The POS Software Blog

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

CategorySmall business management advice

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.

POS software helps small business retailers with Christmas in July

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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.

Fast selling with our smart POS software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small business retail advice for the new financial year

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

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

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

Small business retail advice on handling community group donation requests

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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.

Disaster planning advice for small business retailers

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

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

Insurance Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data Protection

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

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

Disaster Planning

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

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

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

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

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Where every dollar we get from our customers goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small business retail advice: take a walk

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We work with many different retailers in different situations. We are grateful for what we have learned from our diverse community. Reflecting on this recently, it is the advice we share today that we have found to work well in almost any business type. It is basic, free to action and universally useful from what our customers tell us.

Here is that advice. We offer it today as recommended advice for any local small business retailer, as a terrific assist in terms of mental and physical health for business owners, managers and the business itself …

Take a walk.

It is tough work running a small retail business, working 70, 80 and more hours a week covering many tasks from business manager to cleaner to customer service to creating retail displays.

There is always something to do. Some days, often in fact, it can feel like no matter what you do you have more to do at the end of the day than when you started.

Regardless of how busy you are in your retail business, we urge you to take time out every day for a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk outside, in the sun (or the rain), alone.

Leave your phone behind – the shop won’t burn down.

Walk alone.

The best time to take the walk is when you feel most overwhelmed.

Walking, as a brisk pace can break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, the negative feeling about what is confronting you in the business.

Getting your heart rate up will be good for your physical and mental health.

A good energetic walk is an excellent opportunity to reset.

Being away from the business, other people and the phone will give your body and mind time to process – even if you are not actively thinking about the business.

If you are like me, stepping back into the business after a brisk 20 or 30 minute walk, you see things differently, decisions are easier, progress is real.

Days with a walk are far better than days without.

Footnote: this advice for business owners and managers to go for a walk when feeling overwhelmed is consistent with advice from mental health experts around the world. Better still, following the advice costs nothing.

Small business ideas – how local indie retailers and evolving using POS software

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Tower Systems is a small business ideas incubator offering help and insights to local indie small business retailers.

Through our work across ten different retail channels in which our POS software and our Shopify e-commerce sites are used we have  cultivated experience and insights, which we willingly share with our community throughout our small business ideas platform.

We have helped local small business retailers to pivot into new categories, to evolve their businesses to leverage physical assets into new online businesses. We have helped local retail businesses to recalibrate their floorspace for efficiency and basket depth. We have helped local small business retailers engage with a plan b that grew into something special and valuable. We have helped small business retailers cut accounting overheads by eliminating manual work in accounting and bookkeeping. We have helped local small retail businesses to trim their roster with no negative impact on sales and a terrific benefit on business financial performance. We have helped local retail businesses to expand their product range based on data from their business and data from the world as to what their shoppers may buy.

These are all examples of small business ideas that we here at Tower Systems have engaged with, for our local retailer community. Yes, we are not an average POS software company.  As retailers ourselves we understand the value that can flow from ideas shared.

Our approach to small business ideas is to listen, watch and learn … and share what we know based on the evidence. This is a good and safe place for small business ideas as we have a broad range of business types in our community, from which we can pull data and experiences.

Our approach to small business ideas is to share them, to set them free so others can consider them and make their own assessment. It is something were have done for many years. We are grateful to be able to do this for this in our small business retailer community.

Tower Systems is a POS software company first and foremost. We develop, sell and support PO software for local small business retailers. We leverage what we learn through this to engage with small business retailers behold the software, through sharing ideas and insights that can help businesses in our community flourish.

Small business retail advice: finding your own margin story

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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

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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: finding optimism

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Every day can be tough in small business. You can feel like the big competitors are winning and that you can’t climb the mountain to compete. You may not know where to start.

For some, 2020 has been that year, the year of challenges and worry so much that seeing ahead to the horizon can be difficult.

There are green shoots of good news and opportunities in every small and independent retail business that we look at. The key is to find these and to leverage them for more success.

A green shoot is a product or a category of products or a supplier performing above average in the business. Often, these successes have gone unnoticed.

Finding optimism is like mining, you have to look for it, sometimes for a long time. It is there, though, in every retail business.

As soon as you hear yourself talking your business down, STOP. Look at your data, look for the good news. That is what you need to think and talk about.

By looking at your data, we mean looking at year on year, quarter on quarter or month on month comparison data for departments, categories, suppliers or even individual products. Look for growth and once you see growth, think about what you can do with and around the products achieving growth so that you can achieve other growth.

Any product achieving year on year increases in unit sales is a product to be appreciated, nurtured and used to help grow other products that can sell to the same customer.

This is how you grow optimism. Find those small green shoots, no matter how small, leverage them with some small steps and, over time, build more success for your business.

Here at Tower Systems, we go beyond our POS software in our help for small business retailers. We leverage our knowledge to deliver good outcomes for our customers based on their business performance data. We work with them, guiding them, helping them to see opportunities and encouraging them to lean in to green shoots of success.

We are grateful to our small business retail customers for their engagement with son this path to success by cultivating green shoots.

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