Here is 2022 stocktake advice from our POS software company for our 3,000+ customers:
If your local retail business competes with big businesses and online businesses, you are likely copying them and their approach to loyalty. Points are the common approach. The world is obsessed with points, chasing them, collecting and trying to spend them.
But who knows that they are worth?
Each point is not the same whereas each dollar is a dollar everywhere.
The Tower Systems POS software offers a points based loyalty solution embedded in the POS software – for businesses that like to copy big business. The businesses that like to innovate, be different and stand out, however, use the discount vouchers facilities in our POS software. In these facilities there are no points accrued. rather, loyal shoppers accrue dollars. See how:
With hundreds of local small business retailers using the Tower Systems discount vouchers we have good data to speak to when encouraging local retailers to embrace the opportunity.
For years, retailers, especially independent and small business retailers, have been told to follow retail giants and reward loyal shoppers with points that can be redeemed for gifts and discounts.
Dutifully, many small business retailers acted on this – but without a thought-through strategy to achieve the best outcome for the business.
Without a financially rewarding outcome for a business, a loyalty program is worthless.
This is why retailers, in any retail channel and in any retail situation – high street, shopping mall, rural and or regional – need options in terms of shopper loyalty rewards.
While a points based program is useful, it could be that the business will benefit from a different approach.
Good POS software will offer flexibility. This flexibility can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line performance of a retail business each year.
Change the game: front-end loyalty
By using an approach we at Tower call front-ending loyalty, retailers can achieve more from first-time and infrequent shoppers. Front-ending loyalty brings a reward to the front in an effort to engage shoppers in additional purchases sooner.
Too often loyalty has been all about total spend over a year whereas above average spend in just one visit can be more valuable to a business.
It’s an approach that can encourage those who do not shop with you to purchase something else right away, to get the value of the cash discount offered.
Regular shoppers can spend the cash discount right away or come back within any time limit you set.
We started trialling this front-ending loyalty strategy in February 2013 in several retail businesses. We did it using the Discount Vouchers facilities in the Tower Systems software.
Building the basket
From the first day we saw shoppers changing behaviour.
One chap came in to purchase a specific item. When he was handed the receipt the voucher was pointed out to him – offering $2.00 off his next purchase. He was not a regular and so spent the $2.00, and more, right away on another item. He received another voucher and purchased a third item. In all, he spent three times as much as the original purchase – all because of the Discount Vouchers he received.
Around 33% of all vouchers redeemed are used the day they are received. This shows customers building the basket – adding to their purchase that day as a result of the voucher. This makes each visit more valuable to us.
Bringing shoppers back
Around 33% of redeemed vouchers are used within seven days of issue and the remaining 33% are redeemed up to four weeks after issue.
Here’s another real story: A month after we started trialling this new approach to loyalty, a customer came in and used a voucher she had picked up a couple of weeks earlier. She was happy to get $5.00 off a $45.00 item she wanted. This resulted in another voucher so she bought another item for $29.95.
This customer said she would be back. Two weeks later she was.
You control the business rules covering how vouchers are issued and redeemed. You control your financial exposure at all times.
Like any good loyalty program, you need good levers with which to drive shopper engagement and to deliver the benefits it needs to justify the investment.
The Discount Vouchers facilities in the Tower software have this.
Good POS software offer these 5 benefits. Tower Systems does.
- What’s not selling = cut dead stock waste.
- What you’re missing out on = stop selling out.
- What’s sells with what = selling more.
- Theft under your nose = save thousands.
- Know when you’re busy and quiet = reduce labour costs.
Of course, thanks to the Tower Systems POS software, there are many more benefits than these. Now, here’s a new video from us about these 5 benefits from the Tower Systems POS software.
Rising interest rates are on the mind of everyone in Australia right now it seems. News stories appear daily about the impact of rising interest rates … for homeowners, for businesses. Everywhere we turn there is a ‘take’ on rising interests rates.
In local small business retail we can see the impact of higher interest rates through several lenses: consumer confidence, actual sales and business costs – for businesses with loan funds in place to support the business.
