4.5

LightSpeed Retail Review

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  • Updated on:
  • Review by: Dave Eagle

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Date Established
2005
Location
Canada

Overview:

2013 was a big year for Lightspeed, the Montreal based software company whose POS solutions now serve over 17,000 stores worldwide. In March, they announced the opening of their US headquarters in New York City. April saw them solidify a partnership with Moneris Solutions (see Credit Card OnSitecessors below) and launch a completely redesigned Admin interface they’re calling StoreMaster, a name which begs to be said in a low booming voice and accompanied by thunderclaps. In July, Lightspeed released Web Store 3.0, a customizable e-commerce platform that integrates with their POS. Oh, and they acquired MerchantOS and its cloud-based POS, which they rebranded as Lightspeed Retail.

Lightspeed was started in 2005 by Apple software engineer Dax Dasilva, who began developing Apple programs at the age of 13. In 2002 he wrote software for an Apple reseller to manage its stores; Dasilva kept improving on that initial attempt, and a few years later Lightspeed OnSite was born. It’s as full featured and beautifully designed as POS gets, with features and a look that make it seem more like an ERP platform for groovy Millennial retail shops. It’s evident from the interface of Lightspeed OnSite that Apple runs deep in Dasilva’s blood, and that approach has certainly garnered attention: the software won Retail TouchPoints Next-Generation Retail Award in the Payments/POS category; OnSitefit Magazine put the company on its Hot 50 startups list in 2010, and placed them on their OnSitefit 200 lists for 2011 and 2012; Accel Partners forked over $30 million in venture capital (hello, NYC offices!).

So, with all of this recognition and growth surrounding Lightspeed’s hipster ERP software, what do we make of the MerchantOS acquisition? Though the cloud-based POS certainly rivals Lightspeed OnSite in terms of features, its interface–clean and intuitive though it may be–looks way out of its league when compared with its offline sister product. Once MerchantOS had been fully absorbed, the app received a modest interfacelift: they changed the colors to match the Lightspeed brand. Other than that, it’s the same exact product as before they bought it, being supported by the exact same team. So, what gives? Will they be developed in parallel? Will they eventually merge into a single offering?  Frankly, the biggest drawback of Lightspeed OnSite (which from here on out I’ll simply refer to as “OnSite”) is that it isn’t cloud based: it requires some planning to install, administer, and backup. Granted, its target market of 20- and 30-something retail business owners would be comfortable doing all this, but what business owners would want to take on IT if they can avoid it? It can be a real hassle to have to manage your backups or fix a computer when it breaks. That’s why IT departments were invented. But then regular people had to start working with IT people, and the two groups could not make themselves understood to one another.  This is why the cloud was invented, so these two groups could separate and return to the natural order of things.

Which brings me back to OnSite. Stacked side by side against Retail, the two are pretty much equals in terms of functionality, and Lightspeed has removed OnSite’s large upfront software license fees, changing it to a subscription model so that the two products don’t have to compete on price. This leaves Lightspeed in the awkward position of selling two distinct products that essentially do the same thing and cost the same amount. The good news here is that both products are excellent. Some people might not mind the extra responsibility that comes with OnSite, and others might not care about Retail’s minimal aesthetic (that’s not “minimalist,” which implies there is a design choice behind the look. Retail actually sports a minimal amount of design). But I keep coming back to OnSite’s biggest selling point over Retail, which is that it’s infinitely cooler looking and more fun to interact with. But is that cool factor enough to keep users out of the cloud? For small to medium sized retailers, the target operation for Lightspeed, this kind of Software as a Service makes too much sense to ignore.

Price:

The best news for prospective users of OnSite is that the acquisition of MerchantOS enabled Lightspeed to dramatically reduce and simplify its cost of entry. The old model was a traditional upfront fee for user licenses, then additional costs for optional modules, mobile licensing, and support beyond the first year; by today’s standards it was fairly prohibitive. A modest setup with one iPad register could still end up costing you $2,200 in license fees and starting in year 2, premium support–basically getting you phone support and software upgrades–would be another $600 a year. In addition to being expensive, it was complicated and confusing, and so the new pricing rollout seems a welcome change:

  • Small – $89/mo, $79/mo if billed annually
    • OnSite: 1 store, 1 user
    • Retail: 1 register, 5 employees
  • Medium – $149/mo, $134/mo if billed annually
    • OnSite: Multiple Stores, 2 users
    • Retail: 2 registers, 10 employees
  • Large – $259/mo, $229/mo if billed annually
    • OnSite: Multiple Stores, 4 users
    • Retail: 4 registers, 20 employees
  • Add-Ons
    • OnSite: $59/mo for each additional user, $59/mo to add e-commerce (for both, the monthly fee drops to $49 if billed annually)
    • Retail: $49/mo for each additional register (includes 3 employees); $10/mo for each additional employee

All plans include unlimited products, customers, and transactions, software upgrades and premium technical support. Both products have free trials, OnSite for 30 days and Retail for 14. Pretty simple, yes?

Now, to blast Lightspeed for this change: OnSite still works out to be prohibitively expensive, for two reasons. The first is that, though both offerings have identical monthly fees, your IT costs are still externalized with OnSite.  These costs–for server hardware, maintenance, upgrades, backups, etc.–are all included in Retail’s monthly fee.  Worse, though, is reason number two: Lightspeed is now charging customers more than before for OnSite–its annual operating costs have skyrocketed without a single change to its functionality or added value. In the first year, the subscription costs less than the license would have: $948 for 12 months of “Small” service vs. $1,098 for a single user license and support. But in year 2, it’s another $948; the old pricing model charged $399 for a year of support for your already-paid-for license. After three years of running OnSite, you’ve shelled out $2,844, instead of $1,896–just shy of a $1,000 and you still have to maintain the whole environment.

Web-Based or Locally-Installed:

OnSite: Locally installed. The Lightspeed Server installs on a Mac desktop or laptop, and all the store administration–setting up store settings, taxes, vendors, products, customers, etc.–is done through the StoreMaster (cue the thunderclaps) browser. You can run the POS right from the same Mac, or run it remotely from another Mac or iPad connecting to the server. You’ll ned to make backups of your Lightspeed database regularly (this ability is built-in to the software), but it’s also a good idea to run regular backups of the whole machine that’s running the server. When software upgrades are available, they’re free, but you’ve got to install them.

