The POS Software Blog

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

CategorySocial Responsibility

Small business retail advice: how storytelling can reinforce the narrative of your local retail business

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For years we have been sharing stories on social media for our own shops. We started this to reflect on the diversity of shopper situations we engage with. The stories provided context for shopping by customers. Here is an example relating the greeting card purchases. It received over 200 lives in less than 24 hours:

Storytime. The twenty-something guy had been standing looking at cards for ten minutes. He seemed lost. “Hey, mate, you need a hand?” I said, without wanting to intrude. “Yeah”, he said with a sadness uncommon for a young guy looking for a card. “What are you looking for?”, I was careful in my approach. “My best mate’s dad died suddenly”, he paused. “He’s angry and wrecked” he paused again. “I, I want to tell him I’m here for him. I figured a card could be good,” he looked back at the range. “But, they’re too flowery.” He was right, the sympathy cards he was looking at were too flowery. After a while, we found a blank card with a dog on it, because his mate likes dogs. We worked out some words that got across what he wanted to say without being flowery.
Some days in retail we get to help in ways that will stay with us for years.

And then there is this one:

Storytime. Joe is 89 years old. He lives in a nursing home. When he moved there, he was limited as to what he could bring. The old shoebox with the collection of cards he’d received was the first thing he chose.
In that box are cards from his time as a local community Aussie rules coach. Parents and players had written cards over the years and Joe had kept them. “Each card is a memory”, he says with a smile, looking through his collection.
The oldest card Joe has is from 40 years ago from a player grateful for Joe’s help. Here it is so many years on, making Joe’s day.
Greeting cards hold the most wonderful memories.
And this one:
Storytime. Ethan’s school assignment asked that he write about his earliest memory. “That’s easy,” he said, “it was the first letter I ever got. It was a birthday card from grandma. I was 4 and she posted me a birthday card with a tiger on it and it came in the mail. That’s the first memory I have. I still have card, and the envelope. Mum got them framed for me.”
The card created in Ethan an interest in mail and letters more specifically. Now, 6 years on, every couple of weeks Ethan will write to a relative in the hope of receiving a response in the mail. And it all started with that birthday card, which remains his first memory.
Cards give us memories and stories long after they are received.
And this one:
Storytime. “Sorry, it’s just a card, no money for a gift this year.” That’s how Chris signed off the card to Jules, her friend of more than 20 years, since they were in high school together. Swapping birthday gifts with a card and a note were a tradition. Since they lived on opposite sides of the country, they’d usually include a note with the card and gift each year.
Jules wrote back: “your card and note mean the world to me, every year. While I may have, possibly but please don’t judge me, re-gifted the odd gift from you, I have kept every card, every single card from you. I have 23. They the story of us. They are a perfect gift. Thank you.”
The card we send today can provide heart-warming memories for many years to come.

Social media provides us an opportunity to share the narrative of our businesses. Local small business retailers are well placed to have wonderful stories they can share.

Our small business retail advice today is to take a break from shop here or shop local or look at this product and share something of yourself, share stories that speak to those who have shopped with you and yourselves.

Oh, and to answer an expected question for comment about using text and not images? Most social media posts use images. Going with text content could be more easily noticed. Certainly that is my experience in using posts like this over recent weeks.

Small business retail advice on dealing with local community group and charity donation requests

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Local small business retailers are asked to support local schools, community groups and charities on an almost daily basis. While community groups and charitable organisations beat a path to the doors of local businesses, so do individuals engaged on personal fundraising of their own for a cause or for an other individual.

It is tough making the call about which organisation to support or not for there is a real fear that declining will hurt the business. Often, small business retailers do not look for an uptick in business from a charity support decision but they do worry about a decline.

So how do you choose which local business you support?

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

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

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

THE PRIZE / GIFT

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

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

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

YOUR PITCH, NOT THEIRS

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

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

HOW TO PICK GROUPS TO SUPPORT

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

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

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

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

LET YOUR SHOPPERS CHOOSE

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

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

Grill’d burgers 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 has to serve your heart and serve your business. Going about it in a structured way will ensure you meet your objectives.

Today, we are grateful

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We are grateful for the small business owners who believe in us here at Tower Systems, those who have been with us for decades and those who have joined us in recent weeks, and all those in between.

Every local small business retailer customer means a lot to us and all who rely on our business for income.

We are also grateful that we can take this moment … to be grateful.

Business is challenging, especially in 2021 and especially in the small business space.

