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!

Summer 2015 Has Arrived

The Summer 2015 version of Ascend has just been released to all retailers and it includes 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. Not really sure of the changes you can expect? Read on to learn more or click here for a short video explaining the update.

Case Quantities: Never worry about “divide-by” fixes again. When a product can be ordered in bulk, you’ll now be able to configure it’s details for the case by vendor. And since the values received from your Purchase Orders now carry into your In-Store Products, you won’t have to worry about different vendors using different case sizes.

  • Easily set Case Cost, Case Qty, Case MSRP, and Case UPC fields for individual products by vendor
  • Order and Receive products without altering In-Store Product divisions
  • Accurately track inventory regardless of carrying vendor quantities for particular products

Scheduled Backups: Server PCs can now be automatically backed up to any folder, any time. We’ve even hidden the “Back Up DB” desktop icon on workstations that aren’t your server. Effortlessly:

  • Set any desired backup time, just after close or during the moonlight hours
  • Choose any folder as your backup location. If you’re external drive is too full, Ascend automatically leaves a copy on your PC
  • Assign an email for your system to notify once the back up is complete (or if it fails)

Updated Defaults: Work Orders got a new set of defaults to help you ensure consistency throughout your workflows. You can also specify different default settings depending on the type of work you tend to perform at particular locations. Enjoy:

  • Auto-Notify on Completed Work Orders
  • Save Old Parts and Call If Over default options
  • Consolidated placement of Work Order Default options found in Options>Sales and Returns

Simplified Tabs: The Bikes tab has been rolled right into Serial Numbers. Upon upgrade, both categories will be automatically combined into one tab on the Customer Panel in the Sales screen and in the Customers folder in Database Explorer. Easily:

  • View date added, description, serial number, and purchase location for serialized items from within a single tab
  • Add, edit, or remove serialized products right from the Serial Numbers tab regardless of model or place of purchase
  • Select from a drop-down menu for Description from within the Work Order Details Screen

Custom Payment Types: Start accepting anything from Bitcoins to IOUs and forget about having to keep track of those transactions outside of Ascend. Even customize the payment types available in the Transaction screen. You can:

  • Create new payment types
  • Map payment types to their corresponding QuickBooks account
  • Assign custom short-names to payment types and choose from a range of pre-installed icons to make them easily recognizable as-a-glance
  • Choose the display order for your payment types and even assign “Advanced” status to any of them to help limit employee use

Purchase Order Enhancements: We’ve added Min and Max columns to the Purchase Order screen to give you an easy place to verify or modify your preferences. We’ve also made selecting multiple line items at once from the Purchase Order screen a breeze. Quickly:

  • View the highest volume of product stocked during your current season with the new Max column
  • View the lowest volume of product stocked during your current season with the new Min column
  • Edit your Min/Max values in-cell by simply clicking on your selection and entering your desired value
  • Select multiple items from the PO screen by using the Shift and Control keys

Update Today: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend is now available to all retailers, so update today! Want more information on these and all other changes? Click here to view the release notes or visit Ascend University on Vimeo to watch short video tutorials showcasing helpful features and practices. And if you run into any issues, remember that our Support Team is on-call Monday through Friday 8am-6pm CST. You can shoot us an email at help@ascendrms.com or dial 877 875 8663 to speak with someone today!

 

 

Divide-By Has Gone Bye-Bye

The Summer 2015 version of Ascend is less than one (yes, 1) week away from release and this week we’re previewing a few changes that are sure to make your life just a bit easier.

We’ve completely removed In-Store Product “divisions” and have now incorporated case quantities into the Vendor Product record.  We’ve also introduced three new fields. If you don’t remember the difference between Vendor Products and In-Store Products, click here for a refresher. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more.

Cases Everywhere: Never worry about “divide-by” fixes again. With the Summer 2015 of Ascend, when a product can be ordered in bulk you’ll now be able to configure it’s details for the case by vendor. Easily set:

  • Cost for the entire case in addition to individual items
  • Case Qty for the number of individual items per case
  • Case MSRP for the selling price of the entire case
  • Case UPC for the UPC of the entire case

Heightened Accuracy: The values received from your purchase orders will now carry into your In-Store Product.  This means that if QBP, Trek, and J&B can sell you a particular product, but all three vendors use a different Case size, you will not have to worry about your In-Store Products division being altered after receiving.  Enjoy:

