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The Only Way Is Forward

Today is the start of the new financial year. The business clock begins again. Now you will have figures for last year, making it the ideal opportunity to set your business objectives for this year as you can use the figures you have from the previous year.

Here are a few focuses, I recommend that you do

1) Reflect on how your year 2021/22 has gone - write a few points down. Measure the performance of your business with our accurate and efficient data reports. See what has worked out and what has not worked out.

2) Make a preliminary financial budget for the following year. Make it sensible and reachable as if it isn't; in my experience, it is futile.

3) Do a SWOT examination on your business? It takes five minutes to learn. I find it better to do it once and then come back a few days later to complete it. My mind seems to work on it, even though I do not think about it. You can examine what your Strengths, Weaknesses, your Opportunities and your Threats are. If there is enough interest, I am happy to do a webinar on how this works in retail.

 

4) Combining your preliminary financial budget and SWOT can help you set reasonable targets for this year. Write them down.

The more you plan, the better.

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Although it is not required for our system, many will store a backup tonight that has their financial data for this year. They never know when this might be required.

I do not do this what I do is run my financial reports and store them by emailing my personal accounts these reports.

These reports will be

1) Debitors.

2) Creditors

3) Stock

4) Payroll reports.

Then I archive them in my personal email account where they will sit there for years just in case. You never know when you need them.

 

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Shoplifting and anti-theft signs are proven methods of reducing shoplifting. The big plus is that they are low-cost. What they do is show that you are aware and alert and that they will face the consequences of shoplifting.

Here are some interesting statistics

-one survey found that 84% of customers noticed security signage
-70% believed the words on the signs.
-50% of shoplifters indicated that they would either go to another store or not steal anything if surveillance signs were in the area.

Here are some tips on antitheft signs.

1) Instead of wasting marketing space on your shelf or floor space with your shoplifting signs, place them up high where shoplifters will most likely check for surveillance cameras
2) Place near the entrance, many potential shoplifters will see when entering besides many do not go deep into the shop anyway.
3) The sign should be in red.
4) Putting a pair of human eyes on your sign dramatically reduces theft. This sign reduced theft of bikes by 62%


For a discussion of the formal reasons why eyes work, click here.

5) Put signs in places shoplifters might believe is a blind spot in the shop; to remind them just because they can't see you does not mean that you can't see them.

Of course, for a well-rounded security plan, you should combine security signage with other security and protection measures.

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We’re in the final two days of this current financial year so you don't have much longer if you want to claim your tax deduction this year. Currently, there is another problem with price rises coming soon, it is unlikely that soon we can get you these items at these prices soon. 

Thinking of a touch screen, a three-in-all unit, a new computer, etc? Check it out now here as this is a great time to grab new tech products that are on sale.

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If you are not doing much in EFTPOS and need an EFTPOS as a service to your customers without it costing you, you could look at this plan. 

What you do is put a surcharge of 1.8% on all your electronic transactions, then you need not worry about the type of card, e.g. Dinners cards, etc.

This is now a regular and acknowledged method in Australia today.

For example, if I go to my local cafe and buy an espresso. When it is rung, I see a little extra charge added to the bill for the EFTPOS fees to take care of its EFTPOS costs. What they are doing here is passing on all these costs to their clients so giving them Zero Cost EFTPOS.

Some of our clients can save thousands of dollars a year by zeroing out their EFTPOS fees. 

There is no obligation, no contract, you are free to cancel and leave anytime. 

If you want to learn more about this Zero Cost EFTPOS arrangement, click here.

 

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Stocktaking

This weekend or next is when most stocktakes will be done, so here are some last-minute tips to help you have a smooth and successful stocktake.

1) Set up a problem area where items that have issues, e.g. damaged goods, can be determined later. The idea is to move on as much as possible.
2) When you come across items where the label is missing, or you cannot scan the barcode, move it to the problem area where it can identify and labelled correctly later. These items will need to be counted at the end of the stocktake as a separate count batch.
3) Carry out the count of a department in one hit if you can.
4) Teams work faster than individuals. One team of two people is better than two individuals, I find three is the ideal counting team.
5) Make a formal decision on how you will count. You will have fewer problems if you count from bottom to top, left to right.
6) Have place markers to mark what has been counted. It is easy to miss a section or accidentally count the same area twice.
7) While counting, check the pricing too?
8) You can clean too while items are being removed and counted.
9) Check that the items match the barcode, product description and quantity. Do not assume that the label is correct.
10) Do backup frequently. If something goes wrong, you may not lose all your work.
11) Have a backup at the end. We have had people enter everything in everything, then someone, not knowing what to do, pressed the wrong button and wiped the figures. This stocktake had to be redone.
12) If possible, count everything but be aware that sometimes you will need to estimate. Once, I counted a pile of underwear. I got 50, my co-worker said 55, so we wrote down 52.