Retail: Totally web-based. The upside to this is not having to deal with the backups and the software updates. The downside is that an internet connection is required to use any part of the software. There’s no HTML5 caching of any kind–not through the web browser, or through the iPad app. It’s all online, all the time. If you lose your internet connection, you lose your ability to sell.

Specific Industry:

Both OnSite and Retail target retail settings, but they also both offer extensive features for selling services as well as physical products. With the ability to create estimates/quotes, service and repair orders, as well as to define labor costs, you’ll find either product at home in a variety of settings. Food service providers and bulk grocery stores will find nothing of interest here, but it’ll work well in just about any retail environment, from an oil-change shop to one of those Brooklyn storefronts where beautiful people in thick-rimmed glasses sell artisanal llama cheese.

Specific Size of Business:

Any. Both products are user friendly and priced for all but the smallest of businesses. Likewise, both products are so feature-rich–with functions to support every part of the retail cycle, from order to purchase to stocking to selling, as well as extensive CRM capabilities and employee management–as to appeal to even the largest of big box retailers.

Ease of Use/User Friendly:

OnSite: If you’ve used iTunes, you’ll be right at home with Lightspeed OnSite’s StoreMaster. Everything you could need to do is accessible directly from the main browser screen. At first glance, the StoreMaster interface is a little intimidating. There’s just so much to look at, it’s hard to know where to start looking. But the task menus are neatly organized down the left pane, grouped into logical categories. Browsing through your inventory is like scrolling through iTunes’ Cover Flow feature, and selecting an item brings up detailed information, like how many you have on hand, if any are reserved, how much is on order, etc. The level of detail covered in StoreMaster is actually kind of astounding. The setup menu contains 8 categories with 41 configurable items, each item with several fields–and only when those are complete do you get to the “Advanced” settings. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, though, and you can fill out as little or as much of this stuff as you need. The OnSite demo comes with a store all preconfigured for you to play with, which makes it easier to poke around through all the different features and see them in action. Though the Lightspeed website has a comprehensive User Guide, just clicking every possible button I could click gave me a pretty good understanding of how the software was laid out and how to put it to proper use.

Lightspeed also deserves some praise for its integrated backup feature. Since it’s not cloud-based, it’s nice to know that there’s some measure of data protection built in to the software. By default, OnSite makes a backup of its database everyday at 11 PM, and it saves these into a hierarchical folder structure that makes the difference between Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly backups clear. Also, each backup is named with a timestamp so there’s no confusing when it’s from. By taking a few minutes to configure the directory where the backups are saved to make use of cloud storage, you’ll have a pretty robust backup policy guarding your store’s data.

Interestingly, the POS interface was not as clearcut. OnSite does support barcode scanners, but I don’t have one; instead I used Button mode, which didn’t seem entirely well thought out.  Generally navigating around the POS in Button Mode isn’t hard, plus it makes cool sounds that, along with its futuristic look, made me feel like I was selling clothes on the Starship Enterprise. But after adding items to a test sale, I couldn’t figure out how to remove them. There was no “Remove” or “Delete” button that I could see. I could change the quantity to 0, which had the right effect on the sale total, but the item was still listed among other items on the sale, just with a quantity of 0. Later on, I added another item, which appeared in the sale ticket with a red exclamation point under it. I could only assume this meant there were none in stock, or stock was low; double-clicking on the exclamation point didn’t yield an explanation, just a “Delete” button. Aha! Back to my other item, I double-clicked where the warning icon would have been, and the “Delete” button appeared. I also later found out that the exclamation point indeed indicates a stock issue; in Scan Mode you can see detailed inventory info for each product—why not in Button mode? There were a couple other minor annoyances in the POS screen–why can you add a new customer from the Customer section of the POS, but you can’t select an existing customer from the same spot?–but for the most part they’re the type of things that once you learn the answer it’s not difficult to work around. And as easy as it is to use, it’s still very advanced ERP software, so expect there to be a learning curve and for some serious thought to go into its setup.

Retail: Despite its unassuming appearance and largely text driven interface, I found Retail to be the easier of the two in terms of setup and use. Maybe it was just because I wasn’t overwhelmed with this very busy main screen when I first logged in. Instead, I was walked through an initial set up which includes a very cool feature for populating your inventory. The Retail back-end is linked up with an extensive collection of vendor catalogs, and over 8 million items are available to be imported in your store. During the set up, you simply select which industry your products fall in–Sporting Goods, Agricultural, that kind of thing–and you’ll likely find that most everything you sell is already available for you to add to your inventory. Setting up your store, tracking inventory, and managing customers is extremely simple and intuitive. The back office features are extensive, too, and you should expect there to be a learning curve and for some serious thought to go into its setup. But in either case, once you’re off and running, expect your daily use to be easy and nearly hassle-free.

Hardware/Operating System Required:

OnSite: The POS works  on four different types of hardware: Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. The server software needs to be installed on a Mac running OS X 10.7 or later, with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or better, minimum 2 GB of RAM (but 4 GB is recommended), and a screen resolution set to 1440 X 900. The mobile apps require iOS 5.0 or later.

Retail: Essentially hardware agnostic, Retail just requires a stable internet connection and a web browser. There’s also an iPad app, though it’s barely an app; it feels more like a web browser in kiosk mode displaying the Retail website.

Lightspeed sells all peripheral hardware themselves and offers two bundles:

  • Hardware Bundle for iPad ($999) – Includes APG cash drawer, Windfall C iPad stand, Lightspeed Bluetooth Barcode Scanner, Star Micronics LAN receipt printer, receipt paper, and a Merchant Warehouse encrypted uDynamo card swiper. iPad not included.
  • Hardware Bundle for Desktop ($699) – Includes APG cash drawer, Lightspeed USB Barcode Scanner, Star Micronics USB receipt printer, receipt paper, and a Merchant Warehouse encrypted Dynamag card swiper. Desktop not included.

Any of these peripherals can be purchased separately if you don’t need a whole bundle. For models and pricing, check out Lightspeed’s hardware page here.

