Today's point-of-sale (POS) systems offer more advanced capabilities than ever. But for small businesses, that's a daunting prospect when those features come bundled in a cumbersome platform that requires a fleet of tech experts to keep things running. First Data, a global leader in payment processing, recognized the problems that entrepreneurs face—chiefly a common set of core needs and neither the time or the resources to support them.
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Addressing those issues, the company introduced Clover Station, a POS platform full of features designed to streamline operations for busy small business owners.
Clover Station POS: Enterprise Power for Small Business
Clover Station POS—part of a suite of First Data solutions serving a broad set of small business needs—doesn't sacrifice usability for horsepower. "It's a fully functional POS solution that's specifically targeted at small businesses," says Jim Allen, senior vice president and head of small business solutions at First Data. "It's easy to operate, easy and quick to install, and it has the same type of features that many enterprise customers use."
The Clover Station POS supports integrated printers, cash drawers, and other hardware peripherals.
Clover Station processes payments, but it also sports a host of core business functions. For example, time clock management and recordkeeping features sit alongside tax planning functionality.
Beyond the retail side, Clover Station POS includes native technology that supports online capabilities. "The solution set incorporates more than just the hardware you see," Allen says. "It's an open platform in which we can deliver products and services both directly and through third parties."
The open platform means that in addition to using Clover Station's built-in tools (like customer engagement, to name but one) customers can access the Clover App Market and expand the platform's capabilities to meet their specific business needs. The market contains more than 200 applications developed to meet a variety of needs, such as creating purchase orders, managing customer waitlists, and implementing gift card solutions.
Clover Station POS: Hardware Integration
Seamless hardware integration forms the foundation for much of the Clover Station POS' broad usability. The base unit includes a built-in card reader, but you can also connect other hardware peripherals. "Business owners can simplify their inventory or checkout processes with a barcode scanner," Allen offers as an example.
You can also integrate a cash drawer with your Clover Station POS. That's an important feature for small business owners who want a single register that can handle card payments and facilitate cash balancing and reconciliation.
If you own or manage any type of market, you'll be glad to know that you can integrate a scale with Clover Station. "If you have items that need to be priced based on size or weight, a scale is vital." And of course, you can connect printers to Clover Station. Having a printer in a small restaurant's kitchen makes it easy to fire off orders as part of the business workflow.
The Clover App Market contains more than 200 applications to expand the Clover Station's POS capabilities.
Clover Station POS: Flexible Growth
First Data designed this fully integrated POS platform to meet small merchants' core needs in an easy-to-launch package, but Allen adds, "Clover can also grow right along with a company— whether it encompasses one location or multiple locations." What if you own a mobile business that doesn't have a fixed location? Not to worry: Clover can go mobile.
As your business matures, it may grow also in complexity, such as needing new ways to drive consumer engagement and loyalty. Clover includes the functionality to help your business keep up with evolving requirements, and First Data claims it can fit into any level of technology adoption.
Clover Station POS: Choose What Works for You
First Data offers a full suite of Clover POS solutions for small business. If the Clover Station POS doesn't fit your precise small business need, you can choose from Clover Mini, Clover Mobile or Clover Go—all powered by similar software. "Each version includes the same feature-rich functionality," Allen says.
Though First Data offers Clover hardware directly, the company has a number of channel partners within its ecosystem that can also provide Clover Station and related peripherals to small businesses. "There are many varying cost models for getting started with a Clover solution," Allen explains. "The partners may reduce the price of the hardware or, in some cases, give it away for free, but our partners have the flexibility to make those decisions."
Entrepreneurs interested in the Clover Station POS may want to shop around—at your local small business supplier or through your financial institution, just to name a few options—to see how pricing compares for Clover Station.
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Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from food service to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.
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