Our rating(3.8/5)
Restaurant-specific iPad POS that’s easy to set up, but not without hiccups.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based EPOS for small food-and-drink businesses at one or more locations. Apart from its checkout and restaurant management features, it connects with online ordering and has its own payment system.
  • Pros: Relatively easy to set up. 24/7 customer support. Online ordering options. Integrated payments. Offline mode.
  • Cons: Can only use Lightspeed’s card payment system. Poor service reported. No free trial of full software. No Android support.
  • Choose if: You want a good balance of simple checkout software with professional back office functions.

We tested Lightspeed Restaurant on iPad for an authentic understanding of the product, so opinions are based on the writer’s own experience.

What is Lightspeed Restaurant?

Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based point of sale (POS) app built for iPad only. Apart from its specialised restaurant features, it can connect with online ordering and many other integrations at an additional cost.

As one of the most dominant companies in the small-business EPOS sector, it’s hard to get around Lightspeed as a leading option for full- and quick-service restaurants, bars, cafés and the likes. The company has bought up quite a few other POS providers in the past few years, such as Vend.

It’s one of the best POS systems for hotel restaurants, since it integrates with many property management systems like Apaleo, Omniboost and Oracle Opera Cloud Hospitality.

A note on the old vs new POS app we have tested

After Lightspeed acquired iKentoo, the old Lightspeed Restaurant EPOS was replaced with iKentoo’s and rebranded as “Lightspeed Restaurant (K Series)”. This is what we are reviewing in this article.

“L Series” is the old Lightspeed app that the company has phased out in the UK. Curiously, the new app lacks a lot of features and integrations we’ve seen in the old app, but Lightspeed is gradually developing it.

Our experience: good, but make sure it’s right for you

There’s no doubt Lightspeed Restaurant POS is built by industry veterans who know what a food and drink business needs. It may take some getting used to before you confidently navigate the interface, but then you can take full advantage of a system with a unique setup to drive your operations well.

Although the core (‘Starter’ plan) POS system already contains a lot of restaurant management features, there’s no escaping the fact that many specialised features like accounting, customer loyalty and advanced inventory management require a pricier subscription or integrations that bump up the cost.

You should also consider whether Lightspeed’s own payment system is worth the cost, as other card machines cannot be used with the software.

Lightspeed Restaurant definitely has many key features for full-service restaurants, but I’ve tried other iPad POS systems that are more adaptable.

Emily Sorensen portrait   Emily Sorensen, Senior Editor at MobileTransaction

More POS features were available in the old Lightspeed Restaurant system, so we find it curious the company has opted to feature and build on the old iKentoo app that was not as advanced. But more functions are added bit by bit, so down the line, it may not be a major limitation.

Overall, the new restaurant EPOS is capable of fitting into almost any hospitality business, but before you subscribe, you should check it has all the functions you need through your initial chat with Lightspeed.


  • Customisable POS app

  • Free onboarding and 24/7 support

  • Online ordering options

  • Offline mode

  • Left-handed app layout option

  • Useful integrations for complex businesses


  • Annual commitment required

  • No Android support

  • App demo does not include all functions

  • Can only use Lightspeed Payments

  • Customer service issues

Lightspeed Restaurant ratings
Criteria Verdict
Product Good
Cost and fees Good
Value-added services Good
Contract Passable / Good
Sign-up and transparency Passable / Good
Customer service Good

Bottom line: Lightspeed Restaurant works well if you want a simple interface with enough functions to run a small restaurant. It could be more flexible, though.


Good (3.8/5)

The EPOS is fairly easy to set up and run, but might require a bit of staff training to avoid errors. Lightspeed includes most of the hospitality features people are looking for, like stock management, takeaway integrations, table tabs and kitchen communications.

The software interface could be more accessible for those with poor vision. We don’t think there are enough features on the Starter plan to run a busy restaurant, so it’s only really worthy on the more expensive plans.

We would’ve liked to see more flexibility around hardware – the EPOS only works on iPad and with Lightspeed’s own card machines.

Price and fees

Good (4/5)

Subscriptions are priced similarly to leading competitors, but the hidden cost of hardware, integrations and payment processing can quickly add up.

Value-added services

Good (3.8/5)

Lightspeed aims to be an all-in-one platform with all your point of sale and payment features built into the platform. This is achieved more or less, but some functions like staff management and marketing tools need an external integration.

