Keeping Children Safe Online
By: Computer SOS Inc,.Everyday_Made_Easier
February 5, 2019 is Internet Security Day. This day (or any day) presents an excellent opportunity to have a conversation with your child about staying safe online. Just like the “real world,” the internet has some dangers children need to be made aware of. From inappropriate content, to less than kind comment sections to outright predators, there are plenty of things to make a parent nervous about allowing their child in the cyber world. The good news, is there are plenty of precautions and steps that can be made to educate and protect your child from falling victim to these dangers.
Adjust restrictions as needed: No two kids are alike, and children in different age groups will require different sets of guidelines and oversight. Though there is no defined set of rules, there are some legal acts with the intent to help kids stay safe online. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, established in 1998, creates safeguards like keeping children off of social media under the age of 13. Regardless, millions of kids under 13 have found their way onto Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat anyway, often with parental consent.
In some cases, parents want their kids on Facebook so that they can communicate with grandma. They’ll actively encourage the kids to lie about their age,” says Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. “We’re trying to teach good digital citizenship to kids. If the first experience they have is to lie to get onto a platform, that’s about the worst kind of modeling you can offer.” Be a good role model.
Teach kids to protect their privacy: While younger children may not fully understand the consequences of giving out personal information, it should be talked about.
Never give anyone their name, address, phone number, school name, or picture without a parent’s permission.
Not to respond to mean or inappropriate messages
Never to meet anyone in person they “meet” online.
Let your child know that they can and should always come to you if they find something online that makes them uncomfortable.Assure them you will not overreact, they will not be in trouble, or get privileges revoked.
Be aware of your child’s online habits: Know who your children are interacting with online and what sites they are visiting. With Google’s Family Link you are able to set internet time limits, and a bedtime for their screen time. Weather it's time for bed, homework, or dinner you have the ability to lock your child’s device when it’s time for a break.
If you want to invest in a program, There are several different parental control software to choose from. Some of the best include Questodio ($54.95 up to 5 devices) Net Nanny ($39.99 for 1 device, $12.00 per device up to 5, and $9.00 per device up to 10) Kaspersky Safe Kids ($14.99 for 1 device) among countless others.
But parents don’t have to dish out the cash to monitor their kids online activities. Microsoft offers a service called Microsoft Family Group, with Family Group you can schedule screen time, set content filters, check in on your child’s location, and monitor spending habits in places like the Microsoft Store.
Use a search engine designed for kids: Google has many search engines designed for kids including Kiddle, Kidtopia, and KidRex. Another great search engine for kids to use is kidssearch.com. Kidssearch.com provides links to reference sites like a dictionary or thesaurus, school subject help, an image and video search and even games.
In the “real world”your kids are taught not to talk to strangers, or cross the street without looking. You teach them to be kind to one another and to treat others the way you want to be treated. The same goes for online habits. Just like you can’t shield kids from the “bad” in the world forever, you can’t protect them from everything “bad” online. You can however, teach them good habits and what to do when situations come up. Knowing that your child is well informed about the dangers of the internet can put your mind at ease.
The Responsible Way to Get Rid of a Computer
By: Computer SOSEveryday_Made_Easier
1) Transfer files you wish to save: The best way to do this is by using a cloud service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. You could also use an external hard drive. Transferring files can be a tedious task, if you don’t have the time and are in the Buffalo, New York area, we’d be happy to do it for you.
2) Delete sensitive files like bank account information, tax information, medical files, or anything else that gives away personal data.
3) Deauthorize your computer; Many might not think about this step. Some programs and software only allow a certain number of devices to be authorized for use. Be sure to deauthorize the old to make room for the new.
4) Uninstall Programs. Microsoft Office for example may contain information like your name and address.
5) Wipe your hard drive. For PCs, once you've gone through and removed the data you know is there, it's time to wipe the drive to ensure you've removed all of your personal files and software programs. If you just plan on recycling your hard drive skip to 6, If you plan on reusing or donating the computer/hard drive read on.
How to Wipe a Hard Drive Using DBAN
a. Download DBAN from the official site. The version number you see might be different than what’s in this image. DBAN comes as an ISO file which is meant to be burned to a CD. If you try to open it on a computer, it won’t work. You can download the file on any computer. It does not need to be the one you’re trying to wipe.
b. To use DBAN, burn the ISO file to a CD. But you can’t do it in the normal way that you burn files to a disc. You’ll have to use a special program that will unpack the ISO and burn it properly such as Free ISO Burner. When you’re done burning the CD, label it so you don’t forget what it is. You can also create a bootable USB flash drive from the ISO file as well, instead of using a CD. But keep in mind that it will erase everything on the flash drive. If you’d prefer that method, you won’t be able to use Free ISO Burner. Instead, try ISO to USB.
c. Remove all external hard drives, USB flash drives, secondary internal hard drives and floppies that you don’t want to get erased. DBAN lets you select which drives you want to scrub but this will eliminate any accidents that might happen. Murphy’s law is always applicable when dealing with computers.
d. This is where it can get tricky. First, put the CD in and restart the computer. If it works, you should see the blue DBAN screen. If it just boots up normally and you never see the DBAN screen, try it again but watch closely as it starts to boot up. Look for something in the corner like “F12 = Boot Menu“. It could also be [F11] or something else entirely, depending on the manufacturer of your computer.
