Vend Review

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PROS / Vend integrates with Shopify for online sales, and you have the freedom to select your own payment processor.

CONS / Features such as employee scheduling and online ordering are not included in the core app and have to be added using a third-party app.

VERDICT / Vend's iPad POS solution is simple to use, plus it offers satisfactory inventory tools, remote management features and numerous reporting options at an appealing cost for budget-conscious small businesses.

Vend makes it affordable for small businesses to switch to its iPad point-of-sale (POS) solution by offering a free trial plus compatibility with any POS hardware you may already own. Another attractive feature is flexibility with payment processing: You can choose your own payment processor, or you might be able to keep using the same external card terminal you're already using.

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For the most part, this iPad POS system is most suitable for retail businesses. However, it can manage sales for simple eateries such as coffee shops, counter-service restaurants and teashops. It does not provide tools for managing full-service restaurants, however.

For retailers, it can manage inventory across multiple locations and online store items sold within Shopify stores. APIs are available if you want to build a custom integration with another online store. This option is helpful if you manage a physical retail store as well as an online store that sells product at remote locations, such as art fairs or trade shows.

Vend offers useful back-office features as well as customer-management tools. Since this app uses HTML5 technology, you can connect to your Vend account from any web-enabled device, including iPads, PCs and Macs, so you can check on your store, monitor sales and run reports from any location. You can also track customer information and customer loyalty programs.

The best iPad POS systems let you sell your products online. They also allow you to create and stay on top of employee schedules. Unfortunately, Vend does neither of these things. For these features, you need to add a third-party app. If you have an existing Shopify store, or if you want to set one up, Vend integrates with the Shopify app.

There are four different (one free and three paid) plans to choose from. Three are designed for businesses with a single store or outlet and one is for retailers with multiple outlets. According to the company, all accounts include one free virtual register, or you can add registers as you need them for an additional monthly fee. If you run your business seasonally, say you sell to farmers markets, Vend charges you $5 per month to keep your data "on ice" until you reactivate your account.

This app is simple to use. It offers 24/7/365 email and phone support. It also offers Vend+, which provides additional training, setup support and extended phone support for a small monthly fee. You can also contact customer support via the app.

Summary

For small retailers without a lot of upfront funds, Vend is a great choice. It can grow with your company as you expand. It's easy to use even if you have little or no IT experience. It isn't as versatile as the best iPad POS systems, though. You'll need to purchase an additional third-party app if you want to sell your products online and manage your employees' schedules.

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