Watch how Vend ships code with zero disruptions to customers

“You can look at independent retail in two ways,” says Ben Gracewood, the Chief Engineering Officer at Vend. “One is that it’s under assault from companies like Amazon. The other is that small vendors are the future.”

By offering their award-winning cloud-based POS services, Vend gives over 25,000 independent retailers the tools they need to delight their customers across multiple channels, plus provides them with sales data they need to stay on top of business.

Vend’s engineering team has created a world-class workflow designed to get updates in front of retailers as quickly as possible for real customer feedback and iteration. When asked what makes Vend successful in this mission, Ben says, “The approaches we use at Vend are the same as those used at Slack, Twitter, and Netflix. We bias towards action—we ship to production constantly because we want to quickly see the effect of a change.”

Frequent shipping comes with its own set of challenges. Vend’s engineering team needs to deliver value into the hands of retailers quickly, but also make sure those changes don’t introduce problems or errors.

Ben explains that “Reliability is incredibly important to retailers, especially around times like Christmas, where vendors might make or break their business over just one week.”

Ben maintains that the challenge is to balance frequent shipping with reliability.

Ben Gracewood, Chief Engineering Officer at Vend

We want minimum disruption for retailers, so they can continue what they do best; look after customers and sell the products they love.

Ben Gracewood - Chief Engineering Officer

100% visibility into the effects of changes

Vend ships code multiple times per day to get valuable software updates to their retailers faster.

To maintain and scale that development velocity, Ben empowers his engineering team with a culture of visibility and ownership. He explains, “As soon as engineers start at Vend, they learn how to monitor and understand the health of the changes they have made. Every engineer owns the code they ship.”

When Vend added Raygun Error Monitoring to their suite of monitoring tools, Ben found that engineers could get to the cause of an issue much faster than they had been able to previously.

Collection of images showing Vend culture and Vend using Raygun Crash Reporting

“We always had logging; log shipping, log aggregation, and log searching,” Ben explains. “But it’s hard to find what you need in that haystack. In the past, you would need someone skilled in log searching to narrow down the error. Now, if we see a spike in 500 errors from one of our other systems, we look at Raygun, which quickly tells us what is causing those errors.”

Vend’s philosophy is that all engineers should be able to understand the impact of changes they make to the software. Any engineer has access to production and can see what retailers are doing on a day-to-day basis. Ben explains: “At Vend, everyone is empowered to see the impact of their work. We’re all in this together, which helps to facilitate the culture of ownership. Raygun is an essential part of that toolset. When I think of all the tools we use across the board, it's one of the most accessible tools for people of all sorts of technological levels.”

Raygun is an essential part of our toolset.

Helping independent retailers thrive

Vend's engineering team prides themselves on the quality of their software, with every update supporting their dedication to delight their retailers. “Retail is at the heart of everything we do,” Ben says. “We are tangibly close to retailers when we make changes in our software. We can really help them to do well and thrive in this complex and interesting time for retailers.”

Maintain and scale development velocity with Raygun Crash Reporting

14 day free trial - no credit card required!

Read more customer stories