It’s time to replace any of the remaining Windows XP PCs you have in your stores. Here’s why:
- You can get a great deal on new PCs right now. Contact our Ascend Sales Rep, Pat Gronemus, at email@example.com for a quote.
- Support Ends on April 8th. Microsoft won’t support XP after this date. They won’t be issuing updates of any kind. Attacks are expected to follow soon after April 8th. Click here for more details from Microsoft’s Security Blog.
- XP PCs Won’t Be Able to Upgrade to Ascend Version 2.10. For your sake, we need to keep up with the latest programming technologies. The latest technologies won’t run on XP. You can upgrade to Version 2.9 this month. You won’t be able to upgrade these PCs to Version 2.10 in June or any version after that.
Not sure if your PC is running Windows XP? Go to http://amirunningxp.com to find out.
Attention Windows 7 and 8 Users: Make sure your computers are current with the latest Windows service packs and updates. If they’re not, you’ll need to get up to date before you can upgrade to Version 2.10.
Version 2.9 is Coming Soon!
Ascend Version 2.9 is in early release. Over 100 locations have already upgraded and are enjoying the new features. It will be available for everyone on March 18th.
Last week we introduced our new Customer Panel. We continue our tour of the Customer Panel this week. Since you’re fueling your system with so much great data, your store can be the place “where everybody knows your name” and even more.
We’ve added some new information for you. With “Customer Since” you can see how long that customer record has been in your system. “Last Visit” will tell you the date of their last visit and how many days it’s been since then.
New Sales Tab:
We took the transaction totals that used to appear below the customer tabs and replaced them with the new Sales Tab. The new tab shows all the totals you had before (sales, layaways, work orders, etc). Now you’ll also see values for year to date sales totals, total sales for the last 12 months and account balance.
Notes Always on Top:
If you’ve taken the time to add special notes about your customers, we want you to see them. If the customer you select has notes, the Notes Tab will be displayed on top. If they don’t, you’ll see the Sales Tab first.
Version 2.9 is available for early release right now. Contact the Ascend Support Team if you want to be part of this group. Otherwise it will be available to everyone on March 18th.
Customer data is the lifeblood of your marketing program. To drive customers back into your stores, you need to be able to contact them. To target them with specific messages, you need to know what they purchased. In Version 2.9, we’re introducing a new Customer Panel to help collect more data and fuel your marketing program.
Easy to Add Customers:
We recommend you configure Ascend to prompt for a customer whenever you start a transaction. If you don’t add one right away, the new Customer Panel makes it easy to add one. Simply click the Select a Customer link in the panel and you’ll be taken to Select Customer window.
Spot & Update Missing Data:
For every customer, you want to collect as much information as possible. Get their mailing address and email address. Get their mobile number and their birthday and make sure to record their gender as well. All of this will help you to communicate with them later on. When any of this information is missing from your system, the Customer Panel will highlight it for you. To update it, click their name and you’ll be taken directly to the customer record window to make your changes.
But wait, there’s more!
As a bonus, we’ve added a phone type list for customer numbers. You can now specify if the phone number they’ve given you is a Home, Mobile, Work, Fax or Other type of number. When you upgrade to Version 2.9, any phone number that has the SMS box checked will be automatically assigned the Mobile type. This is required to be able to send an SMS message to it from Ascend. All other numbers will not have a type automatically assigned.
To get the new Customer Panel, you need to upgrade to Ascend Version 2.9. Version 2.9 will be available for early release on February 18th. It will be available for everyone on March 18th. If you’d like to be part of our early release group, contact your Ascend Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
We try to incorporate all the tools you need for your business into Ascend. We understand it’s efficient to have everything in one place. But sometimes it isn’t possible or practical. When it isn’t, we want to make sure Ascend is an easy gateway to those tools.
In Version 2.9, due out on March 18th, we’ve added some new gateways for you.
