We receive calls from time to time form customers who have typically been offered a Clover “POS” from their bank asking us what the difference is between Clover and other POS systems.
In order to ensure no conflict of interest, we have found several independent sources to allow one to conduct their own research quickly.
One source is www.CloverReview.com
The other is an article that was written by Merchant Service and the following is a direct copy of it from their blog.
************************* Start Merchant Services Clover Blog *************************
This is an independent review of the Clover POS System, marketed by Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and others in association with First Data Payment Processing. Opinions expressed are the personal opinions of the author.
The Clover POS System is the latest entry in the trendy tablet-based POS system market. It is billed as a very cost effective “all-in-one point-of-sale solution” for retail and hospitality, that “makes business easier and more efficient”. Upon further review, it appears several of these claims to fame are dubious or subject to serious scrutiny, to say the least.
WHAT IS CLOVER? WHAT IS CLOVER NOT?
The red flag that catches our attention right from the beginning is the subtle inference that a POS system is a POS system, with no distinction between specific business type applications. Indeed, the Clover pricing page makes reference to (a) an optional scanner, which is applicable to retail operations, and (b) an optional kitchen printer, obviously meant for restaurant environments.
So what is Clover POS anyway? A retail POS? A restaurant POS? BOTH????!!! Hmmm.
The truth is, retail and restaurant POS systems are entirely different animals. They are designed completely differently as entirely different means to entirely different ends. They are not interchangeable solutions. So before it can be taken seriously, Clover needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up, retail or hospitality. It can’t be both, as our analysis clearly proves.
The bottom line: Clover may be an appropriate candidate for a some smaller retail operations. We can think of no scenario in which Clover is appropriate for a hospitality environment. The reason is simple: Despite it’s marketing hype, Clover in no way, shape, or form, even remotely resembles a hospitality POS configuration.
CLOVER FOR RESTAURANTS
Despite the last sentence above, amazingly, we are seeing Clover POS systems popping up in more and more restaurant scenarios, for whatever reasons, for better or worse (we suspect mostly worse). When asked why they chose Clover over other hospitality POS products, most merchants respond they thought the pricing was better, they thought the product was easy to use, or both. Let’s examine both of these perceived attributes.
Pricing: The Clover website sites two pricing options: $999 outright purchase per station, or $49.93 monthly lease for 36 months, PLUS a software charge of $49 per month for the first station, and $25 monthly for each additional station.
We can see how this might look enticing to any restaurant merchant experiencing sticker shock after pricing out many of the big-name POS systems Micros, Aldelo, Aloha, and so on. On the surface. Clover pricing even looks good when compared to pricing of moderately priced systems ($500 setup, $99 month for 36 months).
However!… A closer looks reveals many landmines in the Clover POS marketing presentation:
- Unlike other offerings, The Clover price does NOT include either the kitchen printer, or the cables. Buying a hospitality POS without a kitchen printer is like buying a car without tires. Adding a kitchen printer and cables adds more than $400 to the purchase price, or nearly $20 to the monthly lease payment.
- No upfront setup payment for Clover sounds great! But you get what you pay for. And what you’re not paying for and not getting are professional on-site installation, custom menu programming, even shipping & handling. So most busy merchants, unless they are expert do-it-yourselfers, end up paying third parties out-of-pocket for these essential services (if you think setting up and installing any POS is easy, think again!). This usually costs many times more than the package programming and installation deals offered by other POS providers. BTW, the Clover “do-it-yourself” approach pretty much demolishes the “ease of use and setup” myth as well.
- The credit card processing rates that come with the Clover POS package are also a problem. The Clover price page quotes BOA rates at a very high 1.89% plus $.20 per item, to a ridiculously high 2.50% plus $.20 per item, depending on volume. Going rates that would apply to other system are more like 1.59% to 1.69% plus $.10 per item. This difference will add thousands of dollars to the cost of ownership of the POS system over it’s lifetime, making Clover anything but cost effective and, in fact, probably one of the most expensive systems on the market.
- Last but not least, here’s by far the biggest Clover land mine of all. Clover is intentionally rigged (it’s called proprietary in the industry) to work only on the parent First Data Processing Network. The inability to shop competing rates from competing payment processors strips the merchant of all pricing leverage. This guarantees (and is obviously the reason the system is rigged in the first place) he will pay thousands more in processing fees over the lifetime of the system then he would have had he been able to leverage competing processing proposals. This alone is what makes Clover and other proprietary rigged system (Harbortouch comes to mind) a major mistake, to be avoided at all costs.
