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By Katherine Pendrill
If you’re shopping for a new restaurant POS system, your research is not complete until you’ve compared TouchBistro vs Clover POS.
Though both are popular POS systems for restaurants, these two systems couldn’t be more different. From the hardware to the payment processing solutions, there are some key differences between TouchBistro and Clover that make each system better suited to a very different type of restaurant.
Of course, figuring out which system is best for your restaurant isn’t always so straightforward. To help you understand the ins and outs of each POS system and what it all means for your restaurant, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to TouchBistro vs Clover.
In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll cover:
Whether you’re an industry veteran or you’re still in the early stages of building your restaurant empire, this guide will help you choose a restaurant POS that will be able to grow with you. You can also compare other top restaurant POS providers in our Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems.
The information contained on this site is accurate as of the time of publication.
Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.
If you search for restaurant POS systems, TouchBistro and Clover are bound to pop up. Both are established POS systems with integrated payment processing solutions, making them a popular option among restaurants and other food service establishments.
But while TouchBistro and Clover are both popular POS providers, the two systems couldn’t be more different. Below, we’ll provide an overview of TouchBistro vs Clover, highlighting some of the key differences between the two systems and what it all means for you as a restaurateur.
Right off the bat, one of the biggest differences between TouchBistro and Clover is the type of POS system.
Like many modern restaurant POS systems on the market, Clover is a cloud-based system. This means that your data is stored securely in the cloud on Clover’s remote servers. With a cloud-based system, you can run and access all your POS features remotely over the Internet anytime, from anywhere.
Cloud-based systems are a major upgrade from older, legacy POS systems because your POS terminals can be moved freely around the restaurant and all the information can be accessed remotely, even while you’re off-site.
However, the downside to POS systems like Clover that are strictly cloud-based is that you’re reliant on a strong and stable Internet connection to keep your system up and running. If your WiFi does go down, your POS terminals will be unable to talk to one another and you won’t be able to carry out key functions such as sending orders to the kitchen. For some venues, this kind of service interruption can spell disaster.
Unlike Clover, TouchBistro is a hybrid POS system. A hybrid POS system means you get all the capabilities of a cloud POS, but also a hardwired, local connection that can act as a backup if you lose your Internet connection.
This means that even if your WiFi goes down or your connection is unstable, your POS system will stay up and running, allowing you to continue taking orders and sending them to the kitchen. For many restaurants, not having to worry about downtime due to spotty WiFi is a major plus.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Clover POS, another major difference between the two is the operating system that each runs on. If you’re committed to team Apple or team Android, this is something you definitely want to pay attention to.
Unlike many of the top POS systems on the market, Clover runs on an Android operating system. Android systems are known for their flexibility and customization, making the operating system a great choice for restaurants looking for a very specific, bespoke solution. The drawback, however, is that Android operating system comes with a much steeper learning curve than Apple’s iOS operating system. Moreover, Android systems are frequently the target of malware, and software updates are sometimes fragmented due to the variances in Android hardware.
On the other hand, TouchBistro runs on Apple’s iOS operating system. Unlike Android, iOS is a closed platform, meaning it’s less virus-prone than Android systems and updates are rolled out seamlessly across devices. Though there are fewer opportunities for customization with iOS, the upside is consistency and a user-friendly system that just about anyone can pick up.
Despite the differences, TouchBistro and Clover do overlap when it comes to regional availability.
Clover POS is available to restaurants in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., making it a good option if you have a multi-location business with venues in more than one country. However, some of Clover’s features and add-on solutions are only available to U.S. customers, meaning those in Canada and the U.K. may not be able to take full advantage of the system.
TouchBistro also has a global footprint, serving customers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., and over 100 other countries. Though some of TouchBistro’s features are also limited to Canada and the U.S., customers in Mexico and the U.K. still have access to a wide range of features and add-ons, including integrated reservations.
Most of the top POS systems come with a similar set of core features, including menu management, inventory tracking, and reporting. While both TouchBistro and Clover are equipped with the basics, the way the two systems are set up is very different.
Unlike most systems, Clover’s POS system is only equipped with basic functionality. In order to actually use the system, users supplement the basic POS system with apps from Clover’s App Marketplace.
Clover’s App Marketplace is stocked with a wide variety of in-house, restaurant-specific apps, which you can download to meet different needs. For instance, Clover Dining app allows you to create customized floor plans and manage tables, while the Clover Inventory app helps you manage all of your menu items, categories, and modifiers in one place.
Though the setup may be different than most restaurant POS systems, Clover does offer in-house apps for all the core restaurant POS features. The downside is that the free versions of these apps are not as robust as the in-house features that come standard with other restaurant POS systems.
