Back-to-School-Shopping

Back to School Trends

Back-to-School-Shopping

You loaded up the kids on school supplies weeks ago… but don’t think you’re finished with back-to-school prep just yet. You’ve still got the season’s fashion trends to consider for your teen or tween. As is the case with every school year, last year’s looks have hibernated after the long summer and have ushered in a fresh new palette of colors, textures and themes.

According to Teen Vogue, fall girls’ fashion will incorporate plenty of plaids, wools, oversized cardigans, fringe, pastels, layered looks, ’90s throwback (including lots of denim on denim) and ’60s Chelsea girl mod (shift dresses, cat-eye makeup). High-waisted jeans are in for girls too (previously dubbed “mom jeans”). Guys meanwhile are leaning more fashionable than past years, sporting preppy-meets-bad-boy apparel.

Blazers, denim jackets and leather jackets are back in, as are skinny khakis, bright-hued denim and patterned slip-on sneakers. Backpacks will likely need replacing, and this year’s stock is all about colorful prints and patterns. Don’t be surprised if your student asks for a new iPhone cover too (even though his old one is perfectly fine); smartphone cases are big venues for personalization.  

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Hacker Alert:

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In case you missed the news at the beginning of this month, in early August, a Russian crime ring collected the largest known cluster of Internet credentials to date, which included 1.2 billion user name and password combos and more than 500 million email addresses in a mega-security breach. Milwaukee’s Hold Security discovered the violation and says the security breach affected several large businesses, but was unable to share the names of those affected due to nondisclosure agreements and victim security. The hackers cast a wide net, going after large and small business websites alike in countries around the globe—including the United States and Russia. According to an August 5 New York Times article, it appears the hackers haven’t sold much of the data, but are instead using this hacked info to send spam through social media sites, like Twitter for a fee. This article identifies the hacking ring as a small group of less than a dozen men in their 20s, based in south central Russia.

While it’s always troubling to hear news like this, don’t panic. Instead, tighten your Internet security measures. Ensure that you’re using strong passwords and that you’re utilizing different passwords on different websites. If you know you’re guilty of being lax with your passwords (or use the same ones on multiple sites), updating them to stronger passwords is a good idea. You may also want to check out one of the automated password changing services out there, like this free one, to ensure you’re keeping hackers on their toes.

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Back to School

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The fall is fast approaching, and that means several things; everyone’s favorite sports are back, the weather becomes more bearable, and students are returning to school. As the semester begins, merchants may see a marked change in their merchants’ business sales; retail merchants may see a slight spike in back to school product purchases, while late night restaurants and college hangouts may notice a subtle decrease in revenue. Regardless of the market, the annual change of pace that comes with the fall semester can still be used to a merchant’s benefit. Here’s a few tips to tackle the return of school correctly:

Take advantage of the opportunities presented with college students returning to class; sign your business up for display at a few job fairs to scout local talent, and potentially find a hidden gem. With so many bright young minds currently attending college, there’s no limit to the potential at your fingertips.

As a business owner, consider whether or not taking a few courses in the fall could benefit you. Are you seeking another degree? Or are you simply just interested in learning more about economics or marketing strategy? It’s not too late to register for a few courses, and you just might learn a bit more than you expect. As you get more educated in the classroom, take some time to learn a bit more about CoCard as well. As a cutting-edge merchant services provider, many of CoCard’s current marketing strategies align directly with the same materials covered in college classrooms. CoCard even has an education center, just for merchants like you!

Stay on top of your kids! With all of the changes that come with the fall semester, it can be easy to lose track of your own child’s schoolwork and activities. Stay in tune with their daily schedules, and be sure to keep track of their grades from beginning to end. Managing a business and a family is never an easy task, but making small strides each day significantly reduces the difficulty.

Welcome the new school year with open arms, and have a plan for the coming months. Although school can be a difficult thing to handle at times, don’t forget to stay positive and look for the potential benefits involved with it. Take some time to get a little more educated with CoCard’s education center, and think about whether or not it’s time for you to make a change. If you have any questions or concerns about how CoCard can assist you in the coming months, call us today!

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Five Tips for POS security

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Point of Sales security is always a relevant issue for a merchant services provider. With the recent string of data breaches that have happened to well-known businesses like Target and Verizon, there are plenty of reasons to feel like your POS’s security system may not be up to snuff.

