Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: Software Development (page 1 of 5)

No free POS software here at Tower Systems

There is no such thing as a free lunch, there is always a catch, always a way you pay.

Businesses that offer free POS software are paid in other ways, they have to be – otherwise, how do they pay their software designers, software developers, support people, sales people and more?

People like to be paid. It puts food on their table. A business offering you free POS software has to find another way to pay for its people because free POS software has a cost to develop, maintain and support, making free POS software not free once you work out who is actually paying.

Software development is expensive, this is especially true for good POS software. It requires specialist services, experts, working hard to make beautiful, fast, secure and stable software. This software, this specialist software is not something you want to be free.

So, when you see free POS software promoted, think carefully about value because it would be hard to find value in something that cost nothing to make and nothing to support.

It’s not free. Follow the money because it will be there. Someone, at some point, will be paying so that those developing, selling, supporting and promoting the software get paid so they can eat and have a roof over their heads. Yes, follow the money and see why free POS software is not really free. Once you follow the money, you can make an informed decision.

Tower Systems does not offer free POS software. We make and sell awesome specialty POS software for a range of retail niches. We are good at what we do and have a long track record of success in service of independent retail business channels.

Our focus is on delivering commercially valuable software to businesses that understand business and the importance of being paid for good business services. We pay our people well because they are good what what they do. We expect people to pay for our software so we can do this. This is at the core of all businesses that respect themselves and their people.

We get that free POS software is desired. However, as we said at the beginning, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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The covid pivot opportunity for specialty retailers that attracts new shoppers

Specialty retailers are specialty for a reason, they go deep into a product category, as you would expect from a specialist.

The challenge for specialty retailers is that their specialisation attracts shoppers interested in and buying for their specialty product category. This is good in the usual world. In this corona world with movement challenged, specialisation can be challenging for local businesses.

This is why we think the covid pivot opportunity for specialty retailers can be helpful. We are not suggesting retailers seek to profit from corona or that they are profiteering. Rather, through a covid pivot, we are encouraging small business retailers to broaden the appeal of their businesses, to make their businesses more attractive beyond the community they currently serve.

A covid pivot could see a business remain the same to shoppers who visit and that it uses the back office infrastructure to serve an online only operation in their covid pivot strategy. This can see the business leverage existing overhead of space, labour and accounting infrastructure to effectively open a new business and through this to find new shoppers.

This type of covid pivot move can make the business more resilient through a time of change or challenge, like corona.

We think a covid pivot is a smart move for specialty retail as it spreads the risk, strengthens the foundations of the business and provides learning opportunities that themselves could help the business further evolve.

Using business data, smart tech and POS software connected websites, a specialty retail business can find, through a covid pivot, new customers, new efficiencies and new energy for forward momentum and this is the core goal … taking those steps ahead.

The whole corona situation is challenging. It would be easy to sit and wallow., and we get that for some that is what they choose. In covid pivot our focus is on pursuing forward momentum and doing this through a data driven and tech implemented pivot for the business for a better back half of 2020 and a solid 2021.

Bottom line: there is good news out there for specialty retailers who are making these opportunities for themselves through a covid pivot. We are sincerely grateful to have seen plenty do this, plenty find new shoppers and plenty learn new skills and categories through to expand what are effectively new start up businesses within their specialty businesses.

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Adding to our web development team

We are screening candidates for our Melbourne based web development team. Thanks to a wonderful group of candidates the culling process is proving to be tough.

We are grateful to have many good quality candidates keen to work with us on our small business focussed projects.

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Expanded software development team

We added to our software development team to enable us to be better resourced in new areas of pursuit.

It is a thrill to bring a new voice to the product creation side of the business as it expands our perspective of the world as well as helping us to deliver beautiful products to our customers.

The one constant in our business is change, change we pursue through fresh products being driven through the use of innovative tools being worked by a skilled set of professionals.

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At Slush 2016 in Helsinki, Finland

Slush is an extraordinary business conference. There is nothing like it on the calendar, anywhere. Here in Helsinki, assembled for Slush, are 17,000+ entrepreneurs, business managers, inventors and financiers talking about the future.

I am thrilled to be part of such an extraordinary event, for the networking opportunities, for the learning and for the inspiration.

How companies like ours do business has changed. Change is the new normal. And I am not talking about basic software update change. No, this is real change at the core. Slush is all about this, leaps occurring across industries thanks to new technologies and new business paradigms.

