Bernard Zimmermann's blog

Top customers by visits

POS SOFTWARE

In retail getting customers to come more often to the shop is vital.

Questions:

Why do some customers come often and others do not?

Have you thought about this tried to figure out why some come a lot?

If you know, maybe you can use this information to get more people to come to your shop. Well, let us do that!

In your point of sale software and go into register reports>customers

There you will find a report "Top customers"

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Now click on that report (see the arrow in green)

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Now put in the dates you are looking at, I suggest at least a year and if you like a minimum spend.

See where the green arrow is highlighting. Change the sort order by visits.

This will give you a report with a grouping of your customers based on how often they buy from you. Now chew over why these people are coming, what are you doing right to get them to come?

 

Now let’s dig deeper

There are many other orders e.g. a listing by people that buy a lot you can use in this report, all which have their own story too. So there is plenty to chew over here.

 

 

 

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Improving your WIFI

POS SOFTWARE

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WIFI now is indispensable and here are some tips if you have problems with your WIFI signal in your retail shop.

Measure the problem

You cannot do much till you have measurements, the WIFI app that I like to use to help me judge WIFI signal strength is WIFI Overview 360 Pro available on google play free. I suggest you first get a copy. 

Now look at the position of the modem

All too often technicians tend to put the cables so modems in the office area which is an out of the way place in the shop. As walls and doors all block the WIFI signal so putting the modem in the office room is often wrong. This is not good for WIFI modems. The WIFI modem should be as central as possible in the shop hopefully near the main areas where people use WIFI.

Move things away

Move away from anything from the modem that blocks the signal.

Up higher

What we find works well is to raise the WIFI modem, the higher the better. Because it sometimes is an eyesore what you can do is put the modem in a nice material bag and hang it up on the wall. Do not use a plastic bag for this. 

Silver foil

A neat trick here which you can experiment with to boost the WIFI signal is put silver foil between the modem and the wall. Some WIFI signal in the shop will bounce off the metal foil back onto the modem.

Reduce the number of devices you use

Try reducing the number of items using the WIFI in the shop, too many WIFI devices can cause problems. Maybe you cannot provide all your staff with WIFI in the shop to their mobile phone. 

Reduce electrical interference 

Try to reduce the electrical interference particularly from other WIFI modems. I remember going to a neighbours shop and talking to the owner there to make some compromise in the positions of the WIFI modems as their modem was interfering with our client's modem. This is a particularly big problem in shopping centres where there are heaps of WIFI modems, cordless phones, etc all belching radio signals. 

Try changing the channels on your modem

Try changing the channels that your WIFI modem uses. As a rule, 5 GHz is faster but works on a shorter distance while 2.4 GHz gives a longer range. Experiment with both and see what works best for you.

Antenna adjustment

Try putting the antennas in different directions say one vertically and the other flat. WIFI signals come from all different directions.

So there it is, now see how these tips go for you.

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Problem with cloud storage

POS SOFTWARE

Cloud_point_of_sale.jpg

A word of caution:

Cloud storage as it is a third-party system is inherently risky. What it is, is another person's computer that you are putting on your information.

If that computer is in another country, then the information is also subjected to another country's legal system, in some cases, this may be an issue with Australian law. 

More importantly for most of our clients is that there are numerous examples of cloud providers evaporating like the cloud they are named and information being lost despite these people using well-established companies like Microsoft.

For example:

One of our clients a few days ago just got burnt. What happened is that he hired a professional photographer a few months ago to photograph his shop. This the photographer did and then gave him a USB stick with the photos on it. Then my client did was look for a good deal and then signed up to a cloud storage service. He then transferred the photos to this online cloud storage and thinking that as he had the pictures, he could score a USB stick for other tasks, so he reused the USB stick.

He needed the pictures a few days ago and discovered that the photos were gone from the cloud. He then in a panic contacted the cloud provider to ask where the images are? He was told that as he had not used the account for 60 days, the account was automatically cancelled and so the photos were lost. Now he has no pictures, and the photographer has to come back.

The solution is

If you are going to use cloud storage, I recommend that you also use as a backup an external hard drive just in case. For a few hundred dollars you can pick up today a massive hard drive. You will not be sorry if you have too many copies. 

 

 

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Make a shop user guide

POS SOFTWARE

User guide for a POS Software

This is a tip. Open up a computer editor like notepad or Microsoft Word and start a user guide making pages on what to do at the end of the day, week, month, quarter and year end. Now save it on the windows screen. This is now your user guide.

I also put in my user guide pages for computer procedures, contact information for the specialist for a particular point and just about everything else that I may need as I discover it such as extras like the procedures to return goods to supplier ABC, etc.

So the next time you do any of these tasks you write in the user guide step by step exactly what you did, e.g. you go to this document, put these options in here, then print off a copy and then send this copy to person XYZ. Now you go to this website and enter these figures in there. Now you do this... 

The reason I say use an editor is so you can edit and add extra items as they catch your eye.

The problem is often that you do a quarter processing for GST and then you do not usually remember all the steps the next time it needs to be done. So the idea is that soon this user guide will give you and your staff a set of instructions that you all can turn to for guidance. This user guide is not something that you write once and never look at again. I run through it religiously before doing the task, and if I discover a better way of doing something, I edit and change it. At all times I make sure that everything is up to date. 

This user guide will save you heaps of time. 

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Busiest retail days of the years coming!

POS SOFTWARE

Are you prepared for Christmas?

Being prepared

 We are now to the start of this year's festive season, have you checked to make sure that everything technically works? 

