Blog Posts

NCR Counterpoint Email Functions

NCR Counterpoint Email Functions

Email CCS Sales.

Did you know you could email receipts directly from Point of Sale? What about emailing PO’s to vendors? NCR Counterpoint can be set up to allow you to email reports as well.

Emailing does require a little setup and configuration and works with most email hosts. It is secure and seamless.

If you are interested in testing or setting up this functionality, Contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department for a review of your system.

-Bryan

Holiday Season Spam and Phishing Emails

As we start to move into the holiday season, it is a good time to remind your employees to be aware of spam and phishing emails. Both of these increase greatly at this time. Many people are, of course, ordering more from on-line retailers, and shipping more packages themselves. The bad guys know this, too, and know that people may be more susceptible to those false package delivery notices, and fake invoices, that they receive in their email inbox.

Additionally, more customers and more products moving through the stores will, of course, mean that your employees are busier. Therefore, they may not take as much time to evaluate any emails that are received and be more likely to open malicious emails and attachments or click on those deceptive links.

If this is the busiest time of the year for you, then you know that it would also be the worst time of the year to get hit with something as potentially damaging as malware or ransomware. So, before the holiday season hits hard, it may be a good time to remind your employees to be extra vigilant.

Reviewing your systems to ensure that the latest system updates are in place, that your anti-virus is up-to-date, and that your systems are as secure as you can make them, is also a good idea. As always, we are available to help you and can review your system if you would like.

Dave

Retail Theft Is On The Rise

Retail Theft Is On The Rise

In the USA, for 2018, the summary breakdown for retail theft was in the following areas.

  • Shoplifting loses is now a staggering $50.6 billion dollars a year.
  • Return fraud is an estimated $15 billion a year.
  • Gift card fraud is an estimated $5 billion a year.

The NFR (National Retail Federation) 2018 survey of over 500 Major retailers returned some significant numbers, and 2019 is expected to have an even higher increase. Some notable highlights are:

Survey respondents indicated that 91.6% had been victims of ORC (Organized Retail Crime) during the year.

Areas where the most fraud is occurring:

  • In-Store Only Sales: 42.9%
  • Online Only Sales: 30.2%
  • Multi-channel Sales( i.e. buy online, pickup in-store): 22.2%

In 2018, ORC represented $777,877 for every $1 billion in retail sales.

Thefts coalesced into the following areas:

  • Ease of Theft/resale ability: Ease of the ability to steal products and ease of being able to resell it via multiple channels, including online and social media.
  • Gift Cards: Ease of theft and internal policies that make using or reselling the Gift Cards easier.
  • Laws: Raised thresholds for what classifies and felony theft, and stores being unwilling to prosecute offenders.
  • Lowered defenses: Inability to do anything due to staff shortages, or internal “do nothing” policies, and lowered supply chain security.
  • Product: Brand names and/or high demand products that can easily be resold. – Here’s a list of some of the most common items stolen:
  1. Designer clothes
  2. Laundry detergent
  3. Infant formula
  4. Razors
  5. Designer handbags
  6. Denim pants
  7. High-end Liquor
  8. Deodorant
  9. Teeth whitening strips
  10. Cell phones
  11. TV’s
  12. Tools (Power Tools and Kits, hand tools)
  13. Toys
  14. Video Games and accessories
  15. Lumber
  16. Portable Generators
  17. Lawnmowers
  18. Power lawn/yard equipment
  19. Plumbing parts and accessories

Most retailers are planning to increase spending to combat crime in the following areas:

Estimates for 2019:

  • Burglar Alarms: 92.1%
  • Digital Video Recorders: 84.%
  • Armored Car Deposit Pickups: 68.3%
  • POS data mining: 65.1%
  • Live customer visible CCTV: 61.9%

Some retailers have opted to simply let the thieves go, documenting the theft, and then later filing insurance claims for the losses.

The major issue with these non-responsive methods is that it only further emboldens the thieves.

The bottom line here is that ultimately the retail consumer pays for all of this in the form of increased prices.

For more information go to:

https://nrf.com/research/national-retail-security-survey-2019

– John

Preparing for the Unexpected

Preparing for the Unexpected

One day last week, after I returned home from work, I sat down on the couch, took off my shoes, turned on my favorite news program on TV, and expected to relax for a while before dinner. Alas! That did not happen. A power outage occurred suddenly, leaving everything in blackness. “Not a problem”, I thought. I have plenty of big candles in the kitchen cupboard.

I groped my way to the kitchen, found the candles, and then started looking for matches. I looked everywhere (in the dark) and couldn’t find a single match anywhere. After bumbling about for the next several minutes, I finally found a flashlight that had workable batteries and sat down to wait it out. I waited a looooong time with a hungry stomach because I also needed a match to light the Sterno under my fondue pot to warm some soup.

Why am I telling you this story? It’s to emphasize that the time to think about possible unexpected issues is to think about “what if’s” before you are caught off guard as I was.