Our Tower Systems POS software company helps local small business retailers deal with rising interest rates in a range of ways …
We help retailers track trends on their shops. This is vital because while there is news out there and plenty of speculation, a retailer can only rely on what they bank through their register and our POS software is that register. we can help them access facts as they pertain to their business as opposed to feelings based on news and other stories. Facts matter. One retailer told us last week that rising interests rates were impacting their business through less sales. While their transaction count was down, revenue was up in higher margin areas meaning the business was banking more profit. facts matter.
We help retailers cap costs. The rental / subscription cost of our POS software has not changes since mid 2019. We have no plans to change it. Our customers know this. We are iota adding to their costs. We also help them require the cost of labour in their businesses and this can save money and free cash for other, more productive, uses in the business.
We help retailers free up cash in their businesses. And, this can help reduce their reliance on loan funds, which means a lower impact of rising interest rates. now, how do we help retailers free up cash. We do this in a range of ways, through smart tools in our POS software. We helped one business release more than $20,000 of hitherto dead money. The released funds helped them reduce their overdraft and that reduced the amount of interest the business was paying. It all comes back to using business data.
Rising interest rates are a thing. Rather than getting caught in the quicksand over them, our focus is on helping local small business retailers develop and walk through a plan for dealing with rising interest rates so that their businesses are not as impacted as they might otherwise have been.
The news out there on rising interest rates can be scary, and distracting. Our advice is to focus on that over which you have control, to understand, seek out a pathway through and to step thoughtfully along that path.
The cost of freight is increasing. Freight into Australia costs more. Freight around Australia costs more. Freight locally costs more.
Small business retailers can feel challenged as to how to deal with this, now to manage the cost of freight, how to protect their business against the cost of freight.
Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with the cost of freight by providing in the software the ability to easily spread the freight cost of a package containing a range of goods across the sale provide of all the goods received. This allows the business to pass on the cost, spread the cost, reflect the cost fo freight across all items brought into the business.
Too many small business retailers stress about then high cost fo freight and what to do about it. the thing is, freight is. cost everyone has. There is no such thing as free freight.
Trucks cost money. Truck drivers cost money. Warehouses cost money. Fork lift drivers cost money.
Every item in every shop in town has a freight cost associated with getting it on the shelf. There is no point complaining. It is a real cost, a universal cost, one that is best managed efficiently, and spread across the sale price of every inventory item that you have in the shop.
Use your POS software to do this. Tower Systems helps local small business retailers deal with the cost of freight. We do this through software facilities in the POS software as well and through advice on how to use the POS software and business management advice. This is where we leverage our experience as retailers to provide practical advice ion the test way to deal with the rising cost of freight in small business retail.
Once you discover that it is easy when receiving new inventory into your business to spread the cost of freight, you can systemise the process, structure it, make it part of your operational processes. This takes the emotion out of the situation. It stops you having tom micro manage it. You benefit and the business benefits.
Freight is a cost all businesses confront. There are myriad ways to deal with it, manage it and leverage it sol that it is not as problematic for the business as it may seem.
Tower Systems is a full service POS software company focussed on local specialty retailers in selected retail channels.
EFTPOS fees are a pain point for local small business retailers. They are a cost of business, eating into already tight margin. Talk to any local small business retailer and it is likely they ill complain about high EFTPOS fees.
In some cases, it is EFTPOS fees that are tied to other services that can negatively impact them the most.
In the POS software marketplace, for example, there are POS software companies that offer their software at a reduced price if you sign up for their integrated EFTPOS solution. In two instances we have seen this week, the EFTPOS fees in these situations are higher than the usual market price – making more money for the POSt software company and costing the local retail business more.
How can I cut EFTPOS fees is a common question from retailers. It is a question that comes with urgency, need and emotion. It is a question we understand we own shops as weak, 4 shops in fact where more than half our revenue is settled by way of EFTPOS. We understand the challenge of high EFTPOS fees and have found ways to satisfactorily address this in our shops.
