The POS Software Blog

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

CategoryRetail Advice

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.

Small business retail advice: how to calculate gross profit by floor space

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Here is another in our series of retail management advice based on our decades of service to local small business retailers using our Tower Systems POS software:

How to calculate gross profit by floorspace and how to use this information

With retail space usually costing between 11% and 15% of (non agency) revenue, it is usually the next highest cost outside of the cost of stock itself.

Spend half an hour on what we suggest here and the result could provide clarity on immediate steps you can take in your business to improve what you make.

This is not advice you will get from your accountant or from reviewing your P&L or computer reports. It is designed to be practically helpful in managing your business.

Please follow these simple steps.

  1. Take a blank sheet of paper, ideally A3, and roughly sketch out the layout of your shop, marking in display units, wall shelving, the counter – everywhere you have product.
  2. The floor plan layout should also include your back room if you have stock there.
  3. Colour-shade the layout by department. For example, shade all areas with magazines in yellow, all floor space for gifts in blue etc.
  4. List the departments on the side of the floor plan.
  5. Calculate the percentage of total space taken by each department. This does not need to be accurate to two decimal places. List this next to each department you have listed.
  6. Use your computer system to report on gross profit dollars earned by each department over the last year.
  7. Calculate the percentage of total gross profit contribution earned by each department and list this next to the floor space allocated to each department – on the floor plan map you have done.
  8. Circle in green those performing the best and in red those performing the worst. A best performing department will typically be responsible for a significantly higher percentage of gross profit than percentage of space allocated whereas a worst performing department will be contributing a percentage of overall gross profit considerably lower than the percentage of floor space allocated.

Once you have the marked-up floor plan with the space percentage and percentage of total gross profit, think about your floor space allocation.

The above steps do not take into account product size and the average gross profit percentage from each dollar of revenue for a department. For example, ink is a lower margin product than stationery, gifts are a higher margin magazines. Typically, the analysis will highlight challenges with lower margin product.

Here are actions the work you do could lead to:

  1. Changing the location of a department within the business.
  2. Increasing floor space for a department.
  3. Decreasing floor space for a department.
  4. Working on improving the GP achieved for a department through better buying.
  5. Working in increasing sales for a department to lift the overall GP dollar contribution achieved.

You can take the analysis a step further by looking only at one department and analysing performance by category, using the method outlined above.

For example, in one business we saw pens taking 7% of stationery space while they contributed more than 40% of gross profit earned from all stationery.

The type of analysis we are suggesting here is intended to give you a fresh view of your business as you engage in the process of constant change.

Checklist for those considering buying a local retail business

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In our work here at Tower Systems providing POS software for local small business retailers we are often asked for advice about buying businesses. A common question is: what should I ask for when looking at buying a newsagency?

The question itself, when asked, indicates how green a prospective purchaser is when it comes to purchasing a business.

Here is an updated list of data we suggest local retail business purchasers access from the vendor or their representative. We first published this list ten years ago. It has been regularly updated since. here is our latest version:

  1. P&L from the accountant for at least the last two full years. i.e. not a spreadsheet created for the purpose.
  2. Management accounts for the current part financial year.
  3. Tax returns for the same two years. While note always appropriate given business structures, they can provide a cross check with the accountant P&L.
  4. A good explanation of any add-backs proposed for the P&L.
  5. Sales data reports, for the last two years, from the POS software in use – to verify the income claim.
  6. Sales data reports from any external supplier or data source to verify the income claim.
  7. BAS forms to confirm data in the P&L.
  8. A list of all inventory to include purchase price and date last sold for each item.
  9. Copies of invoices from which you can randomly select to verify the above point.
  10. A copy of the shop lease.
  11. A copy of any equipment or other leases the vendor expects you to take on board.
  12. A detailed list of all forward orders placed on behalf of the business.
  13. A list of all employees: name, hourly rate, nature of employment, start date, accrued leave and accrued long service leave.
  14. A testament from the vendor as to the claimed accuracy of sales data.

This is good basic information that will enable any purchaser to undertake reasonable initial assessment of a business.

A good business will shine through the numbers just as a business with upside achievable by new owners will shine through.

Our advice to local small business retailers looking to sell who are concerned about this list is: think about it now and focus on your business so the data we have listed looks appealing to any prospective purchaser.

Every day you make decisions in your business that impact many of the data points listed.

This is why we often say every day is your pay day. Run a smart, lean and profit focused business and you will have a good pay day today and a good one when you come to sell.

The most appealing businesses are those that are easier to run and are making money.

The time to focus on that is now.

Sure a purchaser can turn a business around. They should get the rewards if they are expected to do that for your business.

The price you can sell your business for will be based on what it is making now.

Getting the data ready for the sale of the business could, of itself, help you improve how you run your business.

Retail advice: tips on setting up and running a pop-up shop

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A consequence of Covid is short-term retail space opportunities. Ion our work with retailers and through our iPad / tabled based Retailer Roam product we have experience helping retailers with pop-up shops. Here is advice we have to share:

Definition: a pop-up shop is a temporary shop, one that is open for a limited period of time, usually around a month, rarely more than three months.

We have assembled our pop-up shop advice and tips into key topic areas.

WHY?!

Like any business decision, a decision to open a pop-up retail location needs to be based on good research and the business itself needs to have a purpose. So, before you begin, think about why.

Here are some reasons to do a pop-up shop:

  1. To test new product categories.
  2. To supplement your income.
  3. To help quit slow moving stock.
  4. To enhance your retail experience.
  5. To experiment with a plan b where you might land if you close your main shop.
  6. To engage in targeted, temporary, competition.
  7. To compete with yourself.

LOCATION.

