The POS Software Blog

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

CategoryGame shop software

7 steps to choosing the right POS software for your local specialty retail business

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The POS software you choose for your indie retail business is an important decision. Get it right and the business could prosper and become considerably more valuable. Get it wrong and it could cost you plenty.

In thinking about the software you want, think about your business. The software you choose needs to serve your needs. Here are some headline level thoughts … 7 steps to choosing the right POS software for your local specialty retail business

  1. If you see your business as specialist in nature, the software you choose should be specialist.
  2. If part of your business pitch is to shop local, choosing locally made and supported software supports your pitch. Local software is software made and supported in Australia.
  3. If you want to be known as the local specialist, you need software that helps you do this consistently and effectively.
  4. If you do repairs or maintenance of any sort, you need software that can handle this.
  5. If you sell items bundled such as a rod, reel and line pack, you need software that can handle this.
  6. If you are in a tourist area and sell to people once, or once a year, you need software with loyalty facilities to maximise their rare visits to your shop.
  7. If you sell products by weight or measure, you need software that can do this, you want software that allows you to sell by fractions.

Think about these things and think about what you want in software in your business to help you stand out. If it does not feel right, say no thanks and look elsewhere.

Here at Tower Systems we will tell a sales prospect if we think our software is not a good fit based on the needs they have explained to us. There is no value to us or the sales prospect in them going with software that is not a good fit.

We have won plenty of customers who made a poor choice before landing with us. We take care to ensure we fit their needs because the last thing we want for them is another poor tech experience.

There are many generic and cheap point of sale systems in the marketplace. Price does matter. You would know that in your business. Think about the shopper who wants a full kit but says they want the cheapest. Think about your advice to them. If you say price does matter and that you get what you pay for, the same is true with retail business software.

A small higher price today for the right software could save many times the gap between it and cheap generic software.

So, work out what you want. This must come first, ahead of any budget.

Be flexible. Once you have chosen software, follow the advice provided by the software company and the expert they send to your business to train you. If they suggest changes to your business processes, embrace them. While changing what you do can be frustrating, software designed specifically independent specialty retail businesses is specialist in nature and it does what it does based on years of development and feedback from many customers.

Be disciplined. Software is like a machine. It needs the right fuel. For software, that fuel is data. Ensure everyone in your business is disciplined in how the software is used. From the moment stock comes into the business to when it is sold. Track it. This will help you make better business decisions.

Be engaged. Your software company will want a two-way relationship If you have suggestions, share them Play a role in the continued evolution of the software. This helps you and other businesses in your channel.

Save time. The right software will help you eliminate manual processes. Embrace these opportunities as much as possible. Time saved is time you can invest in yourself or in the business. Seek time saving opportunities out.

Be realistic. Any new software will be a challenge. Know that you will have some rough days learning the new things. Accept these by focussing on the main goal of enjoyment and efficiency once you know the software well.

The software you choose reflects your business. Take your time. Be certain about what you want. Invest well and the right software will easily pay for itself.

How the Tower Systems POS software helps retailers navigate supply chain challenges

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Supply chain challenges are impacting retailers across many sectors. The challenges are not new, certainly not in the last two years at least. Here in mid 2022, the supply chain challenges are more impactful than before, and local retailers are being hit hard.

In the face of the unknown as to inventory arrival, some retailers ignore revenue opportunities.

In our POS software we have facilities that they local retailers win business and lock-in revenue despite supply chain uncertainty.

From managing inventory to capturing revenue for forward orders to easily shifting from one supplier to another, our POS software provides retailers impacted by supply chain challenges with tools that can provide appreciated flexibility.

With plenty of products impacted by supply chain challenges, customers are happy to wait if there is certainty they will eventually receive the products. This is where our software shines as it manages these special orders, providing the detailer with a structured framework through which to manage the opportunity and the customer the confidence that the retailer has it covered. By systemising the approach, bringing certain structure to it, the retailer can capture revenue early and the customer can be calmed knowing the retailer has their back.

Good POS software helps local retailers navigate often complex situations that are outside their control, offering the local retail business revenue stability that is key to on-going trading.

Through our work across a range of retail channels we are well aware of and across the detail for supply chain challenges. We have helped retailers who acted to stock pile inventory to see them through, managing that inventory across multiple locations. We have also helped retailers work with other retailers to share inventory across multiple businesses.

These are just two ways we have practically helped local retail businesses deal with the latest supply chain challenges impacting local sales.

Offering flexible POS software, we have been able to provide local retailers with pathways though supply chain challenges that are usually only available to bigger businesses. We arebgrateful for a local small business retail community that works together.

Tower Systems is a local Aussie POS software company seeing a range of local specialty retail channels.

With buy now pay later facing so many problems, LayBy is back in vogue

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Buy now pay later businesses are having a rough ride. They face challenges due to the ease with which people can get credit, their break fees, the cost to retailers of offering the payment method and the entry of new competitors into the space – like banks and Apple.

It feels like the glory days of buy now pay later as a traffic driver for retail are over.

In our Tower Systems POS software we have good LayBy tools, which any retailer can offer and manage easily. We developed these many years ago and have maintained them. Today, we have some retailers handling thousands of LayBys every year. We bring structure and support to offering LayBys in any local business.

Here is a 6-minute video we shot about this yesterday morning.

Using the LayBy tools in the Tower Systems POS software, small business retailers can offer professional management of LayBys including:

  • Structured terms and conditions.
  • Collecting a deposit every time.
  • Managing payments.
  • Handling the adjustment of what is in a LayBy.
  • Managing the collection of the LayBy.
  • Understanding the total LayBy situation of a business.
  • Knowing the location of a LayBy.
  • Feeding LayBy data through to any connected accounting software.
  • Giving even casual employees a structured process through which they can be certain with LayBys.

