection

Business data is one of the most valuable assets of the business.  Like insurance, the value is often not understood until you need what you do not have.  Retailers who are serious about protecting their business data in the event of any disaster follow these steps:

  1. ‪Backup your business data every day, at the end of the day, without fail. Use a cloud based backup service that undertakes the backup as the day unfolds without you having to every do anything to cause a backup to be taken.
  2. Maintain a separate backup for each day of the week.  Consider a separate backup for the last day of each month.
  3. Remove the backup medium, usually a USB stick, from the business premises each day – outside the business property.
  4. Store the backup in a safe, dry place.
  5. Check the usefulness of the backup by restoring and checking the data.
  6. Store original business software in a safe off-site location.
  7. Check the backup every three to six months – to make sure the backup is actually backing us current data and can be read. A backup you cannot read is a waste of time and money.
  8. Change your passwords regularly.
  9. Do not share passwords widely.

Disaster planning is important. When you need it the most is when you face a disaster. Don’t be a business owner who realises that only then.

Tower Systems provides easily actionable POS software use advice to local small business retailers

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Each week we provide our customers with easy actionable advice on easy to use the POS software we make to run more valuable local retail businesses. here is advice we provided our customers last week:

Good morning. Grab a coffee or tea and spend 5 minutes with us:

Open Retailer. Go to Reports. Select the last option, Insights Dashboard. Click on What’s Not Selling. This tab will list products not performing. You can adjust settings to suit your specific business.

Stock that is not selling is dead stock, capital tied up, space tied up.

Once you know what is not selling you have the opportunity to act in a targeted way to quit the dead stock and not order it again.

Many retailers ignore looking at dead stock. Some don’t want to know while others are scared to discover it and others don’t think it is important.

In our experience, a retailer looking at dead stock for the fist time will discover that around 20% of their total stock on hand is dead. In a business with $120,000 in stock, that’s $24,000 in capital at risk. Can you afford to have $24,000 doing nothing for your business?

Listing dead stock is one way you can make more money from your business by using your Retailer software.

The Insights dashboard provides easy access to actionable insights into your business. It helps you make more money.

Do it now: Open Retailer. Go to Reports. Select the last option, Insights Dashboard. Click on What’s Not Selling.

If you’d like help doing this or understanding, please reach out. Also, our knowledge base offers an awesome video about the Insights Dashboard.

The feedback from our customers about this and other advice encourages us to each week provide ready to use advice to our customer community. Since we only serve local small business retailers, our approach is targeted. Their needs are similar across the various retail channels in which we serve.

Now, in our advice when we refer to Retailer we are referring to our own POS software. That’s been its name for 27 years now. We changed the name in 1997.

We’re not your usual POS software company. We are grateful to offer practical retail management help and advice beyond what its usual for software companies.

Small business retail management advice: greeting customers

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The sales clerk asks Can I help you?  You answer No thanks, I’m just looking. You wander ar=round the shop and the sales clerk goes back to what they were doing.

It’s a fail in retail.

If you don’t ask a shopper if you can help them, they don’t have an opportunity to say I’m just looking thanks.

Consider changing your opening with shoppers, ditch the old script of opening by asking how can I help?

Consider a welcome greeting of it’s great to see you today or thanks for stopping by or even simply hi. You could try more active engagement like we just got this in, or have you seen this, it’s really cool while showing a product.

Too often in retail team members are trained in scripts to use and requested to follow them by rote. Scripts dehumanise human interaction, they can make what is meant to feel like conversation shallow, useless, noise.

We think it is critical retail team members are encouraged to ditch scripts and be in the moment when engaging with shoppers. It is important all team members feel trust from the business in their ability to engage.

Oh, and who are we? We’re Tower Systems, makers of POS software used by thousands of local small business retailers, and we are retailers ourselves – have been since the 1990s. We’re not your usual POS software company.

One way to make opening conversation with shoppers on the shop floor easier is doing more work on the shop floor, moving tasks there that may otherwise be done in a back office or at the sales counter.

You can nurture conversation skills in the shop by engaging with the team in active conversation.