Features:

Since both Retail and OnSite share many of the same features, there’s no need to differentiate between the two for this section. Everything you read here applies to both products.

  • Multi-Tender Fully Functioning POS: OnSitecesses all payment types: cash, credit, debit, check, gift card, and store credit (either from exchanges or established house credit accounts). Prints and/or emails receipts (and gift receipts) with product descriptions and notes. Gift certificates/cards can be barcoded for ease of use. Cards can be reused (add more money). Creates and applies discounts directly within the POS interface. Holds/suspends sales and returns to them later, or transfers them to another device. Adds new/existing customers to a sale directly through the POS interface. Easily performs returns and exchanges.
  • Inventory Management: Track where your inventory is at all times: incoming stock, warehouse, reserved, available, total. Easily manage inventory cost and prices. Update cost and price of entire categories of products based on: supplier, category, or brand. OnSiteduct matrix – easily enter multiple sizes and colors for the same product. Create preset levels for notifications when stock is low and need to reorder. Customize, create, print product labels (can even add graphics).
  • Purchase Order Management: Track vendors, complete PO’s, and receive orders.
  • Employee Management: Set individual employee access parameters. OnSitevide each employee with their own unique password for accessing the system. Track hours and job duties; see where your employees are spending most of their time. Manage payroll.
  • Work Order Management: Create work/repair orders, track repair progress, print claim checks and service labels. Track time and bill work orders based on time worked. Schedule appointments for services too. Turn quotes/orders into invoices/sales.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Create/Select customers to add to a sale in all three platforms. Track contact information, credit limits, and transactions. Setup different customer categories to offer specialized discounts. Track outstanding balances and past-due accounts. Track all your AR, print statements, apply payments to invoices, to balances, or use credits against future sales.
  • Reporting: Hundreds preset printable reports. Customize reports to filter by day, week, month, or year. View your profits by total revenue or margin. Browser export feature – any report lists can be exported to Excel in spreadsheet format.
  • Multi-Store: Transfer inventory between locations. Full visibility of all stores’ and warehouses’ inventory (can lookup to see if another store has the product a customer wants.

Integrations/Add-Ons:

OnSite: Lightspeed OnSite “integrates” with QuickBooks in a 2-click process: once to export out of Lightspeed and once within QuickBooks to import your data. Invoices and payments (i.e. accounts receivables), and purchase orders and supplier invoices (i.e. accounts payable) can all be sent to QuickBooks. The system will also keep track of all your QuickBooks syncs so you don’t have to worry about duplicate imports. Lightspeed also integrates in a similar way with financial bookkeeping software AccountEdge (previously MYOB).
The Web Store 3.0 add-on can create a fully customizable e-commerce platform that integrates with OnSite’s inventory database, so that all your sales can be monitored and tracked from one place and your inventory remains consistent. Lightspeed will also sync with your online Magento store.

Retail: Lightspeed makes Retail’s API available publicly, so that customers can create their own integrations to suit specific needs. That is, if one of these available integrations isn’t what you’re looking for:

  • QuickBooks – This integration exports files from Retail into QuickBooks” .iif format to meet your bookkeeping needs.
  • Perkville – Perkville allows customers to refer their friends to your business in Perkville in order to get discounts, promotions, and deals at a specific store location.
  • Swarm – Swarm is an advanced CRM analytics tool that allows you to see what’s selling and to whom, helping owners to target top customers and increase sales.
  • MailChimp – Synchronize your Retail contacts with MailChimp and start campaigning. MailChimp is an email marketing campaign application, and its integration into Retail means you’re always promoting to the right people.
  • Shopify - Connect your POS to the Shopify online store application, and manage your inventory all in one place. It also allows you to import items and customers from Retail into Shopify and vice versa.

Compatible Credit Card Processors:

OnSite: For U.S. customers, Merchant Warehouse and Axia are the choices. Canadians can choose between Moneris or nothing, and Australians have Tyro. If none of these work for you, you can always use a third-party swiper and forego credit card integration.

Retail: In the U.S. it’s Merchant Warehouse and Element Payment Systems. In Canada, Element Payment Systems is the only option.

Customer Service/Technical Support:

Since OnSite and Retail are now both priced with a subscription model, Premium technical support is part of each subscription, though the definition of “Premium” differs between the products–a result of Lightspeed absorbing MerchantOS whole and continuing its operations under a new name. Phone support is available for each product as follows:

  • OnSite: Monday – Friday, 9am – 1am EST; Saturday, 10am – 6pm EST; Sunday, 5pm – 1am EST
  • Retail: Monday – Friday, 6am – 5pm PST

There’s also email support, and a searchable support page with a database of troubleshooting and “How-To” articles. OnSite has an extensive and detailed user guide available online, and both products offer an online knowledge base with answers to most any problem.
Lightspeed also has active Facebook and Twitter pages, featuring links to stories of interest, customer profiles, and generally trying to foster a community around their products.

Negative Reviews/Complaints:

Consumer response to Lightspeed–both flavors–is generally positive, but that does not mean either offering is without its faults. On softwareadvice.com, one user had a long and very specific set of complaints:

The Magento integration does not seem to work. Inventory counting is very difficult. Cash tracking is non-existant. OnSiteducts cannot have fractional cent costs, which makes purchasing from suppliers in bulk completely break the PO functionality…Data corruption. Crashes. Weeks with downtime even though we’re on a support contract…Avoid Lightspeed. The POS is very weak at cash handling. It does not track cash in drawer accounting.” –Aaron from Intel Corporation

This review is on the rare side: most of the negative comments I’ve seen center around support, but don’t mention any tremendous headaches with the software. Those were more widespread a few years ago, but as the software has matured, the number of complaints has died down.

Complaints about Retail are harder to come by, since it’s only 5 months old under its current name. Since MerchantOs is no longer available on the app store, I can’t see what reviews people might have left for it.  And there’s not much negative I can find about MerchantOS if I search for reviews of it—this is a good thing.  There’s only one review on the App store for Retail, which complains that the iPad app is buggy, but then goes on to praise support and the service.

