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Lightspeed Retail Review

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Lightspeed Retail Review

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Date Established
2005
Location
Canada

Pros

  • Premium-class product
  • Excellent register functionality
  • Onboarding help provided
  • Good work order management
  • Robust reporting features
  • Strong eCommerce platform

Cons

  • Expensive and complex for very small businesses
  • One year commitment

Overview

Are you in the retail business? Looking for a cloud-based point of sale system that boasts diverse functionality and a plethora of features? If so, Lightspeed Retail is an option worth considering.

Developed in 2013, Lightspeed Retail is the cloud-based version of OnSite, Lightspeed’s locally-installed POS system. Lightspeed Retail is geared toward mid-sized and larger scale independent businesses and can handle the needs of virtually any retailer, boasting dozens of integrations that can keep your business on the cutting edge.

RestaurantRetaileCommerce

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed eCommerce

Premium Restaurant POS

Premium Retail POS

eCommerce Integration

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Get Started

Get Started

$69/month

$99/month

$59/month

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

No commitment

No commitment

No commitment

No credit card required

No credit card required

No credit card required

Lightspeed has rapidly updated in the past few years and now offers its own eCommerce platform, giving you the ability to set up and run your own store online. Its interface is highly intuitive and modern and customers will appreciate the level of customization that is available. Surprisingly, given the company’s attention to staying on the cutting edge of trends in the POS world, a few complaints have been lobbed Lightspeed’s way about its refusal to correct minor bugs in its software. Lightspeed is not the cheapest solution on the market but it does offer pretty much any feature you could dream up and, for those looking for a one-stop-shopping system with strong customer service, Lightspeed is worth looking into.

Get Started With Lightspeed

Pricing

Note: There are four separate Lightspeed POS products, though the distinction isn’t always clear. Lightspeed OnSite comprises software that is installed on your desktop Mac. Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based POS system used by food service businesses. Lightspeed eCommerce is used by online businesses and can be integrated with Lightspeed Retail. Finally Lightspeed Retail is a cloud-based POS system primarily used by those in retail businesses. This review looks at Lightspeed Retail.

Lightspeed Retail has recently made slight changes to its pricing options. You can still get the most popular plan for $99 a month (with a year-long commitment) that comes with all of the basics. However, Lightspeed also encourages you to call for a quote to make sure you are getting all of the features you need. This appears to be a better system than before — previously, add-ons didn’t come cheap and could ratchet the overall cost of the system up quickly. Now there appears to be a little more wiggle room if you need things like eCommerce or advanced reporting, making a system that was on the pricier higher end of the POS spectrum slightly more cost-effective.

If you can afford it, Lightspeed can give you virtually anything you would need from a retail POS. Here’s what’s included in the basic package:

Basic

  • $99/mo (billed annually)
  • 1 register
  • Access for up to 5 employees
  • Omnichannel
  • Personalized onboarding
  • Free updates
  • Secure cloud backup
  • Basic reporting
  • 24/7 support

Retail also has a 14-day trial you can use to check out the software for yourself.

Get Started With Lightspeed

Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed

Though Lightspeed Retail is technically cloud-based—meaning your information is stored on Lightspeed’s servers and synced over the cloud to your platform—the system itself is a hybrid. Retail is browser-based; you don’t have to install any programs on your computer, but you do have the option to install the Retail POS app on your iOS device. In this case, the system offers most of the benefits of a locally-installed system without having to use bulky and expensive hardware or deal with on-site software updates.

Specific Industry

Lightspeed Retail is one of the most complete POS systems available for virtually any type of retail industry. It also offers features for selling services alongside physical products. With the ability to create estimates/quotes, service and repair orders, and define labor costs, the software is useful in a variety of settings. The POS really shines in the apparel industry but (especially if you have opted for one of the more advanced packages) can fill the needs of virtually any type of retail environment. One of the standout areas of this software is the amount of register functionality offered, something not readily available with similar POS system providers.

Note: If you’re a food seller, have a look at our Lightspeed Restaurant review; Retail won’t be suitable for your needs.

Lightspeed Retail

Specific Size Of Business

Any size business will likely work happily with Lightspeed Retail, though the target market seems to be medium-sized businesses or those that require custom elements and added flexibility. That said, the software is so feature-rich—with functions to support every part of the retail cycle, from ordering and purchasing to stocking and selling (as well as extensive CRM capabilities and employee management)—that it appeals to even the largest of big-box retailers.

