Our 2017 research and analysis of POS systems leads us to again recommend Vend as the best all-in-one POS system for small businesses.
We chose Vend from the dozens of POS systems we considered. To read our full methodology and see a more comprehensive list of POS systems, visit our best picks page here.
Vend is an affordable, scalable POS system that gives you a choice of payment processors to work with and is compatible with third-party POS hardware, which means if you already own equipment, you may be able to continue using it. It also partners with a variety of companies to offer add-ons, such as appointment-scheduling features that make it a good option for retail stores, salons and other professional service-based businesses.
Competitive Pricing and Favorable Terms
Vend is packed with features at a price that's very friendly to small businesses. Like most of the top POS systems, Vend charges a monthly subscription fee for its software and doesn't require you to sign a long-term service contract, so you can cancel at any time without incurring an expensive fee.
Vend is transparent with its pricing. You can see the subscription rates for its four plans on its website. Vend is one of the few POS systems that has a free plan, which is a valuable service for businesses that are just getting off the ground. This plan is also a good option if you want to test-drive Vend longer than the trial period allows. It supports a single register, 10 products and up to 1,000 customers. However, it doesn't come with email or phone support.
The Starter plan costs $69 per month and supports one register, three users, and an unlimited number of products and customers. It includes reporting and inventory features and gives you 24/7 access to customer support via email and chat.
The Advanced plan costs $99 per month (or $79 per month if you pay annually rather than month to month). In addition to the Starter plan feature, it comes with a loyalty program, Vend Ecommerce and advanced reporting. It also allows you to add more registers for $49 each per month and priority phone support for $19 per month.
If you have multiple locations, you'll need the Multi-Outlet plan, which costs $249 per month (or $199 per month if you pay annually). It includes all the features of the Advanced plan plus priority phone support and the tools to manage your reporting, inventory and customers across all of your locations.
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Ease of Use
One thing small businesses love about Vend is its simple, intuitive interface. It doesn't require much training to understand how the software works, and because Vend is cloud-based, you can easily use it through the browser on any computer with internet access. It also runs on iPads, and you can connect them with POS equipment like barcode scanners, printers, cash drawers and credit card readers. As mentioned above, the software is compatible with third-party hardware, and you can find a list of compatible equipment on the company's website to make sure the pieces you already own or plan to buy will work with the system.
Of the systems we tested and considered, Vend's software is among the easiest to use. We like the navigation system of the back office, which uses a simple menu bar along the left side of the screen that lets you easily identify all the different areas of the software.
A guided tour launches when you first sign in to Vend. This helped us to easily find our way around the system instead of exploring blindly. If you get stuck on a specific function, each section of the dashboard gives quick access to help resources and tutorial videos, which we thought was a nice touch.
Setup is a breeze. Vend lets you upload data using CSV lists (created on Excel or Google Docs), so there's no need to manually enter information into the software. Uploadable data can include product lists, price books, SKUs and customer information. If you don't have CSV files available, you can manually add barcoded products to the system using a USB or Bluetooth barcode scanner. If you have a Shopify online store, the Shopify add-on (more about add-ons below) comes with a one-step import feature to quickly transfer your data.
As an all-in-one POS system, Vend is jam-packed with features to help small businesses grow. In addition to processing transactions, Vend has a strong mix of tools to help you manage inventory and customers, as well as reporting features that help you analyze your business's performance and integrations that allow you to add more functions to the system.
Credit card processing. You can integrate your credit card processor with this POS system, and Vend gives you several processors to choose from, allowing you to shop for the best rates and terms. U.S.-based businesses can work with Square, Vantiv or PayPal. Each of these systems can provide you with payment terminals and mobile card readers that allow you to accept EMV and magnetic stripe cards as well as mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. You can work with a different merchant account provider if you prefer, though instead of integrating it with the system, you use your payment terminal or mobile card reader alongside it. Though this isn't as convenient, it's a good option if you're under contract or want to continue working with your current processor.
Inventory management. Vend's inventory tools let you automate all types of tasks, such as product counts, low-stock alerts and reordering when your stock reaches a preset threshold. This saves you from constantly checking inventory manually. With the Multi-Outlet plan, you can check inventory levels at each location and transfer items between stores.
