The POS Software Blog

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

CategoryRetail management advice

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

1

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.

Small business retail advice: make your shop more valuable

S

Too often small business retailers focus on the sale of their business as their pay day without actually acting, every day, to ensure that day delivers the best value for them.

Every day in any local small retail business there are decisions that can be made, steps that can be taken that nurture more value from the business. These steps, most of which cost little or nothing to implement, can have long-term gains for the profit and loss of a retail business.

We see this in our work with more than 3,000 local small business retailers. We see the value of good moves. We see the costs of inaction.

Thinking about this, what we see, here is a list of 10 things any local small business retailer could do in their business to drive value today and, more importantly, value tomorrow when they choose to sell their business.

This list is in order of the value we see being achieved in local small retail businesses that act on these things.

  1. Deal with old stock. Old stock is worthless to you and anyone being the business. Keeping it is a waste of space, time and cash. This work starts with you knowing what is old stock – our POS software helps with this.
  2. Trim the roster. Labour costs around 11% of revenue. Every dollar saved is a dollar that benefits the P&L. Yes, this likely means more hours for owners … but you have to ask yourself about your focus as to when you want your pay day.
  3. Review opening hours. Often in business data we see opening hours opportunities – either for longer hours or shorter hours. be guided by your business data.
  4. Clean up online. Be easily found. Review your Facebook, Google and other listings. Make sure they are current for if they are not it reflects poorly on the business.
  5. Declutter. An appealing looking business is easier to sell. On the shop floor, at the counter, in the back room – declutter and make the business more appealing to you, prospective buyers and customers.
  6. Review unprofitable activity. Look carefully at each category of product or service you offer. Get to an accurate understanding of the value of each. Consider quitting those that are under performing.
  7. Price for margin. While plenty of retailers pressure suppliers for lower prices, too few actively consider what they could sell some items for, missing the opportunity for a better margin. Where you can, price for a better margin.
  8. Document. Write up your processes, systems you follow and more. Document this and make the business easier to run and appear easier to run. The documenting process itself is likely to lead to efficiency opportunities uncovered. The resulting documentation will make the business more appealing.
  9. Reduce debt. We see too many retail businesses where debt is used with an expectation that it will be dealt with when the business is sold. Clean it up now as much as you are able. The less interest you pay the more money the business makes.
  10. Balance sheet clean up. While selling a retail business will often not include selling the company structure, the tidiness of your balance sheet may not be ideal for that time you do come to sell. It’s better you discover this and work on it prior to needing to.

This advice is part of the regular advice Tower Systems provides its customers.

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

S

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

S

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

S

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

A

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.

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

A

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

V

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.

POS software helps small business retailers with Christmas in July

P

Christmas in July is a terrific retail tradition in Australia. It is an excellent opportunity to clear stock, boost foot traffic and reset the shop floor of any retail situation.

Using our POS software retailers can easily manage the Christmas in July. In particular, our POS software can help with:

  • Identifying what inventory you can pitch in Christmas in July to quit stock.
  • What sold at this time last year, and the year before.
  • Bundling items to given them a fresh look.
  • Managing the pricing offer between nominated date and time periods.
  • At the register pitching up-sell opportunities from the Christmas in July campaign.
  • Tracking the success of the campaign.

Christmas in July is a wonderful opportunity in almost any retail setting. We say this based on our experience working with a broad variety of specialty retailers. The key is to have a strong offer, well situated, pitched well, understood of all team members and targeted to sell what you need to sell. That’s the key here – the commercial outcome for your retail business.

Here at our POS software company we can help you make the most of the Christmas in July opportunity.

Here is a refreshed list of tips for making Christmas in July a success.

  1. Run the Christmas in July campaign over no more than two weeks in July. One week could be enough.
  2. Choose dates which are away from any other promotion – it works best with little competition.
  3. Get all team members engaged.
  4. Set aside spoke front of store, in their face.
  5. Dress the team and the store to suit the Christmas theme.
  6. Display any spare Christmas stock from last year.
  7. Play Christmas music.
  8. Choose a day for an extra special celebration and make this an all-out focus.
  9. Have a competition for the kids around the theme.
  10. Create a giant Christmas stocking which one lucky customer can win.
  11. Use the event to discount any slow moving items. It its a perfect opportunity to quit stock.
  12. Promote on social media.