Larger industries where cost may be less of an issue might gravitate to Lightspeed for its wide array of integrations and add-ons. Lightspeed also has a sleek design and regular updates, making it a relatively unique POS compared to some other options. If you’re looking for all of the standard features in a highly-rated POS —solid inventory management, deep analytics reporting, and marketing campaign management— along with the ability to highly customize the software and give customers a somewhat more intimate experience, this POS should be near the top of your list.

Ease Of Use

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed does a really good job of making sure customers understand what they are getting and know best how to use it. After signing up, an associate will contact you almost immediately to answer questions and help you hit the ground running. Once you’ve purchased Lightspeed, a customer success representative will help you set up your store and give you instructions about how to use the system. That being said, both the front- and backend of the software are extremely intuitive. The initial setup, completed in the in-browser software (though you can manage it from your POS), involves a step-by-step process which includes a catalog of items you can use to populate your inventory.

The organization of the management area is basic in the best possible way. All of the functions are grouped into categories on the left-hand side, and the most commonly used options are the most prominently displayed. This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised how many POS dashboards hide away the most vital functions. You can start, continue, or refund a sale with reasonable ease, create special orders, and even set a customer display for when you’re away from the register.

There are very few areas where you could conceivably get tripped up when initially tooling around the interface. Everything is where you would expect to find it and navigating through screens is simple and easy to master with limited training. There’s a high degree of inventory customization, reporting options, and customer tracking, which inevitably lends a certain level of complexity to the software. Processing reporting, for example, is fairly complicated, with dozens of compiled reports to choose from. However, most POS backends are naturally a bit complicated and anyone with a modicum of managerial experience should be able to figure out the system quickly.

Get Started With Lightspeed

Hardware & Operating System Requirements

The Retail App and associated hardware will work with any 3rd generation (or above) iPad or iPhone, though bear in mind that you can’t make sales via iPhone; you must have an iPad. The in-browser option will obviously run on any computer with an Internet connection.

Lightspeed sells all peripheral hardware and offers two bundles:

  • iPad POS Hardware Kit: Includes an APG cash drawer, a Vault Simplicity Base iPad stand, a Bluetooth socket scanner, a LAN receipt printer, and receipt paper. The actual iPad is not included.
  • Desktop POS Hardware Kit: Includes an APG cash drawer, a Lightspeed scanner, a USB receipt printer, and receipt paper. The computer itself is 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. Customer service representatives are trained to help you if a hardware catastrophe or minor glitch hits your store. Lightspeed sells Zebra label printers through its site along with APG cash drawers and barcode scanners that can be connected by Bluetooth or through a USB connection. Lightspeed also offers card-swipers for purchase through its website.

Features

  • Multi-Tender Options: All payment types are accepted: cash, credit, debit, check, gift card, and store credit (either from exchanges or established house credit accounts). You can print and/or email receipts (and gift receipts) with product descriptions and notes. Gift certificates/cards also have a barcode for ease of use and can be reused (their balances can be changed). The option to apply discounts is readily available through the register, and you can hold and suspend sales and return to them later, or transfer them to another device. You can also place items on hold/layaway for customers to pick up at a later date. Adding new/existing customers to a sale directly through the POS interface is seamless. Performing returns and exchanges is equally easy.

Lightspeed Retail

  • Inventory Management: The options for inventory management can go fairly deep depending on your particular needs. The basic process—adding descriptions, category management, and reorder points—is relatively simple. Amongst the more advanced features are customizable tags (so that you can essentially create your own inventory taxonomy for searching for items), multiple attribute matrices (large, black, leather, etc.), and the ability to assemble items into bundles, including serialized items. You can also manage items that are typically bought in bulk but sold individually (i.e. a 12-pack of soda that is sold by the can).

Lightspeed Retail

  • Purchase Order Management: You can track vendors, complete PO’s across multiple vendors and items, and receive or return orders. Return to Vendor (RTV) is a new feature that allows you to manage merchandise returns due to damaged products, incorrect shipments, customer warranty returns, etc. Retail also allows you to track unit costs and shipping fees to accurately calculate your profits and margins. For selected vendors, there are more advanced options, such as direct catalog ordering from within Lightspeed.

