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Clover Review

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PROS / You may be able to obtain Clover Stations through the business banker you already have a working relationship with, and one-rate options are available.

CONS / In most cases, you will need to purchase the hardware upfront. Full systems are available online for about $1,000.

 VERDICT / The Clover Station POS system is a well-conceived, out-of-the-box solution suitable for retail and restaurant businesses. Since it may be available through your bank, you may be able to negotiate a competitive swipe rate.

Clover Station's POS system is stylish-looking and simple to set up, and the interface is customizable. Clover Station is available from over 3,000 entities, including Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, First Data and Sam's Club. Since this retail POS system is offered by numerous companies, swipe fees and hardware costs vary. First Data advertises its rates starting as low as 1.23 percent. If you purchase a system from Bank of America, the swipe fees range from 1.89 to 2.50 percent plus $0.20. Non-swiped cards are a bit more. Some companies that offer this POS system also give you flat-rate processing. The actual swipe rate may depend on your sales volume, credit rating and other factors. If you already have a business bank account and are interested in this point-of-sale system, you'll want to check with your bank to see if it offers Clover Station.

Besides having simple card readers, Clover Station is likely the easiest full system to set up. The actual unit comes preconfigured to work with the associated hardware, and it is simple to add the apps you require. The POS system comes with an 11.6-inch touchscreen mounted on a swivel stand, an integrated card reader and high-resolution camera, and a receipt printer. You can easily add peripherals such as cash drawers, scales or kitchen printers, which makes Clover a versatile option for a restaurant POS system. The core hardware pieces can be connected by a single cord so there is no visible cord clutter. Additional peripherals can be connected using the system's USB ports. The screen is larger than iPad screens, giving it an advantage over iPad solutions, especially if your eyesight is less than perfect. The design of the Clover Station is aesthetically more attractive than most systems on the market, making it a good option for those looking for form in addition to function.

This POS system was designed around the familiar app model that most people are used to with their mobile phones. Clover Station provides an app market where you can choose the technologies your business requires, such as coupon processing, virtual PIN pads, gift card management, employee management and advanced reporting. Most of the apps are free or provided for a low monthly rate. Clover APIs are available to developers to create new integrations. It has tools for processing all types of sales, including those with tips. Clover has powerful inventory tools, and you can add apps for managing tables, happy hours and waitlists. Apps are also available for managing employees, customers and marketing campaigns. Many small-business owners report that the apps help them make wiser business decisions over time.

Customer support depends on where you purchase the system and the company you use to process payments. As with any POS purchase, you will want to carefully analyze the terms of your agreement before you sign. To help you learn the software, Clover publishes helpful videos and instructions. You can also contact Clover via the user interface. The app providers can assist with problems regarding the app.

Summary

Clover Station balances sleek hardware with functional applications. You will not be embarrassed to display this point-of-sale unit on your front counter, and with the apps you can customize your POS solution to suit your specific business needs. The only deterrent to some is the upfront cost of the hardware, but Clover Station strives to keep the cost in an affordable range.