If you don’t press the key in time, you’ll have to reboot and try again. Once you get it, select the CD Drive from the menu that comes up.This is where it can get tricky. First, put the CD in and restart the computer. If it works, you should see the blue DBAN screen. If it just boots up normally and you never see the DBAN screen, try it again but watch closely as it starts to boot up. Look for something in the corner like “F12 = Boot Menu“. It could also be [F11] or something else entirely, depending on the manufacturer of your computer.
If you don’t press the key in time, you’ll have to reboot and try again. Once you get it, select the CD Drive from the menu that comes up.
e. Once you are able to boot to the DBAN screen, press [Enter]. Avoid using the “autonuke” option. This will automatically erase every drive on the computer. It’s best to press Enter instead so you can manually select the drives you want to erase, just in case you left something connected that you didn’t mean to.
f. Highlight the drive you want to erase and press [space]. This will insert the word “wipe” in the selection box. If you have more than one listed, I would suggest turning the computer off, then removing any external hard drives or flash drives you have attached. Then start it up again and make sure you only have one drive listed. That way you know for sure that you’re erasing the right one.
Otherwise, if you’re sure that you know which one to select, just use the arrow keys to highlight and select it with the space bar.
g. Now hold your breath and say a prayer, and press [F10]. This will start the erasure process. How long it takes depends on how large the drive is. In the upper right corner of the screen you will see the estimated remaining time as well as some other statistics. In the lower pane, you’ll see a percentage of completion. Now, If the process goes as intended you will see the word pass in green.
You can then remove the DBAN CD and turn the computer off. And you’re done! However, If you see the word ERROR in red, it means there was a problem erasing the drive and not all the data got scrubbed. Try it again and if it still fails, you may not be able to use DBAN to wipe the drive. Try a hammer instead. (you can not donate after this method.)
6. If you are opting to recycle it, keep in mind that some recyclers will simply take your old machine and ship it over to developing nations where children are often used to scavenge piles of e-waste looking for valuable parts and components.
To avoid contributing to this irresponsible practice, use a recycler that is part of the “e-Steward” network, meaning they don’t export to places like Pakistan or China, and they follow other high standards. Many of them also will reuse and refurbish electronics.
The Electronic Take Back Coalition offers tips for other ways to responsibly offload your electronics if one isn’t located near you. There are also many local nonprofits that would be happy to take it off your hands and put it to good use.
Phew, you are finally finished. Your computer is now ready to be donated or recycled. We get that this can be quite a time consuming process. Remember Computer SOS is here for all your IT needs.
How to Clean the Inside of your Desktop Computer
By: Computer SOSEveryday_Made_Easier
With January being clean your computer month, this is the perfect time to go into detail about computer maintenance. Computers perform their best when cool; over time, dust buildup can cause it to overheat and create a host of issues. To keep your computer running at its highest capability you should clean it every 6-12 months.
**Note**: You should never use a vacuum to clean dust from inside your computer case. Vacuums create static electricity which could ultimately kill your computer. Instead, use compressed air which can be bought in a can and is relatively inexpensive.
Step 1: Power down your computer and unplug it from the electrical outlet.
Step 2: Open the case and sat aside any screws in a small dish. Dust the interior using compressed air. Try to remain at least a few inches away from the surface of the motherboard, memory, processor, and expansion cards.
Step 3: Again using the can of compressed air, remove the dust buildup on your case fans. Hold the fan to keep it from spinning. Fan blades can be delicate and may crack if spun too quickly. You can use rubbing alcohol and wipe the blades with a cotton swab for the finishing touches. If the fans are hard to reach or extremely dirty, feel free to remove them from the case for easier cleaning.
Step 4: Remove the dust buildup from the power supply. If your case has a dust filter under the power supply be sure to clean that too.
The heat sink and fan that's mounted on your processor should be cleaned as well. Again, with a can of compressed air and using short bursts, blow the dust away from the heat sink and fan. If the buildup is too heavy, you may need to remove the heatsink and fan from the processor to get it thoroughly cleaned. Just remember to clean the thermal grease off of the processor and the heat sink, then apply new thermal grease before reattaching the heat sink to the processor.
Step 5: Finally, dust off all the ports on the computer with compressed air and clean all the exterior vents with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab.
That’s it! Your computer is dust bunny free! If there were any screws, remember to put them back how they were.
