The POS Software Blog

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

CategorySmall business management advice

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.

46 Christmas marketing tips for small business retailers

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Yeah, it’s odd for a POS software company to offer Christmas marketing tips to retailers because … we are tech people and not retailers. That may be true for some.

Tower Systems has owned and run retail businesses since 1996.

We are not your usual POS software company. We actively share marketing tips with our customers. Here are some Christmas marketing tips for retailers that we hope some find useful, or at least inspiring to you to develop your own.

We offer you 46 low cost and no cost Christmas marketing tips for retailers  ideas to help create a different Christmas experience in your business.

  1. Always:
    1. Have tape with wrapping paper.
    2. Have wrapping paper with cards, at the counter and with magazines.
    3. Have Christmas bags at the counter.
    4. Have tape at the counter.
    5. Pitch easy to purchase ready to go hampers close to the counter.
    6. Keep displays fresh.
    7. Run your loyalty programs through Christmas – to bring them back.
  2. Make it easy. People often talk about how hard Christmas is. Be the local business that makes it easy. The ways to do this are with easy Lay-By, free wrapping, better shop floor help, guide buying advice or tips on perfect gifts no one else will think of. Consider making Christmas easy as being a key part of your messaging.
  3. Host a simple party. To preview Christmas, say thank you to shoppers and support a local cause. Do it when the shop is closed. Limit numbers. have some drinks and food. Have fun. Celebrate.
  4. Use video. To promote products on social media.
  5. Offer impulse purchase of often forgotten lines. At the counter, with newspapers, next to weekly magazines.
  6. Offer help. For kids and others who ,may find choosing a card or writing a card difficult.
  7. Visit nursing homes. With some gifts and cards for easy shopping.
  8. Be thrilled people are in your shop. Your personal smile or greeting is something they may not see in a big business where employees are less invested in each shopper and where the owner is usually thousands of kilometers away.
  9. Make the giving easy. If people purchase items from you to send somewhere else. Offer a one-stop shop. Save them the trip to the post office.
  10. Make the shop less about Christmas. Consider pulling back on the Christmas visual noise. Go for something simple, muted, respecting the season but making a calm statement. Consider declaring the shop a Christmas carol free zone – not because you hate carols but because you want to help customers take a break.
  11. Help people rest and recharge. Create a Christmas shopping rest and recovery zone. Offer free tea, coffee, water and something to eat. Encourage people to take a break in your shop – without any obligation for them to spend money with you.
  12. Let your customers help each other. Setup a whiteboard or sheets of butcher’s paper, yes keep it simple. Get customers to write gift suggestions under different age/gender groups. For example: Girls 18 – 25, Boys 55+. Encourage your customers to help each other through their suggestions.
  13. Make price comparison difficult. If you sell items people are likely to price compare with other businesses, package them so price comparison is not easy. Put items into a hamper as a perfect Boy 8 to 12 bundle for example. Or offer the item with pre packages services if appropriate for an item.
  14. Less is more.  The stack em high watch em fly mantra can be wrong. Indeed, it is often wrong in retail. Shoppers can be store blind because a shop is too full or a display is too busy. Consider creating simpler less cluttered displays and window promotions. Draw attention to what you want people to see by promoting that one thing. Every time someone asks if you have something that you think through should be able to find easily – take it as a challenge for you to address rather than a commentary on a facility of the customer.
  15. Change. Christmas season in your shop should evolve. Major change weekly is vital for people to see what you have that they could buy.
  16. Be socially engaged. On Facebook, Instagram, twitter and elsewhere, be the calm voice, the person people enjoy reading or seeing photos from. Provide entertainment this Christmas rather than the usual retailer shrill of come and shop here!
  17. Be community minded. Choose a local charity or community group to support through Christmas. Consider: a change collection tin at the counter; a themed Christmas window display; promotion on your social media pages; a donation to their work; a collection point for donations from customers.