Lightspeed Retail

  • Employee Management: There is a basic time clock for employees, operated through an easy-to-set-up pin, as well as a log of employee sales and inventory changes. You can set up customizable roles from within the management area.
  • Work Order Management: You can create work/repair orders, track repair progress, and print claim checks and service labels. The labor option also allows you to bill work orders based on time worked. You can schedule appointments for services and turn quotes/orders into invoices/sales too. Lightspeed recently added a feature that allows merchants to add up to 12 photos to a work order. This can be really helpful for jewelry or tattoo shops and especially for high-end repair shops that require before and after photos.
  • Loyalty: The ability to add customers to your database is available on both desktop and iPad. You can track contact information, credit limits, and transactions. Other great features include the ability to set up different customer categories to offer specialized discounts, track outstanding balances and past-due accounts, track all your print statements, apply payments to invoices and balances, or use credits against future sales. Integrations with MailChimp and MailSync are now available for email marketing management.
  • Reporting: There are hundreds of pre-set printable reports. Customized reports may be filtered by day, week, month, or year. View your profits by total revenue or margin to understand what your inventory is costing you and which items are most profitable. You can also use reports to track the effectiveness of promotions, strategically schedule and task your employees, and track end of day accounts, among other things. Advanced reporting includes responsive widgets that provide you with a visual dashboard of the most important elements in your store. There’s also a desktop browser export feature—any report lists can be exported to Excel in spreadsheet format.

Lightspeed Retail

  • Multi-Store: Lightspeed allows you to transfer inventory between locations and provides full visibility of all inventory from stores and warehouses (you can look to see if another store has the product a customer wants). Another cool feature is the ability to set different prices for the same SKU on a store-by-store basis. You can take your show on the road with the Retail iPad app, capable of handling temporary storefronts like pop-up stands or trade shows.
  • eCommerce: Lightspeed has added an impressive eCommerce platform with plans starting at $59 a month, adding another level of convenience for users. At the entry level price, users get 250 products, omnichannel capabilities, 24/7 support, personalized onboarding, and access to the app store. The service comes with SEO tools to help boost your store’s visibility online. There are also some nice marketing features, including the ability to integrate with Facebook and give customers the opportunity to leave product reviews on the site. Running custom marketing and promotional campaigns can be done directly through Lightspeed. The customization options are a big selling point — Lightspeed offers 60 themes and allows you to be creative with your design. It is an extra cost, but having this level of synchronization with your POS system is convenient.

Get Started With Lightspeed

Integrations & Add-Ons

Integration with MailChimp is included with any subscription to Lightspeed Retail; other third-party integrations are available as add-ons. Lightspeed integrates with a huge slate of companies and the chances are, if you’re interested in or have heard about a particular feature, Lightspeed will have it. The Add-Ons page lists several applications and services, including some of the following:

  • Accounting: Lightspeed Retail offers a program called Lightspeed Accounting that is able to integrate with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks for Windows, and Xero.
  • Loyalty Rewards: Retail integrates with a couple different CRM-related programs and services that allow you to create and track customer rewards programs, along with contact and sales data for email and online marketing purposes. These integrations include Loyal2, City Hive, Perkville, AppCard, Chronogolf, Tap Mango, PetStoreMarketer, and Thirdshelf.
  • Scheduling: Use NimbleSchedule, Agendrix, Booxi, Chronogolf, or Homebase to schedule and track employee hours over the Internet, allowing employees to request time off, trade shifts, and clock in or out from anywhere.
  • eCommerce: If you are currently using your own web store you can sync the data between Retail and your eCommerce platform using SkuIQ, Kosmos eSync, WooCommerce, Maurisource, Hyperspace, Accumula, and BikeExchange.
  • Rental: For retailers needing to rent equipment, integrations with Rental Shop Manager and Bike Rental Manager are offered.
  • Email Marketing: If you would like to take advantage of email marketing, Lightspeed Retail has you covered with Mailsync.
  • Inventory Management: Your inventory management needs can be handled with any of the following integrations: Stitch Labs, iMerchandise, Nobal Technologies, and SkuVault.
  • Lightspeed eCom: This eCommerce platform is an impressive addition to Lightspeed’s belt of POS systems. You can find out more information about this system by watching a demo or requesting a free trial.  Not only is Lightspeed eCom a stand-alone, fully functional, exclusively online POS system, but it now offers integrations with Lightspeed Retail.
RestaurantRetaileCommerce

