Time to Connect

The Trek Connect Retail Marketing Program is set to kickoff soon for all US and Canada Ascend retailers. If you haven’t signed up yet, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. You can click here to get started. If you’re already signed up, keep reading to learn how to make sure you’re ready for your first mailing.

Clean House: We say it often, but can’t stress it enough: your data is only as effective as your capture rate and accuracy. So, to make sure that your mailers get to the right customers, we’ve got some tips that will help make everything run as smoothly as possible.

  • The first thing you should do is update to the latest version of Ascend and prepare to update to the Fall 2015 version come September 15th. Your database is providing the backbone for the Trek Connect Retail Marketing Program and by not running on the latest version, you’re making yourself vulnerable to problems down the road. So, take a few minutes and update your workstations. It’ll make your life easier and will help ensure the right customers keep walking through your doors.
  • You should also verify as much of the address fields for your customers as possible because customers with incorrect or incomplete address data will not be eligible to receive your mailings.
    • You can start by going to Database Explorer > Zip Codes and verifying accurate spelling for cities and state abbreviations. You could also combine cities that share the same zip codes by using the Merge function and Ascend will automatically apply the changes to any customer record that it was assigned to.
    • If you wanted to review the customer records for your top 100 customers by total spent, head to Reports>Customer Query, choose Top by Number as your Return Set and enter 100. Now, just set your date range to include the last 18 months and click Execute to run the report. Once you have a list, you can export it into a spreadsheet which you could use to identify some of your top customers who might have incomplete address information. Then, just double-click into the Customer Record from the Customer Query window and apply your changes as needed.

But remember: your top customers aren’t necessarily those who spend the most. The frequency and recency with which they visit also play a part, so while the list you’re able to extract from your system might get you close to your Trek Connect mailing list, there might be some discrepancies.

Data Capture Made Easy: In reality, you probably don’t want to have to keep verifying customer data. So why not automate the process? Not only will our updated scanner scan virtually any barcode, but it allows you to scan nearer and farther than any other scanner in it’s class. Plus, it has the ability to scan driver licenses!

Coming with the Fall 2015 version of Ascend is the ability to add customer data to the customer record with a single scan. Capture the full name, street address, state, zip code, birthday, and gender without having to type it all out line by line.

What does this mean for you? Better data, faster checkout, shorter lines, and happy customers. And if you’re participating in the Trek Connect Retail Marketing Program, these updated scanners provide you with a foolproof way to ensure you have the right data when you need it to help your business grow.

Here to Help: As your first point of contact for all things Trek Connect Retail Marketing, we’d like to encourage you to give our Support Team a call with any questions you might have regarding your system, coupon setup, data capture techniques, or other best practice routines. We also have this handy guide to help you find your way. If you still have questions, shoot an email to help@ascendrms.com.

Q-pons!

Summer is on it’s way out the door and Fall is tumbling in. So, in the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you some bite-size highlights from the Fall 2015 version of Ascend. This week we’re exploring our new coupon functionality. Read on to learn more.

All in the Family: In the days of yesteryear it used to be that coupons had to be created as non-inventory items in your database with a negative sale price. Well, no more! We’ve integrated coupons into Ascend as a payment type for easy access, creation, and management. You can now:

  • View and manage all created coupons within the Coupon payment type in Database Explorer
  • Create coupons with custom descriptions, values, and SKUs
  • Assign pre- or post-tax defaults per individual coupon and indicate Start and End Dates for use
  • Choose whether or not to honor specific coupons at any multi-store location on an individual basis

No Hassle Use: Often, making sure your team can accurately and consistently use program functions can be a full-time job. With the Fall 2015 version of Ascend, we’ve made the new coupon feature do most of the work for you. The only thing you have to remember is that coupons must be taken before any other payment. Took a payment before applying your coupon? Don’t worry, you’ll just have to remove it in order to apply the coupon discount. If you can remember that, then you’re all set because Ascend:

  • Automatically applies the maximum possible discount based on product price
  • Does not allow the use of a negative coupon
  • Does not allow for the transaction balance to become negative if a coupon amount exceeds the total purchase price

Data, Data, Data: Coupons are a great way to drive traffic into your store, but how do you know which of your promotions are working? With our new Coupon Use History report easily:

  • Filter through coupon use by date range or specific coupon
  • View transaction subtotals, coupon amount, transaction number, and customer name
  • Export or email your results in order to create a quick contact list for those who took part in your promotion

Stay Up-to-Date: You can’t take advantage of all the features that Ascend has to offer if you don’t update your systems. So, don’t ignore those update notifications. If you need help, give us a call. Our Support Team is available from 8am – 6pm CST at 877 875 8663. You can also send an email to help@ascendrms.com if your question isn’t urgent.