With a pop-up shop you don’t have time to find your customers. The location needs to already have good traffic passing daily, traffic you can easily leverage. Even more so than in fixed-location retail, location is critical.

The best locations are shops that have good passing traffic that is of interest to you and that have been vacant for a while where a landlord might be happy with something rather than nothing.

OCCUPANCY COST.

Negotiate the lowest rent cost possible. Some landlords see pop-up offers as a reason to charge a premium. Only sign up for a price you are 100% happy with. If it is expensive and does not work financially, don’t sign hoping it works out, because in retail it rarely does work out better. In a pop-up business you have less time to see if it works out. Also, preferably, no contingency deposit.

LABOUR COST.

Staff the business with a lean roster. This shop is about selling. that means, products placed for a price proposition rather than beautiful displays that take time to maintain. Every staff member is there to sell and maximise revenue from every shopper visit. There is no room in the roster for fat.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS.

Don’t spend a cent on fixtures and fittings. That needs to be your starting position. It’s a pop-up shop. People expect it to be  efficient, cost-effective. Using tables and boxes adds to the feel of the shop feeling low-cost and that can help drive sales. Suppliers can be a good source for loaned fixtures.

INVENTORY.

Ask suppliers to offer consignment stock or special clearance deals they’d like to move fast. Go for items that can be sold out of a box, to make display and ranging easier. In-box displays of particularly cheap items can work very well.

PRICING MODEL.

Price to sell. This means being below usual retail. Price to understandable price points. For example, you might have a $10 table, a $20 table and so on. Consider bundling items into packs, which make price comparison difficult.

PROMOTION.

Don’t spend money on sign writing or marketing. Use social media and bargain websites and anywhere similar where you can list the store and its products.

Host an opening party. List this as a local event on Facebook.

MANAGEMENT MINDSET.

Your mindset in managing the pop-up shop needs to be different to a fixed-location retail situation. Pop-up shops are about low cost, low overheads, low prices. Be ready to do deals. Whoever manages  the pop-up shop needs to be different to how they would be in the fixed-location retail business.

SPEED.

You need to move fast. From the moment you sign a lease or agreement, the clock is ticking. Ideally, you’d open within 24 hours and when you are done, closing and clearing out the shop is done in 24 hours or less. This is all about maximising the time for income-production.

TRACK PERFORMANCE.

Cultivate good data that can guide business decisions for your next moves.

 

Is a pop-up shop worth doing? Only you can determine that. We have seen plenty of pop-up shops work well for the retailers, contribute good GP, help move slow stock and help open to the owners category opportunities not previously considered.

Do the planning and you should expect to benefit.

Finding happiness in your local small business retail shop

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2021 has been some year for sure, packed with challenges, things that can make your retail business less enjoyable than you hoped.

Tower Systems serves thousands of local small business retailers with POS software. We see retail in many situations and, over time, have learnt from these businesses and the people in them.

There is no doubt for us about the value of being happy in retail. But, it’s not something you can decide to feel. It’s not a switch you can flick.

Finding happiness in retail takes planning and engagement throughout the business. While it does sound like work, it is also about respecting the business and that there will always be challenges, and knowing that being happy can help you get through them.

Here are our tips for finding, nurturing and managing happiness in a local retail shop:

Have good data. Yeah, we know this is a boring topic for many. But as a POS software company with decades of experience we know the value of good data. Good data is your rock. Build on a rock and life is, for sure, good. Good data will make you happier because your decisions will be better, and by better we mean you’ll make more money, and that will make you happier.

Be in control. Stop getting pushed around. If a supplier pushes something on your, use your data to deal in the facts. This, too, will make you happier. Facts matter. Any time someone says fro this or that ask for evidenced preferably in your business data. yes, we are still banking on about the value of good business data.

Price for margin. Maximise when you can.

Price for turn. You can’t bank a gross profit percentage until you sell something. So, price to turn, and bank dollars.

Lean on others. Spread the load, share the responsibility. Hire well. Train well. rely on the team to help you and this will make them happier, you happier and the business a happier place overall.

Set your narrative. In social media posts, stories you share in the business and in your marketing set the tone, set the narrative to be positive, happy and optimistic. This will encourage others to do this too. Own your narrative and own your happiness.

Of course, there is way more everyday practical stuff too: happy music paying, happy window displays, happy product displays, featuring happy products, samples, taste tests, games, fun events, giveaways, competitions … all these things and more can make the shop transactionally happy, which is good, too.

Happiness is good for business and all who interact with it.

Good luck. Now, get out there and smile. 😃

Small business retail advice: an easy and accurate way to analyse gross profit by floorspace allocation

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Analysing gross profit by floor space allocation should be done at least annually in every retail business in our view. This is based on decades of service by Tower Systems in our work with our POS software in thousands of local retail businesses.

With retail space usually costing between 11% and 15% of revenue in many retail settings, it is usually the next highest cost outside of the cost of stock itself.

Spend half an hour on what we suggest here and the result could provide clarity on immediate steps you can take in your business to improve what you make.

This is not advice you will get from your accountant or from reviewing your P&L or computer reports. It is designed to be practically helpful in managing your business.

Please follow these simple steps.

  1. Take a blank sheet of paper, ideally A3, and roughly sketch out the layout of your shop, marking in display units, wall shelving, the counter – everywhere you have product.
  2. The floor plan layout should also include your back room if you have stock there.
  3. Colour-shade the layout by department. For example, shade all areas with magazines in yellow, all floor space for gifts in blue etc.
  4. List the departments on the side of the floor plan.
  5. Calculate the percentage of total space taken by each department. This does not need to be accurate to two decimal places. List this next to each department you have listed.
  6. Use your POS software to report on gross profit dollars earned by each department over the last year.
  7. Calculate the percentage of total gross profit contribution earned by each department as shown by the POS software and list this next to the floor space allocated to each department – on the floor plan map you have done.
  8. Circle in green those performing the best and in red those performing the worst. A best performing department will typically be responsible for a significantly higher percentage of gross profit than percentage of space allocated whereas a worst performing department will be contributing a percentage of overall gross profit considerably lower than the percentage of floor space allocated.

