Holly Ryan

Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Vend flying with new tech

Vaughan Rowsell’s staff have been working overtime to cope with strong demand

Vaughan Rowsell says he saw the opportunity "and went with it". Photo / Jason Oxenham
Vaughan Rowsell says he saw the opportunity "and went with it". Photo / Jason Oxenham

The first thing you notice about Vend chief executive Vaughan Rowsell is his gigantic moustache. The second thing is the bright green Chucks on his feet, a "welcome" gift to all new staff.

Walking around the company's open-plan office in Newmarket feels more like being in a garden bar than corporate headquarters, with an army of green-Chuck wearing staff lounging on couches and playing pool. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the company, which deals in cloud based point-of-sale (POS) software for retailers, has worked overtime in the past few months to cope with strong growth.

Rowsell said the business moved into its new headquarters in October with 60 staff and a view that the building would serve them for the next few years. Nine months in and with 134 staff, the building is already full.

Vend is not the only POS software company working in the cloud, but it was one of, if not the first, New Zealand POS company to design its core business around the technology, as opposed to adding cloud technology after it launched.

Rowsell said that from the outset, he could see the opportunities the cloud offered.

"I'm a technologist and sometimes when you're a technologist you look for problems that you can solve with your big technology hammer," he said. "I could see the trend with cloud-based services and with companies beginning to take it to the mainstream, particularly overseas. I just saw the opportunity and went with it."

Rowsell attributed a lot of the company's success to operating completely in the cloud, something he said gave them a leg-up on the competition.

"The difference with being cloud-based is that our competitors will send their customers a CD or send out an engineer to install the software whereas our model is that you just go to our website, sign up and you can be using our software." .

Vend, like its collaborative partner Xero, has taken off with cloud software.

The efficiency, cost and visibility of working in the cloud are key advantages Rowsell cited for businesses working in the cloud.

He also noted that visibility, or being able to view documents and information from anywhere at any time, became even more important for retailers who owned several stores as they could not be everywhere at once.

For Vend, Rowsell said the interoperability provided by the cloud was the company's biggest "leg-up".

"Retailers can use Vend for POS and inventory, and then have that integrate into Xero or Quickbooks for financials," Rowsell said. "They can then pick an e-commerce platform that they want to use for selling online and so on. You can pick the best tools out of the toolkit and plug them all together.

"Without the cloud, that's very hard to do."

Vend's software enables businesses to process payments, manage their inventory and track customers, as well as providing loyalty incentives and running business analytics.

The company's software is now used in more than 10,000 stores across more than 160 countries.

With offices here, Melbourne, Toronto and San Francisco and plans to open in London and Berlin in the next few months, it is clear that Rowsell intends to take his moustache, his green-footed army and his business to the world.

Vend
• Launched in October 2010.
• Received $25m from US entrepreneur Peter Thiel in March.
• Delivers cloud-based point-of-sale software for retailers.
• Integrates with companies such as Xero and Quickbooks to provide an end-to-end service.

- NZ Herald

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