Christmas in July is an excellent opportunity to get suppliers on board.  Maybe they could provide products for you to give away as gifts – I.E. every shopper gets spending over $10 a ‘Christmas’ gift.  Suppliers could use your promotion as an ideal time for trialling products and getting your customers engaged.

Small business retail advice for the new financial year

S

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.

Small business retail advice on handling community group donation requests

S

Requests from schools, charities and other community for donations can be a challenge for any size business. If you do not take a structured approach to this you will find yourself giving away plenty for little or no return.

Requests are often loaded with guilt.  People can be passive aggressive in their approach. Often, people requesting help leverage pester power. It can be hard to say no. There are too many stories of retailers giving a gift as a prize, receiving the Thank You poster and achieving no benefit for the business.

having heard many stories from our POS software customers and experience ourselves in running retail businesses, we have put together advice for small business retailers on this challenge of the constant stream of community groups asking for donations.

Our advice is to manage your philanthropy as you would any business activity.

THE PRIZE / GIFT

Decide the amount in cash or product value or both that you are prepared to donate in a full year, calendar year or financial year.

Our recommendation is you give away cash, but in the form of a voucher to spend in your business. This ensures that value of the gift or prize is greater than the cost of it to your business.

The best mechanism for giving away cash or an amount to spend in-store is to do it  by way of a gift voucher. Use your software to manage this as any manual approach is dangerous and time-consuming.

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

Get on the front foot and write to local community groups outlining that you budget a year in advance. Seek their submissions. With this advice sheet we have included the text of a suggested letter. Please read the letter as it outlines the approach we suggest and why. It is important you communicate this with all community groups.

On the page after the letter is a suggested notice for use in-store when you are asked for donations.

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

Focus on community groups that support you. That is, groups with members who support you. The more they support you the better you are able to support the community.

Be prepared to ask where people shop for the items you sell in your business. Ask if they will change in return for your support.

Asking these questions underscores to you the importance of approaching the decision as a business decision.

Be thoughtful and deliberate. Support the groups that support you. This is important as it helps you stay within a budget.

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

If you run discount vouchers and if customers say they don’t want the voucher, invite them to contribute the voucher to a local group – one of three you setup for in the business. Every month, two months or three months, tote up the vouchers and give the group a parentage of the total voucher value ‘voted’ for them.

This idea could be in addition to any giving program you run in the business. It offers a daily reminder of your commitment to local giving.

Grill’d burgers run a program kind of like this where each shopper is given a bottle cap, which they place in a tub to vote on a group to receive a cash donation for the month. The process of groups submitting to be considered is onerous. You can find out more about that program with this link – it is a good place to research what others do: https://www.grilld.com.au/localmatters/

REWARD ENGAGEMENT

In addition to any direct gift, consider an offer whereby anyone who is a member of the group who shops with you accrues an amount you donate to the group. You could manage this through your software. It could be you offer a discount to the shopper as well as accruing a value for the group.

This type of program could also be in addition to your core giving program as the value here is driven by sales – hopefully, incremental sales.

EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT

Here are things groups you support can do to help your business. You should ask them to do these things:

  1. Tell members to buy from you.
  2. Write about your business on their Facebook page.
  3. Distribute flyers of your offers.
  4. Have you speak at a meeting.

WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT

Once you have a decision on which groups you will support, write about this in your newsletter and on Facebook. Not just once but multiple times. Invite them to provide you with content to publish too. Talk about their good works.

Ask them to write about you too.

Your giving must serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.

Here is suggested text for a letter:

 

[date]

 

 

 

Good morning

I write to invite your community group to submit a proposal to be considered one of the groups we support this coming year. We are taking this more formal approach rather than considering donation requests when they are pitched trough the year.

We are a small family business with limited resources. We seek to be engaged with community groups that support us as the more successful we are the more we can help the community.

The approach we are taking here is to allow us to plan our giving, to be deliberate in the support we provide.

We will not take on donations through the year from groups who call or visit. While this may seem unfair, we think it will result in more valuable support for the groups we engage with.

