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Dropshipping: How It Works, What Small Businesses Need to Know

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Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where a business relies on a third party to ship orders instead of keeping inventory in stock. Retailers that dropship products will market and sell products but never handle them. Many small-business owners are adopting dropshipping as a stand-alone model or a supplement to shipping directly from their brick-and-mortar stores. Here’s what to know if you’re thinking about starting a dropshipping business.

How does dropshipping work?

In the dropshipping flow, a business markets a product made by a different manufacturer. It works like this:

 

(Image courtesy of Getty)

  1. A customer orders a product from a business, typically online.

  2. The business sends the order to the dropshipping supplier and charges the customer.

  3. The dropshipping supplier prepares the order and charges the business.

  4. The dropshipping supplier ships the order to the customer.

Dropshipping businesses have minimal overhead and pared-down operational costs compared with a traditional retail business. The majority of their work deals with managing a website, working with marketplaces and suppliers, and processing orders.

Every marketplace has its own policy regarding what you can and can’t do when dropshipping. Amazon, for example, offers dropshipping services but requires that sellers be responsible for processing customer returns. When deciding on a marketplace to dropship, be sure to read the fine print and know what you can and cannot do.

Businesses that could benefit from dropshipping

Companies with customized products. Businesses that offer customized items like T-shirts or tumblers with printed logos can let a supplier do the printing and ship the products.

Retailers selling expensive or large products. Rather than ordering expensive products in advance or storing large items, businesses can dropship these types of products to save on overhead and space.

Businesses that focus on niche markets. For small businesses that only sell products that appeal to a specific audience, like plant-themed greeting cards, dropshipping makes it easier to quickly respond to the newest trends, without risking money or storage space if certain items don’t sell.

There are several advantages to a dropshipping business model, including:

  • Lower initial investment. Instead of buying inventory to sell directly, you can reduce your upfront cost by relying on third-party fulfillment companies.

  • No physical space required. Owners can operate dropshipping businesses from anywhere without a physical storefront.

  • No inventory management. Without their own stock, dropshipping businesses don’t have to spend time managing inventory.

  • No backstock. Because you don’t have to purchase inventory upfront, you won’t be stuck with products you can’t sell as trends come and go.

  • Variety of products to sell. As long as it can be shipped, you can probably sell it with a dropshipping business.

Dropshipping comes with a few downsides that can make it a tricky business, including:

  • Potentially low profit. Because dropshipping businesses rely on third-party suppliers to fulfill orders, they can lose part of their profit to wholesalers. And with dropshipping requiring little investment to get started, competition can be steep and require low prices to make sales.

  • Inventory issues. If you’re not managing your own inventory, you are part of a larger chain of providers. And if your suppliers experience delays or low stock, you will as well.

  • Complex shipping. If you work with more than one product supplier, calculating a customer’s shipping cost can be complicated when their order is fulfilled by more than one wholesaler.

  • Reliance on shipping partners. Not all shipping partners will provide the quality and service that you want to offer your customers, which can lead to bad delivery experiences.

Payment processing for dropshipping

To take online orders, dropshippers have to work with payment processors. However, payment processors often consider dropshipping a high-risk industry due to its high volume of fraudulent charges and frequent chargebacks.

“[With] normal e-commerce, there’s a lot more oversight, so we can actually send an inspector. … They can see your warehouse, they can see how you’re doing things right,” says Neal Hamou, chief technology officer at PaymentCloud, a payment processor that provides services to high-risk merchants. “With dropshipping, there’s no oversight.”

To mitigate the risk, banks tend to “do some pretty aggressive underwriting on the backend,” he adds.

These issues that high-risk businesses experience can end up costing payment processors a lot of money if a dropshipping business has too many returns or accepts fraudulent payments, leading many third-party processors to refuse to work with dropshipping businesses. The payment processors that do work with high-risk businesses scrutinize several factors to determine how a business is working to mitigate risk, Hamou says.

Such processors perform due diligence that often includes reviewing invoicing procedures, verifying suppliers, investigating logistics processes and reading business policies. This approval process can take more time for a high-risk business, but it can help them avoid running into issues later on.

Reputable high-risk payment processors also provide additional services to help dropshipping companies avoid chargebacks and fraudulent transactions, says Hamou. Services that limit the number of charges or total amount processed from the same IP address in a certain time period combat fraud, while not charging a customer’s credit card until an item ships can reduce potential chargebacks.

