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A few people queried me about my recent post. Well here  are some facts from the Roy Morgan research released yesterday on the End of Financial Year (EOFY) for the Australian Retailers Association.

 


This is the most significant marketing season in the Australian Retail calendar, except for Christmas. For example, Mother's day sales generate about $750 million, while EOFY sales are $8.8 billion, eleven times more.

If the End of the financial year (EOFY) sales do work, why not make one too?

Consider this

1) Those tax refunds are soon coming, and many will want to buy.

2) Many accountants will tell their clients to buy; otherwise, they will pay tax on the money. Why not benefit from the approaching tax time?

3) People are being targeted to buy by advertisers. They are pumped up now to buy, and they will.

4) Many will buy now as they want to take advantage of the government's Instant Asset Write-off.

Customer-focused thinking, attractive display windows, some signs, and lifestyle merchandising are four good ways to boost your End-of-year sales.

What can be sold, just about anything? People now want old and new stock. 

Do something or be left behind.

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Let us discuss the BNPL for SMB retailers, with Afterpay the biggest, Zip second and then a lot more. Most retailers are not keen on it but accept that the public often loves BNPL over traditional credit cards. Why not? Usually, they do not pay any surcharge as the BNPL are vocal about no-surcharges. The public also does not pay many fees as the merchant pays them. Besides, many people cannot get a credit card anyway, e.g. they are on a low income, insecure at work, and/or have a bad credit rating. 17% of BNPL customers stated they would cancel the purchase if they may not make the payment utilizing a BNPL service.

BNPL encourages people to spend more.

This results in the merchant having to pay high fees on sales except maybe in Lay-bys. Lay-bys are probably the most significant use by retailers in my market space for BNPL.

The big plus is that if you are dealing with a BNPL like Afterpay, they promote your business to millions of people. It helps you get a customer you have never had and would never have had to buy something in the shop even if you are paying high fees.

A smaller percentage of something is better than 100% of nothing.

We switched our support from Zip, as our clients seemed to do better with Afterpay.

The bigger the BNPL is, the better. Besides, from an administration view, the fewer suppliers for BNPL, the fewer headaches in the shop.

So what is happening now, I think, is a good thing. The last 12 months have seen some massive falls in share prices for BNPL. Afterpay had a 58% drop (see graph below), and the next biggest Zip was about 87% drop. The rest are following pretty much the same pattern. The problem appears to be that BNPL can't charge enough fees to cover bad debts and borrowing costs, plus the big banks are moving into this space. This is driving the share price down. If it goes down like this, we often see a period of consolidation when those with money and a desire to expand try to grab others. This is what we see happening with Humm here. The shareholders have a choice as their business has been unprofitable for the past four months. They are now looking at a share price declining more if they do not sell.

 

 

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For most of us, the End of the Financial Year (EOFY) is on the 30 June. For most businesses, it is a significant time. The immediate problem is super which has to be in by the 28 July. Then what we need to do is prepare by 31 October. If you do not use an accountant, you must lodge to the ATO by then but you often get some more time often with an accountant.

Here are some tips for now:

1) Make an EOFY sale. Get rid of as much stock as you can. Useless stock, if kept, generally goes into the stock figure at a wholesale value. That will increase your profit.

2) Review your debtors and creditors. Be careful here as if debts that need to be written off are not written off, it increases your profit. If creditors are written off, it increases your profits. As such most people write off the debtor now and the next financial year the creditor.

3) Review your records; are they up to scratch? If it is not, you can have with the ATO a real problem. I have seen problems with people whose POS systems has errors with the ATO.

4) Start planning a date for your stocktake. Although it is not an ATO rule, it is a valuable method of stock control. It's the best way of determining what stock has been lost to theft, spoilage or taken for personal use. I recommend that all businesses do a stocktake at least once a year. Also, without one, you may have a dispute with the ATO over your stock holding.

Good preparation is the key to stocktaking as it is a lengthy and often expensive operation. Typically a shop is looking at four (4) days of work.

We will be doing webinars to help you prepare soon for the EOFY.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." — Benjamin Franklin.

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The countdown to the end of the financial year (EOFY) is on. Now is the time to prepare for your EOFY sale. Ok, there's nothing at all original about this idea. You can look at any large retailer. These people have heaps of experience in this matter. They do it, and if it works for them, why not you?

EOFY is an extraordinary method to move goods. Many people are looking to buy now before the financial year closes to claim in this financial year.

Consider what an EOFY sale can offer your business.

So make a marketing plan for the next few weeks. It really does not need much organising. It would be best to think of some publicising, which often does not need to be more than a few decent signs. Now look around your shop for some loss leaders to fuel the sale. If you do not know where to begin, do this; it will give a few ideas to consider in seconds.