In summary: The idea that Clover POS is a well priced easy-t0-use system is marketing fantasy, a carefully designed and crafted myth. It is neither. In point of fact, it’s do-it-yourself nature plus deeply flawed and misleading pricing structure makes it one of the most complicated and expensive systems available.
Ease of Use
As mentioned, another perceived attribute merchants mention as the reason for choosing Clover is “ease of use and simplicity”. Upon further examination, it becomes clear that this is more myth generated from the fertile mind of some imaginative brochure copy writer than it is practical fact–”puffing” as it were, if you’re familiar with that concept from the world of competitive marketing. In truth, in the case of Clover POS, “easy and simple to use” is essentially advertising-speak for “the product actually doesn’t do very much, so there’s not that much to learn, which makes it simple and easy”.
We concede that there are many third party rudimentary applications one can purchase and run on their Clover platform that will mimic many useful functions found on POS systems truly designed for hospitality use. But adding such third party apps to a POS platform is a very bad idea, since one never knows what app won’t play nice with another app and cause a freeze or crash; just what one needs with a line of customers waiting in line to pay their tabs. Since the cost of these add-ons steadily increases, and because they are all rudimentary at best (including the Clover platform itself), this begs the question of where is the wisdom in paying twice as much for less of a system?
We further concede that Clover POS looks like a POS system, with a touch screen monitor, cash drawer, and many (but not all, most notably the kitchen printer) of the peripherals. But much like the Corolla driver who embellishes the vehicle with spoilers, racing stripes, and mag wheels to make it look like a sports car, at the end of the day both Clover and Corolla are pedestrian objects costumed to look like something they are not, no matter how much they insist to the contrary. In point of fact, Clover POS, despite its appearance, doesn’t bring much more to the table is terms of practical profitable utility than does a common credit card terminal. Which begs the question: Why pay $999 or whatever per month for something that will offer essentially the same benefit as another device at a fraction of the cost?
One final thought on the “ease of use” myth as pertains to installation and setup. As already noted, Clover doesn’t charge for professional on-site installation because they don’t offer or provide it. The Clover model is totally “cloud based” which, among other things, essentially means “self service, you’re on your own”; another classic case of creative copy writing. Now, if anybody thinks that installing, programming, integrating, and setting up a POS system is a piece of cake, please stand corrected.
Think about it: When an issue arises, which would YOU rather have: A professional technician on site correcting the problem in a timely manner?? Or someone on the phone, probably offshore, hopefully semi-proficient in conversational English, trying to explain to you how to fix the problems so you can do it in your spare time? Yes, we thought so. Welcome to the world of “virtual service” a la Clover, vs. real world solutions who service what they sell.
CLOVER FOR RETAIL
Unlike restaurant applications, Clover may be an appropriate choice for some smaller retail operations. We stress “smaller” since the nature of tablets is clearly not for fast-paced environments, again despite what Clover marketing hype might claim to the contrary. And it certainly is not appropriate for any retail operation with sophisticated management or inventory control needs.
And one final word of caution: The proprietary credit card processing issue covered in the above restaurant discussion also applies to retail versions of Clover. This is, in our option, a very serious issue and problem, and alone should be a deal-killer in most instan
ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA MERCHANT SERVICES (BAMS)
Although there are several sales outlets for Clover POS, BOA is probably the largest. As such, if you opt for Clover POS, you’ll probably been contracted with BAMS as well as your payment provider. Fine and good. Many merchants feel comfortable and a sense of security dealing with their big-name “trusty” local banker. We respect that. To those people, we can only say that we don’t know where you’ve been for the last ten years, but if you STILL think BOA is your BFF and they spend all their time thinking about what’s best for you instead of for them, you REALLY need to invest in a subscription to a good newspaper.
Anyway, here’s an unbiased third party review of BAMS that might be of interest:
BANK OF AMERICA MERCHANT SERVICES REVIEW
To see what food service professionals on LinkedIn social network have to say about the Clover POS, CLICK HERE
1. Clover is strongly NOT recommended for restaurant/hospitality use, under any circumstances, for one simple and basic reason: Clover is not meant for, designed for, or appropriate for hospitality environments.
2. Clover may be an appropriate choice for some smaller retail business environments. But, the proprietary processing issue remains a major concern.
For these reasons, we are unable to endorse the Clover POS system for any business environment at this time. It is much too basic to be really useful in most applications, particularly hospitality, is dramatically over-priced and flawed in it’s pricing structure, and mis-represented in it’s marketing approach.
************************* End Merchant Services Clover Blog *************************
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