When the weather starts getting wintry again, power outages can happen. The Internet can go down, and computers can crash. When it comes time to reconstruct, without sufficient backup, this process becomes extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

We’re here to help you with your backup solutions. If you have questions, call us today at 425-672-4806 or email us. You’ll be glad you did!

Marlene

Logging Support Requests with CCS

Logging Support Requests with CCS.

At CCS, we always to try to respond to support requests in a timely manner. In order to do this, we need your assistance as follows:

  1. How to contact CCS.

Phone Number: 800-672-4806/425-672-4806

mail Address: support

During normal business hours, the phone will be answered by a dispatcher. However, if the support call volume is unusually high at the time of your call,

It may go directly to voicemail.

  1. Information needed for CCS to properly respond to any support requests are:

Name – First name (Minimum), and last name.

Company – The name of the company that we have on record

Location/Store – The physical location/store that the user is calling from, and/or the location/store that is having the issue.

Contact Phone Number – Store Phone number, cell phone number

Contact email address – If you are not immediately available, include the best time and day for CCS to re-contact you.

The nature and severity of the issue.

What you did before contacting CCS.

Who else in your organization did you attempt to contact first, before calling CCS?

  1. Here are some examples of support requests:
  1. Voicemail Message:

Poor Example:

“Hi, this is Mary, we are having a problem…” click!

In this particular case, the call came in from an unlisted, back-office number that no one monitors. When that number was called, no one answered, and the number didn’t go to any king of the voicemail system. So at this point, we had no idea which company this was, what location is involved or any other details.

Best Example:

“Hi, this is Mary Smith from Bob’s Widgets, Lynnwood Washington location. The store number is: 425-672-1234. If no one answers or if it goes to voicemail, please call me on my cell phone: 360-123-4567.

I just tried to log into the software when coming back from my lunch break, and I’m getting the following error message when I try to log into the Touch screen Ticket Entry:

“Invalid Login”

I kept trying different passwords, and nothing worked. I can’t ring up customers, please help!

I’m unable to get hold of a manager to help out.

We close the store at 6:00 PM tonight, but I’ll be here until 6:30 PM.”

In the above example, the contact information is clearly stated, and so is the nature of the support issue. Also, information as to what other attempt attempts were made to resolve the issue before contacting CCS. This allows CCS to quickly respond to both the call and to address the specific issue.

  1. Email message sent to CCS:

Poor Example:

“We are having a problem… “

The source email is for a personal email associated with a user’s personal cell phone: mary1234

In this case, the person who sent the message is not monitoring their email, so when a reply is sent requesting more information, CCS gets no reply.

Best Example:

“Hi, this is Mary Smith from Bob’s Widgets, Lynnwood Washington location. The store number is: 425-672-1234. If no one answers or if it goes to voicemail, please call me on my cell phone… 360-123-4567. If you send any emails, please address them to all of the following:

lynnwood

msmith

accounting

I just tried to log into the software when coming back from my lunch break, and I’m getting the following error message when I try to log into the Touch screen Ticket Entry:

“Invalid Login”

I kept trying different passwords, and nothing worked. I can’t ring up customers, please help!

Here’s a picture of the error taken with my cell phone.

Also, I called and texted our manager, but she’s on vacation in Maui and isn’t responding. Also, I couldn’t reach our Assistant Manager, by phone this afternoon, but she’s supposed to be in tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM.

We close the store at 6:00 PM tonight, but I’ll be here until 6:30 PM.”

Again, in the above example, the contact information is clearly stated, and so is the nature of the support issue, and includes an image of or print screen of the error. Also, information as to what other attempt attempts were made to resolve the issue before contacting CCS.

John

Keeping Customers Returning

Keeping Customers Returning

Have you ever thought about why you return to the same retail stores again and again? Most of us do not stop to analyze this, but should! The reasons why you shop at your favorite stores are the same reasons customers come to your place of business.

Here are some of my reasons:

  • Good parking facilities
  • Friendly, helpful employees who can answer my questions about products
  • Clean atmosphere (floors, counters, windows, restrooms)
  • Good management of unsupervised children in the store
  • Adequate inventory to provide choices
  • Good prices, clearly marked on easily seen labels
  • Efficiency at checkout – no long lines
  • Adequate staffing to prevent long lines
  • Monitors, so I can see prices as they are scanned
  • Receipts that I can read and understand
  • Good return policy, with clear information on receipt
  • Ease of using my preferred debit/credit cards
  • Loyalty benefits

Want your customers to come back? Make sure you consider the above and make changes accordingly. We at CCS can’t help you with all of these factors, (we don’t do windows, parking lots, or supervision of children) but we can help you with many of them.

Do you need assistance with inventory, labels, receipts, use of debit/credit cards, loyalty points, scanners, monitors, registers, or training employees on the use of your Counterpoint software? We can provide excellent service on all of these things and much more. Call us at 425-672-4806 or email us. We can help you help your customers!

Marlene

Purging History to Update Faster

 

Preparing To Update From CPSQL 8.5.3 and lower.