Personally, my chief complaint was with Lightspeed’s very aggressive customer pursuits. Each time I signed up for a trial, with OnSite and Retail, I had an email within 30 seconds, automated obviously, from one of Lightspeed’s salespeople. I always leave bogus phone numbers on signup forms—555-1234, usually—because I don’t want any calls.  Lightspeed is the only company where someone emailed me to tell me number didn’t seem to work.  But they all keep emailing, for one reason or another.  When I did reach out to one rep to get some questions answered, he took this his as his cue to call me daily for about a week, leaving messages that I needed to call him back and it was urgent to do so before special pricing was no longer valid. This despite me telling him that he oughtn’t call me as a follow up. If I’m interested, I told him, I’ll let you know.  He kept calling, anyway.

Positive Reviews/Testimonials:

Overwhelmingly, though, Lightspeed users have good things to say about the POS. Here’s a sampling of the most recent user comments at softwareadvice.com:

We have been using Lightspeed for a few years now and can’t believe we functioned without it. We thought we knew what was selling in our store but once we were able to run reports with clear and precise data, we were able to see what was really happening…We just opened two new locations and are now utilizing the Multi-Store feature-this feature has saved us a lot of time and makes everything very easy and organized..The customer support is awesome, very thorough in their responses and assistance.” – Carrie from Desert Island Trading

The easy to use POS screen made training our employees a breeze…Inventory tracking is one of the biggest strengths of this software…We also added the Lightspeed webstore when we switched to Lightspeed – and we’re so happy that we did.”  Justin from Shop Good

Lightspeed simplified the point of sale system for me and has been one of the best decisions I have made since opening my doors.”  Cameron from Nutrishop STL

It’s hard to find many user reviews about Retail—again, because it’s so new.  MerchantOS had a very good reputation among its users; many were happy enough with it that they were worried what changes the new ownership would bring.

Final Verdict:

Lightspeed Retail is in an interesting position: they built up a successful business selling local server software, and then bought out a company selling its cloud-based equivalent.  They’re selling both products now, with two separate teams—the original Lightspeed staff and the original MerchantOS staff—and they’re happy if you buy either one.  But people have been saying “The future is in the cloud” for so long that the present is now in the cloud, which leaves the flashy looking OnSite–Lightspeed’s homegrown success story–in the role of yesterday’s software.  Its ho-hum looking acquisition, then, is what is keeping them current.  Though there are still probably enough people too nervous to host their business-critical data in the cloud, it doesn’t make sense to keep offering both solutions in the long-term: there’s got to be a unified vision between the two or Lightspeed will seem as if it’s in perennial transition.  Besides, why on earth would someone want to end up paying more, in terms of the actual monetary cost and total cost of ownership, for OnSite, when Retail does the job as well and with more ease?  But that’s a question for Lightspeed to figure out.  The good news for them is they’ve got two of the most robust and easy-to-use solutions in today’s POS market.  Both OnSite and Retail are highly recommended.

Dave Eagle

Dave Eagle

Dave is a writer and photographer living in southeastern Vermont with his two children, for whom he has prepared an inordinate amount of nachos. Before he started making good decisions about what to do with his life, Dave worked as a Sales Engineer in the tech industry, most recently with a focus on Virtualization and Software as a Service. These days, Dave is pursuing a full time life of leisure—he would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.
Dave Eagle
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39 Comments

    JT

    We signed on with Merchant OS about a year before they were purchased by Lightspeed. We loved the ability to use our POS in the cloud. We don’t like that it’s not robust POS software platform. Often it feels like “POS lite”

    The special order tracking is much better than RMS, the work order management is much better than RMS.

    We switched to MOS from Microsoft RMS. RMS had very unfriendly support, and charged you a fortune every time you needed help, but they fixed the problem EVERY time. I don’t remember having any issues with actual functionality. Often we couldn’t figure it out, but the functionality was there. Occasionally I had to have custom reports written and were charged for it. But it worked 99.9%. We do events outside the store and didn’t like that we were fixed to one location or hardware solution, so we looked for a cloud solution. Merchant OS seemed integrated with the bike industry fairly well so we went for it.

    Lightspeed collects vendor information from many vendors in the bicycle industry making entry of inventory items much easier.

    Lightspeed purchased the software in from MOS about a year after we started with it. It’s my belief that the old ownership spent the entire year working on the merger rather than the development of the software. I don’t recall any noticeable changes or updates in functionality. The voting system gives them some direction on how to proceed, but they never make any progress. They just tell you they are “working on it”. Maybe in 6 months. 2 years later. Nothing….

    Things like fixing the quickbooks export you would think would be at the top of the list regardless of people voting. This is functionality that can kill a small business, I know, not many companies use QB for accounting… right? The data does not come across clean and you have to go in and manually fix many of the GL entries. If it doesn’t work well you will loose lots of customers. I don’t know if we are the only store that actually balances our books or what. What used to take 2 min in Microsoft RMS now takes 30-50 minutes in Lightspeed Cloud.

    We can’t put items on sale without using a percentage discount. This means if I’m trying to sell something at a negotiated price $465 but the original price was $549. I have to back calculate the percentage difference, then create a new discount code in the back end, then apply it to the sale. If I just overwrite the new price. It will work, but it will not show the customer how much they saved, or record the discount I gave. It will just change the final price in the inventory for that item. When you have several thousand skews and you want to put things on sale different ways this is VERY frustrating. Some things we want to have on sale by percent off, others a % above cost, others a % below MSRP, others a dollar amount off. Merchant OS told us this was something they were working on when we started with them. Lightspeed has said the same. This has not changed AT ALL and it’s been over 2 years!!!! Once you have put something on sale using the discount code, you can’t tell it’s on sale unless you open that specific item or ad it to the cash register. So, searching for sale items? Nope. Can’t do that. Pretty basic POS/inventory management functionality if you ask me.

    Lightspeed pro uses slick apple hardware so you can do mobile check out and line busting in your store. We thought these features might become available to Lightspeed Cloud, but no. It’s been a year, and nothing yet.

    The only meaningful change that has happened since Lightspeed took over from MerchantOS, has been the update to the GUI. As a retailer this is the LEAST important thing to me. I want help running my business, not selling your software!!!! The GUI interface actually got worse when they updated it, not better. There no new functionality added. Now they have created a beta update for a customer facing display. This is another thing that while nice, is not essential…. LIKE BEING ABLE TO PUT THINGS ON SALE CORRECTLY!! It’s really just a feature they can use to sell POS software to new customers.

