I had a client come to me that was expanding their pet sitting services company to offer sale of organic pet treats. They wanted to sell the pet treats at local farmers markets and didn’t quite know where to start. I told them that there was a lot of investigation that needed to be done if they wanted to start selling these treats. They would have to track inventory and charge sales tax. They would also have to reach out to the federal and state agencies to determine requirements for registering their product, paying certain fees, and to learn about the labeling requirements for their product.

The client wanted a software solution that wasn’t overkill, but would track inventory, include e-commerce functionality, and also have an integrated point of sale (POS) system. The client uses Xero, so Xero integration was top of mind!

After doing extensive research on my own, and getting some ideas from the Thriveal community, I decided that Dear Inventory and Vend were the two best Xero-integrated software applications that fit with my client’s fact pattern. We first looked at Dear Inventory. After doing the trial and testing it out, we realized it was overkill for what we needed. If my client had an established business that had huge monthly production and over 40 products, then this would definitely fit the bill (the reviews were amazing). However, the monthly price, along with implementation advisory costs was more cost than my client could bear for his new product offering, so we chose to look at Vend.

Vend is a retail POS system that integrates beautifully with Xero (it was actually developed to work with Xero). It also features inventory management, e-commerce, loyalty, and you can open a register from your iPad, Mac or PC. For inventory management, it’s not quite as customizable as Dear Inventory, but it seemed like a great value for the price and features. I helped my client set it up, and the client took it for a test drive at his first local farmers market about a month ago. It worked phenomenally!! My client completely sold out of his organic pet treats within the first two hours. He was easily able to open a register in vend, run through cash or credit card transactions, and email receipts to clients. When he closed the register, he deposited any cash from the days sales to the bank, and all the days transactions were seamlessly pushed into the right Xero accounts. Now that’s what I call efficiency!

Weeks went by, and my client was getting demand for his treats from people outside of the farmers market venues. Thus, he decided he wanted to try to use the e-commerce module to sell his organic pet treats online. It was relatively easy to set up, and my client had a working e-commerce website in about an hour.

Now for the last hurdle: what to do if a customer wants to place an order over the phone? We tried to find the answer, but couldn’t figure it out, so we had a call with Vend support. They showed us how we could do it by opening the register and completing a transaction on account. The transaction data would again seamless flow into Xero, and a copy of the paid invoice could be sent to the client via email.

Through this whole process, we have been extremely impressed with Vend as a product, in addition to the incredible support we’ve received. Special thanks to John Pingitore from Vend who helped answer our questions, and ensure that the Xero integration was correctly set up.

If you are exploring a point of sale, inventory management, or e-commerce systems that integrates with Xero, don’t go it alone. Make sure you hire an advisor that you trust to help you through the process.