Now, if a customer does say they are just looking, a simple no worries is a good response. Certainly, don’t follow them around or try more questions. Leave them be.

Years ago, retail staff were told to engage with shoppers, pressured even. It was as if staff engagement was the key to sales success. While, for sure, it can play a role in some settings, there are many other factors that drive sales: the right products, a well laid out shop, a happy shopping environment, compelling offers and happy team members to name a few.

Shoppers who are looking are wonderful to have, much better than no shoppers at all.

Helping local small business retailers win with a Boxing Day Sale

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Here are 5 good reasons local small business retailers should embrace the Boxing Day Sale opportunity even if Boxing Day Sales are not a thing in their part of the world.

  1. Marketing costs nothing since you can ride on the coattails of the big retailers promoting their Boxing Day Sales.
  2. You can quit items you no longer wish to stock.
  3. You can free up cash on the items you have long since paid for.
  4. Customers love an opportunity for a bargain.
  5. A successful sale gives you an opportunity for a retail reset, which can be refreshing, motivating and decluttering for the shop space.

There are no rules about what you should sell in a Boxing Day Sale. The only rule, my made-up rule actually, relates to value – you have to price items such that they represent genuine value for shoppers, give them an excellent opportunity to save money that they quickly understand.

Fill the front half of your shop with deals – no matter what type of business you are in.

Don’t spend any money on promotion. rather, email your customers, put a notice on social media. Put signs in your font window. Keep it simple. Announce the sale.

In terms of pricing, keep it simple too. Know what your customers will understand. Some will prefer half price over 50% off or two for one. Others will gravitate toward tables at a fixed price such as $10, $25, $50 etc where the items on the tables are market at prices two times the price point of the table.

Now, if you are closed today, December 26, start your sale tomorrow. It’s easy. Don’t be worried about the technicality that tomorrow is not Boxing Day. Jump on the bandwagon. Declutter, clean up and make some money.

Now, our POS software makes it easy for you to prove items for aa Boxing Day Sale, our POS software can run a catalogue for you, offering sale prices for items you select, and for the period of the sale in your business. Our POS software also helps with reporting on the success of the sale.

And, with a Boxing Day Sale, when you use our POS software you can. Give shoppers a voucher with some money off their next purchase – to bring first-time and infrequent shoppers back into the business. That’s a bonus from running a Boxing Day Sale, the opportunity to bring those new faces back into the shop.

5 ways small business retailers can use POS software to help improve sales counter workflow

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Here are 5 valuable and easy to implement ways retailers use our Point of Sale software (POS software) to reduce labour costs in their local retail businesses:

  1. Sales counter workflow. Smooth. Easy. Smart. Accurate. Few keystrokes. Easy for even casual staff who are not in the business often. In our POS software it is smart, efficient, streamlined and labour cost saving.
  2. Match revenue and roster. Focussing on rostering to revenue and revenue opportunity is a challenge for small business retailers. Tools in the POS software from Tower Systems help indie retailers do this with ease and consistency. These are tools retailers love as they can drive revenue reduction and / or labour cost reduction.
  3. Smart stock control including reordering. By eliminating manual processes around placing orders for replenishment stock, retailers are able to, in one place and at one time, accurately create orders based on business performance data.  By ordering based on business activity (sales) the business do working based on success rather than gut feel. A business switching to ordering from within their Point of sale system can expect to free up cash by reducing non-performing stock. This process is further improved through digitally engaged supplier relationships.
  4. Customer management including accounts and loyalty. Through computer-based customer accounts and loyalty management, the retail business is able to transact with customers accurately, in a timely manner and in a way which puts customers first.  Generating monthly customer statements, for example, could take a few minutes whereas manual processes could take many hours and face challenges with accuracy.
  5. Fact assisted decision making.  Too many retail businesses spend too much time spinning their wheels pursuing decisions because they are not using business facts to feed these decisions.  All to often we see poor business decisions made based on emotion and or ignorance rather than historical business data.  Replace the error prone and fact-less approach with a fact-based approach and a business will soon find that decisions are more right than wrong.  Retail businesses can bank on the results.