    Another instance of buggy programming… if you use a sale rule that sells a product at a % above cost. eg. we sell product to employees at cost +10%. LSC calculates the final price based on the AVERAGE inventory cost. So, we have purchased the same item for 2 years and the price has increase every 6 months. e.g. cost started at $3 and now is at $5 each. So what should be sold to the employee at $5.50 is actually sold to the employee at $4.40. We loose money because LSC isn’t taking into account the actual cost of the item. Prices change all the time. If it’s a cost based “sale rule” it should be calculating off the actual cost, not the average inventory cost. Or at least give us the option to choose. So, now we have to manually check every single item. This doesn’t save time, we might as well use a cash register.

    It is very clear that Lightspeed is 100% focused on getting new customers, not keep the ones they have. Advertising is everywhere, updates look good on paper when you are searching for a new POS. The things that people are complaining about, you don’t find until you have the system and start using it. They have 24/7 support that is mediocre. The support staff cannot help with anything complicated. They have to forward it to a person who isn’t on staff 24/7. Most of the time we call with an issue for support, we know more about how the system works than the support staff.

    They also started “adding on”. When we signed on, we were told that any features that were added, would be included in our payments. We have been paying for a long time and got zero new functionality. LSC added advanced reporting, but want more money for that functionality!! That’s not how SAAS should work, certainly not if we signed up one way, you can’t change the rules mid stream. Well I guess you can, but don’t expect everyone to stick around.

    It’s also interesting reading other reviews here that all of the responses started happening in fall of 2014. This is clearly a marketing driven customer service to rescue LSC from the bad PR it’s getting. Perhaps if they start solving issues for their paying customers they will not have to worry about new customers.

    I’ll also mention that MOS used to have a forum for users that could post online and have threads discussing various issues. I found it very useful to find work-arounds and learn about the software from other users. They eliminated this, I’m sure because too many people were frustrated with the progress on updates and functionality enhancements.

    This is not a personal attack on anyone. Frankie and others at Lightspeed have been very helpful at times. They did fix a few of the issues they created updating the GUI.

    My overall complaint is that right now it seems LSC management’s number 1 priority is new customers, not the ones that have been paying their bills for years now. If they don’t start fixing things quick, we won’t be a customer much longer.

    Rating11111
    Janet Wright

    Love the POS. Have had nothing but troubles with the e-commerce and find the response from Lightspeed very frustrating. Here I am at the busiest time of the year and can’t get the e-commerce to work correctly. Its’ been a very frustrating 5 months. And there is no one to help.

    RatingNot Rated
    Mark Chase

    Great solution for small business…as far as it goes.

    We’ve been running Lightspeed Retail for about 1-1/2 years, since it was MerchantOS. We were initially looking for a cloud-based POS that manages inventory, but we’ve found the work order management in Lightspeed to be invaluable. We process thousands of work orders per year and have to allocate them to staff based on deadlines and skillsets. Lightspeed does a great job of this, and smoothly integrates with billing when a job is done.

    The inventory module also is excellent, handling multi-store transfers with ease, and supporting advanced features like packaged assemblies, matrices, and serialized items. And bar-coding our inventory was a snap.

    Having said all of that, the one thing I would warn anyone about with Lightspeed is that developer support is virtually non-existent. Bugs are treated as features to be desired and voted on. There is no urgency whatsoever from the development team in addressing customer concerns.

    Here is my example. We do lots of credit sales to other businesses. Lightspeed’s default “Sales Receipt” is confusing to them because the word “Receipt” implies that they’ve already paid, when in fact the sale was just “charged to account”. I wanted to customize the receipt using the template they provide, to say “Invoice” if the sale was “paid” by “store account”. So I made the pertinent changes but then noticed that the tax information on the template, with or without my changes, was missing a tax total at the bottom.

    Confirmed with support that this is indeed a problem with their template, and I’ve been waiting for over a year for them to fix it with no end in sight. So I’m stuck with the built-in sales receipt with it’s misleading language, which I can’t fix myself because of lack of developer support.

    Bottom line: make sure Lightspeed covers ALL your bases before investing your time and money in the system, because it’s highly unlikely your bugs or feature requests will be addressed in a timely manner. Yes, there is a system for you to “vote” on your favorite changes, but that’s just window dressing to make customers feel empowered. Casting your max votes for a feature guarantees you nothing, however much you may need something done.

    RatingNot Rated
    Douglas Holm

    The Accounting reports leave a lot to be desired. We have a retail formal ware store and are looking for a new POS because of the reports. They are total inflexible, You can’t pull up a customer and see the complete transaction( Sales, Deposits,Payments On Account, Balances etc. In one spot.) We have layaways, special orders, deposits, payments Etc. and there is not a report that puts all of this together in one report.
    1. The inventory management is great,
    2. The support is the best.
    3. Integration with Quick book is difficult and Quick Book support is terrible, once they find you are not using there POS, they put you on hold and you do not hear from them again. Light Speed support tries to help but are limited in there knowledge of problems with down loads on the Quick Book side.

    Their accounting report are not just bad, they are terrible. If you are trying to review and analize customers, it is a nightmare.

    Rating22222
    Frankie Le Nguyen

    Hi Douglas,

    Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback regarding reports and our integration with Quickbooks. I have sent you an email to schedule a call so that we can discuss what we are currently working on to improve our reports. I would also like to review the issues you’ve had with our Quickbooks integration to see if we can work together to ameliorate the situation for you.

    Talk soon,
    Frankie
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Rick Rodriguez

    We’ve been in the retail business since 2002. We had used the same POS since then, but wasn’t ever truly satisfied with its overall functionality. As we grew, we knew we needed a more sofisticated system. This is when we found Light Speed Cloud.
    We have been very pleased with Light Speed Cloud since. From the initial contact with them, to implementation, to ongoing training and tech support, to adding additional locations. Light Speed Cloud hasn’t disappointed.