Go to register reports > stock titled "Old Stock on hand by Date last received"

This will gives you a listing of your stock based on when you received it. Unfortunately, this stock is rarely doing much good, and it costs you to hold it.

Here are a few thoughts for you to prepare for your EOFY deal.

1) What about making some of this into a bundle by putting some of these with something that does sell.

2) Make a bargain bin.

3) Collect some business products together

Now put them out and put a sign marking them in your shop.

Let me know how it goes. I doubt you will be sorry if you try, but I am sure you will be sorry if you do not try it!

Ok, so I’m going to be straight to the point with our EOFY offer from POS Solutions. We have excess stock that we too would much prefer to sell than count. If you need some technology, why not stock up while we are keen to move it.

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This is a cheerful diversion for the end of the week, it might give you some thoughts and ideas. It is an AI artist that generates pictures, this one is pretty good. You will find it here.

Put in your company name, choose an art style and press "Create". Want others? Well, you pick another art style for your shop. I spent half an hour looking at them.

This is what I got when I entered "POS Solutions". Pretty cool, huh?

 

I looked at it and thought, hey, is that what the AI feels about POS Solutions? I can see a cash register and maybe a shop, anyway I then decided to try something else, so I requested another and got this.

I have no idea what the AI artist is thinking here. 

Anyway enjoy.

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Here is a timetable for e-commerce, assuming you start with nothing.

It is fast as we have put hooks into the current version of our software to give you omnichannel marketing.

So how long to activate it?

Well, starting from scratch can have your site up and available for you in a day or two using Nop Commerce or Woo Commerce. If you want a simple solution, all we need is one day for Shopify. Once you are up and running, you can start to add stock while we build the site to your needs. Within a week or two, you can go live to the public. We will then work with you to improve and fine-tune the shopping experience you want to offer your customers.

We strive to make Ecommerce for Bricks and motor stores as simple and cost-effective as possible.

I am sure you will find our pricing is the most competitive you will find.

Also, if you are currently using another eCommerce package, our team would still like to hear from you. We may be able to create a solution for you if you want to continue using your current service.

Currently, a retailer should be doing about 10% of their sales online.

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We sell a lot of portable computers and accessories. What happens is that over time people notice that the batteries do not hold as much charge as before. A similar effect is found in smartphones, electric cars and e-bikes.

What is happening is that the batteries age over time.

Currently, it is with our client, the main cause of replacement of equipment. The problem is that the battery is most of the cost of the device. Add the obsolescence of equipment, and the cost of labour replacement means it is rarely worth fixing. So you do need to look after the battery.

What eats away at battery health is two things.

Heat

The equipment, if not used, should be stored in a cool place; the extremes in temperature should be avoided.

Do not fully charge or drain.

Doing this puts strain on the battery. Aim to have your battery always between 20 per cent and 80 per cent. This is where the adaptive charging we supply on current equipment comes in. This is aimed at reducing the damage that charging cycles have on batteries and so maintaining battery health for as long as possible.

The reality is that batteries do degrade over time but treating your equipment well can give it more life.

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Tyro eftpos

People are now paying with electronic payments more than ever. Many of these electronic transactions come with fees. If you are using Tyro, I urge you to look at payouts that are free. In any case, these fees are costs for the merchant.

Under *Free EFTPOS*, you end the merchant costs by passing on the costs to your customers by adding a surcharge to each transaction.

Buy a coffee and cake in a cafe for $10 under the Free EFTPOS plan; if you elect to pay by VISA, you may be charged $ 10.17. The 17 cents is the surcharge added to your transaction to cover the merchant's costs.

It is easy to set up with our system, and there are a few ways of doing it.

 

Bank determined.

The banks will look over your account, determine the costs, and automatically charge your client when you do the transaction. It is fast and easy to set up. The main problem here is that many people do not come up with the bank's figure when they calculate it. There are costs the banks are not passing on.

If you want to investigate or need extra information, I suggest you talk to tyro so click here.

Manual

As such manual is the most popular, people calculate the figures and then have their POS System charge their figures. If you are going to do this and calculate your fee at 20 cents, make it either 19 or 21 cents, not 20 cents. Studies show that the 20 cent figure looks suspicious. This is true of 15 or 25 cents too. If it comes in at about 25 cents, make it 24 cents or 26 cents.

You can enter the figure where the yellow arrow is shown with the pay types circled on the point-of-sale screen below.

Cash register with credit EFTPOS displayed

You then set up your pay types with your surcharges at the appropriate rate.