Dropshipping suppliers

The core of a dropshipping business is a supplier that can provide the products that customers purchase, and you’ll need one you can count on.

Dropshipping suppliers usually come as vendors or wholesalers. Dropshipping vendors specialize in particular products and often promote their products through dropshipping platforms to make it easier when businesses order. While they might be easier to work with, they tend to charge more for their products. Wholesalers often charge less because they sell items in bulk; however, they might not have as convenient of a process or as much knowledge about the items they sell.

Instead of going with whichever supplier carries the product you want to sell, do your research to find a reputable option. Consider doing the following while looking for a supplier:

  • Look at directories. You can search domestic and international directories, such as Alibaba or Inventory Source, to find dropshipping suppliers that can give you a variety of options for different niches. Because many directories screen their suppliers, they’re likely to offer legitimate companies. However, many charge for access to their directories.

  • Ask questions. Not all suppliers will provide the quality you’re looking for in a partner. Before jumping into an agreement, speak with a potential supplier to understand how it operates. Ask about charges and fees, what the order process looks like, if they have quality control processes, how they handle returns and what their billing process looks like.

  • Check out reviews. And when in doubt, look at the reviews of other dropshippers to learn about their experiences with a potential supplier.

Why shipping matters

When and how orders are delivered to customers is a major factor for how they will feel about your business. Misdelivered packages, the inability to track deliveries and poorly packaged or broken products is a fast way to get bad reviews for your dropshipping business. But there are a few things you can do to boost your dropshipping business’s delivery experience.

  • Focus on quality control. “Start by looking for a partner that has the same level of quality controls that you have,” says Eduardo Lopez-Soriano, vice president of marketing at UPS Capital, a division of UPS that focuses on shipping experiences and insurance for small and midsize businesses. They should ensure that products aren’t damaged before they’re packed, and use the right materials for shipping to protect the order, he adds.

  • Try to offer more than one shipping option. According to a 2022 study by UPS Capital, 87% of consumers said being able to control certain aspects of their shipping experience, such as choosing which day their package will arrive or being able to track a package, would motivate them to purchase from a merchant.

  • Don’t forget insurance. One of the best ways to ease a customer’s mind is to offer shipping insurance, which usually covers situations that occur during shipping such as damage to a package or shipping delays. Businesses can offer to let customers pay for insurance if they choose it, saving the merchant money while soothing customer concerns.

  • Know how to ship your products. Not all shipping companies will ship every product, and some carriers are better at certain items than others. Verify that your partners are using services that can handle the size or weight of your products to ensure they arrive safely, says Lopez-Soriano.

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Best Barcode Label Printers for Small Business

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The best barcode label printers make it easy to create and print codes that help you track your inventory. Thermal printers, which use heat to print, eliminate the need for ink and can print hundreds of labels per minute.

Some barcode printers are also compatible with point-of-sale systems, so keep an eye out for your preferred software. However, just because your POS system isn’t listed doesn’t mean you can’t use the associated printer; it may just require exporting and reformatting your labels to print from a computer.

Rollo Label Printer: Best overall

Cost: $180.

  • Phone, chat and email support.

  • Integrated shipping platform.

  • Option to print for a wide size range, from barcodes to shipping labels.

  • Not wireless; connects through USB.

Why we like it: The Rollo is the industry standard for shipping label printers, and it works for barcode labels and a variety of other uses, too. You can print on any direct thermal label, including free UPS labels, unlike other brands which are only compatible with their own branded label paper. The device is compatible with Windows, Mac, and all major shipping platforms and marketplaces including Shopify and Etsy. The wireless version is available for about $280.

Brother QL-810W: Best for portability

Cost: $180 and up.

  • Wireless connectivity.

  • Lightweight and compact.

  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, and mobile apps AirPrint and Brother iPrint&Label.

  • Prints in black and red. (Most label printers only print in black.)

  • Software can be complicated to set up.

Why we like it: Brother’s QL line of label printers are lightweight and durable. Reviews note some difficulties with setup, but once online these devices are among the best for wireless, high-speed and portable label printing. You can access and customize label templates with the Brother iPrint&Label mobile app. This model is our top pick, but the QL-800 and QL-1100 are similar in function and price.

Zebra ZD421: Best for durability

Cost: $440 and up.

  • Compact
  • Compatible with Android and iOS.

