Vend is suitable for retailers of all sizes. Inventory features are comprehensive and POS functions familiar to all shop workers.
Highs: Rich inventory functions. Multi-outlet. Responsive 24/7 customer support.
Lows: Doesn’t work on Android tablets. Limited features on cheaper plan. Dashboard could be more user-friendly.
As with many cloud-based POS systems, Vend is subscription-based. For existing users, the Lite plan costs £49 per month on an annual billing basis, or £59 if paying monthly, for each iPad, PC or Mac licence. This is for a single checkout point, a good selection of features and suitable for a monthly turnover of up to £15k.
Lite: £49/mo (annual), £59/mo (monthly).
Pro: £69/mo (annual), £89/mo (monthly)
Per extra licence: £39/mo (annual), £49/mo (monthly)
If you exceed this turnover for more than three months within a year, you will need to upgrade to the Pro plan that costs £69 a month on an annual plan, or £89 if paying monthly. This includes advanced features suitable for more established retail shops, and there is no limit for how high a turnover you can have on this.
Each plan includes a licence for one register (i.e. iPad, PC, Mac). If you need to use Vend POS on more registers, it costs £39/month per extra device you add if paying annually, or £49/month if you’re paying on a monthly basis.
Bigger businesses and franchises can opt for an Enterprise package at a custom price to be agreed with Vend, which includes a dedicated Account Manager and customised onboarding. Apart from that, it includes all the same features as the Pro plan.
We recommend trying their 30-day free trial first, which should give you a feel for the software before committing to anything.
The above costs only apply to the POS software, so hardware is an extra cost. Either use an existing PC, Mac or iPad for the POS interface, or you need to shop for this. Also consider whether you need a cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner or other equipment. A customer-facing display app is complimentary for Vend users.
Vend can be used on PC as well as Mac or iPad, making it versatile for small to large businesses.
Who is Vend ideal for?
Vend’s EPOS is primarily built for face-to-face retail businesses of any size. It can be integrated with ecommerce platforms for multichannel sales, which is increasingly necessary for brick-and-mortar businesses to sustain their customer base.
The system is not suitable for hospitality or service-oriented businesses, simply because the features centre around inventory-heavy stores needing an advanced way to manage and track stock in all possible ways. Anyone who’s worked in retail will find the functions universally recognisable for a shop environment, making it easy to train new staff on how to use Vend on a computer or iPad – if training is even necessary.
Online and offline use
As a cloud-based point of sale (POS) platform, all your Vend data are stored online rather than on a local computer or server. This enables you to access it anywhere at any time through an internet browser or the app, since it is backed up in the cloud and updated automatically.
Like many other cloud-based POS systems, Vend keeps core features available in the event of a situation where you find yourself offline, so you can keep running your business through those (hopefully rare) eventualities. Any card machine used with Vend, however, will need a network connection to process a card sale, so this won’t work offline.
Ease of use and room for improvement
Vend’s POS app is generally user-friendly. We tested it on iPad and it didn’t fail while using with a stable internet connection.
A big plus is the ability to access the dashboard (for management and more advanced features) directly in the app. This is not a given in tablet EPOS, which you’ll often find can only access shop-floor-related functions, unless you log in to the dashboard in a browser window on the tablet. With Vend, some features are still only accessible in a browser, but most admin settings can be used in the app. A slight downside to the in-app dashboard is that it’s a bit slow to load, unlike the app-native checkout features.
Main side menu in iPad app (1), and dashboard settings menu (2) which is separate from the day-to-day sales functions.
While generally intuitive to understand the different settings and functionality upon first use, certain features were not easy to find, such as where to customise receipts (under “Outlets and Registers” in the Setup settings). On an iPad Pro 10.5″, there were some responsiveness issues in the dashboard functions as well, e.g. scrolling didn’t work at first touch on some pages. Printing a test receipt from the dashboard is not possible either – a small, but annoying, thing.
If you delve into the help section through the dashboard in the app and browse multiple pages, there’s no home button to return to the main dashboard page at one click. You have to repeatedly tap the back button until you’re back to dashboard settings. So in our experience, most issues were related to admin features and help pages, while the day-to-day POS features were fine.
Vend’s features are extensive, particularly around product profiles and stock management. If you want a system that manages detailed supply information, stock levels, product information and flexible sales records, you will find that Vend meets all those comprehensively. It should be said that many of Vend’s features are standard in retail EPOS, but compared with alternatives, still quite advanced. The following features are just a slice of what’s included.
Stock management: Perhaps the biggest strength of Vend is its ability to track and organise rich inventories in the system. If you already have a list of products in an Excel spreadsheet (CSV file), it is easy to import these into the system. Otherwise, manually add detailed product information in the library, to be displayed in the POS interface or found through search. Add notifications if someone is about to process something that’s low in stock, and make use of the many other inventory tools designed to automate supply ordering and make it easy for you to organise stock across multiple stores.
Product profile, which can be analysed and edited through the dashboard (in-app or in-browser).