    RatingNot Rated
    Angela

    Rick, thank you so much for posting those kind words! Hearing valuable customer feedback is what keeps us going!

    Kindest Regards,
    Angela
    Customer Success, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Craig Olson

    We installed Lightspeed Pro as our POS system, based on their claim of seamless exporting into Quickbooks accounting software. A year later and after clocking hours of calls to Support we have never successfully exported data into Quickbooks. Our maintenance plan has now expired so we are left with a dilemma: junk the whole thing and lose our investment (which is not a small amount for a small, new business) or buy another plan and hope that it all works out. Needless to say we are not happy with our choices…

    Rating22222
    David Lastovskiy

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for writing a review, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems exporting into QuickBooks.

    Though your maintenance plan has expired, I’m having one of our support staff reach out to you so we can resolve the problem.

    Please let us know via email if we solve your problem either with the support member or at reviews@lightspeedpos.com.

    Thanks,
    Dave
    Marketing, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Tamara Komuniecki

    We are quite pleased with Lightspeed Cloud. As a POS system it suits our needs really well.

    I find the app itself to be easy to use and intuitive, and any time there have been anything that confuses us (printing labels, etc.), have found support to be a calm voice on the other line; very friendly with none of the attitude I so often come across from support staff.

    We are now moving our web store over to Lightspeed Web, and I hope it’ll be as good.

    Rating55555
    Angela

    Hi Tamara,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! We look forward to continuing to work with you and providing the best customer care possible!!

    Kindest Regards,
    Angela
    Customer Success, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Jeff Dillon

    Lightspeed states “Print statements individually or use Batch Printing to print statements for all customers with outstanding balances.”

    The batch is extremely slow, does not include credits or running balances, the print batch actually makes you hit enter for every statement in-order to print it, which is not a batch. Why is such a important common place thing missed?

    I have spoke to them countlessly. I can’t upgrade because they got rid to the custom reports and therefor my only work around. Now I am suck and they are unwilling to resolve this.

    Rating22222
    Frankie Le Nguyen

    Hi Jeff,

    I am sorry to hear about the inefficiency you have with batch printing on our OnSite product. If you are willing, I would like to set up a personal call with you to better understand your workflow to see if it can be improved. I’ve sent you an email, please let me know when you’d be available for a chat!

    Best,
    Frankie Le Nguyen
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Laurie U

    BUYER beware!! If I could give ZERO starts I would. I have been with them for over 2.5 years and would have left a couple of months after if they would have refunded me my $2,000. Now my subscription is up and they want another $599 for 2 users. I could take that $$$ and find an easier system to use that is actually ALOT better. They now offer month to month but the people that have been with them through all their growing pains and invested in them when in reality people shouldn’t have. It is getting better and better however the average small business owner would be wiser to go else where. It will cost you a lot more money using LS than it is worth.

    Rating11111
    Katelyn

    Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for the feedback, and I can understand your frustration. I’d love to set up a call with you to gain a deeper understanding of the issues your experiencing with Lightspeed. Please send me an email at reviews@lightspeeedpos.com and we will set it up.

    Thank you,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Jean

    LS is good in many aspects :
    + Easy to learn the basic
    + beautiful and mostly clear UI
    + quite powerful
    +/- Reports are good, but sometime hard to get the result you want
    + overall, it’s simple to use.

    But bad in those
    – PO (purchase order) soooo slow (you know, like waiting 30 seconds after hitting the save button)
    – Can’t put a item on rebate (they just release a way to do it, it’s good, but far from perfect. Ex. You can put shoes on sale -20% from date X to Y. But when you go to the browser to check if the item is in stock, you will only see the regular price, not the special price. And you don’t even know that this item can be on sale. OK for “weekend where all the store is at 20% off”, less good for clearance where it can stays on the floor for weeks.)
    – Magento API received a lot of critics (although I don’t use it)
    – Many different small bugs or weird config (ex. in the report, you have a drop down choice of date to choose from, Report for last year, last month, yesterday… but also, tomorrow, next month… I can’t find one single report that can use a FUTURE date…)
    – POS screen pretty limited so is hard to balance security versus liberty when user must be on the “main screen” (browser).
    – Many details they should work on: EX. we can put note on invoices, products, etc.. but there is no way to know that there is a note. So if we open a invoice, we have to click on the ‘note’ tab just to make sure they’re is nothing there. How hard would it be to make “note” in red when there is something?

    Can’t say I’m happy, can’t say it’s a mistake either to have this software.
    We use it since ~6 years.

    Rating33333
    Katelyn

    Hi Jean,

    Thanks for taking the time to submit your feedback. Understanding our customers issues helps us shape the way we prioritize our feature and development efforts, and you’ve provided us with some great feedback. I’d love to set up a call with you to get some further insight on the your experience with Lightspeed and solve the issues you are having. Please send me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com and we’ll set it up.

    Look forward to speaking with you,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Henry Ngo

    I’ve been using Light speed system for about 1 1/2 years. Let me tell you. Before you begin want to know about light speed system, you have to get extra cash ready for non sense maintenance plan. Im not a total dummies but let me tell you. The tech support just want to know when is your maintenance plan is over so you can renew it, otherwise, most of my question they have to get back to me between 24 to 48 hours. Also, be careful about the new apple update. If you out of maintenance plan, you are stuck. otherwise, you will spend thousands of dollar just to update your maintenance plan. Most of the stuff i have to do myself even though i have light speed maintenance plan. I send all the excel sheet to them to import unto light speed, 80% of them import into light speed is wrong. I have to get into the system and do all by my self. Please stay away from light speed system if you don’t have any extra cash flying around. system cost about 8 time higher than other system and it work 60% less affective than other system. Also, if you sell a cars or other product like less than 10 items at a time is good. If you retail something like over 20 items at a time on the receipt, stay away. Almost every time we check out a customer more than 20 items, system kick you out and you have to pull everything out and start over. I call light speed for the issue, they will give me an answer withing 24 to 48 hours. after 48 hours, they let us know that their support team is looking into it. Still No Answer, But they did let me know that my maintenance plan will expire in 4 months. Hi light speed, just want to let you know that my two other store is installed with non-light speed system.

    RatingNot Rated
    Nicole

    We are having horrible issues as well.