Note in both cases. If a customer complains, you can remove the surcharge. Often many do not charge these fees on high transactions, to encourage people to spend more.

Under the Consumer Law provisions, you must be transparent about these fees. You should display a sign that such fees are being charged.

A final note: What will be the effect on your business for doing this is something you will need to consider. We looked into it and decided not to charge such fees.

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You do not see this much, four robbers came into a store to rob it and three employees immediately ran to whip their asses. That lady clearly has some kick.

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A few days ago, two issues came out of the election, how strong the legalise cannabis movement was in Australia about 5% plus the Greens, and how much people showed that they care about the environment. 

Many of my clients have been proactive in the environment for many years. They strongly support sustainable initiatives. Now we can be assured the government will bring in many more policies on sustainability.  It will probably affect pushing for more sustainable alternatives. Count on in-store recycling, possibly ethical sourcing, and companies having a sustainability policy too. So, although till recently, it was a specialty approach in retail, it will not be for long. Everyone will be pushing it to prove they are making credible efforts to be more sustainable. 

This is going to be complicated. A few years ago, in one of the offices, we put in a $20,000 solar power system, and it is not justifying itself financially. I can give you the figures for it if anyone wants to know them. 

I recommend now that you find out from your suppliers what their products' environmental and sustainability situation. This is something you need to know. 

If it is good, tell your clients! If it is not, you may have a problem.

 

 

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Controlling stock control and doing orders, the reality is that the computer will win.

There is no way a person can keep in tune with their shop's twists and turns. There are too many stock items to keep track of in the shop. Here is a better and cheaper way.

The best way to do it is with predictive analytics (focus). These tools are generally too expensive for small to medium-size retailers unless they have our point-of-sale system. This is because we have embedded it into our software and give it out free. To use it is both intuitive and straightforward. It does not need much training either to use. Once working it produces less work than manual stock ordering.

Let's say you have a basket for tape. You cannot order limitless quantities of tapes. So what our users can do is use the option, focus order. It is an advanced type of "just in time" method of stock control, which gives you a plan of how much stock you should have now.


 

The computer tracks the stock on hand and estimates the stock level required for these goods in the period (focus). If it thinks that the stock on hand is too low, it can send an order to a supplier with the speed and accuracy that no one can match.

It is easy to set up and use.


You can control your stock with relative ease.

For details on how to do this, please, click here

 

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While anecdotally, they say that uncertainty around elections causes shoppers to curtail their spending. This is as, during times of uncertainty, we often hear that shoppers are deferring their spending. They are taking a wait-and-see approach. This is true for major items such as real estate and HiFi sets, but in the stuff like food, groceries, petrol, etc., they do not defer. Then once it is over, most of them are happy.,

There have been many studies that show this. I did a data-mining analysis going back to 1982 in Australia with a few of my clients' data and found little. Some minor effect on clothes sales caused by the high ticket items, but nothing else. If anyone wants to see my report, let me know.

The real problem of the elections is that from a business administration, it's a bother. People have to go and vote. This can take some time in some places.

One thing I did notice looking at the polling booths, the one where I usually vote is not open this year, and I have to go to another. So check here first your booth. Put in your desired location. You get a list like this

Then check your closest voting booth.

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I went to the Small Business Week Conference and talks last week.

Maybe something to keep in mind for the elections tomorrow.

This is what the retail experts thought about the next six months in bullet form:

- Overall Retail outlook is healthy and looking good. Don't count on the growth we have seen in the last twelve (12) months which was up by 9%. Much in the short-term they expect will be fueled by the existing high household saving. What happens when that saving runs out is unclear.

- There is a wide range here in the retail outlook across sectors, e.g. some sectors like travel are down, others like second-hand goods are up.

- Shops in the CBD are expected to have continuing problems.

- Staff hiring is expected to be difficult, they suggest looking at mature staff.

- Supply challenges to continue throughout 2022. I know this is hurting my clients now.

- Inflation is up, and goods now take six (6) months from the factory to get to the public. Much of the price rise is on the way as costs suppressed over COVID are now coming.

- Studies have shown that most people prefer to buy products that they can taste, smell and touch. They suggest applying this if possible, e.g. have music in the shop. This is where they see the big plus shops have over the internet. Today 80% of households spent something online last year, yet 85% of goods were brought in shops.

- They thought it was important to realise that most of Generation Z is now in the workforce and a significant chunk of the consumer market.

- Public today is less loyal than before. In a survey, 86% put stock availability over loyalty. If you do not have it, they will go elsewhere.

These are the problems that they see we face.

