The POS Software Blog

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

CategoryRetail Advice

How the Tower Systems POS software helps local retailers be frugal, and run more valuable businesses

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2022 is proving to be a challenging year for retailers. Covid continues to disrupt product supply and labour access. It is also impacting shopper behaviour.

The retailers doing best are those managing their business data, leveraging data for insights that guide business decisions. There is where the Tower Systems POS software helps local retailers.

Using our POS software, local retailers are able to be more frugal. Being frugal is a local retail business is beneficial, if it is done based on data, with a focus of driving overall business value. Being frugal is a good thing if done thoughtfully and well.

Let’s be clear though, there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap.

Being frugal is about being careful. Spending based on evidence when nit comes to labour costs and inventory costs.

Too often we see retailers over-index with labour, eating unnecessarily into business profits. Likewise, too often, we see businesses buying poorly, not based on evidence, and negatively impacting on the profits of the business.

Our POS software helps local retailers in these two areas and more, we help them be frugal in their approach to rostering and frugal in their approach to buying … with the goal of adding measurable value to the business. This matters.

The stronger the financial base for a business, the lower its operational overheads, the lower poor performing inventory volume, the better for the business. This is where being frugal matters. Done properly, it provides the business with capacity to weather economic challenges, to actually make the business stronger in its financial foundations. Our POS software helps local retailers do this.

There is a gloss and excitement to owning your own shop. The real gloss, and value, comes from running the business well. This is one of our goals here at Tower Systems – to make POS software and back it with support that helps small business retailers run their businesses well.

Being frugal is good for business and good for all in the business who rely on it. Our POS software provides insights as well as mechanisms for being frugal, for driving the value of and for the business.

Retail insights: making shopping happy benefits everyone

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We shot this video in which we look at a wonderful local suburban pet shop in the US over a month ago. The video is all about retail and what we discovered visiting the awesome Rosie Bunny Bean shop in Los Angeles.

We’re more than a POS software company. We love good retail.

Free stocktake training for POS software customers

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Tower Systems started offering its 2022 free stocktake training for retailers using its POS software several weeks ago.

The training available is in video as well as written form. It covers a full stocktake as well as partial stocktake and theft mitigation stocktakes.

By providing baseline video based training, the company offers a consistent starting pout to all retailers, covering everything everyone needs to know.

Every Tower Systems POS software customer has access to the stocktake training, without cost, without any financial commitment requirement. By making access free and easy, the company is ensuring that all customers have the same opportunity to get accurate stock on hand data for their business.

We shot the baseline stocktake training video a few weeks. This shows best practice stocktake advice relevant to 2022. It leverages pas advice and presents it fresh, with content relevant to this year.

Here is some of the advice we published to ur POS software customers previously re stocktake. It reflects more practical advice advice, operational advice.

Take the technology to the stock and not your stock to your technology.

For the process to be as easy as possible you will need a wireless network – vital for OH&S reasons.

The best way to do a stocktake in your business is by using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer with a scanner attached. This enables you to do the stocktake live with no impact on sales and absolute integrity of your stock on hand data.

While using a laptop (or laptops) or tablet computer may seem cumbersome, it is our best practice advice for speed, data integrity and the ability to address data issues you may encounter on the shop floor. It enables you to do management work to ensure completely accurate data.

The alternative is to use a PDE. The challenges with this are the many different PDEs and it is challenging to be expert in all plus the PDE counts at that time and you load the data at a later time – meaning a gap in time in which sales could have been done. While PDE software is available for live to data updates, we have seen this be problematic and so we do not use it.

Given the advances in technology, our best practice recommendation is either a laptop of tablet computer as either offers a better solution than a PDE.

We suggest you setup a Laptop or tablet and use Team Viewer or the like to connect in and count this way. This approach means you do not need to purchase an additional software licence for the laptop. Team Viewer is easy to setup. If you do need our help on this there would be a support cost.

For the physical stocktake, we suggest you approach the business aisle by aisle, counting and rearranging stock as you go.