My Computer’s Slow, What can I do?Everyday_Made_Easier
How many times have you tried to quickly look something up, waited close to or even over an hour for a file to save, or had your PC freeze in the middle of something important? Here at Computer SOS Inc,
we get how frustrating that can be. Here are some things you can do to help increase your PC’s speed. If you try these tips but are still having issues remember, we are always here to help.
Drop on by anytime during our business hours Monday-Friday 8:30-6:00 and Saturday 11:00-3:00.
1. There’s not enough hard drive space free
Your hard drive is where all of your files, pictures, videos, programs and operating system are stored. Freeing up space by deleting files that are no longer needed can help improve the performance of your PC.
2. Too many background programs
Remove or disable any startup programs that automatically start up each time the computer boots. If you have malware, spyware, or an antivirus scanner on the computer set it to scan your computer in the background. Often when these programs begin to scan the computer it can decrease the overall performance of your computer.
3. Your computer is affected by malware or a virus
If you think your computer has a virus you should scan your computer right away. Spyware, and other malware can cause many problems to a computer including causing it to slow down. Check out our blog on computer viruses.
4. Your Internet connection might be to blame
Many of the functions we use our computer for require internet access. If websites take an abnormally long time to load, you should check with your internet service provider. There may be a breakdown, or the speed they are providing might not be strong enough for what you’re doing. The problem could also be with the browser. If that’s the case, try another one.
5. Your computer is overheating
Make sure your computer and processor are not overheating. Excessive heat can cause a significant decrease in computer performance some processors will even lower the speed of the processor automatically to help compensate for the heat related issues. The optimal temperature range of a CPU generally resides between 150-170 degrees F in modern processors. The smaller the computer, the higher the temperature. Without a fan, some computers may suffer irreparable damage.
Support Alert - Unable to process refunds to debit using Worldpay
From: NCR Counterpoint SupportNCR_Support_Alerts
RBS Worldpay was recently acquired by Vantiv. Following this acquisition, several merchants have reported that they cannot process refunds to debit cards any longer.
We have learned this was a change made by Vantiv to the Worldpay platform that they did not announce. The Counterpoint Engineering and Support teams have been working with Worldpay on this issue to determine what can be done about this situation.
Unfortunately, this change is on Vantiv’s side, which results in a loss of functionality for merchants and is outside the control of the Counterpoint application.
Merchants that are currently using Worldpay Visa-K or TCMP platforms can move to Vantiv’s platform and should then be able to refund to debit.
Note: Vantiv is not part of the Counterpoint Merchant Program. Merchants currently on the “CMP” plan with Worldpay will need to purchase the credit card option for Counterpoint to continue processing credit cards, if they make the move to Vantiv.
If you are experiencing this issue with a processor other than Worldpay and you have previously been able to process refunds to EMV debit, please open a new support ticket.
10 Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Have Known ExistedEveryday_Made_Easier
By: Computer SOS Inc.
Windows key + E = Open file explorer
Windows key + I = Open settings
Windows key + M = Minimize all open windows
Windows key + L = Lock computer
Windows key + P = Open/ choose presentation mode
Shift + Delete = Delete item without putting it in the recycle bin
End = Go to bottom of active window
Ctrl+shift+N = Create new file ( in file explorer window)
Alt+F8 = Show password on sign-in screen
open emoji window = Windows key + . or ;
Can our Electronics be Affected by the Cold?Everyday_Made_Easier
By: Computer SOS
There is no doubt that winter weather has officially arrived. Here in Buffalo, that means slick roads, low visibility, and cold temperatures.Technology generally runs better in cooler conditions, but many people will keep electronics such as laptops used for work in their car overnight to avoid forgetting them in the craze of the morning. So what happens to our beloved technology when it is exposed to cold for too long?
Three main components are affected by the cold. First, the battery. After only a couple hours left in the cold, the battery will likely drain completely and be useless until charged.
Second, monitors and screens that are repeatedly exposed to freezing temperatures could likely stop working completely.
And third, when you bring your laptop in from the cold you may notice that there is condensation. This happens when the device quickly warms up and can be particularly dangerous since the condensation isn’t only on the outside. To help this, wait for your device to adjust to the change in temperature and then turn it on. The same applies when going from a warm house to the cold. If you have to use your device outdoors, wait a few minutes for it to adjust to the environment change.
If you do believe your laptop has been affected by the cold be sure to give us a call or pay us a visit.
How to Avoid Catching a Computer VirusEveryday_Made_Easier
By: Computer SOS Inc.
Cold and flu season is officially here. That dreaded time of year that’s full of terrible coughs, sneezes, and trips to the doctor. There are plenty of things we can do to keep ourselves from getting sick such as simply washing our hands frequently with soap and warm water. But what can we do to protect our computers from viruses? At Computer SOS Inc., we do not recommend soap and warm water.
First, it is important to note the different types of viruses:
Now, Here are 5 tips to help lower the risk of your computer catching a virus.
