Shopify VS Lightspeed 2023 Comparison: Which Is Better For Your Small Business?
Need an online store builder that also supports in-person sales? In this Shopify vs. Lightspeed comparison, we'll find out which is better for your selling needs.
Shopify vs. Lightspeed is an interesting comparison for anyone looking for an all-in-one small business selling solution. Both Lightspeed and Shopify offer support for online and in-person sales, with eCommerce capability and point of sale systems (POS) for in-person sales.
A closer look at Lightspeed vs. Shopify shows some important differences, too, that can help you decide between the two. Keep reading for the details you need to know.
Table of Contents
- Shopify VS Lightspeed Comparison
- Shopify VS Lightspeed At A Glance
- What’s The Difference Between Shopify & Lightspeed?
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: FAQ
- Shopify VS Lightspeed Pricing
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: Notable Feature Differences Discussed
- Shopify VS Lightspeed Feature Drill-Down
- Lightspeed VS Shopify eCommerce Costs
- Lightspeed Retail VS Shopify Features
- Shopify POS VS Lightspeed Software Differences
- Shopify POS VS Lightspeed Terminals & Hardware
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: Omnichannel Features
- Specialized Sales Models
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: Integrations
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: Inventory Management
- User Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Shopify Or Lightspeed?
- Shopify VS Lightspeed: Next Steps To Build Your Business
Shopify VS Lightspeed Comparison
This summary of Lightspeed vs. Shopify highlights shows significant overlap with both offering tools to help merchants sell online and in person. However, Lightspeed and Shopify approach selling from a different angle. This different focus could help you decide between them.
Here’s the key difference: Lightspeed is at its heart POS (point of sale) software that also supports eCommerce. Shopify is primarily eCommerce software that also supports in-person selling. Each has its strengths in both eCommerce and POS, as well as some areas where it falls short.
You’ll also spot significant differences in price, as the table below shows. The prices listed show subscription plans that support both eCommerce and POS.
||No free or low-cost plan for small business|
|Next Steps||Start Trial
Shopify VS Lightspeed At A Glance
Shopify and Lightspeed both support in-person selling and online sales. While either can be a strong contender for your business, the choice may come down to whether you’re operating an online store that wants to be able to sell in person or an in-person vendor who wants an online presence.
Benefits Of Shopify
- Strong eCommerce features
- No fixed fee for POS transactions (percentage only)
- A huge number of integrations
- Attractive templates and advanced design tools
- Strong social selling tools
- Must use Shopify Payments to avoid transaction fees
- Integrations may be necessary and costly
- The free trial has been reduced to three days
Shopify is one of our top-rated eCommerce choices, both for its ease of use and versatility. With a range of differently priced subscription plans, Shopify can be a good choice for online businesses of all sizes. And Shopify’s POS options include a similar range of options to fit your needs.
Benefits Of Lightspeed
- Easy to use
- Supports sales at multiple locations
- Extensive inventory management
- Built-in, customizable loyalty program
- Temporary and permanent location management
- Must use Lightspeed Payments to avoid added monthly fees
- POS hardware costs extra
- Limited eCommerce functionality
- Early termination fee on annual plans
Lightspeed Retail frequently appears on any list of the best POS systems. No matter how many locations you’re selling from, Lightspeed has you covered with strong inventory features and even temporary location management options. With 60 easy-to-use and customizable templates, you can also use Lightspeed to set up and run an online store.
What’s The Difference Between Shopify & Lightspeed?
Lightspeed and Shopify each offer the tools you’ll need to operate both an online shop and in-person sales. The main differences between them come down to the fact that Shopify is an eCommerce solution that also offers POS services, while Lightspeed is primarily a POS provider that also supports online sales.
Other notable differences include pricing and payment processing fees. Still, both vendors have a lot to offer. Here’s a sampling:
Both Lightspeed & Shopify Offer…
- Secure payment processing for keyed transactions as well as tap/dip/swipe
- Customizable templates for an online store
- POS software and hardware
- Strong customer support
- Multinational sales
- eCommerce integrations
- Subscription sales
- Digital product sales
- Pricing discounts on annual plans
- Social media selling
- Marketplace integrations
- Multistore inventory management
- Choice of payment processors, with discounts for using in-house option
- Multiple currency transactions
- Card-not-present transactions
- Enterprise-level plans
- 24/7 phone support
Only Lightspeed Offers…
- Employee management tools
- Work order management tools
- A free 14-day trial offer
- Tools to connect to your existing website
- Some support for high-risk sales
Only Shopify Offers…
- Tiered subscription plans you can grow into
- Thousands of integrations to customize your site
- Access to the Shop Pay accelerated checkout flow
- 100+ payment gateways
Country Availability For Shopify & Lightspeed
Shopify is available to merchants in 175 countries and supports payments in 133 currencies. Be aware that the in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments, has limited availability (currently, Shopify supports 22 countries). If you’re operating outside the countries on that list, you won’t be able to use Shopify Payments or avoid Shopify’s added transaction fees.
