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This is our sixth lockdown. A minority deliberately violated the rules to protest the latest lockdown. Yet, most are doing the right thing. But frustration is growing. 

Here are photos I took yesterday at Chadstone, Australia's largest and probably richest shopping mall. You pay a lot for the rent here. Usually, it is packed now. People everywhere.  See what it looks like now! This will be costing the economy a lot of money. There are several stores open, mainly grocery. I noticed that some that could be open are closed. I am sure because it is not worth opening. 

 

Despite the big promises from the state government, there is very little financial support for business, from what I see. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although there is vast parking, usually you cannot get a car park. I had no trouble parking yesterday.

 

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

Now, this is what we are going to have. A diagram of your shop with your sellers listed as

Blue = Good

Yellow = Moderate to bad

Red = Very bad

blank = Zero

See how it visually shows the shops sales.

 

What is a planogram?

A planogram is a drawing of your store layout marked with the characteristics you wish visually to examine, e.g. sales, shoplifting, etc.

Drawing a blank map of your shop

First, you need to pace or measure out your shop. Make a rough draft of the shop on a sheet of paper with the figures marked. Now some here would prefer to use a computer to draw a blank map, but many still choose to draw manually on a big piece of cardboard. There are pluses and minus to both. In the final analysis, it does not matter.

Now, this is a blank map for a shop, I did.

Now save that map once you are happy with it or take some photocopies, and store them away. I promise you will use them once you get used to how it works for other analyses.

Now for our purposes, we will need two blank copies of these maps.

Now we need our data.

And it is easy in our point-of-sale system to get it.

Go to Register reports.

 

Now select "Top N Stock Sales for a Given Period"

Select a decent period. You would want here at least a couple of months.

Now select the top 100 items by quantity, and a report will come with the top sellers.

Now look through the report and draw a line. As a rule, I would mark at about the top 10. These are the ones you mark in blue on the blank map. The next 30 draw in yellow. The rest you mark in red. If you have a combination, show that on the diagram. It says something that a red seller, despite plenty of the drawcard of the blue, is doing average.

Now review your planogram.

Now once you digest this planogram, do the same procedure on a blank map for the top 100 items by profit. There should be less variation here.

Now review this planogram.

Once you get the hang of a planogram, it is about ten minutes to draw a planogram.

You will find once you get used to it that the use of planograms to plan your spaces yields many benefits. It will help you to maximise your shop sales.

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Officially we are at about 3.8% inflation, but there is a smell around that it is more than that. 

I notice with us goods, package quantities are smaller, but the goods themselves are lower priced. This means the unit price is now higher, but there is no price rise. Yet, the companies have made no announcements of price rises, but the prices are up. 

If you are not in control, you may be missing the price rises. 

How to check the prices of your products?

Fortunately, we have a quick and easy way to check stock prices for what you have on hand.
 
Go to reports. There is an option Quantity On Hand and Price check; click on that.

 

POS Software menu

 

Now for this exercise, we exclude those items that we have zero stocks. If you do not have accurate stock control, use the line below, stock activity since a selected date.
 
Then I picked the dissection (department) tobacco as an example.
 
Now here, many of you may prefer to check by the supplier rather than a department.

 

POS Software On hand and preice options

 

Now outcomes a report listing the details of your item, including margins. 

 

POS Software On hand and price report

Product Pricing: Checking Prices 

 
Your margins are listed so that you can check your prices.

I am sure you will find something. I know that one of my clients who checked told me that they found a few mistakes.

 

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Once they get it, many people tend to review their debit and credit card statements. Partly what they are looking for is to see if it is correct. Everyone now has heard stories of fraudulent transactions, so we all look. In our case, our client's merchant name on the statement looked nothing like the trading name. 

So the customer queried the merchant with the bank. Soon my client got a please explain enquiry. 

This type of trouble was an unnecessary argument. 

In some cases, it can cost you time and possibly money.

So it is worthwhile examining what your customer gets on their debit and credit card statements about your business. See whether they are likely to be confused. This will help your customers better identify their transactions so they will not unintentionally dispute them. 