  • Painless ordering and receiving for case quantity items
  • Accurate inventory tracking regardless of varying vendor quantities for particular products
  • A simple report showing a complete list of vendor items that have a case quantity associated with them upon upgrade to the Summer 2015 version of Ascend, to help you identify case quantity products
  • A head start on setting up product cases in your system. The ability to sell entire cases will be coming with the Fall 2015 version of Ascend available in September

Stay Tuned: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend is less than a week away. Keep your eyes on this blog and on the Ascend Customer Network for ways to help make the most out of all the changes. Need a more visual way to stay informed? Check out our video library to watch short tutorials that are sure to make you an Ascend Pro in no time! And remember, if you run into any issues our Support Team is available to help you get back on track. Give them a call at 877 875 8663 or send an email to help@ascendrms.com

Powered-Up Purchase Orders

Ascend allows you to track inventory and process sales, but it all starts with your products. That’s why, with the Summer 2015 version of Ascend, we’ve made some improvements to your Purchase Order screen that’ll make ordering products just a bit faster with new columns, helpful highlighting, and multi-select. Keep reading to learn more in this week’s feature preview.

‘Tis the Season: Min and Max settings help keep your shelves full by automatically prompting you to reorder based on your current inventory levels. But unless you kept a close eye on individual products, it wasn’t always easy to see what your settings were for them. So, we’ve added Min and Max columns to the Purchase Order Screen to give you an easy place to verify or modify your preferences. Easily:

  • View the highest volume of product stocked during your current season with the new Max column
  • View the lowest volume of product stocked during your current season with the new Min column
  • Edit your Min/Max values in-cell by simply clicking on your selection and entering your desired value

Take Your Pick: Selecting multiple line items at once from the Purchase Order screen just got easier. And if you receive product, you’ll have a clear indication of what you’re checking in at-a-glance come June. Quickly:

  • Select multiple items in a row by clicking on your first choice, holding down the Shift key, then clicking on the last item you would like to be selected
  • Select alternating items by clicking on your first choice, then holding down the Control key while making your other selections
  • Identify the selected line item with updated grid highlight colors

Stay Up-To-Date: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend RMS is set for wide release on Tuesday, June 9th. Before updating, make sure all of your workstations are updated with the latest updates and security patches from Microsoft by using the Windows Update service found in the Control Panel. You should also verify that you’re running the latest version of Ascend (Spring 2015) on each of your workstations (and locations, if you’re a multistore retailer) by checking your software version near the bottom of your Ascend desktop. Take a few minutes before you open or after you close to ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the features your system has to offer.

Need some help making sense of it all? No problem! Our Support Team is available every weekday from 8am to 6pm CST at 866 875 8663. You can also shoot us an email at help@ascendrms.com with any questions or concerns.

 

Cash or Credit?

Summer 2015 is creeping closer and your swimsuits aren’t the only things that’ll need updating come June. You can look forward to a wide range of updates and improvements with the next version of Ascend set to drop on June 9th and if you’re already on the latest version (Spring 2015), updating your workstations should be a breeze. Wondering what’s included? Read on to learn more in this week’s feature preview.

Become a Payment Powerhouse: The Summer 2015 version of Ascend includes the ability to customize the payment types available in the Transaction screen. Start accepting anything from Bitcoins to IOUs and forget about having to keep track of those transactions outside of Ascend. Easily:

  • Create new payment types
  • Map your payment types to their corresponding QuickBooks account
  • Assign custom short-names to payment types and choose from a wide range of pre-installed icons to make them easily recognizable at-a-glance
  • Choose the display order for your payment types on the Sales screen and even assign an “Advanced” status to your payment types to help limit employee use of certain ones

Stock Up & Refuel: Customers are starting their summer fun and no one wants to be left without the supplies they need to close a sale. Whether it’s receipt paper, product labels, or a new scanner, make sure to plan ahead and order today. To place your order:

  • Start at the Ascend Desktop and click on the Order Supplies icon,
  • Go to Integration > Ascend > Order Hardware and Supplies,
  • Give us a call at 877 875 8663,
  • Or send an email to sales@ascendrms.com

Keep in Touch: We can only help with problems we’re aware of, so don’t be shy and reach out to our Support Team with questions, concerns, or comments regarding your system. Whether it’s setting up your hardware or troubleshooting a software issue, we’ve got you covered. The Ascend Support Team is available Monday through Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm CST at 877 875 8663 or by email at help@ascendrms.com.  And remember to check out Ascend Help, Ascend University on Vimeo, the ACN on Yammer, and our website for help on getting started or getting better.