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Lightspeed Review

By
Lori Fairbanks
,
business.com writer
|
Sep 25, 2018
Home
> Finance
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Lightspeed POS software is used by businesses in more than 100 countries, and the company has offices in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. It has versions for retail businesses and restaurants, and an e-commerce add-on is available for retailers that want to sell their goods and services both in person and online. Though this iPad POS system is designed primarily for small and midsize businesses, the company offers custom plans for enterprise-level organizations.

Lightspeed

Lightspeed

The Best POS Systems of 2019

The Verdict

Lightspeed has powerful features to help you track and reorder supplies, including preloaded catalogs for retail stores and ingredient-level tracking for restaurants. For this, it earns our pick as the best POS system for inventory management.

Visit our best picks page to see all of our recommendations for POS systems.

We selected Lightspeed as the best POS system for inventory management because both the retail and restaurant versions of its software have robust inventory features, including nicer ones like purchase ordering, preloaded catalogs for quick inventory creation on the retail version and ingredient-level tracking on the restaurant version. It also has the flexibility we look for in a POS system, with options for subscription length, compatibility with third-party hardware and a choice of integrated payment processors.

Lightspeed Pricing and Terms

Lightspeed gives an overview of its software pricing, and both cloud- and locally hosted plans are available. There are no setup or installation fees, but you'll need to speak with a sales rep if you need something different from the published plan – for instance, if you need to add an extra register or more employees to the cloud-hosted retail plan. The company doesn't post the pricing for its POS hardware online.

POS Software

Lightspeed gives you the option of month-to-month service, though you can also opt for annual or multiyear subscriptions if you prefer lower pricing to the flexibility of no long-term contract. The pricing posted on its website is based on an annual plan for a single location. If you prefer a shorter or longer term, have multiple locations, or need a customized plan, you'll need to speak with a sales rep to get a quote specific to your business's needs.

Lightspeed offers a demo and a 14-day free trial, and you should plan to use both before signing up for a subscription to make sure the software meets your needs. This is particularly important if you choose the annual or multiyear subscriptions, since you'll be locked in to the service for an extended period. All plans include onboarding and 24/7 support. Here are more details on Lightspeed's POS software prices.

Lightspeed Retail

The company's most popular plan starts at $99 per month. It supports one register (iPad), up to five employees and includes basic reporting.

Lightspeed Restaurant

Three pricing plans are available for this version of Lightspeed's POS software. All plans support an unlimited number of users and include tableside ordering, customer management, standard reporting and access to Lightspeed's integration library.

  • The Small plan costs $69 per month and supports one register.
  • The Medium plan costs $129 per month and supports up to three registers.
  • The Large plan costs $198 per month and supports up to five registers. 

Lightspeed eCom

The company's most popular plan starts at $59 per month. It supports one user and 250 products, and it includes SEO and a return-management system for your e-commerce store. You can add this plan to your Retail subscription if you sell both in-store and online. 

Lightspeed OnSite

You can host the software on your own server instead of using the company's cloud-hosted solutions if you prefer. All plans include basic reporting and setup help. Like the cloud-based subscriptions, this option includes free updates and 24/7 support, and pricing is based on an annual plan for a single store.

  • The Small Shop plan costs $99 per month and supports one user.
  • The Medium Shop plan costs $169 per month and supports two users.
  • The Large Shop plan costs $289 per month and supports four users. You can add more users for $51 each per month.
  • Advanced reporting costs $21 per month per store (based on a 14-month term) and can be added to any plan.

POS Hardware

You can run Lightspeed as an app on an iPad or from a browser on a laptop or desktop computer. If you choose to use an iPad as your POS terminal, you can use it as a fully mobile device and check out customers from anywhere in the store, or tableside for restaurants, or pair it with a stand to use as a countertop POS station. You can also set up an iPad as a display that allows your customers to see and verify their orders as you enter them into the system.

Like other top POS systems, Lightspeed works with third-party POS hardware and posts the makes and models it supports on its website. You can purchase hardware from Lightspeed, either bundled or piece by piece, or use the list to comparison shop. If you already own POS equipment but don't see your items on the website, you can contact the company to check for compatibility. If you need to buy iPads or Mac computers, you can also purchase them from Lightspeed, as it's an authorized Apple reseller.

Features

All versions of Lightspeed's POS software are full-featured, giving you a broad selection of tools to help you run your business efficiently. The company regularly updates all versions of its software, and you can view release notes on its website.

Inventory Management

Inventory management tools are built into Lightspeed's iPad POS system, allowing you to track inventory, create product variations and bundle items. It helps you manage your list of vendors and create purchase orders. If you have multiple outlets, you can track and purchase inventory for all locations and transfer items from one location to another.