It is a privilege to be at Slush this year as part of a small Australian contingent.

To show how different Slush is to other business conferences, here is part of the kick off from Wednesday morning:

This is not the place for us to be specific about take-aways from Slush. However, they are many and we are only at the end of day two – we participated in the pre opening events yesterday.

Launching new products this year as we have done, we understand, in a small way, the challenge of the start-up and have an appreciation for many issues involved.

Slush is providing us opportunities to explore these and related topics further.

Here are some photos from day one of the main conference.

IMG_1543 IMG_1506 IMG_1517 IMG_1528 IMG_1544 IMG_1548

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WEBSTORE / POS SOFTWARE INTEGRATION STRATEGY DRIVES RETAIL SALES FOR SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS

We are thrilled with feedback from retailers using our POS software webstore integrations. The best feedback of all is the news of sales they are achieving that they would otherwise not have achieved.

Through websites we have developed and connections back to high street retail businesses using our POS software we have helped small business retailers achieve significant sales from shoppers interstate and overseas.

The sales success is as much a testament to our search engine work as it is to our web development and POS software / webstore integrations.

What is most interesting is the sales we are helping our customers achieve outside their usual trading hours. A retailer arriving in the morning at 6am to three sales totaling close to $1,000 is exciting. We hear about it because our retail partners like to share with us the success they are having. And we gratefully receive stories of their success because we know their success feeds into our success.

We have wonderful reference sites doing good business online thanks to the technology and backup business strategic advice we have provided.

Small business retailers can compete online, they can achieve sales they otherwise might have missed. They can reach into geographic locations where they are not known. They can easily serve these locations thanks to smart tools that make shipping each, transacting payments easy and providing personal customer service easy.

Helping and independent small retail business add thousands of dollars of gross profit to their bottom line in a year is a result we love here at Tower Systems. It is real thanks to the professional work of teams within our company in pursuit of our mission to help our small business retail customers to make money.

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TOWER SYSTEMS AT ATLANTA GIFT FAIR IN THE US

A team from Tower Systems further benefited from participating in the Atlanta Gift Fair last week, networking with small business gift and homewares retailers as well as their suppliers – including suppliers from Australia. Thanks to contact since the show, the benefits are being realised quickly.

This large gift fair – representing 7,300 brands – is attended by thousands of retailers. It is the gift and homewares retailers the industry’s largest event featuring the most comprehensive collection of home décor, furniture and gifts. The venue spans multiple buildings and multiple floors in each building – it is many times larger than the largest gift fairs in Australia. This is what makes it an exciting event for us – a real eye-opener.

The range of products on show is more diverse and the types of businesses attending is equally diverse. This is why attending has been beneficial for the Tower Systems team as they have been able to expand their horizons as to how our POS software can better serves the needs of growing gift and homewares businesses.

We are not detailing takeaways here for obvious reasons.

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POS software update receiving kudos from retailers

Just a note to say thank you for the update. I love it and I love being a beta test site. I can see the hard work that has gone into the software, loving it even more.

We love getting feedback from our customers. All feedback inspires us to work harder for the close 3,500 small business retailers we serve.

The latest update is settling in well, even over the Christmas / New Year period. Wide release will commence shortly with our users having the opportunity to choose when to install.

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The federal government could do better in supporting software companies

While we welcome the innovation statement by the federal government this week, we think they could have done more in support of Australian owned software companies supporting efficiency improvements for Australian businesses.

Take what we do here at Tower Systems – we help small and independent retailers run more efficient, and therefore more profitable, businesses. The economic benefit is considerably beyond the cost of the software.

Being 100% Australian owned, long established and self-funded, we would use a benefit, such as a tax break, to invest in more software innovation. This means more jobs and more benefits for our customers.

We think this type of support would have a more immediate economic benefit. Indeed, the benefits would be upstream and downstream.

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POS software update in beta release

We are thrilled our latest POS software is starting a managed beta release. This update is extraordinary in what it delivers. Enhancements go to the core of our POS software. We are excited for customer reactions.

Finding retailers keen to participate in the beta program leading up to Christmas was not difficult.

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Helping develop good IT talent in Australia benefits our POS software

Tower Systems is proud of its work with graduates and the opportunity it provides for real-world experiences to further the development of Australians preparing for the work force.