In addition to a financial donation, we will support the groups we select through promotion on our business Facebook page and in other practical ways. We want an involvement that is more than just financial, we want to help the groups we partner with to reach further into the community.

To help us consider your business please provide a one page written submission that briefly outlines:

  1. The goal of the group.
  2. Number of members.
  3. What you stand for.
  4. The work you do.
  5. Why it matters to the community.
  6. How a relationship with you could help the community.

We will consider all submissions at the same time and advise the outcome of our deliberations.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Here is suggested text for a notice:

 

OUR POLICY ON HANDLING COMMUNITY GROUP DONATIONS.

We receive requests to support local community groups and charities regularly. As a small family business with loans, rent, wages and other costs, we cannot say yes to everyone. We wish we could but we cannot.

To help us better connect with and serve the groups we do support, we now decide at the start of the financial year the groups we will support over the next year. The selection process is based on written submissions from groups.

Our decision to select the groups we support at the start of the year means we cannot take on additional donation requests through the year.

We hope you understand and respect this.

Please consider applying in advance of the start of the next financial year.

But all is not lost…

If your group can bring in new customers to our business to purchase items they want we may have another way we can help. Ask us for details.

Thank you and we wish you all the best in your community group.

Practical retail management advice from our POS software company

P

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.

Casual employee arrangements have changed in retail …

C

Changes to casual employment in Australia are now in effect. Click here to see the details as pblished by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Employers have to give every new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job.

Small business employers need to give their existing casual employees a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 March 2021. Other employers have to give their existing casual employees a copy of the CEIS as soon as possible after 27 September 2021.

Also, the Fair Work Commission has issued a decision that impacts the award under which employees in newsagencies are paid. This from the Fair Work Ombudsman website:

Modern Award Review – Junior rates under the Retail Award

The Fair Work Commission has issued a decision that changes the way juniors are paid under the Retail Award. From the first full pay period on or after 1 May 2021, junior rates will only apply for classification levels 1, 2 and 3.

Use our Pay guides or Pay Calculator to find the new rates and allowances.

A junior is an employee under 21 years of age. Use our Pay Calculator to calculate junior pay rates.

Juniors get paid a percentage of the relevant adult pay rate unless the award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement doesn’t have junior rates.

The percentages that apply are usually based on the employee’s age and increase on their next birthday.

These are important changes newsagents need to be across.

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

A

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.

Helping retailers navigate the buy now pay later POS software integration opportunities

H

The Australian Finance Industry Association, AFIA, the organisation engaged in self regulation of buy now pay later platforms has a code of practice for its providers. This, from their release:

AFIA and its BNPL members have come together and propose to release a Code of Practice for the BNPL sector. The final Code will be released and come into effect on 1 March 2021.

The BNPL providers, who under AFIA’s guidance have drafted the Code, represent over 95 percent of the BNPL market including Afterpay, Brighte, Humm Group, Klarna, Latitude, Openpay, Payright and Zip Co.

A world-first for the BNPL sector, the draft Code is in direct response to ASIC’s review of the BNPL sector (ASIC Report 600) and an inquiry conducted by the Senate Economics Reference Committee, which recommended the development of a BNPL Code of Practice.

AFIA conducted six-week public consultation which was formally extended until 6 May 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the consultation process, it was important to give additional time to key stakeholders to provide feedback.

The Code of Practice will be governed by a Code Compliance Committee (CCC). The CCC is chaired by Dr Michael Schaper. Jillian Brewer has been nominated by the Consumers’ Federation of Australia as the consumer advocate representative. Craig Pudig is the CCC’s industry representative.

Part C of the code relates to retailers:

PART C – MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR OUR MERCHANT AND RETAIL PARTNERS

Each Code Compliant Member will require its merchant and retail partners to meet minimum standards. These standards are to:

  • Act lawfully, fairly and ethically in their dealings with consumers;
  • Communicate clearly when dealing with consumers and in marketing and advertising materialthat relates to Buy Now Pay Later Products or Services;
  • Safeguard customer confidentiality;
  • Respond to customer complaints on a timely basis; and
  • Require that their employees or agents understand the standards and are trained to meet them.

Each Code Compliant Member will continue to monitor their merchant and retail partners to ensure they meet these minimum standards.

With many retailers using buy now pay later for payment in-store an online, being across the code is important.