5) Back-up important data and files to an external drive
In the case your computer does get infected, taking the extra couple minutes to do this makes the event of restoring lost data a breeze. Use a flash drive, a file hosting service such as Dropbox and Google drive, or you can opt to use backup software.
4) Be cautious with links from email
Phishing is the common term for emails that include links to fake websites. These websites can look like your banks’, credit card companies’, or even an eBay or Amazon account. Consumers are then tricked into providing information such as a bank account number or login credentials and at the same time, a virus could be infecting your computer. The best rule to follow is if you didn’t expect to receive any emails, don’t open the link. If you receive an email from your bank for example, and are unsure if it’s legitimate, call customer service and they can surely straighten things out.
3) Keep software up to date
It’s easy to continuously choose the “remind me later” option when notifications prompting a software update come up. Software updates play a crucial part in keeping your computer virus free. These update essentially fill in where there might be security holes. By choosing to hold off on updates you are virtually holding the door open for a virus. Make it a habit to regularly check for updates.
2) Use a pop-up blocker
Pop-ups are windows that come on a computer screen without a user prompting to do so. Pop-ups are generally used as sources for advertisement and do no harm to your computer. Other times, they download harmful viruses which can lead to costly repairs or even identity theft. A common harmful pop-up is ironically one that says you have a virus and should get software to protect your computer. Simply installing an ad blocker such as AdGuard can eliminate pop-ups and help keep your computer secure.
1) Use Antivirus/anti-malware software
Today there are infinite ways a computer can get a virus. While many newer operating systems include antivirus software like Defender for Windows 10, it is important to make sure they are enabled and updates are current. As mentioned above in tip 3, It’s easy to ignore update reminders as they usually come up at what seems like the worst time. Making the point to update can keep your computer virus free, and functioning at its full potential. If you do not have antivirus software included with your operating system, there are plenty you can get for free and do the job just fine. AVAST, Kaspersky, and AVG are three of the top free antivirus software for 2018.
November 30, is Computer Security Day! 5 Tips to Keep Your Information Safe When Shopping Online
-By: Computer SOS Inc.Everyday_Made_Easier
Back in the ‘80s, the internet was still in its early stages and computers were not yet common in households. However, computer use was on the rise especially within banks, government, and business. Viruses and hackers have been around since the dawn of modern computing but an increase of high-profile data on computers and servers meant more valuable information for hackers. By the late-’80s, internet and computer security became a top concern. Since that time, every November 30, has been dedicated Computer Security Day with the intention to educate the public on staying safe on the web.
This time of year, holiday shopping is in full swing with many opting to shop online. In light of Computer Security Day, here are five tips to keep in mind while getting those gifts.
5) Don’t use Public Wi-Fi
Although it may be tempting to do some shopping when sitting in a coffee shop or waiting to board your flight, there are significant risks that come with using public Wi-Fi. There are basically two type: secure and unsecure. An unsecure network allows the movement of data across its airwaves without any form of encryption or security protection. Hackers can effortlessly gain access to online bank accounts and login credentials through unsecure networks. Using secure networks can still be risky. Wi-Fi hotspots that are considered to be “secured” require users to input a password that conforms to the WPA or WPA2 standards for security codes. Public Wi-Fi should always be used with caution.
4) Check Bank Statements
After making a purchase online, always check bank and credit card statements for suspicious or fraudulent charges. If you do spot a suspicious charge, notify your bank or card provider immediately. Thankfully, banks and credit card companies absorb the majority of the financial burden when it comes to unauthorized charges.
3) Change your Passwords regularly
One of the most efficient yet ignored ways to keep yourself safe online is to regularly change your password (every 30-180 days.) A study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 40% of online adults use the same or a similar password for all their accounts in addition to nearly half of adults admitting to sharing a password with at least one friend or family member. There are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a password.
If password memorization is an issue, consider using password manager software such as LastPass, True Key, or keeper.
2) Be wary of rock-bottom prices
Go by the rule “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you find a new laptop or a designer bag being sold for a ridiculously low price, chances are it’s a scam. Within the past year, there has been an influx of fake shopping apps popping up in Google Play and Apple’s App Store which are hoping to trick consumers into downloading and using their app. Typically, the products being sold are counterfeit or low quality.
1) Trust your Gut
Use your better judgement. Just as most people wouldn’t make a purchase from a store that seems a little off, the same goes for online shopping. If you feel too much personal information is needed to make the transaction, cancel it. Better to lean to the safe side than have your personal information compromised. When using sites like eBay check out the seller and avoid making the purchase if anything seems shady; when in doubt exit out.
Do the Technology Solutions Used by Your Retail Business Affect Your Customers?
By: Computer SOS Inc.Technology_Solutions
They certainly do! The technology solutions you use can improve customer experience greatly. From the ability to look up items online to a smooth and speedy checkout, the technology you use can mean the difference between a bad and an enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.