Local retail business advice: sell online but not as you sell in your physical shop

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We were recently asked to write an article for a magazine for Aussie newsagents about selling online. The advice we included in that article for local retail newsagents applies equally to any local retailer. We share the article we wrote here to offer advice for local small business retailers contemplating selling online:

Sell online, but not as your shop today.

When people shop online they shop for an outcome. They search for the product or purpose. They do not search for a masthead.

This is a valuable insight for any newsagent considering a website for their business for putting your newsagency online with what you sell today could be an expensive mistake.

Tower Systems has built many websites for newsagents and most are not sites that represent the newsagency shop online. Rather, they present as a different business, focussed on a niche category and leveraging the shop infrastructure to help the business expand.

This is the smart move for any retailer selling online – using it as a start-up opportunity that makes use of space and labour in the shop but not relying on products in the shop.

In one case, a newsagency business has grown online to where it is more financially valuable than the shop within which it was incubated.

In another case a newsagent tested a category online, hit gold and expanded the shop to offer this, hitting more gold.

Engaging with Tower Systems to create a POS software connected website provides newsagents with access to comprehensive online sales data through deep Google results research. This can help newsagents discover opportunities not previously on their radar.

By tapping into current keyword search data using respected commercial tools, Tower Systems is able to show newsagents pathway opportunities into new product areas online. These can be opportunities tapped into with a minimal capital investment, an opportunity for expansion with a modest budget.

While I understand the push to take the shop online, in my years of experience owning newsagencies and running successful and failed websites connected to the shops, my advice is to leverage the website opportunity as if it is a start-up, playing in a space you have not played in before, with the goal of it leading you on a path of discovery.

Tower Systems is better placed to support this greenfield approach than a local web developer … we have found local web developers more likely to replicate online what you have in. the shop and that, my friends, is unlikely to attract for you the volume of new shoppers you might hope for.

Being online is critical for every business. Doing it right, in an approach appropriate for 2022 and beyond is key.

Take your time. Do your research. Make sure that what you choose can be maintained by you. And, only sign for a fixed price website build.

UPDATE: 5 things every retailer should know about their retail business but are usually not told by POS software

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3 weeks ago we published this video: 5 things every retailer should know about their retail business but are usually not told by POS software. Across several platforms it’s had 1,000 views, for which we are grateful.

When our CEO made the video, it was spur of the moment, based on a comment made in a conversation at the Sydney gift fair in April. While the video was spur of the moment and not scripted, it drew on years of experience, years of service of local small business retailers.

We appreciate the feedback we have received, the appreciation.

To us, the video represents something different about Tower Systems. It presents that we want you to cultivate and harvest value from your business through the use of our POS software.

This is the difference of value.

Long after you start using our software, appreciating genuine value from its use.

Thank you for watching. Wr hope you found the video useful.

8 ways any local small retail business can improve cash flow and thrive

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Cash flow is on the minds of many local small business retailers right now.

But before we get into providing advice, let’s agree a definition. Cash flow is the flow of money in and out of your business, real cash, in your account, or in your safe. Cash in comes from sales or products and assets and other payments from customers and suppliers. Cash flowing out is for bills, inventory purchases, labour and rent, typically.

Any business wants to be in a positive cash flow situation, because negative cash flow needs more capital inflow to support, and that can come at a cost.

Now, to our advice.

8 ways any local small retail business can improve cash flow and thrive.

Are you ready?! This advice is based on our years of service of thousands of local small business retailers across a range of specialty retail channels. It also comes from many years of us owning and running our own local retail shops.