For instance, the free version of Clover’s Inventory app helps you track inventory counts and costs, but doesn’t allow for more advanced functions such as recipe and menu costing, menu engineering, and low-stock alerts. Similarly, the free version of Clover’s Shifts app can be used to track when employees clock in and out, but it doesn’t allow managers to assign multiple job titles, or track scheduled labor costs vs gross sales.
The limited capabilities of Clover’s free apps, mean that most restaurateurs will need to pay to purchase additional apps just to carry out the kind core POS functions that come standard on most other restaurant POS systems.
In contrast, TouchBistro offers a more traditional restaurant POS system setup, with robust versions of all of its core POS features included in its standard software package.
Like Clover, TouchBistro offers all of the following core POS features:
Unlike Clover, TouchBistro’s core POS features are very robust because the system was specifically built to fulfill the needs of restaurants. TouchBistro even offers a comprehensive reporting and analytics feature with more than 50 different types of reports available. This gives restaurant operators more ways to personalize, customize, and export data in order to pull key business insights – all of which helps to make running a restaurant easier and more profitable.
Though POS software usually gets all the attention, it’s important to take hardware into account as well. And the most important piece of hardware to consider is the tablets that serve as your POS terminals.
Clover sells its own Android hardware, which includes proprietary tablet options such as the Clover Flex, Clover Mini, and Clover Station. These devices come in different sizes so you can choose the option that best suits your restaurant’s needs.
However, investing in proprietary hardware is not only an expensive prospect, but it also requires you to commit to one POS provider for the long haul. Most of the top restaurant POS systems rely on Apple iPads and iOS software so if you invest in Clover’s pricey proprietary Android hardware, you won’t be able to use the devices with another system if you switch POS providers down the line. In fact, you can’t even test out Clover’s system without investing in some hardware upfront – a risky move if you’re on the fence about which provider to use.
Beyond the cost and lack of flexibility, the other downside to Clover’s Android tablets is that not all of Clover’s POS apps are compatible with all of its hardware configurations. This means that you need to figure out which Clover apps you’ll be using before you actually purchase any of Clover’s POS terminals.
In contrast, TouchBistro runs on iOS, which means that the only POS tablets you can use are iPads. On the one hand, this means you’re limited to a small number of available iPad models. However, the big upside is that you’re not obligated to purchase your iPads from TouchBistro because the tablets are not proprietary hardware.
This means you could save a significant amount of money if you already own a compatible iPad. You can also continue using any existing iPads you have if you’re switching to TouchBistro from another iPad-based POS system (as long as the devices are a compatible generation).
The other benefit to iPad-based POS systems is the seamless user experience. Since Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS), the two are designed to work in tandem with one another. Updates roll out automatically across your iPads and the user experience is consistent across devices.
In other words, if your staff knows how to use an iPhone, they’ll have no trouble learning to use an iPad-based POS. This kind of intuitive system not only speeds up the training process, it also makes it easy for staff to troubleshoot issues on their own, if they arise.
Beyond basic POS features, most restaurants need additional tools to help them carry out specialized functions such as fulfilling online orders, booking reservations, creating loyalty programs, and more. Both TouchBistro and Clover offer numerous add-on solutions that help restaurants extend the capabilities of their POS system, including integrated payment processing.
Payment processing is one of the most important POS add-ons, and when you compare TouchBistro vs Clover POS, it’s clear that the two companies have very different approaches.
Early on, Clover was acquired by the payment processing company Fiserv (First Data). As a result, Fiserv is the only integrated payments solution that Clover supports. And as multiple reviews have noted, you are generally required to sign a long-term contract with Fiserv (though contracts can vary, and Clover does not explicitly disclose these terms).
Fiserv’s fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means you pay a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. Even if your customers are using low-cost cards like debit cards or premium credit cards, you pay the same fee per transaction regardless.
The benefit to Fiserv’s fixed rate pricing model is that the fees are predictable. Restaurants know they’ll be paying the same rate, regardless of factors such as what type of card is being used and other factors. Of course, the tradeoff is that you end up paying higher rates because Fiserv charges more in order to cover the fluctuating interchange fees associated with the type of card and type of payment. This means that if your restaurant processes high ticket items or does a lot of processing volume, you’ll probably end up paying more in processing fees than you need to.
TouchBistro approaches payment processing very differently than Clover. In the U.S., customers can use TouchBistro Payments, which is an integrated payments solution powered by Chase. Unlike Clover’s integrated payments solution, TouchBistro Payments is structured according to a cost plus pricing model. Under this kind of pricing model, the restaurant owner pays the non-negotiable interchange fee (for the type of credit card) and a flat mark-up on the interchange.