    My husband documented how opening store 2 would work with Lightspeed Cloud & Shopify. We were told that everything would sync beautifully as long as things were tagged with shopify.
    We opened our doors today and discovered that there is no way to have our inventory from store 2 show up in shopify – and that IF they create a way to integrate it would be at least a year.

    I don’t even know where to start, but had we been given correct information, we would have had 3 months to figure it out, not the day we opened.

    Secondly they gave us bad information about doing inventory on layaway items which created a huge giant mess

    And the app keeps glitching and there is no support.

    Beyond frustrated.

    This is a

    RatingNot Rated
    Katelyn

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for taking the time to submit your feedback and I can understand your frustration.
    Over the past couple of months we have been hard at work improving the synchronization issues with Shopify. I’d love to set up a call with you to further understand the issues you are experiencing and find a solution for you as soon as possible. Please send me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com, so we can also address any other issues you may be having regarding inventory and support.

    Look forward to speaking with you,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightpseed

    RatingNot Rated
    Grant Goodman

    I have used Lightspeed cloud for a year and there customer support is terrible! They promised me they were introducing new features that were needed for my business and never delivered on any of the promises.
    I would highly recommend that you evaluate the product closely before signing up as it is nearly impossible to export all your information if you do decide to cancel.
    There are better cloud systems available – learn from my mistake!

    Rating11111
    David Lastovskiy

    Hi Grant,
    Thank you for taking the time to submit your response. Your feedback is extremely valuable and it will help us make the experience much more powerful for all of our customers.

    While I can empathize with your experience, in the past couple of months we’ve recently more than doubled our Support Squad. Additionally, we’ve increased hours so we’re open 24h during the week as well as extended hours over the weekend:http://www.lightspeedretail.com/blog/2014/09/24-hour-weekday-support-longer-weekend-hours/

    I’d love to set up a call with you to get some additional feedback on your experience with our software. Let me know a time that works for you by sending me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com and we’ll set it up.

    Thanks,
    Dave
    Marketing, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Ben King

    Lightspeed Pro would be good software if:

    1. They take the time to fix tax calculation errors. It is often off by a few cents several times a day.
    2. They realize they have US based customers and provide a simple way to import tax rates. In the state of Washington taxes are extra screwy on Lightspeed Pro because tax boundaries are address based and are not a 1 to 1 match with zip codes.
    3. They take the time to fix the errors in the web store software. Specifically, without a lot of expensive modification, the web store is poorly suited to fractional purchases as in it doesn’t offer this option in the web store. The POS does offer this option. For a fabric store you can get all setup with the POS for the physical store and when you upload to your web store you can only sell yard increments instead of down to 1/8 (or whatever size) like you would find in the physical store. This is a lot easier fix then to chase down the tax calculation errors but I don’t ever expect it to materialize.
    4. We’re on a grandfathered plan that should be including support but now they want us to pay extra on top of that.
    5. We have an ongoing error of the server not starting on reboot. Their solution was not to fix the problem. Rather, they have us reinstall the server on every reboot. How crazy is that?
    6. We must email to request support. I’m sorry but I cannot plan when my POS will be down.
    7. Missing check for related items error. Instead of determining there are too many related items for memory, there are instances where Lightspeed will happily crash instead.

    Fixes generally do not happen in any timely manner, whatsoever. They go on for months and then years. I was going to put more stars in the rating, but I realized after typing out this list they need to work harder to earn them.

    Rating11111
    Frankie Le Nguyen

    Hi Ben,

    Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback. After discussing your issues and suggestions with our product team, we have identified that some are rectifiable within the scope of our product whereas others are outside but we are more than willing to speak with you and share possible workarounds to your roadblocks.

    We have been unable to locate your account with us to provide further clarification but I would like to set up a phone conversation with you to better understand the issues as well as gain more insight from your suggestions! Please feel free to email reviews@lightspeedpos.com to let us know when you’re free and we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

    Best,
    Frankie
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Dave Eagle

    This is why the comments section can be so valuable. I test the software in a non-real world setting, and though my experience was generally a good one, it’s likely no match for someone who’s using it for real. We’ve been getting a lot of negative feedback here about the company, which can’t be ignored when we update this review next.

    Bryan – are you using Cloud or Pro?

    RatingNot Rated
    Laurie Ashbach

    I am so disappointed with the customer service I have received from LightSpeed regarding the renewal of my SSL Certificate. Because they claim to have not received an email with their lightspeedsupport.zendesk.com my webstore has had the https crossed out and a warning to customers that my site cannot be trusted. I have the copy of my email response which should have triggered the renewal, but didn’t. When you are an independent owner without technical help, I wouldn’t recommend anyone using this software, or trying to run their own store with just the help of their technical support. Very disappointed in LightSpeed. I spent just under $1,000.00 to become this frustrated.

    RatingNot Rated
    Frankie Le Nguyen

    Hi Laurie,

    We apologize for the experience you had regarding the renewal of your Web Store’s SSL certificate. After reviewing your support tickets I have seen that the issue is resolved and that an accommodation was made to rectify the issue. Should you have any further concerns or feedback to provide, please feel free to schedule a call with our team by emailing reviews@lightspeedpos.com

    Best,
    Frankie
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Ken McRobbie

    We have used LightSpeed for three years at our main location. Upon opening a second store we were happy to see the Multi Store application. Unfortunately, after spending six hours setting up the software and many more hours with the support and sales team to guide us through the install we were unable to use it in the end do to a small technical problem. The replication of product from the main store to the new store was unsuccessful due to duplicate product codes in our main system… 100s… due to the nature of our inventory orders. Many products have the same code but a different finish that needs to be detailed in the description. In order to use Multi Store Pro we would have to edit 100s of product entries. Extremely disappointing after the effort that was put forth. We are investigating another software system to run our two stores.

    Rating11111
    Katelyn

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for taking the time to submit your feedback. After looking at your set up, we’ve spoke with your store manager at length and developed a solution that will take care of the small technically issue you were experiencing. I’ve also spoken with your account manager and he will reach out to you today to ensure you are satisfied with this solution. Please send me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com if you have any other questions.

