Cash Register Express (CRE) is considered one of the top retail point of sale software on the market (in our humble opinion, we believe it is the top retail POS software). It offers powerful integrated features and full customization, making business management easier than ever for retailers. Designed by pcAmerica, the company rolls out frequent updates to keep the software running efficiently. POS Nation is the largest of the many resellers offering the software.
Clover is another POS software the prospects we talk to are often considering. Featuring slick and modern hardware, the software’s interface is simple and user-friendly — perfect for a small, startup business. Like CRE, Clover has several resellers, and businesses can often purchase the system through their bank.
We’re experts when it comes to Cash Register Express. But to better understand what being a Clover customer is like, our team purchased a full Clover POS system. After hands-on experience and extensive research, we wanted to share what it’s like working with Clover — and compare it to working with POS Nation.
To purchase Clover, we spoke to a few different resellers offering the product. Some were helpful; some were incompetent and downright misleading. The most frustrating part of the Clover purchasing process was the amount of paperwork involved. Because Clover is a payment processor, we were required to set up our merchant account before completing the purchase.
POS Training and Setup
Like any business owner, you’ll want some training to guide you through the software and teach you how to use the system when you first receive it. To walk through what a Clover customer experiences, we called their tech support once our system arrived. After training, we learned that POS Nation and Clover handle it pretty similarly.
The technician we worked with requested remote access to our system to give us an on-screen demonstration. They guided us through the available features so we could become familiar with the functionality, and most importantly, how to complete a transaction. There was an open floor for us to ask any questions we had, and the technician we worked with was able to give us accurate and visually-guided answers. Overall, it was a positive experience.
POS Nation’s tech team does an equally impressive job of training customers through a live, on-screen demonstration. All training sessions walk customers through the basics, as well as the features most important to their industry, with the flexibility for questions throughout. If being trained on the system before you use it is one of your top priorities, both point of sale companies have you covered.
Point of Sale Features
After being guided through training and clicking through the interface ourselves, we noticed that, on the surface, CRE and Clover have similar feature offerings. They both come equipped with some of the most requested features — inventory control, business reporting, and customer loyalty programs. However, a deeper dive into Clover’s features revealed a glaring lack of options and customization compared to Cash Register Express.
Inventory control is one feature that both — and most softwares on the market — have to offer. But the capabilities vary greatly from system to system.
We quickly realized that Clover only supports the most basic inventory control and everything must be tracked manually. You cannot easily adjust inventory or track why the inventory number is being adjusted. For example, what happens when an item is broken? With Clover, you must go to each product and knock the inventory count down by one. Even more surprisingly, there’s no way for you to record that it was damaged. This also makes it easy for employees to steal items and adjust inventory without anyone knowing. CRE allows you to adjust inventory on the fly, keeping track of shrinkage and damages — and it includes all of this data in business reports.
We thought the most egregious example of a missing inventory feature is Clover’s inability to issue purchase orders to vendors. We learned that advanced features like this require an additional monthly cost, which means business owners are either subscribing to features that should be included — or they’re adding frequent inventory management tasks to their to-do list. Without integrated purchase orders, business owners using Clover must either track inventory manually within Clover or use two separate systems for accuracy. Just imagine having to manually adjust inventory counts for each product every time you receive a new order. Conversely, CRE allows business owners to issue purchase orders through the system, and when they’re received, the system automatically updates stock levels.
Another beneficial inventory feature is minimum and maximum reorder points. Clover does not come equipped with reorder points, which means that business owners have to manually count their products to see what needs to be reordered. On the other hand, CRE has powerful, in-depth inventory control with the ability to set product reorder amounts and create automatic purchase orders for when items are running low. Instead of manually adding each item to stock and having to keep a close watch, the software does it all. Point of sale systems are meant to make your life easier — not to make you do additional work!
Lastly, Clover caps your inventory at 10,000 items. This may not be a problem for startup businesses or boutiques with limited inventory, but larger stores such as groceries cannot be supported. CRE allows all businesses to import an unlimited number of products, making the system an investment for long-term business growth.
Customer Loyalty Program
While customer loyalty is handled differently from software to software, both CRE and Clover have something to offer.