  1. Free dead stock. In our experiences this releases the most cash flow value, but it is the option most often rejected for often silly reasons. dead stock is stock that is not selling, not moving. It is often stock you have long since paid for. This means that any money you get for it is positive cash flow right now. The loss from paying for the stock has already been realised – many retailers forget that. So, idea tidy what’s not selling, and quit it creatively, with urgency. Cheer every dollar this brings.
  2. Trim where you can without impacting sales. The most beneficial move here is typically a cut in the roster, a cut in labour cost. Save a few dollars with no sales revenue impact and you are ahead cash flow wise.
  3. Get shoppers to spend more in a visit. Smart loyalty software will do this. Points loyalty systems are unlikely to do this. There are better loyalty options designed to help encourage shoppers to spend more in a visit. Our POS software helps nurture this.
  4. Charge more. Yes, we understand this can be scary. The thing is, if you do this carefully, thoughtfully, and offer a good loyalty incentive and bundle items together, a modest price rise is less likely to be noticed and more likely to have a positive impact on cash flow. Think about it. Plan for it. Take small steps. A 1% rise across your top 200 inventory items could be the small step that delivers the cash flow boost you need.
  5. Find more customers. The more new customers you have shopping with you the more you will sell, obviously. It can feel easier said than done to attract new customers. In our experience, most local retail businesses do not have a new customer attraction plan. Do you? It does not need to be complex. Even a simple social media pitch honouring a new product, reflecting your gratefulness to have it could be enough. One the post is up, pay for a boost in your area. An $8 spend over 4 days is all you may need to get in front of a few hundred prospective new customers … and that gets you on the path, that could be your new customer attraction plan.
  6. Trim overheads. Look through your business overheads and look for an opportunity to trim.
  7. Look at your sales counter. With most purchases being completed at the sales counter, look at it from the perspective of your shoppers and see what you could do to encourage them to add items at the last minute. The counter is a valuable place of influence. Use it. Make sure it is driving deeper purchase baskets, and adding to cash flow.
  8. Spend less on inventory. Look for suppliers with good inventory holdings that allow you to use them, rather than your shop floor or store room, to hold stock you may not sell right away.

This list is a start, a small start, a modest start, it offers practical advice you can follow, practical steps you can take in any local small business retail setting to improve cash flow.

Using the Tower Systems POS software you can engage with any of these and other ideas for improving cash flow in your retail business.

Beyond POS software, Tower Systems will help, because we want local retailers to thrive. You are our customers, our focus.

Footnote. Many retail business owners get in their head about cash flow, they look for big moves and end up spinning their wheels, going nowhere. In reality, the most beneficial cash flow improvement moves you can make are those that are simple, easy ti implement, immediate to implement and, most important, that work with other moves … for it is the compounding benefit of a series of small steps that can deliver excellent cash flow improvement benefits to local small business retail.

5 things every retailer should know about their business but are usually not told by POS software

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Good POS software offer these 5 benefits. Tower Systems does.

  1. What’s not selling = cut dead stock waste.
  2. What you’re missing out on = stop selling out.
  3. What’s sells with what = selling more.
  4. Theft under your nose = save thousands.
  5. Know when you’re busy and quiet = reduce labour costs.

Of course, thanks to the Tower Systems POS software, there are many more benefits than these. Now, here’s a new video from us about these 5 benefits from the Tower Systems POS software.

Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with rising interest rates

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Rising interest rates are on the mind of everyone in Australia right now it seems. News stories appear daily about the impact of rising interest rates … for homeowners, for businesses. Everywhere we turn there is a ‘take’ on rising interests rates.

In local small business retail we can see the impact of higher interest rates through several lenses: consumer confidence, actual sales and business costs – for businesses with loan funds in place to support the business.

Our Tower Systems POS software company helps local small business retailers deal with rising interest rates in a range of ways …

We help retailers track trends on their shops. This is vital because while there is news out there and plenty of speculation, a retailer can only rely on what they bank through their register and our POS software is that register. we can help them access facts as they pertain to their business as opposed to feelings based on news and other stories. Facts matter. One retailer told us last week that rising interests rates were impacting their business through less sales. While their transaction count was down, revenue was up in higher margin areas meaning the business was banking more profit. facts matter.

We help retailers cap costs. The rental / subscription cost of our POS software has not changes since mid 2019. We have no plans to change it. Our customers know this. We are iota adding to their costs. We also help them require the cost of labour in their businesses and this can save money and free cash for other, more productive, uses in the business.

We help retailers free up cash in their businesses. And, this can help reduce their reliance on loan funds, which means a lower impact of rising interest rates. now, how do we help retailers free up cash. We do this in a range of ways, through smart tools in our POS software. We helped one business release more than $20,000 of hitherto dead money. The released funds helped them reduce their overdraft and that reduced the amount of interest the business was paying. It all comes back to using business data.