So, thank you … if you are a customer of ours passing by here. If you are not a customer, we hope we can be of service some day.

Helping local small business retailers come out of lockdown

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Through Covid, Tower Systems has been helping its POS software customers in a range of ways from establishing easy click and collect to easy access from home to pivoting to new product categories.

Now, with lockdown starting to ease in our two biggest states in Australia, Tower Systems has been helping local small business retailers coming out of lockdown, while at the same time helping businesses that have been open throughout deal with changes flowing from others coming out of lockdown.

The help being provided to POS software customers by Tower Systems ranges from the practical to the high level advice kind. It is based on experience across our retail customer community.

Businesses that have been in lockdown have challenges around inventory – both in-store and due to arrive from suppliers. We have a set of advice and guidance designed to consistently manage these situations.

Take in-store inventory, some of it could be considered old. We help identify it and through this guide business decisions that can be made.

Take pipeline product, product due to come to the business. Using accurate and current data, a business can fine tune their focus on new inventory and pick up on opportunities that are new, as a result of coming out of lockdown.

In some situations, locked down businesses open with click and collect that they may not have offered before. We provide advice and help with this, including making shopping online for click and collect easier.

Coming out of lockdown is an opportunity to recast the business, to reset the offer and provide a new focus not only for customers but for all who work in the business. The foundation of any recasting could be laid using evidence from business data curated through the POS software. We can help with this as well.

Tower Systems has helped many local retail businesses through Covid and coming out of lockdown in the past. The services we provide in terms of practical business advice are free for any of our customers, part of the local small business help we are grateful to provide.

The next few months will be challenging for many. Tower Systems is here to help and support as much as we are able.

How Tower Systems has been helping NSW and ACT businesses through the challenging Covid lockdown

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When the lockdowns in NSW and the ACRT were announced, Tower Systems reached to local small business retailers with practical help on how to work on their businesses with minimal cost, to make the businesses more valuable today and, especially, post lockdown.

Through a carefully created offer, we pitched practical help that included free advice with ideas that could be implemented without any outlay through to more commercial engagement that made our specialty retail POS software more affordable.

Tower Systems is an Australian software company. We make POS software for specialty retailers: jewellers, produce businesses, farm supply businesses, gift shops, garden centres, bike shops, bookshops, pet shops, toy shops, fishing & outdoors shops, music shops, sewing shops, mobility scooter businesses.

At our website, www.towersystems.com.au, you can see a video for each specialty retail marketplace we serve.

For a personal demonstration, please email sales@towersystems.com.au or call Tim or Justin on 1300 662 957.

We are grateful to serve 3,500 local specialty retailers with our locally made and supported POS software.

Rent from a few dollars a day.

You can rent our software for a few dollars a day with no extra cost for more computers. Software rental includes:

  • Software updates.
  • Software support, human based support by our own team of retail specialists.
  • Extra training when you need it.

And, in our POS software, you have access to our Xero link, MYOB link, EFTPOS links for major banks, Tyro EFTPOS link, Zip, Humm and Afterpay access for buy now pay later, Shopify integration as well as Woo and Magento.

Plus, we have awesome loyalty tools, smart reporting, easy importing of electronic invoices and a pathway for converting from other software.

Limited time offer: $1,000 off training and setup package.

We charge for the two and a half days of training, setup and tailoring of software settings for your specific business. Right now, for NSW and ACT retailers we offer $1,000 off. This limited offer is put to respect the challenges you’re facing right now.

To find out more, please email sales@towersystems.com.au or call 1300 662 957.

This Covid lockdown offer was embraced by plenty of business owners keen to work on their businesses. We re grateful to be able to help.

Helping local small business retailers navigate the vaxxed versus unvaxxaxed shopper debate

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There has been considerable noise on social media recently when some retailers said they would welcome anyone to their business, vaxxed or unvaxxed. It became heated with plenty of yelling and abuse.

Vaccination is a vexed (sorry) issue. You’re damned if you speak up and damned if you do not. We became drawn into it with retailers asking what we thought, given or reach across a diverse group of retail settings.

We so understand retailers say they welcome anyone as it presents as inclusive. We can also understand retailers saying they prefer shoppers to be vaccinated, especially if they have family and loved-ones who for some reason cannot currently be vaccinated.

While we are keen on fence-sitting, we think with this issue retailers, especially local small business retailers are better off saying nothing because saying something will attract fringe-dwellers and these folks can be demanding, nasty and distracting. We know a retailer who said anyone is welcome and then found tribes of fringe dwellers on their social media doorstep.