Lightspeed is available in 100+ countries around the world. However, you can only use Lightspeed Payments in the US and Canada, which might add to your costs if you’re located outside those countries.
Do Shopify & Lightspeed Restrict What You Can Sell?
Shopify’s restricted items include age-restricted products such as alcohol, CBD, tobacco, and sex and sensuality items. Shopify Payments has tighter restrictions than Shopify, so if you’re planning to use Shopify Payments, you’ll want to steer clear of anything that could be considered a high-risk product. (Check out our list of high-risk industries to see if your business fits that classification.)
Lightspeed allows some in-person high-risk sales, including age-restricted products, such as alcohol, tobacco, and vape items. You’ll need to purchase a supported 2D scanner to sell these items.
If you’re interested in selling high-risk products, you may want to look for a payment processor that fully supports these types of sales. Start with our list of the best high-risk payment processors to find a match.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: FAQ
Shopify VS Lightspeed Pricing
Pricing presents one of the clearest differences in the Shopify vs. Lightspeed comparison. Here are three things to note:
- Annual Subscription: Both Shopify and Lightspeed Retail offer discounted rates if you pay for a year in advance instead of month to month. However, Shopify does not offer refunds, and Lightspeed charges substantial early termination fees.
- Free Trial: As tempting as the annual discount may be, it’s hard to commit to a full year before you’ve tested the product. Because refunds are rare, we don’t recommend committing right away. Note that while Lightspeed offers a 14-day trial, Shopify allows only three days to test the software before you have to commit.
- In-House Payment Processor Preferred: Both Lightspeed and Shopify steer users toward their own in-house payment processors. You’ll pay extra if you use your processor of choice instead.
Take a look at this cost breakdown for starters, then read each section below for more details. Note also that each vendor offers a low-tier subscription plan that does not include eCommerce. Lightspeed Retail POS Lean costs $89/month, and Shopify Starter starts at $5/month. These options may be worth investigating if you are not interested in a full online store.
|Point Of Sale||
|Credit Card Reader||$49||
|Online Transactions||From 2.4%+$0.30 to 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction, depending on the plan||2.6%+$0.30 per transaction|
|In-Person Transactions (Swipe/Dip/Tap)||From 2.4%-2.7%, depending on the plan||2.6%+$0.10 per transaction|
|Added Fees For Using Outside Processor||
Shopify Payments VS Lightspeed Processing Costs
Let’s take a closer look at three key areas of Shopify vs. Lightspeed processing costs: monthly subscription fees, payment processing rates, and added fees for using your choice of payment gateway.
Lightspeed offers two subscription tiers for eCommerce in addition to its Lean plan, which does not support online selling. Lightspeed Retail POS Standard will cost you $149/month ($119/month billed annually), and Lightspeed Retail Advanced will cost $269/month ($199/month billed annually).
Shopify offers three tiers, each of which includes a full online store, in addition to its Starter plan, which does not include a store. Basic Shopify costs $39/month ($29 billed annually), Shopify costs $105/month ($79/month billed annually), and Advanced Shopify costs $399/month ($299 if billed annually).
Each vendor also offers an enterprise-level plan with custom pricing that depends on your needs.
Available features will vary depending on your plan level with both Shopify and Lightspeed. Shopify holds the edge in this comparison, with lower starting costs and the ability to move to a higher tier as your business grows.
Payment Processing Rates
You may be processing two payment types, each with its own rate.
- In-Person Payments: Shopify charges a percentage of each sale you process, with the number depending on your subscription level. The rates range from 2.4% to 2.7%, with your rate decreasing as you go up in plans. You may pay a transaction fee if you do not use Shopify Payments. Lightspeed charges 2.6% + $0.10 for each transaction processed through Lightspeed Payments.
- Online Payments: Shopify’s rate for processing online payments is the same as Lightspeed’s. No matter which POS you choose from our Lightspeed vs. Shopify matchup, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30.
Shopify Payments is Shopify’s in-house payment processor, and users are incentivized to use it instead of an outside gateway. Keep in mind that while Shopify allows users to connect with 100+ gateways, if you use one of them, you’ll pay an added transaction fee on every sale.