  18. Facilitate sharing stories. Find space in your shop for customers to share their Christmas stories. It could be a story wall inside or in front of the shop. This initiative encourages storytelling by locals and better connects the business with the community.
  19. Award a prize at a local school. Fund a year-end prize at a local school. Attend a school assembly to award the prize. Work with the school leadership on a prize appropriate to your business.
  20. VIP preview. Host a VIP shopper preview night when you show off your Christmas ranges ahead of being available to the general shoppers. Respect and reward your local shoppers with deals and the opportunity to preview ahead of others.
  21. Leverage Christmas traffic. Encourage the Christmas shopper traffic surge in after Christmas. Give them a reason to come back. A coupon promotion or a discount voucher on receipts could be the enticement to get shoppers back in-store. Note: the Tower POS software produces discount vouchers to rules you establish.
  22. Become a gallery. Work with a school, kindergarten, community group or retirement village to bring in local art for people to come and see through Christmas. A small space commitment can drive traffic from family and friends of those with art on show.
  23. Dress the shop. Fully embrace Christmas. Create a Christmas experience such that shoppers know they have stepped into somewhere special this Christmas. Go for more than some tinsel and a tree. Fully embrace the opportunity.
  24. Make your shop smell like Christmas.
  25. Send cards. Send Christmas cards early in the season to suppliers, key customers and local community groups. This connects you with Christmas. Invite all team members to sign each card.
  26. Host a Christmas party. For shops nearby. You are all in the season together – let your hear down before things get crazy.
  27. Ensure you have gifts targeted at occasions. For example: Kris Kringle, by price point and by recipient. Make it easy for people to know what they could give.
  28. Stocking stuffers. At your counter always have one or two stocking stuffers for impulse purchase.
  29. Offer gift vouchers – for someone to give when they are not sure what to give.
  30. Be local. Ensure you have a selection of locally sourced products available for purchase. Make it clear in-store that these products are sourced locally.
  31. Tell stories. On your Facebook page, talk about what is important to you at Christmas. Personalise the season and deepen the connection with those who could shop with you.
  32. Offer a free gift. Bulk purchase an item to offer those who spend above a set amount. For example, spend $65 and receive XX where XX may have cost $5.00 but could have a perceived value of $20.00.
  33. Keep it fresh. Every week make significant change to your Christmas displays and promotions to keep your offer fresh.
  34. Share Christmas recipes. Each week for, say, four weeks, give customers a family Christmas recipe. This personalises Christmas in your business, creates a talking point and makes shopping with you different to your bigger competitors.
  35. Free wrapping. Sure, many retailers offer this. Make your offer better, more creative and more appreciated.
  36. This is essential in any business. Manage it through your computer system with strict rules.
  37. Work the floor. Increase time on the shop floor. Be present to manage shopper flow and to facilitate purchases.
  38. Christmas is crazy busy I most retail situations. Give yourself and your team members sufficient time to recharge so the smile greeting shoppers is heartfelt.
  39. Keep a secret. If yours is a business selling gifts a partner may purchase for their loved-one, create some mystery with a closed off display for the shopper to see the products.
  40. Free assembly. If you sell items that require assembly. Offer to do this for free.
  41. Free delivery. Offer free Christmas Eve delivery for items purchased for kids for Christmas.
  42. Sell training. Leverage the specialist knowledge you have in your business by selling as gifts places at classes you run sharing your expertise.
  43. Hold back. Don’t go out with everything you have for Christmas all at once. Plan the season to show off what you have as the season unfolds. This allows you multiple launches.
  44. Share a taste. Regardless if your type of business, bake a family recipe of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or Christmas biscuits and offer tastings to shoppers on select days. This personalises the experience in your shop.
  45. Offer hampers. Package several items together and offer them as a hamper. Time-poor shoppers could appreciate you doing this work for them. We have seen this work in many different retail situations.
  46. Buy X get Y. Encourage people to spend more with a volume based deal. Pitched right, this could get customers purchasing items for several family members in order to get the price offer you have. Use your technology to manage this.