By all means have a view for yourself and those who work in the business as it is your workplace and you have obligations. However, we don’t see how that can extend to customers when the government itself does not have a view.

For sure we want everyone who can to be vaccinated, and urgently. If we were in government with the authority, we would try and find a way to force that, for the health and safety of the community. We’d tie it to some funding or benefit, as happens already in child care. But, we are not in government and owning a shop does not give me the right to dictate what my customers believe, no matter how much we see our shop as our little kingdom.

So, for us here in our POS software company, we will have our wish and hope that everyone who can gets vaccinated while, at the same time, serving anyone who comes here for service. And, while doing this, our shops and business locations will remain clean, happy and as Covid safe as possible with masks, hand sanitiser, free face masks and the other steps in place that have kept us safe and trading so far.

Covid has a long long way to go we think. This vaxxed and unvaxxed can shop here pitch is another pot-hole on the road that, when we look back on it, will be a small distraction.

Tower Systems supports op. shops and charity shops and community enterprises with tailored POS software

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Local op. shops are part of the retail landscape across Australia. Run by churches, community groups and charities, these shops serve the vulnerable in our community while raising funds for vital local community projects.

Op. shops have unique needs when to comes to managing them. The needs are similar to those in charity shops and other community enterprise retail businesses.

Tower Systems is grateful to offer low-cost POS software for charity shops, op. shops and community enterprise businesses. This is software made for these retail situations, designed to help these community-focussed shops serve their goals, to fulfil their missions.

Charity and op. shops are unique and loved businesses, providing valuable service to the local community and to those supported by the charity. Here is some of what you can expect from the Tower Systems POS software for op. shops / charity shops / community enterprises:

  1. Easy shopper loyalty.  While the software offers a loyalty points system, we have found the cash-off approach in our loyalty tools works better in local retail. People understand money. A receipt showing an amount they can save on their next purchase gets, usually, at least 20% of people spending more that visit.
  2. Manage inventory your way. You can sell by barcode, products code, department, category within department, price point. You can sell, measure and report at the level point appropriate to your needs.
  3. Easy to learn. We have found that in community enterprises easy to learn / easy to use really does matter. Volunteer turnover makes this essential. We can record training specific to your needs and make these videos available for future volunteers.
  4. Secure. You can lock down parts of the software to secure them for management access only.
  5. Check and balances. This software guides processes. It also provides hidden tracking so you can investigate should the need arise.
  6. Club / group marketing and support. Leverage clubs and community groups with offers and pricing just for them.

This Australian made and supported charity / op. shop POS software does much more than what’s on this list. See it for yourself, live and obligation free, to see if it could serve you and your business. We’d be glad to show it to all involved in the operation.

We started din this space many years ago with our first church shop software and it’s evolved since for bigger businesses in this space as well as for much smaller businesses. We are grateful to help these organisations in their commitment to community service.

Advice for local small business retailers considering a website for their business

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Our CEO sent the following email to small business retailers on our database Saturday morning. We share it here as we know some retailers are being encouraged to go online, including by some with dubious claims about their success and what they can do:

Good morning this Saturday morning.

Like many of you, I guess, I am sitting here getting some work donw while rgularly checking for Covid updates, to find out when the various press conferences will be. I’ve also been checking emails.

I am frustrated at some of the email pitches I am seeing to retailers offering websites. I am especially frustrated by those who claim it is cheap and easy.

Like anything in this world, you get what you pay for. 

There is one shonk emailing claiming that you’ll make a ton from selling online from a. website they setup for you. I check the traffic they get to their own online shop and it’s under 100 visitors a day.

I own Tower Systems and I own several retail shops. Each shop has a website connected to it. I know how hard it is to get the website up and running, attract shoppers and maintain traffic. The rewards can be worth it.

There is no easy road. But, that should not put you off for if you get it right, the reward can be wonderful.

Click here to see some of the many websites we have created.

I have a small high street retail shop in suburban Melbourne that will do more than $160,000 in online sales this year. What we have done for that shop is what we advise our POS software and web development customers to do. It runs a POS software commented Shopify site, which we created here at Tower Systems.

A website is a hungry beast. If you leave things to someone else, I guarantee the results will not be as good as they could be.

There is no easy road. We have a pathway that focusses on early wins, good commercial outcomes you will like.

We develop POS software connected websites for our customers for $6,600.00. But, we expect you to get your data ready, in the POS software, so it flows across. We guide you through this.