Rising interest rates are a thing. Rather than getting caught in the quicksand over them, our focus is on helping local small business retailers develop and walk through a  plan for dealing with rising interest rates so that their businesses are not as impacted as they might otherwise have been.

The news out there on rising interest rates can be scary, and distracting. Our advice is to focus on that over which you have control, to understand, seek out a pathway through and to step thoughtfully along that path.

Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with rising freight costs

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The cost of freight is increasing. Freight into Australia costs more. Freight around Australia costs more. Freight locally costs more.

Small business retailers can feel challenged as to how to deal with this, now to manage the cost of freight, how to protect their business against the cost of freight.

Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with the cost of freight by providing in the software the ability to easily spread the freight cost of a package containing a range of goods across the sale provide of all the goods received. This allows the business to pass on the cost, spread the cost, reflect the cost fo freight across all items brought into the business.

Too many small business retailers stress about then high cost fo freight and what to do about it. the thing is, freight is. cost everyone has. There is no such thing as free freight.

Trucks cost money. Truck drivers cost money. Warehouses cost money. Fork lift drivers cost money.

Every item in every shop in town has a freight cost associated with getting it on the shelf. There is no point complaining. It is a real cost, a universal cost, one that is best managed efficiently, and spread across the sale price of every inventory item that you have in the shop.

Use your POS software to do this. Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with the cost of freight. We do this through software facilities in the POS software as well and through advice on how to use the POS software and business management advice. This is where we leverage our experience as retailers to provide practical advice ion the test way to deal with the rising cost of freight in small business retail.

Once you discover that it is easy when receiving new inventory into your business to spread the cost of freight, you can systemise the process, structure it, make it part of your operational processes. This takes the emotion out of the situation. It stops you having tom micro manage it. You benefit and the business benefits.

Freight is a cost all businesses confront. There are myriad ways to deal with it, manage it and leverage it sol that it is not as problematic for the business as it may seem.

Tower Systems is a full service POS software company focussed on local specialty retailers in selected retail channels.

Tower Systems helps Australian local small business retailers reduce EFTPOS fees

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EFTPOS fees are a pain point for local small business retailers. They are a cost of business, eating into already tight margin. Talk to any local small business retailer and it is likely they ill complain about high EFTPOS fees.

In some cases, it is EFTPOS fees that are tied to other services that can negatively impact them the most.

In the POS software marketplace, for example, there are POS software companies that offer their software at a reduced price if you sign up for their integrated EFTPOS solution. In two instances we have seen this week, the EFTPOS fees in these situations are higher than the usual market price – making more money for the POSt software company and costing the local retail business more.

How can I cut EFTPOS fees is a common question from retailers. It is a question that comes with urgency, need and emotion. It is a question we understand we own shops as weak, 4 shops in fact where more than half our revenue is settled by way of EFTPOS. We understand the challenge of high EFTPOS fees and have found ways to satisfactorily address this in our shops.

We have found a way to cut the cost of EFTPOS fees for our local retail businesses.

If you want to cut EFTPOS fees for your shop, it starts with understanding more about how the fees accrue. This is where Tower Systems can help.

Oh, and by the way, we do not require you to sign up for a specific EFTPOS provider. Our advice is neutral, balanced and focussed 100% on your needs. Sure, we have relationships that could save you money too, but there is no requirement. All Tower Systems customers have free access to our advice and assistance to cut EFTPOS fees in retail. We know the more we help our retailer business customers do this the more we are able to deliver practical benefits that will encourage our customers to stay with us.

If you think EFTPOS fees in your shop are too high, consider how Tower Systems might be able to help you. Our POS software is awesome. Our retail business management advice and support is valuable. Everyday we leverage our retail business experience beyond the POS software itself. This helps our customers save money and make their businesses more valuable.

