Founded in New Zealand, Vend was one of the very first companies to release an iPad Point of Sale app. They now offer a full range of cloud/web-based Point of Sale solutions suitable for tablets or computers. This review is based on using Vend on a PC, although the experience is much the same on other platforms.
Setting up Vend is very straightforward. Simply create an account on their website then sign in via the custom web address issued to you. Since Vend is web-based, you don’t need to download an installer and can access your Point Of Sale from any computer or tablet in the world using this web address. This is ideal for avoiding in-store downtime and also means you don’t need to invest in special hardware or worry about making backups of your important data.
However, Vend only fully supports the Google Chrome web browser on PC and Chrome or Safari on Mac, which means you might not be able to use your usual browser of choice. iPad users can download the Vend app from the App Store, while Android/Windows tablet users must use Chrome.
Once you’ve signed into Vend, setting up your store, products, tax rates and so on is easy. Menu screens are laid out clearly and easily accessed, even on a touchscreen device. Receipts, staff names, and various other settings can be configured quickly, even by users with little technical knowledge.
On a PC, Vend can print receipts to any receipt printer connected to the system in the same way as any document would normally print. As long as the receipt printer is correctly installed, Vend will be able to print to it. iPad users are limited to using only certain Star or Epson receipt printer models, while receipt printing is currently unavailable to Android users.
Vend’s main Sell screen is simple and intuitive to use. Products are laid out on the right of the screen for quick, one-touch access, while the left of the screen shows items added to the sale so far. As well as a Pay button, there are options to Void the sale, Park it for later retrieval, add a Note on it or Discount a price. Multiple items can be added to the sale either by repeatedly tapping the product key or by changing the quantity after pressing the product key. Designed to be touch-friendly, pop-up keypads are displayed when needed.
Once Pay is clicked, a keypad pops up to allow the amount tendered to be entered. Tender options are Cash, Credit Card, On Account or Layby. Once a payment button is selected, Vend then offers the option to e-mail a receipt. Afterwards, the Print screen appears, allowing you to print a receipt to any printer connected to your computer.
In general, Vend performs quickly and intuitively during the sale process. Mistakes are easily corrected, the important buttons are easily pressed, and the sale proceeds in an easy to follow manner. However, the receipt printing process could perhaps be more streamlined, with the query regarding e-mailing a receipt being a little intrusive. Certain versions of the Chrome browser can also cause issues with receipt print quality. This is a Chrome issue rather than a Vend issue and there are workarounds available to solve it, but it’s still less than ideal.
Vend stores a record of every transaction in its Sales History and can generate a wide variety of reports, including Stock and Product reports. These can be filtered in a variety of ways to provide exactly the details required. They can also be exported to a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet programme. Like the rest of Vend’s features, reports are easy to access and configure.
Vend is available in a variety of packages ranging from a basic Free version to an “Extra Large” package costing $169 (approximately €125) per month (billed annually). Pay monthly versions of all packages are also available, although these are slightly more expensive overall.
The most popular package is the Medium for $59 (approximately €45) per month. This allows up to 1,000 products and 1,000 customer records, as well as 10 users. E-mail support is also included. This package would suit the vast majority of businesses. In comparison, the Free and Small packages offer just 10 and 100 products respectively, which will probably only suffice for very small businesses. Users can change plan any time they want.
Vend’s paid plans come with e-mail support as standard. Premium Support is also available for an extra charge and offers a more personal level of service, including phone support. Users on both the paid and free plans can benefit from the large online Knowledge Base, which includes detailed How To’s for common tasks. There are also instructions on how to solve common issues, and community forums where users and Vend support staff solve particular issues. The Vend community seem always eager to help, whether it be by e-mail or online forum.
While the basic Vend Point of Sale package will probably be enough for most businesses, there are also a wide range of add-ons available to expand the capabilities the software offers. These range from web shop integration to appointment management. Using these add-ons means Vend can be used in businesses ranging from e-commerce to gyms to salons, and can also be used for credit card payment processing and other advanced transactions. Other features such as loyalty scheme management are also available. These add-ons naturally come at a price, but are designed specifically to work with Vend which provides much peace of mind.
For larger companies and businesses committed to using a cloud/web-based Point Of Sale system, Vend has much to offer. It’s versatile, quick, intuitive, powerful and fully featured. Designed to be touch-friendly, it’s particularly well suited to systems such as the Digipos A100. It will run on almost any computer, even older machines and will also run on iPad/tablet (with some limitations), ideal for queue-busting when needed. It also offers a wide range of optional add-ons that help you tailor your Vend experience to suit your needs.
However, users with a small retail outlet may find that the free or lower priced packages don’t meet their needs, while the cost of other packages might prove a bit of a stretch. That said, the Medium price plan currently costs just $708 (around €515) per year and would seem a sound investment.
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Web/cloud-based so can be accessed from almost any device
- Powerful and fully-featured
- Expandable with a wide range of add-ons
- Great online/e-mail support
- Free/Basic packages might be too restrictive for small businesses
- No receipt printing from Android tablets
- Some print quality issues with Google Chrome
For more information on Vend — and to sign up for a free trial — visit www.vendhq.com.