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One task that many of us find difficult is writing business messages for special occasions.

You do not want to give an unprofessional image to your business. 

If the occasion is uncommon, often we do not know what to say. The other issue is that most of us are not that good at laying it out professionally. 

Here is what I often use in these situations. I have an old copy of Microsoft office 2010. For my use, it is sufficient. I then go to Microsoft templates here. 

There is a lot to choose from there.

I look for something suitable and use that.

It is free, so why not!  

There is a bit of mucking around, but it is much better than starting with nothing.

I hope this helps you too to write more efficiently and productively. 

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Christmas measured interest using Data Source: Google Trends.

At the best of times, getting organised for the Christmas season is a big task. Now an added problem is that with this crisis with deliveries, it is now so undependable. Click here for a compelling article.

Looking at Google Trend, the public mood is as good as Christmas last year. If so, the interest is there, alright. 

The other matter to consider is that we are vaccinating under 2 million people a week now. This is brilliant. Based on this, by Christmas, Australia will make the 70%+ immunised. This will put us up there with leading countries like Malta, UAE and Israel. 

If you want an idea of what to look for, use your Point of Sales Software to see what worked well and what did not last year.

This is a step by step method for doing this.

Go to register reports and select the top stock report as marked with the red arrow here.

 

You get this screen

Now it is best to work by the department as it makes it easier to study related products.

Now you need to review this list to see what did sell. You may find many items that did not sell; it would be best to explore these too.

Retailers that prepare well will be in a good place for Christmas.

 

 

 

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As a parent, I know that kids are good at getting us to buy things.

Figures from the US retail sales show child-related sales at a 12% increase on 2020. For example, total back-to-school spending in the United States will reach a record $37.1 billion this year, compared to $33.9 billion in 2020.

There is no reason to believe that this trend will not happen in Australia too. So it can be expected that toys and back to school items are set to become a strong category.

So it would help if you got ready.

Use your top selling report to see what you are selling well in these categories then check here a list of toys selling well in the US that you may want to look through.

 

 

 

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Currently, Facebook is pushing its Facebook WiFi service to businesses. 

It is a free WiFi service that you can offer people in your area. The promise here is that you can provide a public secure WiFi network with a small amount of time and cost. 

In exchange, they will increase your exposure on Facebook. so giving you much free advertising. What Facebook asks the WiFi user is for a Like or Check-in for your business page. As the average person has many people on their Facebook page, that is a great way to increase your exposure *FREE*. Plus you will get many new reports, e.g. demographic information about the people in your area. You would then know what Facebook thinks are the people who are similar to your customers. This would reduce the cost of reaching potential people, some of who will become your customers using Facebook ads. 

 

Is your shop near a suitable area? 

Say you had a nearby place where people sit and use their mobiles and laptop. Examples might be a bus stop, tables where people sit, eat and drink, e.g. pubs, etc. 

If the answer is no, then you can stop reading now. 


Internet issues.

Some of you will need to upgrade both your internet plan. How much would you need? I am not sure. You may need to talk to your ISP.

Also, it does not work on all routers. You would need to check this out in advance. You may need a new router.


Is it easy to set up?

Clients who have done it say that it is not easy. One computer literate user told me that "I found an access point that had Facebook WiFi.. was a lot of stuffing around to set it up. Then creating a Facebook app then linking the AP to it was not easy." 

I suspect that if everything is correct, we are looking at a small amount of time. Otherwise its a not quick, especially if it is your first attempt. 

Summing up

If you have a business that ticks the above boxes, *YES*. 

Although it is probably not as simple as advertised, Facebook WiFi does much of the heavy lifting when setting up a customer WiFi portal. Most of the settings required for getting a customer WiFi portal running is done for you. Much of the legal responsibility is passed on to Facebook. Also, it can link into your Point of Sale Software.

So it's worth investigating to see if it will work for your business.

If you want to know more, then click here.

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Easily use Graphs in your Business Intelligence.

Are you struggling to see what the computer data in your POS Software is showing you?