We loom for opportunities for graduate roles where we allocate time and resources necessary for real-world experience development in advance of more direct customer roles.

Being a full service software company encompassing design, development, UI engagement, testing, training, deployment and follow-up support, we have a broad range of IT skills areas where graduates can learn.

Our support for graduates makes us a richer and more diverse company. Crucially, it makes us more aware of cutting-edge trends that can better inform our decisions and the work we do on behalf of ur customers.

Being located in Hawthorn places us within easy proximity of several top IT focussed universities.

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Preparing POS software users for a confidential trial

Tower Systems has started contacting customers to invite them to be part of a trial group to play with something completely different. In return for confidentiality, early adoption and detailed feedback, participating retailers will be given free access to software that breaks with tradition.

Two years in the making, this project is another example of Tower Systems investing in software for small businesses. Leadership in action will be clear when the software steps into the public eye, soon.

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New POS software training videos keep online training resources current

Our in-house studio has been busy this week with new training videos being shot to accompany our 2015 edition POS software. The training videos are necessary to ensure that our online and digital training resources are useful for the current release of the software.

Fifteen new videos are being filmed and produced.

With more than one hundreds training videos in our library, Tower Systems has a comprehensive suite of training that is best practice in each marketplace in which the company operates.

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Great day at the office

Today was a great day at the office at Tower Systems and while not dramatically different to any other day or Friday, it was great.

It was one of those ten steps forward days we got a lot done on a range of fronts in terms of short and medium term future planning. It was also a day when we saw several previously separate projects come together. Plus we got to meet with a couple of suppliers on initiatives that will add value to the relationships we have with our customers.

Today we also received some terrific feedback from customers of business success they are having as a result of using our software. That’s a thrill for us.

It’s the why we do what we do that matters most to us and days when we can see the why are terrific days. Today was one of those days.

It was a great day at the office.

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Throwback Thursday at the POS software company

beginningsThis is where it all began for Tower Systems – back in 1981 – before we sold our first system. This photo shows the first computer in which we started developing small business applications.

This tiny Apple II+ with dual floppy drives was our first development platform. It was new and exciting and fun to develop on. While storage on the Apple II+ was limited we made the most of the opportunity to provide small businesses with tools that cut labour intensive data related tasks.

While the software we sell today is generations beyond what we developed in 1981, the principles are the same – to offer our customers software facilities through which they can save time and money and on which they can rely to make better quality business decisions sooner.

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How we work with small business retailers to enhance our POS software

swspecPOS software company Tower Systems takes a professional and inclusive approach to developing key enhancements to its retail management software. This approach includes preparing written specifications for new functions and major enhancements to existing functions.

Written specifications are peer reviewed and user reviewed, to ensure that they are a comprehensive as necessary to provide the business case and the technical roadmap to creating the required new facilities and or enhancements.

The user review process can also include suppliers to retailers using the Tower software. This can be a drawn-out process given the number of people and businesses involved. the result is better software covering more facilities and delivering better outcomes for customers.

Software development is all about delivering access to facilities that are genuinely useful to our customers. The tighter the management of the development of our software the better the solution.

Too often, software companies in our small business channels develop software without a plan, without standards and without a vision that includes the vision of the end user. The tower Systems approach to structured software development is a key factor in our sales success and in customer retention success.

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Small retailer POS software users love transparency on software enhancement suggestions

software-ideasMany small business retailers using the POS software from Tower Systems actively engage in suggesting enhancements for the software and many of these suggestions make their way into the software.

Retailers regularly thank Tower for the opportunity to publicly make suggestions and for the transparency of voting by and feedback from others about the suggested enhancements. Indeed, the level of transparency Tower Systems has offered in this area for years now is rare. Some claim user engagement but it is hard to find another software company living the transparency claim like Tower.

The real test of the exclusive Software Ideas facility from tower Systems is the enhancements that make their way into the software. Hundreds of enhancements including new facilities, large and small, exist in the software today thanks to user engagement in making suggestions and voting on these suggestions. It is proving to be a valuable process for tower Systems and its retail business customers.

It is a measure of the company’s confidence that the facility is promoted on its website home page and that the list can be accessed by anyone including competitors.

Software Ideas is managed by a senior member of the software development management team within the company and the overall Tower leadership team makes final decisions about ideas it embraces. All ideas receive feedback from the company.