Product management. Vend makes it easy to manage products. You can add, update and remove products, as well as input stock and tax information. It supports product variations, such as sizes and colors, and composites, such as bundles or gift baskets. One feature we like in particular is that Vend lets you create custom pricing options based on different criteria – for instance, preset discounts based on special promotions, locations and customer types – which saves you time while minimizing errors and lost sales opportunities.
Customer database and loyalty program. You can capture customer contact information as you're ringing up a sale, or if you already have a customer database, you can upload it to Vend using a CSV file. With Vend's reporting tools, you can see who your best customers are and create organized customer lists that include a myriad of data – such as contact information, purchase histories, payment histories and account balances – that you can use to target customer groups for more effective marketing campaigns.
With the Advanced and Multi-Outlet plans, Vend has a built-in loyalty program that helps you boost sales by turning first-time buyers into repeat customers. You can add customers to the loyalty program at checkout or email them an invitation to sign up. You can customize the program to assign loyalty points to all products, or set custom point amounts for certain products if, for example, you're running a promotion on select items.
Email marketing integrations are also available, allowing you to connect to third-party programs through this POS system.
Real-time reporting. Reporting tools that help you analyze your sales data are key to understanding how your store is performing so you can make wise business decisions. You can generate real-time reports based on preset metrics or create customized reports based on the information you need to identify your most profitable products, best customers, top salespeople, sales trends and more. You can set goals for your sales team or let each sales rep create and track his or her own targets.
Third-party integrations. One of the features that makes an all-in-one POS system truly complete is the ability to integrate with programs and services your business already uses. This capability can save you tons of time by automatically syncing your data across programs so you don't have to manually import or enter it by hand. Vend can connect to accounting software Xero and QuickBooks to automatically import sales data into your books, reconcile daily sales with bank accounts, create custom invoices and more. Integrations are also available for advanced inventory management, email marketing, staff management, e-commerce, appointment scheduling and more.
Vend offers 24/7 customer support via email and live chat with all paid plans, though you'll need the Advanced plan if you want to add priority phone support to your subscription, or the Multi-Outlet plan, which includes this service. When we called the company as a small business owner considering a POS system, the representative we spoke with was friendly and professional, patiently answering our many questions about the system. We didn't feel at all rushed or that the rep was pushing the sale, which is a huge plus in our book.
In addition to live support, Vend offers several resources that you can use if you need help or want to learn more about the system and its features:
- Help center. Search this knowledgebase for answers to your questions about Vend. You can also read how-to articles, getting-started guides and FAQs. This section also includes video tutorials and a community forum.
- Vend U. Vend University gives retailers access to on-demand training courses, demo videos, live webinars, a retail newsletter, events and other resources to help you grow a successful business.
- On-site assistance. Vend has a global network of partners, training professionals and suppliers. So, if Vend can't come to you, there is likely a local Vend expert who can personally help you. These services cost extra, however.
Although we consider Vend the best all-in-one POS system, there are some limitations to consider before selecting this system for your business: Vend's e-commerce capabilities and the extra cost for phone support, professional setup and training services.
E-commerce. Vend has its own e-commerce solution called Vend Ecommerce. It lets you create your own online store that syncs with your in-store POS sales, inventory and other data. However, this feature isn't available on the base plan. You'll need to subscribe to either the Advanced or Multi-Outlet plan to use Vend Ecommerce. An alternative is to use Shopify for your online store, which Vend easily integrates with using any of the plans. This feature has mixed reviews, however; some business owners say they were able to set it up without a hitch, though others (including those we spoke with) said they had some trouble getting it to work.
Priority phone support: If you want to contact customer support by phone 24/7, you'll have to subscribe to the Advanced plan and pay $19 per month on top of the monthly subscription. Otherwise, you're limited to emailing and chatting with customer support agents, though this access is also available 24/7 with the Starter plan.
Professional services: Vend's training and setup services aren't free. If you need these services, you'll need to contact the company for quote.
Ready to choose a POS system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- How to Accept Credit Cards Online, In-Store or Anywhere
- Best POS Systems
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- ShopKeep Review: Best POS System for Retail
Editor’s Note: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.