Clover vs. Square: Which is Better for My Small Business?

For businesses, a point of sale can be a full-fledged system for a physical location integrated into numerous other terminals throughout a facility or a simple mobile device used by a one-person shop on the go. Whichever the scenario, a POS system may be vital in keeping the business operating.

Currently, there are two industry leaders, Clover® and Square, that offer merchants some of the best POS systems equipped with durable hardware, sleek design, seamless interface, and affordability. As a business owner, you may be considering one of these two options to determine which is best for your small business. Below we present an overview of each POS solution provider and then compare how the two stack up against one another on crucial service benchmarks, which may be most suitable for your business.

What does Clover offer?

At its inception in 2010, Clover started with offering Android tablet-based point of sale systems. The company has a cloud-native POS offering best suited for industries such as restaurants, retail, and professional services businesses. Clover offers ergonomic and durable terminals, packaged with Clover’s tremendous app store, easy-to-understand setup, and software interface.

The company’s app store is an ingenious creation that has established an ecosystem for merchants where they are free to pick and choose specific functions they need, building the company’s stickiness around its product lines.

What does Square offer?

Square also started around the same time in 2009 and introduced ingenious payment processing mobile hardware to the business masses. The payment service provider pioneered mobile credit card processing and offered any business a quick setup process without the arcane underwriting processing businesses had to be vetted through to gain a merchant account.

Today, Square is still highly user-friendly and has continuously adapted to meet business needs. The company has introduced a slew of POS terminals for various business types, started its app store, and has stayed at the forefront of what businesses have demanded for mobile and eCommerce solutions.

Let’s look at how Clover and Square measure up for common services merchants demand of them.

Payment Processing

Both Clover and Square have their own proprietary payment processing service they lock merchants into when using their POS devices. Both companies offer competitive rates and deal with pretty much any industry or client, regardless of the risk profile.

However, it is essential to note that although Fiserv is one of the largest payment processors in the US, it has an appalling track record for customer service, to the point where Clover’s payment processing offerings becomes a hindrance rather than an advantage.

Not that Square has no issues with its payment processing offerings. Square has had to work relentlessly to burnish its reputation for fund holds suddenly and without explanation, a practice still prevalent for many high-risk businesses. However, that can be forgiven as a slight knowing that Square doesn’t conduct any due diligence on companies looking to set up payment processing, relying heavily on fund holds after the signup as the risk mitigation strategy.

POS Equipment

Clover and Square offer cutting-edge point of sale equipment that is sleek, intuitive, and easy to use. Both companies have their App stores for the POS terminals that allow merchants to start small and add additional app features and hardware as the business grows.

With the help of Fiserv, Clover has expanded into many tertiary services that build on an excellent hardware product, such as a loyalty program and a gift card program. Clover has been a viable option for both small startups and large enterprises. Any industry can utilize the company’s POS solutions with key strengths in extensive inventory management and an unmatched suite of reporting and analytics.

Square has on equal in its POS offering where merchants can unbox and start using the equipment in a matter of minutes. The company hasn’t been able to shed its initial branding as a pioneer for getting small businesses to start accepting payments quickly and efficiently. Not that it would want, but companies may be surprised to learn the inroads Square POS equipment has made for larger corporate clients, such as franchises and restaurants.

Lately, as a homage to its original offerings, the company has been ahead of the pack for the latest in-demand business features for eCommerce and mobile businesses to start accepting contactless payments on the go.

Customer Support and Experience

One of the biggest draws of both Square and Clover is the ease of use for their products. Even as these companies expand their footprint and start offering POS solutions to different industries, they have consistently remained intuitive and seamless.

Both these companies are beating out the competition and are quickly becoming what may end up being a duopoly market mainly due to their simplicity and how easy it is to learn the products rapidly.

However, one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the customer support option, particularly Clover. All technical support inquiries, including those for Clover products, are handled by Fiserv. Clover’s website is packed with a Knowledge Base resource, and the company proudly touts its 24/7/365 phone and email support. However, Clover/Fiserv has been unable to translate that into quality service. There are thousands of complaints against the company on numerous online review portals and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, citing an inability to speak to someone knowledgeable to answer their inquiry or to be able to resolve the issue they reached out to support.

Square has its unique problem too. The company has faced complaints from merchants for sudden fund holds, which they get no explanation for. Connecting with a phone support person has required a unique code based on the customer account.

Both companies’ support experience has slightly bruised their image as customer-centric and easy to use. However, Square has dedicated considerable resources over the past few years to improve their Support team, such as offering social media support, an extensive resource library, and a seller community to reach out to.

So which is better for my business? 

Luckily, both companies do not operate in exactly overlapping markets and industries. There will seldom be a use case in which both are equally well-suited for a business, as each company has its core strengths. Square is ubiquitous for small on-the-go mobile companies and startups, but Clover excels with larger, enterprise-type clients. However, Square does beat out Clover slightly over the affordability of the POS terminal, more transparency with merchant account processing, and customer support.

The Clover® name and logo are trademarks owned by Clover Network, Inc., an affiliate of First Data Merchant Services LLC, and registered or used in the U.S. and many foreign countries.

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