These are just 5 of the ways in which our Point of Sale software helps 3,500+ small business retailers in Australian and New Zealand to improve the management of their businesses, streamline processes and drive more efficient allocation of labour resources.

Local retailers in Australia could benefit from engaging with Halloween

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I am back from a quick trip to the US – New York, Wisconsin (several small towns and Los Angeles).

It was fascinating to see the total embrace of Halloween, in all retail sectors: jewellers, garden centres, bike shops, pet shops, toy shops, homewares shops, fabric shops, gift shops, landscape businesses, bookshops, fashion stores.

While I have seen Halloween in the US plenty of times before, this time I paid attention to the range of retail businesses engaged.

Retailers in every category embrace Halloween as an opportunity for fun. They also use it as an opportunity for in-store events to reconnect with the local community.

What I saw was much more than candy and trick or treating … it was a seasonal embrace with fun at the heart. There were events, sales, photo opportunities and plenty more. Most were very local, and engaging.

Many retailers use it as an opportunity too ease into Christmas with Halloween prep starting in early September.

I like the idea of Halloween right after Father’s Day and as something prior to Christmas being put up in store. While we have done Halloween in our shops previously, in 2024 I think we will take a more US local retail approach and create something quite different for here.

I mention it today because events in-store, in any type of retail business, are vital to helping to be noticed, and attract new shoppers, and new shoppers are vital to all of us in retail.

This photo is from a bike shop / coffee shop in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. I saw people crouch down for a photo. Simple. Effective. Engaging.

There are so many opportunities local retailers can embrace with Halloween beyond what we have seen as common locally.

Bike shops, jewellers, garden centres, toy shops, pet shops, bookshops, gift shops, homewares shops, newsagents and even farm supply businesses all have opportunities in the Halloween space and I saw plenty of examples in the US recently.

In our POS software it’s a season we can help you track, too.

I am grateful for what I got to see. It was heaps fun.

Mark Fletcher
CEO. Tower Systems
mark@towersystems.com.au 0418 321 338

PS. Retail is personal and Halloween leans into this opportunity.

What is the best POS system for small retail business?

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It’s an interesting question, What is the best POS system for small retail business?, one plenty of local small business retailers ask.

We are Tower Systems We only make POS software for small business retail. We are not chasing big business. We are not chasing franchises with hundreds of shops.

Our focus is on local small business retail, local shops, specialty shops, small business shops.

So when you ask, What is the best POS system for small retail business?, we think a good response has to be – software from a company that makes software for small retail businesses, software from a company that only makes software for small retail businesses.

This is important because if you are a small retail business and you go with software from a company that serves plenty of big chains and big groups, your small business could get lost in the mix, not listened to, forgotten. While their marketing will likely pitch that your business will matter and that you will get personal service, one way big, massive, software companies serve their customers is through offshore services centres and automation.

Retail is personal, local retail especially.

Here at Tower Systems we provide personal service. You see this reflected in our POS software and in the support services to local retailers we provide for our POS software.

Each POS software update includes enhancements suggested directly by our customers. We discuss these with them, and let them know when and how they are proceeding. This direct contact between our software development team and our customers is unique as is the direct, easy and personal contact between our POS software customers and our help desk team – all of whom work for us and are local in Australia and New Zealand.

Okay, well, all of what we have shared so far here is about choosing the best POS software company for a small retail business. In terms of the software itself, it’s easy …

Be sure of what you need and what you want, and know the why s to each of these.

When looking at software, ask them to show you, using their software, how each of your needs is met. Don’t just take their word.

If they say sign up and test it for yourself rather than taking the time to understand your needs and wants and showing you this reflects on the personal service they will, or will not provide.

The best POS system for a local small retail business is the one that serves the needs of the retail at a price that works for the retail business.

Take your time, do your research. Get everything in writing.

This is a long-term decision, one worth taking time over.

Advice for small business retailers on dealing with increasing retail theft

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We know from the news that retail theft has increased. Shoplifting, stealing, retail theft, call it what o=you like, has a financial cost as well as an emotional cost. It can debilitate business owners, managers and team members, multiplying the total cost to the business.

Employee theft is easier to uncover, track and address than shopper theft.