Once you have the marked-up floor plan with the space percentage and percentage of total gross profit, think about your floor space allocation.

The above steps do not take into account product size and the average gross profit percentage from each dollar of revenue for a department. For example, ink is a lower margin product than stationery, gifts are a higher margin magazines. Typically, the analysis will highlight challenges with lower margin product.

Here are actions the work you do could lead to:

  1. Changing the location of a department within the business.
  2. Increasing floor space for a department.
  3. Decreasing floor space for a department.
  4. Working on improving the GP achieved for a department through better buying.
  5. Working in increasing sales for a department to lift the overall GP dollar contribution achieved.

You can take the analysis a step further by looking only at one department and analysing performance by category, using the method outlined above.

For example, in one business we saw a category taking 7% of department space while they contributed more than 40% of gross profit earned from all in the department. It’s this data where good POS software can provide insights.

The type of analysis we are suggesting here is intended to give you a fresh view of your business as you engage in the process of constant change.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve local retailers with POS software, which is backed by everyday retail management advice.,

Small business retail advice: managing labour costs in your shop

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Labour cost in many retail situations is usually the highest or second highest cost of business after the cost of inventory is considered.

Here at Tower Systems we are grateful to serve a diverse community of retail businesses. It is our experience that labour cost sits somewhere between 9% and 11% of retail sales revenue in these business.

What this means is: if your revenue, where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines, is $1 million, your total labour cost should be $110,000 based on the benchmark.

Labour cost needs to include fair market value for owner labour invested in the business.

Too often, we see business owners putting in anywhere between 60 and 80 hours a week with the majority of this time unproductive

A small business cannot afford unproductive management time. Your big business competitors do not have this overhead, nor should you.

This is why we suggest where possible and practical that you have no back office or, if absolutely necessary, a small back office that is not comfortable.

While many go into business to be the boss and not at the front line serving customers, the front line is where the business makes money. It is where you ought have your best people.

Allocate your boss time to fit with the size of the business. In a typical small retail business turning over $2M a year or less, we suggest boss time should be no more than five hours a week. This, of course, depends on what you do with the time. If you do bookkeeping, saving the cost of an external resource, it could be more.

Use your POS software to track and measure sales by time and sales by employee as these can factor into decision opportunities before you.

A more practical way to look at this is issue of labour cost: cutting three hours paid adult time a day, Monday to Friday, will add more than $20,000 a year directly to the bottom line profitability of the business.

If you think this is not possible, look at where you do your boss work. Some of this could be done at the counter or on the shop floor. You could multi-task and thereby cut paid hours. It all depends on whether you want the business to be more profitable.

One mid-size retail business following our advice based on data in our PO)S software cut their labour cost in the business by $50,000. In the same period, revenue was up 6%.

Getting your labour cost under control and within the benchmark starts with your roster.

Tower Systems is grateful to offer advice and suggestions to local small business retailers that goes beyond what is usual for a POS software company.

7 ways our Aussie made and supported POS software helps local small business retailers

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Here at Tower Systems we are an Aussie POS software company serving more than 3,000 local specialty retailers. Having switched many from other software, here are the top 7 benefits we offer compared to overseas product.

  1. Made for your market. Our software is made for here, not for an overseas market and then modified to suit here.
  2. Local support. Our entire help desk team understands how local retail works.
  3. You influence us. We’re local. You’re local. Your needs help us grow. We have a transparent platform through which our customers suggest and vote on software enhancements.
  4. Easy contact. You can call, email or even visit (when restrictions permit). Direct contact with us is easy – at all levels of our business.
  5. We are retailers too. We bought our first shop in 1996 to give us a walking in the shoes of our customers experience. We still own and run shops today, and we learn every day from this experience.
  6. Free workshops. We host regular free customer workshops where you can talk directly with our software developers.
  7. Free training. One thing retailers told us years ago was that they wanted easy access to top-up training. We provide access to unlimited one-on-one training for our customers.

We are a small POS software company. All of our customers are small business retailers. This means we are not dominated by any one customer. It also means that our focus truly is on local small business retail. Your needs do interest us.

To catch a look at our Aussie made and supported POS software, click on any marketplace listed below for a video of a recent brief demonstration:

If we can help, please call 1300 662 957 or email sales@towersystems.com.au.

Thank you for reading and considering our locally made and supported POS software. The local Australian IT sector appreciates you for this consideration. Oh, and thank you for shopping local. Local retailers appreciate this too.

10 ways the Tower Systems POS software is helping gift shops deal with pandemic challenges

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Gift shop retailers using the Tower Systems POS software have at their disposal a proven suite of tools and facilities with which to combat the blues which seem to surround so many retailers at the moment.

By engaging with the marketing and management tools in the Point of sale software, retailers can expect to cut costs, increase sales and drive bottom-lime profit.

These claims are more than a sales pitch.   For no additional cost, local small business retailers can drive more profitable and more valuable business outcomes … and turnaround what may be a tough retail situation.