We are across this because our POS software integrates with buy now pay later platforms such as Humm and the Zip suite of products and because several other card related players are entering this space.

Working closely with so many retailers, we are often asked about matters regulatory. Being across the BNPL changes since they were first mooted more than a year ago helps us to provide informed comments that can help local retailers determine the approach best for their business needs.

Retail marketing tips for Easter 2021

R

Easter is what each store makes of it in retail. Each retailer decides through their engagement whether this is a big or not so big season.

Our advice, based on working with retailers across a diversity of business settings, is don’t get caught up in tradition, think about easter 2021 as one of connection. This can broaden your focus and provide a more useful pathway to sales success.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking what easter 2021 could be in your retail business…

  1. Have fun. No matter what you do, make sure it involves fun, active fun.
  2. Promote connection. Easter is a good this for people to connect with people nearby and far away. help them do that.
  3. Do good. Collect for something during the season. Given the animal theme of so much Easter product, maybe a local animal shelter.
  4. Have fun give rabbits a discount on a set day or days. Give a doubt to everyone who presents as a rabbit. Promote it widely – get the local paper in for a photo. Make the discount worth it for them dressing up.
  5. Invite a wall of stories. If you have a wall available, cover it with paper and invite your customers to write or draw what Easter means to them. this makes the season more interactive.
  6. Make a giant papier-mâché egg with things you sell (old newspapers, coloured paper, paint). Go big, I mean really big. Taller than a person. Let the kids paint it. Make it a local thing for people to come see.
  7. Have an Easter Egg hunt for over 70s. Egg hunts are usually for kids but those over 70 will have a different recollection of the season from when they were kids. Cater to them with a hunt in your shop for tasty eggs.
  8. Respect the season. Easter means different things to different people. Respect this outside of the fun you may have. Be sure about your greeting and that it is appropriate. Maybe include a nice message on your receipts.

Easter is considered by many in retail to be a small season. I see it as full of opportunity and primed for fun in the newsagency. Chase year on year growth.

easter 2021 is an opportunity to guide connection. Our advice is be part of that opportunity.

Small business retail advice: finding your own margin story

S

Here at Tower Systems, we help small business retailers get more from our specialty retail POS software. One way we do this is through sharing business insights and opportunities, like this about product margin setting.

What you charge for what you sell, what margin you set needs to be carefully considered.  Price is all about customer perception of value.  Value is based in a range of criteria including:

  • Convenience.
  • Added value – from purchasing from this business.
  • Perceived value – how you package a product compared to how others package the same product can lead to a different price.

See, margin is about more than margin from each item, it is equally about margin dollars, gross profits from each sale, eased basket.

To create the best margin narrative for your business, we suggest you …

  1. Manage labour to focus on products with the best return to the business. This is a balance between overall gross profit dollars and margin percentage.
  2. Look at items with a customer service component, where your expertise is required to make the sale or make good use of the products or where there is a reasonable after sales service component. These can usually carry a higher margin.
  3. Look at the items which are unique to your business in your location or nearby. If you are the only store serving the local community then you do have a pricing opportunity. These items can usually carry a higher margin.
  4. Assess why people shop at your shop. If they are shopping because of convenience then you have the capacity to charge more for this. This is why convenience stores charge more for items which you can buy elsewhere for considerably less.
  5. Involve others in setting sale price. Ask your team what you can charge for an item. Assess what they think you can “get away with”.  By polling team members, you may find that your perception on price is lower than what others expect.

You can build a stronger business by taking small steps each day which focus on new traffic, better margin and improved sales efficiency. No grand plan, no expert strategy – just small steps which leverage opportunities which exist in your retail business.

By paying closer attention to the margin you can achieve, you strengthen the financial foundation of the business and ensure that your return on inventory investment is more helpful to the bigger business plan.

What you do in your business is 100% up to you. Our advice here is for your information, your consideration. By sharing it here our goal is too give you more information to consider, so you can determine the path most appropriate to your own needs.

Cash register versus POS software, what’s best for small business retail

C

We are a POS software company so, naturally, our advice will be choose POS software over a cash register … here’s why:

A cash register offers little security against employee theft. This alone should knock out using a cash register in any situation. With employee theft accounting for around 75% of all theft in retail businesses, the more you can do to track, understand and mitigate against it the better.  POS software offers excellent security / control over employee theft. The key is to use POS software well, properly.