Happy stocktaking

 

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I know we have been waiting about months for them to come yet presently they are here. 

These have a customer-facing screen that faces customers at the point of sale. Most large retailers use them.  Often in a three-in-one unit like this one.

These ones are available in two sizes, a 15-inch and 17 inches. A major addition is that you get a touchscreen included.

Here are some benefits that it gives you

-Touch screens
-Look extremely modern.
-Made for retail environments so they are tougher than most screens.
-It helps build customer trust, as the customer can see what you have put in while you are doing it.
-It speeds up the queue as the customer will have many of their queries answered on the screen, eg the price of a product or whether a markdown was applied. 
-It gives you an aura of professionalism. 

Want to know more, let us know.

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POS SOFTWARE

While having a customer loyalty program is beneficial to your business. You should be aware that somebody will always be looking to take advantage of the perks in your system. Often they do this without realising that their actions count as fraud. So if you run a loyalty program, you should know that it is not immune to fraud.

There are two types of loyalty systems we actively support:

Points: Where someone gets points for each purchase, and they can use these points to get benefits in your store. I have never heard of this fraud in our system. I would know as many of our clients are small to medium businesses who know their regular customers and would report if something goes wrong with these points. It is much harder to commit fraud if customers are verified and their purchases tracked.

Note: It would be highly worrisome if it happened as it would need to be internal as our system is secure using SQL used by banks.

Yet if you buy a business, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that you address the issue of unused loyalty points with the previous owner.

Discount vouchers: they get an instant credit on their next purchase, say $2 off on their next buy for a $25 purchase.

Now, this I know has caused problems.

A customer leaves the shop and often throws the receipt in a bin nearby. Another person comes along, grabs the receipt, shows up in the shop, and buys a $3 item claiming the $2 discount voucher. One quick fix is to put the receipt in the bag. The problem is that the retailer wants the shopper to see the voucher to encourage them to buy more instantly, so they give it to them in hand. If you question it, his friend, acquaintance, etc., gave it to them.

A similar problem is when a person comes to the shop to buy two things. They buy the first item, collect the discount voucher and use that voucher to buy the second item. This is interesting as it's questionable whether it's fraud or the retailer's stupidity.

Loyalty programs are a great way to build brand loyalty and encourage customers to return to your business but must be reviewed. Check your shop information for suspicious behaviour.

A standard measure is that a loyalty program should cost the retailer about 1% of turnover, although I have seen 2% used. On a million-dollar turnover, you are looking at $10,000 to $20,000, it is worth checking. Also if you are over that, it's certainly time to review what is happening without supplier support, I doubt it's worth it. 

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POS SOFTWARE

Retail Security: How To Prevent Shoplifting

For stocklifting, we usually expect about 1.33% on turnover. A rule of thumb is that a higher cost of living, will drive this up but how much we do not know yet. Also the increased idle time many in our community have, the reduced staff in shops and the wearing of masks have created a boom in shoplifting.

The reason it is now in the minds of retailers is that after a stocktake; they know they can determine their shoplifting figures.

Once done, our POS System will give them three figures: quantity, cost and totals. All tell a story.

Tips for what can be done?

Here are some thoughts for a webinar that I attended on this subject recently:

1) Quantity will give you a hint of how many such incidents occurred.

Cost is how much it costs you.

Totals will tell you how valuable this is to the thief.

So reviewing these figures will highlight departments and goods that are most at risk.

It will also give you an idea of what is being taken.

2) What I do suggest you do is map your shoplifting figures see here. It does not take long and will graphically show the current danger points in the shop.

3) Consider mirrors and cameras. An old mirror placed in a blind spot was shown to reduce theft dramatically there. That cost the retailer nothing. Shoplifters are looking for these details.

4) Greet people that come to the shop. As well as being good customer service, it shows that you are watching.

It is hard to identify people in advance. In a survey, 75% of shoplifters said they had no intention of committing it before entering the shop. Very few fit any profile.

Yet here this is an interesting idea from the webinar. Have grandmother greet everyone that comes into the shop. Besides showing that you care, it has been known to do wonders. Grandmother has been proven to be very effective in identifying dubious people, such as people who often come without buying. She is also excellent for shaming people thinking of stealing. She is also a great witness if things go legal.