Using the Point of Sale software from Tower Systems, retailers can expect to:

  1. Cut costs.  Thanks to electronic invoicing, the cost of processing new stock is lower than with manual processes.  This can help cut your labour bill.
  2. Increase sales #1: reward customers.  A good loyalty program works.  Not like FlyBys which is of dubious financial value to customers.  No, a serious loyalty program which guides your customers to spend more money with you.  I have see stores grow sales by 10% on the back of a well constructed loyalty program,  a good POS software package will run this for you, points and all.
  3. Increase sales #2: easy lay-by.  Lay-by run properly and using technology can be highly profitable.  The software can manage the rules and ensure that your shop operates as professionally as a national retailer.  You set your own rules and the software manages the paperwork.
  4. Increase sales: market to your customers.  A coupon on your receipts, an email newsletter, a printed newsletter or up-sell script at the sales counter for staff – these are all ways you can use your point of sale system to help guide your existing customers to spend more money with you.
  5. Increase sales #5.  Connect with a local charity.  Use your gift shop software to make it easy for a local charity to promote your retail business shop and raise money for themselves at the same time.  Each sale earned for you by the charity can be tracked so that you are able to reward them with an accurate donation at the end of the campaign.
  6. Make better business decisions.  Bu buying only stock which works for you or seeing exactly what customers buy with what you are able to make business decisions which are more likely to drive better business results.
  7. Sell your own gift cards.  If a customer cannot find what they want in your shop you could sell them a professional looking gift card with a unique barcode allocated to that card.  This way they money they put on the card is used in your business.
  8. Cut mistakes.  Mistakes in retail can be expensive.  By using smart retail management software, you can and should expect to cut mistakes.  This is because it takes fewer keystrokes per sale.  This reduces the opportunity for mistakes.  The saving could add as much as a full percentage point to your bottom line.
  9. Cut theft.  Theft in retail in Australia was running at between 3% and 5% of turnover.  Thanks to tight controls around employees and better tracking of stock theft, you can expect to cut the cost of theft.  Every $1 cut in theft is a $1 on your bottom line.
  10. Handle special orders.  Using software you can place orders for specific customers.  The software can even sent a text message to the customer’s mobile phone when their special order comes if.  Talk about customer service!

The most important way you can grow your business in a tough marketplace is doing what you probably do best – providing cheerful and knowledgeable customer service.  You can do this and your employees can do this if you hand over some of your administrative tasks to your software.

It is easy to get drawn to the doom and gloom of the times and through this to lose focus on your business.  This trap must be avoided at all costs … for the sake of the business and all who rely on the business from customers to employees to owners.

By using tools freely available in your Point of Sale software you can find sales, find time and find margin which may have eluded you to this point.

Helping local small business retailers beyond POS software

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Our own experience in retail enables us to share advice beyond what is typical for a POS software company. here is one example of this, from a small business retail advice email that we sent over the weekend:

In one of our own shops the other day an 80 something guy bought a couple of greeting cards and mentioned it was the first time he’d bought cards for decades. It’s what we have to do when we can’t see the family I guess, he said.

The interaction was a reminder that how we sell, who we sell to and when we sell has fundamentally changed. Take this 80 something customer. The pandemic has him doing something new. All it will take is for him to get a card or a note back in the mail and he will be connected.

We think plenty of the changes will stick long after the pandemic is over, not that we can see it being over any time soon though.

This realisation that how people connect with our shops and businesses has changed is a reason we are trying TV advertising. Yes, our little POS software company is on TV. Last night a test campaign kicked off in Melbourne. (Scroll down to see the ad) Next month we have a much bigger campaign on the Prime 7 regional network across Australia.

How does this relate to local small business retail?

We all have to find new ways of attracting new shoppers and increasing our stickiness with existing customers.

Things won’t go back to the way they were, not in retail, not in business more broadly. They may go part of the way, but not the whole way. We think many changes introduced or sped up because of or through the pandemic will stay long term.

This is why we are embracing change in our POS software company and in the retail shops we own and consumer-facing websites we run. We are enjoying learning from changes, including those that don’t fail. We love a good lesson from failure.

Here at Tower, our job is to help you run a more enjoyable, successful and valuable business. We do this through our POS software and through websites we create for our customers.

Why we recommend our customers not use Woo Commerce for their e-commerce site

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The website development side of Tower Systems has developed websites for many retail businesses. It is a tech. partner for Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. We have experience with each.

While each platform serves a different need, Shopify is the widest used in the small business retail space by far. Magento is good for complex requirements, but maintenance of a Magento website will require a developer. Shopify can be maintained, modified and enhanced without web developer skills.

WooCommerce will require a developer for site maintenance. It also does not have as rich a support network as Shopify. This has been the experience of so many of our customers.

In our experience, small business retailers can achieve better, more cost effective, commercial outcomes with a Shopify website than a WooCommerce website.

We mention this because in our experience local web developers are more likely to recommend the WooCommerce platform. We think they do this because it is better for them commercially in that web development is often their prime source of income. A Shopify website will not drive repeat business for them from a customer whereas a WooCommerce website is more likely to.

A retailer we spoke to recently told us they were paying $9,000 for a WooCommerce website and there was a monthly maintenance cost.

Our point is shop around, ask a ton of questions. Be sure to understand on-going maintenance costs. If they say you can maintain the site yourself, ask them to show you how to change the look and feel, how to add a new web page, how to change categories. Being shown how to do this will, for most newsagents show them that a WooCommerce website platform is not the right fit for them.

We don’t have a vested stake in this in that the web team in our company is skilled in Magento, Woo and Shopify as well as the even more complex and technical native web development. That team has a full room of booked business already.

There are many Shopify website developers out there you should consider before a WooCommerce developer since a Shopify site is more easily maintained by non technical people.

A challenge in this website space is that often it is a friend, or friend of a friend, or family member involved.  They may have the best of intentions in recommending WooCommerce. For the reasons outlined already, WooCommerce is not a platform I recommend for retail newsagency website development.

Be careful. Do your research. Get all commitments in writing. If you are not sure, delay your decision.

If you have some software development skills, then Woo could be perfect for you to create your website yourself.