Here is an interesting question to ask yourself, what will be the cost to your business if you suffer a Point of Sale outage on this holiday? 

If you want to deliver the level of service that your customers demand, check that your computer system is working correctly now!

 

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Another court case over

POS SOFTWARE

 Although I do not want to name names, one of our clients, a small newsagent has finally settled with one of their old suppliers their case. The amount of money our client has recovered about a quarter of a million dollars which is not all their loss and they have to bear their costs which will make a substantial dent to the payout figure.  I will not be surprised if it is over half the payout amount.

So I think it is a good example to discuss the dangers of taking on agency sales in modern retail. 

An agency sale is a product for sale that a retailer markets on behalf of another organisation e.g. transport tickets,  bill payments, dry cleaning drop-offs, transport, lotteries, etc. Often the payout is seen partly in the number of customers coming to the shop to get these items. As the margins on these products tend to be low, to get a decent return you need a lot of sales which became the problem here as you will see. Say you make $20,000 at 2% margin you are looking at a million dollars of turnover. 

What happened here is that the supplier gave our client an electronic key once our client had signed the appropriate forms and also gave the supplier their bank account details. 

The problem is that someone else got a copy of my client's electronic key and soon they were trading on this account. As they were selling my client got billed for their trade. This other business did about $100,000 a year of trade in these goods and over time, the amount grew to about a quarter of a million dollars. 

This was only noticed by accident when an item was sold in this other business that my client had never traded. My client then immediately questioned this sale. Soon a stop was put on the account. Then my client requested as it was an error for a full refund of a quarter of a million dollars.

A dispute started.

No-one disputes that these trades were done by someone else.

However, the supplier stated that the only way for this key to have gone to this other business was if our client or people associated with our client had intentionally or otherwise given this electronic key to another business. So my client is at fault. My client does not feel that this happened. Also, my client's lawyers stated that even if this was true, it was the supplier's fault as their security is clearly not good enough as all a person had to do was copy an electronic key. 

Now you would think that it would be in everyone's interest to find out who this other business was? Well not really as it might establish who is at fault and if that other business did not have a quarter of a million dollars, then whoever is left with the blame and so probably the debt they would not be able to be recovered.

However, both sides did agree that my client was at fault for not having proper control over their accounts, something they are legally supposed to do. 

So began a three-year case which went on and on until finally, both sides came to a deal.

Here are some points that I think came out of this legal case

1) You need to audit your agency sales, your point of sale software needs to produce reports detailing your sales which you need to match up to the supplier's figures.

2) You need to ensure adequate security of your computer system. The supplier's argument that someone who knew what they were doing *could* get a copy of the electronic key given access to my client's computer system is valid. 

3) The authorities were not helpful, and the legalities are not straightforward.  Here is suited both parties interest not going to the police.

4) Agency sales even if they do not make much profit can generate a lot of turnover so giving a high risk.

 

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Importance of cleaning your keyboard

POS SOFTWARE

Cleaning a keyboard

The keyboard of a point of sale system in a shop is generally in a dirty environment and shared with many people. People will often work the keyboard while eating and some may have used it after blowing their noses. As food build up inside the keyboard, it makes an excellent environment for germs to spread.  So the odds are that it is incredibly dirty and full of bugs. So regularly I suggest that you give it a clean.

This is how I do it.

Before I start to clean the keyboard, I turn off the computer. I find this quicker then disconnecting the keyboard. 

On the keyboard, I find a sticky note is great for running down the tracks to pick up the loose debris that collects there as it sticks to the glue. So keyboards need a few sticky notes. Sometimes a toothpick is handy here for bigger stuff. Then I use a cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol to get into these tracks too. Now I may need another sticky note to run through again.

Now I use a cloth with only a touch of the rubbing alcohol and wipe the surface. If a spot does not go away, the toothpick is useful to remove the spot too.

Now wipe with a dry cloth. Do not leave the keyboard moist. 

Cleaning a computer keyboard is not just about looking good but also about good personal hygiene 

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Credit limits

POS SOFTWARE

One of the main reasons for small business failure is poor credit management.

Now the problem is

Many people will not deal with you without credit yet it is too easy to sell on credit to a customer and as they come in, for your staff allow them to get more and more money outstanding, and then you find out later that you are looking at a long and big problem trying to collect it all. I know from personal experience trying to recover debt can be stressful and time-consuming and it is also a great way of making enemies. 

Often what we see is retailers often have to make deals to get most of the debt so you’re just leaving money on the table

This is why it is so essential to make from day one for each debtor a credit limit. It then becomes a management decision if the debt goes over a certain amount. Once the credit limit is reached (the account is maxed out) and our POS software will not allow any more purchases on the account unless some of the debt is paid or you make a management decision to increase the credit limit.

Here is how we do it

In your system, click on the main menu to customer > customer maintenance

Now call up a customer, now click Other Details. (see green arrow below)

 

There are two options that I would like to run through with you. 

You can select a credit limit for a period, a big problem with majors is that they have the money, but they take a long time to pay, so in this case, you may want to give them a large credit limit but watch if they go over time.

The next option is that you can decide whether the account if it goes over the credit limit should be stopped or whether the operator should be warned so you can be notified. While they are in front of you and they want the goods is the cheapest and best place to collect the debt.

Trust me. It’ll all be worth it to do this.

Allow people to get more credit limits over time, start them small and let the amount build up.

I also would recommend too that every year to do a review of your credit limits.

 

 

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