Integrations have been added in the last couple of years, but payment integrations have also been removed. The fact you now have to use Lightspeed Payments and its card machines is good for merchants who like to keep things simple, but bad if you want lower fees or a different setup.


Passable/Good (3.7/5)

All plans now require annual lock-in, which won’t suit everyone. Since the platform includes payment processing, you can at least avoid external card machine contracts.

Sign-up and transparency

Passable/Good (3.7/5)

Lightspeed’s onboarding staff will hold your hand (figuratively) from your first contact to sign-up, but you have to submit your contact details and wait for a call back to get an accurate quote.

Many fees – including card processing charges, cost of card machines, certain add-on features and hardware – are not on the website. The fact you have to talk on the phone with a sales rep to get all this is a minus.

You can’t try the backend software in a free trial, just a basic demo account after downloading the app on iPad. For full transparency, people should be able to try the software for themselves before committing to a year.

Customer service

Good (3.9/5)

Users are assigned a UK-based account manager to help with issues and setup. There’s also 24/7 support for any urgent queries. But some users complain of slow or poor responses and being passed around to different staff, so it’s not a perfect service.

Lightspeed Restaurant pricing

Lightspeed Restaurant has three main subscriptions:

  • Starter: Includes 1 till licence, core POS app, basic reports, customer loyalty and Lightspeed Payments (suited for 1-2 locations)
  • Essential: All the above plus online ordering, inventory management and real-time reporting (suited for 1-15 locations)
  • Premium: All the above plus basic API access and PMS (property management system) integration (suited for 16-500+ locations)

Extra register licences incur £33 per month each, excluding VAT.

The Starter subscription costs £59 per month, Essential £109 monthly and Premium £339 monthly excluding VAT. Though charged monthly, they require a year’s commitment.

Since there is no free trial of the full software (only a limited demo in the app), you therefore need to be sure that this is right for your restaurant before committing.

Lightspeed Restaurant cost
EPOS subscription (incl. 1 till licence) Starter: £59 + VAT/mo
Essential: £109 + VAT/mo
Premium: £339 + VAT/mo
Additional till licences (any plan) £33 + VAT/mo per iPad
Add-ons Various costs
Lightspeed Payments Transaction fees depend on your turnover

On the Starter plan, you can add an online ordering (Order Anywhere) module for £50/month extra and inventory management for £100/month more, but then you might as well upgrade to Essential that costs £50 more and includes all this.

Lightspeed prefers to quote other potential add-ons to merchants directly, so not all pricing is transparent on the website. Multi-location restaurants, hotels and other complex businesses can opt for an Enterprise subscription with custom pricing.

The POS system is linked with Lightspeed Payments for card payments – no other card processors integrate. And rather than charging a fixed rate per transaction, merchants pay one lump “transaction fee” per month depending on which turnover range you fall into. Examples of the real fees are:

  • £5k-£19,999/monthly sales: £75 transaction fee/month
  • £2k-£34,999/monthly sales: £150 transaction fee/month
  • £35k-£44,999/monthly sales: £200 transaction fee/month
  • £45k-£54,999/monthly sales: £290 transaction fee/month
  • …and so on.

Lightspeed sells specific terminals for its payment system, and you’re not allowed to use any other card machines (even if they are the same model purchased elsewhere). The cost of those along with additional payment fees are quoted during onboarding.

Merchants may be allowed to use another card processor if they pay Lightspeed a third-party transaction fee – and only as a non-integrated solution. This means you have to manually register card payments in the POS app when they have gone through on the card machine. Needless to say, this can end up expensive for an inconvenient POS-payment combo.

Hardware components are suggested only when you speak to an adviser, so the final cost will ultimately depend on your needs.

restaurant point of sale

What are the alternatives?

6 best restaurant POS systems in the UK

User experience

Before you can use the POS system, there’s a lot to set up in the Lightspeed Back Office account. The food menu, staff accounts, discounts, receipt settings, VAT groups, button layout and much more are created there.

This is the norm with many hospitality POS systems. Lightspeed’s advantage is how relatively simple the setup is. There aren’t that many inventory settings (unless subscribed to more), so it’s an approachable EPOS for people new to the industry.

Restaurants are encouraged to have a spreadsheet with a complete food and drink menu that Lightspeed will then upload onto the system for you. This may take a few days to process.

Unfortunately, the Back Office account is not accessible with the free app demo, so it’s hard to see its full potential before you pay for the system. But once subscribed, you can access Back Office through the app to deal with administrative tasks from the front of house.

