Customer Management Articles

Reinventing Your POS in the Cloud — Review of Vend

by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 24 October 2012

Vend ReviewThis week we look at an exciting industry that is upgrading itself. With the advent of new technologies such as Square and cloud-based systems, the payment industry is becoming mobile and cheap.

This week, we will review Vend - a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system.

We will review its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.

The Idea Behind Vend

As most good ideas go, the idea for Vend was born out of an epiphany.

Vaughan Rowsell, the brains behind the solution, conceived the idea whilst on a solo cycling tour up the length of New Zealand. "As a consultant, I was aware of customers' ongoing issues with outdated technologies and as a developer I wanted to create something better using new technologies," he says.

The application began as a side project for Rowsell, who coded it during his free time. Initial feedback for the beta was so good that Rowsell was more or less "bullied" into an early launch. Since launching, the company has grown from two to 25 employees in a short time.

Rowsell says there are several benefits to cloud-based point-of-sale systems. "Cloud point-of-sale systems are future-proof," he says. "They enable business owners to respond very quickly to changes in the market, expand and adopt new technologies."

Because they can be implemented quickly and with minimal overheads, Rowsell says cloud-based POS are also suited to franchise stores and verticals. "Vertical retailers - any business that controls every level of design, manufacture, and distribution - love Vend as it be easily monitored from anywhere, by anyone who needs to be kept up to date," he says.

Thus, it enables shopkeepers to monitor their business from anywhere. In addition, Vend enables business owners to manage multiple locations or branches of their business from a single, centralized system. At the same time, employees find the solution intuitive and easy-to-use.

Because it is constantly being developed, Rowsell says Vend is constantly improving. "Upgrades are implemented and new features are added all the time - with no downtime for our customers," he says.

Enabling Vending With Vend

Vend modules are fashioned on the basis of real-world concepts. Thus, each store consists of outlets, which are subsequently divided into registers. All registers, however, access the same backend via the browser interface. Registers are associated with products. Configuration of each module within the system is simple and consists of completing a form.

The product module enables you to order products and maintain control over your inventory. Thus, you can configure new products into the system, place and receive orders for stock (including automatically generating order labels with bar codes) and maintain price books for your outlets (different price books for different outlets).

Vend enables you to manage customers by segmenting them into groups and associating them to sales and price books. The latter feature enables you to create customer databases and offer special discounts and rebates to specific customer groups using the solution. You can also configure and manage multiple payment types within the system, including cash, credit card, and payment gateways.

Because the application has a public API, you can also integrate with other, SaaS-based applications. In addition, the application also has several internal integrations. The main benefit for customers lies in access to Vend's "fast-growing marketplace," according to Rowsell.

The marketplace has several add-ons and utilities that can be used in conjunction with Vend. For example, the marketplace offers integrations with other applications such as Magento, Etsy, and Ebay. In addition, according to Rowsell, Vend integrates with some cool loyalty and reporting apps. On the anvil are apps for hospitality as well asHi C appointment booking and processing,. "We are really starting to develop an 'ecosystem' of apps that help our customers grow their businesses, save time, and reduce costs," says Roswell.

Pricing for the application is based on the number of products configured in the system.

Vend can also be scaled in multiple ways. For example, you can add another outlet to your account as you scale your business to another geographic region. Similarly, you can add multiple registers to your existing outlet to handle crowded locations and increase efficiency. Administratively, Vend's reporting and ordering features ensure that your workload remains fairly steady, even with expansion.

Vend also results in productivity gains. Quick keys customizes your Sell screen and customizes receipts. You can also configure different types of payments, whether they are cash or credit card.

I thought the real utility of the solution lies in the Sell module. Using this module, you can perform all the major transaction types similar to traditional point-of-sale systems. It has options to void, park or establish discounts for sales. I thought the automated close option was especially helpful and handy. Clicking the option automatically calculates your daily total and provides details about payments such as number of payments made by cash or credit card.

Finally, you can generate sales reports, product reports, stock reports, and register reports.

The Vend Interface

The interface is simple and easy-to-use. A vertical navigation bar helps you navigate the application. You can add products, configure outlets and registers, and make sales. Each module is configured with different interfaces that serve the specific functions of that module. For example, the Sell module resembles the standard point-of-sale system. That makes the transition from a physical to virtual systems that much simpler. Similarly, the product module enables you to add products and also has several filtering options that enable you to search for products.

Supporting Your POS

Vend has one of the most comprehensive support sites that I have seen. It has everything from news to tips & tricks to user forums to online help. Despite the plethora of content, the site is not cluttered. All support is categorized based on products and features.

The Bottomline

I thought the solution was pretty neat and useful. It offers a breadth of functionality and analytics that is absent in real-world POS.


Apps mentioned in this article