The days of customers spending endless time browsing have come and gone, most customers have done their research online, know what they’re looking for, and want to be in and out as quickly as possible. This has triggered a boom in technology solutions that put the consumer in control, including online and mobile shopping with delivery options and instore pickup. Technology solutions such as these enable customers to shop the way they want, anytime, and anywhere. Your customers can place their order before they reach the store, change their order and pay without having to waiting in line. This caters to your online customer’s needs while allowing your staff to spend more time with instore customers making a better customer experience for everyone.
The shopping experience is everything to today’s consumer, and the technology you use plays an integral part in delivering the ultimate shopping experience. Today’s tech savvy shoppers are passionate about using the technology they have at their fingertips and are driving the digital transformation of the retail industry. We’ve all seen what happens to retail businesses that come late to the game, staying competitive means staying current with the technology available to your retail business.
Customer loyalty is a top priority for all retail businesses, and technology is the force behind enabling your consumers to personalize their experiences and interactions and keeping them coming back for more.
Our retail technology solutions don’t just benefit your customers, they are designed to provide you with the most advanced omni-channel retail solution to streamline your retail business operations, increase profitability and staff efficiency. Browse the site to see how NCR CounterPoint SQL, P.O.S. Anywhere and CP-Commerce can provide you with the instore, mobile and online solutions to keep you competitive in today’s ever changing retail market.
NCR Banking Info Changing
From: The Counterpoint Collections TeamNCR_Support_Alerts
This is to notify you that charges coming from NCR will no longer show as Radiant systems, and will now appear as NCR Receivables LLC. In addition, the ACH Company ID will no longer be 8112749765 and will now be 5112749765.
Please notify your bank of these changes, so that the charges are processed appropriately.
If you have any questions, please contact CollectionsTeam.Counterpoint@ncr.com. Thank you for your continued business and support of NCR.
The Counterpoint Collections Team
CounterPoint Release Notification
8.5.6 Release Date
From: The CounterPoint TeamCounterpoint
Counterpoint version 8.5.6. is still in controlled deployment, with no official release date scheduled as of yet. The controlled deployment is going well, but we want to ensure that we've gained adequate feedback and addressed all key issues before the general release.
We will send out another announcement when the general release date is finalized. Thank you for your patience and continued support of the NCR Counterpoint product.
NCR Announces Counterpoint V8.5.5 ReleaseCounterpoint
Great News! NCR Counterpoint Version 8.5.5 has been released! You can download the latest version from the Support area of our Web site on the Software Downloads page.
On the Software Documentation page, you can also view the Release Notes for NCR Counterpoint Version 8.5.5 to see all of the new features that are included in this version of NCR Counterpoint.
The following corrections are available in the NCR Counterpoint Release Image and the Service Pack file CPSP85.EXE.ZIP on the NCR Web site at www.counterpointpos.com. On all systems, you need to install the service pack at the Server and Always Offline Workstations only. Each Non-Offline and Sometimes Offline Workstation is automatically updated the next time it runs NCR Counterpoint.
NCR Unveils the Next Generation of its Counterpoint Channel Software SolutionCounterpoint
Omni-channel solution leader launches new version of its proven, all-in-one retail software
Duluth, Ga., May 22, 2017 – NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), the global leader in omni-channel solutions, today announced a new version of its proven Counterpoint specialty retail management software. NCR Counterpoint is specifically targeted for mid-sized specialty retailers in North America and offers an updated user interface that adds usability improvements along with a modern look and feel, creating a whole new experience that enables businesses to perform.
NCR Counterpoint includes robust point-of sale (POS), inventory management software, built-in customer loyalty, automated purchasing and configurable reporting capabilities. It is built with the specialty retailer in mind, with an open architecture that allows for customizations, mobile and marketing solutions, and real time data at their fingertips. The new user interface adds additional flexibility for the business owner as its easy navigation and customization capabilities help make business operations more efficient.
“NCR Counterpoint has deep roots in specialty retail and is built for the industry,” said Ron Allnock, channel global sales leader for NCR Retail Solutions. “With our open architecture and innovative partner channel, NCR Counterpoint helps drive efficiency for many operational aspects of running a business so retailers can focus on what really matters: providing memorable and enjoyable experiences for shoppers.”
While retailers focus on providing the best service to their customers, NCR Counterpoint works behind the scenes to help create a smooth experience from inventory management to front-of-house. This technology is a trusted investment backed by a dedicated business partner channel in North America.
News Media Contacts
NCR Public Relations
Support Alert - Merchants not receiving settlement emails after NCR Secure move to AWS
From: NCR CounterPoint Support
We have had reports from partners that since the move of NCR Secure Pay to AWS datacenter that some merchants are no longer receiving their settlement emails. We checked with the DevOps team and got the below information.