5) Have enough staff. Much of the current problem with shoplifting is that many retailers have reduced staff. No one is monitoring the stock yet there is a lot of money there. Having a staff member go to a suspicious customer and ask, “How can I help you?” can do wonders. 

6) Show a security monitor in the front of the shop where customers can see it before entering. This shows that you are monitoring.

7) Good signage. This issue I will discuss in a future post after I go to the next webinar.

8) Review the shoplifting figures this will give you an idea of the size of the problem and allow you to make a shoplifting budget. in the future.

9) Do not display highly desirable and/or expensive items close to the shop's exit.  

It is too big a temptation for someone to grab and run and it is very hard to stop such actions particularly if you pile high-value items together.

Shoplifting prevention and detection security prevention retail loss shoplifting are all important in order to keep your business safe and protected from losses.

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We need to be ready to hit the ground running as preparing a business for the End Of the Financial Year (EOFY) can be daunting.

As a minimum, you need to do the tax stuff, but while doing this, you can do the management reporting too. This can be time-consuming, but luckily much of the information required is built into your POS Software. Before you go to the accountant, it is worthwhile to go to this webinar to review what reports our Point of Sale Software can produce. This will give you a feel of what you can supply to the accountant.

Here's a checklist of reports that you will need.

Sales reports
Stock Valuation (you will need to do this after your stocktake)
Customers Outstanding
Creditors Outstanding (if you are running creditors)
Subagents Outstanding (use only if applicable)

Click here for a webinar on the End of the Financial year reporting. It discusses in detail what reports our system can produce. 

Although not required from our software, I do recommend that you do make a special End of Year Backup to store in case you need to refer to it. The 30/of June this year is Thursday.

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Whenever I talk of loyalty marketing, I almost first hear the public is overwhelmed by the major loyalty programs! If so, why does nearly everyone else do it? Can they not count? For example, I went to a small car parts shop today and was told of their loyalty program. The same happened when I went to a homeware shop. The homeware shop was in a big shopping centre. You might think they do not need a loyalty program as the major loyalty program brings customers in the centre, but they were keen to sign me up too. They even offered a $10 discount to sign up on my first buy.

Loyalty marketing works. That is why retailers use it.

The most successful technique in loyalty marketing is *Birthday Marketing*.

It is so simple to do with our loyalty program. Put in the customer's birthday when entering them into the loyalty program. Although it is much better to use their actual birthday if they do not tell you, make it an anniversary date with their joining date. You can always correct it later if they point it out. Do not worry if it's the wrong date. It will work almost as well anyway. Once done, they enrol on your customer's birthday program. This will allow them to receive special offers and discounts on your products and services on their birthday.

Several years ago, when we did a calculation, we saw about 25% success with our clients in our clients. Here are some figures from  Experian which show a higher figure.

) People buy on birthdays

) Birthdays are all year round

To do Birthday marketing, you must send a simple 'Happy Birthday' message. It will be appreciated and read. Almost everybody reads these emails. To start, here is a simple email to send, which I am sure you can improve to your needs with little effort.

Happy Birthday Email

Happy birthday, <name of customer>

Thank you for being with us. We want to make your birthday as memorable as possible. To celebrate, we're are <something>.

We appreciate everything you do for us and hope you have a wonderful day and year!

Wishing you all the best,

The friendly crew at <your shop>

Set up here.

 

Then towards the end of the month, send a VIP email or letter to all your clients who have birthdays next month with your birthday email.

 

 

Start now!

Tips For Creating A Great Customer Birthday Program

- Try to make the emails personalized with the subscriber's name.

-Send emails a few weeks before their actual birthday and then again about their birthday. Two hits are better then one.

-Use a special offer or a voucher rather than a discount percentage. They are more like a present.

-If you have a website, include a link to a particular page with a few items or offers. If what you offer did not appeal may be something on that page that will appeal.

-Track the results, so you will know how well it goes for you. Our enhanced targeted, data-driven marketing reports let you know.

I doubt you will stop once you start it, as the cost is almost zero and it will produce sales.

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To combat shoplifting, which now is a plague, several large retailers in Australia are using facial recognition software. You can read about it here. It is used now to prevent theft and threatening situations. It identifies individuals of interest who have formerly been involved in high-security incidents.

Our POS software has an extensive video security system inside of it. So we can handle this and could integrate it if the information was released to our clients. Then our systems could warn the people in the shop if a known shoplifter or violent people entered the shop.