  • Wireless connectivity.

  • Can be used for shipping labels.

  • Pricier than other options.

Why we like it: Zebra makes reliable, industrial-quality printers that can withstand long-term use. Reviewers say the ZD421 is a consistent, speedy model. Like other Zebra printers, it’s ideal for high-volume retail businesses and warehouses. Zebra printers are an investment, but they’re known to be high-performing and long-lasting.

Phomemo-M110: Best low-cost option

Cost: $66 and up.

Compatible business software not available.

Pros

  • Low
  • Lightweight and portable.

  • Bluetooth connectivity.

  • Android and iOS app includes label templates and editing feature

Cons

  • Less powerful than higher-priced options.

  • Only for barcode and product labels; can’t create shipping labels.

  • Only compatible with Phomemo app.

Why we like it: The Phomemo-M110 is small, but fully capable. It’s a great option for businesses making sales on-the-go, like at farmers markets and festivals. The rechargeable device is unlikely to last as long as most of the other options listed here, but it works well for businesses on a budget. For a slight upgrade, the Phomemo-M220 for $91.99 can connect with USB and has more label size options.

Dymo LabelWriter 550: Best high-speed option

Cost: $150 and up.

Compatible business software includes: Shopify, Lightspeed, Square.

  • Compatible with Mac and Windows.

  • Can print directly from e-commerce websites, including Shopify and Etsy.

  • Can only be used with authentic Dymo brand label paper.

  • Not wireless; connects through USB.

Why we like it: The LabelWriter is a high-speed device, printing up to 90 labels per minute. You can access and customize templates with the company’s free software, and print in high resolution. However, newer Dymo models, including this one, are only compatible with Dymo-brand paper, so materials can get costly. For a larger option that can print shipping labels as well as barcode labels, try the similar LabelWriter 4XL.

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Accion Business Loans: 2022 Review

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Our Take

The bottom line: Accion loans are a good option for borrowers who’ve been in business for three months or more and have been turned down by other lenders.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A broad range of loan amounts from $5,000 to $100,000.

  • Loans are available to businesses in operation for as little as three months.

  • Expanded credit guidelines for borrowers.

  • Customized loan terms.

  • No prepayment penalty.

Cons

  • It can’t be used to get a business off the ground.

  • Shorter loan repayment periods of one to five years.

  • Slow processing speed compared to online lenders.

  • Not available in all U.S. states.

Full Review

Accion Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit community lender offering customized loans to small business owners throughout most of the U.S.

Over 80% of Accion clients identify as women, people of color or immigrants. In addition to small business loans, educational resources and coaching support in English and Spanish are also provided.

Accion is best for borrowers who:

  • Prefer customized options. Loan terms are structured based on your business needs.

  • Don’t have perfect credit. Factors other than your credit score can be used to determine qualification.

  • Have new businesses and can’t get funding elsewhere. Businesses only need to be in operation for three months to apply.

Accion loan features

Loan amount

From $5,000 to $100,000.

Interest rates

5.99% to 14.99% for Small Business Progress loans.

4% subsidized rate for Southern Opportunity And Resilience, or SOAR, loans for businesses located in certain southern states.

Origination fees

3.99% to 6.99%.

12, 24, 36 or 60 months.
(No penalty for repaying early.)

Repayment schedule

Funding speed

5-7 days for loan application to be processed.

Where Accion stands out

Expanded credit guidelines for borrowers

Accion says that most of its borrowers have not been able to get loans with traditional lenders because they have poor credit, no credit history or require a small loan amount. Accion can use more than a borrower’s credit score to determine qualification for a business loan.

Customized loan terms

Accion can structure a loan to meet your specific business needs. After submitting an application, you may be able to choose from several loan options with different term lengths, interest rates and payment amounts. In addition, if Accion can’t provide a loan, it will refer you to one of its partners or provide other financing options for you to explore.

Additional services offered

Accion does more to help small businesses than just offering loans. Business coaching and mentoring are also available. You can set up an appointment for one-on-one assistance provided by a business expert. Your coach can also help you enroll in training programs to enhance your leadership skills. In addition, its resource center offers videos, articles, and interactive learning materials.

Where Accion falls short

Funds can’t be used to start a business

Accion loans are designed to support existing small business owners. But, again, your business must be in operation for a minimum of three months to qualify for an Accion loan. That means you won’t be able to use loan funds to start a business.

