Disclosure: Our editorial staff write reviews independently. We may be compensated if you sign up for a service through our affiliate links.

Our rating(4.4/5)
Lightspeed Retail is an advanced POS system for businesses with lots of products.
Lightspeed Retail is an advanced POS system for iPad and desktop. The many inventory features make it a strong choice for serious retailers, whether small or medium-sized, with room to grow with Lightspeed’s additional features.
  • Highs: Complex inventory features. All-in-one system with payments. 24/7 customer support. Lots of add-ons.
  • Lows: Not that intuitive. Costs on the high side, esp. without Lightspeed Payments. No Android compatibility.
  • Best for: Retail shops with lots of products and a preference towards one platform for all software.

Pricing

Lightspeed Retail costs a monthly or annual license fee per POS register. Annual plans have to be paid upfront for a full year, whereas monthly plans are charged every month. Subscription charges are non-refundable, so even though there is no contractual commitment, you still won’t get your money back if you change your mind during a period paid for already. We therefore recommend trying the 14-day free trial before committing to a subscription.

There are different, tiered plans depending on how many additional features you need apart from the core POS system included on all plans.

In order to encourage subscribers to use Lightspeed’s own credit card processing (Lightspeed Payments), you save either $30 or $50 monthly on the subscription if you opt for it. Sneakily, the Lightspeed website highlights the pricing applicable to Lightspeed Payments users, so if you actually intended to use an external credit card processor, it can feel like a steep price rise.

Lightspeed Retail plans
Basic (POS system)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$79/mo (monthly)
$69/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$109/mo (monthly)
$99/mo (annual)
Starter (POS system, eCommerce)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$119/mo (monthly)
$99/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$149/mo (monthly)
$129/mo (annual)
Standard (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$139/mo (monthly)
$119/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$189/mo (monthly)
$149/mo (annual)
Advanced (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting, Loyalty)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$189/mo (monthly)
$169/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$239/mo (monthly)
$199/mo (annual)
Pro (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting, Loyalty, Analytics)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$259/mo (monthly)
$229/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$309/mo (monthly)
$259/mo (annual)
Extra registers
$29/mo per register license $29/mo per register license
Lightspeed Retail plans
Basic (POS system)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$79/mo (monthly)
$69/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$109/mo (monthly)
$99/mo (annual)
Starter (POS system, eCommerce)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$119/mo (monthly)
$99/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$149/mo (monthly)
$129/mo (annual)
Standard (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$139/mo (monthly)
$119/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$189/mo (monthly)
$149/mo (annual)
Advanced (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting, Loyalty)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$189/mo (monthly)
$169/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$239/mo (monthly)
$199/mo (annual)
Pro (POS system, eCommerce, Accounting, Loyalty, Analytics)
With Lightspeed Payments
First register:

$259/mo (monthly)
$229/mo (annual)
With external payment processor
First register:

$309/mo (monthly)
$259/mo (annual)
Extra registers
$29/mo per register license $29/mo per register license

With Lightspeed Payments, EMV, contactless and swipe card transactions cost a fixed 2.6% + 10¢. Keyed card payments are 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction. These fees are comparable with other credit card processors for small businesses, but lower fees can be negotiated if you make more than $250K annually. There is also a $15 chargeback fee if a customer disputes a card payment.

Hardware such as card machines and cash drawers are sold separately by Lightspeed – quotes for this are only obtained directly from Lightspeed.

POS systems for retail

Lightspeed Retail alternatives:

Best retail POS systems for retailers in the US

User experience

The Lightspeed Retail POS app can be used either on iPad, Mac or a PC computer. The inventory and vendor management tools are some of the most comprehensive available, but there are also shortcomings.

While Lightspeed’s one-hour onboarding session is useful, the software itself is not always intuitive enough to grasp on your own.

While Lightspeed’s one-hour onboarding session is useful, the software itself is not always intuitive enough to grasp on your own. During our tests, we had to look up instructions on how to get started setting up the product. Other features pertaining to orders and inventory needed some getting used to as well.

Certain settings were a bit slow to update too, e.g. there was a delay of a few days between changing the checkout background and it actually updating in the app.

For this reason, it is good to test the software thoroughly before the onboarding session, so you’re prepared with questions that may not have an answer in the online help section.

Hardware management in the app is easy – the side menu shows a button for the barcode scanner, credit card machine and receipt printer. If the equipment stops working, you can quickly tap to reset the connection this way.

Checkout and sales

Compared to the other major POS apps with a grid view of products that you tap to add to a bill, the default checkout screen in the Lightspeed app shows no products at first, just a background image and some buttons at the top, bottom and sides.

