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Retail revolution: Vend's Vaughan Rowsell

  • News
  • May 6, 2015
  • Jessy Edwards
Retail revolution: Vend's Vaughan Rowsell

“We say, ‘Death to Wal-Mart!’ In the nicest way possible,” Vend chief executive Vaughan Rowsell says.

Kiwi point-of-sale technology company Vend is all about “arming” independent retailers with tools to compete with the big dogs, Rowsell says.

“Big box retailers have these amazing teams of data retailers who work out the best products to sell at the best times and where to put them… but we’re arming the small guys with tools that are better than the big guys.”

Rowsell started Vend after consulting for retail clients who were looking for a better way to integrate their store system with their online channel.

He searched, assuming a product existed already, but it didn’t.

“So I thought, ‘I’ll build that.’ Then the next thing you know we’ve got a product in market and customers kicking down our door wanting to use it,” he says.

Observing its fourth birthday last year, Vend celebrated by debuting at number four on the 2014 Deloitte Fast 50 with growth of 1097.4 percent.

With products like Vend that give companies low-risk, low-investment access to smart stock, sales and data systems, Rowsell sees a future where SMEs can dominate again.

“What I hope happens is that this golden age of retail sees the vibrant high streets come back again with small independent brands really kicking it, because they have a competitive advantage with the technology they use.”

The next evolution for Vend and the 13,000 retailers it services across 160 countries is in mobile.

First the New Zealand retail sector will start doing mobile payments, Rowsell predicts.

Then comes “demand generation”. Mobile will become a tool to engage with customers by, for example, sending them a targeted offer if they’re in the neighbourhood.

The next step will be technology that allows retailers to discover entirely new customers through mobile.

“That’s how mobile is disrupting retail,” Rowsell says.

“We think over the next five years mobile will be the predominant way that people pay, and when we say mobile it may not even be through the phone. It could be through wearable technology, your smartwatch, who knows? Five years is a long time in tech.”

For retailers who feel not understanding technology is paralysing, Rowsell says, “Leave it to us”.

“We’re working on all the major trends overseas, we’re working with Apple, Etsy, PayPal. We don’t want the retail business owners to have to solve this. We can solve it for them so they can focus on building their brand.”

This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 736, March 2015.

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