From Inventory to Marketing: First Data’s Clover POS Platform Provides Small Businesses an All-in-One Operational Solution
Updated: 1.30.17 Business Solutions

From Inventory to Marketing: First Data’s Clover POS Platform Provides Small Businesses an All-in-One Operational Solution

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: Small business owners wear many hats: accountant, purchasing director, marketing coordinator, IT specialist, and HR manager, among others. First Data’s line of Clover point-of-sale products can ease those burdens and let an owner focus on the most important aspect of their business — growth. Secure, cloud-based Clover hardware and software can be configured with a number of native and third-party apps that help automate arduous tasks like payroll, inventory, marketing, analytics, and many more industry-specific duties. And with a dedicated innovation lab, First Data is positioned to help small retailers realize growth well into the future.

Joseph Paolercio had a particular culinary passion — meatballs. His love for them began when he was a kid in New York, eating the leftovers from his family’s restaurant. When he moved to Florida, he decided to make meatballs his full-time job, even calling his food truck Meatball Joe. His passion for making food is what carries him through the long days.

“I show up between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. and get home at 11 p.m.,” Joe said in a video profile of his business. “It’s as full a day as one can have, but that’s OK. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it.”

After his food truck had begun to take off, Meatball Joe realized he needed some help. Like many small businesses, he decided to go with Clover, the integrated point-of-sale platform created by First Data. Initially, Joe simply needed a device to process credit cards, but he was amazed at just how versatile Clover was.

Clover POS platform logo

The Clover POS platform allows small business owners to manage their entire operation from a terminal or the cloud.

More than a payment system, Clover is a tool that can track inventory, produce sales reports, provide marketing data, and help a small business expand into e-commerce. These tools help retailers do more than just stay in business.

“In addition to transactions, the Clover platform allows a merchant to run their business more efficiently and provides tools to help them grow,” Paul Rasori, Vice President, Product Marketing at First Data told us.

Clover’s innovative line of software and hardware products, as well as third-party app integrations, allow any business to customize the platform to its needs. Backed by the security of First Data, Clover provides retailers with a customized solution that can grow with them.

Clover Promotes Growth by Helping Small Businesses Run Efficiently

The first goal of Clover is to help any retailer or restaurant boost production by streamlining payment processing. Beyond that, marketing, reporting, and convenience tools can be added, but as Paul tells us, it all begins with the innovative hardware and the intuitive software it runs.

“It starts with the physical product. We have hardware that maps itself to all of the different types of merchant environments,” Paul said. He then laid out the most basic needs of retailers. “Businesses need a cash register, and Clover Station is a touchscreen solution with a very elegant appearance, an integrated printer, and the ability to scan barcodes and do all of the things that a retailer needs.”

The Clover Station is a terminal with a stationary base, but the tablet swivels to face the customer for order confirmation or signature-based transactions. All of the sales data is saved, and customers can be given a printed receipt for their purchase. A retailer can link other products to the Station to make transactions even faster. The Clover Mini is a smaller point-of-sale device and can be paired with the Station as a dedicated customer-facing payment terminal.

Screenshot of Clover Station

Clover Station is an intuitive device that accepts payments, prints receipts, and serves as a window into the business.

But the Clover Mini can also be used on its own and has set the benchmark for fastest EMV chip card processing time at an astounding 2.9 seconds.

Beyond the Station, though, retailers can add a nearly limitless combination of products and apps to make Clover work for their business. All of the solutions track data and save time on everything from the transaction process itself to assessing inventory.

Clover also takes some common worries out of the equation, specifically security and equipment failure. Clover’s security suite is one of the most advanced in the industry, partially because it has the largest transaction database in the U.S. As Paul tells us, that breadth of transaction data makes it easy to spot nefarious actions and stay one step ahead of security threats. As for equipment failures, Clover data is stored in the cloud to keep it accessible at all times. In the event of internet connection failure, Clover devices continue to compile data and upload it to the cloud once the connection is restored.