Can I cut EFTPOS fees in my shop? Yes, we think you can. Let us help. sales@towersystems.com.au

Oh, and if you signed up for EFTPOS services in return for a lower subscription or rental cost of your software, check to see what your EFTPOS fees are, compare them against the marketplace. If you are like the two businesses we were contacted by this week it could be you signed up for a higher transactional cost in return for a small discount off the software cost … resulting in higher costs for you. yes, that is what happened.

Serial number tracking in POS software

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Not all POS software tracks serial numbers.

The POS software from Tower Systems does track serial numbers, and here’s how:

This new short video is another in our series for our POS software customers and our sales prospects. It’s another way we remind local small business retailers the value of our locally made and supported specialty retail POS software.

Ideal for jewellers, pool maintenance businesses, firearms dealers, bike shops, pet shops, appliance businesses.

By tracking serial numbers using the Tower Systems POS software, retailers can provide a level of service to customers they will appreciate. Serial numbers are listed on receipts. They are recorded, too, for later use should the item be stolen from the customer and they need to do a claim.

Tracking serial numbers in this Tower Systems POS software also sets your business up for longer term tracking of the service history of an item. This can be a valuable way to differentiate the services provided by your business.

The serial number tracking tools are part of the POS software for specialty retail settings such as jewellers, bike shops, pet shops and more. It is included in these products at no extra cost, no additional monthly fee.

Embedded in the Tower Systems POS software for a range of specialty retail marketplaces, the serial number tracking tools are a genuine value-add without any additional cost., They are a core part of the Tower software, able to be used at any time. This is key in that retailers will appreciate not having to pay extra to use serial number tracking tools.

In the pet shop channel, the serial number tracking tools are used to record pet microchip details as they, in an of themselves, are a form of serial number. Being able to track pet microchips in this way, using the serial number tracking tools, helps pet shops to provide a service pet owners and lovers certainly appreciate.

The serial number tracking tools in this software are another differentiator, another benefit for local business retailers through which they can provide an appreciated level of service to customers.

Tower Systems is grateful to its customers for their support in helping us reach more local retail businesses.

Insights for pet retailers and other retailers

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A couple of us got to see some cool retail in Los Angeles last week. here is one of the videos. This one is about a fun and happy pet shop serving locals in suburban Los Angeles.

Beyond our POS software, we support our 3,000+ local retailer community with business insights and advice, to help them run more enjoyable and valuable local retail businesses.

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.

Walking in the shoes of our customers: what we are learning from our latest retail shop

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While creating and supporting locally made POS software is what we do, we have owned and run shops in several; retail channels since February 1996. The experiences over the years have helped us make better software. There is no substitute for the personal understanding of everyday retail needs.

While we are not experts in all retail channels in which we serve, our knowledge from our own experience sets us apart among software companies.

Recently, is a new shop we purchased, we learnt more than we anticipates when we came to change the carpet …

Retail advice: shopfit changes worth doing are worth doing well – replacing the shop floor covering

We decided to replace the worn-out carpet in the retail newsagency business that we purchased on Glenferrie Road, Malvern, Victoria, in December 2021.

The decision is part our small-steps approach to refreshing this business. Rather than undertaking a whole shopfit at once, we are making a series of changes over time, as we learn more abut the business and its customers, and, to suit our goal of creating a less traditional newsagency.

So, we decided to replace the carpet.

We got several quotes, and chose a company with a good reputation. we appreciated their honesty regarding the need to close for 2 days to do the whole shop, around 250 sq metres.

The challenges started part way through day 1, when the old carpet was being removed. It turned out that under the old carpet was underlay, more carpet, tiles, and, lino tiles. The business had not changed hands in 38 years and it appeared that the original flooring was still in place for plenty of the shop.

In some places there were not as many layers on top of the original concrete floor.

The carpet installers had not anticipated dealing with so many layers when accepting the removal job from the carpet company. We had to get to the shop to take a look for ourselves as they were asking for more money.

The quote we had agreed to was not, in hindsight, as clear as it could have been. They could have removed the carpet and underlay and laid our new carpet on top. But, that would have resulted in an uneven floor. For the best result, all previous flooring had to be removed, and that would cost, we were told, $2,500.00 more.