    Best,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Ara Melkizian

    This is one buggy POS solution. The system does not calculate tax correctly and has a very weird, chaotic system to set your taxes up. Lightspeed POS never worked correctly and I cancelled after my first month without a refund.

    Rating22222
    Katelyn Good

    Hi Ara,

    Thank you for taking the time to submit your response. While I can understand how incorrect tax calculation can affect accuracy in all elements of your system, this is something that must be set-up quite precisely in order to work correctly.

    I’d love to set up a call with you to get some additional feedback on your experience with our software. Let me know a time that works for you by sending me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com and we’ll set it up.

    Look forward to speaking with you,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Nicole

    I just switched to LightSpeed Cloud from ACE. I wanted something that could integrate with an ecommerce store, while still managing our large inventory and purchasing in store. So far, so good. Glitchy at times (the back button still has issues), but manageable. Support has always been great for me; I use the live chat on their website. I get lots of sales emails (even though I’ve already purchased) which is a rookie move, but I can filter them out easily enough.
    Hopefully they’ve pushed their sales enough (I see their ads EVERYWHERE on the web) and can focus on development to make this an amazing system! I have noticed a few small (but useful) changes lately (like add a new customer button from the unsuccessful search screen) that give me hope.

    Rating44444
    Katelyn Good

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for taking the time to submit your feedback. Over the past couple of months we’ve been hard at work improving usability, navigation, most recently Web Store. We currently have tremendous new features currently in development that we are very excited to announce in the coming months. I’d love to set up a call with you to get some additional feedback on your experience with our software. Let me know a time that works for you by sending me an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com and we’ll set it up.

    Look forward to speaking with you,

    Katelyn
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Manuel Rivero

    We first purchased LSPRO back in 2010. There’s been a lot of issues, but beyond the problems is the attitude the company has towards their customers when it comes to tech support, not only expensive too maintain but must wait 24 to 48 hours for them to contact you to solve a problem?
    We are looking at different options and switch later this year. It so disappointing but we have reach a point where we can’t no longer keep LightSpeed.

    RatingNot Rated
    Angela Baker

    Hi Manuel,

    Thank you for taking the time to submit your feedback, we apologize that you have been unhappy with your experiences with support in the past. Over the past several months, we have doubled our support staff, as well as extending our hours to be more accommodating, and typical wait time is now normally only a few minutes. We are also now open 24h during the week, as well as extended weekend hours.

    http://www.lightspeedretail.com/blog/2014/09/24-hour-weekday-support-longer-weekend-hours/

    Thank you for taking the time to speak with me recently, I hope that you are continuing to enjoy our product.

    Best,
    Angela
    Customer Success, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Bikehounds

    I have been with LSC since before the change from MOS, and while their support staff is top notch, the rate of development is basically non existent. We saw a huge UI change when lightspeed took over, and it appears that all of their developer resources were funneled toward making the old MOS interface look more “apple-y”. The new interface is OK, but not great. It looks more modern but it’s far less usable. Text fields and buttons have the same flat appearance. Static text appears in boxes that make them look like textareas, but aren’t. Certain clicks bring you to random screens unrelated to where you just came from. The back button that is apparently “fixed” only works part of the time. The UI change also introduced some bugs, and when brought to their attention, the response is a non-confidence-inspiring “we’ll add it to the list but there are other priorities”.

    Meanwhile, the system is still plagued with many shortcomings that any serious POS system should be able to handle – shortcomings that have been in the system since the day I signed up. I have compiled a list of my own requests on their feedback site (which, by the way, limits the amount of feedback you can give to six votes, and since they never implement changes, your votes are never released back to you)

    You can see my list here, and browse around to see all of the other feedback that has been essentially ignored:

    http://feedback.merchantos.com/forums/189811-general-feedback/suggestions/4493928-a-list-for-you-and-we-need-a-way-to-earn-more-fee

    I understand that not every wish can be accommodated, however we have seen basically zero feature enhnacements in the past couple of years, other than the new buggy UI.

    We can’t return items to vendors, we can’t import inventory or product descriptions from csv (having instead to click into several screens and enter details by hand), we can’t sell fractions of items (say if you want to sell something by weight)… we can’t even specify an “order in multiples of” option for purchase orders – if you have a vendor that only sells an item in quantities of 10, you can’t tell LSC not to order 9 or 11, you have to double check each PO manually. This is basic stuff.

    Since lightspeed took over, I get emails almost every day trying to sell me upgrades, or sell me new services. The plans have also all gone up in price and the number of employees allowed per plan has gone down.

    I’m starting to wonder when all of this sales pitch garbage is going to translate into some actual programming? There are aspects of their inventory management system that would be better handled by an excel spreadsheet.

    Their system definitely increased my productivity over my old system which was a standalone cash register. But development has been stagnant and every month when the payment comes off of my card, I take a few minutes to search for alternative providers.

    I have had some great conversations with the people at MOS/LSC but it’s gotten to the point where public reviews (humiliation) may be the only way to see positive change, because it seems like all they care about now is finding new users.

    LSC, please stop worrying about putting rounded corners on your CSS buttons and start implementing actual functionality. It’s getting beyond ridiculous.

    Thanks,
    Bikehounds

    RatingNot Rated
    Manuel Rivero

    100% agreed and the worst tech support….”we will get back to you in 24 to 48 hours”???!! Unacceptable for the amount of money we pay!

    RatingNot Rated
    Katelyn Good

    Hi Bikehounds,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to submit your feedback. We know that you recently spoke with one of the members of our product team. If you have any other concerns or suggestions please send us an email at reviews@lightspeedpos.com so we can set up a call with you this week.

    Look forward to hearing from you,

    Katelyn,
    Product Management, Lightspeed

    RatingNot Rated
    Dave Eagle

    Right here in the comments section is the place to do that. While we have no problem with people giving their true experiences with a company, even if it refutes what we’ve written here, we won’t just let any old feedback through. Check out our User Review and Comments policy to make sure your post conforms to our guidelines:

    http://www.merchantmaverick.com/user-review-comment-policy/

    We also tend to be skeptical of reviews—positive and negative—that are left anonymously, so we do require at least a valid email address where we can follow up with you to make sure you’re legit.

    RatingNot Rated

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