 

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Many of my clients use business plans. I wish more did, as it gives them a chance to:

1) See how they have done

2) See what they did right

3) see what mistakes they made in their planning

4) Frame their thoughts on they want to go. It is not essential, but it is a good idea.

I have never seen anyone regret doing one.

I confess I have changed much of my mind about doing business plans in SMB. So here is my updated experience.

Although it is recommended that the plan be done three months before it is needed. No one ever does that. In my experience, most people put them together sometime before they think they need them. Besides, with the elections coming up in a few days, it makes sense to wait till early June to start putting one together for the next financial year.

In my experience, there are three reasons for people to do business plans, none of which are mutually exclusive

1) To clarify their thoughts. This option is underrated.

2) Get stakeholders and critical staff on the same page

3) They need money from banks, lending institutions or investors.

The closer to (3), the more likely, the business plan will be professionally designed and written up.

If you want to do it yourself, it is best to do it with pre-written templates. Your bank will often provide you with one free. Of course, the significant advantage of using your banks is that they know it.

If you are doing such a short business plan it will take you a few hours of work. It is best to do it with other people around, so you can discuss and get a collective sense of the plan. When filling it out, do not worry about it not being perfect; nothing ever is.

If you cannot get one from the bank, I found this one here, which is extensive and presentable.

You can get a professional to write you a plan if you want. If so, budget about $5,000, and they will need a month to do it. The problem here is that the professional knows what to do, but they need to get the information out of you. Then they need to understand the business, which takes many hours. If you are going to get them to write it, Do it yourself first and then present it to them. It will save time and money.

Lastly do a section on budgeting for this year. I will discuss this once the elections happen.

Of course, once you have a plan, it does not take that long to do the next year. Most of the stuff is similar and only about 20% changes every year.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

 

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This COVID pandemic has proven to be a boom for shoplifters. The current big problem is that it's harder to identify shoplifters as they tend to wear a mask.

Once they have the mask, a CCTV camera often can no longer be used to identify people to the authorities. Nor can camera photos in front of the shop or Facebook posts shame people.

Note: A retailer can ask a person to remove your face mask to confirm their identity. Yet, the person does not have to do it.

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Looking at the cash drawer today for your POS software, here are some problems I have noticed recently.

1) When we supplied some drawers for a client, we found that every drawer in that model used the same key. It will not be a problem if you have one cash draw in the shop. It makes it easy to get spare keys. However, if you have many in the shop, anyone with access to any of your cash draws can open any other one.

2) Modern cash draws often use a lot of plastic. Most of these cannot take much in the way of punishment. Even if you do not use that cash draw much in a shop, these need to be able to take punishment. People are tense, they are in a rush, and they do belt them. 

One client told me that the lock on the door had fallen out. They had to disassemble the unit to get the cash out. Now they cannot put the lock back on. Another told me that their drawer continuously comes off the tracks. Another has a spring that is gone. They have to yank on the key and pull it out the door to open it. 

3) Do not trust the manufactures dimensions. A client built a desk to hold his new cash drawer with the measurements from the specifications. One was a back measurement and was wrong. Wait till you get it before building.

4) Lastly, this is getting to be a big problem. Check the size of the notes the cash draw can handle. Many Australian notes are bigger than US or Chinese notes. As a result, many cash draws cannot hold Australian notes. We had to send some back because of this. 

I hope this helps.

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As COVID is dying down, we are seeing more fairs happening. Although many tried some form of virtual meetings, it did not work. Buyers need to see, touch and feel. If you are looking into having gifts or are already into it, this is the place to be. You will meet many new businesses and connect with your existing suppliers. Generally, the senior people in these organisations are there to network. Do not forget your business cards!

So if you are interested in marketing gifts, this show I do recommend.

Here are some points to consider if you are thinking of going:

* Do market research before. See what sells in your shop, the gifts near you, and your business type. Most crucial, check the current prices.

* Ask yourself what you know. It would be best if you stick to these items as much as possible. With gifts, you need to specialise and product knowledge is important.

* Many places have minimum orders unless you are prepared to buy big. The odds are many places will not deal with you. If you like something, first say your budget on these products and say I will go up if it works and see what they say. I suggest you walk if the answer is NO.

* The prices are, from what I can see, the prices are not terrific; be prepared to bargain. If you look, you will find some real bargains. The last day in my experience is often the best day to pick bargains. This is the day many stalls will be looking to get rid of stock that they brought for the show; if you are going to pick up bargains at the fair, that is the day. Unfortunately, it is also the day that many popular lines are gone. If you are looking for something expensive for the house, say a genuine Persian carpet. It may be your chance to get it at a discounted wholesale price. If so, you will need to wait for the show to end to pick it up.