Best of all, the LayBy facilities in the tower Systems POS software help a retail business to bring structure, certainty, to the LayBy offer in a business and this leads to good business, efficient business, profitable LayBy business.

We make LayBy easy but certain, a differentiator on which local retailers can rely to win business and provide a service local shoppers love.

For too many retailers, offering LayBy can be a grind, problematic to manage. Using our LayBy tools we offer structure. many retail businesses in our POS software community find this useful to LayBy being a more enjoyable part of their businesses. We like this. One of our goals is to help small business retailers enjoy their business more.

With the advent of BNPL, LayBy can be a small business win, a true differentiator, and Tower Systems helps achieve this.

Small business retail advice: attracting new traffic

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Attracting new traffic, new shoppers, is vital for local retail businesses. Every new shopper adds value to the business today and into the future.

We are always looking for businesses that do this well, in ways not traditional for that type of business. We found one a few weeks ago in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – the Avant Cafe & Cycle shop. Here is a new video from us in which we explore what we like about what the folks at Avant are doing, what we learned from them.

They offers are well defined, quality and complimentary, yet able to successfully stand along … and that is key to any business attracting new traffic for specialty products or services – they need to be able to stand alone as that strength enhances the value of the combined offer.

Pursuing new traffic is the single most important business management activity for you and your business.

We suggest pursuing new traffic is a meditation point for any local specialty retailer… new traffic, what it is, what it means and how you can attract it

When you approach any management or strategic activity in your business, think about what this task or activity will do to attract new shoppers.

It is not enough to do something in your shop for that is only seen by people in your shop.  What are you doing to promote this outside your shop?  … because that is where new traffic is to be found.

This is not something for your suppliers to do. It is up to you. Only you and your actions can attract new traffic.

Pursuing new traffic is about far more than putting new products in your store. Indeed, stock is only one of several steps that are all connected in pursuing new traffic. However, stock is the start. Stocking new lines never offered in the business are the best first step to take to bring in people who do not shop with you today.

What they are doing at Avant is attracting people who love and appreciate good coffee while at the same time attracting local cyclists and people wanting to purchase bikes or have their bikes serviced.  Each of these separate areas does well, and they compliment each other.

5 ways to make your local retail business more competitive

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Every day can feel like a grind in local small business retail. A grind competing with big businesses, a grind competing with online businesses. It can wear people down if they let it.

The key is to not let it wear you down.

It starts with loving your business, believing in it, respecting it and making it stronger at the core. That’s what this advice from Tower Systems is about today, making your business stronger at the core, by making the business more competitive.

5 ways to make your local retail business more competitive

Now, before we get into them they will feel easy, even lame. The thing is, these are deliberately everyday things you can do without a budget, just with a small time investment.

These are all things your POS software, like the Tower Systems POS software, can help with if you wish.

1. Offer something unique that your competitors don’t. This could be a unique product, service, or even just a specific focus or niche that you cater to. have a point of different. This matters a lot. Create it, embrace it, leverage it. This point of difference is you, it is your reason, your go to, your 7 second pitch.

2. Make sure your prices are competitive. This doesn’t mean always having the lowest prices, but rather offering a good value for what you’re selling. Value is something you create based on how you bundle items, how you source to differentiate, how you make raw price comparisons hard.

3. Offer excellent customer service. This could be something as simple as providing a great experience in your store, or going above and beyond to help your customers. make it personal, different and valuable. At each contact point provide that extra bit that helps people make better use of what you sell.

4. Use marketing and advertising wisely. Make sure you’re targeting your ideal customer, and using the most effective channels to reach them. When you market, market you, your point of difference – always ahead off price as price based shoppers are not loyal.

5. Stay up to date on industry trends. This will help you anticipate changes and stay ahead of your competitors. It will also help your business be a resource, and that will bring people back.

Being more competitive in local retail is all about you and the core of your business. get this right and worries about competitors out there, real or imagined, will fade away.

Tower Systems through its POS software helps with this and more. We have embedded in our software opportunities for you showing your competitive advantages, giving shoppers lived experiences they will love.

How local small business retailers can be a big retailers in the shopper loyalty stakes

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Rewarding shopper loyalty in retail businesses has become industrial in scale, which means it is less personal, and more about the retail business than the shopper.

Too many local small business retailers think the best way to compete with big business loyalty offerings is to copy them, which means offering points to shoppers that they can then use somehow in the business.

What are points worth?

That’s the million dollar question. or, maybe, the million point question.

Because … in one shop a point is equal to a dollar, in another, it takes 1,000 points to equal a dollar, while in another it takes 10 points to equal a dollar for selected items in the shop but not everything they have available.

No wonder shoppers are confused as to the actual value of loyalty points. They are confusing.

While our awesome local retail POS software serves a points based loyalty offering, because our POS software customers wanted that, we also have an awesome, and better we think, loyalty solution that is $$$ based, that shoppers understand, and love – we say love because we have seen and heard shoppers say this. Better still, we see shoppers love our $$$ based loyalty solution through their spending patterns.

What we offer in our POS software loyalty solutions is flexibility, transparency and easy engagement.

You can have your Tower Systems POS software loyalty solution live in minutes.

It costs nothing to setup.

What you invest in it is 100% your call.

What shoppers get from it is 100% your call.

It’s a standard part of our POS software – you don’t have to pay us or anyone to participate.

Shoppers don’t need to register, which means more will engage.

This is about driving sales, as that’s key in any retail business.