Lightspeed Restaurant Back Office

There’s a lot to set up first in Lightspeed Back Office.

To get a good idea of how the POS system can be personalised, we recommend watching the YouTube videos on the Lightspeed Hospitality Video Help Center channel where it is shown in detail how you set it up.

In the POS app, different functions are disabled or enabled depending on your user account permissions. The app layout itself is actually quite simple, with buttons laid out fairly intuitively. You can switch between light and dark mode to suit your surroundings, and there’s an option to switch the layout to suit left-handed people best – that’s rare to see.

That said, you can’t increase font sizes or add images to food items for quicker navigation at checkout, but colour categorisations for buttons are at least there. Some people with poor vision might not like this bland and small-text layout, so it’s worth checking it out in the demo.

Some of the navigation feels counterintuitive, for example when attempting to edit an order attached to a table. We tried to save an order for a payment later, but this didn’t seem possible in the demo. To clear any doubts on how you navigate the functions, you would most certainly need to train the staff before they use it in real life.

Image: MobileTransaction

Lightspeed Restaurant app interface

Checkout screen of the Lightspeed Restaurant app.

It’s clear the software was developed with efficiency in mind, but it’s only efficient after you know all the shortcuts and processes.

A couple of years ago, Lightspeed was actively developing their software and adding features. As a user, you still always have access to the newest version of the regularly updated app. But I haven’t noticed any new app features when testing it again now, just minor tweaks to button layouts and changes to which features are now part of the different plans.

POS features

Custom-built for the hospitality industry, Lightspeed Restaurant offers enough features for most food-and-drink businesses. Whatever basic functionality (such as tipping) you may be thinking of; it’s probably there. Here’s a snapshot.

Menu items and button layout: You can combine food items to make up meals, and group them into categories like side dishes, mains and desserts. Categories, food items and button layout are fully customised by you in Back Office.

Discounts: You can add fixed-amount or percentage discounts that can be manually applied to any products, but it is not possible to create timed promotions for e.g. Happy Hour. Discounts can be applied to any products, not preselected for, say, alcoholic drinks only.

Image: MobileTransaction

Lightspeed Restaurant payment options app screen

Payment options screen in the iPad app – it’s here you can split the bill too.

Modifiers and messages: Additional choices can be assigned to a product ordered. For example, certain meals require a choice of salad dressings or preferred side dishes out of a selection, with or without additional pricing added to the order. Lightspeed also gives the option to add notes to an order, such as “Important customer”, “Faster, please”, cooking temperature or other messages to the kitchen.

Customer loyalty: On any plan, customers can be added to a library to enable a personalised service and customer analytics. Profiles can have contact details and custom notes, but also tracks what they purchased along with other data.

But the main value of profiles is to link them to external software that runs customer loyalty programmes and email marketing campaigns.

Employee management: Set up multiple staff accounts with custom permissions. Users clock in and out in the app to mark their shifts, but you can also set up specific shifts like Morning, Afternoon and Night to monitor rotas more easily. Planday, Rotaready or other software can be integrated for more advanced staff management.

We noticed the inventory workflows are simple, so Lightspeed suits food-and-drink businesses with little prior experience.

Emily Sorensen portrait   Emily Sorensen, Senior Editor at MobileTransaction

Stock management: Although you can add ingredients to each food item (useful for communicating allergens at the register), ingredient-tracking or any considerable stock management features are not part of the Starter plan, but they are included on the Essential and Premium plans.

With the upgrade, you can – very conveniently – generate purchase orders via email. To save time, orders can be auto-generated based on your par levels. Once the food order arrives, it’s easy enough to attach the invoice, accept items or apply changes via the system.

Lightspeed Restaurant table plan

Table plan in the Lightspeed Restaurant app.

Table tab functions: Visual table plans can be created for multiple different floors or rooms at one location, all accessed in the app. Assign orders to specific seats at a table so the waiter knows who’s getting what.

Customer switching table? No problem – just transfer the tab to a new table. Customers can also have their bill split by dish, seat or amount – if not, one person can pay the whole bill. When we tried it on the checkout page, splitting the bill wasn’t that intuitive, so it might require some trial and error at first.

table tabs in Lightspeed Restaurant app

Example of a table’s tabs, as viewed in the iPad app.

Overall, the app has most of the fundamental restaurant features along with communications to a kitchen printer and contactless ordering (more on that below), but it’s not that extensive.