Christmas is the perfect time to plan for next year. It is the time to do everything possible to leverage bonus Christmas traffic to benefit your business through next year.

Feel free to share these Christmas marketing tips with others.

What if the most important stream of revenue for your business was cut off overnight?

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Hundreds of Australian businesses yesterday discovered that China was blocking their exporting of products to that country. According to news reports, Australian wine, copper, barley, coal, sugar, timber and lobster are set to be banned from Friday.

This is dreadful news for the businesses, those who work for them and the communities that rely on them for income and purchases. The ramifications across Australia could be extraordinary.

Hearing the news of the move by China, I wondered – what would happen to your business if a key income stream was cut off overnight?

Would your business survive? Do you have a plan B? Can you move quickly enough to recover? Were you too exposed to and too reliant on the key revenue stream?

These are questions you can discuss with clarity with hindsight. Better still, they are questions you can discuss in advance.

I raise the questions today because considering them before you face the challenges being faced right now by Australian exporters of wine, copper, barley, coal, sugar, timber and lobster gives you the opportunity today to be less reliant on a single revenue stream.

I get that this can read as a ho-hum topic, something not worth worrying about today. However, I bet there are wine makers, sugar farmers and fishermen who several days ago would have thought the topic ho-hum too.

What if the most important revenue stream to your business was cut off overnight, without notice?

Actions I think anyone reading this could consider include:

  1. Assess income to understand the income category streams on which the business most relies and take immediate steps to broaden these.
  2. Assess income sources. In retail especially most income comes from a shop or physical presence. Broaden this, rely on more than the physical presence.
  3. Assess the importance of suppliers by looking at percentage of revenue attached to each and taking steps to broaden these.
  4. Look at your business finances and consider the impact if any supporting finance arrangement was removed overnight.
  5. Workshop with key people as to what it would mean if any supplier was cut off from you or if any product category or brand was overnight stripped from your business. Those participating in this need to challenge each other.

In terms of the situation that has emerged in China this week, we need to look at our reliance on product from China, especially is we rely on people connected with wine, copper, barley, coal, sugar, timber and lobster. For example, if we have customers who work in wine businesses that export to China. How will they feel purchasing product from us that are sourced from China when China has struck so hard at the core of their income source?

What has happened in China is a reason for us to take stock, look more carefully at our businesses, and ensure that we are better structured to trade through unexpected decisions by others.

A personal story: Decades ago, my software company developed software for radiology practices, managing patient accounts and reports on x-rays. I wrote a word processor to make it easier and faster for radiologists to write report. It was a hit, gaining terrific early sales. A year and a half in, an international x-ray film supplier offered radiology practices free software from the US if they contracted to buy their film for 5 years. Our sales stopped overnight. I decided then that my company would never rely on a single customer or a single channel for the majority of business. It’s why we are now in 12 specialty retail channels, why we only sell to sell business retailers and why we will not borrow to fund the business.

A marketing tip small business retailers can leverage into additional revenue, easily

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Use this unique facility to drive sales in any retail business and nurture optimism in the business and among customers.

It’s a bold claim. A true claim though in that we have the evidence to show that what we talk about here works, and works well, in hundreds of retail businesses.

Loyalty points are dead. Big businesses killed them, made them useless.

While our specialty retail POS software has a loyalty points program you can use, it is our smart discount vouchers that retailers in our community of 3,500+ retail; businesses love. Discount vouchers are part of broader loyalty tools we offer.

Note, we call them discount vouchers – you can call them what you like. The facilities give you leverage that you can employ to encourage shoppers to spend more and shop with you sooner.

Here’s a video from June this year in which we show how vouchers work and provide examples of the value they offer the business for little or no cost.

Here is a video we shot in August this year where we look at discount vouchers in more detail and explore what it looks like inside the business.

We use discount vouchers in retail businesses we operate and have done so since we first released the functionality in February 2013. They work a treat, delivering net beneficial value at no cost to the business.

The fundamental question for any retailer is do you want to grow your business? The answer, of course, is yes. Discount vouchers provide the means through which you can do this. It starts by changing the conversation, by offering something your competitors do not offer and, most likely, cannot offer.

By changing the conversation you drive a different shopper expectation and that helps shoppers see your business through a different light.

People like being rewarded for doing what they would do anyway. Through fine-tuned levers, you are able to nudge their engagement to go beyond what they would do and you can factor the cost of nudging into your pricing.

Across plenty of retail channels, discount vouchers deliver commercial benefits for retail business. Plus, they offer a community group connect that further enhances their value to the business as well as to the local community.

Everyday retail management advice: measure everything and win

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Measurement is key to the success of any retail business, especially in small business retail where competition is tough.

Measuring sales, stock, employees and suppliers will profit a business if those in charge act on what measurement reveals.

This is small business retail management advice we share with our POS software customers. While it is a boring topic, it is a business critical topic for if you measure and act on the evidence you are on a path to success. Ignorance may be bliss … it is also a road to failure in business.

Without accurate and consistent measurement, you are not able to make good business decisions or to hold others to account for their actions.

By measuring you can make better decisions.