Loan programs aren’t available in all U.S. states

Accion loans are available in most U.S. states, but you won’t be eligible if your business is located in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee or Vermont. Also, Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) funding is limited to businesses located in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, or Washington, D.C.

Accion loan requirements

  • Credit score: No minimum required.

  • Time in business: Minimum of 3 months in business.

  • Annual revenue: Varies depending on the loan program.

How to apply for a loan from Accion

After completing an application online, you’ll receive a quote. Accion says that the quote won’t affect your credit score. You will need to provide some basic information about your business, including revenue and expenses. Accion will then review your loan options with you, including interest rates, repayment amounts and the repayment period. If there are no options that work for you, Accion can refer you to other resources.

If you decide to move forward with the loan offer, you’ll be asked to provide documents that Accion can use to verify the information you provided on your application. After that, your loan will be finalized; you’ll sign loan documents and then receive funds.

Alternatives to Accion

SBA loan

An SBA loan is another option to consider. These loans are offered through banks but partially guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. This can make it easier to qualify because the lender takes on less risk. In addition, funds from an SBA loan can be used to start a business. This differs from an Accion loan, which requires your business to operate for a minimum of three months to qualify. SBA loans also offer flexibility when a borrower has less-than-perfect credit.

Kiva U.S.

Kiva is another nonprofit that is an option to ponder. You can get up to $15,000 at 0% interest if you qualify. Kiva loans don’t require a minimum credit score or collateral. Still, there are other eligibility requirements, such as the business must be based in the U.S. and you can’t currently be in foreclosure, bankruptcy or under any liens. One unique Kiva provision is that borrowers are asked to demonstrate their strength of character by having friends and family make loans to them.

Compare business loans

If you’d like to compare loan options, NerdWallet has a list of best small-business loans. All of our recommendations are based on the lender’s market scope and track record, the needs of business owners, rates, and other factors so that you can make the right financing decision.

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13 Best Credit Card Readers for Small Businesses

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A credit card reader is essential to many small businesses, and choosing the right card reader can help your company operate more smoothly.

The best choice depends on your budget, features needed and whether you’re accepting payments at a counter or on the go. Some card readers — such as those that work with iPhones — are portable, while others are attached to a countertop register. A basic card reader without a screen is the cheapest option, and sometimes free. A comprehensive POS system, on the other hand, comes with sophisticated features and can cost over a thousand dollars.

Below is a list of the best credit card readers for small businesses and what they can do for your business.

Quick comparison: Take a quick side-by-side look at our top picks in this table.

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Square Contactless and Chip reader

Best free option with basic functions

A man holds the contactless and chip reader by Square while running a credit card

Image courtesy of Square

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $49 for reader and $29 for optional dock.
Fees: 2.6% plus 10 cents for most in-person transactions; no monthly fees.

Square’s contactless and chip card reader enables you to accept credit cards with chips and digital wallets, such as tap-and-pay credit cards and smartphone apps, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. It uses Bluetooth technology instead of connecting directly to a device, which means you don’t have to keep your cell phone or tablet out with you all the time.

The reader must be charged, but the charging dock can double as a support for the reader for a counter or table. You can also charge it with a USB charger.

   

Has a compact design.

Doesn’t swipe credit cards.

Reads chip cards, digital wallets and contactless cards.

Takes up to two hours to charge.

 

Best for on-the-go payments for all card types

A white square Clover Go card reader

Courtesy of Clover

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $99 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on method.

This credit card reader by Clover works with phones and tablets via Bluetooth. It also processes every type of credit card payment your customers could want: magstripe-only cards, chip cards and contactless payments. It costs $99 and requires users to purchase a monthly plan.

Features depend on the plan you choose. The Essentials Plan for $9.95 per month provides basic payment processing, inventory management, taxes, reporting and employee management with 24/7 support.

   

Includes interest-free installment plans.

Takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge.

Charges via standard USB charger.

Requires a monthly fee for advanced POS features.

Uses passcodes for employees.

 

PayPal Zettle

The PayPal Zettle card reader sits on a coffee shop counter

Image courtesy of PayPal

Best for PayPal and Venmo payment options

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $79 for reader; new customers can get their first one for $29.
Fees: Varies by method, starting at 1.9% plus 10 cents for PayPal and Venmo QR code transactions over $10.