Using a cash register denies the business an opportunity to truly understand what is happening in the business whereas POS software provides that data and averages those insights.

It is as simple as this:

  • Cash register: you sold something for this amount of money.
  • POS software: you sold these items for this much. It can even show the customer details, what was sold with it, how they paid and more.

Sure a cash register can feel like lower cost and easier to run. However, with employee theft, data loss and insight denial a cash register is a far more expensive solution for a retail business than POS software.

Good POS software for a specialty retail business can cost $3.00 to $5.00 a day. This is a small cost when you consider the data and insights value to a business compared to the ignorant cash register alternative.

Compared to a cash register, good POS software will help a retail business:

  1. Cut labour costs.
  2. Reduce customer theft.
  3. Reduce employee theft.
  4. Reduce the overhead of dead stock.
  5. Increase sales.
  6. Better manage supplier relationships.
  7. Better manage employee resources.
  8. More successfully lay out the shop.
  9. More easily and quickly sell online.
  10. be more appealing to a prospective purchaser.

Sure, a cash register can seem like the easy to use and easy to understand way to take payment at the sales counter. The reality is different. If you want to maximise the opportunity of your retail business, POS software is a better and far more complete solution for the business. It nurtures the data and insights that enable you to be a business person rather than a button pusher.

The future of retail management in POS software driven. cash registers are old school, from the past, not useful to retail today.

These are some fo the reasons we recommend POS software far ahead of a cash register for small business retail.

Small business retail advice: Unique Selling Proposition

S

We work with more than 3,500 small business retailers in our POS software retail community. We are retailers ourselves.

One thing we know to be true – being unique matters. It gives people a reason to consider your business, to shop with you.

Today, we share updated advice on the importance of being unique in any retail business, but especially in local small business retail.

In his 1960 book, Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, a respected US advertising executive, introduced the world to the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition, USP for short.

Reeves defined USP in an advertising context:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer: buy this product and you will get this benefit.
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it changes consumer behaviour.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of a unique selling proposition evolved from being essential to advertising to being essential in business. Finding your business USP was considered mission critical to businesses, retailers especially. Businesses drifted however and forgot about the importance of a USP.

Jack Trout told us just a few years ago that it was as relevant today. In 2000, he said that a Unique Selling Proposition was mission critical in business in his aptly titled book Differentiate or Die.

Differentiate of Die. There is no doubt about the call to action in the title, no doubt about the consequences of inaction.

You reflect the uniqueness of your business in 2020 through your inventory mix, shop floor storytelling, your online presence, your social media presence, and, how you reflect your own intellectual property, your own knowledge with and through what you sell. Indeed, you are the key, in many retail businesses, you are the USP.

A good USP will not require an advertising campaign to communicate. It will become obvious through the decisions you make and the actions that follow.

By living the USP in every facet of the business you soon become seen as unique by shoppers and this can drive excellent word of mouth and success for the business.

So, what us your USP and how is it reflected in your business in-store, online, on socials and elsewhere?

Small business retail advice: handling community group donation requests

S

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. The advice comes from ur experiences helping small business retailers with POS software and from years of running our own shops, places where we learn retail ourselves from inside out.

Advice for small business retailers on dealing with donation requests from local charities and community groups.

Requests from schools, charities and other community for donations can be a challenge for any size business. If you do not take a structured approach to this you will find yourself giving away plenty for little or no return.

Requests are often loaded with guilt.  People can be passive aggressive in their approach. Often, people requesting help leverage pester power. It can be hard to say no. There are too many stories of retailers giving a gift as a prize, receiving the Thank You poster and achieving no benefit for the business.

Our advice is to manage your philanthropy as you would any business activity.

THE PRIZE / GIFT

Decide the amount in cash or product value or both that you are prepared to donate in a full year, calendar year or financial year.

Our recommendation is you give away cash, but in the form of a voucher to spend in your business. This ensures that value of the gift or prize is greater than the cost of it to your business.

The best mechanism for giving away cash or an amount to spend in-store is to do it  by way of a gift voucher. Use your software to manage this as any manual approach is dangerous and time-consuming.