There would be privacy issues, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with Choice consumer data advocate Kate Bower that the system is "a completely inappropriate and unnecessary use of the technology". 

Please have a read the above article and make your mind up.

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The computer industry wants to drop passwords, so they are adopting two-factor authentication. This is a popular security feature introduced to add another layer of security to your accounts. It means you need to have your mobile to access such things as emails.

Since I have a smart house, I had to use my mobile to access my TV when activated. So I turned it off, as have many people I know.

I think it sucks, but its supporters say it would suck more if my identity were stolen. Well, you make your mind up as it is your call currently.

The immediate problem is that many of you use our software to access your email directly. It saves a lot of time. It also allows their POS Software to do many functions automatically.

To keep it working, you need to activate the App password.

This will change depending on what you are using, but in Gmail, it works like this.

First, pick a long and complex password, and cut and paste it in at the marked yellow area above.

Save that.

Now go into options in your Point of Sale Software.

Now enter that long and challenging password where the yellow marker is shown below.

Save that, and the problem is solved.

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I suggest that before you start this year's software you go through for instructions on running a stocktake.

Video file

 

This video will take you through the stocktake procedures in PosBrowser.

There is also a help document available in the software. On the Welcome page hit the Help button and open the Stocktake section.

 

 

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I was reading a report by big commerce done for the ANZ bank. A few points struck me about how one of my typical clients could take on a major because they are local.

Here is a slide on this report.

This is a classic problem in retailing today, the last mile problem as much of the cost is to take the item from a shop or warehouse to the customer.

Now, what if the customer here wants an $8.50 item quickly. There is a cost to get it to them. Most majors will not be able to deliver at these prices to satisfy their customers and not in real-time. Yet many of my clients could do something at these prices. $5 to $10 delivery would give them a competitive advantage and access to 80% of the market.

To get it, all you need is a good website. Google, with its SEO, will give you a good showing because it stresses in its score, local people.

Then you have a crack at this market.

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The reality of the current market for computer and POS equipment is that shortages are everywhere. We have inflation, and the Australian Dollar, over the past 12 months, is down to the US dollar. 

Bottom line, product availability is challenging, and prices look like they are going up. If you think of updating your computer system, now is a better time to buy than in six months.

Also, if you move now, you can claim a revised tax write-off, which opens up many options for businesses.

This allows businesses an immediate tax break, which can be quite cost-saving. It enables you to buy high-quality equipment that will benefit your bottom line for many years. 

You need to do it to move immediately. As even if the products are ordered and paid for but haven't arrived at your premises, you cannot claim the deduction.

For details on the EOFY sale, please click here.

Please, note I am not an accountant. The information in this article is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for obtaining independent professional advice. That is what you pay them to do.

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​Small receipts save paper, so most select the options to give a small receipt like this!

But is this wise? It does save paper and does give the customer what they want a record, but what about the shop? Have you noticed that the majors' receipts include shop offers, opening times etc.? They are not worried about the paper.

Would a larger receipt serve your shop better?

If you want something to think about this, check out this video.

Now let me know what you think?

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Counting your stock is a significant task, but there is no alternative. To help make this task easier on you, we've compiled some steps about doing a stocktake.

1) A stocktake is not hard, but it can be mucked up if you are not careful. Take frequent backups while doing it. We can often fix many errors if we have these backups.

2 ) Schedule a quiet time. You do not need to halt retailer operations, but the fewer distractions, the better.

Doing a stocktake with customers asking questions and doing orders are very distracting. So try to discover a time that works for you and your workers that won't hurt your bottom line and reduce distractions.

3 ) Run over the steps required the update the help documents in posBrowser's help files as now available

Press F1 while in the register and check them out to get them.

There are four documents:

Stocktake = Standard stocktake doc using Posbrowser on its own to run the stock take.

Stocktake with a PTD = Stocktaking with the help of a PDT

Stocktake with the stock management system = Stocktaking using the mobile PDA browser program.

3rd Party Stocktake guide = A guide on how to upload stocktake data to and from another program.

4) Do a trial run first on a small, well-organised department to get a feel of how it works. You need to know what you are doing. If you need help, give us a call. It is not the time to learn how to do it when you have staff sitting uselessly while you are learning what to do. If possible, get an experienced staff member involved.

5) Make sure all the computers, PDTs and scanners you intend to use are in place and working. Now is an excellent time to test them. Make sure that portable units are charged. Familiarise yourself with how your equipment works.