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New product launch for small retailers

Tower Systems is set to release a new product for small business retailers. In the final days of QA prior to launch, this new product is cloud based and will be of use to every retailer, offering facilities with which they can more valuably compete. We’re very excited and will share details here in a few days.

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Fifteen years on Friday breakfast tradition continues

Fifteen years after we started providing free breakfast on a Friday to our team members the tradition continues. The photo shows the selection available today – a mix of savory and sweet pastries fresh this morning from our local Brumbys small business bakery.

This Friday breakfast selection is in addition to an excellent range of biscuits available every day and five different blends from our commercial nespresso coffee machine. IT people need to fuel up, on a Friday especially.

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Video for POS software users discussing update enhancements

Point of Sale software company Tower Systems is taking a different approach to educating customers about the benefits delivered through its latest software update.

Retailers using the Tower POS software have access to a new video produced to specifically outline five highlights accessible through the latest update.

The video is accessible to all customers from the website. A link to the video has also been sent to all customers.

In producing the video, Tower is demonstrating its commitment to reaching customers through a variety of mediums and through these getting technnical information to them in a form that is understandable.

Produced in house, the video is brief yet valuable.

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The certainty of professional software development helps retailers

With well our software being used in well over 2,000 retail locations delivering genuinely useful and stable software updates is a key requirement for us. We have a structured process all software changes go through. nothing is done on-the-fly without thorough consideration.

New facilities for our Point of Sale software go through a multi-stage design process that takes into account data flow, user interface, functional requirements and code integration. This is always documented prior to a single line of programming code is written, into a professional specification. This specification is reviewed by four points in our business.

While this seems like considerable red-tape, the result is valuable enhancements that are useful, well integrated and functioning as intended.

Many years ago backyard operators would develop business software without professional specifications. Today, mission critical business software applications require professional design and development. This is what we invest in at Tower Systems. The result is one of the reasons for our growth.

A good way to compare software companies would be to compare their design specifications. Those who say they don’t need them ought to raise questions.

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Testing role helps deliver better quality software

A new full-time software testing role established in our development team has expanded to QA work we undertake on our Point of Sale software.

While we have always had a strong investment in software QA, this new role extends our investment and adds another layer of quality assurance focus to the software we deliver to our customers.

This role goes beyond whether new software works. It looks at its usefulness in the retail context. We are drawing on excellent retail skills for this role.

With thousands of retailers depending on the quality of our software, we understand the importance of delivering reliable and genuinely useful software.

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Staying true to our core Point of Sale software mission

We started in 1981 as a software company and remain focused today on being a software company.

Everything we do, all the services we offer, everything we sell all of our capital investment relates back to software development.

We have been asked to take on other products for retailers over the years and have rejected them as they stray too far from our core focus on being retail management software specialists.  While we connect our software to plenty of other products and services, we leave these to the experts in each field to sell and support.

Current and prospective customers can take comfort from our specialisation and our commitment to maintaining this, to enable us to deliver best of breed Point of Sale software … this is at the heart of what we do and a key reason for our market share.

 

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2012 is the year for POS software company consolidation

We have purchased three software businesses so far this year. With two we continue to support these software packages while with the third we have digested the technology for another project.

Over the last month owners of two more software companies looking to sell their respective businesses have approached us.

Like any business, scale is vital to the financial health of a software company.  To maintain and enhance software developed for a specific marketplace you need between 300 and 500 active customers.  The exact break even number depends on the investment to maintain relevant software.

The two most recent offers put our way are from businesses with user numbers below the benchmark. With significant changes ahead they can’t fund what would be necessary to be relevant.

While we respect that small business owners like to deal with small businesses, that is not practical when it comes to IT where significant investment in product development each year is vital.

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A typical Friday at our software company

Friday is an important day in the usual Tower Systems week as it’s the day we have more team members in the office. We catch up on the weeks numbers and activities, we plan for the next few weeks out, we discuss soft are enhancements in the context of the week’s events and we have a good breakfast put on by the company.

With so many of us on the road through the week installing systems, delivering training and selling, Fridays are ideal for bringing us all together. It’s a reason to like the day.

While we are a larger software company, with 2,500 customers, we are a small business at heart. Being in touch with each other is vitally important for that.

Our various meetings and rituals for a Friday are done without impacting customer service … responding to help desk calls remains the most important activity we perform.

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