If you are planning to update your NCR Counterpoint System and are running version 8.5.3 or lower and have a lot of sales history, purging some of that history will make the update take less time.

I get asked quite a bit on how long an update will take. For most systems that keep up to date, it can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. But, if you have skipped a couple of updates, this can turn into 3 to 4 hours to complete to the whole process.

The reason for this is that during the upgrade, your history files go through a conversion process to add/remove changed fields. Although the main system itself will be useable after the initial update, the history will not be there right away.

Depending on how much history you keep on file will determine how long the rest of the update will take. If you rely on sales history to do validated returns, or to help make decisions about purchasing or running reports, this will unavailable until the conversion process is complete.

So, when you decide to upgrade your system, take a look at how much sales history you have on file and purge (there are utilities that make this easy) whatever is not necessary. As a reference, most companies keep about 3 years’ worth of history, but you should check with your accounting team for how much may be required.

-Bryan

Security Concerns of Phishing Attacks

Security Concerns of Phishing Attacks

I am re-visiting the security concerns of phishing attacks in this posting. These remain the largest vector for delivering malicious software, such as ransomware attacks. The reason that it remains the preferred method of attack in many cases is that it works: People are still opening those phishing emails, and clicking on those links.

Training employees to recognize phishing emails should be an ongoing process for all companies. By periodically reminding them of the dangers, and what to look for, it keeps the idea fresher in their minds, and hopefully, they will be more on the alert for these dangerous attacks. Also, as those conducting such attacks are getting evolving, also, and getting more sophisticated. These attacks are increasingly using more targeted approaches, and are less obvious that they are not legitimate.

Many use such things as having links to websites that are only a letter, or so, off from the legitimate site. If the legitimate site is a “.com”, for example, the nefarious site may be a “.co”. Or, if the site is something like “mybank.com”, then the fake site might be “mybank-info.com”.

By making data security an ongoing process, your employees will not only have it kept fresh in their minds, but they can also be trained on how to spot the increasingly sophisticated attack emails. The more likely that they are to think about it before opening an email, or clicking on a link, as well as being better able to spot emails that just are not quite right, the safer your data is. The bad guys are not taking it easy, so that means that the rest of us have to constantly keep our guard up.

Dave.

Customizing the Counterpoint Data Filters in the Reports

Customizing the Counterpoint Data Filters in the Reports

One of the nice features of the Counterpoint software is the ability to customize the data filters in the reports. If you run the items report, for example, you will get the option to choose a range of item numbers, the primary vendor, a range of categories, and sub-categories.

If you want you can change the filters further, and select records based on any of the fields in the item table. Profile fields, alternate units, dimensions, descriptions, and many other fields. The fields can be set to have values included, excluded, or even to be empty.

In order to change the filter properties, right-click the mouse button on the white background area of the filters, and select customize. The view will change to a list of the fields selected. At this point, you have the option of adding additional fields or changing the existing ones. To change a field, click on that field, and you will get a list of all of the available fields. Depending on which table or view is being used, the list can be quite long. The same field may be selected more than once.

To change the condition, such as the item number being a range, click on the condition, which in the case of a range will be “between”. You are then presented with a list of options, such as “is (exactly)”, “contains”, “more than”, “less than”, and many others. These are all fairly self-explanatory. Also, the “and” at the end of the line can be changed to an “or”.

So, if you wanted to run the report for two specific items, you would select “Item number” for the field on the first two lines. Then click on the condition, and select “is (exactly)” on both of those lines. Finally, you would click on the “and” on the first line, and change it to “or”. This gives the result of generating the report for both of the two item numbers entered on the first two lines.

To get the screen back to the more friendly view that you originally had, right-click on the white background again, and select “simplify”. You will be back at the selection screen that you are used to, with the ability to lookup item numbers, and such.

Dave.

Windows 10 Build 1903

Windows 10 Build 1903

Microsoft has released Windows 10 Build 1903 in the month of August 2019 and has been gradually rolling out the availability to downloads to end-users. However, the availability of this update is not user-controlled and is being controlled by Microsoft. This is resource-hogging, time-consuming process is similar to what was experienced with the Windows 10 Upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8… meaning that no one should expect this finish in a timely manner, so it should only be done during off-hours.

Failing to do this could mean that with some older, slower registers, they could end-up being non-operational for at least half a day or more.

Some finer points:

  • The installation packet is several Gigabytes in size, so the downloads take a really long time. So while this is offering is being provided as part of the standard Windows Update, the entire process this is going to affect bandwidth, especially for users who have only basic Internet service, limited bandwidth and/or use multi-site.
  • The typical download times can be as great as 4 hours, plus another 2 – 4 hours for the actual installation to fully complete.
  • The entire installation process requires multiple automatic restarts of the computer. – It is important that the end-user NOT intervene with this process by physically powering off the PC or register, as doing that is will corrupt the operating system.
  • Of note: The previous Homegroup feature has been completely removed from the operating system.

– John