Sure, likes are nice and follows are great and having plenty of members in a loyalty program makes your chest puff out … b u t  what really matters, what matters the most in any shop, in any retail business, is the business you put through your register and it is this business, what you sell and what you make from all that, which pays the bills, pays your people, pays you.

The Tower Systems approach to shopper loyalty through its local retail POS software offers a points based solution. but, better still, is the $$$ based offer that any customer can understand and with which any customer can engage, including those one-time customers you will never see again – those customers can do 2, 3, heck, even 4 transactions in a single visit. That’s what we have seen when retailers turn on our awesome POS software loyalty solutions.

Tower Systems makes POS software for local specialty retailers like jewellers, garden centres, bike shops, pet shops, newsagents, toy shops, sewing shops, homewares shops, gift shops, firearms dealers, adult shops, bookshops, farm supply businesses, mobility scooter businesses and pool maintenance and supply businesses.

It is this specialisation, this service of local small business retail that helps us provide solutions for shoppers who do shop local and who can be loyal, providing wonderful and valuable business to the local high street retail economy.

Retail advice: if you are concerned about rising EFTPOS merchant t fees, here are some steps you can take to help

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It’s an easy complaint to make – my merchant fees are going up, it’s not fair, time for me to consider another supplier.

Okay, yeah, that’s an easy take. It’s a cheap shot by us to call it out. But, let’s explain and explore it with you.

Our advice is to look at your data first.

We have thoroughly looked at hundreds of thousands of baskets from many retail businesses.

The most common reason merchant fees are increasing is because of more sales transacted using EFTPOS.

While sometimes the actual fee basis, flat fee per Tx or percentage, increases, this is rare.

Yes, the most common reason a retailer paid more in merchant fees last month than the month before is because more transactions were paid for on a card.

So, the EFTPOS provider is not the cause of the issue.

Retailers is some marketing groups have access to preferential rates that see them paying the lowest fees in the country.

But, that addresses only the base cost.

To address the growing cost to the business, of people using a card to pay, you need to be an engaged retailer. Here are some ideas:

  • Promote cash payment – if you want the costs associated with cash of course.
  • Be clear as to the cost of using a card. You could apply a surcharge, which I think is a ridiculous idea though.
  • Price knowing that cards will be used. Build the cost into your pricing model. Keep the bump under 2% and it is less likely to be noticed.
  • Lower a cost elsewhere to cover the cost. Look at your labour cost, for example. Shaving a hour of employee rostered time can save you around $30.00, that’s equal to purchases of $3750.00 on a card – depending on the type of card used.
  • Increase sales. While you should be single-mindedly focussed on this anyway, increasing sales helps you address the EFTPOS cost and more in the business.

It’s easy to kick a bank over EFTPOS fees. But … before you do that, look at your own behaviour. Here are common points in retail businesses that retailers overlook when they kick a supplier:

  • Dead stock. It’s easy to identity but often not. A problem not seen is not a problem to some. In my experience on conducting an audit of stock performance, usually, 20% of stock on the shop floor over which the retailer has full control underperforms and should not be there.
  • Bloated roster. Some prefer to spend money on people so they have time to themselves for relaxing, golf or to sit in the back office, where no customer purchases from.
  • Wrong trading hours. Some stay open too long while others are not open long enough. Either way has a cost to the business.
  • Being blind to theft. Theft in retail, like a local newsagency business, costs on average between 3% and 5% of turnover. Not watching for it, tracking it and mitigating against it has a cost to the business.
  • The wrong product mix. GP% is a key measure of retail business performance. Increasing yours beyond what is traditional for your channel provides you with a buffer. For example, transaction count / sales can decline and you can be okay. Measure GP%. Set a goal. Chase it. The air is cleaner in above average.
  • Ignorance. It’s not bliss. It’s not! There are insights in your software that can guide better decisions, faster decisions, more financially rewarding decisions. Yet, too many in retail don’t want to know. That failure costs them plenty.

The 6 items on the above list are all on the retailer to address.

We get that it’s easy to complain about high EFTPOS fees. If you are contemplating that, please take a moment to look back inside your business, look at the reason why and see if there are decisions you could make that are more valuable than complaining about EFTPOS fees or changing supplier. Our team here at Tower Systems would be happy to help.

Rising EFTPOS fees are likely not a problem since the y reflect rising sales, unless your provider is hiking your fees, which is rare.

POS software on-boarding, the key to success with POS software in your retail business

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POS software is like the structure of a house, roof, walls, floors … yes, the structure. What makes the house liable is the furniture and knowledge of how it all works.

This is what POS software onboarding is all about – the training, support and help to make the software useful, valuable, a good investment for your business.

Without professional onboarding, what you get from the POS software may not be what you hoped for.

The tips you learn, the efficient ways to use the software, the accurate handling of data – these are all valuable things to learn and know, all things covered in professional on-boarding, and much more.

The best onboarding for your POS software is that done by the POS software company itself, they are the other party most invested in your successful use of the software. While a third party consultant may do a competent job, they are not commercially invested in the long term benefits for you and your business and its use of the POS software as you are or as the POS software company is.

The Tower Systems approach to POS software onboarding is professional, comprehensive, tailored to each retail sector in which the company serves and fine-tuned to the needs of each business based on what they advise is key to them.

We provide an account manager to oversee the process and a professional software specialist to deliver the training and setup work and advice, to help you get the most from our POS software. These are Tower Systems employees, not outside consultants. This is a huge difference, a valuable difference. It is what makes the house a home, some place you will love, appreciate and benefit from.

This is what good on-boarding looks like. It is what helps local retailers get more value from their POS software. It is the fine-tuning, the tweaks, the adjustments that help deliver POS software setup for your business. No amount of reading or playing can substitute for the efficiency and gains from professional on-boarding by experts who have done it hundreds of times already. Their years of experience can put time and money on your side.