Scan, Swipe, Save

Trek World was a blast! Thanks to everyone who paid us a visit. We have some really cool features coming soon and were excited to share some of them with you.

Missed us? No problem.

We’ll be highlighting  upcoming functionality over the coming weeks right here on the blog. And if you want to know more or have any questions, make sure to reach out to the Ascend Support Team. But for now just sit back, relax, and check-out the awesome hardware we have big plans for.

Scan with the Symbol DS4308: If you’re looking for a powerful, flexible handheld scanner – look no further. Our new offering will scan virtually any barcode and allows you to scan nearer and farther than any other scanner in it’s class. It has this awesome thing called PRZM Intelligent Imaging inside – basically, it gives your team the power to scan 1-D, 2-D, electronic, paper, and plastic labels. It’ll even try to fill-in-the-blank if the barcode is dirty, scratched, or poorly printed.

What does this mean for you? Better data, faster checkout, shorter lines, and happy customers.

And the best part: it scans drivers licenses! Coming with the Fall 2015 version of Ascend is the ability to add customer data to the customer record with a simple scan. Capture the full name, street address, state, zip code, birthday, and gender without having to type it all out line by line. If those aren’t reasons enough to upgrade, you should re-read the last paragraph.

Swipe, Tap, or Insert with the iSC Touch 250: E! M! V! The liability shift is getting close and we’re prepared, are you? If not, you should think about placing your order for our new payment processing unit soon. Besides being capable of accepting EMV (Chip & Pin) credit and debit cards, it’s fast, secure, and comes with a full-color touchscreen. It will also allow us to incorporate digital signature capture, custom contracts (did anyone say rentals?), and NFC payments into the upcoming versions of Ascend. And if you missed it, check out this recent post that has a bit more detail regarding the change.

Best of all, it’s capable of doing all of the above on it’s own. This single device will replace your credit card swipe, pin pad, and pole display – freeing up some of that precious counter space.

Need more information or want to place your order to ensure you get it in time for the October 1st transition deadline? Reach out to our Sales Team by sending an email to sales@ascendrms.com or give us a call at 800 313 8735 x12030 and mention this post. But hurry! Retailers worldwide are rushing to update their hardware before the liability shift.

One last thing – if you aren’t rockin’ the Summer 2015 version of Ascend yet, you’re missing out. From Case Quantities to Scheduled Backups, it’s got something for everyone and we have the video to prove it. So, take a few minutes and update your workstations today. Need more info? Click here to view the release notes or visit Ascend University on Vimeo to watch short video tutorials showcasing our latest features.

Let’s Have Some Fun

Trek World is here and we’re really excited to showcase a few upcoming products including updated payment processing hardware (just in time for the liability shift happening this October) and some upgraded functionality coming with the Fall 2015 version of Ascend.

Insert, Swipe, or Tap: As we mentioned in our update a few weeks ago, many banks have already started shipping chip-capable cards within the last year and will continue to do so as cards expire in the future. They look similar to existing cards, but contain a chip which allows them to generate transaction specific strings of data, which in turn makes it harder for hackers or fraudsters to intercept and decode your sensitive financial information.

To get ready, we’re introducing two new hardware options that will allow you to stay secure and eliminate the need for maintaining separate Debit and Credit payment peripherals. Both device options will offer Point-to-Point Encryption, NFC capabilities (with support for Apple Pay/Google Wallet coming this Winter), and the ability to replace your pole displays. Come check us out at Trek World to learn more and to pre-order your new devices with access to special pricing.

Not making the trip to Madison this year? No worries: give our Sales Team a call or send an email to Sales@AscendRMS.com to learn how you can get in on the action while supplies last.

Update, We Dare You: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend has brought retailers world wide updates to Work Orders, Backups, Case Quantities, and much more. Start taking advantage of all the new features right now by downloading it straight from the Ascend Desktop. It’s only takes a few minutes per workstation and can help you eliminate countless hours of extra work. Besides, it’ll make the transition to our Fall release quick and easy.