A PDT is great as it can be moved around and probably save you one person in the team.

With a computer, each unit of stocktakes ought to be in teams of two-plus. People counting calling out the amount, and other records. I like laptops as they are easy to move around the shop.

6) Then take a walk around the shop, familiarising yourself with everything. In my experience, a well prepared and tidy shop will speed up your stocktake and make it much easier to do. Make sure the shelf labels are correct. That your stock is in the right area (especially look at the spots under counters in case something is hiding there). Review any problem items, e.g. damaged goods. You want the stock in its correct place in a logical order.

7) Put any laybys together.

8) If you have items on consignment, mark them.

9) Make holding areas where problem items discovered during the stocktake will be temporarily stored. Move the problem items into it now. Move any items waiting for dispatch or picked up in another holding area.

10) What works best is to divide your shop departments into discrete, measurable counting areas. You want each area to be a few hours of work.

Anyone that has been through a stocktake knows how draining it can be. Splitting the task into a few hours blocks ensures that your stocktakes get regular breaks. It also means that it is easy to do the stocktake over a few days. As it is at any one time only a small part of the shop is affected. This makes it easier not to shut down the shop and so turn away customers.

11) It saves time if you get a listing of the expected stock in each area out of your computer. While the person is counting, they know what to expect. It also allows instant reviews as you can say "You sure mate, it is only four? According to the computer, there is another one there." Many do not like this as they do not want their staff to know their existing system's errors; it is your call.

12) Give each counting area a label and write down on a piece of paper every area, then as each area is counted, mark it off. That way, you do not miss spots.

13 ) Finally, observe what worked and didn't work during this stocktake to make enhancements for your next Stocktaking.

To help you, we will be running a webinar on stocktakes.

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Electricity prices are going up, here is a sample of what is being sent out now.

This works out to between a 5% and 40% increase. Is solar going to help? I doubt it, most shops are rented so it is not an option and besides there is now a growing solar that the growth rates in the daytime are less of a problem than the hours when the solar dies. Solar problem is that batteries to store power are not cheap. 

For now, for most shops, their computers' energy use for the POS System is a significant portion of their electricity use but calculating electricity computer uses is a difficult undertaking since it relies on the sort of equipment you have and what you are running. A lot of programs use a lot of power. As a punt say $100+ a year per computer run for 12 hours a day. 

Having said that, I can tell you some points to consider: 

- In computer systems, specific components eat more electricity than others. Some like the video you have no control over. Typically, your standard desktop computer will use between 100 to 400 watts however if you have overclocked your computer, it will use more electricity.

- A desktop computer uses more power than a laptop because laptops are optimized for battery life.  So you will save electricity by using your laptop.

- The energy use of some of the peripherals like keyboards and mice is low usually below 0.5W, on the other hand, an average laser printer tends to consume anywhere between 300 to 550 watts of power, which is often more than the computer. 

- Typically desktop monitors consume between 20 to 100 watts of power

- You can look at the equipment label that shows its power consumption but this is generally a theoretical maximum and not a typical figure. So it is only a rough guide. 

The equipment we have been actively selling recently is with energy star ratings so they use about half the electrical energy of the older type of computers. There is a saving there for our clients.

How To Cut Back Your Computer Energy Consumption

- Turn off computers when not in use. However, it is unwise to do this too often. If you intend not to use the computer in the next hour, yep turn it off. 

- Selecting the hibernate option is not recommended as it turns off something in processing; turning it off works better in a shop. 

- Set your monitor automatically to turn off after 20 minutes of inactivity.

- Laser printers not in use should be turned off.

- If you want to know exactly, you can get a power meter in the hardware shop for about $25. You plug it into the power plug and it records the power consumption of the object. Most people that have one, measure everything in the shop and at home. It will almost certainly pay its cost.  

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We were invited to attend, so off we went.

It has been a few years since the last show. Although was a sell-out in 2019, I wondered if enough people would come to justify the effort now that some of our clients made for the show. You need many people to justify the halls the size of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Well, it was a sell-out. They stopped selling tickets days before the event. Cat lovers came from everywhere to get their dose of cat-infused happiness. My 11-year-old daughter wanted to go, so they had to sneak her in on my VIP ticket.

The stands were busy alright. It really shows that cats are the second most popular pets in Australia, and cat owners spend on cats. You can now spend quite a bit to get a good Bengal or Sphynx cat. So if someone is looking at improving your gift lines, I would suggest looking into it.

Here are some scenes from the cat lover show. It was huge, and the organisers did an excellent job.

 

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