These are just some of the reasons why on-boarding by Tower Systems is valuable to all of our POS software customers.

Footnote: we call it onboarding. But, we have referred to it as on-boarding too as some do.

 

Giving POS software customers more power

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Last week we released new customer facilities for our POS software customers. These are back office facilities, accessed through our website, for our customers and how they interact with us and, in particular, our support team.

Once our POS software customers log into our website they have access to new technology through which they can log their own cases, see any current cases, search their past cases and, access pre-set help that may offer immediate assistance for any new case.

This advanced self serve technology goes beyond what we offered in the past, beyond what is common is local small business retail POS software support.

What we released last week is a blend of leading edge, best practice, expert technology from overseas, layered with technology we have developed ourselves and populated with a truckload of knowledge and data from our years of service of local small business retailers.

What we released last week is technically innovative, the culmination of a considerable financial investment by us to bring this to life for our customers. we have been working on this project for close to a year. We brought in a CRM solutions expert from outside to help us bring this home.

The project is a good example of us investing in our infrastructure and bringing on board people expert in the area, rather than relying on only our experience.

We are grateful to be able to make this investment for our customers and thankful for the feedback already from customers who are loving the new facilities and the greater power they have for themselves.

POS software support is all about offering advice and answers that suit the questions and in a timely way that serves the needs of customers. What we have released fits with this, and more.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve 3,000+ local specialty retail businesses that trade in a range of unique retail niches. Our focus is on locally owned family businesses as serving their needs is different to serving big mass businesses. We do not serve bug business customers. Our service is personal, local – like the businesses of our customers.

Quote and invoice management software for local small business retailers

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The area of quote and invoice management varies between types of retail businesses.

Through its work with garden centres, jewellers, farm supply businesses, landscape supply businesses and pool maintenance businesses POS software company Tower Systems has found some similarities. It has developed software to serve these common needs.

While not the deepest and most sp[ecialist solution, it is cost-effective and useful ion a variety of situations, as our customers how us.

here is a recent video from us in which some of our team discuss and show quote and invoice management facilities in our Tower Systems POS software:

Whether your shop is big or small and your quote and invoice management needs are complex or simple, these tools from Tower Systems are part of the software for a range of specialty retail marketplace versions of our POS software. The key is to see if they fit your needs. The Tower team would be grateful to personally demonstrate them to you.

Small business retail advice: if you are finding things tough in your local shop

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We are often asked at our Tower Systems POS software company for help when it is too late. In this article, we share steps any retailer can contemplate from them moment they realise their business is in trouble, from the first thought that closing may be the only option.

Tower Systems is more than a software company. We are retailers too. We cherish the relationships with our retail business customers. We will help whenever and wherever we can to help small and independent retail businesses survive challenges and grow. 

If your retail business is in tough times and facing imminent closure, you may be able to save it if you act quickly and ruthlessly. Based on years of working with many different retailers, I have found that some basic steps can successfully turnaround a business in trouble. But you need to be ruthless.

The following tips are designed for businesses with a little (but not too much) time available to fix things. While they are not appropriate to every business, the ideas can lead to others that may be appropriate.

This advice is also appropriate or businesses not facing imminent closure but certainly facing tough times.

Crucial to saving a business from closure is to understand why it is in this situation. You have to be honest with yourself about this. How did it get to this?

  • Did you not make changes to your business when you should have?
  • Has something local and unexpected impacted your business?
  • Have you been a bad retailer, allowing the business to fade away?

Do not be afraid or ignorant in confronting these questions.

Make an honest appraisal of the state of the business as the truth can inform what you do next.

You have to own your situation. This means being realistic about what you face and what got you there. This is important as it opens you to what you need to do to resolve the situation, to rehabilitate your business.

Now, to the urgent steps you could take to avoid the closure of your retail business:

