When you’re running a small business, there are precious few moments when you get to have some honest-to-god fun, and fortunately, this will hopefully qualify as one of those times for you. Yes, it’s true that purchasing a new POS system is still another business expense that you have to budget for, but it also gives you some new toys to play with.
Clover and Square have both created devices and accompanying software that are beautifully designed and built to be ergonomically smooth and simple, so that you and your team will actually enjoy using the product. It might be the most fun product that you buy for the business.
This post will go over all the features and differences between the POS systems provided by Clover and Square, but it’s a really close race, both being exceptional products, so it comes down to personal preference in many ways.
Ease of Use for You, the Seller
Clover has an excellent, original-style interface with a thoughtfully laid out format. You can quickly move between pages, and everything is easy to understand with simple navigation.
One thing that is unique to Clover is that the system is very comprehensive. Depending on what you’re using it for, you can have multiple levels of functionality running at the same time, pretty much as deep as you want to build it.
For restaurants, for example, the structure of its software is granular, and you can add as many levels as you need so that employees can easily move through your menus, with as many products and modifiers as you like.
As with Clover, the touch screen is very responsive and seamless on Square consoles. You’ll find that the interface on their devices looks and feels very much like that of an iPhone and seems to be modeled after Apple’s classic UI.
In fact, you might say that Square is to Clover as iOS is to Android. Of course, that’s a very rough comparison, but the relationship is clearly similar. With Square software, there’s a very simple construction for the user.
Once the settings are set as you need them, the navigation on the interface is really simple, so that you don’t need to think about it much anymore. The system also has easy connectivity with accessories, such as hooking up the “hub”, docks, and plug connectors.
Ease of Use for the Customer
There are pretty much zero pain points for the customer. Clover’s “Station” package has a fixed-position console which faces towards the customer and gives them no strain whatsoever as they interact with it. Their interface is, again, responsive and easy to use.
Square has a setup called “Register” which also has a nicely designed stand and screen for the customer to use. As with Square’s other devices, it’s visually pleasing and comfortable to the eye, making for a great customer experience.
They’ve also added “Terminal”, a more compact device that all but replaces the larger version, which includes the interface for the seller and customer, about the size of a smartphone screen, with a receipt printer built right into it. All the cashier has to do after they ring someone up is spin the device around so the customer can pay.
It’s possible that Clover devices are better suited for mobile POS, especially for various payments, because Clover seems to put more energy into this.
Their “Flex” and “Go” consoles are excellent to use for handheld POS interfaces, and there is something to be said for devices that are made exclusively for POS, rather than employing an app on a phone. It really lies in the eye of the beholder because both methods definitely have their own virtues.
Again, it’s really tough to choose between the two providers. For added convenience, Clover does offer cellular data plans for mobile use that you can buy directly from them.
It’s worth noting that Square certainly built their product to be used in its simplest form. This is apparent in the way they’ve set it up for mobile. You can use any smartphone with the famous little Square card reader to take payment wherever you are, so there’s no need for an additional device, like Clover’s setup.
You can even use an iPad that you install on the stand for in-store payments, then just pull the iPad off and take it on the road whenever you need to. Pretty sweet.
The Clover POS will accept all the payment types you would expect it to, including credit, debit, and gift cards, as well as mobile payments like Apple Pay. Of course, you can also take the various forms of card payments, too, those being magstripe, chip, and NFC.
Here are the rates you get with Clover for merchant services:
- Register Lite: 2.7% + $0.10; or 3.5 + $0.10 (keyed-in transactions)
- Register: 2.3% + $0.10; or 3.5 + $0.10 (keyed-in)
Square also lets you accept all payment types, including magstripe, chip, and NFC, as well as mobile payment types. They charge roughly the same for merchant services.
Here’s a breakdown of their charges, by plan:
- Square Point of Sale: 2.75% per charge
- Square Terminal: 2.6% + $0.10
- Square Register: 2.5% + $0.10
- Square for Restaurants: 2.6% + $0.10
- Square for Retail: 2.5% + $0.10
- Keyed-in Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
Tracking & Reporting
With all the data you’ll be taking in on a daily basis, you can’t be worrying about how you’ll be able to compile and organize it all, which is why the software does that for you. It is perpetually collecting data from all of your sales, orders, employee activity, and everything else, and it does this in real time so you never have to think about it until you want to access it.
From your online dashboard, which you can bring up anytime, wherever you are, you can look at comprehensive sales reports, overall revenue, and you can filter your reports to show only certain metrics, such as the busiest times of each day.
As you probably expected, Square also gives you a user-friendly dashboard that contains all sorts of tools for administrators, including, but not limited to, a control panel to track revenue on a large or smaller scale, options for creating daily sales reports, and employee management tools. Clover and Square are both very good at providing all the reports and analytics that you will need.
Versatility & Applications
When you check out a demo of either of these services, you quickly find that the systems do way more than give you a place to ring up customers for their purchases. Clover not only has the high-functioning POS system, but it also has a time clock for employees to punch in and out, user permissions settings, and around 200 other apps you can utilize for just about any purpose under the sun.
Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, you can take the whole show on the road and easily transition from in your store, to using it completely mobile.
Without going into a whole lot of detail, Square gives you all of the functionality and features you’ll find in a Clover system. POS, time clock, permissions, and administrative tools are all there, in addition to a ton of other apps.
Taking the whole system and going mobile is also extremely easy, especially if you use the option of putting your iPad on the stand on your store counter, and grabbing that same iPad to take the whole thing with you whenever you need to leave.
Clover offers really competitive pricing which basically consists of two monthly plans. The pricing structure works as follows: First, you choose the hardware your business is going to need, which you purchase for a fixed cost; then, you select one of the monthly service plans–Register or Register Lite–that has the features you want.
The “Go” and “Flex” devices don’t have full capability, but you get pretty much all the available features with the “Mini” or “Station” devices. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Register Lite: $14/month + $69 (hardware)
- Register: $29/month + $69 (hardware)
- Register Lite: $14/month + $449 (hardware)
- Register: $29/month + $449 (hardware)
* Add $50/month for LTE service
- Register Lite: $14/month + $599 (hardware)
- Register: $29/month + $599 (hardware)
- $29/month + $1,199 (hardware)
STATION + MINI
- $29/month + $1,499 (hardware)
Square’s pricing structure is a little bit simpler, but depending on what you need for your particular business, it could end up being a lot more expensive. While Clover just charges your flat monthly rate for either plan they offer, Square has itemized their services by breaking their features up into separate services, which you’ll be able to see below.
So, you still need to buy each piece of hardware that you’ll be using, and then your monthly rate is based on whatever features you choose. Here’s their pricing breakdown:
- Employee Management: $5/employee/month
- Square for Retail: $60/month
- Payroll: $5/month
- Marketing: $15/month
- Loyalty: $25/month
- Square for Restaurants: $60/month
- Square Reader: $10
- Square Reader with NFC & chip: $49
- Square Stand: $169
- Terminal: $399
- Register: $999
If possible, it’s a good idea to just demo both of these services in person because, as all of their hardware and features are so similar, small businesses just tend to like one more than the other.
They both look great, they both feel great, and they both work great. There are more things about the two systems that make them similar than there are things that separate them; however, there are a couple of factors that may decide it for you.
Clover seems to be the superior choice if you have a restaurant, and the pricing is also better. For everything you get with Clover or Square, Square looks to be a little more pricey, all things considered.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.