With the move to AWS, we have also changed the service we use to send scheduled settlement emails to Mailgun. Please use the information below to whitelist the email senders. The from address will now look like this:
firstname.lastname@example.org; on behalf of; NCR Secure Pay <email@example.com>
The headers will look like this:
Received: from usprdmonetra01.usnsp.local (ec2-35-175-56-245.compute-1.amazonaws.com [126.96.36.199])
by mxa.mailgun.org with ESMTP id 5bc5eefd.7f75fc504eb0-smtp-out-n03;
Tue, 16 Oct 2018 14:00:29 -0000 (UTC)
Received: from noreply-ncrsecurepay.com (ip6-localhost [IPv6:::1])
by usprdmonetra01.usnsp.local (Postfix) with ESMTP id 772A57F1C8
for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 16 Oct 2018 10:00:29 -0400 (EDT)
Note that the numeric portion of the “monetraprd1” and “monetra01” values above can vary from 1 to 4.
NCR CounterPoint Support
Transforming brick and mortar with omni-channel
By : Nora Chisnell
As consumers, we’ve come to rely on moving seamlessly between online and physical transactions. No matter how you prefer to bank, shop or dine, omni-channel technology helps brick-and-mortar businesses integrate ecommerce with their in-store systems.
Both the store and consumer benefit from creating a richer experience by automating or enabling self-service for lower-value transactions.
With more transactions moving online or to ATM/ITMs, bankers are able to build relationships and engage in higher-value consultation with customers. Online and mobile banking has eclipsed branch transactions in much of the world, according to the Fed.
Focusing on how to provide the best solutions to achieve the right strategic mix of personal, assisted and self-service offerings improves the customer experience, reduces costs and generates new revenue streams.
As retailers move toward customer experience retailing, we see them investing in technology that enables a consistent customer experience across all channels, including inside traditional stores. With this evolution, physical stores reinvent themselves to include common digital shopping features, such as customized promotions, flexible fulfillment choices and simple paths-to-purchase.
And, with a unified view of their customers and inventory across all channels, they can offer personalized shopping experiences and cross-channel fulfillment options, such as order online then pickup in store, or shop in-store and ship to home.
So, while mobile and online shopping will continue to grow, retail stores will remain the hub of the shopping experience – they’re just getting a whole lot better.
Hospitality and travel
Mobile guest engagement is fast becoming an expectation by consumers, especially where convenience and unified brand experiences are highly valued. In fact, it is the next big step in creating a larger, omni-channel experience.
Operators are looking more aggressively to meet the expectations of their guests – enabling them to engage wherever they are, whenever they choose. Brands are looking to provide loyalty programs, ordering capabilities, payment flexibility, and personalized offers for their guests and do so in a way that is consistent across the channels that each guest prefers.
A unified mobile experience can empower operators to drive interactions, convenience, sales and repeat business – as well as increase guest satisfaction. In restaurants, it’s ultimately the seamless experience that will encourage loyal customers to come back more frequently and spend more when they do.
Just as we thought all transactions were headed to the cloud, eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar, many ecommerce brands like Warby Parker, Google and Amazon are now bringing their wares to physical storefronts—permanent and pop-up—reinforcing the benefit of an omni-commerce approach. (CNBC)
Ambassador Program Manager
Shedding Light on Mobile Shopping – Part 3
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation
This is the third post in a blog series exploring some of the things retailers should consider when it comes to Mobile Shopping.
As mentioned in our first post in this series, there are three key pillars to evaluate when incorporating mobile shopping with in-aisle self-scanning technologies into your enterprise:
Once you have planned your short-, mid- and longer-term strategies for in-aisle mobile shopping, you can turn your attention to identifying the solution technologies and, where applicable, the solution partners to help you realize your vision. In parallel to implementing the solution, many aspects of store operations must be considered in moving from pilot to full-scale implementation.
The following checklist of questions and suggestions help support success from an operational perspective:
In summary, in-aisle mobile shopping is a tremendous new way for consumers to easily and conveniently shop but it’s critical for retailers to think beyond the solution and technology and recognize that self-service in any form is a change to their store operations and to the job activities of their associates. Successful return on investment of this type of technology comes with great consumer adoption – and consumer adoption relies on awareness, understanding and incentives. Read more about mobile shopping and other solutions for creating superior in-store shopping and checkout experiences by downloading our free eBook.
Continuing our Education: Talking Analytics at Georgia Tech
By : Tom Chittenden, Vice President and General Manager – NCR Retail Solutions
With NCR global headquarters being based in Midtown Atlanta, we are fortunate to be down the street from one of the country’s foremost technology- and science-focused universities, the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Fortunate because it gives us great opportunities for collaboration and shared learning – not just with the school itself, but with the Atlanta business community which includes leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Delta, UPS, and more.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion alongside speakers from another iconic Atlanta brand, Home Depot, as well as professors from the Georgia Tech Business Analytics Center (BAC) at their annual forum.
The agenda was built around the premise that, as the lines between channels in the retail world continue to fade, successful companies will be the ones with the ability to leverage data-driven insights and take action on (not simply report) analytics to drive next-level performance for their business. This includes everything from delivering unbroken omnichannel consumer engagement, to synchronizing product and service delivery, to making better decisions across the supply chain.