      1. Know your truth. If you run a computer system, analyse the data it collects. If you don’t know how to do this, find out. Look for surprise information in your data, things you did not know about your business. For example, look at the top selling items. If there are surprises there they could inform other decisions you make to urgently address your situation. Talk to your computer software company, ask for their assessment. Knowing your truth is key to owning your situation.
      2. Quit dead stock. If you have stock on the shop floor which is old – ‘old’ can vary between product categories – and for which you have already paid, quit it. However, stock that is greater than six months old is a reasonable guide – then take action to sell this at a substantial discount. Move the stock off display units. Line it up to look like clearance stock – stacked up on tables. Setup plain and simple signs indicating the discount prices. Create signage to show it as clearance stock. If you have enough clearance stock in your business, consider signs across your front windows. Give your sale a name that is unrelated to your situation. Here are some suggestions: MEGA SALE, FIRST EVER MARCH SALE, AUTUMN SALE, SMALL BUSINESS MIGHTY BIG SALE. Give it a name you can theme around.
      3. Run a loyalty offer. Immediately setup and run a loyalty program rewarding shoppers with dollars off their next purchase. The most successful loyalty offer in recent times is discount vouchers whereby vouchers are included on receipts offering an amount which is cleverly calculated by your software based on the items in the purchase. The goal has to be encouraging shoppers to purchase again soon based on the offer on the receipt for items they just purchased.
      4. Move things around. If your business is in trouble it is likely that it has not changed much in recent years. Change it. Move departments around, shake things up so your customers trip over things they did not think you sold.
      5. Review prices. Look at the common items you sell, consider a small increase in your prices. It could be a small increase will not hurt sales volume yet will add profit to your bottom line.
      6. Upsell well. At the counter, work to extend the basket for every sale possible. Do this with clever counter product placement and witty and engaging banter with customers offering upsell products. You goal has to be to make more from each customer.
      7. Stand for something. What is different about your business? What is special about it? What makes people want to come back? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you’re in trouble. If your answer is we’re the only shop of your type nearby you’re in trouble. If the answer is people have always shopped here you’re in trouble. You need to have a difference that people want and will talk about to others. It could be a product or a service. However, it cannot be a product line that is traditional to your type of business as that will not add value to your shingle in the way you want or need. What do you stand for?
      8. Market within your budget. Photocopied black and white flyers designed with care can be cheap and effective.
      9. Attract people who don’t know what you sell. Run a no-cost or low-cost campaign to reach out to shoppers who have no ideal what you sell yet which could appeal to them. They are not to blame for not knowing what you sell.
      10. Different retail options: Consider becoming an outlet shop selling items from a supplier keen to quit bulk items. Rent space in your shop to another retailer. If you have higher priced items consider offering employees commission on sales. Maybe become an outlet for local artists taking on items on a consignment basis.
      11. Stop unprofitable behaviour. If you are doing things in your business which lose money or do not contribute to a good future for the business, stop doing them. Regardless of history or what your business might stand for, continuing with unprofitable activity only makes your situation worse. If you know something to be unprofitable and yet you say you can’t stop it, think carefully about that, about why you can’t stop losing money.
      12. Get suppliers to help. Suppliers often have old stock themselves which they want to quit at a substantial discount. Buy items you have not stocked before, negotiate good prices and put the stock out with a healthy margin but still at a discount to what others would be charging. Negotiate to pay once you are paid by customers.
      13. Trim employee costs. Cut employee hours and work more in the business yourself if you are not doing so already. While this can have a significant personal cost, the less you pay others the more be business benefits in financial terms.
      14. Trim overheads. Cut everything you can: cleaning, power usage, insurance, freight, banking. Look at every supplier relationship you have and see if you can negotiate a better deal to cut your operating costs. However, do not turn off lights as darkness is death in most retail businesses.
      15. What assets can you sell? Do you have computers, retail fixtures, vehicles or other assets you no longer use in the running of the business? If they are not being used, turn them to cash as quickly as possible.
      16. Get a job. If you have a partner in the business with you and the business can run with one partner, one of you should get a job outside the business. This is especially helpful in a husband and wife situation where the family income can benefit.
      17. Talk to your landlord. A good landlord will prefer a good business to stay rather than have then close down and a new tenant having to be found. Talk to the landlord, be honest with them about your situation. Given the landlord all of the information they need to make the decision you need them to make. This information will include sales figures, expenses and margin information. Usually, the more transparent you are with the landlord the more they will support your business.
      18. Talk to your bank. While banks tend to not get involved in lending to businesses that are struggling, it may be that they have contacts that can help you navigate to a solution. Maybe talk to another bank.
      19. Talk to colleagues. If you have nearby business colleagues in the same line of business, they might have stock they are happy to provide you for free or at a discount to give you stock to move for a good price.
      20. Refresh the business. Make the business look, smell and sound fresh. Beyond the products you sell and where tings are located, change the environment itself using scents and sounds. Too often when a business is struggling, those involved let standards slip and the business does not look attractive to shoppers. Avoid this laziness at all costs.
      21. Deliver amazing customer service. When serving customers be the perfect shop assistance and not the owner of the business facing closure. Keep your mind on the job at hand and not the cliff you’re worried might be a few steps ahead.
      22. Whoever is pressuring you the most to close or contemplate closing, talk to them. If it’s a supplier, the tax office or some other organisation or individual pressuring you about debts, be upfront with them, lay out for them your plan detailing the action you will take to turn your situation around, be clear about what you are doing and outline a timeline step by step for them. Seek their support.
      23. Set a timeframe. Decide where you want to be in a week, four weeks, eight weeks, twelve weeks. Set realistic goals. Measure yourself against those goals. Know what you will do if you fall short.

What we offer here is general advice, a shopping list of advice from which you can choose. It is intended to get you thinking of ideas that could work for you.

No two situations are the same. No situation is impossible. No business is dead until the doors are closed for the last time.

Never give up. Fight hard and fight smart to turn your business around.

Facing tough circumstances in retail can be like the deer in the middle of the road at night facing the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Don’t freeze. Take action to mitigate your situation. A series of small steps could be the difference between closure and trading out of the problem.

In your business data there are bound to be opportunities and insights around which growth can be achieved. If you are not sure where to look or what they could mean, ask us. We will help.

Small business retail advice: consciously pursuing retail success and enjoyment

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A fresh look from at retail today and the opportunity for intentionally pursuing change for a brighter future.

Find a private place, hang a do not disturb sign on the door, put on music you love and please read on.

In this blog post, we share what we hope will prove to be valuable ideas, which help you create a more successful business and a more enjoyable business life. You will have seen some members embracing some of these ideas already as we have shared our thoughts through a process of evolution.

While this is advice from our Tower Systems POS software company, it is advice from us as retailers – yes, we own and run successful retail shops.

To us, conscious intention is deliberate decision making, pursuing change, for a better outcome for you, your business and all it serves.

WHERE ARE WE AT?

Retail is changing, faster than ever. In change, you can create opportunities. This is exciting. The key is to be deliberate in your embrace of change.

Yes, you have heard that before, probably so much that you ignore it. What we share here is important, new, and written for you.

Today, the pace of change is faster and the extent of change more comprehensive, most likely beyond what you see. There are myriad factors at play, myriad pressures on retail.

There are more competitors, many you will never see.

Shoppers are more empowered.

Shopping is less like shopping.

No business is immune: city, country, high street and shopping centre.