* Consider the show more a chance to buy seeder stock and get ideas. If you want reasonable prices, you need to go on the net and go to the overseas gift shows. Note that if you intend to go overseas, you need a decent gift business turnover.

* You will gain an understanding of your market. See what sort of suppliers handle it and how many.

Finally, look for new things, there are many innovative ones there. Consider this the main reason to go.

 

 

 

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This is a picture, I took of the latest All-in-one system.

Here are some advantages

Space: They are compact. It only takes on the bottom about 20 cm long of space while the screen height is adjustable. This makes them convenient as everything you need is together in one smart design. This saves space. This is great if you have only a limited front counter space. S giving more room for displaying impulse items on the front counter.

Modern: Besides looking modern, they also look stylish. We all go to a lot of trouble to make our shop look good for customers, old computers and monitors make a bad impression.

Ergonomic design: Experts designed them to be easier to use. This makes your operation more convenient. After many hours on the front counter, this is something the operators do appreciate.

Life expectancy: Retail is a tough environment, it is often dirty and people tend to be rough handling them. Computers are designed for an airconditioned office. All-in-ones are made for the tough retail environment. This means that their life expectancy tends to be longer.

What these ones also come with is the customer-Facing Display.

It is a high-definition customer-facing screen.

So while customers are waiting instead of feeling impatient they can be engaged. If you want you can use this display to show custom advertisements. Here it is being used to allow the customer to review their transaction.

If you are looking for something to improve your system, gives us a call and take a look at these. You will be impressed.

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Make and sell hamper packs.

A basket chock-full of goodies is a popular method of moving stock that does not sell well. It is versatile. They can be made to be appropriate for almost every occasion. In our family shop, when I was a kid, we used them a lot to sell. So I am quite experienced in them.

Remember a hamper is a good sale in the shop.

Here are some tips.

) Research hampers that sell near you. Check out the price points, see what they are composed of, see what they look like and how they are put together.

) Now you need a theme.

Consider an individual searching for a hamper in your shop. For example, Mother's Day has recently been. That would have been your theme. What would they want to find in a Mother's Day hamper from your shop? Get imaginative! Check out last year's selling reports for the same time as last year. We have a very good report top-selling report you can use.

) Look through the shop for items you want to move that are not selling well. Select a few that are appropriate. Now you need some articles that do sell. These help move stock that does not sell. Your selling reports can help you here. If there is a community festival, often your suppliers will help with stock to move. They usually have the same problem, too, the desire to move inventory that is moving slow.

You need to select a large item as a visual focal point for your hamper. Now you will need to arrange the smaller things around this big one. Most hampers look like a triangle. The most desirable items have to be seen.

) Value

You need to set a budget. What will your customer spend?

When making your hamper, make sure that if a customer adds up the total items in the hamper pack, it is less than the total price. This is where the slow-moving stock report can help.

Research indicates that customers want simple rather than complex and if it starts to get too complicated that many people tend not to choose, so giving you a no sale rather than a purchase.

Now with this in mind, consider if you make a hamper or pack name.

In stock pricing, you will find this under hamper packs. See the green arrow.

Hamper description

Naming your hamper or pack is a good idea (see red square) as long as you make the name understandable and straightforward. Say you are in office stationery why make a name like "The flying carpet pack". Besides this name telling your customer nothing and so confusing them with something meaningless, it makes it complicated.

Make it simple with something they can identify with, eg "Secondary Student Plan", "Home Office Plan" or "Kindergarten Pack."

Another idea that works very well is to make a "Starter Pack", "Small Pack", "Medium Pack" and a "Large Economy Pack". 

Hamper packs are a great way to upsell. 

They can be used for anything, lotto, pet foods, magazines, services, etc.

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Data mining in retail

Retail is possibly the most competitive industry. It is a cut-throat competitive market and every edge helps. So retailers struggle to meet customer expectations and sustain their business in an increasingly volatile market. This is where data mining can play a significant role in the retail industry by giving retailers a unique perspective to learn about their customers' behaviour and buying patterns from a computer perspective. 

In many cases, there is no choice as there is nothing but a computer that can tell you the answer to some questions, like if I drop this line, how will it affect the rest of the business. It is relatively easy to estimate how much you make from a line, but it is difficult to say what effect will the loss of this service have on the rest of the shop. Another question might be the effect of the introduction of credit card fees on my business, etc.  

To make it work, though, we need powerful computers. We use this one. It is a beast rated in the top 1% of all computers, and it will often run overnight, doing millions and millions of searches. 

Data mining has proved to be an important tool in identifying helpful information collected over time from your computer's large pool of knowledge.

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