You have to tap the top search icon to find products, and then a product grid or list appears with options to sort by category, tag, brand or description. Target items should be selected twice to add it to the bill, which could be tedious for some businesses who need to add loads to one transaction.

Image: Lightspeed

Checkout screen in iPad app.

Alternatively, you can use an integrated barcode scanner to scan right away without using the search. This is a lot quicker than manually searching for each item.

The more you sell, the less likely a visual product layout will be useful, but small businesses with limited stock or few items that sell all the time (bestsellers) might prefer a product grid interface.

Checkout payment options include cash, card, cheques, credit account and gift cards (that need to be registered in the system first). Card payments have two buttons: credit and debit cards. This means you will need to check whether the payment card is credit or debit before accepting it to ensure you tap the correct option. If accepting cash, you enter how much change you receive and then it calculates what to give back.

Lightspeed Retail cash

Acceptance of cash in the Lightspeed app.

At the start of each day, you register the exact float amount divided into coins and notes so that at the end of the day, the float can be counted against the starting amount.

Refunds can be processed from the POS app where you can search receipts and refund individual items or whole transactions. This may take a little practice, as it is not entirely intuitive.

You can create quotes from the admin account, where instead of registering a payment, you save the transaction in the system as a quote that you can email or print for the customer.

If the customer later wants to go for the sale, you can find the saved quote and proceed with the payment. If the customer later wants to go for the sale, you can find the saved quote and proceed with the payment.

Small businesses with limited stock or few items that sell all the time (bestsellers) might prefer a product grid interface

Receipts can be customized with your company details. After each transaction, you can choose to email or print it from the screen to a connected receipt printer.

Inventory management

Lightspeed Retail is made for businesses with a lot of stock and advanced inventory needs. The software will track your margin on individual products based on unit cost (what you pay for it) and sales price (what you sell it for). You can mark which products should have taxes added and which can have discounts applied.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Retail inventory dashboard.

Stock management: New users can import thousands of products in the Lightspeed system through CSV files, add product profiles manually or search a comprehensive vendor catalog to add items other Lightspeed users already have in the system.

On top of the many existing item settings (e.g. stock level, SKUs and other IDs, pricing details, tags), you can see order statuses, incoming stock and add custom fields of data attached to products. Negative stock counts are possible, and you can set specific inventory levels to trigger alerts for when to reorder more.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Retail product settings.

Vendor management: Lightspeed’s vendor tools are pretty impressive – a bonus for retailers who love to explore new vendors and products for their own store. Different product categories can be searched with catalogs of suitable vendors. If your own suppliers are not listed, you can notify Lightspeed and they will add it. Add products to your local system straight from the vendor catalogs, complete with SKUs and other details.

Order management: The system is great for orders, whether it is a customer or purchase order. Create a special order (for a customer) for a product you have in another location or one that needs to be ordered from the supplier, then create the purchase order from the relevant vendor or place the transfer. The customer does not have to pay straight away – you can save it as a quote to pay for later.

Every order has a status – e.g. not ordered, ready for pickup, complete – which you set manually. When you receive and check your delivery, you confirm in the system whether everything is correct.

Customer loyalty

The core POS software has the ability to create discounts, promotions and customer profiles. With a customer profile, you can keep track of orders and contact details, analyze sales and add other information about the person. To analyze customer sales, you need to add the person to their transactions at the register, otherwise the sale is anonymous.

Discounts (fixed or percentage) can be applied to sales, customers, rule-based promotions for set periods or a factor like location. If you like, you can require customers to have a profile in the system in order for the discount to be applied, or create an employee discount for staff only. Coupons and donations can be created too.

Overall, the complexity of the stock settings may require a workaround to apply certain bulk discounts or coupons.

Image: Lightspeed

Lightspeed Loyalty allows you to create rewards programs and use marketing tools.

You can sell and accept gift cards, but it takes some learning to know how to add them in the system. You have to order physical gift cards in order to start offering them, so it wasn’t possible to test them on our free trial.

On the Advanced and Pro subscriptions, you get the add-on module Lightspeed Loyalty. This comes with extra customer relationship management (CRM) tools like rewards programs, email marketing, detailed analytics and more.

Employee and store management

Lightspeed Retail lets you create profiles of multiple shop locations, complete with different stock levels, receipts and prices. You can process stock transfers, search inventory across locations and manage stock purchasing for all your stores.

Have a whole team of staff to manage? No problem. Each employee can have their own account with individual permissions and a PIN for logging into the POS app. You can log their clock-in and clock-out times and view their sales as well. Apart from the main account types (Admin, Associate, Manager, Owner), you can create custom roles with a wide range of permissions to toggle on/off or individualize permissions per user.