What we discussed during our session were the different ways data-driven decisions lead to less friction throughout the enterprise – for consumers and for the business. While the Internet of Things is quickly connecting the dots between the devices we use every day, what it’s really enabling is the “Internet of Consumer Experiences,” a way of seamlessly blending highly personalized communications and interactions with brands throughout our daily lives. This is enabled by the vast amounts of data consumers trade for services – more than 590 million transactions occur each day from edge devices, providing insights about consumers, their preferences, and buying behaviors.
This information impacts every part of the business. For example, Dr. Manpreet Hora, who teaches Operations Management at Georgia Tech, illustrated how the perception of supply chain and merchandise management functions within an enterprise is changing: With the cost- and inventory-optimization businesses are able to achieve by utilizing data, these functions are no longer seen as cost centers, but rather value centers. Similarly, our keynote speaker, Richard McPhail of Home Depot, shared how his organization uses highly sophisticated labor models and can execute activity-based forecasting to enhance store operations and shopper experiences in their stores.
It was an extremely valuable and thought-provoking discussion, full of the kinds of questions and challenges to traditional views of retailing that we need to explore given a rapidly shifting industry landscape. I look forward to our continued partnership with Georgia Tech and idea-sharing with members of our business community from whom we can gather multi-dimensional, real-world learnings. To learn more about the different ways you can take the friction out of your retail enterprise, get our free eBook or visit our microsite.
Shedding Light On Mobile Shopping - Part 2
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation
This is the second post in a blog series exploring some of the things retailers should consider when it comes to Mobile Shopping.
As mentioned in our first post in this series, there are three key pillars or components to evaluate when incorporating self-scanning technologies into your enterprise:
Once you have determined your strategy for in-aisle mobile shopping, you can turn your attention to identifying the technologies and, where applicable, the partners to help you realize your vision.
This is likely the biggest question on your mind: how long until I see a return on my technology investment?
Projected returns from the technologies you choose during different phases, from initial pilot to expanded adoption, help you set benchmarks and expectations against which you can adjust over time.
Data from your enterprise, such as average checkout times, average basket size, and labor allocation patterns enable you to make predictions or estimated calculations about where and to what extent you’ll be able to achieve returns. Because in-aisle scan, bag and go shopping easily accommodates larger, weekly shopping basket sizes – even a 1% increase in throughput will have a big impact on your bottom line.
The lure of increased revenue resulting from consumers maximizing their available budget during the shopping journey as well as capitalizing on promotions delivered during their shopping selection is another big driver of in-aisle mobile shopping adoption. Many retailers we work with find measurable returns on both the cost savings and revenue uptick buckets with mobile shopping.
Build or Buy?
Are you considering building your own homegrown mobile shopping app or partnering with a technology vendor?
If you are developing your solution in-house, do you have the support and ecosystem (hardware, software, and services) needed to a) create seamless experiences for your customers; b) scale as your enterprise grows; and c) easily make updates and upgrades?
It may seem easier or less expensive to cobble together your own solution from a variety of vendors – or simply expand your existing retailer branded app with in-aisle scanning capability. But you should also be aware of the potential hidden costs of integration, and the complexities of incorporating a smooth customer journey with appropriate controls for exceptions and security (which can sometimes outweigh the initial cost savings).
There are multiple shopping apps out there so it’s important to consider whether they meet your requirements.
How does the app launch – with or without a loyalty card? You’ll want your shoppers to buy from their grocery list while not limiting their in-store impulse buys – an important part of increasing sales typically found when browsing the aisles.
Your software should also capitalize on your brand with targeted promotions and images. Next, what happens when you scan the item barcode: Can you offer suggestions at point-of-decision in real-time? The application should also be able to flag age restricted items such as tobacco and alcohol, as well as non-barcoded produce items.
The shopper intervention is equally important, and your associates must be properly trained to perform a partial audit or validation check on the shopper’s bagged items without causing undue stress.
Finally, where does the shopper finalize and pay for the basket? We recommend the self-checkout, where dedicated help and a familiar environment and protocol for assistance is available.
When it’s time to select the hardware for mobile shopping, your choices are using purpose-built handheld store scanners, the shopper smart phone, or a combination of the two.
Smart phones have the advantage of convenience and help to extend your reach beyond the store throughout the buying cycle. However, these require the shopper to download the shopping app and some shoppers just don’t want to use their own device.
If you’re considering introducing purpose-built devices in your stores, ergonomics, ruggedness and battery life are a few key characteristics to compare. And since high-powered scanners designed to recognized hard-to-read barcodes have advantages over phone cameras, we’ve found mobile shopping adoption to be higher with in-store handheld scanners.
Network and Data
Running mobile shopping applications require always-on internet connection in the store in order to connect to the item catalog and pricing data in real-time.