Don’t believe us? Click here for a quick video overview of some of Summer 2015’s fancier features.

Windows 10: Today is the day. Microsoft has officially released the final version of Windows 10 to everyone. After testing, we’ve confirmed that upgrading should cause no issue with the Ascend app. However, we ask that you keep a few things in mind:

  • Back It Up: Take a few minutes and backup your Ascend data before performing the update.
  • Plan it Out: Before starting the update, make sure you have enough time to complete it fully while no customers are in the store. We recommend doing it before or after hours, especially if you only have one or two workstations.
  • Let Us Know: If you need help getting your system up and running after the upgrade or would like assistance with any of your peripherals, give us a call. Our Support Team is available 8am to 6pm Monday – Friday @ 877 875 8663. You could also email us: Help@AscendRMS.com

 

Data is King

Whenever we talk about the integrity of your database information, we’re regularly referring to inventory data. But, your Ascend system is capable of maintaining tabs on much more than the number of skis you have in stock or how many shoes you may have sold. All you have to do is make sure you’re capturing relevant information at the time of sale.

Don’t Sell to Ghosts: You’re prompted to select a customer just before you begin any sale, so why skip it? If you’re checking out a new visitor, take the extra minute to collect contact information and enjoy:

  • The ability to email or text message customers with a single click, right from Ascend
  • Accurate reporting to help you maximize sales to specific customers or entire groups
  • Export features for using customer data in marketing efforts outside of Ascend
  • Having an easier time contacting customers in the case of a product recall or special order arrival

Trust, but Verify: If you’re checking out an existing customer, make sure to verify their information. They may have moved or updated their email address and you want to make sure any communication you’re sending them is getting to the right person. It only takes a few seconds to ask for:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Home/Cell Phone Numbers
  • Email

You can even fill in birthday information and indicate whether a customer is a Trek Card holder or not – making checkout just a bit more personal!

Make It a Team Effort: If you want to have the data, you need a team that can produce it. Customer data is only as good as its capture rate and if you aren’t actively filling out customer record information, you’re losing a big opportunity to properly categorize patrons within your database – which is essential for accurate reporting. So, get your team involved and on the same page regarding the importance of clean and accurate customer data.

Update Today: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend is now available to all retailers, so take a few minutes and update your workstations today! Need more info? Click here to view the release notes or visit Ascend University on Vimeo to watch short video tutorials showcasing our latest features.

The Times They Are A Changin’

It used to be credit cards only needed a magnetic strip to store and provide account information for customers, but the winds of change are blowing again. No need to worry though, we’re working hard to make the transition as effortless for you as possible.

Many banks have already started shipping chip-capable cards within the last year and will continue to do so as cards expire in the future. They look (and taste!) like a regular credit card, but contain a chip which allows them to generate transaction specific strings of data, which in turn makes it harder for hackers or fraudsters to intercept and decode your sensitive financial information.

Come October 1st, 2015, liability for fraudulent card-present transactions will shift to the “part that is least EMV compliant” instead of falling on the issuing bank or payment processor – as it does today.

So, if a customer has a Chip & Pin or Chip & Sign capable card, and a charge is processed as Swipe & Sign, the merchant will be held liable if the charge is deemed fraudulent. To help you stay ahead of the curb and avoid non-compliance with the new rules, our team has been hard at work testing new hardware. And we think we’ve finally found our perfect pair.

No longer worry about maintaining separate peripherals for Debit and Credit payments. Regardless of which of the two (yes, two) hardware options you choose, you’ll just need one device to handle all of your card payments. Goodbye swipe reader and so long pin pad.

Both device options will offer Point-to-Point Encryption, NFC capabilities (with support for Apple Pay/Google Wallet coming soon), and the ability to replace your pole displays (coming this Winter). If you decide to go with that larger version of the two, you’ll also have the ability to forget all about having customers sign paper receipts since it will also be capable of digital signature capture and will have a full color display.

We’re currently working on the final steps to get our system through initial certification to deal with the updated protocols and expect EMV to be ready in time for the October deadline. If you’re joining us for Trek World this year, you’ll have the opportunity to pre-order your hardware and take advantage of special terms and pricing.

