The POS Software Blog

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

CategorySmall business management advice

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

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

Sell online, but not as your shop today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We appreciate the feedback we have received, the appreciation.

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

This is the difference of value.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, to our advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not be afraid or ignorant in confronting these questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small business retail advice: consciously pursuing retail success and enjoyment

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

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

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

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

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

WHERE ARE WE AT?

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

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

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

There are more competitors, many you will never see.

Shoppers are more empowered.

Shopping is less like shopping.

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

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

The borders between types of retail businesses are blurred.

Your customers can easily now be more than locals.

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

What constitutes a shop has changed, forever.

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

WHAT IS DIFFERENT TODAY?

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

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

UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION.

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

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

HOW WE CHANGE HAS CHANGED.

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

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

SMALL STEPS.

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

INVENTORY.

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

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

SHOP LAYOUT.

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

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

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

Here is what this means:

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

CUSTOMER INTERACTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUTSIDE.

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

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

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

WHAT IF YOU DON’T CHANGE?

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

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

HOW WE CAN HELP?

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

We all have current retail experience.

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

Leveraging our engagement starts with asking.

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.

Small business retail advice: make your shop more valuable

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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.

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.

Square POS software alternative for local small business retailers

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here at Tower Systems we make POS software for specialty retail businesses. We have businesses that have switched to us from Square POS as their needs have evolved from the basic to the specialty retail.

Our specialty retail business POS software is different to Square POS software in that we go beyond the everyday POS transactions of tracking sales, inventory and customers.

Our EFTPOS integrated POS software goes beyond Square POS in offering integrations with specialty retail suppliers, specialty retail functionality like repairs management, customer special orders, bagging up your own products, multi-layered loyalty tools and much much more.

While Square POS software serves basic retail needs, we dive deep every day, guided by the evolving needs of the specialty retailers we serve. This includes working with suppliers, retail business owners and the field force working in retail.

Beyond the sales counter, where Square POS software is most loved, in the back room, on the road, on the shop floor and at home ur tower systems specialty retail POS software serves, serves and serves as it helps retail business owners to uncover opportunities, to see what they might otherwise not see in and for their businesses. This is valuable differentiation on which the retailers can rely and bank.

The thing about Square POS is that they say there is no cost for the software, and that you pay a fee per transaction. It’s easy even for a small business to rack up fees using Square POS that make it more expensive than the Tower Systems POS software. take a gift shop, using our POS software, the cost is under $1,200 a year. our of a $300,000 turnover, that equals a percentage of turnover cost of .4%. That’s less than half the cost of Square POS. Plus, a gift retailer using our POS software has access to facilities and serves considerably beyond the Square POS software options.

Our software is Australian made and Australian supported. Our business is Australian, serving the Australian community. these are all factors for businesses that appreciate and support buy local – because they want their customers to appreciate their own local credentials.

If you are thinking about Square POS soft your local retail business, let us show you a comparison, so your decision can be more informed.

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.

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