Good POS software will offer proven tools for indicating potential employee theft and do this in a way that empowers business owners to act before the cost to the business is out of control.

The challenge is that many small business retail owners and managers do not use theft discovery and mitigation tools in POS software. We know because our Tower Systems POS software is well resourced in theft detection and mitigation and too often in talking with customers it is discovered later rather than earlier.

Our advice for retailers on employee theft is to use your software, check regularly, act on the indicators to see if there is something concerning there. In our case here at Tower systems – call or email – one of our senior theft mitigation specialists will help. These are people who have worked with the police and insurance companies on such situations. They will Bring that experience to the table for you.

Shopper theft, shoplifting, stealing of products is best discovered by a regular process of what we call spot stock takes. Choose several high interest product categories and every week check stock on hand. This will indicate if there is an issue. If there is not, choose another.

Having a consistent approach to spot stock takes if key to the discovery point of shoplifting.

The best deterrent is your action. Here is our advice to be known as a shop not worth stealing from:

  1. Greet people when they enter the shop. Them seeing you see them, eye to eye, will deter some people planning to steal.
  2. Have systems to collect evidence: CCTV and, when appropriate, matching POS software data.
  3. Always report people caught to the police.
  4. Write about reporting it to the police on social media.
  5. If you have camera evidence of theft but no knowledge of the name, use the photo to try and figure out the identity.

If the problem in your shop is serious and at a point where it is distressing you, consider bringing in a uniformed security guard for a week or two. While there is a cost with that, it makes a physical statement about your approach to the security of your space.

Complaining about theft is not action.

Catching someone and getting your goods back is inadequate action.

Not acting on a hunch because of a fear for what you might discover is not action.

Theft requires action. Typically in local small business retail it is costing the business somewhere between 3% and 5% of turnover. In our experience, retailers trend to not act because they are not sure where to start.

Here at Tower Systems we offer guidance to retail business owners on what to do, actions to take, processes to establish to at least get a handle on what might be happening. That is the best place to start if the business has not been acting consistently up to that point.

Aussie small business retailers love using AI to create better product descriptions

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ChatGPT integrated POS software from Aussie company Tower Systems auto-generates more meaningful products descriptions, saving time and removing a pain-point for small business retailers.

Released in February 2023 and fine-tuned since, the ChatGPT integration is loved by retailers.

The product descriptions are concise and tuned for search engine success.

“We run 3 shops ourselves and love the time this saves,” commented Mark Fletcher, Managing Director of Tower Systems. “The ChatGPT integration generates the description based on simple prompts. The retailer can review the text, and adjust if necessary.”

“Local small business retailers are time-poor so anything we can do to save time is a win.”

In a typical shop, coming up with a description for a new product can take several minutes with a range of factors to be considered. The ChatGPT integration eliminates this. The feedback from customers using the new facility are encouraging and motivating to the software developers as it recognises the practical value of their focus on productivity enhancements.

“Looking at product descriptions from many small business retailers, we found many were overwritten and not tuned to search engine needs, thereby denying sales opportunities to these businesses.”

The ChatGPT integrated POS software update was provided to the Tower customer community for no cost. Retailers using the software have the option to not use the AI integration.

It is part of a suite of POS software enhancements that targeted productivity improvements for local small business retailers who use the Tower Systems POS software.
Here is what the ChjatGPT integration looks like live:

Tower Systems serves more than 3,000 local specialty retailers in Australia: newsagents, pet shops, jewellers, garden centres, farm supply businesses, bike shops and gift shops.

The company also owns and runs 3 high street shops in Melbourne and 6 online retail businesses.

Advice for retailers following the Google core update

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Four days ago, Google announced that it had released a core update. This has implications for all businesses that are found via Google searches.

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Whenever Google updates its search ranking algorithms, your website can do better or worse in the search results. It is important to watch how your website is impacted.

Google offers useful advice on dealing with the implications for a core update, including this excellent and practical advice:

We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward. To learn more about how to create content that’s successful, see our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content. It has questions that you can ask yourself when assessing your own content.

This is key for any local small business retailer with a website: ensure your contact is unique, fresh, and valuable to the reader.