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed eCommerce

Premium Restaurant POS

Premium Retail POS

eCommerce Integration

Get Started

Get Started

Get Started

$69/month

$99/month

$59/month

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

No commitment

No commitment

No commitment

No credit card required

No credit card required

No credit card required

Compatible Credit Card Processors

Lightspeed Retail integrates with Vantiv Integrated Payments (Mercury), Cayan, and iZettle.

As far as EMV compliance goes, Lightspeed was actually ahead of the curve as one of the few companies who integrated an EMV-certified terminal by the October 1st, 2015 deadline. You really can’t go wrong with Vantiv or Cayan, which makes it easier for merchants to shop around for the best rates.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Since Retail is priced with a subscription model, premium technical support is part of the service. Various kinds of support are available as follows:

  • Phone support is available 24/7 (excluding holidays).
  • There is a support page with links to resources, the status of the system, release notes, and training videos.
  • You can also chat with a representative from virtually any page on the Lightspeed site from 11am-8pm EST or leave a message with your email address if no one is available.
  • A community forum is available through the website and articles like “9 things to know before you buy a POS system” can be accessed on the main page.
  • Lightspeed also has several social media pages including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

For users who have a valid subscription, Lightspeed customer support works to respond to service requests within one business day.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

When it comes to reviews, Lightspeed customers seem to be split down the middle. Though there are many positive reviews, several unsatisfied customers have negative things to say about Lightspeed Retail. Some of the most common complaints are as follows:

  • Ignored Customer Requests: Various complaints cite that user feature requests and reports regarding system glitches have been largely ignored (over long periods of time, in several cases). Some customers state that they would like to see Lightspeed get better at maintaining and fixing its system before working on new functionality and advancement.
  • Glitches: Several complaints have been made about bugs in the system. Those customers report being satisfied with responses from Lightspeed’s customer service regarding their complaints but are frustrated when no action seems to come from the developers.
  • Feeling Stuck: A few customers have complained about being stuck in a contract they’re not happy with. (As with any system that requires you to sign a contract, you really want to make sure Lightspeed works for you and your business before signing your name on the line.)
  • Learning Curve: A few reviewers found some of Lightspeed’s offerings to be a bit overwhelming and difficult to master. As mentioned, the backend (especially with advanced features) does take some getting used to simply because there’s a lot to try out. A few other reviews also mentioned that some of those advanced features occasionally lagged.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Lightspeed Retail also has a loyal following of satisfied customers who have noted the following benefits:

  • Customer Service: A large number of customers are completely satisfied with the level and quality of customer service they receive from Lightspeed Retail. From short wait times to very helpful and friendly representatives, many patrons are very content with the service.
  • Ease Of Use: A common thread found throughout most positive comments involves how easy Lightspeed Retail is to use and train staff on.
  • Strong Feature Set: Many appreciate the fact that Lightspeed Retail has a large and diverse set of features. Customers really like the unlimited and highly customizable inventory feature, as well as the matrix feature that allows you to organize items with multiple variations.
  • Fast Set-Up: Many customers really appreciated the personalized set-up process and found that it was easy to train employees even with some of the more complicated aspects of the product.
  • Integrations: A few customers, particularly ones who operate smaller businesses, loved the choices and the variety of integrations that were available to them.

Final Verdict

Lightspeed is one of the most robust and easy to use solutions in today’s POS market. If you’re looking for a system that will likely have every option you could dream up in a POS in both the front and back end and pricing isn’t a major consideration, Lightspeed should be fairly high on your list. I also appreciate the company’s commitment to offering customers the latest in POS advances with its constant updates. With strong customer service and a commitment to making sure that you get up and running quickly and smoothly, Lightspeed takes a lot of stress and guesswork off your plate.

I definitely recommend that you take Retail for a trial run and see what you think. There are more than enough satisfied Lightspeed Retail customers who would encourage you to do the same.