The days of making major changes and leaving them in place for years are over.

The borders between types of retail businesses are blurred.

Your customers can easily now be more than locals.

People want to be able to buy when they want to buy.

What constitutes a shop has changed, forever.

It is okay to keep doing what you are doing. Our advice is you make your decisions and take your actions with conscious intention. Drifting is not an option, unless you do it consciously, with intent. If your decision is to not change, we 100% respect that.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT TODAY?

In summary, to get you thinking, here is a list of what we see as different:

  1. Whereas in the past, a shop-fit would have a life of five or more years. Today, shops must look significantly different every eighteen months. We say this based on the rate of change we see in retail.
  2. Whereas in the past, fixtures were fixed, today fixtures float, can be moved, are flexible and enable rapid change without cost.
  3. Whereas in the past, lights were either on or off, today, darkness and shade are used to bring texture and emotion to parts of a store.
  4. Whereas in the past, a shop was made up of shop fixtures, today, everyday items make the best support for displaying products. Rugs on the floor, couches, easy chairs, rustic looking floors, natural looking walls.
  5. Shopkeeping is out. Engaged retail is in. Shopkeepers operate from the back room and behind the counter. Retailers engage on the shop floor.
  6. Local is more important than ever. Supporting local makers reinforces your local credentials.
  7. Whereas in the past, you did what you did because it was expected of the shingle, everything in the business now, all decisions, need to be about demographic targeting, a layered multi-demo strategy – chasing new traffic.
  8. Whereas in the past, your business was dominated by rules, today rules are gone for many product categories. Choices are at your doorstep.
  9. Whereas in the past, supplier representatives were a valued source of innovation advice, today, you are the innovator.

UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION.

Every business needs a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), that which is unique about their business in the area from which they draw customers, that which separates the business from other businesses.

It is vital that you know what your USP is and that you are mindful of this in all business decisions. Please see our knowledge base article on USP.

HOW WE CHANGE HAS CHANGED.

The process of change itself has changed. Whereas in the past we would plan, plan and plan before execution, today, we are in a world of rapid change and more change if the changes are not delivering what we need.

Motion (change) is and must be perpetual. It is almost like every day you asking what can I change today?

SMALL STEPS.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed. We suggest a small steps strategy. Undertaking many small steps can make any project more digestible and affordable. You do not have to do everything at once. Take small steps, but keep taking them.

INVENTORY.

Your inventory determines who your shop will appeal to, the occasions they will buy for, whether they talk about you, whether they will come back and if they trust you.

  1. Buy consciously. Buy with outcomes in mind: know the shopper and the occasion, think about how you could market a product externally and know where a product fits in the story of your business.
  2. Be demographic conscious. The age of shoppers and those they purchase for is determined by what you stock. Buy for multiple demographics: pre-teen, teen, young adult, adult / family, mature / retiree. All product purchases should fit the demographics you preference.
  3. Be price-point open. Two similar items at different price points can perform better than one product at one price point. Choice can drive sales.
  4. Don’t buy for yourself. You are not your customer.
  5. Tell stories. A cool item may not sell if it is the only item of its type or category in the business. The same item placed as part of a story could perform much better. When you buy, buy to a story.
  6. Measure and cut. If items are not performing, cut them. Stocking items because someone may want them some day is not good. Use your data, act on it. Set your stock turn goals and use these to measure against.

SHOP LAYOUT.

The more your business looks like a traditional business in your channel, the more it will be judged as traditional, the more it will perform traditionally. There is nothing wrong with this, if it is a conscious choice.

We encourage you to not run a traditional business because there is no evidence in performance data or in retail history to indicate that traditional model has any upside.

The best way to not be considered traditional is to not look like one.

Here is what this means:

  1. Keep visual noise to a minimum. This means less posters and signs. Let your products be seen and be the heroes.
  2. Your shop should push back against what shoppers used to expect from your type of business.
  3. Make the front third of the shop open with non-permanent fixtures that are flexible and easily moved. These are best if they are everyday items: tables, a couch, boxes and more. The more colour, texture and style the less like a shop your shop will feel and the more relaxed shoppers will be.
  4. Floor rugs are effective too, under a table fixture especially.
  5. No tradition at the counter. Use the counter for products that are easily purchased on impulse, that play against expectations.
  6. A feature wall behind the counter that can be changed easily.
  7. Different colours and textures rather than the usual shop-fit look.
  8. Different lighting to highlight different part of the business.
  9. Less shop-fit made fixtures and more personally made or found items.
  10. Product placement such that it encourages people to explore. Embrace treasure hunt retail … where people wander the shop hoping to find treasure.
  11. Move tasks, pricing, returns and more to the shop floor. This will reduce shopper theft and increase sales.
  12. Have the least amount of staff resources behind the counter as possible. On the shop floor the same people can guide purchases.

CUSTOMER INTERACTION.

Be grateful people are in your shop and show this in your interaction and the interaction of all team members.

Saying hi to shoppers is nice, but not out of the ordinary.

Encourage team members to change up their greeting: good morning, nice to see you, thank you for coming in today

Work on farewells: thanks for visiting, it was good to see you, take care out there

In-store, offer experiences that are unexpected and / or appreciated.

  1. If you sell any type of candy, offer tastings.
  2. Have filtered water or iced tea to cool people in summer.
  3. Have homemade soup in small takeaway cups for winter.
  4. Structure times to demonstrate products. Hire people who are happy to demonstrate.

Love your customers. Consider a wall of customer love with photos you have taken of customers and photos customers have brought in.

Reset your customer interaction with a focus on more fun and happiness.

OUTSIDE.

What you do, say and share outside also defines the business in the minds of shoppers and would-be shoppers. It is vital that your out of business communication and representation is intentional and reflective of how you want the business seen.