These fees will vary depending on which Shopify subscription level you’re subscribed at. Use Basic Shopify, and you’ll pay 2%, with 1% on the Shopify Plan and just 0.5% on Advanced Shopify.
Lightspeed offers a simple choice: Use the in-house option, Lightspeed Payments, or pay an additional $50/month to use your choice of the three available payment integrations.
Which Is Cheaper, Shopify Or Lightspeed?
Comparing costs between Lightspeed and Shopify is not simple because your costs depend on several variables, especially with Shopify.
We think Shopify holds a slight edge in cost, however. Many users will be satisfied with a lower starting monthly cost with Shopify’s plans ($39-$399) vs. Lightspeed ($149-$269).
And, while some of Shopify’s processing rates are slightly higher than Lightspeed’s, you’ll get the best rates by using Shopify Payments to process payments.
A word of caution, however: Not all merchants will qualify for Shopify Payments, which means you could be stuck paying transaction fees on top of payment processing fees.
If you’re not likely to be approved for Shopify Payments, Lightspeed could ultimately save you money.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: Notable Feature Differences Discussed
Shopify and Lightspeed are both highly rated and capable of delivering the tools you need for in-person and online selling. The choice may come down to individual features.
Both of these vendors have some stronger points and some weaker areas. Depending on what matters most to you, your choice may become clearer when you understand these differences.
Shopify VS Lightspeed Feature Drill-Down
|Industry-Specific POS Apps|
|Receipts (POS)||Print and email||Print and email|
|Offline Capabilities (POS)||Limited||Good|
|Accept All Forms Of Payment (POS)|
|Integrations With Third-Party Payment Gateways (POS)|
|Credit Card Readers|
|All-In-One Credit Card Terminals With Screens||(Shopify POS Go)|
|Free eCommerce Website||Included in some POS plans|
|Shipping Features & Discounts||Excellent||Good|
|24/7 Phone Support|
Lightspeed VS Shopify eCommerce Costs
|Pricing||Starts at $39/month for a full online store||Starts at $149/month for a full online store|
|Bring Your Own Domain||No additional charge||No additional charge|
|Includes Web Hosting||No additional charge||No additional charge|
|Premade Store Templates||100+ available||50+ available|
Shopify is an eCommerce leader and one of our most recommended eCommerce platforms. Lightspeed holds its own, however, as you’ll see in the next section. For now, consider these two factors:
- Shopify May Cost Less: You can start a Shopify online store with a monthly subscription cost that starts at $39/month. With Lightspeed, eCommerce plans start at $149/month. These plans include eCommerce and POS functions at no extra charge.
- In-House Processor Lowers Cost Of Sales: No matter which you choose, you’ll be steered toward using the in-house payment processor. If you use a third-party processor with Shopify, you’ll see transaction fees ranging from 0.5% to 2% of every online sale. With Lightspeed, if you want to use a third-party processor, you’ll pay $50/year.
Lightspeed Retail VS Shopify Features
Lightspeed is a relative newcomer to eCommerce compared to Shopify, one of the field’s best-known names. When we say that Lightspeed comes up a little short in an eCommerce comparison, that doesn’t mean Lightspeed will be inadequate for most users. If your business is mainly eCommerce with a smattering of in-person sales, you might find more useful tools with Shopify.
Here are some examples of how each provider supports online selling:
- Hosting: Both Shopify and Lightspeed offer fully hosted stores.
- Domains: Lightspeed and Shopify both include a branded domain name in their eCommerce plans. If you don’t want the branding (i.e., having the vendor name in your URL), you can bring your own domain to either Shopify or Lightspeed.
- Templates: You can use your choice of 50+ themes on Lightspeed’s website builder. Shopify offers eight free themes and more than 100 in total, with paid themes priced mostly between $140-$180.
Shopify POS VS Lightspeed Software Differences
Shopify POS and Lightspeed Retail are available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Shopify’s system works well on an iPad. Lightspeed Retail is web-based, so you’ll need to access a web browser to use it; Lightspeed recommends Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Let’s look at a few key areas for Lightspeed vs. Shopify differences:
- Receipts: Both systems let you print and/or email receipts.
- Offline Capabilities: Shopify has limited functionality in its offline mode for iOS only. On the other hand, Lightspeed has a backup function that lets you continue processing sales when your internet connection is temporarily disabled. Data will be synchronized once the connection is restored.
- Tax Calculations: Both Shopify and Lightspeed auto-detect taxes based on your store’s location.
- Team Management: You’ll need to add an app to use Lightspeed Retail POS for employee scheduling. Shopify includes team management tools at all subscription levels.