Our advice to retailers for whom we have developed websites connected to our POS Software is to ensure content is fresh, useful and updated as appropriate. 

We recommend against paying content farms, AI platforms or others to write content for you. If you are an expert, be the expert. Consider using your name, as a byline, on pages you have written.

Consider deleting pages that are out of date. Quality matters more than quantity.

Ensure product descriptions are your text and not that supplied by a supplier to all retailers they supply. Unique content matters.

Consider questions you answer. Do your answers on your website make you an authority? What changes could you make to be more of an authority?

Make sure page headings are relevant to the content.

Think about the humans you want to attract to your business, write for them and not for a search algorithm.

Every page on your website needs to have a human related purpose, the Google algorithms consider this.

If your business website contains any pages written by others, especially if those pages were created offshore, review them thoroughly and ensure your voice is heard, ensure the pages reflect what you want said about your business and its offers.

Here at Tower Systems we create and support POS Software for specialty retailers, and we create websites for retailers using our software. 

We are grateful to serve more than 3,000 local and independent retailers in Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re looking for new POS Software, we’d love to find out more about your needs:
Australia: 1300 662 957
NZ: 0800 444 367
Email: sales@towersystems.com.au
Website: www.towersystems.com.au – where you can easily access videos of software demos and our pricing.

Thanks for reading.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director
Tower Systems International (Aust.) Pty Ltd
ABN 61 007 009 752
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-fletcher-tower/

PS. Your web developer may say that they will update the content on your website to leverage the Google changes. While that may appeal as a time saver, it is important that the content in your website reflects your expertise.

The most important competitor a local small business retailer has is themselves

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Too often in local retail business we get in our head about big business competitors when the most important competitor any local small business retailer has is themselves.

Here at Tower Systems we develop and support POS software for local specialty retailers. We are retailers ourselves, too.

We’ve worried too much about big business competitors ourselves when wonderful opportunities can be seen when we look at ourselves as our own competitor.

This short video speaks to this opportunity.

POS software digital receipts, roster integrations and self-checkout help local independent retailers shine

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New in the Aussie made and supported Tower Systems POS software:

  • Roster integration solutions direct connected to our POS software: Tanda, Deputy and Planday (by Xero).
  • Digital receipt platform Slyp – for businesses and customers who prefer a digital record over paper receipts.
  • Shopper self-checkout using indie-retail focussed hardware and a new release of our software.

Plus, Tower Systems customers have free access to our FREE online marketplace: www.findit.com.au, a place designed to drive in-store shopper traffic. Simply tick a box and your products are listed at FindIt, helping you be found by more people.

FindIt is a marketplace where you will find a broad range of products from local small business retailers. If you prefer to shop local and shop small, FindIt is a platform sure to interest you. Retailers connect to FindIt through their Tower Systems POS software.

Local shopping is good for the local community since local businesses tend to hire locally, spend locally, source inventory locally and engage locally.

Those who care about the local community will; tend to support local businesses for these reasons.

Local shopping is a win for everyone given the circular nature of the local economy.

The more we shop where we live the more those businesses can support local community groups and hire locally.

We all benefit from this.

The other benefit of local shopping is that it tends to be at local small businesses. These businesses tend to h

Our goal is to help local independent retailers run healthier, happier and more valuable businesses. We nurture this through our POS software, our engaged customer service and through free enhancement opportunities, like FindIt.

We have demos publicly available for each specialty retail channel at www.towersystems.com.au. You don’t have to register, give your email or your phone number to watch.

Our www.findit.com.au free marketplace for retailers using our POS software is gaining traction with Google and Bing.

We have more than 100,000 items not currently showing because of lack of images of images. Google wants images. What you can see live is products with good images and good descriptions.