Small business retail advice: how to deal with a cashflow crisis

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A cashflow crisis is when you can’t pay your bills on time or a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the cash reserves in the business. Too often, small business retailers ignore a cashflow crisis, leaving action until it is too late. We have put together some basic advice for dealing with a cashflow crisis in local small business retail and share it here with you today:

  1. Own the problem. Fixing this is on you.
  2. Bring in outside help. This could be a friend, a financial counsellor. The best person will be someone who understands your type of business who can help you see what you don’t see and support you in tough decisions to be made, someone prepared to tell you the truth.
  3. Understand the problem. Know if it is short term or long term. Be certain about the role you have played.
  4. If you run customer accounts, collect with urgency.
  5. Ask the landlord for immediate rent relief. The more transparent you are with them the better. Document your case. Be prepared to show your P&L in support of your request.
  6. Cut your roster to bare bones. Yes, this can mean more work for you to cover the needs of the business. However, in a cashflow crisis, your labour cost is the lowest in the business.
  7. If you have stock on sale or return and it is not selling, return for credit.
  8. Immediately start a sale.
    1. Give it a cool, non scary, name.
    2. Price items to sell, especially items for which you have already paid. Even selling below cost frees cash to the business.
    3. Get everything on the shop floor.
    4. Display to clear. i.e. not pretty displays for sale items.
  9. For inventory that you cannot sell, consider eBay.
  10. Consider selling assets. If you have equipment in the business that you no longer use, sell it.
  11. Talk to all your creditors, apologise, outline your plan, ask for their support and help.
  12. When making progress payments on creditors, respect all with payments. NOTE: small regular payments could be key to you not facing debt collection action.
  13. Act. Every decision, every action you take must work to addressing the cashflow challenge. If you have created a plan act on it immediately. This is not a time to overthink things.
  14. Invest. If your cashflow challenge is because of a decline in traffic, not spending money chasing traffic will only make the problem worse. Spend carefully.
  15. Plan for the end point. This will be either coming out on top or closing the business.

The cashflow achieved by a business is a product of decisions in the business. Be thoughtful in each decision and single-minded in your focus on a better cashflow outcome.

Small business retail advice: if you think closing and walking away is the only option

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A few years ago, a local retail business we knew well closed, and the owner walked away. They said they could not handle the changes going on around them.

The thing is, the changes had been happening, slowly, for years.

The biggest challenge faced by the retailers is faced by many in local small business retail: how to nurture relevance for your shop in a constantly changing world.

It takes guts to embrace and chase change. The sooner you engage with this the better. This is what we say chase change, because that is what we need to do – go find change rather than waiting for it to come to you. Advice on change and help with it will most likely come from new sources, sources not rooted in your past.

The more you reach outside your usual lane for insights and encouragement the more likely you are to find fresh ideas. the alternatives are to do nothing or complain and do nothing.

Complaining is not a management activity.

Here is some practical advice for any retailer feeling overwhelmed by challenges and, maybe, contemplating closing.

  1. Dig deep into your business data and look for green shoots of good news onto which you can attach growth. It will be there, for sure.
  2. Stop doing what you have been doing, unless you want the results you have been getting.
  3. Rely on retailers for advice as they know more about retail than accountants.
  4. Find products that will generate net new traffic in your location.
  5. Refuse to be restricted by the shingle under which you trade
  6. Change, change and change your business.
  7. Listen to your shop floor team members. They often have the best advice.

Change is challenging. It is also essential. Too often we see local small business retailers resist change out of fear, ignorance or an expectation that things will naturally improve. The reality of retail today is that change is everywhere, including where we cannot see. And, this is what makes it difficult for us in that if we can’t see something we may not worry about it.

One of our jobs in our POS software company is to encourage local small business retailers to be the best they can be. Through good use of our software we can do this. But, it starts with desuire, desire for change and the benefits that flow from change.

Small business retail advice: create your own Covid support package

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How people shop, when people shop and where people shop has changed fundamentally. Online has grown and continues to grow. People shop more with purpose now. There is less browsing. More people work from home permanently. What interests people has changed. People think more about the future now. People are less physically connected now, and more connected as a result. Australian made is more interesting to shoppers now. Shopping local counts for more than it used to. Tech barriers from before have been overcome: think QR codes, click and collect and the number of people shopping online for the first time.

These are some of the changes Covid has brought our way and in each of these is opportunity. While some business owners ask governments for cash to deal with today, it’s tomorrow that will really challenge as what Covid has kicked off and pushed forward will not u-turn.

We need to make our own Covid support package as it is this package that will be more useful to us in the future.

  • Expand sources of revenue. Carry products and services that attract people who have not shopped with you before. Expanding your shopper reach insulates your business.
  • Smooth the peaks. Look at your key business data points: sales by product category, sales by supplier, sales by staff member. Look at the peaks in these and if they are considerably higher than average, lift others so you are less reliant on the peaks.
  • Expand your sales points. Having only the in-store sales counter as a sale point is a risk. Make sure you are online through your own website, on eBay and on social media so people can purchase where they want. Selling to people you will never see is key.
  • Nurture loyalty. Run an easily understood loyalty program that differentiates your business.
  • Chase efficiency. Efficient shopper visits have more items in the basket. Develop a strategy for driving this. It starts with understanding your current position.
  • Entrench in the community. Supporting the community groups that support you is good for business. Doing this in a consistent and mutually understood way delivers benefits that can insulate the business when rocky roads present.
  • Be frugal. Covid has taught us the value of having money in the bank. The trimmed roster, reduced inventory in the back room, lower overheads, early settlement discount taken … they all free cash that can be banked for when you will need it.
  • Reduce debt. Every additional dollar you pay off business debt is a saving greater than the dollar itself.
  • Look for the pivot. Keep asking yourself what if this or what if that. Think about pivot opportunities in those situations. Always have a pivot move or two and, if it makes sense, pivot early, ahead of the need.
  • And, have your shop reflect how people shop now: make it easier, safer, serving quick shopping, packaging bundles, offer browsing without touching.