- Gift Cards: Shopify supports gift cards, but only at the Shopify Subscription level ($105/month) and above. Lightspeed supports gift certificates and gift cards on its eCommerce-enabled plans.
- Payment Method Acceptance: You can use both Shopify and Lightspeed to accept just about any payment method a customer might prefer to give you. That includes credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, and even cash or checks.
- Reporting: Lightspeed’s Analytics Core includes numerous built-in reports divided into Sales & Inventory, Marketing, and Employee Performance. Shopify also includes reporting capabilities but only at the $105/month Shopify subscription level.
Shopify POS VS Lightspeed Terminals & Hardware
You can get a full-fledged retail kit and a credit card reader for both Shopify and Lightspeed Retail. In other words, no matter which you choose, you’ll have everything you need for a conventional register setup.
Both companies provide receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, and more. All Lightspeed Retail plans include one register, with additional POS registers costing $59/month for each device.
If you choose Shopify, consider Shopify’s POS Go device, a handheld reader with EMV, NFC, and chip card reader (but no receipt printer), which costs $399. You can find more details in our complete Shopify hardware post.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: Omnichannel Features
Omnichannel selling features allow you to sell across all physical locations and online channels. Most small businesses looking for “omnichannel” can settle for multichannel options as long as the options you need are available.
Shopify’s multichannel options let you sell through your online store, in-person, and on the following sites:
Lightspeed offers a more complete omnichannel solution, tying your brick-and-mortar store location(s) to your online store. With Lightspeed Retail, you can also sell on the following platforms:
Specialized Sales Models
Many online stores rely on specific subcategories of eCommerce, such as digital product sales, subscriptions, dropshipping, and appointments. Do both Lightspeed and Shopify support these models?
Digital Sales On Shopify VS Lightspeed
You can sell downloadable products on both Shopify and Lightspeed.
On Shopify, you’ll need to add the free Digital Downloads app, which integrates seamlessly with Shopify stores and lets you add PDFs, JPEGs, ZIP files, and more. You can list videos, songs, artwork, patterns, and more in your online store. You can also add digital files to existing products.
Lightspeed also supports digital sales, including ebooks and videos.
Dropshipping On Shopify VS Lightspeed
Shopify does not come with built-in dropshipping functions. However, you can integrate your Shopify store with your choice of dropshipping apps. Shopify dropshipping partners include big names such as AliExpress, Printful, and Sprocket. If you search the Shopify app store for “dropshipping,” you’ll see 400+ results.
By contrast, while Lightspeed does support dropshipping, your options will be much more limited. Your best bet may be to use an Ecwid integration to set up dropshipping.
Subscription Sales On Shopify VS Lightspeed
Shopify made it onto our list of the best platforms for subscription sales. Though you’ll need to add an integration, you can choose among 32 options in Shopify’s app store, including 21 free apps.
If you use Lightspeed, you can purchase a module called Lightspeed Subscriptions to add tools for managing recurring shipments and payments.
Appointments On Shopify VS Lightspeed
If your business depends on appointments, you should take a look at Lightspeed’s appointment functions. That’s because it’s built into Lightspeed, although you’ll have to enable the appointments booking page.
If you want to add appointment capabilities to your Shopify store, you’ll need to add an app, starting around $15/month.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: Integrations
When it comes to add-ons and integrations, Shopify takes the prize. You can visit Shopify’s app store to choose from 2,000+ options for customizing your store. Users rate many (but not all) apps, so you can get a feel for how well they’ll meet your needs as you customize your online store.
The downside to Shopify’s abundant app marketplace is that most users feel it’s necessary to add some apps to round out their online sales approach. Although many integrations are free, you may have to shell out some money to buy the ones you want.
By contrast, Lightspeed offers only about 70 add-ons. Although you’ll find good options in key categories, such as accounting, loyalty, inventory management, and more, you simply won’t find the same depth of choice compared to Shopify’s app store.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: Inventory Management
Lightspeed comes with full inventory management capabilities for multiple store locations. You can track inventory between locations with a clear view of stock levels at stores and warehouses. You can even set different prices on a store-by-store basis, and customizable tags let you create your own system for searching inventory.
Shopify comes with basic inventory management tools out of the box. But this is one area where you’ll probably want to add some integrations to customize your store.
However, Shopify sellers are able to access Shopify Fulfillment, a third-party logistics provider offering warehouse and fulfillment services to support eCommerce vendors.
User Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems
Unsurprisingly for software with millions of users, you can find online reviews for both Shopify and Lightspeed that sing the software’s praises and others that call out the shortcomings. It’s important to look at these comments for patterns that can help you decide which platform might be right for your small business.