The more you post on social media and talk about products and services that are not known to be in your type of shop the more you become your own thing.

Be intentional in what you do and say outside your business. Further your mission ahead of the mission of the channel or channel traditional suppliers.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T CHANGE?

If you do not change your business it will perform in line with its current trajectory. If you are happy with that, embrace it.

If you are not happy with the current business trajectory, change is essential.

HOW WE CAN HELP?

Tower Systems, through its local small business experienced retail team can provide insights, suggestions and encouragement for you to reset your business.

We all have current retail experience.

We can bring detached perspective to help you combat store-blindness.

Leveraging our engagement starts with asking.

Advice for small business retailers on POS software connected Shopify websites for boosting retail sales

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Two weeks ago our team at Tower Systems hosted four free workshops covering a range of topics related to creating POS software connected Shopify sites and how to drive traffic to them. The goal was to share insights and offer free advice and training for retailers looking to grow online sales.

All up, the four sessions covered close to six hours.

Here are videos of the workshops for anyone interested. If you are considering a website for your business, buyer beware. There are plenty of shonky business people in the web development space. Our hope is that the four workshops share information that you find useful in navigating a path to growing your online sales.

This last session is all about writing good blog posts and how they play a key role in driving traffic.

We are grateful to the retailer who participated.

Making click and collect easy for local small business retailers

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Using our specialty retail POS software we help local small business retailers to engage with click and collect retail.

Better still, with our beautiful Shopify websites connected directly with our POS software we are helping local small business retailers sell to anyone, anywhere, at any time online for click and collect and for delivery.

In our POS software we have the ability to manage click and collect orders, bringing structure and consistency to the workflow involved with picking items, packaging them and advising shoppers of collect opportunities.

We have been providing click and collect opportunities for local small business retailers for many years. Their use has grown through the Covid pandemic. It is terrific seeing the different types of businesses engaging with click and collect through our POS software: jewellers, garden centres, pet shop, toy shops, gift shops, newsagents and more.

Making click and collect easy and manageable for small business retailers is something we are proud to have brought to life. In addition to the facilities in our POS software, we provide these retailers with business execution advice, to help them achieve valuable outcomes using the tools we provide access to.

We first started pitching click and collect to our small business POS software customers more than six years ago. Our engagement has grown plenty since through enhanced software, more nuanced advice and better tools on the web side of the tech opportunities available to retailers.

Thanks to a dashboard, retailers are able to easily, in one place, manage orders and manage the work associated with these online orders. This central management of online orders, in the local retail shop, provides a consistent approach that small business retailers are loving.

While there is a surge of interest in click and collect because of Covid, click and collect will be vital in the future for local small business retail. It is here to stay as part of the retail mix, because shoppers love it. They love the time it saves, the ease of shopping. retailers, with good systems in place, love it too as it can help them reach shoppers they may otherwise not reach.

The Tower Systems POS software helps local small business retailers engage with click and collect.

Small business retailers benefit from Afterpay POS software access

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Afterpay is a terrific payment option that helps local small business retailers increase shopper reach and achieve a deeper shopping basket. In many small businesses, Afterpay has helped them leave LayBy and all of its associated challenges and costs and move to a new model, which appeals to a new suite of shoppers.

Providing access to Afterpay through our POS software is part of our commitment to helping retailers benefit from Buy Now  Pay Later (BNPL) opportunities like Zip Pay, Zip Money and Humm. these are all payment options, along with Afterpay, through our POS software.

The recently announced proposed take over of Afterpay by Square is set to turbocharge this BNPL space and we are grateful to play a small role in this space for years now. If you have a moment, seek out the interview on ABC Radio that Peter Ryan conducted with Square’s CFO, Amrita Ahuja, as it offers valuable insights local small business retailers will find interesting.

The Afterpay buy now pay later payment option is available through the Tower Systems POS software. This is another of the buy now pay later options that our software supports, like Zip Pay and Humm.

Taking payment via Afterpay through our POS software is easy, secure and business beneficial. We have made sure of this through the work we have done, to ensure that our small business customers are well serves through a frictionless solution. Like so much we have done with our software, our approach to Afterpay is fast, secure and something customers will love. It helps a local small retail business attract more shoppers.

The Afterpay POS software solution we have delivered is the Afterpay Card.

Add this to what we have done for years with Humm and Zip and you can see opportunities that serve plenty of local small business retail solutions across Australia, helping these retailers sell to shoppers who might otherwise not have purchased from the business at this time.

This move away from credit cards in the millennial and get Z groups is on and BNPL is playing a key role in this as they leverage these platforms for their purchases from the small to the large.

Through its POS software, Tower Systems provides local small business retailers with opportunities that are leading-edge in customer engagement and service.

Advice for NSW small business retailers in their 2nd lockdown … from the Victorian experience

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It was the second Covid lockdown in Victoria that was a defining moment for many small business retailers. Whereas first lockdown was a national experience, the second lockdown was unique to Victoria back then.