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

Get on the front foot and write to local community groups outlining that you budget a year in advance. Seek their submissions. With this advice sheet we have included the text of a suggested letter. Please read the letter as it outlines the approach we suggest and why. It is important you communicate this with all community groups.

On the page after the letter is a suggested notice for use in-store when you are asked for donations.

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

Focus on community groups that support you. That is, groups with members who support you. The more they support you the better you are able to support the community.

Be prepared to ask where people shop for the items you sell in your business. Ask if they will change in return for your support.

Asking these questions underscores to you the importance of approaching the decision as a business decision.

Be thoughtful and deliberate. Support the groups that support you. This is important as it helps you stay within a budget.

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

If you run discount vouchers and if customers say they don’t want the voucher, invite them to contribute the voucher to a local group – one of three you setup for in the business. Every month, two months or three months, tote up the vouchers and give the group a parentage of the total voucher value ‘voted’ for them.

This idea could be in addition to any giving program you run in the business. It offers a daily reminder of your commitment to local giving.

Grill’d burgers for years ran a program kind of like this where each shopper is given a bottle cap, which they place in a tub to vote on a group to receive a cash donation for the month. The process of groups submitting to be considered is onerous.

REWARD ENGAGEMENT

In addition to any direct gift, consider an offer whereby anyone who is a member of the group who shops with you accrues an amount you donate to the group. You could manage this through your software. It could be you offer a discount to the shopper as well as accruing a value for the group.

This type of program could also be in addition to your core giving program as the value here is driven by sales – hopefully, incremental sales.

EDUCATE GROUPS ABOUT GOOD ENGAGEMENT

Here are things groups you support can do to help your business. You should ask them to do these things:

  1. Tell members to buy from you.
  2. Write about your business on their Facebook page.
  3. Distribute flyers of your offers.
  4. Have you speak at a meeting.

WRITE ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT

Once you have a decision on which groups you will support, write about this in your newsletter and on Facebook. Not just once but multiple times. Invite them to provide you with content to publish too. Talk about their good works.

Ask them to write about you too.

Your giving must serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.

Here is suggested text for a notice about giving by the business:

OUR POLICY ON HANDLING COMMUNITY GROUP DONATIONS.

We receive requests to support local community groups and charities regularly. As a small family business with loans, rent, wages and other costs, we cannot say yes to everyone. We wish we could but we cannot.

To help us better connect with and serve the groups we do support, we now decide at the start of the financial year the groups we will support over the next year. The selection process is based on written submissions from groups.

Our decision to select the groups we support at the start of the year means we cannot take on additional donation requests through the year.

We hope you understand and respect this.

Please consider applying in advance of the start of the next financial year.

But all is not lost…

If your group can bring in new customers to our business to purchase items they want we may have another way we can help. Ask us for details.

Thank you and we wish you all the best in your community group.

Small business retail advice: how to take on a local competition

S

This article is another in our series of small business retail management advice. It comes from a deep well of experience helping small business retailers, local retailers, as well as our own experience running successful retail businesses.

How to take on a local competitor with care and respect.

If you want to grow your retail business it is likely that at some point in time you will need to take on a local competitor. By take on, we mean compete with, head-on, in a category or on a whole of store basis.

While it can sound cold-hearted suggesting you take on a local business colleague, it is survival of the fittest in the world and, especially, in business. Better you than them.

The time you might consider taking on a competitor could be when you are looking at taking on a new product category, something sold in another business nearby. Such a move could likely be seen as an attack on the other business – hence the need for careful planning and management … BEFORE you make the move.

Here is advice on how to approach taking on a local competitor.

