Business Rules, meet Custom Fields on our new platform, Workflows.

Just over a month ago, we released a brand new platform for retailers and add-on developers, called Workflows. Our vision is for Vend to remain easy-to-use and easy-to-learn while becoming more and more flexible to support diverse businesses in their unique workflows. It’s sad that so often enterprise-style software sucks: by chasing flexibility and customisation, they lose any hope of staying easy-to-use, nice-to-use even. We have a very different vision for Vend!

No matter who we talk to, whether it’s someone who has just opened their very first retail store—or some of our biggest enterprise customers—the fact that Vend is easy-to-use is at the top of the list of reasons why people love Vend. We’re not ready to let that go.

Saying that, we can always do better. Vend’s ease-of-use right now is often hampered by the fact that retailers can’t achieve exactly what they want in Vend. It’d be much easier to train your employees, for example:

  • If you didn’t need to teach them and remind them, and audit them on up-selling warranties.
  • Or collecting serial numbers at POS.
  • Or checking IDs.
  • Or asking for a customer’s shoe size so that you can recommend something else later on.
  • Or getting their phone number so you can send them SMS campaigns.
  • Or even just asking them permission to use the email address you already have on file, to send them special offers.
  • Heck, maybe you’d love your staff to add a customer to as many sales as possible and that’s currently a mission: constant reminders and hassling.

The thing is, you likely don’t need every single thing in that list. It’d be tempting for us to try and build all of them and add them into Vend. Vend would be the most full-featured POS on the market! Right? Possibly—but that’s the trap every single other enterprise POS has fallen for. That’s why those POSes are so hard to use, why you end up having to train your staff to ignore half the buttons and features because “we don’t use that”. Instead of making your life easier, your POS becomes yet another thing in the way. At Vend, we have a simple goal: a new staff member should be able to start using Vend with almost no training whatsoever. That’s easy-to-use and easy-to-learn. That means we can’t turn our product into a feature-trap.

Workflows is our answer to this problem. Last month we released Business Rules APIs which included Event triggers, remote Business Rules and Actions. Today I am excited to announce Custom Fields APIs.

Custom Fields API

When I first described the vision of Workflows, many of the use cases included requesting a piece of information at POS. That’s possible today with our Custom Fields APIs. Like with Business Rules, we are starting with the Sell screen—and Custom Fields builds on top of the value of Business Rules.

This release includes:

  • A new Custom Fields API allowing you to create custom fields on Customers, Products, Sales and Line Items.
  • New actions in Business Rules (called set_custom_field and require_custom_field) that allow you to define or prompt for the cashier to input values to be saved to an existing custom field. (Currently only compatible with Sale and Line Item Custom Fields).

To get started is simple:

  1. Register a Custom Field using the API on either Line Items, or Sales.
  2. Start responding to a Business Rules Event with an action `require_custom_field`
  3. Read the value from the Custom Field using the API.

That’s it!

A JSON response will render something like this for the cashier to respond to!

This is the beginning of Custom Fields. We know that for many retailers, you’re going to want to be able to add a Custom Field to a Customer, or a Product. You’re going to want to edit those Custom Fields when you edit the Customer or Product, right there in the UI. We’re not there yet—but we will get there.

Today, you’ll be able to prompt a cashier to update a Custom Field when they hit the Pay button on the Sell screen. As we add more Events to Business Rules, or entities which support Custom Fields, you can see how quickly the entire platform becomes even more valuable and flexible.

We’re truly excited about these features—we think you should be too! In fact, if you’d like to know more about how to build on top of Workflows because you have specific requirements for your retail business, or you’re an add-on developer (or would like to be) and want to ensure you’re shipping the best experience to your customers then please, get in touch. Workflows is currently in Beta, and the only way to start using it right now is by talking to us.

About Ludwig Wendzich

Ludwig is the Director of Product Design at Vend. He’s been leading Product and Design at Vend for 4 years. Before Vend, he worked as a Senior Front-End Engineer at Apple’s Marcom team in California.