PayPal’s Zettle accepts chip and contactless payments, but it doesn’t read magstripes. It does, however, let customers pay with QR codes on PayPal and Venmo platforms. Its POS software offers invoice creation, inventory management, tracking sales performance and more.

Transaction fees generally fall in line with competitors with lower rates available for transactions made by QR code. All funds go into your PayPal account rather than a bank account. You’ll need to request a transfer to move the funds to your business bank account before you can use them outside of PayPal.

   

Has lower rates for PayPal and Venmo platforms.

Deposits funds into your PayPal account, not a bank account.

Includes new customer discount for first reader purchase.

 

Has a screen to show transaction details.

 
 

SumUp Plus

A customer holds a credit card up to the SumUp Plus reader

Image courtesy of SumUp

Best for a low-cost do-it-all reader 

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $19 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.75% and up depending on method.

Powerful and compact, the SumUp Plus credit card reader works through Bluetooth with Apple and Android devices and promises more than 500 transactions on one charge. In addition to having a screen to show transaction details, the reader comes with a few helpful POS software features, like inventory management and permissions for employee access, as well as customizable invoicing. However, you might find that the overall POS is lacking when compared with the more robust options on the market.

SumUp charges only for transactions and doesn’t require a monthly fee. You can order the reader for $19 and start accepting card transactions in a matter of minutes once it’s connected to the SumUp app.

   

Accepts swiped, inserted and contactless payments.

Has less robust POS software features.

Has a screen that displays transaction details.

 
 

Clover Flex

A hand holds a white Clover Flex credit card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best for an all-in-one handheld system

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $499 for reader; monthly contract required.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Flex is a small but powerful handheld credit card reader. It can process all three credit card payment types, scan bar codes and even print receipts. It’s one of the few options in this category that has its own screen, removing your personal device from the equation and allowing customers a bit more of a professional experience when checking out on the spot.

Depending on your monthly plan, the Clover Flex can help you manage inventory, view sales data and set up individual logins for employees. It costs $499, but the company offers payment plans to break up the cost. Payment processing rates depend on your pricing plan.

   

Works without connecting to a personal device.

Requires an initial investment.

Has payment plans available.

Requires monthly plan for advanced features.

Has a free monthly plan for basic features.

 
 

Helcim Card Reader

Best for low-cost transaction fees with volume-based discounts

Style: Connects via Bluetooth.
Price: $109 for the reader.
Fees: Varies by card type and monthly average transaction total.

Helcim’s card reader processes all three types of payments and connects via Bluetooth, meaning it needs to be charged. It also provides POS software with well-developed features, including customer management and inventory tracking that notifies you when your supply gets low. A standout feature is its self-service portal, which allows customers to log in to see their payment information and purchase history.

Helcim’s processing fees can be difficult to calculate because it bases its fees on the type of card and interchange fees, which are set by card networks. It also offers volume-based discounts based on transaction tiers. The more you average in transactions per month, the higher your discount. The processor doesn’t require you to sign a contract, choose a monthly fee or pay to cancel your service.

   

Has volume discounts available.

Might change processing rate if monthly transaction average drops.

Has robust POS software features.

Might be difficult to calculate monthly cost in advance.

 

Toast Go 2

The handheld Toast Go 2 swiping a credit card.

Image courtesy of Toast

Best for tableside payments at restaurants

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $389 plus $50 per month.
Fees: Typically quote-based; lowest listed price is 2.49% plus 15 cents per in-person transaction in Standard Starter plan.

The Toast Go 2 allows you to submit orders at tables and accept all three styles of payment. It’s also spill proof, will hold a charge for 24 hours and has a 6.4-inch touchscreen for quick checkout. The free version of Toast’s POS software comes with basic features, including point-of-sale and payment processing, but advanced features are available with paid plans.

The free pay-as-you-go monthly plan with basic features has a processing rate of 2.99% plus 15 cents for every in-person transaction. That rate drops to 2.49% plus 15 cents if you pay for your hardware upfront. Other plans come with quote-based pricing. One downside: The company requires contracts with a standard term of two years.

   

Is designed specifically for restaurants.

Requires quotes for advanced monthly plans.

Offers 24/7 customer support.

Requires a contract.

Is versatile and durable.