Here are some simple rules for accurate measurement in retail:

  1. Only sell what you can track – by scanning a barcode or pressing a PLU (stock code) to track the item.
  2. Do not use department keys to sell items as this denies you the opportunity of tracking individual items you sell. Scan the barcode every time!
  3. Enter into your computer system everything you sell. Record stock you receive by supplier so that you can track supplier performance.
  4. Enter into your computer system everything you return to suppliers – consignment stock, returns or damaged goods.
  5. Record all sales and other activity at the sales register by employees.
  6. Reorder replenishment stock by using your computer system to create orders for you.

My making your business data driven you are better equipped to take the emotion and gut feel out of business decisions.  This will improve decision quality and accountability and, hopefully, the return you achieve from these decisions.

Businesses which do not measure stock, suppliers, employees and sales accurately often find themselves faltering without knowing why – because they have no accurate data on which to base research.

Measuring everything reveals a path forward and this path is success.

Yes, this is a snooze of a topic. However, it is also a business critical topic offering a bankable result – if you measure everything and act on the results as revealed by the measurement.

Tower Systems helps small business measure, analyse and act. Our advice for small business retailers is considerable – reaching as far as retailers ask. It starts with our POS software and offering retailers opportunities to fully learn how this software can serve any specialty retail business that chooses it.

Advice for small business retailers on combatting the Covid recession

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Whether we like it or not, the world economy is in recession, a Covid recession. While each country fares differently, the recession is global.

While small business retail is vulnerable, it is well positioned to trade out of the Covid recession. Here is our advice for small business retailers on combatting the Covid recession, or at least on guiding trading in your business to be against trend.

Our advice is based on decades of work with many different retail businesses across multiple retail channels. It also drains on our own experience running several different types of retail businesses.

  • Get shoppers buying more. Increasing your average visit spend value can be done through smart loyalty lever engagement as well as intelligent product location on the shop floor and with appropriate encouragement for multi-item purchases. Our POS software helps with all of these. It offers facilities through which you can systemise your approach to these and retailers activities.
  • Bring shoppers back sooner. You can do this with targeted emails that are based on past shopper behaviour, financial encouragement to shop sooner than they otherwise might and by offering items people collect and add to. Our POS software can support each of these activities in a consistent and easy to manage way.
  • Improve retail floorspace performance. Outside of inventory, labour and retail space are the highest costs to any retail business. maximising return from retail space and from labour engageed in managing retail space is key to success. Using our POS software you can stock more of what does sell and less of what does not sell – thereby improving the return on labour and retail space investment.
  • Broaden your shopper reach. While opening the doors is considered a marketing activity in many small retail businesses, for a small effort and investment you can be online connected to your POS software and selling products to shoppers far away, shoppers =not in your current reach … thereby improving the efficiency of the business.

Much of what a small retail business can achieve in trading against the trend of a Covid recession comes down to decisions made in the business, decisions about products, people and marketing that can be leveraged through smart POS software.

We’re here to help!

Tower Systems is grateful to serve thousands of small and independent t retail businesses in Australia and New Zealand in service of profit and enjoyment.

What does Q4 2020 look like for small business retailers

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Welcome to the last quarter of 2020. What a year it’s been already.

For many in retail, what happens over the next 3 months traditionally determines the success of the full year for the business. We have been asked several times recently what the next three months look like.

Considering sales data from plenty of business and from many different types of retail businesses, we share some thought below on what we expect. Of course, our expectations are based on current Corona trajectories as at the start of October 2020. Any change to that will impact these.

  • Christmas is here, now, early. Christmas purchasing started over a month ago with sales of specific Christmas products including cards, decoration and Christmas themed items already good. People appear to be shopping to be prepared for possibly another lockdown. Some are also buying because of worries regarding the supply chain.
  • Working from home is here to stay. retailers selling products that help with working from home should have a good quarter if they continue to leverage this opportunity. There is no sign of working from home slowing, which will impact businesses that rely on major CBD business worker traffic.
  • Regional / rural property sales are strong. Property sales in regional and rural locations have surged, bringing in more people and plenty of new faces, which bring in new shopper opportunities. Serving new residents plays well for some retail sectors like garden centres.
  • People want to be happy and give happiness. Offering products that will make people happy is key to a good fourth quarter.
  • Locally made. This matters more than ever.

Focussing on these and related points positions your business well for a good last quarter.

Thinking predictions, we think that businesses that rely on strong Christmas trade have reason to expect this year to be at least as good as last year. We know one business that does more than 50% of their revenue through the Christmas season and current indications comparing this year to the last 2 years suggest they will be up this year by 20%. The product mix is the same.