By being actively engaged in these and allied areas in your business you can create your own insulation against the challenges of Covid or similar. These suggestions and others they trigger make up  your own made Covid support package.

Advice on dealing with anti-maskers in small business retail

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The latest lockdowns in New South Wales and Queensland have seen small business retailers confronted by anti-maskers out to make a point for their nutty views. Vocal anti-maskers in-store make for a possibly unsafe workplace.

While we are not legal experts, we offer the following advice to retail business owners:

  1. Provide your staff with appropriate personal and business equipment for their protection: screens at the counter, masks, hand sanitiser … all backed by appropriate Covid protection protocols. Keep this updated. For example, have an endless supply of masks available.
  2. Ensure customers know, from front of store signage and social media posts, that masks are required in-store. Use clear signage.
  3. Have masks available at the entrance to the shop for customers, for free.
  4. Demonstrate active understanding of situations where someone may not be able to wear a mask, for health reasons for example.
  5. Have a protocol for dealing with a vocal and / or threatening anti-masker and ensure that all staff know the protocol. This protocol should include a means by which a situation can be easily reported – a specific bell ring, for example.
  6. As the business owner, be engaged in dealing with anti-maskers.
  7. Meet with employees regularly to talk about the situation, to decompress. Make sure they understand and see that you support them.
  8. If the business is being targeted at all, position yourself at the front of the shop to run defence.
  9. The goal has to be to not directly engage with an anti-masker, to avoid making the situation worse, but to get them out of the shop as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  10. Ensure your CCTV is working, so you have evidence or any portable offence.
  11. Engage the police for any unsafe or threatening behaviour.
  12. Appreciate good customers in-store and on social media – celebrate their actions for making the shop safe.
  13. Put the health and safety of employees ahead of what a customer may think is their right to free speech. 

Dealing with anti-maskers in a retail business is all about leadership. The solution has to be set and led by business owners. leaving it to front line retail staff to deal with would be, in my view, an abrogation of responsibility. Show your employees how much you care about them by actively engaging on this issue.

Local small business retail coaching advice

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At a POS software company that only serves local small business retailers we have caught and cultivated a broad range of retail business management advice over the decades. we are grateful for opportunities to share this advice, especially in our retail business coaching clinics.

For us, successful retail business coaching has its foundations in business data for it is in the data we see opportunity. There is a business management maxim from decades that is true today … you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is where data plays a role as it provides the measurement of performance.

Our local small business retail coaching starts with business data, capturing it, understanding it and uncovering opportunities to nurture and harvest this.

We work with small business retailers across different channels, offering practical retail business coaching services designed to help them run more successful and enjoyable businesses.

From phone contact to Zoom meetings to reports, we have a range of touchpoint in our local small retail business coaching services. we work with people how, when and where they want. It is all driven by the business data, understanding what is needed to help the business owners and others who rely on the business to achieve their goals.

While we are a POS software company in our roots and for most of what we do, local small business retail coaching advice is another way we are able to help deliver tangible and loved benefits that differentiate our POS software company. It is us relying on the data management tools in our POS software to deliver appreciated benefits to our small business retail clients.

From helping business to understand supplier performance, employee performance, location performance and the more traditional product category performance, our business coaching services are an everyday part of the Tower Systems offer.

We see business coaches touting their wares and suggest to small business retailers that getting their business data right and understanding their POS software could deliver more benefits to them for no extra cost. This approach is those in the business being responsible for what they can achieve with and for the business rather than having someone outside the business and somewhat disconnected being considered to be responsible.

We help local small business in practical and appreciated ways. If you are looking for local small business retail coaching, talk to us as our approach could provide you with a more sustainable outcome.

A Covid lockdown To-Do list for local small business retailers

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Here in Melbourne we are in our fifth Covid lockdown. As well as owning our POS software company and working with local small business retailers every day, I also own three retail businesses and several online businesses.

This Covid lockdown To-Do list for local small business retailers is practical advice you can action without cost, to make the most of the lockdown opportunity.

Whether your shop is closed or open but with less traffic, now is an ideal time to work on your business.

  1. List what’s not sold. Run a report listing all inventory in the business that has not sold at all this year. This list gives you a starting point for action. We did this last week for one customer and identified $15,000 worth of dead stock, stock the owner to that point was not focussed on.
  2. Act on what’s not sold. Dead stock is dead weight. If you have long since paid for it, cents in the dollar for it is better than nothing.
  3. Look at what’s been selling with what. Often the items in the same basket are not seen by retailers as items you can put together. This list, which you should be able to get from your POS software, can guide shop floor placement changes.
  4. Front to back clean. Literally, start at the front of the shop and work your want to the back. Clean every single product. We often find that the act of holding every product leads to decisions about some products, decisions we might otherwise not have made. We have just done this at one of our own Westfield shops and the decisions we made along the way have been liberating.
  5. Work on your roster. Look at what usually sells by day of week and by time. Your POS software should be able to help with this. Take time to review your roster to ensure it is set appropriately. Labour is usually the top or second highest cost in a retail business outside of inventory.
  6. Reset the front third of the store. Look carefully at that front third of your store. Make bold changes simply by moving things, so that when shoppers return they see things they’ve not noticed before.
  7. Prepare social media content that leverages you. Using your phone, film short videos of you or a team member talking about products. Prepare these to load over time on Facebook, Instagram and more. Have fun.
  8. If you have a website for the business, write blog posts as they are absolutely the single best thing you can do to attract traffic to the website. A blog post should be single topic, pitch a consistent keyword at least five times and be over 350 words. We have a lot of experience with this and note, again, this is the single most effective online marketing for a website. The only investment is your time – don’t outsource this.
  9. Learn something new. Ask your POS software company for the best report in the software to reveal what you are unlikely to know about your business. Run that report. Read it. Make a list of things you could do. Act on it.
  10. Be a shopfitter. Shopfitters are expensive. Look at an area of your shop that you want to change that you would usually hire a shoplifter to handle. Think through how you can do it yourself. I know many retailers who have done this and vowed to not use shopfitters for such changes in the future.
  11. If you are online, undertake a data driven review of your website. Look at your traffic and the traffic of your competitors. Review your site and theirs. Look for opportunities to attract more shoppers to your site based on the data. Whoever developed your website should be able to collate this data for you.
  12. Personally: refresh. If you can take a break from business, even for an hour a day, read fiction, listen to music you love, go for a walk outside. These nourishing things can help reset mood and that could help you discover new opportunities for your business.