Shopify Complaints & Common Problems
Shopify users raise a few concerns over and over in their online reviews. Here are some common complaints about Shopify:
- Costly Add-Ons: Many users have to purchase integrations to round out Shopify’s basic functionality. These add to the cost of running a Shopify store.
- High Fees: You can’t avoid payment processing fees. But Shopify stands out from its competitors by charging added transaction fees for merchants who use a payment processor other than Shopify Payments. Ranging from 0.5% to 2% of each transaction, these fees can really take a bite out of your profits.
- Shopify Payments: The only way to avoid the added fees is to use the in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments. The problem is that Shopify Payments is available only in a limited number of countries and is notorious for its long list of prohibited products. These concerns lead to frustration and added costs.
Lightspeed Complaints & Common Problems
Lightspeed reviews from users reveal some patterns, too. Here’s what they say:
- Learning Curve: Some users say Lightspeed Retail is too complex for small businesses, and jumping between POS and online sales is hard.
- High Monthly Cost: If you want to use Lightspeed to sell online, you’ll need to sign up for the $149/month Lightspeed Retail or a higher-level plan.
- Tricky Integrations: It’s not easy to find integrations that will work with Lightspeed, so customizing your store may be out of reach. Even among Lightspeed’s limited integrations, you may have trouble installing and using the app you choose.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Shopify Or Lightspeed?
So is there a clear winner in our Lightspeed vs. Shopify head-to-head? Hopefully, you’ve learned enough about these two platforms to see a clear winner for your particular eCommerce needs.
Here are our recommendations:
Choose Shopify If You Need…
- An online store to drive your eCommerce Goals. Although you may have to add a few integrations to customize your store, Shopify has the tools and expandability to help you grow and thrive.
- A reliable POS for occasional in-person selling. If most of your sales are online, and you occasionally sell at festivals, markets, or pop-ups, Shopify POS will likely meet your needs.
- Robust support for different types of online sales. While both Lightspeed and Shopify can support downloadable files, dropshipping, and subscriptions, we think Shopify holds a noteworthy, if slight, edge.
- A lower-cost solution that meets both your POS and eCommerce needs. Although Shopify’s monthly cost is not insignificant, if the price is one of your drivers, there’s no question that Shopify’s pricing starts at a lower rate than Lightspeed Retail’s.
Choose Lightspeed If You Need…
- A POS solution that primarily supports in-person selling. Lightspeed will also allow you to build and manage an online store, but in our opinion, its eCommerce functionality is not as strong as Shopify’s.
- Multistore support. If you’re running more than one brick-and-mortar location, you’ll do better with Lightspeed’s advanced POS capabilities.
- Store and staff management tools. Shopify can’t beat Lightspeed in this area. If you want to track employee hours or schedule customer appointments, Lightspeed will better meet your needs.
- A chance to try before you buy. We’ve made no secret of our disappointment in Shopify’s decision to drop its 14-day free trial to a three-day period instead. Lightspeed’s generous free trial gives you two full weeks to test the software and see how well it will work for your small business before you commit.
- The option of using your preferred payment provider. Both Shopify and Lightspeed penalize users for using any provider other than the in-house option. But while Shopify charges an ongoing transaction fee that takes a percentage of every sale, Lightspeed charges a fee of just $50/year.
- You want to sell any high-risk products. Shopify maintains a list of prohibited products that exclude things such as vape or sex/sensuality products. Shopify Payments is even more restrictive. Lightspeed supports some high-risk sales, including in-person sales of tobacco and vape products.
Shopify VS Lightspeed: Next Steps To Build Your Business
Let’s face it; there’s no clear winner in a Lightspeed vs. Shopify matchup. It’s a head-to-head comparison of two vendors that deliver on their promises and support both in-person and online sales.
We hope our comparison of Shopify vs. Lightspeed has spotlighted the differences between these two platforms that can help you see which one will be right for your business, however.
If you’re just getting started building your small business, we have some additional resources to help you grow the right way.
First, start off strong with a solid one-page business plan. In just seven steps, you can create a plan for how to start and grow your business.
And, as your business grows, you’ll probably need to set up a business bank account to manage your money. We’ve got you covered there, too, with our list of the best business bank accounts.
Finally, insurance may not be one of your top priorities right now, but as your business grows, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re covered in case of any emergencies or unexpected situations.
Depending on what type of business you have, you might want to consider looking into getting professional liability insurance, third-party liability insurance ( also called a slip-and-fall policy, it’s especially important if you have a brick-and-mortar location), or, if your business uses vehicles, a commercial auto insurance policy. Also, if you have employees (or plan to), you’ll need workers’ comp insurance.