We also develop Magento websites. They are for more complex needs. One of our magento websites does around $500,000 a year in sales. It’s connected to a group of retail businesses, which are owned by local retailers.

We have used WooCommerce but no more. It’s expensive to maintain. Anyone who asks our advice, we say don’t go with WooCommerce.

With the news our of NSW yesterday about click and collect, we can help you with this. It’s part of what we do for customers through a POS software connected website. We can also help you navigate complex shipping requirements as well as connecting with a variety of payment options.

If you are interested in a POS software connected Shopify site, click here to see our fixed price quote.

In addition to developing a beautiful site for you, we can help with the planning by sharing data for your competitors, guiding you on keywords and making suggestions on look and feel.

Given what has happened in NSW, VIC and the ACT in the last few days, we can fast track a site for you. let us know if this interests you.

To find out more, email sales@towersystems.com.au or call Tim on 0401 833 917 or Justin on 0434 365 789.

If you have the time, check out videos some of the workshops we have hosted in which we discuss with retailers web development and how to make some of the decisions you need to make around this.

Thanks for reading. I hope you are safe and well. And, please, beware claims offering cheap websites setup entirely by others.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director
Tower Systems
0418 321 338.

PS. As a guide, online should by now be at least 10% of your product revenue.

How our POS software helps local small business retailers with Father’s Day 2021

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Retailers using our POS software have been leveraging opportunities for connecting with shoppers for Father’s Day 2021. We are grateful to have seen from our POS software customers plenty of examples of how they are engaging with Father’s Day opportunities. here are some of the initiatives that we have seen, where our POS software has worked with local retailers to engage with Father’s Day:

  1. Selling online through POS software connected websites.
  2. Offering click and collect through the POS software and through Shopify connected website.
  3. Supporting the creation of Father’s Day gift bundles for easy and efficient selling.
  4. Offering infrequent shopper loyalty rewards for those in the shop for Father’s Day.
  5. Leveraging what the POS software curated data show does work for Father’s Day.
  6. Efficiently bringing in products for Father’s Day thanks to deep supplier links.
  7. Selling quickly and safely.
  8. Guiding inventory replen opportunities.
  9. Offering email marketing data you can leverage to reach out and invite shoppers.

Father’s Day is a vital season for many retailers, newsagents, gift shops, jewellers, garden centres, fishing shops, toy shops and more. Embedded in our POS software we offer tools that local small business retailers are using this Father’s Day to help drive small business success.

Even with lockdown impacting local small business retail across plenty of channels, we have helped many retailers to make the most of the unique circumstances through online as well as in-store engagement. Our click and collect opportunities, for example, make it easier for retailers to connect with this. We are showing that the challenge of lockdown can help a local small business to pivot so that they can safely connect with the lockdown regulations that are now in place.

Father’s Day is a key season in many retail businesses and while 2021 does present a set of unique challenges, we know there are ways in which our software can serve these businesses, to help them trade through the unique settings, to help make Father’s Day bright for plenty of their customers. we are grateful for opportunities to serve the retailers in our POS software user community.

If you are yet to make purchases for Father’s Day 2021, please consider shopping local as it is local retailers who are more likely to support the local community and they can only do this if you support them.

Helping small business retailers deal with Covid related supply chain challenges

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2021 is proving to be challenging for all retailers, but especially small business retailers, when it comes to supply chain confidence. Covid has wreaked havoc on predicting, in-country logistics, shipping and arrival port congestion.

Christmas 2021 is looking challenged for some retail businesses as a result. This is leaving some retail channels scrambling to resolve Christmas options to keep their shops and websites full and able to satisfy shopper demand.

We have been leveraging our cross channel experience and contacts to help retailers looking for assistance in putting in place contingency plant to buttress their business against the impact of supply chain challenges.

Through contacts, business data and some other elements we have been able to highlight opportunities for retailers to consider that may play well for them, offering alternative for otherwise hard to stock product for Christmas 2021. Right now, in August 2021, it is getting close to too late to put in place reasonable contingency plans. That’s why we have been encouraging retailers to work on this for several months now.

The Covid impacted factory, logistics and related challenges are not new, we all went through 2020. But, they are more intense now, even more so than in 2020. We did engage then. This year, the engagement has been broader and with more retailers.

As a POS software company with a wide and deep relationship with its customers, Tower Systems is grateful for the opportunity to serve retailers in this way, to help with practical advice and connections beyond what could be usual for a POS software company. There is a POS software connection though, since it is the data curated by our POS software that can reveal opportunities outside of what has been traditional for a business when they are looking to fill an unexpected product gap.