We are a local Aussie POS software company serving 3,500+ local small business retailers with POS software and beautiful Shopify websites. Beyond this, we also offer retail business management advice and help to our customers every day.

Thanks for reading. have an awesome rest of your weekend …

Mark Fletcher | mark@towersystems.com.au.

Valuable advice from small business retailers: make every day your pay day

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This advice is something we have shared before. But, it’s been updated for today. We have found, over many years, this to be the most useful, beneficial and appreciated advice for small business retailers.

Make every day tour pay day.

There was a time when small business retailers could rely on selling their business for a handsome increase on the price they paid thereby providing a good pay day, when businesses sold for a good multiple of net earnings.

Today, the best way to extract financial value from our businesses is to make every day your pay day, to not rely on your pay day being the day you sell the business.

If you do this, if you focus on making money every day, you get ahead, in small steps and increments for sure, but you do get ahead, and long before you actually sell your business.

Our advice is that you look at your business differently. This starts with the mindset of every day being your pay day. Each decision needs to be considered in this context.

Focusing on profit today will give you a better result today and make your business more valuable tomorrow.

Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:

  1. Make sure the shop feels happy. People will spend more in a happy business.
  2. Buy as best you can. If you better than usual, keep the additional margin for yourself.
  3. Take every discount opportunity. Paying COD or taking settlement discounts. If you have the capacity to do this, the extra margin adds to your pay day.
  4. Run with the leanest roster possible. Note, however, there is a fine balance between too few and too many.
  5. Always have successful impulse offers at high traffic locations. If something is not working, try something else.
  6. Have your best people working the floor, helping customers spend more.
  7. Make sure the shop looks appealing from outside.
  8. Charge more every time you can. Loyalty programs such as discount vouchers, bundling into hampers, multi buys such as 2 for 3 and other opportunities enable you to do this by blocking price comparison.
  9. Promote outside your store using online and social media opportunities.
  10. Leverage adjacency. Chase a deeper basket – people purchasing more each visit.

Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.

If you relentlessly pursue profit with a clear focus you are likely to see profit grow. That’s better than waiting to make money when you sell because that’s less likely to happen in this market.

Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower Systems POS software helps with this. It is easy.

Fast selling with our smart POS software

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Selling quickly at the counter and from anywhere in the shop is critical in retail today. Selling accurately is even more important. Combine the two and your retail business is able to offer a lever of service that customers will love.

What helps us offer smart fast and accurate selling through our POS software is our work with a ton of different specialty retail businesses.

  • Jewellers.
  • Garden centres.
  • Bike shops.
  • Bookshops.
  • Toy shops.
  • Pet shops.
  • Newsagents.
  • Produce businesses.
  • Sewing shops.
  • Antique shops.
  • Firearms dealers.
  • Pool maintenance businesses.
  • Fishing and outdoors businesses.
  • Repairs businesses.
  • Homewares businesses.
  • Convenience businesses.
  • Music shops.

All of these and more have influenced what we offer in our POS software. A specialty need for one becomes a useful add-on for another, helping them to broaden the appeal of their businesses, by being smarter, faster and more comprehensive in function.

It is this breadth of work that has enabled us to offer fast and accurate sales management at the retail sales counter through our Point of Sale software. We are grateful for this, for the guidance of our customers into these areas, to help grow our business and what we offer our customers.

A point of sale system is a software, training and services package that enables a retail business to manage sales, inventory data and customer data in a way that makes the business more successful and profitable, more able to compete locally and online. It is a holistic package serving the business.

Our approach at Tower Systems is to demystify the POS software and the system itself. We try and make it easy to learn and understand, to ensure that anyone can use the software to their advantage without having to be technical. This is done through plain English training, without jargon or nerd-speak. We back this up with extra training as needed, to help our customers top up their knowledge when they want.

Fast selling at the sales counter and from the shop floor is part of what we offer. We make it easy for small business retailers to achieve this and to do so with accuracy, for it is data accuracy that matters most in retail today. Good data feeds good business decisions.

Small business retail advice for the new financial year

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It’s a new financial year and with that we have new opportunities to consider. Today, we share our advice for small business retailers, local independent retailers, for the 2021/22 financial year. This advice leverages years of experience serving local small business retailers and, in particular, the experience of the last eight months in which the coronavirus pandemic has played a big role.

