Lightspeed Review | TechRadar


The type of business you run can often be a deciding factor in which Point of Sale (POS) system you end up choosing. This is because most POS systems are designed for specific industries or businesses such as retail or restaurants. However, Canada-based Lightspeed has taken a different approach by offering three distinct products to its customers.

For retail businesses, the company has its Lightspeed Retail POS, while restaurants will find its Lightspeed Restaurant POS to be a better fit for their needs. If your company does most of its business online, then Lightspeed eCom (e-commerce) could be the right solution for you.

So let’s break down the different pricing models and features for each of Lightspeed’s solutions to see if the company’s wider approach to Point of Sale software actually pays off.

Lightspeed's iPad and desktop solutions (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed’s iPad and desktop solutions (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Pricing

Just a quick note before we get started: Lightspeed’s quoted prices are based on the pricing of its most popular plans. However, to find out what your business will actually pay for each of the company’s services, you’ll need to request a quote and speak with one of its representatives. So take these prices as a baseline, but know that they are not set in stone.

Lightspeed Retail’s most popular plan starts at $99 a month. For your money you get one register with free updates, 24/7 support, secure cloud backup, omnichannel capabilities and basic reporting features. Getting started with the company’s POS systems is also easy since each plan comes with personalized on-boarding to make sure that you get the hang of Lightspeed’s software and hardware.

Lightspeed Retail charges 2.6% plus $0.10 for every tapped, inserted or swiped payment, and the company also gives businesses the ability to add five employees to its system.

Restaurant pricing

Lightspeed Restuarant pricing (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed Restaurant’s most popular plan starts at $69 a month and includes one register, 24/7 support, free updates, secure cloud backup and basic reporting. The company also offers personalized on-boarding to make the initial setup easier. Restaurant owners with multiple locations are encouraged to schedule a call to get a direct quote from Lightspeed.

Lightspeed eCom (e-commerce) is the cheapest of the company’s products with its most popular plan starting at $59 a month. This solution includes some specific features for online retailers such as an App Store, SEO optimization, plus import and export tools.

Onsite pricing

Lightspeed OnSite pricing (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed OnSite is the company’s most expensive solution starting at $99 a month for a small shop with one user, $159 a month for a medium shop with two users, and $289 a month for a large shop with four users. Businesses that need a more feature-rich solution will likely be pleased with this product, but for smaller businesses, it will be difficult to justify the increased cost.  

Lightspeed's POS software running on an iMac and iPad (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed’s POS software running on an iMac and iPad (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Setup

As we mentioned already, getting started with Lightspeed is fairly simple due to the company’s personalized on-boarding experience. Purchasing a POS system is often a fairly large investment for small businesses and it’s nice that the company goes the extra mile in helping customers during the initial setup process.

Once you sign up for Lightspeed, an associate from the company will contact you to answer any questions you might have. After you purchase one of its products, a customer success representative will contact you to help set up your store and provide you with instructions on how to use the POS system.

From there, you will need to use Lightspeed’s in-browser software to build out the catalog of items that will populate your inventory. While you will not be able to complete the setup process from your POS system, you can use it to manage your inventory later.

The physical setup of your Lightspeed system will depend on which hardware you plan on using. 

Lightspeed's iPad POS Hardware Kit (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed’s iPad POS Hardware Kit (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

The company offers an iPad POS Hardware Kit with an APG cash drawer, a Vault Simplicity Base iPad stand, a Bluetooth socket scanner, a LAN receipt printer and receipt paper. However, the actual iPad used to run Lightspeed’s POS software is not included.

Lightspeed's Desktop POS Hardware Kit (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed’s Desktop POS Hardware Kit (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

This is also the case for the company’s Desktop POS Hardware Kit which includes an APG cash drawer, a Lightspeed scanner, a USB receipt printer and receipt paper. You will need to provide your own iMac to use this system.

All of Lightspeed’s software is designed to run on either Apple’s iOS for its tablet POS system, or macOS for its desktop POS system. This could be a plus if you and your employees are familiar with Mac/iOS products, or it could be a downside if you prefer using Microsoft’s Windows or Google’s Android OS.

Lightspeed order on an iPad (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed order on an iPad (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Features

As with most other POS systems, Lightspeed offers customers a wide range of features tailored to meet the needs of their business. It would take too long to list them all, so instead we are going to go over some of the most useful features.

Lightspeed supports all payment types including cash, credit cards, debit cards, checks, gift cards and store credit. Staff can easily apply discounts through the register and they also have the option to suspend a sale and return to it later, as well as the ability to transfer a sale to another device.

Lightspeed inventory management (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed inventory management (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Inventory management is quite robust and it can be relatively simple or very advanced depending on the needs of your business. Adding descriptions, category management and reorder points can be done easily, but things get trickier once you start using customizable tags and putting items into bundles. Don’t worry, though, because if you start to get confused, Lightspeed provides 24/7 support to all of its customers.

Business owners can also manage employees’ hours using Lightspeed. The software includes a basic time clock that is operated through an easy to set up pin. From within Lightspeed, you can view logs of employee sales and inventory changes, as well as setting up customizable roles from inside the management area.

LIghtspeed reports (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

LIghtspeed reports (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed makes reporting easy with hundreds of preset printable reports and the option to filter customized reports by day, week, month or year. The company’s reports can help with tracking how effective promotions are and can also be used to track end of day accounts. All of Lightspeed’s reports can even be shared with other apps and services, such as Microsoft Excel, using the desktop browser export feature.

Lightspeed mobile card reader (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed mobile card reader (Image Credit: Lightspeed)

Competition

Finding the right POS system to fit the needs of your business can be a complicated process, and if Lightspeed seems like it isn’t for you, here are a few competing POS systems that might be more to your liking.

Square completely changed the mobile payments industry when it first launched in 2009. Since then the company has expanded its offerings to include a variety of new hardware and payment solutions for businesses of all sizes.

If you don’t welcome the idea of being stuck using Apple’s software and hardware, Square also supports Android in addition to iOS. Square’s POS system makes the most sense for small businesses that want the ability to accept card payments occasionally, though users have complained about having their accounts locked while the company investigates the possibility of fraud after selling a lot of items too quickly.

If you run a restaurant and are considering using Lightspeed’s Restaurant POS, Toast could be another POS system worth looking into. The company built its POS solution with restaurants in mind from the ground up, so its features may better suit your needs. However, customers are locked into Toast payment processing which could be worrisome for some restaurant owners.  

Final verdict

Lightspeed was the first company to offer a complete Point of Sale system on Apple’s Mac platform. The company’s prices are a bit higher than the competition, but you get what you pay for in terms of features, ease of use and customer support.

Lightspeed is a good choice for SMBs and restaurants that need a high-quality POS system, but for businesses just starting out or wanting to accept only the odd card payment, there are cheaper alternatives.

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