We have found a way to cut the cost of EFTPOS fees for our local retail businesses.
If you want to cut EFTPOS fees for your shop, it starts with understanding more about how the fees accrue. This is where Tower Systems can help.
Oh, and by the way, we do not require you to sign up for a specific EFTPOS provider. Our advice is neutral, balanced and focussed 100% on your needs. Sure, we have relationships that could save you money too, but there is no requirement. All Tower Systems customers have free access to our advice and assistance to cut EFTPOS fees in retail. We know the more we help our retailer business customers do this the more we are able to deliver practical benefits that will encourage our customers to stay with us.
If you think EFTPOS fees in your shop are too high, consider how Tower Systems might be able to help you. Our POS software is awesome. Our retail business management advice and support is valuable. Everyday we leverage our retail business experience beyond the POS software itself. This helps our customers save money and make their businesses more valuable.
Can I cut EFTPOS fees in my shop? Yes, we think you can. Let us help. email@example.com
Oh, and if you signed up for EFTPOS services in return for a lower subscription or rental cost of your software, check to see what your EFTPOS fees are, compare them against the marketplace. If you are like the two businesses we were contacted by this week it could be you signed up for a higher transactional cost in return for a small discount off the software cost … resulting in higher costs for you. yes, that is what happened.
A consequence of Covid is short-term retail space opportunities. Ion our work with retailers and through our iPad / tabled based Retailer Roam product we have experience helping retailers with pop-up shops. Here is advice we have to share:
Definition: a pop-up shop is a temporary shop, one that is open for a limited period of time, usually around a month, rarely more than three months.
We have assembled our pop-up shop advice and tips into key topic areas.
Like any business decision, a decision to open a pop-up retail location needs to be based on good research and the business itself needs to have a purpose. So, before you begin, think about why.
Here are some reasons to do a pop-up shop:
- To test new product categories.
- To supplement your income.
- To help quit slow moving stock.
- To enhance your retail experience.
- To experiment with a plan b where you might land if you close your main shop.
- To engage in targeted, temporary, competition.
- To compete with yourself.
With a pop-up shop you don’t have time to find your customers. The location needs to already have good traffic passing daily, traffic you can easily leverage. Even more so than in fixed-location retail, location is critical.
The best locations are shops that have good passing traffic that is of interest to you and that have been vacant for a while where a landlord might be happy with something rather than nothing.
Negotiate the lowest rent cost possible. Some landlords see pop-up offers as a reason to charge a premium. Only sign up for a price you are 100% happy with. If it is expensive and does not work financially, don’t sign hoping it works out, because in retail it rarely does work out better. In a pop-up business you have less time to see if it works out. Also, preferably, no contingency deposit.
Staff the business with a lean roster. This shop is about selling. that means, products placed for a price proposition rather than beautiful displays that take time to maintain. Every staff member is there to sell and maximise revenue from every shopper visit. There is no room in the roster for fat.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS.
Don’t spend a cent on fixtures and fittings. That needs to be your starting position. It’s a pop-up shop. People expect it to be efficient, cost-effective. Using tables and boxes adds to the feel of the shop feeling low-cost and that can help drive sales. Suppliers can be a good source for loaned fixtures.
Ask suppliers to offer consignment stock or special clearance deals they’d like to move fast. Go for items that can be sold out of a box, to make display and ranging easier. In-box displays of particularly cheap items can work very well.
Price to sell. This means being below usual retail. Price to understandable price points. For example, you might have a $10 table, a $20 table and so on. Consider bundling items into packs, which make price comparison difficult.
Don’t spend money on sign writing or marketing. Use social media and bargain websites and anywhere similar where you can list the store and its products.
Host an opening party. List this as a local event on Facebook.
Your mindset in managing the pop-up shop needs to be different to a fixed-location retail situation. Pop-up shops are about low cost, low overheads, low prices. Be ready to do deals. Whoever manages the pop-up shop needs to be different to how they would be in the fixed-location retail business.