The success of this last quarter really relies on your product sourcing, in-store messaging and out of store marketing … your connection with the emotional messages that matter to people, that will get them purchasing through you.

The time to act on Christmas 2020 was months ago. If you are starting now, go for it, quickly and engagingly as Christmas shoppers are spending today.

We hope that this last quarter of 2020 is awesome for your retail business and all who rely on it!

Some retail businesses are having an awesome 2020

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Yes, some retail businesses are having an awesome 2020, plenty in fact. However, most of those having success this year do not want to talk too much about it. They want to keep a low profile because most of what’s in the media about business in 2020 is negative and they do not want to distract with what they think is a unique good story. Some even feel ashamed at their success.

The reality is that many retail businesses, especially local small retail businesses, are having a good 2020.

Yes, there is excellent good news out there. Here are some good news stories we see in our work with specialty retail channels, without identifying store details. These are channel-wide stories with many businesses in each channel having success.

  • Garden centres are doing very well, offering customers the ability to grow their own produce, be more self sufficient, eat more healthily. Many garden centres we are working with have been challenged to keep up with demand. They have risen to the occasion, helping many folks into their first ever veggie patch.
  • Farm supply / rural produce businesses have had a big and successful year. Sales are up as more people are living in regional and rural locations and needing more materials as they work on their properties in these locations.
  • Toy shops are doing well helping people enjoy their time at home. Those who engaged online have done especially well. Those that expanded their jigsaw, game and relaxation product ranges have done well.
  • Pet shops have done well as pets have become even more important this year, offering comfort and company, making isolation easier.
  • Bike shops are having a terrific year as they offer people enjoyable ways to remain healthy in a safe way.
  • Fishing and outdoors businesses are doing well, too, thanks to their ability to help people be more self sufficient for food.
  • Newsagents are having an awesome 2020 as they have become more relevant through offering essential services, keeping people informed and helping people enjoy home time more through their games, jigsaws, crosswords and more.

We know many small local and independent retail businesses that have done so well that they do not qualify for government pandemic assistance. Double digit growth in 2020 is real for them. They are loving being in business and serving their local community. They are loving that local shopping is more popular in 2020 too.

So, while the TV news and current affairs programs focus on stories of doom and gloom, there are many, hundreds and thousands of good stories, happy stories, stories of growth and success in small business retail … stories of success in 2020.

For many of the business owners enjoying success this year, they have made it happen through their decisions and actions, they have pursued success and for this they have every reason to be proud.

Well done to all of these small business retailers having an excellent 2020, well done!

We are grateful to be part of this, part of the community of businesses having a good year. We are thankful that through what we make we are able to play a role in helping retail businesses find and nurture success.

Now, if only media outlets could share some of the good news stories. They don’t have to look far to find them.

Staff management tips and advice for local small business retailers

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In our work with more than 3,500 small business retailers across a diverse mix of retail channels, we have collected, along the way, a kit of tips and advice for managing staff in retail. We share some of these tips today here as an insight into the help we can provide beyond our POS software, beyond what you may expect from a POS software company too.

We are interested in retail business management, especially small retail business management, as we own and run shops ourselves and have done so since February 1996. We bought our first shop to give us a live test site. It’s grown since then.

Before we get to the tips themselves, we like this selection because it focusses on the management challenge as well as on the financial outcome for the business.

Here are some of the small business retail staff management tips we like:

  1. Set sales goals. In our experience, people perform well when they know the goal. It could be individual goals or a business-wide goal.
  2. Track performance. If not for reward, at least for active management engagement.
  3. Reduce mistakes and theft. Get employee code or number entered for each sale. It works.
  4. Skill your people. Make sure they understand the software and how they can use it to achieve more for the business.
  5. Change the roster. Roster changes can push back against predictability, they can also uncover opportunities.
  6. Set standards. In your POS you can establish standards for data to be followed – product naming conventions, department descriptions and more. The more consistency in your data the more valuable your data.
  7. Stop using the back room. You can’t sell product from the back room. Have staff do all pricing and other usual back room tasks on the shop floor.
  8. Track location performance. Train your staff in the process of tracking the performance of impulse locations. Moving a product could help it find customers. Make sure staff understand what you are looking for.
  9. Share basket insights. Knowing what sells alone and what sells with what can help staff make better decisions as to what is placed where on the shop floor.
  10. Ask them. Yes, ask them what you should / could stock, ask them what think a product is worth. Value their input and they will value more working for the business.
  11. Cut data handling. At every possible point, stop touching data. Having it flow from electronic supplier invoices through the POS to scanned sales through to Xero for accounting can reduce mistakes and possible fraud opportunities.

