Building Next-Gen Apps for Merchants with the Clover POS Platform

By Bobby Gill on December 12, 2019

The days of the simple cash register are long gone – merchants are looking for the most streamlined system at the best prices to collect money from customers as well as track purchases and expenditures. While there are plenty of out-of-box solutions, the Clover point of sale (POS) platform enables startups and companies looking to develop customized, POS-type solutions for customers.

Square, Shopify, and PayPal are great for simpler operation but they lack the ability to integrate with other financial software and digital solutions. Out-of-the-box, Clover provides an extensible infrastructure and several capabilities without the limitations of the competition. 

The Clover POS platform is designed as a turnkey solution for merchants – it’s open design allows developers to create and publish apps as well as an API to customize merchant experiences. Let’s take a look at Clover POS and explain inherent benefits as well as some great third-party apps that allow a business to custom tailor their sales system.

A quick overview of Clover

Clover is an integrated hardware and software POS system, built on top of the Android OS, that enables businesses to run transactions, access reports and manage inventory through a single solution. Clover has become one of the leading POS providers in the world – you’ve probably already seen a Clover terminal powering your local laundromat or a nearby restaurant and didn’t realize!

Beyond providing merchants with a turnkey POS solution, the real power of Clover comes from its powerful set of developer APIs and capabilities. This enables third-party developers to build on top of and extend Clover to do almost anything, including using your own app on top of the Clover POS or altering core services. This greatly expedites time for development and time to market (TTM) which keeps the Clover POS cost low. 

Developing apps for your customers on Clover

Since Clover runs on Android, much of how the entire system works resembles its Android roots. Clover exposes functionality such as register, inventory management, and order management as “apps” on the desktop. Clover provides a simple set of POS apps for retailers, but the idea is that any Clover-provided service could be replaced by a third-party app you build yourself or acquire from the Clover App Market.

Clover can be used to create sophisticated, custom systems for just about any merchant. While some current, out-of-the-box systems have been tailored to better meet the needs of different industries in general, there is still a significant number of variances among businesses in each industry. 

The people at Clover use an example of how a yogurt shop, food truck and full-service restaurant are all part of the same industry. However, each business certainly has a different operational model and therefore, all have different software requirements.

At Blue Label Labs, we built a custom cashless ticketing solution for MagicMoney with a custom register and self-service kiosk built on top of the Clover POS platform. It integrates with bill acceptors, card dispensers, and other peripherals including RFID-bracelets that enable a cashless ticketing experience for venues and fairs. We were able to take advantage of the payment, ordering and inventory capabilities of the Clover POS platform to build a completely customized cashier and self-service experience that runs directly on the Clover devices.

Another great part about Clover apps is that they can take multiple forms, aside from a standard app you’d install from an official store like Google Play or the Apple App Store. Clover apps can be anything from a native Android app running on a Clover POS system, an app for a consumer device running Android or iOS or a regular web app that integrates with Clover’s backend APIs.

Clover’s real power roots in the ability to extend the basic POS foundation into an unlimited number of verticals and customizations without the developer having to worry about programming things like credit card payments, inventory management, or order management as all of that is neatly abstracted away by the Clover system. The Clover API makes it easy to manage inventory and ordering which securely integrates with the POS portion, simplifying the process for merchants to collect money and track products.

The Clover App Market – tools to empower eCommerce

The Clover App Market serves as a unique store with business tools for both brick-and-mortar as well as digital businesses. Apps are vetted by the Clover organization and published to the App Store once all prerequisites are met. Keep in mind, they do occasionally perform maintenance and release platform updates can break apps, much like when Google does it’s cleaning of the Play Store or Apple undergoes its Annual iOS App Store changes.

For developers building custom apps for customers, there are a couple of salient points to keep in mind when thinking about building for Clover:

Modifying existing apps for Android to run natively on Clover. You can install and run most apps native to Android but they’ll need to be tailored to Clover OS before they can be published on the Clover App Market before they can be used on production machines (in most cases) or made publicly available. Further, apps you own and publish to the public market can be monetized, offsetting the Clover POS cost.

Integrating Clover with third-party hardware. By default, Clover locks down access to external devices connected to the device via USB. Thus in order to integrate with a custom piece of hardware, you will need to work with the Clover developer support team for them to whitelist your device before it can communicate Clover app. 

In our experience, this hasn’t posed a major issue as the Clover team has been super responsive in helping us white list a myriad of legacy hardware that we have now integrated into the Clover system. This is important for many organizations using legacy devices such as certain scanners, label printers, and other technologies that have historically required rolling up your sleeves to get it to function.

Blue Label Labs expertise in Clover Development

We have extensive experience in developing for a multitude of platforms, including Clover. When it comes to the Clover system, our depth of experience and understanding of the platform is second to none and we are recognized as one Clover’s recommended development partners. This combined with our dedication to solid development and maintenance practices ensures that we will create a resilient system for your customers.

Contact us at Blue Label Labs to learn more about our development process and how we can make your vision for a financial system a reality.