You need to move fast. From the moment you sign a lease or agreement, the clock is ticking. Ideally, you’d open within 24 hours and when you are done, closing and clearing out the shop is done in 24 hours or less. This is all about maximising the time for income-production.
Cultivate good data that can guide business decisions for your next moves.
Is a pop-up shop worth doing? Only you can determine that. We have seen plenty of pop-up shops work well for the retailers, contribute good GP, help move slow stock and help open to the owners category opportunities not previously considered.
Do the planning and you should expect to benefit.
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. 😃
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.
- 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.
- The floor plan layout should also include your back room if you have stock there.
- Colour-shade the layout by department. For example, shade all areas with magazines in yellow, all floor space for gifts in blue etc.
- List the departments on the side of the floor plan.
- 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.
- Use your POS software to report on gross profit dollars earned by each department over the last year.
- 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.
- 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:
- Changing the location of a department within the business.
- Increasing floor space for a department.
- Decreasing floor space for a department.
- Working on improving the GP achieved for a department through better buying.
- 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.,
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.
Gift shop retailers using the Tower Systems POS software have at their disposal a proven suite of tools and facilities with which to combat the blues which seem to surround so many retailers at the moment.
By engaging with the marketing and management tools in the Point of sale software, retailers can expect to cut costs, increase sales and drive bottom-lime profit.
These claims are more than a sales pitch. For no additional cost, local small business retailers can drive more profitable and more valuable business outcomes … and turnaround what may be a tough retail situation.
Using the Point of Sale software from Tower Systems, retailers can expect to:
- Cut costs. Thanks to electronic invoicing, the cost of processing new stock is lower than with manual processes. This can help cut your labour bill.
- Increase sales #1: reward customers. A good loyalty program works. Not like FlyBys which is of dubious financial value to customers. No, a serious loyalty program which guides your customers to spend more money with you. I have see stores grow sales by 10% on the back of a well constructed loyalty program, a good POS software package will run this for you, points and all.
- Increase sales #2: easy lay-by. Lay-by run properly and using technology can be highly profitable. The software can manage the rules and ensure that your shop operates as professionally as a national retailer. You set your own rules and the software manages the paperwork.
- Increase sales: market to your customers. A coupon on your receipts, an email newsletter, a printed newsletter or up-sell script at the sales counter for staff – these are all ways you can use your point of sale system to help guide your existing customers to spend more money with you.
- Increase sales #5. Connect with a local charity. Use your gift shop software to make it easy for a local charity to promote your retail business shop and raise money for themselves at the same time. Each sale earned for you by the charity can be tracked so that you are able to reward them with an accurate donation at the end of the campaign.
- Make better business decisions. Bu buying only stock which works for you or seeing exactly what customers buy with what you are able to make business decisions which are more likely to drive better business results.
- Sell your own gift cards. If a customer cannot find what they want in your shop you could sell them a professional looking gift card with a unique barcode allocated to that card. This way they money they put on the card is used in your business.
- Cut mistakes. Mistakes in retail can be expensive. By using smart retail management software, you can and should expect to cut mistakes. This is because it takes fewer keystrokes per sale. This reduces the opportunity for mistakes. The saving could add as much as a full percentage point to your bottom line.
- Cut theft. Theft in retail in Australia was running at between 3% and 5% of turnover. Thanks to tight controls around employees and better tracking of stock theft, you can expect to cut the cost of theft. Every $1 cut in theft is a $1 on your bottom line.
- Handle special orders. Using software you can place orders for specific customers. The software can even sent a text message to the customer’s mobile phone when their special order comes if. Talk about customer service!
The most important way you can grow your business in a tough marketplace is doing what you probably do best – providing cheerful and knowledgeable customer service. You can do this and your employees can do this if you hand over some of your administrative tasks to your software.
It is easy to get drawn to the doom and gloom of the times and through this to lose focus on your business. This trap must be avoided at all costs … for the sake of the business and all who rely on the business from customers to employees to owners.
By using tools freely available in your Point of Sale software you can find sales, find time and find margin which may have eluded you to this point.