  • Retail inventory features: Lightspeed's retail POS software has more than 3,000 preloaded catalogs, making it easy to add new products to your system. Or, if you're transferring your product data from another system, you can import them in bulk using a CSV or Excel spreadsheet. You can set up the system to send you low-stock alerts and reorder items directly from the system. If you also sell products online using Lightspeed eCom, you can manage inventory for both your brick-and-mortar and online stores from the same platform.
  • Restaurant inventory features: The POS software tracks inventory with ingredient-level detail, helping you keep ample supplies on hand for the menu items you create from scratch. You can assign ingredients to the products, and the system reports your product stock levels to help you reorder wisely. It also reports food costs and profit margins to show you how much each dish actually costs to make, making it easy for you to see if you have a healthy margin on menu items or if you need to adjust your pricing. You can add vendor contact information to each menu item to make it easier to reorder supplies. You can also add a barcode, which allows you to enter the supplies you receive into the system with a barcode scanner rather than manually. If you want to get an alert when your inventory runs low, you can add this feature through one of the system's third-party integrations.

Reporting

All Lightspeed POS subscriptions come with reporting tools, including a daily dashboard, employee performance reports and product reports. You can view your sales per hour on the dashboard, and the product sales report shows you your top-selling and most profitable items. If you need to export report data to another program, you can download it in the CSV format. You can add the Advanced Reporting module to your plan for an additional monthly fee.

Customer Management

Lightspeed has built-in customer relationship management tools that allow you to create customer profiles and add notes about their preferences. On the retail POS software, you can view purchase histories, assign VIP status to your regulars, and offer customers discount and promo codes. The restaurant POS software allows you to create tabs, track visits and payment histories, and see a customer's reservation.

Employee Management

Lightspeed has role-based user access. It has preconfigured roles that make it easy to get started, and you can customize them, create new roles or set custom permissions for each individual, giving you the ability to control exactly which tasks and data you want each user or role-based group of users to access.

This POS system has a built-in timeclock, allowing your employees to clock in and out using the POS system. You can see your employees' hours and run performance reports to see their sales, profit and, for restaurants, tips.

Integrations

Both retail and restaurant versions of Lightspeed's POS software have dozens of integrations, allowing you to connect to payment processors, accounting software (including QuickBooks, Xero and Sage), analytics programs, marketing services and other business programs. Lightspeed eCom has numerous apps that you can use to extend its capabilities, such as chat programs and social media channels. An API is available for Lightspeed Retail, but access to the restaurant API is limited to Lightspeed partners.

Retail-Specific Features

Lightspeed Retail supports product variants, such as color, size and style, and lets you bundle multiple items together to sell as a package or kit. It allows you to process work orders, which may be a useful feature for stores that provide repair services, and place special orders for customers. 

It has tools that you can use to automate discounts and change prices in bulk, saving you the time it would take to update them one at a time. You can also create coupons, run promotions and giveaways, and offer donations.

Restaurant-Specific Features

Lightspeed Restaurant has table and reservation management features to help you optimize available seating, a self-order menu app that you can use with iPads to allow your customers to place their own orders from kiosks or from tables, and catering and delivery tools to help you manage the takeout side of your restaurant. If you want your customers to be able to order online, you can add this option to the system using a third-party integration.

You can use the floor plan to see which tables are open and which are ready to pay, so you can let waiting customers know that a table will be available shortly. When your servers are taking orders, they can arrange dishes into courses to ensure menu items are brought out in the correct order. When it's time to pay, they can split and group bills, and even divide an item, such as a shared appetizer, between customers.

Additional Considerations

You can choose between two payment processing companies with Lightspeed: Cayan (now a TSYS company) and Worldpay (formerly Vantiv). Although you can still call for pricing quotes and choose the one that's the best deal, your options are limited, and this is a smaller selection than most companies offer. Lightspeed will also be offering its own payment processing service, called Lightspeed Payments, which was in beta at the time this review was written.

Lightspeed's customer support team is available 24/7 by phone or email, and tech support agents can remotely resolve software-based issues. The company can help you set up the system or migrate your data as well. In case you prefer to troubleshoot problems yourself, the company's website has a searchable knowledgebase with step-by-step directions, video tutorials, blogs, whitepapers and webinars.

Drawbacks

Although Lightspeed posts some pricing information on its website, it doesn't go into as much detail as its competitors. For instance, it only lists its starting plans for its retail and e-commerce software. It doesn't provide pricing for its month-to-month plans, nor does it reveal pricing for add-on modules such as Advanced Reporting or for its POS hardware.

As mentioned above, it offers only two integrated credit card processing options, which is a lot fewer than most of its competitors offer. This means you may not be able to continue using your preferred processor unless you choose to use the POS software alongside your payments system instead of integrating with it, which adds extra steps to the checkout process.

Editor's note: Looking for a POS system for your business? Click the Compare Quotes button below to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Lightspeed

Lightspeed

The Best POS Systems of 2019

The Verdict

Lightspeed has powerful features to help you track and reorder supplies, including preloaded catalogs for retail stores and ingredient-level tracking for restaurants. For this, it earns our pick as the best POS system for inventory management.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.