It is crucial to observe your business comprehensively and accurately. I have noticed that people tend to respond and process pictures better than a mess of numbers. That is why our POS Software has graphs which makes it easier for you to see the trends in your business. What you can do instantly is make graphs of your sales over time. By doing this, you will be able to see how your business is moving quickly.

How to use this powerful Business Intelligence Tool to Bring Your Data to Life instantly

Go to your reports> Sales> Dissection Monthly Sales Trend (Graph)

 

 

Now for the first attempt, I am going to make it quick and easy. Once you get this part under control, you can build up from there.

Generally, when I start, I pick a very long period. This is as I like to look at the long-term trend first, so I used seven years.

I tend to look at everything first, but when I examine, I look by the department. The whole shop itself often has so many different patterns it gets challenging to get a simple answer. Plus, everything does not tell you what is going well and what is going badly. I picked first here giftware as an example.

 

 

Now I get this graph. 


 

Looking at it, you can see a long-term pattern. Notice how the Christmas peaks are getting higher over time. Also, notice how giftware has gone from a range of 20K to 50K a month to 30K to 80K, so something is going well here.

Have a go!

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What are customer satisfaction surveys?

Customer satisfaction surveys are surveys sent out to your customers. These help you to understand what your customers think about their experience with you. Many large organisations use them today. 

 

Why is customer satisfaction important?

If customers are not satisfied, then they are looking elsewhere. They can be buying from you, but they are looking. Soon they will find someone. 

Why collect customer feedback?

Easy to do once you have many of their email addresses. Which is not hard to get, make a loyalty program with the condition that no discount is payable unless the person signs up to the loyalty program. If they are accepting the offer, why should they not receive the opportunity to get more offers? 

Now you do not need many. Mathematically a 100 people answering gives you a 10% error, which is more than good enough for this business purpose. 

Many services are free to send it out. The one we use is Mailchimp. As it is free, why not use it. If it does not work out, you can always try something better or drop the idea. At least you will know better at the end what you need.

Are we practising what I am preaching?

*YES* 

 

Over the past few weeks, many of you have noticed that we are sending these out. The reading of these surveys has shown us much interesting information. 

 

I ask you to keep filling them out. I can assure you that every one of them will be read and thought about.

I also ask you to consider using them too.

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In-store traffic monitoring

Are you trying to figure out when things are moving in your shop? At the best of times, finding out what is happening in your store is a daunting task. Now with COVID, these are not the best of times. Fortunately, you have a quick and instant report using our POS software, you can analyze your store's busy hours and optimize your roster.

Here is how to get started. Please click here.

As you do need now to understand what is happening now as its importance cannot be overemphasized today.

 

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When anything happens, many so-called experts are arguing on the different sides to any issue. Most will be wrong. Much of this is because these experts have an agenda.

Today, while I was looking at the Powerball figures for today, see above Lotto, it seems pretty good.

Lotto is a product that our system can let the retailer directly scan into. So I then decided to see what people were saying a few years ago about the state-controlled Lotto. This became an excellent example of bad decision making.

The big fear to my clients then, was that Lottoland, if not stopped, it would replace Lotto. However, these experts would help prevent this. But really, why stop it? Then Lottoland and Lotto were fighting it, and politicians claimed that they were concerned for my clients. A better strategy would be for my clients to investigate this as a possible opportunity. Lottoland was making some nice promises to my clients. Lotto also made some much vaguer promises. As it turned out, Lottoland was not stopped. The experts failed. Soon, my clients, I think, were seen as irrelevant, so got nothing. 

Google Trends gave a tremendous and highly accurate tool for doing that free. So looking at Google Trends, was Lottoland the significant threat to my clients? *NO* it was the move to Lotto online that was the threat. Now looking at the data, the answer is still *No*. Interest in Lottoland has gone backwards in five years. 

 

Nice example. 

I urge you to use the Google Trend tool to see what the public thinks and make better decisions. Using it, you can see what the public wants, use data to base your retail strategy. It lets small businesses get free consumer information instantly. What is invaluable is its ability to search for competing brands. You can then compare products. Then use this information to improve your offerings and so generate more sales.