Customer loyalty: As with most other EPOS systems today, you can save customer details in the system and attach sales to them. This allows you to give loyalty points, which the customer can use for payments, send digital receipts, organise deliveries, and much more. It is up to you what details are added about customers – there are plenty of fields to fill in, for instance address, date of birth, phone number, or a custom note about the person.
Float and cash management: At the start of each day, you enter the float amount to compare the end-of-day cash total with. During the day, record when you take out money that counts towards expenses, e.g. team lunch or an electrician’s bill. In other words, the system works just like a traditional cash register, allowing a complete overview of payments, pay-ins/pay-outs, discrepancies and total takings in the cashing-up report at the end of each day.
Checkout interface on iPad (1), and the payment screen that follows (2). Note: only few payment methods are shown here – in settings, you can add many more ways to pay.
Sales, petty cash and refunds: Vend’s transaction functions are impressive, even including an option to edit details of a sale after it took place (in case you want to e.g. attach customer details to a receipt later). Exchanges and refunds can be done from the app, and you can edit or lay away sales for later. You decide how staff void transactions: delete the items on the list, or void to be recorded in the sales report but not counted towards sales totals.
Discounts and promotions: Promotions and discounts can be applied to specific items, date ranges, customer groups (e.g. students, loyalty members), or you can apply promo codes at checkout. Specify whether the discount runs in-store or in your online store, or if it just applies when spending over a certain amount.
Receipts: As with most cloud-based POS today, you can send digital receipts via email, either straight after transactions or later if the sale is attached to a customer record with email address. Receipts are customised in the browser dashboard, where you can make a different receipt for each outlet, add logo, written text and edit what kind of information goes on receipts.
Employee and store management: The system can handle multiple outlets and staff accounts, allowing you to look at sales and staff performance anywhere in your business. Manage users by Cashier, Manager or Admin role with varying permissions, and set sales targets for individual users.
Vend’s own features can be supplemented with third party software, namely Xero for accounting and analytics, Deputy or Timely for scheduling and staff management, and WooCommerce or Shopify for ecommerce.
Hardware and payments integration
Vend is designed for Windows, Mac and iPad and can work on different combinations thereof. So you can, for example, operate the Vend system on a PC in a fixed location and also have the system running on an iPad for mobile use – all with access to the same real-time data.
Vend can be used with most card machines and payment processors in the UK, although only the following can be fully integrated:
- iZettle (iPad)
- Payment Express (iPad, Mac, Windows)
- Paymentsense (iPad, Mac, Windows)
- PayPal Here (iPad)
- Square (iPad)
- SumUp (iPad)
Integrated payments are when payments registered in Vend’s app are synced with the card machine. In other words, the card machine automatically processes payments in conjunction with the POS app, so you don’t have to manually enter an amount on the card machine and then manually confirm in the app that the payment took place.
A low-cost way to get started is to opt for a mobile card reader (iZettle, SumUp, Square and PayPal Here) with no monthly fixed fees except for a per-transaction fee paid to the card reader provider. You can only use Vend on iPad with these.
Of the traditional card machines, Paymentsense and Payment Express allow Mac or Windows integration, but include monthly fees and a contract. You also have the option to record non-integrated card machine payments in the app manually, which you can use any standalone card machine for.
Vend sells hardware bundles containing retail necessities such as cash drawer, barcode scanner and receipt printer. If you have the hardware already, it will likely be compatible with Vend, but beware they only guarantee customer support for the equipment they’ve officially stated is compatible.
Reports and analytics
Vend’s analytics provide a good breadth of information on revenue, products, staff and sales. Set sales targets to contrast with actual sales, and instantly see who your top-performing team members and what the best-selling products are. Track the average transaction value and average items per sale, monitor discounts given, gift cards and taxes, and track the percentage of sales with customer details recorded.
In other words, the analytics cover the most important things retailers are interested in. If more is needed, you can integrate Vend with Xero. End-of-day reports are created seamlessly upon closing the till through the app. Reports can be exported to Excel and printed as needed.
Dashboard analytics as seen in Vend for iPad.
Vend’s customer support is available round the clock, all year around, either through email or telephone helpline. They also have a comprehensive help section online (accessible in the app and in-browser) with articles and tutorials, and they offer webinars, courses and more. Suffice to say, they’ve put a lot of resources into customer support, so it’s not surprising they have won awards for this.
As a downside, you’ll only get customised onboarding with the Enterprise plan, although the usability of the software is arguably easy enough for you not to need special support getting started. Card processing support is handled through the processor and card machine provider you’ve chosen.
Is Vend the best choice for retailers? It’s certainly up there among the more comprehensive, modern EPOS systems. Some businesses may find the subscription cost high, especially with multiple iPads or computers, or if you decide to pay per month.
In terms of features, the Lite plan has some limitations around reporting, gift cards, promotions among other things, so the more expensive Pro plan is better for advanced features.
But overall, Vend is well worth a top spot on your retail EPOS shortlist. They certainly don’t hide the fact that many big-name retailers use it!