The biggest benefit to a cost plus pricing model is that you pay a custom rate for every transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. This means that factors such as the type of card a customer pays with, processing volume, and risk criteria are all taken into consideration, ultimately giving you a more competitive rate. For most restaurants, cost plus pricing tends to be the cheaper payment processing option.
Beyond its integrated payments solutions, TouchBistro also gives some customers the flexibility to use one of its other payment partners:
Though an integrated payments solution makes sense for many restaurants, the freedom to shop around for the right payment processing partner ensures that you have the flexibility to find a rate that fits your restaurant’s needs and budget.
Beyond payment processing, TouchBistro and Clover both offer additional POS features that help to improve restaurant management and customer service.
As mentioned above, Clover’s POS system is comprised of different apps you can download from Clover’s App Marketplace. Some of the in-house apps that Clover offers for add-on services, include:
The biggest benefit of Clover’s App Marketplace is that customers can pick and choose from the various add-on solutions, only selecting those they actually need. The drawback is that Clover only offers a limited-number of its own in-house add-ons. So, if you need a major add-on solution like reservations, you’ll have to use a third-party partner. And if you need many different add-ons, it can become an overwhelming amount of apps to manage.
Unlike Clover, TouchBistro does not have an app marketplace for its add-on solutions. Instead, TouchBistro allows customers to add different services to their existing subscription. There is a wide range of these add-on solutions available, including:
Of this lengthy list of add-ons, perhaps the most unique offering is TouchBistro’s integrated reservations software – an in-house add-on that Clover does not offer.
TouchBistro Reservations is a complete reservation and guest management platform that allows you to accept and manage reservations, create digital waitlists, and communicate with guests via SMS and email. These web and mobile reservations sync directly to your POS for a seamless flow of information between front of house and back of house staff.
Restaurants that use TouchBistro Reservations are also automatically listed on the TouchBistro Dine platform so they can tap into an existing customer network and enjoy greater marketing exposure. Though not every restaurant will need integrated reservations, this software is becoming increasingly valuable in the wake of COVID-19 dining restrictions.
Unlike Clover, TouchBistro also gives customers the option to add on valuable restaurant technology, such as Self Ordering Kiosks and Kitchen Display Systems (KDS). With TouchBistro’s Self Ordering Kiosks, guests can place an order directly from a touchscreen device and customize their meal with different modifiers.
On the other hand, TouchBistro’s KDS serves as a digital display for all orders sent from the POS, creating a seamless flow of information between front of house and back of house teams. Like reservations, this kind of technology is becoming increasingly valuable for restaurants that are reimagining their spaces for the post-COVID world. For many restaurants, the option to add these features to their POS system is a major plus.
While both TouchBistro and Clover POS offer a wide variety of in-house restaurant management solutions, no one provider can do it all. To supplement their offerings, each company partners with third-party integrations for specialized solutions such as accounting, payroll, marketing, delivery, and more.
Both TouchBistro and Clover offer third-party integrations for the following kinds of services:
Clover is essentially run on apps, so it comes as no surprise that the company offers integrations with a wide variety of third-party providers. And with the Clover App Marketplace, it’s easy for restaurateurs to find the perfect solution for different functions. Not to mention, the Clover API is available to developers so there is the option to design your own app if there’s a bespoke feature you need.
TouchBistro does not support the same kind of app ecosystem as Clover, meaning you have a more limited list of third-party partners to choose from. Part of the reason for this is that TouchBistro offers more of its own in-house solutions, such as integrated reservations platform, self-ordering kiosks, KDS, and digital menu boards. In many cases, these in-house solutions are preferable to third-party apps because they were created to sync directly with a restaurant POS, and are less likely to experience the kinds of bugs and errors associated with integrations.
In cases where an in-house solution is not available, the third-party integrations that TouchBistro does support are largely comprised of industry-leading solutions, such as 7Shifts for scheduling, MarketMan for inventory, and Deliverect for online ordering. This means that even though TouchBistro may not offer as many third-party partners as Clover, most restaurateurs will be able to use their preferred third-party solution with TouchBistro.
If you’re comparing TouchBistro vs Clover, there’s one big factor that you – quite literally – can’t afford to ignore: price.
With Clover, your monthly software costs will vary based on what system you choose. Though the monthly fees for Clover’s software are in line with most other restaurant POS systems, it’s important to also take into account the cost of purchasing the initial hardware.
