Which POS System is Best? Square vs. Clover
A digital point of sale (POS) system is one of the easiest and most affordable ways a business can give itself a little extra edge these days. Often referred to as “smart registers,” these platforms replace the old cash registers of yesterday with state-of-the-art digital features that combine extensive data with user-friendly design. These products help businesses keep track of their supplies and their bottom line, as well as labor costs. Not only that, a POS system can really help a business reach out to customers and increase word of mouth.Two industry leaders that are getting a lot of attention these days are Square and Clover. We take a look at both to see which is the best POS option.
Pricing is fairly steep for Clover, and not all that clear at first glance. The information isn’t plainly displayed on the website, though you can receive it quickly via email. Though there is a free app, the actual store-based hardware is pretty expensive. The Clover station - which comes with an 11.6 inch touchscreen, a camera, swivel arm, and cash drawer, costs $999, no warranty included. A portable PIN based swipe station costs $319. The two can be leased for $49/month and $10/month respectively. The clover mobile hand-held POS can run from $300 to more than $800, depending on the service plan you purchase.
Upon inquiry to the company, a comprehensive sales quote was sent for a single register restaurant. The cost, including the station, debit pad, $396 kitchen printer and one month’s service ran no less than $1,714 just to get started.
That said, once you’re up and running, the monthly rate of $39/per station stacks up well against much of the competition. In addition, the $29.95/month online store management package is an affordable option that provides your business with an online store.
With Square things are a good bit simpler. The software runs off your mobile device and there is no per register monthly fee. Instead, Square receives 2.75% of any transaction using a swipe card and 3.5% + 15 cents for any transaction entered manually. There is also a $29 charge for the plug-in card reader. Furthermore, if you refer a friend who joins the POS service, you get reimbursements on processing fees for up to $1000 of sales.
While this payment model is simple and straightforward, if your business is high volume enough, the transaction fee could end up becoming costly for you.
Though there is great simplicity to the Square pricing system, it could become quite pricey for a company that has a high volume of sales or expects to have increased sales in the near future.
Ease of Use
Setup for Clover is easy. The register arrives almost entirely ready to go and doesn’t require professional installation. You simply set it up and plug it on your own, and there are plenty of easy tutorial videos online if you find it complicated.
Clover features an intuitive interface that does not require great tech skills to master, nor a lengthy employee training session. Furthermore, most of the apps are rated by users as simple and straightforward to operate.
Clover mobile is a highly versatile handheld POS that pairs well with the clover station and is fast, sleek, and comfortable to use. It’s a perfect pairing for the station, especially if you work in a business where mobility is key, such as in a food service establishment or at a festival where you need a register than can be quickly carried around by staff.
Like other POS systems, it allows you to oversee your company’s data in a single spot, saving you much of the trouble of crunching the numbers yourself.
Square takes simplicity to another level. The Square plug-in card swipe is quickly and easily inserted into the headphone jack of a variety of mobile devices and ready to go. No additional hardware is required before you put it to work, and once it’s online,the register and dashboard are automatically synced, meaning that you don’t have to update one device with changes made on the other.
Square is all about being an intuitive, simple platform for users. You can place up to 125 products in the “favorites” category, where they can be quickly grabbed off a “shelf” during transactions, saving you further time.
Though Square is built with simplicity in mind, we truly appreciate the fact that Clover comes with a register that’s ready to set-up straight out of the box. On other systems, the interface is simple and very user-friendly.
Besides its remarkable ease of use, Square is laden with features. The software comes with a customer database feature that tracks sales and purchase frequency for a large number of individual customers, allowing you to better target your clientele and give them what they want and when they want it.
Square takes reams of data and provides reports on the smallest denominators. This allows you to get an overview of your business by the month, week, even the hour. You can also look at data for specific employees and see which ones do best on which shifts with which items, giving you a whole set of metrics to work with.
When it comes to following up with customers, Square’s email marketing service runs $15/month and takes care of customer outreach for you. For a small company, this can take the place of a paid targeted email provider.
The software is also highly customizable, and allows you to send digital receipts by email or text message. In addition, Square can keep working even when offline.
Clover supplies users with many of the features that we’ve come to expect from a sophisticated POS system. It helps manage your inventory, a real boost when running a business like a restaurant, where food costs can make all the difference.
All data – be it on inventory, staff management, or sales – is updated instantly with real-time reporting, so you never fall behind. The platform can also update menu items in real time and split multiple checks at once.
With Clover you can run customer data cards, allowing you to keep track of repeat customers, which can come in handy if you want to implement customer reward programs, a big part of ramping up your word of mouth.
Clover also can run offline. Internet connections can get spotty at times, so if a sudden rainstorm sends you offline, rest easy knowing that you can make transactions and they will go through once the system is back online.
Clover is no slouch when it comes to features, but Square has proven itself more, and has the added feature of a targeted customer email service.
Clover includes a wide-range of integrations with leading cloud-based management systems like Booker, Bypass, and Springboard Retail, as well as industry-leading eCommerce apps like Shopify and Magento and also ApplePay and EMV.
The integrations allow you to seamlessly sync your books in real time both instore and online.
The number of integrations on Square is one of the most extensive in the industry. There are literally dozens of eCommerce and POS-ready apps that can be integrated with Square, including Magento, OpenCart, and TouchBistro. There are further options for accounting apps like Xero and QuickBooks.
While Clover has the ability to add more integrations down the road, Square simply has more options here.
When researching Clover’s pricing plans, its sales department gave a helpful, extensive and downloadable guide within minutes.
The customer service doesn’t stop with the sales department though - Clover operates a 24/7/365 customer help phone line, and customers can also reach out by email if they can’t find answers on the company’s extensive FAQ and troubleshooting entries online.
Square has an extensive knowledge base and an email where customers can send queries. In addition, there is a toll free customer service phone line open from 6am to 6pm Pacific Time.
Neither company will leave you out to dry if you have any technical difficulties, but Clover has a more extensive knowledge base online and its customer service phone line is open around the clock.
Analytics and reporting
The free Clover insights mobile app tracks sales for any type of business. It allows you to compare your business performance to other similar businesses to see where you’re beating them and where you can improve.
It will show you which sales are trending and which are flops, and help you gain an edge on the competition. It will also help you figure out where and how to expand your business by showing you your strong points.
The app tracks your business by day, week, month, and year, and helps you anticipate the peaks and valleys and how to navigate them. It also gives you real time data on what's working for you.
Clover vows that the app can help you find new customers by considering their spending patterns and using this knowledge to find new ones.
With Square, the analytics go deep. You get real time reports on all aspects of your sales, inventory and which employees are helping your company thrive.
Square analytics can tell you which sales are from new customers or old ones, as well as how much they spend on average and at what time of day. You can spread these details over a day, week, month, or a year to get a real bird’s eye view of things, and have it all come to you in automatically sent daily email reports. The reports are simple and easy to digest.
You can also take the analytics with you and access them from anywhere with the Square dashboard app, meaning that even if you’re out buying supplies, you can always keep an eye on what’s happening back at your business.
Though Square has some of the industry’s best analytics, Clover provides you with precious information on what’s working for your competitors, so this gives the company the edge.
For a business looking to move things fully into the digital age, both Square and Clover provide a whole litany of features to help them get things moving in the right direction. There’s little comparison in the industry when it comes to the ease of use and simple set up of Square. The card swipe that plugs into your headphone jack is built for simplicity and the host of features on Square are hard for any platform to top. That said, we give Clover the edge due to the company’s pricing system and superior customer service options.