How people shop, when people shop and where people shop has changed fundamentally. Online has grown and continues to grow. People shop more with purpose now. There is less browsing. More people work from home permanently. What interests people has changed. People think more about the future now. People are less physically connected now, and more connected as a result. Australian made is more interesting to shoppers now. Shopping local counts for more than it used to. Tech barriers from before have been overcome: think QR codes, click and collect and the number of people shopping online for the first time.
These are some of the changes Covid has brought our way and in each of these is opportunity. While some business owners ask governments for cash to deal with today, it’s tomorrow that will really challenge as what Covid has kicked off and pushed forward will not u-turn.
We need to make our own Covid support package as it is this package that will be more useful to us in the future.
- Expand sources of revenue. Carry products and services that attract people who have not shopped with you before. Expanding your shopper reach insulates your business.
- Smooth the peaks. Look at your key business data points: sales by product category, sales by supplier, sales by staff member. Look at the peaks in these and if they are considerably higher than average, lift others so you are less reliant on the peaks.
- Expand your sales points. Having only the in-store sales counter as a sale point is a risk. Make sure you are online through your own website, on eBay and on social media so people can purchase where they want. Selling to people you will never see is key.
- Nurture loyalty. Run an easily understood loyalty program that differentiates your business.
- Chase efficiency. Efficient shopper visits have more items in the basket. Develop a strategy for driving this. It starts with understanding your current position.
- Entrench in the community. Supporting the community groups that support you is good for business. Doing this in a consistent and mutually understood way delivers benefits that can insulate the business when rocky roads present.
- Be frugal. Covid has taught us the value of having money in the bank. The trimmed roster, reduced inventory in the back room, lower overheads, early settlement discount taken … they all free cash that can be banked for when you will need it.
- Reduce debt. Every additional dollar you pay off business debt is a saving greater than the dollar itself.
- Look for the pivot. Keep asking yourself what if this or what if that. Think about pivot opportunities in those situations. Always have a pivot move or two and, if it makes sense, pivot early, ahead of the need.
- And, have your shop reflect how people shop now: make it easier, safer, serving quick shopping, packaging bundles, offer browsing without touching.
By being actively engaged in these and allied areas in your business you can create your own insulation against the challenges of Covid or similar. These suggestions and others they trigger make up your own made Covid support package.
The latest lockdowns in New South Wales and Queensland have seen small business retailers confronted by anti-maskers out to make a point for their nutty views. Vocal anti-maskers in-store make for a possibly unsafe workplace.
While we are not legal experts, we offer the following advice to retail business owners:
- Provide your staff with appropriate personal and business equipment for their protection: screens at the counter, masks, hand sanitiser … all backed by appropriate Covid protection protocols. Keep this updated. For example, have an endless supply of masks available.
- Ensure customers know, from front of store signage and social media posts, that masks are required in-store. Use clear signage.
- Have masks available at the entrance to the shop for customers, for free.
- Demonstrate active understanding of situations where someone may not be able to wear a mask, for health reasons for example.
- Have a protocol for dealing with a vocal and / or threatening anti-masker and ensure that all staff know the protocol. This protocol should include a means by which a situation can be easily reported – a specific bell ring, for example.
- As the business owner, be engaged in dealing with anti-maskers.
- Meet with employees regularly to talk about the situation, to decompress. Make sure they understand and see that you support them.
- If the business is being targeted at all, position yourself at the front of the shop to run defence.
- The goal has to be to not directly engage with an anti-masker, to avoid making the situation worse, but to get them out of the shop as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Ensure your CCTV is working, so you have evidence or any portable offence.
- Engage the police for any unsafe or threatening behaviour.
- Appreciate good customers in-store and on social media – celebrate their actions for making the shop safe.
- Put the health and safety of employees ahead of what a customer may think is their right to free speech.
Dealing with anti-maskers in a retail business is all about leadership. The solution has to be set and led by business owners. leaving it to front line retail staff to deal with would be, in my view, an abrogation of responsibility. Show your employees how much you care about them by actively engaging on this issue.