Thanks to other business interests we have, we are fortunate to have access to good data as to factory and other challenges for products in a. range of categories. This is helpful for us as we can share this with our customers. Sometimes local suppliers are not as forthcoming with data as to delays. Retailers want information so they ca n implement a plan b. Some suppliers are scared they will lose business, which is odd as they would lose it anyway with such late deliveries.

Hey, it’s the weekend …

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Hey, it’s the weekend. We hope it’s relaxing and recharging. If you’re in part of Australia that is in lockdown, take care. We are. we’re focussed on that light up ahead, and we know it’s not a train. It’s summer filled with laughs, BBQs and some beers. In the meantime, at home this weekend our BBQs and beers will be just us, but that’s okay. Take care folks …

Advice on dealing with anti-maskers in small business retail

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The latest lockdowns in New South Wales and Queensland have seen small business retailers confronted by anti-maskers out to make a point for their nutty views. Vocal anti-maskers in-store make for a possibly unsafe workplace.

While we are not legal experts, we offer the following advice to retail business owners:

  1. Provide your staff with appropriate personal and business equipment for their protection: screens at the counter, masks, hand sanitiser … all backed by appropriate Covid protection protocols. Keep this updated. For example, have an endless supply of masks available.
  2. Ensure customers know, from front of store signage and social media posts, that masks are required in-store. Use clear signage.
  3. Have masks available at the entrance to the shop for customers, for free.
  4. Demonstrate active understanding of situations where someone may not be able to wear a mask, for health reasons for example.
  5. Have a protocol for dealing with a vocal and / or threatening anti-masker and ensure that all staff know the protocol. This protocol should include a means by which a situation can be easily reported – a specific bell ring, for example.
  6. As the business owner, be engaged in dealing with anti-maskers.
  7. Meet with employees regularly to talk about the situation, to decompress. Make sure they understand and see that you support them.
  8. If the business is being targeted at all, position yourself at the front of the shop to run defence.
  9. The goal has to be to not directly engage with an anti-masker, to avoid making the situation worse, but to get them out of the shop as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  10. Ensure your CCTV is working, so you have evidence or any portable offence.
  11. Engage the police for any unsafe or threatening behaviour.
  12. Appreciate good customers in-store and on social media – celebrate their actions for making the shop safe.
  13. Put the health and safety of employees ahead of what a customer may think is their right to free speech. 

Dealing with anti-maskers in a retail business is all about leadership. The solution has to be set and led by business owners. leaving it to front line retail staff to deal with would be, in my view, an abrogation of responsibility. Show your employees how much you care about them by actively engaging on this issue.

POS software helps local op. shops serve their local community

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Our POS software for op. shops, charity shops and community group shops helps these vital community enterprises to be of greater service in their local communities.

We have served in this area of POS software charity shops, community group shops and op. shops for many years. Our portfolio of shops in this space includes church bookshops, community enterprise garden centres, traditional Aussie op. shops, charity run produce businesses and more. It is this diverse charity business engagement that helps us provide software that is commercially useful and community supporting.

Embedded in our op. shop POS software are facilities these community group businesses can use to connect with their members, and through them, connect with the wider local community.

We handle GST requirements for these types of enterprises as well as unusual approaches to pricing. We also make it easy for people to learn the software, to help them deal with the variety of volunteers who often play a key role on the operations of these businesses.

Understanding the varied needs of the charity run businesses and pitching what we offer to those in the business as well as those on a committee in control of the business, Tower Systems is grateful to be of service of these organisations and the mission they pursue here locally and well as overseas, where several charities we serve raise funds for.

We are grateful to serve these community enterprises with POS software made for charity / op. shops that helps in many ways, including:

  1. Easy shopper loyalty. We have found the cash-off approach in our loyalty tools works better in community enterprise retail. People understand money. A receipt showing an amount they can save on their next purchase gets, usually, at least 20% of people spending more that visit.
  2. Manage inventory your way. You can sell by barcode, products code, department, category within department, price point. You can sell, measure and report at the level point appropriate to your needs.
  3. Easy to learn. We have found that in community enterprises easy to learn / easy to use really does matter. Volunteer turnover makes this essential. We can record training specific to your needs and make these videos available for future volunteers.
  4. Secure. You can lock down parts of the software to secure them for management access only.
  5. Checks and balances. This software guides processes. It also provides hidden tracking so you can investigate should the need arise.
  6. Club / group marketing and support. Leverage clubs and community groups with offers and pricing just for them.