But Clover’s best features include its speed and efficiency. For a smaller retailer, time is best spent being invested back into the development of products and strategy. Clover provides retailers with that time — which is an incredibly valuable commodity — with a line of products that can help automate many business functions.

Tailored Solutions Meet the Individual Needs of Various Retailers

When a small business owner lands on First Data’s Clover page, he or she is greeted with a list of business types to explore. Customized Clover solutions are provided for categories such as food and drink, retail, services, e-commerce, and businesses on the go.

Each channel provides a list of Clover products that would be the most useful to a business in that category. First Data recognizes the challenges of the small business world and wants to provide the right tools to help all of the Meatball Joes trying to navigate their respective industries.

“Not every business operates the same, and even within broad categories of restaurants or retail industries, there are unique ways in which merchants do business,” Paul said. “Because we have built a platform and invited partners to work with us, we can meet the needs of a very broad range of merchants.”

Screenshot of Clover business categories

Clover offers customized solutions for every type of business, whether it be a restaurant or a mobile repair service.

Restaurants can use the Clover Mobile portable interface to take orders — and even accept payment from — customers at their tables. Clover Go can plug into any smartphone and accept payments from anywhere, which is a must for a small business that provides a mobile service. For small businesses wanting to venture into e-commerce, Clover Online makes it easy. Product information can be uploaded directly from a Clover device into the e-commerce app, and once a retailer picks a theme and customizes the text and photos, an online shop can go live in minutes. And since everything is connected, no separate system needs to be checked as orders come in.

Whether it is Meatball Joe’s food truck or an established Italian restaurant, Clover has tools that allow each to grow in its unique way. Many of those tools are available as applications that can be added to the platform to nurture a customer base.

Native and Third-Party Apps Easily Attract and Retain Customers

With small businesses all having unique sets of challenges, First Data has opened up the Clover platform to third-party developers so that retailers have access to tools they can combine to accomplish their goals. Paul told us that retailers could develop and add functionality that may be attractive to other merchants.

Many of the applications in Clover’s app market provide services that are very attractive to customers, like the gift card app, which adds a cost-effective way to sell them right from a Clover device and accept digital gift cards from mobile devices. A retailer can also order customized plastic gift cards from Clover.

Screenshot of Clover app market

Clover’s app market is filled with native options and third-party applications that integrate easily and save a retailer time.

Other integrated apps track payroll, keep inventory in check and alert a business when it is getting low, and even queue up a waitlist for a restaurant. A retailer can use an email marketing app — like Constant Contact — to stay in contact with an entire customer list or reach out to potential customers. The applications are as varied as the small businesses, and Paul tells us that most are using more than one of the offerings from the Clover App Store.

Business has come a long way since customers heard the “cha-ching” of a cash register at nearly every retailer just a decade ago. Clover gives a business the advantages of having entire dedicated departments — marketing, sales, accounting — with an interface the size of a tablet.

That kind of impact comes from First Data’s dedication and its commitment to innovation.

First Data Simplifies Transactions with a Dedicated Innovation Team

Meatball Joe is an excellent example of First Data’s commitment to helping the smallest businesses grow and thrive with its line of products. Clover has already helped the small food truck run with the efficiency and production of a much larger business, and First Data is constantly looking for ways to make managing a small business easier.

“We have an innovation lab which is staffed with 25-30 people whose only job is to think about business needs,” Paul said of First Data’s innovation strategy. “They come up with concepts and go out and market test new solutions. We create products and bring them to merchants to try out before we even think about releasing them.”

The innovation lab is responsible for some of Clover’s most attractive features, and its job is to produce more ideas that positively impact small businesses. First Data’s focus on the future of small business is evident in Clover. With intuitive software, state-of-the-art hardware, and a vast app market, the Clover platform shows small retailers how connected and productive their futures can be.