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Vend Ecommerce platform

Musings about the web and stuff.

Vend Ecommerce platform

Recently we were engaged to build an Ecommerce website where the client was using Vend as their in-store POS.

We didn’t know the first thing about Vend, and as the client was looking to link their in-store setup with their website, we had to do a bit of research to see what would be the best solution.

The three options we had were:

  • Using our old favourite WordPress and linking back to Vend,
  • Using Shopify with the same solution.
  • Using Vends own Ecommerce solution.

After reading about the difficulty integrating WordPress and Vend, the cost associated with having another platform (Shopify), Vend was chosen.

Because the Vend Ecommerce platform still appears to be in its infancy, its a little difficult to be too hard on it, as we are sure they will slowly add certain features and functionality that you almost take for granted from Shopify and WordPress.

The first thing we noticed is that Vend uses the Liquid language which Shopify created and is written in Ruby.

This meant that it shouldn’t be too dissimilar from Shopify in the way the layouts are and the way you apply styling, and funnily enough, it felt easier to use than Shopify.

So after a nice theme was picked (Fun Fact. Tut Tut) we set about styling it to suit the companies branding and give Vend a run around the block to see what it could handle.

After creating a few pages with content, and creating a Menu, we realised they were in the wrong order in the nav bar, so we went to re-arrange the menu and discovered we couldn’t do this and that we had to delete the menu and re-create it, kinda annoying and something that should be easy to do.

As is also the issue with Shopify, its not easy to show images in a gallery (as you can in WordPress), and aside from using photobucket, there aren’t really that many hosted options. After a bit of research, one that stood out and which we ended up using was Cincopa, which has a reasonable one off fee for the basic account and a lovely back and front end.

A few products were then created and added to category”collections” which are similar to how Shopify displays its products.

Stripe was then added as the payment gateway, a very smooth process, and shipping was created based on total cost, again no issues here at all.

So after all the moving parts came together it was time to do a soft launch and some purchase testing with a real credit card to ensure everything works as it should.

This is where the major gripes appear.

When a user comes to the website and wants to make a purchase they are given the option of purchasing as a “guest” or creating an account, so after testing the guest purchase we then moved on to the account purchase and noticed that if you create an account, there are no back-end options for you to see. As a customer, you cant change your address, add or remove a credit card, see your purchase history or anything else aside from “logging in” which is almost pointless.

This was a disappointment, but its not a deal breaker.

The other annoyance was that the emails the customer is sent from the shop are a little UGLY (and they don’t have an alibi)

In Vends, back-end, there is no option to allow for the shop logo at the top of your emails, nothing that allows you to add custom fonts, or any other form of styling, and quite frankly, the look of the invoice emails are what you expect to receive from a shop running on some random Ecommerce solution created in the previous decade, not in 2016.

Another small frustration was that there is no easy way to make a backup / export the theme files or of the pages which is something that they will hopefully look at, as well as easily creating off-site backups would be a nice addition.

Now in saying all that, Vend has excellent customer service and are quick to respond to any issue you have (such as the website going down twice in one week), so we are hoping these features will be added in the near future as its quite a nice Ecommerce site to use if you are looking for a total solution.

If you want to read more about Vend, head to their website https://www.vendhq.com/why-vend-pos