  1. Ensure there is a need in your business or the community for you to move against a local competitor. The need could be in your business – the need for more traffic and / or revenue. The need could be in the community for better products because the competitor is doing a bad job or overcharges. Ensure you know what the need is and that it is enough to fuel your commitment for what is ahead.
  2. Make sure that the new product category fits with your business and how you and your customers see your business.
    1. The move must make sense in terms of what you sell and what you are known for.
    2. The move must have a story backing it for you and your customers to believe in the move.
  1. Thoroughly assess risks you and others working with you see.
    1. How the competitor and / or community might react publicly.
    2. How the competitor and / or community might react privately.
    3. What the competitor might invest to fight.
    4. Whether they can take on what you plan to stock and directly compete.
    5. How people might perceive you taking on a local business.
    6. To you and your health – competing takes stamina.
    7. Do you have sufficient resources for a long-term plan?
    8. What if the competitor closes? Are you ready to deal with that?
  2. What will be your Unique Selling Proposition, what will separate your offer apart from the competitor(s)?
    1. You must have a genuinely unique proposition: range (deep into a niche for example), quality, brands, price, customer service or a combination of these.
    2. The differentiating proposition must be obvious and valuable to local shoppers for it is this that will justify you taking on a competitor.
  1. DO IT BETTER. On all fronts. This is the most important factor of taking on a business.
    1. You must do it better, from the outset.
    2. Better products, better brands, better displays, better service, better marketing. Price does not have to be a factor if you are better in all other areas.

Taking on a competitor by introducing new products or product categories in your business can be tough anywhere. The goal of our advice is to have you plan for the move for good planning is a key factor in success.

We often see businesses take on a competitor without thought and eventually retreat having lost money. Avoid retreating by taking time to research and plan.

Small business retail advice: how to manage an employee theft situation

S

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. It comes from our experience running a POS software company that serves small business retailers and from running our own retail shops.

How to deal with an employee theft situation in small business retail

Discovering theft by an employee can be debilitating and destabilising. To help you through this, we provide here our advice on what to do once you discover employee theft. The goal is to offer straightforward steps to help you get through as it is on the other side of this where you can find the opportunity to move on from the feeling of violation that often accompanies employee theft in small business.

  1. Be sure of the facts, gather the evidence. Evidence could include, video footage of cash being take from the business, business records being modified to cover tracks, stock being stolen and more. Evidence does not include gossip, feelings and opinions. Without evidence you have nothing to proceed with.
  2. Once you have all available evidence and if this clearly implicates one or more employee, quickly work out what you want.
    1. If you involve the police, they and, subsequently, the courts, will control the process including getting your money or goods back, an apology and more.
    2. If you don’t involve them, think about if you want the money or goods back, an apology, the person to stop working for you without negative impact on you – or a mixture of these.
    3. Check your insurance policy. Be sure you understand what you might be able to claim and in what circumstances. For example, your policy may require a police report. This could determine your next steps. If you are not sure what your insurance policy says, call the insurance company for advice. Knowing your insurance situation early is vital.
  3. If the person committing the crime is a minor:
    1. Advise their parents or guardian by phone. Invite them to the shop or an independent location to see what you have. Have someone else there with you, as an observer. This meeting needs to happen quickly.
    2. Present the evidence.
    3. Listen for their response.
    4. If they (their parents) ask what you want, be clear.
    5. If agreement is reached, put it in writing there and then and all involved sign it, so there is clear understanding.
    6. If agreement is not reached you need to decide your next steps and engage them with haste.
    7. A return of the money, likely by the parents, should be in a lump sum, immediately. I have seen a parent pay $22,000 where a uni student studying psychology stole and out their career at risk by being caught. I have seen another situation where a 75-year-old mum repaid the $12,000 stolen by her adult daughter so the daughter did not have to tell her husband about her gambling problem.
  4. If the person committing the crime is not a minor:
    1. Get an opportunity to speak with them face to face, ideally with another person there as a witness.
    2. Tell them you have evidence of them stealing from the business.
    3. Ask if they would like to see it. If they say no, ask what they propose.
    4. If they do want to see the evidence, show it and ask what they propose.
    5. If there is an offer of a full refund, an immediate resignation and never entering the business again it could be a good practical outcome. The challenge is you may not know the value of what has been stolen. Experience indicates that someone stealing cash will understate the amount considerably. I was involved in one case where they said they stole $10,000. The irrefutable evidence showed it was $75,000.
    6. Get any agreement in writing. If there is an offer to repay, our advice is to only accept an immediate lump sum. If the proposal is payment of, say, more than $10,000 over time, involve the police.
    7. If the person denies any wrongdoing, go to the police immediately.
  5. If you have suspicions and do not have the evidence, put in place opportunities to gather the evidence without entrapping the target, without setting them up. I have seen situations where local police have provided advice and support for this. It could be worth asking them if you are in a regional or rural situation.