While not ideal for every op. shop / charity shop / community group shop situation, our POS software is worth considering. We won’t pressure you. rather, we will show you what the software can do and leave you to make your decision in your own time.

Our Aussie made POS software can help local retailers raise funds for local community groups and schools

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Using our Aussie made POS software, local retailers are able to connect with local community groups including schools to engage in fundraising campaigns. Built into our POS software are facilities that can drive shopping by members of community groups, shopping that can result in donations back to the groups with which they are connected.

These are smart tools that we have seen fundraising for local schools as well as a diverse mix of community groups.

By engaging with the members of groups a local retailer can broaden their shopper appeal. The community group benefits, the members benefit, the business benefits and the community benefits. That is where this community group engagement works well – the breadth of benefits delivered through a retailer leveraging the POS software community group marketing tools.By bringing structure and consistency to this, retailers can let the members of the group drive the benefits for their business.

We are grateful to the retailers and community groups that have helped us over the years to tune these tools, to enable us to make something flexible for a range of situations.

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.

The approach we have available through our POS software helps the business be consistent, connecting fundraising back to support for the business from members of the group asking for your support.

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.

Here at Tower Systems, through our POS software for local retailers, you have access to facilities that help you connect locally, by supporting fundraising for local community groups. We are grateful to be of service in this way.

In Covid lockdown #5, we’re open

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As a business that meets the criteria for being essential, our office is open. This is being run with around 20% of the usual office based staff, which the majority of our people are working from home, as they have done from the start of 2020.

Having the office open helps us provide better service to customers as we have access to a broader suite of tools than can be provided from a pure home office model.

We are grateful to our customers for their support and we appreciate the new customers we are welcoming every week.

Advice for NSW small business retailers in their 2nd lockdown … from the Victorian experience

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It was the second Covid lockdown in Victoria that was a defining moment for many small business retailers. Whereas first lockdown was a national experience, the second lockdown was unique to Victoria back then.

While there were many media stories about businesses doing it tough, the reality is that many of us had a good Covid, through all four lockdowns in Victoria. Here’s what worked for us and many of the local small business retailers I have spoken with:

  • Be safe. Have the perspex screens at the counter.  Place your credit card terminal on the customer side.
  • Be frugal. Spend what you must but hang on to as much cash as you can. You don’t know how long this will go on for.
  • Make shopping easier, safer. Bring what people will want the most to the front of the shop, to reduce browsing. In a newsagency where papers have been put to the back of the shop, for example, bring them to the front of the shop.
  • If you’re not online, get online.
  • Be practical. Now is not the time for pretty displays.
  • Preference card payment. The less cash you have to handle, the safer the business.
  • Be flexible. Be available for shoppers where they want to shop: online, on the phone, via social media. Offer delivery or curbsibe pickup.
  • Offer what they want. What people will purchase through a lockdown will be different to other times.
  • Bundle. People who want to send gifts will appreciate you offering bundles ready to be delivered or posted.
  • Co-operate locally. If you are open and a nearby shop is closed, maybe you could sell some of their stock for them.
  • Clean, clean and clean. Showing this being done builds confidence.
  • Be grateful. You will see many good deeds and hear about many too. Share them on social media.
  • Look after your team. Have a good supply of masks and anti-bacterial gel. Given them breaks to refresh and wash their hands.
  • Think about beyond Covid. The experience will help you see your business differently. Lean into that for opportunities on the other side.

Regional, rural and high street newsagents are likely to have a better lockdown than those in shopping centres. many Victorian shopping centres are yet to recover from lockdown 2 and beyond. We mention this as one consequence of extended lockdown for shopping centre businesses is to find opportunities outside the centre.

We have three physical shops in Victoria as well as an office and several online only businesses. What we have suggested in this post we have done in our businesses, and we continue to do them today. For example, as part of the be frugal advice, we made some decisions that we expected to be temporary, decisions we still follow today, decisions that continue to save money.

While things seem grim in NSW right now, at the local small business level you have an opportunity to make your own success, your own good situation out of a bad situation.

If your shop is open and not busy because people are staying at home, use the opportunity to make changes. Be bold, but frugal. Use the time, too, to plan for what’s on the other side – promotions, marketing, re-casting.

Footnote: through our work with newsagents and with the Tower POS software community more broadly, only a very few businesses did not make it through. We think this is because small business retailers are resilient and flexible, doing what is necessary. Good luck everyone!

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