Will shoppers have consistent connectivity to Wi-Fi in your stores, and is your network set up to ensure crash recovery for your critical transaction data? You’ll want to be sure you have adequate data storage, and the capability to report and create actionable insights from that data – from the enterprise level down to the store and item level.
Measuring the effectiveness of the solution is important, but it’s equally important to make data-driven adjustments to security protocols, item information, associate training and consumer communications to ensure an optimized return on investment of the solution.
Through custom consultations, our team helps retailers around the world analyze different aspects of their stores and their business to customize the best solution based on these considerations.
In our final post in this series, we’ll delve into the operational aspect of mobile shopping, and discuss putting a mobile shopping plan into action in a way that works for your enterprise. To find out what other capabilities could help enhance your business, take this quick frictionless shopping quiz – learn where it makes the most sense to invest for your unique brand.
Turning transactions into conversations: A chat with Retail Leader
By : Tom Chittenden, Vice President and General Manager – NCR Retail Solutions
Recently, Retail Leader editor-in-chief Mike Troy visited NCR’s global headquarters offices in Atlanta and sat down with me and Dirk Izzo, SVP of our Industry Solutions Group, to talk about the concept of reinvention. It’s a popular buzz word in retail these days and can mean many things depending on the context, but our talk track kept going back to how reinvention relates to the changing interactions between brands and consumers. That is really the crux of the sea change we’re witnessing in the industry – the rapid shift from a relationship that has historically been transactional into one that is conversational and enables meaningful engagement.
This is especially important as retailers work toward the responsiveness and flexibility that consumers increasingly demand to earn share of wallet and loyalty. The conversational relationship with consumers can encompass a broad spectrum of areas and take on many forms. A few examples might include:
During our discussion with Mike, we talked about what it will take to have these conversations in the future, as the world becomes more and more “phygital” – blurring the lines between physical and digital realms – and as the roles of various shopping channels grow and change. No matter what the “Next Big Thing” is (and there will always be a “Next Big Thing”), NCR is a company with a history spanning more than 130 years, and evolution is part of our heritage. To see examples of how we’re continuously helping retailers foster these conversations and relationships with consumers in ways that organically fit into their lives, visit us here: https://www.ncr.com/frictionless-checkout.
Shedding Light on Mobile Shopping
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation
AmazonGo opens its second cashierless store in Seattle. Kroger launches self-scanning pilots, with plans to expand to 400 stores by the end of 2018. Sam’s Club Scan & Go transactions have doubled this year. Today’s retail headlines speak volumes: In-store mobile shopping is here to stay, and growing, as mobile-first customers look for new and better ways to shop. And with mobile phone growth outpacing laptops nationwide, is it any wonder?
Online mobile shopping is not new, of course. Many grocery retailers have developed e-commerce websites that can be accessed from a mobile device (tablet or smartphone). Some have extended this to build their own mobile apps, or subscribe to pre-built mobile apps.
Many of these apps simply replicate the retailer’s ecommerce website, so the shopper experience is comfortingly similar whether they’re sitting with their laptop or shopping on their mobile phone. Shoppers can browse the online catalog, add items to their shopping cart and, eventually (whether in that same session or later that day or week), make the purchase and choose their delivery method.
Of course there are other shopping apps offering everything from advance ordering to delivery scheduling to loyalty rewards programs. To date, most of these mobile apps are used:
But what about apps for in-aisle mobile shopping – scanning the bar-code of items real-time, bagging them as they are added into the cart itself and even paying on the mobile device? Not surprisingly, there are many of these, too!
But before jumping feet first into self-scanning technology, it’s critical to determine and define three key pillars:
Here, we outline some key considerations related to the first pillar, strategy, and some learnings based on our experience in this heavily watched space.
First, it’s important to determine whether the strategy is geared to mobile shopping online (e-commerce) or mobile shopping in-store. For those new to this, let’s parse out the differences.
It also empowers the retailer, who is able to reach the consumer with promotions right at the point of decision rather than relying on impulse item displays at checkout or aisle signage and endcaps as the sole means of incenting the consumer to take advantage of specials and add to their basket.
Once you’ve decided on an in-store mobile shopping strategy, you can then address the questions of why, when and how.
Here at NCR, we spend a lot of time helping retailers transform their stores and reduce friction in the shopping journey. There are many paths that retailers can take to offer more flexible checkout options: self-checkout, buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS), mobile shopping in-store. It’s a unique journey that each retailer takes, not a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, change management must be built into the strategy, and that takes commitment as well as investment. Over the years, we have shown how these efforts reap numerous benefits, among them:
Be sure to check back for our next post in this series, where we explore the technology component of mobile shopping, and how to demystify the sometimes-overwhelming process of incorporating it into your existing IT ecosystem.
In the meantime, take this quick frictionless shopping quiz to see where you are in the path to store transformation, and explore ways to rethink and reimagine your enterprise.