While there were many media stories about businesses doing it tough, the reality is that many of us had a good Covid, through all four lockdowns in Victoria. Here’s what worked for us and many of the local small business retailers I have spoken with:

  • Be safe. Have the perspex screens at the counter.  Place your credit card terminal on the customer side.
  • Be frugal. Spend what you must but hang on to as much cash as you can. You don’t know how long this will go on for.
  • Make shopping easier, safer. Bring what people will want the most to the front of the shop, to reduce browsing. In a newsagency where papers have been put to the back of the shop, for example, bring them to the front of the shop.
  • If you’re not online, get online.
  • Be practical. Now is not the time for pretty displays.
  • Preference card payment. The less cash you have to handle, the safer the business.
  • Be flexible. Be available for shoppers where they want to shop: online, on the phone, via social media. Offer delivery or curbsibe pickup.
  • Offer what they want. What people will purchase through a lockdown will be different to other times.
  • Bundle. People who want to send gifts will appreciate you offering bundles ready to be delivered or posted.
  • Co-operate locally. If you are open and a nearby shop is closed, maybe you could sell some of their stock for them.
  • Clean, clean and clean. Showing this being done builds confidence.
  • Be grateful. You will see many good deeds and hear about many too. Share them on social media.
  • Look after your team. Have a good supply of masks and anti-bacterial gel. Given them breaks to refresh and wash their hands.
  • Think about beyond Covid. The experience will help you see your business differently. Lean into that for opportunities on the other side.

Regional, rural and high street newsagents are likely to have a better lockdown than those in shopping centres. many Victorian shopping centres are yet to recover from lockdown 2 and beyond. We mention this as one consequence of extended lockdown for shopping centre businesses is to find opportunities outside the centre.

We have three physical shops in Victoria as well as an office and several online only businesses. What we have suggested in this post we have done in our businesses, and we continue to do them today. For example, as part of the be frugal advice, we made some decisions that we expected to be temporary, decisions we still follow today, decisions that continue to save money.

While things seem grim in NSW right now, at the local small business level you have an opportunity to make your own success, your own good situation out of a bad situation.

If your shop is open and not busy because people are staying at home, use the opportunity to make changes. Be bold, but frugal. Use the time, too, to plan for what’s on the other side – promotions, marketing, re-casting.

Footnote: through our work with newsagents and with the Tower POS software community more broadly, only a very few businesses did not make it through. We think this is because small business retailers are resilient and flexible, doing what is necessary. Good luck everyone!

Supporting shop local with handmade gift wreaths

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We are grateful to have created the Shopify site for selling gift wreaths online, from a shop that is also running our POS software. The data flow and image flow from our POS software to the Shopify website, and back, saves time and reduces mistakes in small business retail.

This gift wreath, made locally in Mount Waverley, is part of a range of beautiful, hand made and postable gifts.

Let’s look at Australian made game shop POS software for specialty game retailers

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Here’s a recent video we shot in which we explore some of the features and benefits of this fresh Aussie game shop POS software:

This POS software for game shops from Tower Systems is made for game shops. It has evolved from our toy shop software.

Game shops have some unique needs, which we seek to serve in this marketplace specific POS software.

Packed with facilities that help these local and loved game shops better serve customers and attract new customers, this software is not your everyday POS software. It is not generic.

Our game shop software offers many benefits, including:

  • Save time with electronic invoices from suppliers.
  • Easy special customer orders. Smart tracking and customer notification.
  • Make money from pre-orders – Easily pre-sell before release.
  • Community group pricing. Set pricing rules based on customer type.
  • Easy record keeping: serial number tracking of items with serial numbers.
  • Ensure compliance when required with structured age checking.
  • Business differentiating loyalty. Stand out from the crowd. Drive sales.
  • Differentiate with bundles. Make price comparison hard.
  • Say goodbye to LayBy – with integrated buy now pay later options.
  • Market to customers based on past purchases.
  • Cut accounting and bookkeeping fees with integration to Xero and others.
  • Easily sell online with a direct to Shopify link from your POS software.

We are grateful to local game shops for their advice and guidance we tune the software for marketplace specific needs.

Fresh POS software marketing pitch

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We are loving the reaction from our new range of POS software marketing postcards, which are out now. Each features a happy image representing our software in a specialty niche retail channel. They are a good reflection of the specialty nature of our small business retail focussed POS software.

This is us, Tower Systems. We are proud of what we make and the businesses we get to help.

End of financial year offer: POS software integrated Shopify websites

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We are grateful to the many retailers who have already embraced our end of financial year offer for a $1,000 gift off our fixed price Shopify POS software integrated website development.

This is a genuine EOFY offer, not one of those inflated prices discounted to make it look like you’re getting a deal situation.

Our fixed price through to life POS software connected Shopify web development packages cost $6,600, which includes a commercial and beautiful template of your choice.

The EOFY offer is $1,000 off this.

There are a couple of conditions, which our sales people can help you with,.

Here is what is included in our fixed price Shopify POS software integrated website solution:

Tower Systems offers to create a Shopify website for $6,600.00 for which you receive:

  1. Pre development consultation. This is comprehensive phone call reviewing needs as outlined in the survey, seeking to more completely understand your needs.
  2. A checklist of work you complete with our guidance, to provide us assets such as text and images for the website. The current version of the checklist is part of this quote. This lists what any web developer will require from you.
  3. A live Shopify site as per everything outlined here. During development, there will be back and forth discussions by email and phone to ensure that the evolving meets expectations. Your timely attention to communication is key.
  4. Shopify theme choice. Included in the quoted price is the selection of a paid-for theme up to the cost of US$250.00.
  5. Shopify link. The Retailer POS software to link with Shopify. This link transfers to the Shopify site ta defined and useful set of data points for each inventory item.
  6. Personal hand-over training so you can make your own tweaks to the site as needed. This is usually around 2 hours.
  7. Three months of phone-based assistance (but not software changes) following delivery of the site.
  8. A comprehensive pre-prep / handover document that provides support, written training and guidance on your next steps. This is the same for all our Shopify site customers. i.e. it is not document written especially for you.

What this list does not show is the back and forth, the discussions, explorations and investigations with you that lead to the creation of a website that serves your needs. This is a comprehensive and iterative process between you and our webbed experts, all of whom work here in Melbourne Australia.

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