Gift Cards

If you’re integrated with Chase Paymentech, you should also know that they’ve recently finalized an agreement that will transfer all gift card operations and related customer agreements to the Givex Corporation. The shift is set to happen on August 31st, 2015, but there won’t be any change in the way you process your gift cards and Chase advises that no user action will be needed if you’d like to continue with Givex as your provider of gift card services.

If you have any questions, please contact Chase Paymentch Gift Card Support at 888 464 9912, option 4 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern time.

If you have any questions for us, feel free to leave a comment below, send us an email, or call our Support Team at 877 875 8663. You can also visit us on the Ascend Customer Network on Yammer.

 

Multi-Store Service Outage? FAQ!

We’re making some changes to our infrastructure by updating our multi-store services. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. To help avoid any confusion, we’ve put together a short list of frequently asked questions.

When will you be performing the upgrade? On Monday July 13th, 2015 starting at 6 AM Central.

Who is affected? All North American, multi-store retailers. If you are a single store, you will also lose access to the Trek Sales Wizard and the ability to use the Update Products utility.

How long will the service outage last? We expect the outage to last about 8 hours starting at 6 AM next Monday, but are working hard to minimize any downtime.

Why are you doing this? Because we want to provide you, our customers, with the best service possible. In an effort to deliver secure, more accurate data and speedier transfers, we’re upgrading our back-end multi-store infrastructure.

What services will be affected? Purchase on Account, Transfers (In & Out), Remote Lookup, and Data Exchanges will all be affected.

What should I do? Pretend you’re a single store for the duration of the outage. Don’t initiate anything multi-store related, including: data exchanges, transfers, and remote lookups.

We also ask that all multi-store retailers disable hourly multi-store exchanges and refrain from any intentional multi-store usage that might flag the multi-store data exchange processes. If you have this option set to only perform a sync once a day, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, disable the exchanges by going to Options > Multi-Store and unchecking “Automatically exchange data” from the Server PC.

To keep your system from attempting to reach the multi-store server, disable Ascend’s internet connection by clicking on the blue globe located near the bottom right of your application window the night before the update. Once clicked, a yellow symbol will appear next the word “OFF”. Then, just turn it back on using the same process once we’ve given the all clear.

If you have any pending transfers at any of your locations, make an effort to process them completely before the outage starts to avoid any unexpected errors.

What if I accidentally run a data exchange? If you’ve not turned off the internet connection for Ascend, you will receive a messages stating that the program is unable to open the remote database after Ascend attempts to reach your multi-store server. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Ascend will automatically turn off internet access for itself. Then, just turn it back on by clicking on the yellow icon near the lower right of the app window once the update is complete. It should go from OFF to ON.

How will I know the update is complete? If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll receive an email. Otherwise, you can follow updates on our website or on the Ascend Customer Network on Yammer. Don’t have an ACN account or need to be added to our mailing list? Shoot an email to eddy_cevilla@ascendrms.com.

Give Us a Call: If you have any questions about this update or would like some help disabling multi-store exchanges, give our Support Team a call at 877 875 8663. You can also email us at help@ascendrms.com.

If you think of anything else that we haven’t covered, feel free to leave a comment or send an email to help@ascendrms.com.

Bikes, Brats, and…Updates!

We’ve got an updated app, a holiday weekend approaching, special support hours, and an important update for all you multistore retailers. Let’s get started:

Ride, Don’t Drive: As we celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, we hope you’ll join us and thousands of your customers on the National Bike Challenge.

  • If you don’t know what the National Bike Challenge is, click here to check it out
  • If you do know what the National Bike Challenge is, don’t forget to eat some grilled food between rides this weekend
  • If you’re stuck at the shop, we ‘ve put together a few short videos to help you around Ascend and cats (even though I’m more of a dog person myself)

Limited Support: To ensure everyone has a fair shot at filling up on brats, burgers, and (a little) beer over the holiday, there will be limited support available starting tomorrow, Thursday, July 2nd through Sunday, July 5th.

  • Our call center will be closed, but feel free to post to the ACN or send an email to help@ascendrms.com during that time
  • If you need immediate assistance, call our Emergency Support line at 877 875 8663 during the hours of 8am and 5pm CST

Update: Our team has worked hard to include all sorts of updates in the Summer 2015 version of Ascend. Start taking advantage of:

  • Work Orders: Enjoy a new set of defaults that help you ensure consistency throughout your workflows
  • Backups: Server PCs can now be automatically backed up to any folder, any time
  • Case Quantities: Easily set Case Cost, Qty, MSRP, and UPC fields for individual products by vendor

Multistore Server Upgrade: In an effort to deliver secure transfers, we’re making some changes to our infrastructure by updating our multistore services.