Ascend Online Reports:
Ascend Online Reports, a.k.a. AOR, is a collection of reports you can access from anywhere via your web browser. It also consolidates information from multiple locations for those of you with more than one store. In Version 2.9 we’ve added an AOR button to the Reports screen. When you click the button you’ll automatically be taken to the main list of reports if your Ascend user account has the permission to view online reports.
Ascend Customer Network:
The Ascend Customer Network, a.k.a. the ACN, is a great way for us to communicate with each other. The network has nearly 450 members and it’s growing every day. It’s powered by Yammer, Microsoft’s business collaboration network. In Version 2.9, to access it from Ascend, go to the Help menu and select “Login to Ascend Customer Network”.
There are many things we could be working on. It’s tough deciding what’s next. Your input helps. UserVoice is a network that specializes in collecting and ranking ideas. It’s been a great resource for us. To access it go to the Help menu and select “Login to UserVoice”.
If you need help connecting to any of these resources, please contact your Ascend Support Team at email@example.com.
Version 2.9 will be available for early release on February 18th. It will be available for everyone on March 18th.
In Version 2.9, due out on March 18th, we’ve made a change that will really make your bookkeeper happy.
Fewer Files = Less Time
Currently, if you integrate Ascend with QuickBooks, you need to import one IIF file per day for each location. For example, if you have two locations, for one week you’ll need to import 14 individual files. We’ve changed that. Now when you select a date range for exporting your general ledger files Ascend will create just one file for you. All of the daily entries for that date range will be included in the single file. So now, for those two locations, you’ll only have to import 2 files instead of 14. If you like getting a separate file for each day, you can check the box for that.
If you haven’t yet integrated Ascend with QuickBooks, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And the winner is….
Last week we told you that, in Version 2.9, the order of items as you scanned them into the Sales screen will be what prints out on your receipts. . Click here if you missed that blog. We challenged you to tell us how the items are currently sorted. The first person to answer correctly would win 6 free rolls of Go By Bike receipt paper. We got a great number of responses. The correct answer is “alphabetically by in-store SKU”. Brian Miller of Bicycles Etc. in Naperville, Illinois was the first person to give the correct answer. Congratulations Brian! Your receipt paper is on the way. Thank you to everyone that participated!
Version 2.9 will be available for early release on February 18th. It will be available to everyone on March 18th.
WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for “What You See is What You Get”. In Ascend Version 2.9, due out on March 18th, we’re delivering WYSIWYG to your receipts.
What You See is What You Get:
When ringing up a sale, many of you scan items in a specific order for your customers. It looks just like you want it to. But when you print out a receipt for them, it’s in an entirely different order. How are the items sorted today? We’ll send 6 free rolls of Go By Bike receipt paper to the first person that comments on this blog with the right answer!
In Version 2.9, the order of items as you scanned them into the Sales screen will be what prints out on your receipts. What you see is what you will get. Now, if you decide to re-sort the items after you’ve added them, the receipt will still print the items in the original order you scanned them. We will address that scenario later.
QBP integration is now operational with Version 2.8. If you’re on 2.8 and it’s not working, make sure Ascend is properly configured. Click here for details. If you’re still on an earlier version of Ascend, now’s the time to upgrade and join over 800 locations that already have.
Stay Tuned for More 2.9 Updates:
In the coming weeks we’ll continue to share more Version 2.9 previews. Make sure all of your team members are up to date on our plans. If they’re not on our email list, send their addresses to us at email@example.com. 2.9 will be available for early release on February 18th. It will be available for everyone on March 18th.
Here’s an update on Ascend’s integration with the new QBP website:
I apologize for the problems with the new integration. We understand that ordering from one of your major suppliers is temporarily more difficult than it should be. It’s our goal, with all software updates, that they work without issue. Unfortunately that didn’t happen with this project. I can assure you of two things:
- We’re working with our partners at QBP to resolve the current issues as soon as possible.