To list your products for free, start by clicking here: https://www.towersystems.com.au/findit-vendor-signup

Small Business Retail Advice: making your business more secure

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Security is important in any retail business. Over the years, in our work with local small business retailers and in our own shops we have collected advice on shop security. Here are some built point tips you may find helpful from the basic and simple to the more tech. oriented:

  1. Know how many keys there are to your premises and who has them.
  2. Keep a spare key is a safe place away from the business.
  3. Change the most powerful / valuable password for your computer software monthly and share it sparingly. Passwords should be complex. Check the strength of your password here: https://howsecureismypassword.net
  4. Keep a current data backup off site, in the cloud preferably. Regularly check that you can restore the data from your backup and that the data is current.
  5. Regularly check the use of your business software for the deletion or alteration of sales as this could indicate employee fraud.
  6. Have current reputable virus protection on all your computers.
  7. Have current reputable firewall installed on your network.
  8. Never open a zip file sent by email.
  9. Never open an email from a bank, the ATO or the police.
  10. Be discrete when talking about the business and its performance.
  11. Do not do the banking at the same time every day or every few days. Do not follow the same route. Do not carry the same bag.
  12. Have a camera system installed to get a good shot of the faces of everyone entering and leaving the business.
  13. Consider registering your CCTV with the local police – this is an option in some jurisdictions.
  14. Ensure customers can see they are being filmed.
  15. Train employees to make eye contact with customers.
  16. Train employees on emergency procedures for handling: theft, aggressive people, shoplifters.
  17. Use the full stock control facilities of your software to understand the financial cost of shoplifting.
  18. When doing magazine returns, check discrepancies weekly to understand magazine theft.
  19. Ensure your windows are not cluttered. The police advise cluttered windows are a security risk because of what they can hide.
  20. Ensure there is good lighting outside if the store is locked up when it is dark.
  21. Ensure you have the best possible sight lines of the shop from the counter.
  22. Have a no personal items at the counter policy.
  23. If you catch someone in the act of shoplifting ask them to wait in the store, and call the Police. Also (advice from NSW govt. Crime prevention):
    1. Tell them who you are.
    2. Tell them why they have been asked to stay in the store. o Advise them that Police have been called
    3. Ask the person to surrender any property that doesn’t belong to them. Remember, retailers and other citizens have no legal right to search a person.
    4. Most importantly, do not put yourself at risk.
  24. Have a clear refund processing policy and ensure all employees are trained on this.
  25. Track all sales by employee code.
  26. When hiring: ask if applicants agree to a police check, check their references, do not hire friends of employees, explain your commitment to zero tolerance re employee theft.
  27. Have an employee theft policy in full view.

Some of this may read like common sense. We continue to be surprised when hearing of a business that has experienced a security breach that has not considered most of what is on this list.

Develop your own list. Check it regularly. Follow your own advice.

We are a POS software company, making and supporting POS software for specialty retailers in Australia and New Zealand.

Bankable Advice for Small Business Retailers

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Engaged local small business retailers know that everyone’s got an opinion on how to run a shop. But what’s the best advice for small business retailers?

Here’s our top 7 tips, based on our own experience and decades of working with small businesses in providing POS software and even running shops ourselves:

  1. Use your data. Your POS software can tell you a lot about your business, from what products are selling to how often your customers visit. Use this data to make better decisions about your inventory, marketing, and staffing. yes, this sounds boring. But, it’s true. How your business has performed can be the best guide as to how it could perform.
  2. Connect your systems. The more you can automate your processes, the less time you’ll waste on manual tasks and the more accurate your data will be. less keystrokes = less mistakes = time saved = better business decisions.
  3. Look under the hood. Good POS software can give you insights into your business that you might not even know you need. Ask your POS software company what kind of data their software can track and report on.
  4. Set goals and measure performance. What do you want to achieve with your business? Once you know your goals, you can track your progress and make sure you’re on track. Our POS software can measure and report on valuable local retail business goals.
  5. Reorder what sells. Don’t waste time and money on products that don’t move. Keep an eye on your sales data and reorder the products that are selling well.
  6. Place products together. People often buy products that go together, so place them near each other in your store. This will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and increase your sales.
  7. Train your staff. Make sure your staff know how to use your POS software and how to provide excellent customer service. This will help you create a positive shopping experience for your customers and keep them coming back.

Following these tips can help you run a more successful and profitable small business. Use your data, connect your systems, and look under the hood!