  • On Monday July 13th, 2015 all North American retailers will lose access to multistore sync for the duration of the upgrade set to begin at 6am CST.
  • We expect the outrage window to last up to 8 hours
  • We ask that all multistore retailers disable hourly multistore exchanges and refrain from any intentional multistore usage

If you have any questions about this update or would like some help disabling multistore exchanges, give our Support Team a call at 877 875 8663. You can also email us at help@ascendrms.com.

Cycle Therapy

Summer vacations are at full throttle and that usually means your store is dealing with some busier mechanics and buzzin’ sales floors. But don’t let that distract you from maintaining a healthy inventory!

Cycle counts are an important part of your inventory maintenance and help make full store inventories a lot less painful. Read on to learn how to make sure your database is as happy as your most satisfied customer.

Know: Cycle counts are quick spot-checks for inventory accuracy. During a cycle count you should:

  • Count one or more categories before or after hours according to a set schedule
  • Count every single salable product in the category under review, regardless of location
  • Skip physical counts – those won’t be needed until your yearly full store inventory

Plan: Cycle counts can be easily forgotten about, but setting up a regular schedule can help you and your team plan for them throughout the year. To  create your cycle count schedule:

  • Appoint one or two key staff to “own” the cycle count process
  • Perform cycle counts 4 or 5 days per week every few weeks
  • Count each category at least quarterly, but remember that it might be a good idea to count certain categories more often depending on value or turnover rate
  • Determine which categories to count most frequently
  • Post the cycle count schedule in a highly visible location
  • Review and update your cycle count schedule regularly

Scan: Once you’ve identified your categories and created a schedule, it’s time to jump in. All you need is an inventory scanner (or two)! Simply:

  • Load your Handheld Device Product File
  • Delete previous scan results
  • Enter a section number
  • Scan the barcode or SKU of your individual products for your chosen category

Reconcile: After you’re done scanning your products, it’s time to import your results and reconcile your inventory to keep your database up-to-date. Looking for to-do’s? Here you go:

We also have a helpful set of videos to help you along the way. You can check them out by clicking here. Or if you’d like text based aid, check out this Online Help topic. If you need a little more information or have a question about how to perform cycle counts, give us a call or send us an note. The Ascend Support Team is available at 877 875 8663 or by email: help@ascendrms.com.

Update Today: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend is now available to all retailers, so take a few minutes and update your workstations today! Need more info? Click here to view the release notes or visit Ascend University on Vimeo to watch short video tutorials showcasing our latest features.

Help is Here

The Summer 2015 version of Ascend was released to all retailers last week. It brought bug fixes, system enhancements, and a few new features including Case Quantities and Scheduled Backups. If you haven’t made the jump, download the update right from the Ascend Desktop and start taking advantage of all the updates today. But we know change can be scary. That’s why we’ve prepared a wide range of resources to help you make the most out of your system.

While we certainly encourage you to contact our Support Team by phone or email if you ever run into trouble using your system, we’ve made it easy to locate the answers you need without having to pick up the phone or type a single message.

Online Help: Here you can find topics covering the Ascend app, Ascend Online Reports, and Ascend Analytics. Popular topics, recommended system maintenance, and step-by-step instructions for system functions are just a click away. Easily:

  • Use the Search bar to find relevant articles
  • Identify similar or connected topics using article links
  • Share your findings with the team by sending any Help Page URL address directly to them
  • Bookmark often used topics for quick reference using your preferred web browser

Release Notes: These are especially important for major updates or “hot fixes” (minor updates released to fix potential issue causing bugs) because they give you information about what’s changed since the last update all in a single place. You can even use the search bar to find relevant notes in current or previous release versions. Use the links below to access the release notes for our last few updates:

One to One: If all else fails or if you just want to have someone on the phone while you work through any issues with your system, give us a call. Our Support Team is standing by Monday through Friday 8am-6pm CST to assist you. Whether you’re interested in clarification or need someone to guide you through a process for the first time, we’ve got your back. Dial 877 875 8663 or shoot an email to help@ascendrms.com. And don’t forget to update!