Meet our Merchants

Who are Merchants?

A small or medium-sized business (SMB) is defined by the number of employees, which range from under 10 up to 500, depending on who you ask.

The businesses may be small, but the impact of SMBs is huge.

  • There are 27.6 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • They account for 54% of all U.S. sales
  • 35.9% are owned by women

Clover merchants are SMBs. They are the businesses in your neighborhood or town. Like that mom and pop stationery store where you buy birthday cards, the fast-food franchise where you pick up dinner on your way home, your local pizza joint, or your dentist. Clover businesses are in every state in the U.S. and in the UK.

 

Why is this important to you?

As a Clover developer, you are building apps for merchants, who will likely pay you for the subscription of your apps. If you can accurately anticipate their needs and understand their working situation, you can decide on building an app that will solve their business issues, which will likely then get lots of downloads and subscribers will continue using.

What do merchants need?

The best way to identify a merchant need is to talk to real merchants. Don’t be shy about stopping in to chat with the owner or employees at your favorite cafe or retail store, or at your dry cleaner or the salon where you get your hair cut.

Ask them generally about what it takes to run their business, such as:

  • What takes up too much of their time?
  • What do they wish they could do more easily?
  • What would help them serve their customers better?
  • What do they wish they could fix about their current system whether it is a computerized POS system or a paper notebook?

These conversations may spark some ideas about what merchants need. And here are some needs we have heard from the field.

  • In-house accounts: for frequent individual and business customers; merchant keeps a tally and charges or bills at the end of a time period
  • Customer app: prompts customers to provide contact info, fields for notes and other important info for customer engagement and marketing, combine multiple entries
  • Visual charts for reporting
  • Reporting by device

Types of Merchants

These conversations may spark some ideas about what merchants need. And here are some needs we have heard from the field.

Restaurants divide into a few categories

Quick Service Restaurants

Order and pay at the counter

  • Café
  • Sandwich Shop/Deli
  • Take-out pizza
  • Dive bar
  • Food truck
Full Service Restaurants

Order and pay at the table

  • Diner
  • Fine Dining
  • Sports bar
  • Sit-down Pizzeria

Restaurants have reported needing the following apps

  • Bar tab app: tallies orders
  • Drink recipe app: allow servers or customers to create a drink recipe
  • ID verification: swipe and confirm that an ID is valid
  • Menu with photos: helpful for visual identification of items, especially if language is a barrier
  • Order ahead app
  • Recipe-based inventory: track inventory based on the components that make up a menu item
  • Table mapping: visual representation of restaurant floor plan
  • Tip out percentage: help calculate tip distribution
  • Two-touch (fast pay): bars/nightclubs want to complete a transaction in two touches. 1) “Vodka Martini”; 2) “$15 cash”

Examples of retailers include the following businesses

  • Jewelery store
  • Convenience store
  • Pro shop
  • Clothing boutique
  • Game store
  • Liquor store
  • Toy store
  • Furnishings
  • Shoe store
  • Gift items store
  • Musical instruments
  • Sporting goods
  • Auto parts
  • Bike store

Retailers have reported needing the following apps

  • Average cost per unit for all stock in inventory
  • Consignment tracking: track information about the consigner and commission for each item
  • Layaway management: track items on layaway, amount paid and remaining balance
  • Lottery payout: ability to give customers lotter winning and be reimbursed by the lottery organization
  • Purchase order management
  • Rent-to-purchase (e.g. musical instruments): track payments and remaining balance
  • Track commission-based sales

Examples of services include the following businesses

  • Hair stylist
  • Chiropractor
  • Auto repair
  • Boxing Gym
  • Catering
  • Plumbing repair
  • Dental/Medical Office
  • Nail Salon
  • Personal trainer
  • Music school
  • Bowling alley
  • Motel
  • Skydiving

 

Services have reported needing the following apps

  • Daycare sign-in: parents sign child in/out with a PIN
  • Invoicing, for recurring membership
  • Membership tracking
  • Membership verification, via barcode scan
  • Rental management: tracking what items are in and out, who has it, how long, and charges (flat or percentage; late)
  • Repair order tracking: track parts, labor and payments, assign to employee/customer

How can you satisfy merchant needs?

Build apps that are fast, easy to use, and reliable

Imagine a variety of situations where businesses need to serve many customers in a short time.

  • Restaurants have intense periods of service: breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner
  • Seasonal rushes affect restaurants and retail: holiday shopping, Black Friday, Halloween (costume shops), Valentine’s day (flower shops)
  • Game or event-related crunch periods at a stadium or concert hall: intermission or pre-/post-game

The key is to complete these transactions smoothly and correctly. In other words, to maximize throughput, (more transactions = more money,) without increasing the risk of errors, because they can be very expensive.

  • Errors can cause a bad customer experience, and the impact of negative word-of-mouth and social media can be high.
  • It can take time to correct an error — for example, if a customer requires a refund.
  • When it comes time to reporting, it can take business owners and their accountants a lot of effort to identify the cause of errors and correct them.

Build apps that better manage their backend

Merchants want to trust that the data that shows up in reporting is correct, and easy to understand.

Build apps that increase customer engagement

Merchants want to spend less time taking care of back-office administrative tasks–like payroll, inventory-ordering and taxes–and more time connecting with their customers. This could include being able to recognize and reward loyal customers, reaching out to the regulars with special offers, or having an easy way to make a recommendation (like a great 2-for-1 discount.)