Now, for some extra advice:

  • Be customer-centric. Put your customers first and everything else will fall into place.
  • Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different marketing strategies.
  • Be persistent. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Keep working hard and never give up on your dreams.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve 3,000+ local independent small business retailers in a variety of specialty retail channels.

Small business retail advice: How to manage community group donation requests

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Requests from schools, charities, and other local community groups can be a challenging, difficult, for small business retailers. If you don’t have a structured approach, you’ll end up giving away a lot for little or no return.

Guilt is a powerful emotion, and some representing charities and community groups know this. Take a beat and think through how you want to handle such requests in advance of them coming your way. If you have a process you can deal with the requests consistently and with less stress.

Here’s our advice for local small business retailers on handling community group donation requests:

  • Manage your philanthropy like any business activity. Decide how much money you’re willing to donate each year, and then stick to that budget.
  • Get on the front foot. Write to community groups at the start of the year and ask them to submit a proposal if they’d like your support. This way, you can choose the groups that are a good fit for your business and your community.
  • Support the groups that support you. Look for groups that have members who are also your customers. This way, you’re helping both the group and your business.
  • Let your shoppers choose. If you offer discount vouchers, you could let customers donate their vouchers to a local group. This is a great way to get your customers involved in your community giving.
  • Reward engagement. You could offer a discount to customers who are members of a local group. This would encourage them to shop at your business, and it would also support the group. This is critical advice. There has to be a commercial benefit for your business if you are to be able to help these community groups into the future.
  • Educate groups about good engagement. Let groups know that you’re looking for ways to work together to benefit the community. You could ask them to do things like promote your business on their social media pages, or write about you in their newsletters.
  • Write about your engagement. Once you’ve chosen the groups you’re going to support, write about it on your website and social media. Don’t be boastful or arrogant, be grateful. This will help to raise awareness of the groups, and it will also show your customers that you’re committed to giving back to the community.

Remember, your giving should serve both your heart and your business. By following these tips, you can make sure that your donations are a valuable investment for both you and your community.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Be clear about your expectations. Let groups know what you’re looking for in a partnership, and what you expect from them in return.
  • Be professional. Even if you’re dealing with a small community group, it’s important to be professional in your dealings with them.
  • Be grateful. When a group partners with you, be sure to thank them for their support.

By following these tips, you can build strong relationships with community groups and make a real difference in your community.

Why this advice from our POS software company matters.

Every day we connect with small business retailers about their businesses, through our help desk, in sales situations and elsewhere. Owning and running a local small business retail shop is challenging, time-consuming. Coming up with fresh ideas is hard. It’s necessary though. The ideas we share here are things we have tried, and found to work.

Small business retail advice: nurturing happiness in your shop

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Let’s talk about happiness in retail, in local small business retail especially.

There’s no doubt that being happy in your work makes a big difference to your overall wellbeing. And in retail, it’s especially important to be happy, because your mood can rub off on your customers and your colleagues.

But happiness isn’t something you can just decide to feel. It takes desire, planning and commitment.

Here are a few tips for finding, nurturing, and managing happiness in your local small business retail shop:

  • Create a happy place. From music to scent to shop layout to lighting to things shoppers can engage with, make decisions that lean into happiness. These are physical things you can control, things that can easily tell everyone in the shop that this is a happy place. In our view, this first tip is by far the most important.
  • Have good data. This might sound boring, but good data is essential for making informed decisions about your business. And when you make good decisions, you’re more likely to be happy with the results.
  • Be in control. Don’t let suppliers or other people push you around. Use your data to make your own decisions, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
  • Price for margin and turn. This means setting prices that will give you a good profit margin, but that will also sell quickly.
  • Lean on others. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Build a team of happy and talented people who can help you run your business.
  • Set your narrative. In your marketing and social media, be positive and optimistic. This will help to create a happy and welcoming atmosphere for your customers.

Of course, there are also some more practical things you can do to create a happy retail environment.

Happiness is good for business, and it’s good for you. So make sure you’re taking steps to find and nurture happiness in your retail shop.

Cheers! 🍻

P.S. Don’t forget to smile! 😃

Why this advice from our POS software company matters.