  • Less is more. Many retail businesses can make more money carrying less stock. Yes, we know that sounds odd. But, it’s true. Too many retail businesses are full of stock, often too much stock, to make a shop look full. For some, this is a stack em high watch em fly approach. The evidence in data from hundreds of local retail businesses is that quitting dead stock, freeing space and re-casting the shop floor story can drive sales growth. We know of a shop that early this year cut inventory by 20% and increased revenue by 35%.
  • Mine your data. Your business data is your best business guide. Mine it for advice as to steps you can take. We are certain that in every retail business there is data on which they can act for the benefit of the business. The best place to start is dead stock, stock long ago paid for you that has not sold in months.
  • New traffic. New shopper traffic is your future. While current traffic is important, it will most likely deliver the success that you are used to. New traffic is net bottom line beneficial. Chasing new traffic depends on the products you offer and how you pitch them outside your business. This is where social media and an online web store play a key role in helping you to reach new shoppers who don’t know about your business today.
  • Trim waste. Trim dead stock, trim roster overload, trim expensive suppliers, suppliers who are not cost effective for your operation. Think of this as a whole of business declutter for a leaner and healthier future.
  • Listen. There are likely to be people in your business who are not in decision making roles yet who may have opinions worth listening to. Ask them for their ideas. Consider the ideas. be open to changes that could help the business.

This is some of our small business retail new financial year advice. we are grateful to help our customers, through our POS software, in a variety of ways.

Practical retail management advice from our POS software company

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Beyond our POS software and the advice we provide to our customers on its use is the general retail advice we provide. Often, this is advice that has nothing to do with our POS software. here is an example from a couple of weeks ago. It’s advice on visual noise.

How to reduce visual noise in your shop.

If you give your customers too many things to look at inside or outside your business, they will notice less.  Your choices show them what you want them to look at

Less is more. Have less visual noise, less visual pollution, and more will be noticed.

Show your customers what you want them to notice by giving that product, range or display fresh air (visually) around it.

Stand at the door of your business and scan around counting the signs you can read and displays you can see. How many are there? More messages, more signs = less noticing them. yes, less is more.

Here is advice for less visual noise in your business:

  1. Edit. Every few days stand at the front of the shop and review your signage and edit the mix.
  2. Posters. Do not put up magazine or newspaper posters. There is no evidence doing so increases sales.
  3. Housekeeping notices. Have all customer notices, such as your exchange policy, discount voucher policy, minimum eftpos charge etc, all in the one unobtrusive place.
  4. Call to action signs. If you have items on sale or discounted, place them all in the one location, a designated sale location in your business, with simple and professional signage.
  5. Product signs. For product signage in-store, be consistent in style and look. Smaller signs next to products will work better than big signs from the ceiling – how often do your shoppers walk in looking up anyway?
  6. Colour block. Colour blocked product is more appealing to the eye, it looks less messy, less noisy.
  7. The counter.  Again, edit for clarity, edit for focus on the messages that really matter.

Reducing visual noise will improve the experience for your shoppers and for those who work in the business. It will focus everyone on what you decide matters the most right now.

This is part of an extensive package of business management advice newsXpress provides its members.

…..

Thanks to our retail experience, we are able to provide suggestions b beyond the POS software. This is another differentiating factor for us, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Disaster planning advice for small business retailers

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No one wants to plan for disaster. It’s a negative activity, easily put off for more happy and optimistic pursuits. The reality is that most business owners will confront some form of disaster at some point in their business life. This advice is far-reaching, designed to act as a broad list of steps you can undertake to be prepared. Do it all or some, but do something … otherwise when you need good planning you will not have a plan on which to fall back.

Disaster planning is vital for any retail business.  Too often, the need for good disaster planning is realised after a disaster has hit the business.  This advice sheet offers business and computer related advice which is designed to mitigate the impact of a disaster on your business.

Insurance Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data Protection

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

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

Disaster Planning

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

  1. ‪Keep off-site copies of: Business contracts and agreements; employee contact details, business account and other passwords, insurance details, recent photographs of fixtures, fittings and stock.
  2. For records you cannot easily copy or that may change as the trading day unfurls, consider having a go bag ready for you to grab if there is a risk to the premises such as a bushfire.
  3. Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
  4. Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
  5. Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit. Have this checked regularly.
  6. Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
  7. Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
  8. Have a trained first aid officer in staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
  9. Use government resources such as the emergency planning kit at the federal government website: http://www.business.gov.au/business-topics/templates-and-downloads/emergency-management-template-and-guide/Pages/default.aspx

Advice for small business retailers: helping employees understand where the money goes

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It is easy for employees in a local retail business to think the owners are rich if all they have to go off is the money paid by customers to the business. In this article, we share an an approach on how a local retail business can better inform employees. Here is an information sheet we have seen work well in the back room of a shop as it explains each dollar.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Where every dollar we get from our customers goes.

Every dollar paid to us by our customers and put in the til or through the credit card terminals gores somewhere and quickly. Some of it goes right away, some of it in a few days and most of the rest by the end of the month.

Some of the money we are paid goes before we get it – like for stock we pay for before it arrives in the shop.

This graph shows where every cent of every dollar we earn goes.  The stock cost is the average cost of items we purchase. Some items cost us 90% of what we sell them for while others cost us 20% of what we sell them for. This is why we are using the overall business average for this illustration.

Based on our current numbers our profit is 4%. But we don’t get to keep that: we have borrowings to service, we don’t receive a salary for our time and any profit is taxed by the government.

We buy stock for the best price possible but with the price of many products we sell controlled we need to work elsewhere to improve things. This is why we look carefully at the roster. Even one hour saved can be like selling $100 in stock.

The best way to help the business achieve better results is for us to sell more of our stock to existing customers and for us to attract new customers.

We’d love your help in encouraging customers to buy more. You can do this with excellent displays, helping customers on the shop floor and giving customers awesome customer service.

We’d also love your ideas on attracting more shoppers.

Please don’t think we’re putting this notice up to cry poor. We share the information to give you a better understanding of what happens to each dollar we get from our customers because we believe that the more information anyone has the more informed their actions can be.

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