This all deserves serious consideration.

For a youtube on how to use Google Trend, please click here.

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Counting scales

Counting coins, screws, componentry, pills, and other items can be a real pain for many of you. So what is a real timesaver is the counting functions available with the new weighing scales. Imagine trying to count these items in this video. Without such scales, I doubt you could sell items like this successfully. 

 

Now you are going to find using such scales is so much better than counting by hand. It will open up many new products for you.

Note a common problem with scales.

My advice with scales is to overbuy. It's false economy to restrict yourself to what you think you need. Invariably, you will need more than what you believe, you will not be sorry if you get slightly bigger.

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Lockdown 6 and the necessity to be able to do remote working
 

Today, most of our work is done remotely. That is because we did one thing right – Remote working.

With the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic and the speed of these snap lockdowns that our governments are putting in place, today we often have to work remotely. What was once a convenience used to avoid a commute to the shop is currently a necessity. My accountant calls me. He is at home. I am at home, we are talking on the telephone. The only way to get the stuff done is by me remotely dialling into work. This is life now in August 2021.

What I have noticed with people remote working is that you need to return messages and telephone calls quicker than before. People tend to be more time-conscious remote working. Try answer straight away, even if it is to say "When I get back to the shop on ..... I will do this..."

 Questions About Remote Work, Answered

Here are some quick FAQs that some people ask me about remote working if you have not started yet.

Q) Can our software can work remotely?

A) YES, there are several methods you can use. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our support staff to recommend the best way to do so with our software.

 

Q) Do I need to make changes?

A) Yes, you need the technology infrastructure in place to support remote work. Often it is much in cost but organisation. Home machines that kids used for games need checking for malware.

 

Q) Do I need a good Internet connection?

A) Depends. Suppose all you need are reports. Often we can set up a procedure that can work on flaky internet connections. If you want online access, as if you are there, you need a decent internet connection.

 

Q) Is my information secure?

A) It depends on how you do it. I would suggest that you consider frequent password changes. For example, I dialled my company from a public WIFI in the shopping centre. When I came home, I changed my passwords immediately. I had doubted my sensitive data going through these public WIFI systems.

 

If you are concerned, you can use a VPN at a minor cost. I pay about $3/month for a VPN.

 

Q) Does someone have to be in the shop for it to work?

A) There are some pluses and minus to setting it up, so someone must be there.

 

Remote work considerations for the future

Today we have to accept that COVID is mutating, so producing new waves. Some employees are more vulnerable than others. Others have kids, and if the kids are in a lockdown, they often cannot come to work. Others prefer working from home. So we have to accept that a proportion of the workforce won't be returning to work soon.

Remote working will be with us from now on, your software has to be able to handle it.

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This is 

 

Retail Analytics 

Years ago, by looking into their retailers' sales, the music industry found the best policy was to concentrate on their top 40 sales items.  

This is where the action is. 

Over the years, when looking at my clients' retail information, this great advice. Here is an example: a client of ours has sold 15181 different items in their shop over the past three years. See, when you look at the sales, once you are about the top 40 items, the sales are getting very close to 0%. There is a lot of profit past the 40th item but few people are coming for those items. 

When I decided to look at the profit that we're making from these 40 items, I found this, 

I do not think that remarkable and almost 25% of the shop's profit came from these 40 items.

As you can see, the profit between items varies, although the basic pattern follows sales. Note the item in negative. Much of the product had to be sold below cost to get rid of it.

What has proven very effective is leaving best-sellers where they are now as they sell well there. Then put some in a best-selling area at the central point of the customer's vision. Some have a few best-selling regions. This is to group products with similar attributes next to each other.

Now how do we find these 40 top best selling items? Well, it's easier than you think.

How to Perform Profit Analysis for Your Retail Business

Go to Register reports.

 

Now select "Top N Stock Sales for a Given Period."

Now the following comes up.

For example, I will select a day, but you usually would put in a year, now select a department.

 

Outcomes a report with the top sellers.

Now, you're set!  

