Blog Posts

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

Summer Time Cleanup

Summer Time Cleanup

As we are approaching the end of summer, now is a good time to clean out your computer case of dust bunnies and dirt. When the dust and dirt start to build up inside your computer case, strange things can start to happen. The most common thing I see is random BSOD (Windows infamous Blue Screen Of Death). The messages associated with these can be very misleading, for example, I recently fielded a call from a customer that their terminal had a BSOD and it referenced memory issues. The customers IT department ran multiple memory test scans that showed there was nothing wrong. When they finally called CCS, I had them make sure the terminal was clean on the inside. I advised they pick up some canned air and blow out all the fans, heatsinks, and vents. After this was complete, no more BSOD’s.

Heat is one of the worst things when it comes to computers and can cause malfunctions that will have you chasing your tail. By simply being a little proactive, the frustration will be eliminated.

If you need help with cleaning up your PC tower or terminal, call the CCS Support Department and schedule a time that would work for you.

-Bryan

Importance of Updates

Importance of Updates

My daughter was flying in to visit me, and I needed directions to the newly-opened airport in my town. I decided to take a test run a few days before her arrival, so I checked out the address on the Internet and got into my car. I reached into the glove box for my road map and then realized that I had destroyed my road maps when I got my first hand-held GPS unit.

My car is older and does not have GPS installed, so I re-entered my home and got my hand-held GPS. It needed to be re-charged. After the re-charging completed, I again got into my car and proceeded to drive to the airport. The only problem was that my GPS had not been updated and the roads had changed! Of course, I got lost and had to recalculate on my own.

Why am I telling you all this? I want to emphasize how important it is to keep up with updates. Think of all of the things in your business that have been altered by our changing technology. Constant updates (and upgrades) are now needed on POS software, printers, registers, scanners, anti-virus programs, mailing machines, delivery company software, postage, credit card machines—the list goes on and on.

Don’t “get lost” as I did! Make sure that you stay current on all technology that keeps your business healthy, running, and competitive in the marketplace. If you need help, we’re here to answer your questions, give expert advice, and dependable service. Just email us at CCS.

Marlene

Training and Monitoring Your Checkout Personnel

Training and Monitoring Your Checkout Personnel

Recently CCS had a customer call about a problem with two purchases and credit/debit payments.

A Short overview:

Customer A finished shopping, made a $50 purchase and left. She did not get a receipt.

Customer B was next at the checkout. He made his $110 purchase and left with a receipt.

Later that day, Customer A called and said she was charged $110 on her debit card when it should have been $50. Our customer reviewed their system and could not find a ticket for Customer A. They did find the ticket for Customer B and on the Secure Pay payment portal saw that Customer B was billed to Customer A’s card.

What had happened? Luckily our customers have surveillance cameras over their registers. They went back and reviewed the transactions for that period.

They were able to see that the clerk had not finished the 1st transaction. So Customer A had not received a receipt. Instead of completing or clearing the complete Customer A transaction, the clerk just deleted the line items. The clerk rang up Customer B on the same ticket, and since the payment was still attached to it, Customer A’s card was charged.

Luckily by having the cameras, they were able to solve the problem. Are cameras something you should consider to ensure proper checkout activities?

Some additional training would be a good idea for the clerks. CCS has a full suite of classroom, onsite, and Webinar training offerings. A firm policy that every customer gets a receipt – either paper or email should be implemented. Therefore, a transaction is always completed for each customer.

Marilyn

Having a good backup saved me and could save you too!

I know I have blogged about this before, but I have to again as having a good backup saved me and could save you too

So, the other day I noticed that I needed to update Windows on my work PC. So as usual, I installed them and waited to reboot as I had some projects going on. Once my projects were complete, I rebooted. That’s where the trouble begins. No matter what I did, I could not boot back into Windows, I tried everything I could, looked online for things I may not have tried, made changes to this, to that, run commands in a recovery mode, nothing would work. So as a last resort, I used my last backup from the day before, to restore my system from bare metal.

I am using a Cloud/local backup product from Solarwinds. It is kind of a “set it and forget it” program, although there is not much to do once it is setup, it is still a good idea to check on the status of your backup. Knowing I had a good backup, I started the restore utility and started downloading my backup from the previous day. It did take some time being it was downloading some 400GB+ of data (If I was using an external drive it would have been faster), but when I came into the office Monday morning, the restore operation was complete. I removed the recovery disk and rebooted. Next thing I know, my PC is backup and running. It was very easy, everything worked as before and with the exception of a couple of emails, all my data was there too.

The nice thing about Solarwinds backup is that it can be both local and cloud-based at the same time. As mentioned before, If I had a local external hard drive, the amount of time it would have taken would probably be a third of what it did take, but with the ease of the whole process, I cannot complain. Besides doing a full restore as I did, there is also an option for just restoring 1 file or a whole folder if necessary. The backup can even backup SQL databases (perfect for CPSQL customers).

So, if you are not currently backing up your system to the cloud or otherwise, please look into getting this setup. CCS can get you setup, have a status email sent you daily and help you any way we can.

-Bryan

Cryptojacking is on the rise again

Cryptojacking is on the rise again

After dropping off last year, the prevalence of cryptojacking is on the rise again. Cryptojacking is where the bad guys hijack your computer to mine cryptocurrency. That is, they use your computer hardware, and electricity, to mine cryptocurrency for their pockets.

While this is not as invasive, or devastating, as more malicious attacks such as ransomware, it still is taking money out of your pocket as well as impacting the use of your computer. By using the time that your CPU would normally be idle, the cryptojackers cause your system to use more power. That is in addition to slowing your system when you are actively using it.

In a simple form, your system could be hijacked by simply browsing a web site with a cryptojacking javascript. In that case, while you are on that website, your computer will be participating in the mining scheme and will stop when you go to another site, or close your browser. However, if the site can successfully infiltrate your system, it may load a persistent mining payload, and your system will then be mining until it is removed.

Of course, other avenues of an attack like phishing emails common, also. So, the usual warnings apply here, too, such as be very suspicious of any emails from people that you don’t know, keep your patches and anti-virus/anti-malware up to date, and so on.

If you are infected with a cryptojacker, the most likely thing that you will see is a general slowness using your computer. That is, until your electric bill arrives, which may be very much higher than you expected. Another indication, especially on a laptop, is that your cooling fan constantly runs at a higher rate than normal, indicating that your system is running hotter.

While cryptojacking software is typically not difficult to remove, it may be that other malicious software has also been loaded. Therefore, a good inspection of your system is in order.

Dave