If you are nervous about meeting the person or their family, write down what you plan to say. Keep it short. To the facts. No emotion. Having a script prepared can be useful even if you do not read it.

If there is any risk of violence, do not have a meeting. Go straight to the police.

Time is of the essence here. The longer you know about the situation and the longer you do not act the less useful the outcome is likely to be.

Advice for small business retailers on selling higher priced items

A

This article is another in our series of advice for small business retailers. While we are a POS software company, we are retailers too. Often, we are asked for advice from retailer colleagues. Here is an example of advice we provide:

That won’t sell in my shop, it is too expensive for my customers.

Before you say something will not sell because it is too expensive, consider the actions you can take that could make the product work.

It could be that you are a factor in something not selling as in your placement, visual  merchandising, business marketing and more you set the price expectation.

When you think something will not sell because it is expensive, consider that it might sell in another business. What does that business look like? Is there an opportunity for you to connect with shoppers who might shop at that business?

Here is how you influence higher price acceptable of an item or group of items in your business.

  1. Display to the target shopper. Treat the product as special, something of quality, away from the usual cheaper products on the shelves. Respect the higher price, the higher quality.
  2. Do not place the higher price items with cheap products. Location is everything. Set aside a location that reflects the difference of these products.
  3. Price / product signs. Make them. Handwritten. Explain the product. Reflect quality.
  4. Use lighting, or darkness, to draw attention.
  5. Know the product. It is more expensive for a reason – quality, source location, rarity. Know the reason and ensure all staff can speak to it.
  6. Don’t be scared of the price.
  7. Remember you are not your customer.
  8. Know if if you don’t sell this someone else nearby might or at least products in the same price bracket. Beat them.
  9. Treat the higher priced product with respect, through your actions show that the price is worth it.

Here is why you would do this: new traffic plain and simple.

Every new item that appeals beyond the usual, the average, for your business is an opportunity to attract a new shopper.

Attracting new shoppers is, in our view, the single most important business activity for you every day.

Advice for small business retailers on running a pop-up shop

A

As part of our small business retail management advice series, in this article we offer suggestions on what to consider about a pop-up shop opportunity.

While we are a POS software company, we are retailers too. We are often asked by small business retailers to comment on opportunities, like pop-up shops.

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.

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. Those working in 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.

Where to buy computer hardware for your retail business

W

Buying computer hardware for a retail business can be daunting. There are plenty of people who will offer advice and plenty of sources for acquiring hardware for a retail business.

The hardware retail businesses need is specialty in nature. You can’t put in a regular computer. Likewise, you can’t hop on eBay and buy any barcode scanner you find.

No, you need to purchase hardware that is fit for purpose for your retail business, you need hardware that is designed to work with the specialty POS software you have chosen for your retail business.

Take your time, do your research and know that you get what you pay for. Go cheap and you most likely buy hardware for your retail business that is not ideal or may not last as long as quality hardware lasts.

Not all barcode scanners are the same.

Not all receipt printers are the same.

Not all cash drawers are the same.

Not all computers are the same.

With computer hardware, you get what you pay for.

Our advice is think about your shop and what you say to people who say to you that your prices for what you sell are too high. What response do you give them. Think about whether you give yourself that same response if you are looking to buy cheap hardware for your retail business.

We have seen people buy cheap scanners who need to replace them with better and more suited scanners.

We have seen people buy cheap printers for their business only to replace them with printers that actually work in their type of business.

Yes, there really is specialty hardware for specialty retail. It sometimes costs more, but it usually saves money in the long term.

We run an online shop offering computer hardware for retail businesses. It is a small sideline for us, something we got into in service of retail businesses trading on our POS software and looking for quality hardware they could trust, hardware that we ourselves back.

The computer hardware that we recommend to retail businesses is quality hardware, recommended as ideal for the customers we serve. It is hardware backed by good manufacturer warranties, hardware with which we are personally familiar.

Our advice to retail businesses looking to buy hardware, barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, customer displays and more is take your time, do your research, do not be driven by price, make sure that the hardware you are considering is right for the software you use in your business.

Take care and buy what is best for your business.

Categories