- We will learn our lessons from this project to make sure we do a better job in the future.
Earlier this week we restored the QBP availability check in Ascend. When you’re building your QBP order, click the Availability button to make sure the products you want are in stock.
QBP will be releasing updates this weekend to restore the order submit function from Ascend. We’ll be running tests Monday morning (1/21) to verify it’s working. Watch the Ascend Customer Network (ACN) for updates. You will not have to run any updates to Ascend in your stores.
New Customer Information Panel:
As you know, we’re continuously working on the next improvement. We’re well underway with Version 2.9. One of the highlights is a new customer information panel in the Sales screen. Luke Natvig, Ascend’s Product Manager, previewed it on the Ascend Customer Network earlier this week. Click here if you missed it. If the link doesn’t work, then you haven’t joined us yet on the ACN. Email our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your invitation to join.
Have a great weekend!
Ascend General Manager
In case you haven’t heard, Trek acquired Electra. Here’s what you need to know about ordering and registering Electra products in Ascend.
Update Your Product Records
Electra bikes are included in our Trek product update that was posted this morning. If you already sell Electra and have their products and UPCs in Ascend, Trek will be added as a vendor when you import the new parts list. If not, Ascend will automatically create new vendor products and in-store product records for you. Electra parts and accessories are scheduled to be included in our Trek product update next week.
Once you’ve imported the Electra bike records from Trek into Ascend, you should order them from Trek. Submit the order through the Ascend order screen with Trek as the vendor. The orders will be placed into backorder status until the products arrive in Trek’s warehouses. Stay up to date on Dexter for arrival details. You should continue to order parts and accessories directly from Electra until they’re available to import into Ascend.
Trek Care Registration
When you sell an Electra bike, if you’re already set up for Trek Care, Ascend will automatically bring up the registration window. If you fill out the registration information it will be entered into Trek’s warranty database. Those customers, however, will not receive a confirmation email from Trek. While in the registration window you can sell Trek Care Plus contracts for them too. If you’re not set up for Trek Care registration or for selling Trek Care Plus contracts, click here for more details.
Please contact our Ascend Support Team if you have any additional questions.
End of Year Checklist
Take a few moments this week to knock some important items off your To Do list. Here are some Ascend-specific tasks to help ensure you start off 2014 the right way.
- Take a year-end backup. Of course, you’re already doing this at the close of business every day so this goes without saying, right?
- Print or Save important reports on 12/31. We recommend the Inventory by Category Summary and Customer Liability Summary.
- Clean up your open Layaways, Work Orders and Quotes. You’ll feel better once all of your open transactions are legitimate.
- Upgrade to version 2.8. We’ve spent the last several weeks highlighting reasons you should already be running this version. If you haven’t yet, join the 600+ locations that have already upgraded!
- Have a plan to retire your XP machines. We went over this in a recent blog post, but the clock is ticking so it’s worth mentioning again.
- Set your 2014 Budget in Ascend Analytics. Review our help documentation or contact the support team for assistance.
As 2013 draws to a close, we want to thank you for letting us support your business. We enjoy the special connection we have with our customers and look forward to bringing you more great features in 2014!
For the past several weeks we’ve shared many great reasons to update to Version 2.8. Here’s another: In the near future QBP integration won’t work from any previous version of Ascend.
Temporary Integration Shutdown:
QBP is moving to a new website. The move is scheduled to begin on December 30th and to last for one week. During the move, you won’t be able to check availability or place QBP orders from Ascend.
Get your new credentials from QBP:
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon receive an e-mail from QBP that contains your new integration information. Hold on to it. Once they’ve shut down on December 30th, we’ll turn on the new functionality. At that point you can enter your new information into Ascend. Refer to our help document for detailed instructions.
Upgrade to Version 2.8:
When the move to the new website is finished and you’ve entered your new credentials, integration will work again in Version 2.8. No previous version of Ascend will work with the new website. So… upgrade today!