A complication was the look of one layer. To be sure, it needed to be treated like asbestos. It was either that or halt the works and have it tested, which was not an option given where the project was at.

So, we agreed to the $2,500 and the removal back to the original concrete was done.

From the Saturday through to the Monday, March 14, the project was completed and new, lush, underlay installed and new carpet on top of that. The result is wonderful, clean, soft, and, quiet, it is very quiet.

From when we re-opened Tuesday morning we have been receiving comments from customers. They agree with us, it’s soft to walk on, and, it’s quiet.

While the project cost more than expected, the end result is well worth it. Along the way we have been reminded some things about shopfit works:

  • Be sure of the outcome you want.
  • Be thorough in your research, so you know the complete scope of the project.
  • Be clear what you want done in the project when seeking quotes.
  • Have a contingency in your budget so you can cope with surprises.
  • Health, safety and comfort of those working in the business and those shopping in the business has to be your top priority.
  • When it comes to flooring, if the shop is old, expect past changes to have been placed on top of old flooring, as it is cheaper.
  • The best flooring outcome starts with new flooring being placed on the base concrete or timber flooring in the building, and not on top of existing floor coverings.

Point 1 is always our position going into anything. it’s why we quickly agreed to the additional payment – we wanted then best outcome.

In terms of health, safety and comfort, we chose a more expensive underlay and this has been key to the customer comments over the last week since installation. The feel underfoot is wonderful.

While we want our shoppers to talk in good terms about what they buy in our shops, them talking in good terms about the experience is equally valuable, especially in a suburban high street situation like our Malvern shop. This is why we invest in shopfit upgrades and changes.

Every week we are making changes in this shop, introducing new product lines, moving fixtures, editing existing ranges and more. But, we are doing this in a small-steps approach – in part so as to not disrupt long-term customers who appreciate certainty (a thriving shop 2 doors away has had the same family owners since the 1930s) and to allow us to adjust as we learn.

On our current trajectory, we think it will be early 2023 before we have the shop feeling how we want it. Completing it before then could see us make changes too soon, and there is no win in that.

Also, our small-steps approach has us in control whereas a more traditional new shopfit approach would see the shoplifter in control and that’s not what we want as retailers.

POS software data help retailers see they are not their customers

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You are not your customer.

This is one of the best pieces of advice you can give a retailer, for too often, retailers stock their shops with what they like more than what customers may like. They tend this that shoppers will like what they like. Evidence tells us that shoppers like what they like more so than what the retailer likes. This is especially true in local high street retail.

Talking with a retailer about our POS software recently, they mentioned their success with a product category they had rejected for several years. That category is now delivering to their shop close to $50,000 a year in good margin revenue to the business. Better still, it is attracting a category of shopper not common to their business.

They mentioned it because they heard us say to another retailer you are not your customer. They made the point that it took them a while to realise the trust of this.

None of us in retail are our customers yet too often local small business retailers stock their shops with what they like, missing opportunities to give more local shoppers what they like.

Ranging new products is speculative, a risk. But, trying to attract new customers requires this type of risk taking, done carefully. This is where POS software data can play a vital role in understanding the opportunity.

The key is the POS data analysis of the performance of what you have taken on, to measure whether it stays or goes. If it is working, the opportunity could be to expand into allied niche areas, to grow the opportunity further.

Accepting that you don’t know what you don’t know can free you to trial products you have rejected in the past and, through that, uncover valuable opportunities for your business.

Our advice is to always have a modest inventory and space investment on the shop floor of new products that you would not usually carry. Let them show you if they work or not. More important is advice to rely on your POS software data, for this will provide better guidance as to what works best in a shop, it is the evidence.

You are not your customer. Test, play, experiment to find out what your customers love and through this experience more love from in and for your shop.

Tower Systems helps small business retailers detect and mitigate employee theft

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Theft is a problem in retail. Too often, it is not discovered until after the event, primarily because of a lack of belief that theft is a problem, particularly theft by employees.

One of the best ways to detect employee theft is to look at your business transactional data. Good POS software not only tracks what is sold, it also tracks what is deleted from sales and entire sales that are cancelled, and it keeps this data in a hidden file, not accessible in the usual reporting way of the software.