Although hackers are becoming better each day at getting access to essential data, there are multitudes of ways to help toughen the process for a determined hacker. The two major forms of hacking involve either the use of an attachable hardware device to the POS system, or using malware to hack into a POS network. Although there is no surefire way to prevent either of these things from happening, here are five tips that will help improve the security of your POS system.

  1. Always maintain the most up-to-date POS software.

POS system updates can be a drag, but oftentimes these updates provide crucial security patches that ward off malware and other hacking technology. Rather than updating technology quarterly, update the technology as frequently as possible. It’s hard to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals, but if you’re always improving, it makes the task more difficult.

CoCard provides cutting-edge POS services, featuring top-notch security and management tools.

  1. Install Firewall and Anti-Virus Software to boost your network’s immunity.

Similar to keeping up-to-date POS Software, installing new Firewall/Anti-virus software is critical. It adds an extra dimension to the security system already in place at your firm, and puts yet another wall between you and a potential hacker. Programs like Barracuda and McAfee are good choices.

  1. Create intricate passwords that are frequently changed.

This is an extremely overlooked habit that should always be practiced. Many times, hackers have no problem getting past security systems because the passwords in place are entirely too simple and intuitive. Always change from the default password that was provided for your system, and never make it something simple like “Password1” or your birth date. Find something that isn’t easily guessed, and change the password frequently, preferably every two or three months.

  1. Deny internet access from POS Stations and Terminals.

Keeping POS computers off the internet vastly reduces the risk of viruses and other internet-based malware. Only connect your system to the internet for necessary POS activities, and avoid general internet usage. Don’t give a hacker the chance to get to you by staying clear of their sights.

  1. Disable Remote Access.

Although we get accustomed to allowing IT professionals and employees to use the POS system from remote locations (not necessarily in office), hackers have a far easier time finding your device’s information when it is used away from a terminal. Restrict access to programs as much as possible, and you have vastly decreased your risk for hacking.

Although none of these solutions are fool-proof, they are steps that over time can make a big difference in your program’s safety. When thousands of potential clients’ credit information is in your hands, why take the risk? Just like you take vitamins to protect your immune system, take precautions to protect your POS system!

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Meet Your Clients’ Top 10 Demands

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American Express’s Open Forum recently published an article highlighting the top 10 items your customers will expect from you this year. Given the ever-evolving world of commerce, tips like these can be helpful when you’re trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of meeting the expectations of your valued clientele. Take a look at this list, then share your feedback with us on Facebook and on Twitter @cocardatl.

Customers Want:

1. Personalized customer service. This goes beyond a warm welcome at your brick-and-mortar storefront. Today, customers expect a virtual hello anytime they browse your website. Meet this expectation by investing in a strong Web infrastructure and customer-relationship management system that includes email marketing, like Pegasus.

2. Ability to track orders and research history. Customers want to know the status of their orders as well as their purchase and viewing history, and want the option to be reminded of it via social media. To meet this demand, invest in a process that gives your customers access to info similar  to what you share with your employees.

3. Respond quickly to tweets and Facebook messages. Customers expect to hear back in around an hour after connecting with companies on social media. Meet this demand by employing a team large enough to stay on top of social media requests.

4. Quick delivery or shipment of a product or service. Impatience is the norm, with most customers expecting a two-day delivery time. Meet this expectation by offering (and charging a premium for) fast shipping.

5. Try and buy. Thanks to companies like Warby Parker and Rent the Runway, customers want the option to try a product before they buy it. Give your customers a no-questions asked return policy that allows them to feel confident in their purchasing decision.

6. Social transparency. Customers want to know what is going on with the companies they choose to support. Keep the communication lines open and share news with your clients/customers through social media, on a blog and/or through a regular company newsletter.

7. Proactive customer service post-sale. Make clients feel valued for their patronage by updating them on payment deadlines, maintenance details and available savings after they’ve placed their order.

8. Value. People want a good deal, but they also want a quality product. Be upfront about your pricing and offer a loyalty reward program for regular customers.

9. Information available 24/7. In a non-stop world, it’s no surprise that customers are eager to access information or to contact people at your company at all hours. Even if you don’t have the staff to support such around-the-clock intel, set up a FAQ page on your website or a pre-recorded message on you phone line that answers common customer concerns at any hour.

10. Be listened to, and be heard. Face it, sometimes the customer isn’t happy. Even if there is nothing your company can do, customers expect a venue for voicing their complaints and concerns. Give them that option by supplying a responsive phone line/section of your website for voicing complaints.

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