Every retail business does need a theft policy. A good theft policy outlines what is acceptable and unacceptable. It is clear about your position on theft.
through Nour work with small business retailers across a range of channels we have developed a theft policy that we offer as a starting point for local store development of a theft policy appropriate to their needs.
We don’t hold this out as a perfect or expert document. rather, we suggest it as inspiration or as a starting point. Here it is, for your consideration:
1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.
3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.
5. New employees may be asked to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.
8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by local labour laws.
9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory, including unsold, topped, magazines, unsold cards or damaged stock from the store without permission.
10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves, family members or friends.
12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.
PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
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:
- Make sure the shop feels happy. People will spend more in a happy business.
- Buy as best you can. If you better than usual, keep the additional margin for yourself.
- 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.
- Run with the leanest roster possible. Note, however, there is a fine balance between too few and too many.
- Always have successful impulse offers at high traffic locations. If something is not working, try something else.
- Have your best people working the floor, helping customers spend more.
- Make sure the shop looks appealing from outside.
- 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.
- Promote outside your store using online and social media opportunities.
- 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.
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/
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:
- Tell members to buy from you.
- Write about your business on their Facebook page.
- Distribute flyers of your offers.
- 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:
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:
- The goal of the group.
- Number of members.
- What you stand for.
- The work you do.
- Why it matters to the community.
- 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.
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 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:
- Business interruption. The amount should equal your anticipated gross profit for whatever period you choose to be covered.
- 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.
- Lost stock. This is stock stolen, lost from the business.
- Damaged and unsaleable stock. This is stock which is water damaged, scuffed or dented and which will not attract full price.
- Dated stock. This is stock that you cannot sell by the due date.
- Many policies require explicit statement of glass coverage.
- Temporary trading premises. Business interruption may cover this. Ensure that it is explicitly stated.
- 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
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:
- 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.
- Maintain a separate backup for each day of the week. Consider a separate backup for the last day of each month.
- Remove the backup medium, usually a USB stick, from the business premises each day – outside the business property.
- Store the backup in a safe, dry place.
- Check the usefulness of the backup by restoring and checking the data.
- Store original business software in a safe off-site location.
- 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.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Do not share passwords widely.
Here are some general suggestions on planning for a disaster in your business property.
- 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.
- 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.
- Maintain a register of all employees in the business premises at any time.
- Prepare and place in a prominent place an evacuation plan.
- Maintain a professional grade OH&S compliant first aid kit. Have this checked regularly.
- Regularly maintain all fire extinguishers – check with your local fire brigade about this.
- Ensure that the business premises is safe and maintained to the local building codes and OH&S regulations.
- Have a trained first aid officer in staff. Your local St Johns or similar will be able to provide training.
- 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
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.
POS software company Tower Systems offers its 3,500+ small business retailer community several options for integrated buy now pay later payment options for customers.
We are grateful for the opportunity to be early adopters of integrated buy now pay later solutions for small business retailers. We were the first POS software company to integrate with Humm, the terrific buy now pay later platform that now has a legion of customers and retailers engaged with it.
Our work with Humm was ground breaking, laying a path forward for many POS software companies, offering them a buy now pay later integration that suits many different types of specialty small business retailers.
The tech folks at Humm were a joy to work with as together we developed the approach for over the counter sale through POS software of products purchased using the Humm buy now pay later app.
Humm was our first POS software buy noway later integration with our POS software but certainly not our last we this space of finch has expanded rapidly. We are grateful to offer our retailers choice, with a nod to fees and charges, enabling our small business retail partners to manage their cost base and attract shoppers looking for payment flexibility.
Another buy now pay later integration we offer our small business retail customers is with the Zip platform and their Zip products that serve the buy now pay later shopper needs. Using Zip is easy, fast and secure for the shopper and for the retailer. the Zip integration with our POS software is seamless, direct. This is a perfect solution for small business retailers looking to offer respected buy now pay later payment options.