In our experience at Tower Systems , one out of ten times we have received this secret data for a retailer using my POS software we have found evidence of questionable behaviour. Laying this evidence out with video footage, ideally, and employee rosters, a person of interest emerges, or more depending on the video evidence with a money (in the pocket) shot.

We are not going to share here the incriminating keystrokes but we will note they have been court-tested in cases while providing expert witness for the prosecution.

Our professional and based on experience advice to local small business retailers is to use the theft detection and mitigation tools in your POS software. learn about them. Use them. But don’t tell others what you are doing.

Some retailers think the best approach to reduce the theft opportunity is to lock everything down, making it very hard for people to steal. The thing is, people who want / need to steal will find a way and the harder you make it for them m in a retail setting the harder it will be for you to detect it.

We am not saying tempt them. rather, don’t lock your POS software down, give people reasonable access, and watch what they do – follow the advice of your POS software company on using the data their software collects for you to see if theft could be a problem min your shop.

Cases of employee theft in a newsagency in which we have been involved have ranged in theft cost from $5,000 to $245,000. In every single instance, using the secret tools we have mentioned here could have detected the theft sooner and reduced the financial an emotional impact on the business and others.

If you have read this far, thank you and well done. Most will not, because theft is not an interesting topic – until they are personally impacted.

Recommended steps any retailer can take to reduce employee theft in retail:

Theft is something to be managed in any retail business. Retailers are  stolen from by employees. Good management is about reducing the opportunity for and instances of theft.

  1. Value employees. Experts say this is the top step to take.
  2. Share information. Often, theft can be driven by a misconception about the profitability of the business. Sharing accurate business performance data can educate against theft.
  3. Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  4. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  5. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  6. Demand the cash drawer be closed after every sale. A drawer left open is an opportunity.
  7. Keep the counter clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft as it makes detection easier.
  8. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  9. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  10. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One retail business employee used the memory function to track how much cash had to be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not rung up.
  11.  Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what you software says. Every month do a stock take. Popular daily items such as tobacco stock discrepancies are an indicator of theft. Had one retailer we work with been doing this they would have caught their $250 a day employee theft months earlier.
  12. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
  13. Do spot cash balancing using your PO)S software. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
  14. Check your Audit Log in your POS software.
  15. Setup a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it.
  16. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  17. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high.
  18. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
  19. Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.

These steps work – based on decades of helping small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.

newsXpress newsagency marketing group helps newsagents run more enjoyable and valuable businesses

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In addition to owning Tower Systems POS software company, we own newsXpress, a marketing group for newsagents, helping them evolve more valuable local retail businesses. Here’s a video we shot on the weekend in which we discuss evidence of newsXpress … local high street retail thriving.

While is this relevant here? It shows another way in which Tower Systems is different, not your usual POS software co. We really do walk in the shoes on our customers.

How small business retailers can cut shopper theft with POS software from Tower Systems

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Theft is local retail businesses is expensive for retailers. But, this theft by shoppers if often not considered or acted-on by retailers until they understand the real cost of this theft by shoppers.

From what we see, theft by shoppers can cost retailers between 3% and 7% of sales revenue in value. We have seen this across a range of retail business types and in a range of retail situations.

This year, in 2021, we have seen some evidence of co-ordinated theft, groups working together to shop for products they can flip online and air local markets.

The key to reducing theft by shoppers is through a managed process, adopted by the business leaders and implemented by everyone working in the business.

Here are seven steps we suggest to cut the cost of shopper theft in your retail business. While there are other steps you could take, these seven are most valuable from our years of working with retailers.