RestaurantRetaileCommerce

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed eCommerce

Premium Restaurant POS

Premium Retail POS

eCommerce Integration

Get Started

Get Started

Get Started

$69/month

$99/month

$59/month

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

No commitment

No commitment

No commitment

No credit card required

No credit card required

No credit card required

Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman

Point of sale writer at Merchant Maverick
Matt Sherman has been immersed in point of sale systems for over a year now. Previously, he spent 14 years in the newspaper industry, the majority of which was as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in English because he knows where the money is. Matt is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.
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520 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Dan Collins

    Organization Name: Ripping Giraffe

    I have been using Lightspeed for over 5 years now. In my 15 years of working in retail I have not come across a POS that has been so easy to use. Inventory management is one of the key highlights for light speed. The ecom is really user friendly and easy to upload inventory. The customer service has always been friendly and efficient. I would highly recommend Lightspeed.

    5
    • Organization Name: Ripping Giraffe
    Linda

    Organization Name: Healthy Paws

    I have never worked with a POS system before, but Wow Lightspeed made it simple and easy. It is a very intuitive system and their support team is amazing! Being a small business owner having a reliable system with support is very important and Lightspeed has proven to be top notch. Thanks!

    5
    • Organization Name: Healthy Paws
    Jessica

    Organization Name: Circuits Cell Shop

    Our phone repair shop has used Lightspeed from the start. We need the ability to create work orders as well as manage inventory and sales, all of which Lightspeed covers. We’re extremely happy with the support we receive whenever we’re having trouble with the printers or other browser issues. The reps are always competent and willing to remotely fix my problems so I can get back to work quickly! The fact that it’s cloud based has made it super convenient for me to run my business and look at reports wherever I am.

    5
    • Organization Name: Circuits Cell Shop
    Gregory Jacobson

    Organization Name: TRULY SPOKEN CYCLES

    We’ve been using Lightspeed at our bicycle shop for a little over 8 years. It’s ease of use and the myriad features specific to our business needs make everything from scheduling repair service, inventory control and sales easy and seamless. Thanks!

    5
    • Organization Name: TRULY SPOKEN CYCLES
    Skye Leonardi

    Organization Name: Princess Jewelers

    Lightspeed Retail has made organizing our inventory and repair jobs extremely easy! Its ability to be customized to fit the specific needs of our store is what really makes it though! The customer service through the chat or a phone call has always been at 5 Stars for us. Its quick and if the person isn’t able to help(which isn’t often), they always find someone who can! The thought that has been put behind this POS is that of someone who would use it on a daily basis in a retail setting. It was carefully designed in a way that is easy to use -Princess Jewelers

    5
    • Organization Name: Princess Jewelers
    Jake

    Organization Name: Waxman

    Lightspeed POS has been a great POS system for us over the past four years.

    3
    • Organization Name: Waxman
    Kory Koski

    Organization Name: North Ridge Fire Equipment

    We love our system.Every time we call for technical assistance their support team has been wonderful to deal with and always has a solution.

    5
    • Organization Name: North Ridge Fire Equipment
    Amie Coady

    Organization Name: T&A Cannabis

    Very cost efficient. Easy to use. Support staff is AMAZING and ready to help 24/7

    5
    • Organization Name: T&A Cannabis
    Traci

    Organization Name: Wanda Louise, LLC

    Though the learning curve is fairly intuitive, the support team made it easy for us to get our company up and running on lightspeed. The reports are an integral part of our daily operations where we track all aspects of business. This is where we export accounting data to QuickBooks, track sales and assets. Its a very useful system. Connecting inventory to purchase orders is a breeze. My only criticism is vendor catalogues because that onus of getting to LS for inclusion in the system is on me.

    4
    • Organization Name: Wanda Louise, LLC
    Mona Mansur

    Organization Name: Arabella

    Its a great POS system! There are so many features and ways to make it work perfectly for your needs. There has been one or two glitches but always solved right away.

    4
    • Organization Name: Arabella
    Ian Gauthier

    Organization Name: The Boarderline

    Lightspeed has everything we need in our POS system. The wide variety of data that we are able to collect in the report module allows us make the right decisions to keep our business moving forward. No more guessing which brands or styles we think are working in our retail location. Also the ease of implementation to create our e-commerce store was stress free with the help of their support staff.

    • Organization Name: The Boarderline
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