 
 

Square Terminal

A woman inserts a credit card into the Square terminal

Image courtesy of Square

Best compact countertop reader

Style: Standalone countertop reader.
Price: $299 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

Square Terminal allows you to accept all three methods of credit card payments: chip, contactless and magstripe. And priced at $299, it comes in on the lower end of the all-inclusive card readers.

The company’s standard flat-rate processing fees apply and depend on whether you run the card in person or enter it manually. There’s no monthly contract.

   

Doesn’t require a separate device.

Can take over four hours to charge.

Shows transaction details.

 

Is compact and easy to use.

 
 

Square Stand

A customer signs on a Square Stand card reader in a bike shop

Image courtesy of Square

Best iPad-compatible register

Style: Register that connects to compatible iPad.
Price: $169 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Stand is designed specifically for a single smart device: the iPad. Snap an iPad into the Square Stand, and use it as a desktop point-of-sale. The configuration allows you to provide a larger screen for transaction details, and the swivel feature allows customers to sign on the iPad without having to pass the device around. It can process magstripe, chip and contactless payments and connect with a receipt printer. However, it works only with certain iPad models.

The company’s standard fees of 2.6% plus 10 cents apply for credit cards and can raise up to 3.5% plus 15 cents for methods outside a swipe, chip or contactless payment.

   

Swivels for customers to use.

Only works with certain iPad models.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 
 

Clover Mini

A Clover Mini card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best all-in-one register

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $749.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Mini is a countertop setup that doesn’t require a tablet. It allows your business to accept all types of payments, print receipts and scan barcodes. You also get some nifty POS features, including inventory, customer and employee management functions with paid monthly plans.

This product is $749. Payment processing rates depend on your Clover pricing plan.

   

Can be mounted to a countertop.

Requires paid monthly plan for advanced features.

Works without an iPad.

 

Has free monthly plan available.

 

Has payment plans available.

 

Clover Station Solo

A Clover Station with a screen faces the reader with a chip reader beside it

Image courtesy of Clover

Best full register with a single screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $1,349.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Solo is a register-style system that offers merchants a 14-inch high-definition screen and a receipt printer for the full checkout experience. The system works with Clover’s POS for retail, offering payment processing, inventory and staff management, reporting and more. For restaurants, the Station Solo fits nicely with customizing and tracking orders, managing table mapping and much more for streamlined service.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 
 

Square Register

A customer pays with their cell phone on the Square Register in a bakery

Image courtesy of Square

Best full register setup with a customer-facing screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $799 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Register is the first fully integrated credit card scanner system from Square and is a complete countertop POS system that can accept magstripe, chip card and contactless forms of payment. It boasts two screens — one for the employee and one for the customer to show transaction details — for a seamless experience. It also offers an extra-long cable that allows businesses to separate the Register and customer’s screen to encourage social distancing. Its software provides merchants inventory, employee and customer relationship management functions, plus a reporting suite where you can view sales data.

This small-business credit card reader option will cost your business $799, but there are payment plan options available. It processes transactions at the standard Square rates.

   

Has two screens.

Must be plugged in at all times.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 

Has advanced apps and software options.

 

Clover Station Duo

Clover's Station Duo with a screen on top of a cash drawer, a receipt printer beside it and a customer screen facing the reader.

Image courtesy of Clover

Best system for full checkout experience

Style: Standalone countertop register with dual screens.
Price: $1,649.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Duo ups the game with a combination of a 14-inch screen for you and a 7-inch screen for your customers. This makes it easier for customers to confirm orders and pay however they want — credit card, debit card, and contactless payment methods. Designed for retail and restaurant environments, the Station Duo offers the same features of the Station Solo with more power.

While this option tops the list for the most expensive system, the Station Duo is currently sold with a cash drawer and a receipt printer, giving you the gamut of checkout features.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 

Has two screens.

 
 

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Find the right payment provider to meet your unique business needs.

Credit card readers comparison table

     

Payments accepted

 

Additional device required

Square Contactless & Chip Reader

Bluetooth.

$49 (reader); $29 (dock).

Chip and contactless.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

 

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

PayPal Zettle

Bluetooth.

 

Chip and contactless.

1.9% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

SumUp Plus

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.75% and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Clover Flex

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Helcim Card Reader

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

Varies by card type and monthly transaction average.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Toast Go 2

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.49% plus 15 cents and up.

 

Square Terminal

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Stand

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible iPad.

Clover Mini

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Solo

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Register

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Duo

   

Chip, contactless and mapstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 
 

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