Remember, Clover uses proprietary hardware. This means that you’ll have to make a big upfront investment in POS hardware – hardware that you won’t be able to use with another system if you decide to switch providers in the future. Not to mention, you’re also locked into using Fiserv as your payment processor, which charges high payment processing fees.
TouchBistro boasts a much more straightforward pricing model for its restaurant POS software. TouchBistro’s software fees start at $69 per month for one license, which puts it on the more affordable end for POS software. TouchBistro also offers tiered pricing so the price per license decreases with each additional license purchased.
All of TouchBistro’s plans include the core POS features, unlimited users, free updates, and 24/7/365 support. With TouchBistro, you also need to buy the necessary POS hardware. However, TouchBistro runs on Apple iPads so you may be able to save on hardware costs if you already own a compatible generation – something that’s not possible with Clover.
No matter what POS system you’re considering, you should always take customer support into consideration.
If you’re using Clover, your customer support options will depend on the specific problem you’re facing. If you’re dealing with payment processing or merchant account issues, you’ll need to contact your dedicated payment processor for help (unless you signed up with Fiserv itself). However, if you need support for the actual software or hardware, you can reach out to Clover directly.
For immediate issues, Clover POS offers 27/4/365 phone support. For less pressing issues, the company has a self-serve help center with guides, FAQs, video tutorials, and troubleshooting tips. These online resources can be helpful in solving minor issues, but won’t help you address issues with any third-party apps you’re using.
On the other hand, TouchBistro’s customer support is a little more straightforward. For any issues with TouchBistro’s hardware, software, or integrated payments, all customers can access 24/7 support via phone or email, 365 days of the year. This means you can get answers to any question, at any time – whether it’s in the middle of a lunch service or the middle of the night. Like Clover, TouchBistro also boasts an extensive online resource library, complete with step-by-step guides and videos that restaurateurs can use to troubleshoot any issues.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Clover, it’s clear that both providers offer very different restaurant POS systems – each with their own strengths and weaknesses. As a result, each system is best suited to a very different type of food service venue.
Clover POS is an integrated POS system with custom hardware that’s designed for several types of retailers. Thanks to its customizable app ecosystem and integrated payment processing, Clover is best for businesses with more of a retail focus and less of an emphasis on dine-in service.
In contrast to Clover, TouchBistro was specifically designed by restaurant people, for restaurant people. From QSRs to FSRs, there are several reasons why TouchBistro is a better all around choice for restaurants:
TouchBistro was created by restaurant industry veterans, which means that the core POS is equipped with all the features you need to run a successful restaurant. TouchBistro also offers a wide variety of add-on solutions and technology that can help restaurants grow, expand, or even change their business model in light of events like COVID-19.
Though it may not be the first thing you think about when choosing a new POS provider, you want to make sure you choose a POS system that can adapt to the kinds of changes that restaurants experience as they grow. While a system like Clover may meet your needs initially, it is primarily a payments company that dabbles in retail, rather than a POS solution tailored to the needs of growing restaurants. As a result, most restaurants will find themselves quickly outgrowing a basic POS solution like Clover, whereas a system like TouchBistro can adapt and grow with your restaurant over time.
Choosing the right payment processing partner is almost as important as choosing the right POS system. With TouchBistro, you have the option to seamlessly integrate TouchBistro Payments with your POS system or, in some cases, the flexibility to use the payment processor of your choice. And unlike other payment processors, TouchBistro Payments is priced according to cost plus pricing model so you receive a more equitable rate for your restaurant.
Payment processing rates can make up a significant part of your budget so having the flexibility to choose the payment processor with the best rate can save you thousands each year. However, if you use a system like Clover, you don’t have the freedom to change payment processors if your rates become too high – a major concern for restaurants with razor thin profit margins.
TouchBistro offers standard subscription packages for its software, with transparent and straightforward pricing. This means that for a monthly fee, you get a set of core POS functions. You also have the option to simply add any additional solutions, like TouchBistro Reservations, for an additional monthly fee. It’s a simple system that makes it easy to calculate your monthly budget because you always know exactly how much money you’re paying for your POS software.
For any restaurateur that has used a modern POS system, TouchBistro’s subscription pricing for its software will be familiar and straightforward. However, if you opt for a system like Clover, your fees become more complicated because you are paying for each individual app. With this kind of pricing structure, your monthly fees could easily add up and the POS system you initially signed up for may become much more expensive than anticipated.
When weighing your restaurant POS systems, there’s a lot to consider and no two restaurants will have the same needs. With this head-to-head comparison of TouchBistro vs Clover, you now have the information you need to make an informed decision about the kind of POS system and payment processor that’s right for your restaurant and your team.
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Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.
By Katie McCann
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