  1. Use your POS software. Spot stock take. Understand the cost of theft. This is critical for once you understand the scope of theft by shoppers in your business you are more likely to act. In our experience the evidence is that items being stolen are not those you think are being stolen. Data is key here. hence our advice to use your POS software.
  2. Look at people as they enter. Eye contact is key. Ideally, say hello to them. The more they think you have seen them the better.
  3. Have a screen near the entrance / exit so people can see that you filming them with your security cameras. The more people think they will be caught they less likely they are to steal.
  4. Work on the shop floor. That is unpack and price new stock on the shop floor, and not in the back room. This puts you or your employees among shoppers and heightens the chance of detection of theft.
  5. Walk the floor. Every so often, do a circuit. Be present. Talk to people.
  6. During peak shopping periods, station someone outside the business looking. Ensure they are trained on appropriate action should they see misbehavior.
  7. Bring in a security guard on a casual basis during your most busy periods. A good starting point here is to hire someone to look at the business under-cover, to see what they see, that you are not seeing.

The more likely people are to be caught the less likely you are to experience shopper theft.

Tower Systems has many years of experience in helping independent small business retailers mitigate em ploy theft and shopper theft. We leverage this experience for our customers through excellent POS software, free training, group training workshops, data analysis and expert witness support for authorities in specific cases.

Small business retail advice: how storytelling can reinforce the narrative of your local retail business

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For years we have been sharing stories on social media for our own shops. We started this to reflect on the diversity of shopper situations we engage with. The stories provided context for shopping by customers. Here is an example relating the greeting card purchases. It received over 200 lives in less than 24 hours:

Storytime. The twenty-something guy had been standing looking at cards for ten minutes. He seemed lost. “Hey, mate, you need a hand?” I said, without wanting to intrude. “Yeah”, he said with a sadness uncommon for a young guy looking for a card. “What are you looking for?”, I was careful in my approach. “My best mate’s dad died suddenly”, he paused. “He’s angry and wrecked” he paused again. “I, I want to tell him I’m here for him. I figured a card could be good,” he looked back at the range. “But, they’re too flowery.” He was right, the sympathy cards he was looking at were too flowery. After a while, we found a blank card with a dog on it, because his mate likes dogs. We worked out some words that got across what he wanted to say without being flowery.
Some days in retail we get to help in ways that will stay with us for years.

And then there is this one:

Storytime. Joe is 89 years old. He lives in a nursing home. When he moved there, he was limited as to what he could bring. The old shoebox with the collection of cards he’d received was the first thing he chose.
In that box are cards from his time as a local community Aussie rules coach. Parents and players had written cards over the years and Joe had kept them. “Each card is a memory”, he says with a smile, looking through his collection.
The oldest card Joe has is from 40 years ago from a player grateful for Joe’s help. Here it is so many years on, making Joe’s day.
Greeting cards hold the most wonderful memories.
And this one:
Storytime. Ethan’s school assignment asked that he write about his earliest memory. “That’s easy,” he said, “it was the first letter I ever got. It was a birthday card from grandma. I was 4 and she posted me a birthday card with a tiger on it and it came in the mail. That’s the first memory I have. I still have card, and the envelope. Mum got them framed for me.”
The card created in Ethan an interest in mail and letters more specifically. Now, 6 years on, every couple of weeks Ethan will write to a relative in the hope of receiving a response in the mail. And it all started with that birthday card, which remains his first memory.
Cards give us memories and stories long after they are received.
And this one:
Storytime. “Sorry, it’s just a card, no money for a gift this year.” That’s how Chris signed off the card to Jules, her friend of more than 20 years, since they were in high school together. Swapping birthday gifts with a card and a note were a tradition. Since they lived on opposite sides of the country, they’d usually include a note with the card and gift each year.
Jules wrote back: “your card and note mean the world to me, every year. While I may have, possibly but please don’t judge me, re-gifted the odd gift from you, I have kept every card, every single card from you. I have 23. They the story of us. They are a perfect gift. Thank you.”
The card we send today can provide heart-warming memories for many years to come.

Social media provides us an opportunity to share the narrative of our businesses. Local small business retailers are well placed to have wonderful stories they can share.

Our small business retail advice today is to take a break from shop here or shop local or look at this product and share something of yourself, share stories that speak to those who have shopped with you and yourselves.

Oh, and to answer an expected question for comment about using text and not images? Most social media posts use images. Going with text content could be more easily noticed. Certainly that is my experience in using posts like this over recent weeks.

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