On the plus side, we noticed little useful features like adding an abbreviated name of dishes or drinks to display on receipts, and accounting groups to distinguish different VAT rates between types of items. When opening a new float, you can even add the current weather (affecting sales ahead) and notes for the day.

If you’re on the techy side, it’s possible to set up web extensions to add information and notes in the app that might be useful at certain touch points.

Lightspeed Restaurant till float opening notes

Add notes about the day when opening the till, like weather or other useful information.

Cloud-based, but works offline

The system is split into two parts: the iPad interface used by floor staff and a Back Office account in a web browser accessed on any device.

The iPad application uploads all transactions and changes in the app to the cloud in real time, so the restaurant admin can view and analyse these from anywhere – pretty standard in modern POS software.

This is possible with a live internet connection (WiFi or mobile network), but Lightspeed Restaurant also carries on working offline through its TrueSync technology. While in offline mode, TrueSync stores all new data locally on the iPad. When the internet connection is next established, this data is then uploaded to the cloud.

Card payments do require an internet connection, but you can accept cash and other offline payment methods (e.g. cash or gift cards) in offline mode.

Online ordering

On the Essential and Premium plans, you get Lightspeed Order Anywhere‘s online ordering page, which can:

  • Accept orders online for pickup
  • Set up contactless ordering from customer tables via a QR code

The web page can be customised with your branding and menu. Order Anywhere uses Lightspeed Payments for payment processing, with transaction fees dependent on your sales volume (shared during sign-up).

Alternatively, the integration Deliverect connects your online food menu with takeaway delivery platforms (Deliveroo, Uber Eats) to accept orders sent to the EPOS system. This does cost more, but opens up for a lot more customers online.

Card payments and hardware

As a Lightspeed user, you don’t need to connect the POS system with any external payment processor, because it uses Lightspeed Payments. This has no setup fee or monthly transaction limits, but fixed transaction fees, chargeback fees and refund charges do apply.

Several card machine models from third-party manufacturers work with Lightspeed Payments, but you have to buy them, preconfigured to work with the system, directly from Lightspeed. If you get the same terminal models elsewhere, they won’t work.

I think it’s disappointing you can’t choose a different card processor than Lightspeed Payments, as it might not be the cost-effective option for merchants. At least it’s all integrated and easy to set up.

Emily Sorensen portrait   Emily Sorensen, Senior Editor at MobileTransaction

Lightspeed Restaurant used to integrate with other card processors in the UK, such as Zettle and SumUp, but it no longer does. I think this is disappointing for a POS system claiming to be one of the best, as the fees and setup might not work for any merchant.

You’re not allowed to use a non-integrated card machine either (where you accept cards independently, in parallel with the POS app). If you do, there might be a penalty charge.

Unless you only want to email customers their receipts, you’ll need to integrate the POS app with a receipt printer. Lightspeed is compatible with specific Epson or Star Micronics receipt or kitchen printers as well as cash drawers, a label printer and WiFi equipment to boost on-site connectivity.


Sales reports, such as Z and X reports, can be viewed in the app and accessed only by users with permissions, such as the restaurant manager. Remote managers can log into the Lightspeed Live app on their iPhone (not Android phone) to check on staff performance, sales and popular products across all your locations.

The Back Office contains various customised reports that can be exported to PDF or CSV files. You can analyse things like payment methods, daily, weekly or monthly sales, accounting data and shift reports.

Accounting integrations are available through the add-on Lightspeed Accounting that connects with major accounting programmes like Xero and QuickBooks.

Customer service and reviews

Lightspeed offers phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to all their customers. The company doesn’t outsource staff, so you benefit from support agents who should know the system quite well.

New customers get a free onboarding video session with a Lightspeed consultant, where you get introduced to the software and have your questions answered. The online help section has a lot of information, so you may not need to contact support after the onboarding session.

However, we have seen a number of negative reviews concerning:

  • Long wait times on the helpline
  • Being passed around between support teams who can’t help
  • Poor support in relation to integrations with external software
  • How features related to ecommerce and product uploads were handled

Sadly, there is only a preconfigured demo account to test in the iPad app, not an option to try the Back Office or other features like you can with most other POS systems.

For pricing, you are also forced to provide a phone number and email address on a web form, then wait for a sales person’s response. When we did hear back from a Lightspeed representative within an hour, so you need a little patience.

On the plus side, speaking to a sales rep does get you a more accurate quote, as there are hardware packages and different costs depending on your needs.