While some retailers continue to offer LayBy, it is the buy now pay later option that shoppers like, especially where they want immediate access to the product. It suits retailers, too, as they are not dealing with prescriptive LayBy regulations that can end up disadvantaging the retailer through the change of mind requirement.
Whether it is through, Zip, Humm or some other buy now pay later payment offering, Tower Systems is grateful to help small business retailers across plenty of specialty retail channels to connect with shoppers how, when and where they like, through our locally made and supported POS software.
Tower Systems is an Australian POS software company. We help local small business retailers compete, especially against big and better resourced competitors.
We are an unusual POS software company in that we own and run shops ourselves as well as several online businesses. We leverage our own experience in competing with big businesses in the advice, and help we provide to local small business retailers.
The work we do, the help we provide, it goes beyond POS software. While our POS software is at the core of what we deliver, the help we provide goes beyond this as we provide advice, support and encouragement to local small business retailers.
We gladly leverage our own retail marketing, small business accounting and other broader skills in service of help for local small business retailers.
The help we have provided has ranged from advice on containing employee theft, social media marketing and strategic management. However, it is our advice on how to compete with bigger and better resourced competitors that has been the most beneficial.
Through our POS software, local small business retailers can change the narrative. By this, we mean they can change the conversation such that it is difficult to compare the small business with a big business. This is done in a range of smart ways in the POS software, making it hard for shoppers to compare.
The other key move we facilitate through our POS software is through helping local small business retailers to differentiate through the added-value offered with products. This can be information and more as curated through the POS software.
Big businesses primarily compete on price. Price is their go-to move to compete. Price often does not help as it cuts margin. Our approach through our PSO software work is to help local business retailers to re-package what they sell so comparing like for like is not easy. This can show the local business as offering something more relevant and useful.
Beyond the software itself, Tower Systems helps small business retailers by offering its software on a rental model, helping;ing retailers to access the POS software and complete training and support retailers for a few dollars a day. They can do this without having to complete an onerous finance agreement. Indeed, through the Tower Systems software, retailers are quit the software and the associated rental at any time.
Local small business retailers can compete by being engaged, creative and focussed. here at Tower Systems we will help in any way we can. We see local small business retail as key in any economy.
In our work with more than 3,500 small business retailers, independent retailers, mainly high street retailers, we have developed a kit of advice from which we draw to help these retailers run more successful and enjoyable businesses.
One piece of advice that we have found to be most useful is what we share here today. It is advice that is rooted in practicality and personal accountability. We offer it today and hope you find it useful…
Make every day your pay day.
Some retailers consider the day the sell their business as their pay day. Smarter retailers know that every day the business is open and trading is a pay day.
It is unrealistic to look on a retail business as a bank accruing interest which is repaid in the form of goodwill when the business is sold. However, this is how many retailers do view their businesses. So much so in fact that they lose focus on the profitability of the business on a day to day basis.
The Small Steps Strategy for Growth outlined in the previous chapter is vitally important to ensuring the best possible pay day every day.
By making every day your pay day, you focus on profitability today and not next year or the year after, when you ultimately sell the business.
If you run your retail business this way, focusing on driving traffic, leveraging sales efficiency and ensuring the best possible margin every time, you will see profitability improve. While this will drive up the ultimate sales price you can achieve for the business, it will also put more money in your pocket from the business every day.
By driving profitability on a day by day basis, as if this is all that matters, you will take more notice of employee costs, sales efficiency and other more micro factors and drivers in the business.
You are more likely to make changes if you view sales and profitability data on a daily perspective rather than for a longer period such as quarterly or annually.
Did you make enough yesterday to pay for the rent, employee costs, cost of goods sold, marketing and utility costs as well as to pay yourself?
If not, what can you do to change this?
If so, did you make enough?
These are the challenges and the opportunities we will explore in this special report. By looking at your business as if every day is your pay day, you are more likely to look more closely at your business than if you are focused on the day you sell as your pay day. Obsess about these things and you are more likely to bank the results.
If you don’t know how you are doing daily or weekly, you need to put in place manual or computer based systems which enable you to track and report on this. Good or bad, it is information you need to make better business decisions.
