Vend tells us how it brings delight to retailers

Vend_Chrome_Promo_1400x560Vend was founded by software developer and tech enthusiast Vaughan Rowsell in 2010. Vaughan looked around at the retail software friends and clients were using and was stunned as it still looked and behaved like it was written with Foxpro, the text based programming language of the 80’s. Inspired by the elegance and functionality of a cloud-based accountancy software called Xero, he decided it was time to move point-of-sale to the cloud.

about_vaughanVend sees the cloud as the future, offering retailers a more lifestyle and user friendly way of operating because you can work from anywhere. “It’s ridiculously easy to scale and grow. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to set up. You can repurpose a lot of existing hardware. Retailers can customise their store experience as they’re not trapped with a clunky POS that requires a big counter,” says Vend’s Channel Marketing Manager Tara Benedict.

Tara talks to us about the innovative and rapidly growing retail solution that Vend has become by bringing delight to retailers. In just 15 months Tara has seen a lot of changes, “I was the 15th hire and one year later we have 75 employees in four different offices including Auckland, Melbourne, Toronto and San Francisco. It’s pretty epic.”

Vend was built to be a retail platform, the hub of a retail ecosystem rather than just a point-of-sale, and it is often used as a standalone solution. Tara explains, “We really do offer everything a retailer needs to run a brick and mortar store. Any business can use Vend on it’s own. Cafes, bars and adventure companies in particular tend to. But certain industries (like fashion) love Vend because they can integrate it with their online store.” She adds, “We build in a lot of extra features retailers need (like our Loyalty program). But we also have an open API so other useful apps can integrate with ours. Apps like accounting, ecommerce, appointment scheduling and the like. This way our customers can cherry pick exactly the solutions they need for their business, and plug them all together for seamless management.”

Each of Vend’s add-ons serves a niche or specific industry, Timely for appointment scheduling, Stitch Labs for seamless ecommerce, Swarm for in-store customer analytics. The Vend inbuilt loyalty solution is a particular favourite which Vend promotes in this funny little video

It’s very easy for clients to get started on Vend, which Tara claims is the beauty of its software-as-a-service (SAAS) model. Small start-ups usually discover and set up Vend themselves, something that Vend has made very straightforward. Whereas bigger retailers are more likely to turn to one of Vend’s Expert resellers to take care of the implementation, as they often don’t have the time to do it themselves, and need the roll out to be quick and seamless so there’s no interruption to business. Vends suppliers and Expert Resellers have first-hand experience with the Vend ecosystem and can recommend and implement the best software for clients. This saves busy retailers from having to do all the research and groundwork themselves.

Vend-iPad-CafeAs Vend is designed to be flexible and accommodate any type of retail shop from every industry, it holds an incredibly diverse customer base. It has a particularly strong unity with small to medium businesses that have one to twenty stores, with inventory and which trade on multiple channels both online and offline. Its largest group of customers are from the fashion and apparel industries, however cafes who utilise Vend’s iPad POS and outdoors/sports stores are right up there too. Vend is also very fond of the micro business and offers them a free plan by way of support. The only companies that Vend is not yet suited to are table service restaurants and large supermarkets, although Tara points out that Vend has a stellar integration in the works for the restaurant sector.

When a client approaches Vend the key issue that they are trying to overcome is time, “In the end, it all seems to come down to time. Business owners just never have enough of it. To really succeed, retailers need time to focus on their customers and their brand. This is hard to do when you’re tied up with day to day admin and double handling inventory between your brick & mortar and online store,” says Tara.

vend-macbook-dashboardWith Vend, retailers are free to work from anywhere. They can check in on the day’s takings or even order product from the head office or at home after dinner. “We have one customer who owns a longboard shop. He goes out skating to build his brand and grow a community and checks on the store from his smartphone. He has the business and the lifestyle he dreamed of,” adds Tara.

We asked Tara what issue occurs most when clients implement Vend and partner add-ons for the first time, and she explained that many clients rush through the process and this can cause problems. Her advice is, “Don’t be hasty. Take time to set it all up correctly right from the beginning. This saves a lot of mopping up in the future. If you’re not sure about something, contact our support team before you try it. And if you really don’t have time, sign up for Premium support or get in touch with one of our Experts. They are trained to handle all of the details for you.”

Vend’s most challenging factor in taking on the world of retail, and providing a retail solution that can be used anywhere, has been to make sure it accommodates all the different regional requirements (like tax) and covers all the timezones for support. Tara explains that this is partly why Vend is growing and expanding overseas so quickly, “We need the best brains to drive our product development, and locations to cover all the daylight hours.”

We asked Tara what she predicts for the future requirements of Vend’s clients, “Retail is changing at a breakneck speed. Consumers are demanding better, more engaging experiences. Retailers are going to need flexible, mobile tools that allow them to remain agile and innovative. They’re also going to need tightly integrated channels, so they can deliver seamless experiences, and engage well with their customers on every channel.”

Tara enlightens us that the next step for Vend is to grow its partner channel, “Most add-ons come to us and use our API to integrate their solution with ours. We’re focused on growing this channel as a whole, and creating a comprehensive marketplace for our users. It’s going to be amazing.”