There are many opportunities for managing staff through and with your POS software. This can improve the business and enhance their experience with your business.

 

11 mistakes small business retailers make with their websites when selling online

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Here at Tower Systems we develop POS software for small business retailers. We are grateful to serve 3,500+ customers in Australia and New Zealand. We also develop beautiful websites for small business retailers.

Leveraging that experience, we have evolved a suite of knowledge about works for small business retailers going online. We have plenty  of advice to offer retailers about going online.

Today, we flip that consideration, we want to take a look at common mistakes retailers make when they go online, mistakes that can cause their shop connected websites to fail or, at least, to not achieve what they hoped for.

These are mistakes we have seen retailers make, advised against and, often, had to fix once the retailers agree they were mistakes. They make our mistake list once corrective action is shown to fix an issue, thereby proving the first move was a mistake.

  1. Poor navigation. A site that is hard to get around will see people leave quickly.
  2. Unclear shipping charges / policy. People want to know what it will cost.
  3. Inadequate payment options. Credit card is as essential as PayPal, buy now pay later like Afterpay, ZipPay and Humm, Apple Pay and Shopify pay.
  4. Using photos are are blurred or with more than. one product in them. Good photography is key – yes, you can do it yourself.
  5. Using stock photos that are already on many other websites. Google likes unique photos. Take them yourself.
  6. Using the same text that is on plenty of there websites. Google likes fresh text, fresh content. Write this yourself and follow consistent standards.
  7. No chat. Chat is key because shoppers have questions.
  8. Secrecy – not including an email address, phone number and actual street address.  People want to know they can trust you.
  9. Having no USP – unique selling proposition. Really, why should people shop with your website if your website offers nothing unique.
  10. Poor fulfilment. If you take too long to fulfil, people will know and they will complain to others.
  11. No support. Your website needs support online and elsewhere, so people can find it. This could be marketing, links on other sites, links on socials and more.

Our advice for small business retailers with websites goes beyond the 11 points we have noted here. Take these as a start. Anyone with a website can address these without additional cost. Fix these mistakes and you should start to see growth non engagement with the website. This is another step to growing online sales.

Tower Systems is grateful to serve thousands of small business retailers. Working with them helps us learn every day, which we love.

3 shop local community connection and marketing tips for small business retailers

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2020 is the year of shop local with a surge in people shopping locally. In our work with 3,500+ small business retailers, we have seen a surge in sales, both in -store sales and online sales with small business retailers.

It is wonderful to see, this authentic support for shop local in 2020.

Today, we share some tips for small business retailers on how to maximise the shop local opportunity, marketing advice on how to make shop local work better for you. These are marketing tips you can use right away without spending any money in most cases.

  1. What makes your business local? Know this and you can know much more about your message and how you can leverage it. For many retailers, their local connections are a point of difference. usually, what makes your business local is local knowledge. If this is you, serve this knowledge through touchpoint in your POS software. It is easy to encode local knowledge is related to what you sell and auto-serve this through customer purchases.
  2. Connect with the local community. Offer community groups fund-raining opportunities when your members choose your local business over other local businesses. It’s easy to manage through your POS software, to track the purchases by group members, given them a benefit and gift the community group itself a benefit in appreciation for their recommendation. This can be a perfect win / win / win for all in the local community.
  3. Stay connected. Through social media, email and other platforms, keeping connected with locals by sharing locally relevant information you can connect and share knowledge and this will be appreciated by locals. Your POS software can capture email addresses and share these with mailChimp for safe and spam free emails.

Know where your customers live. It’s easy to capture the postcode of shoppers. In every business we see doing this they learn things about shoppers that they can leverage, for better local community engagement especially.

Nurturing local shoppers really is all about your local community connection. It helps to have ways to do this that do not take too much time, ways that are consistently leveraged. This is where good POS software with tools for pitching your local connections can help.

Here at Tower Systems we care about small business retailers. We care for your businesses, those who rely on the business for income and your local shopper customers. We only work with and help local small business retailers with our POS software.

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