Make a few best-selling areas. Now every month, you run this report. Then move a few items to the best-selling areas and take out some.

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Retail Gross Profit Margin

Sometimes you look at your gross profit give by the accountant somehow it does not look right. So what you want to do is analyse the details for yourself. 

Now there are a few reports that can help you.

Here is how you can calculate your retail store gross profit margin by department.

The best report to start is 

Register report> Sales Register> Dissection Sales / Profitability for a Given Period

For the time you are concerned about, select a suitable period. 

That report will give you a lot of detail by department, including the Quantity sold and %Profit. These are often an excellent sign of something wrong. 

Once you find something you want to investigate, click on the left-hand side to see the green arrow above. Now select the shop. Then you will find the details of what is in every department. I find it very useful in real-time to go from one department to another while looking.

Happy hunting.

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From April 2021, Afterpay had a card that is a contactless Mastercard so you need no integration into your point of sale.

Note your EFTPOS machine will need to accept Paywave Mastercard and I know Paywave is an extra expense. 

To process, you will need to get Afterpay permission to become an Afterpay approved merchant. 

If you are interested, you need to go here and provide details like your EFTPOS terminal details. 

Once accepted which does not take long, then when you get an Afterpay transaction, your funds are settled like any other card payment.

Clients of ours doing this have reported that it is easy and straightforward to use and it is fulfilling a need for many consumers.

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Everyone wants to supercharge their data entry. For this reason, we provide many windows shortcuts to speed up data entry.

These keyboard shortcuts can provide you with some real-time savings.

Go to the data entry point, enter many characters, cover them with the cursor, and press Ctrl+C on the keyboard. This will copy what you have covered in memory. Now press the space bar a few times. Then press Ctrl+V. This will paste what you put in memory. If you need to repeat what you have written many times, this can save time.

If you make a mistake, don’t worry. Would you please press Ctrl+Z on your keyboard? It is the undo. By selecting Ctrl+Z, you roll back your last operation. This can be a real saviour.

Another shortcut I often use in our software is Win+D. This minimizes all your open windows. This allows me to deal with some things else on the computer immediately. Now press Win+D again, pretty nifty, huh.

Another one that I like to use if I have to leave a computer quickly and I have security concerns is Win+L.

Try to get used to using these shortcuts because they are a real timesaver so we have done a lot of work to make sure they work in your POS software.

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POS SOFTWARE

They say that a businessperson has two happy moments—one when they buy and one when they sell. I am not so sure as I have had much good time between.

Here are some further points that you need to consider.

Be prepared.

Often what I see is that a sale is being held up because someone is waiting for figures. Sometimes it cannot be helped as you will be asked for some strange pieces of information. It would be best if you were on hand to answer these questions.

Note how you say it may be more important than what you say, as potential sales can fail for the most trivial reasons.

The business broker is not really on your side. Some are good and some are bad. One point, they all act like they are good.

Then there are two critical people; either can kill the deal.

The buyer's accountant will review your figures. That person is putting his professional career on the line. They sometimes are sued if it does not work out the sale to the new buyer. I have often seen a potential buyer get the figures, go to the accountant, then be told it isn't worth it, and the deal dies. Make sure you give figures they like.

In the bank, there are two people. The first earns a lot of money, and it is their job to get the deal. The second earns even more, and it is their job to make sure no deal goes through. If the buyer cannot get the money, the sale will not happen. The bank is not lending the money till the i's is dotted and the t crossed. So before the deal goes through, you will need to sign a form that everything works and everything is there. For example, there are legal cases over computers that did not work or were there when the buyer looked at the place and are no longer there. Generally, the buyer wins. These arguments often are not trivial. What you think of a working POS System may differ from what a lawyer and/or judge may think.

Keep a paper trail and take plenty of photos of everything, I mean everything.

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People try very hard to make the shop look good. To fit into this image, few people today want an old computer on the front counter. It is a bad look and gives your business the wrong impression.


So for a little more, people are buying cool computers like this for the shop. It comes with flashing lights too.


Its also a trend I have noticed for home computers too, more and more people want computers that not only are good but look fabulous too

 

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