So, how did you do today or this week? Make enough to pay all your bills, your employees and yourself? Look on and work on every day as your pay day.
As owners of retail businesses, especially small retail businesses, local retail businesses, know … everyone is an expert, everyone has advice on what to do, what to stock, how to grow the business.
Our retail management advice has been fine-tuned over decades of service of local small business retailers in a range of specialty retail channels. It has come, too, from our own ownership and operating of a range of retail businesses across four different specialty retail channels. We own three online shops and several online businesses today.
The retail management advice we share here is a taste of the support we offer small business retailers beyond the POS software we make, sell and support.
Today, in this post, our focus is on what we consider to be the most important advice for small business retailers. We call it bankable advice, advice you can rely on to add measurable value to your business.
- Use your data. Yes, that sounds boring. The thing is, the data curated by your POS software can help you buy better, sell faster, make more from each shopper visit, reduce theft, get more value from employees, make fewer mistakes, cut labour costs … and more. Yes, good data, leveraged consistently, will achieve all this and more.
- Connect. At every opportunity, connects your systems and processes from suppliers to your goods inwards to your POS to product returns to your business accounting software. The less you rely on manual processes the better your business decisions and the lower your costs.
- Look under the hood. Good POS software gives you eyes in the back of your head, it can show you what you don’t know and may not want to know. Ask what you can find out that may surprise you as it is in these surprises where you may find more value.
- Set goals for the business and measure performance. Revenue. Unit sales for key products. Sales by team member. Revenue by supplier. ROI. ROFS. Measure, report, discuss, improve.
- Reorder what sells.
- Place products next to products they are usually purchased with.
- Ensure your staff know how to use the tools you have. Take POS software, too often we see poor use hurting the performance of the business.
Success in small business retail is there for the taking, through management action. Success comes from consistent pursuit of success. Systems helps you consistently pursue success.
Good POS software companies can help you with this, they can help you drive a more successful and valuable retail business. That’s certainly our goal at Tower Systems.
If there is one good thing that 2020 has delivered for local small business retailers, retailers located on the high street, or strip shop as Aussies refer to it, it is that shopping local matters, is valued, appreciated and preferred.
Local retailers have shown their businesses as being safe, accessible, flexible and relevant in the middle of a pandemic. Shopping local has surged in Australia and for good reason.
The opportunity is to turn the 2020 surge into long-term engagement with shopping local.
Today, we write to share marketing tips with local small business retailers on leveraging shop local authentically. These marketing tips are based on discussions with some of our 3,000+ POS software customers and from our experiences running shops since 1996.
- Talk local. The more you speak to local news, local locations and local features on social media, on your receipts and in flyers included with products the more locals will feel your localness.
- Buy local. Seek out local makers of products that make sense in your shop. Your support of them can easily demonstrate your own local commitment toad this plays well for local shoppers supporting your local business. You can, through your POS software, indicate locally sourced products. Supplement this with collateral placed with the products to indicate they are local.
- Help local community groups support themselves. You can run a program where community group members present a cars at purchase to get special pricing,. This enables you to track the purchases so you can donate to the group a percentage of revenue driven by community group members. This program can see community groups encouraging their members to shop with you.
- Add local value. If you sell products that can be used differently in your local situation, as would be the case for a garden centre, fishing and tackle shop, pet store, bike shop and even toy shop, you could share local use insights that demonstrate your local knowledge and add value to what you sell to locals.
- Appreciate. One of the most important steps you can take to encourage locals shopping locally in your retail business is through appreciating them. A simple thank you at the counter, a thank you on a note you include with their purchase and a thank you on social media … these all play to appreciation.
- Personalise. Be sure through any communications from your business on social media and elsewhere that you show what shopping local means – the jobs created, the support to community groups you provide and more. be sure to help people to understand that what they spend with you helps so many, who have names and faces.
While we share these as marketing tips for small business retailers designed to encourage shop local, they are code business ideas designed to help you spread your local connections. It is critical in doing these things that you are authentic and authenticity is key in local retail.