After speaking to Clover support, we learned that the software’s customer loyalty is pretty basic. There are four pre-loaded reward programs to choose from, which is convenient — but there is no flexibility in making them your own. A button within the software encourages you to customize your loyalty program, but once you click on it you learn that an additional monthly charge is required for any kind of customization or advanced capabilities. And it’s not a small fee we’re talking about — Clover’s advanced customer loyalty programs will cost you 99 dollars per month.
In comparison, CRE allows — and even encourages — full customization of reward programs. Business owners have the freedom to run promotions, give out points, and offer repeat customers special discounts with no limitations. CRE users can have complete control over their customer loyalty program with absolutely no additional costs.
Like customer loyalty, both CRE and Clover have reporting features available as well.
After being guided through reporting in the initial training session, we found that Clover delivers a simplified and user-friendly end-of-day report in addition to three other sales reports. The benefit of their reports is how easy they are to read, making this side of business management a lot easier for people to comprehend. The downside is the utter simplicity and lack of real business data and insight with their four preset reports. Clover also offers cloud reporting, which means you can log in to your back office and check on your business at any time, from any device. However, we did find that Clover’s reporting — while clean and easy to navigate — is limited to day-by-day metrics. Business owners who only want only the most simple reports will be happy with Clover’s integrated cloud reporting, but those who want more business insight would have to pay for an upgrade (which is yet another monthly cost).
CRE’s cloud reporting is detailed with complete accuracy. Aside from daily reports, users can export data on any aspect of their business — down to employees and their every action. In total, CRE offers over 100 pre-built reports in six different categories. Some might say that CRE is advanced to a fault in this category. While there are users who appreciate in-depth business analytics, CRE’s reports may be too complex for less experienced business owners. However, the system includes all of the reports a user could ever need, so people who want more business insight without an extra charge may prefer CRE.
POS Tech Support
Both CRE and Clover offer tech support for their systems, but the quality of each differs. Aside from your initial setup and training, both POS companies advertise ongoing tech support. This allows business owners to call in any time they need help and work directly with a technician.
POS Nation offers in-house support for Cash Register Express, so you’re always working with the same team of people who sold you your system. The benefit of an in-house team is that you get to know your support technician and can ask for them by name if you call back in the future. Say your support technician knows you’ve had printer issues the past few weeks. When you call in again, the technician will likely have a fast and accurate solution in mind because they’re familiar with your system’s history.
Clover’s tech support is a bit less personalized, and we called them a second time to get the scoop on how they handle ongoing software questions and concerns. While the wait time was short, we were not able to call in and ask for the same person we had worked with previously. That means every time you call, you need to re-explain your situation and give the technician you’re speaking to details about your business.
To evaluate Clover’s ongoing support, we called them to ask about purchase orders. We wanted to confirm whether or not the software had this capability, and if so, how we could set it up. Unlike the first tech support call, which was with someone knowledgeable on the software, this call went differently. The technician had trouble understanding what we wanted no matter how we phrased the question. We were very patient, asking them how we can complete a purchase order. Unfortunately, 20 minutes went by and the technician was showing us how to ring up a sale. (And even when it came to completing the transaction, the technician seemed very confused and struggled to complete this task.) We kept saying that we knew how to check out but wanted to know how we order more items from our vendors when inventory ran low. Finally, with a few minutes left to spare, the technician said, “We don’t handle your items — you have to buy them yourself.” With that, we understood that the system cannot create and send purchase orders for you. We figured this was the case, but regardless, it took a total of 23 minutes to get to the bottom of it.
While you may eventually get the answer to your question, it’s all a matter of luck when you call Clover’s tech support. You never know who you’re going to get on the phone or what their level of expertise is. And since you don’t have a personal technician who knows your business, you have to re-explain your situation and background every time you call in. Luckily, Cash Register Express is backed by POS Nation’s in-house 24/7 support team — and our technicians know exactly who they’re talking to when you give them a call.
Choosing a Point of Sale System
There’s a lot to consider when searching for a point of sale system for your business, which is why we take the time to lay out the facts for you. Our team is here to give you an honest opinion and help you find a system that will be the best investment for your business. To see more on how CRE compares to Clover, download our point of sale comparison guide!