Every day we connect with small business retailers about their businesses, through our help desk, in sales situations and elsewhere. Owning and running a local small business retail shop is challenging, time-consuming. Coming up with fresh ideas is hard. It’s necessary though. The ideas we share here are things we have tried, and found to work.

Small business retail advice on how to handle and leverage low margin products

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We know that low margin, high volume businesses can be tough. The traffic is good, but the profits are slim. And it can be hard to know how to make the most of those low-margin products and services.

How do we know this you ask? Here at Tower Systems we serve thousands of local small business retailers. This provides us with broad experience. It is surprising the crossover value of knowledge across retail channels. As well as helping retailers leverage our POS software we are grateful to share this business management advice.

No, back to low-margin products and how dealing with them can feel challenging for small business retailers.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of five must-do things to leverage your low value traffic.

  1. Place at least one offer or stand at the door. This is a great way to catch people’s attention as they’re leaving. Make sure the offer is clear and relevant to people walking in or walking by.
  2. Use a portable table for pricing stock. This is a great way to keep your stock looking neat and tidy, and it also gives you a chance to upsell other products to customers as you are pricing items.
  3. Pitch other products to customers who are buying low-margin items. This is a great way to increase your average order value. Like, use the traffic of low-margin product to sell other things.
  4. Have an offer at the counter that’s unrelated to the low margin purchase. This is a great way to tempt customers into impulse buys.
  5. Establish a floor unit to guide counter traffic. This is a great way to showcase your products and services, and it also helps to keep your customers moving through your store.

Oh, here’s a bonus tip. Offer a sample, a taste, or a feel (if appropriate). People engaging with a product are more likely to purchase. We have seen this happen in a. range of different types of retail businesses.

We know that these tips might seem like a lot of work, but they’re worth it. By following these tips, you can increase your profits and make your low margin, high volume business more successful.

If you need any help, we’re here for you. We have awesome tools to help low margin, high volume retailers, and we’d be glad to give you some practical advice.

Why this advice from our POS software company matters.

Every day we connect with small business retailers about their businesses, through our help desk, in sales situations and elsewhere. Owning and running a local small business retail shop is challenging, time-consuming. Coming up with fresh ideas is hard. It’s necessary though. The ideas we share here are things we have tried, and found to work.

Thanks for reading.

Small business retail advice: how to discover fresh ideas

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You know what’s important, especially in local small business retail? Coming up with fresh ideas. Big ideas, small ideas, ideas for new traffic, products, and services.

But it can be tough to come up with new ideas, right? Sometimes you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Sometimes you feel alone. Sometimes you feel like you are growing in … stuff!

Well, we’re here at Tower Systems to help you out. We serve thousands of retailers and have experience in local small business retail ourselves.

Here are some suggestions for ways to clear that blockage, to discover fresh ideas:

  • Try a sensory deprivation tank. It’s weird at first, but it’s a great way to relax and let your mind wander.
  • Cook a complex meal that you’ve never cooked before. Or bake a cake. Or do a jigsaw puzzle. Or build a model. Just do something that you’re not used to doing.
  • Go to a ballet or opera. Or a comedy show. Or a walk in the forest. Or sit in front of the ocean and look out to the horizon.
  • Shut yourself in a dark room and put on your favourite music and sing along. Or try yoga, or meditation, or have a massage.
  • Read a novel from cover to cover without interruption. Or do some gardening or other backyard work, or go for a long drive.
  • Have a romantic dinner with your partner at a place you’ve never been before. Or take an unexpected day off and treat yourself to some guilty pleasures.

The point is to get lost in experiences that are unrelated to your business. By getting lost, getting truly lost, ideas have a better opportunity of surfacing.

So go out there and have some fun! The great ideas will follow.

Why this advice from our POS software company matters.

Every day we connect with small business retailers about their businesses, through our help desk, in sales situations and elsewhere. Owning and running a local small business retail shop is challenging, time-consuming. Coming up with fresh ideas is hard. It’s necessary though. The ideas we share here are things we have tried, and found to work.

We love trying new things as we have found that in those unknown places creativity thrives.

The POS Software Blog

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