Ecommerce

Plans higher than Basic come with Lightspeed eCommerce, which is a website builder with online shop features, fully integrated with the rest of the Lightspeed platform. You can basically link your product library in the POS system with an online store created and managed through a Lightspeed eCom dashboard.

Image: Lightspeed

Lightspeed eCommerce website on different devices.

Among useful features are a scheduling system for bookings (useful for in-store appointments) and advanced shipping tools to keep online orders flowing. Social media profiles can also be connected to your ecommerce store, as can customer loyalty programs to allow for the most coherent service across sales channels.

With Lightspeed Payments activated, you can accept multiple currencies without having to integrate with an external payment processor.

Data syncing and lack of offline capabilities

The POS system does not function without a working internet connection. Being a fully cloud-based system, it means you cannot process sales if the internet goes down on your local network. This could pose problems for shops with poor connectivity.

Curiously, Lightspeed offers a Lite Server in the Restaurant POS bundles, but not the Retail POS bundles. Every hardware bundle is personalized, though, so it’s worth asking for details of whether there is any way you can use it offline on your premises.

On the plus side, all transactions, orders and changes in the system are stored and processed in real time through the internet. This means inventory is correctly synced across locations, and the relevant users can check sales and movements from anywhere on desktop or the iPad app.

Image: Lightspeed

Lightspeed Retail can be used with a cash drawer, barcode scanner and receipt printer.

Hardware and credit card machines

The frontend POS system can be used on a desktop computer (PC or Mac) or iPad. There is no Lightspeed POS app for Android devices.

As for payments, Lightspeed clearly wants its merchants to use Lightspeed Payments rather than any other credit card processor, since subscriptions are more expensive without it.

With Lightspeed Payments, payouts reach your bank account within two business days. It can only be linked to two card machine models that have to be purchased through Lightspeed:

  • Verifone P400 terminal
  • Mobile Tap card reader
Lightspeed credit card machines

Verifone P400 and a mobile credit card reader can be purchased directly from Lightspeed.

Otherwise, US merchants can integrate with 2ACCEPT, TSYS and Vantiv (Worldpay) for credit card processing. Ikeono can also be linked to the POS system for contactless payments over texting.

It is possible to use a non-integrated card machine that is not connected to the Lightspeed software. With a standalone terminal, you manually enter transaction totals on the card machine, then confirm in the POS app when the payment has gone through.

Compatible receipt printers, label printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners can be purchased from Lightspeed and integrated with the POS system.

Reports and analytics

All the POS plans include basic reporting, for instance sales history and cashing-up reports.

Although classed as “basic”, we saw that they can be filtered into many different areas, such as margins, closing counts, total hours clocked by employee, tax audit trail and inventory history. The reports are divided into Point of Sale Reports and Inventory Reports, all of which can be exported to a CSV file or printed off within the individual filters (you cannot see all analyses on one page).

The Dashboard (back office account) shows a neat overview of the day’s revenue which you can set the time frame for, “tasks” which you customize, active orders and point of sale activity.

Lightspeed reporting

The Retail app gives a great overview of sales.

On Standard, Advanced and Pro plans, Lightspeed can integrate with Xero, Sage or QuickBooks accounting programs. That’s what ‘Lightspeed Accounting’ refers to in the pricing plans: the ability to integrate with these. Lightspeed does not have its own accounting software.

Customer support

Lightspeed’s free customer support is available round the clock, seven days a week, via phone and email. The company likes to talk on the phone, especially at first during the sales stage, but you can insist on email if you prefer. There are also online support sections, video tutorials and Lightspeed Community where users can post questions and discussions for peer support.

New users get a one-hour free onboarding session with a Lightspeed advisor, which is great for getting all your questions answered – that is, if you can cram all questions into that hour. If you can’t, there’s always the helpline, which is generally friendly but does not always resolve complex issues related to shortcomings in the software.

Lightspeed regularly updates their software and develops new features in response to customer feedback. We consider this a good sign that they’re taking the service seriously and are willing to adapt.

Lightspeed Retail shop

Lightspeed works well in shops where products need a nuanced inventory system.

Who is Lightspeed Retail best for?

Lightspeed Retail is best for small and medium retailers with lots of products such as clothes, bikes, pet supplies, jewelry, electronics and sports gear. The system is fastest with a barcode scanner, as otherwise you have to search for each product, so investing in stationary equipment beyond an iPad or desktop computer is essential in busy stores.

If suppliers are a pain in your business, this POS system is a great choice. All your vendors are saved with their products and related orders, and you can even explore new vendors from the POS app.

The system is not so great if you’re out for the cheapest solution or don’t want to use Lightspeed Payments. The tiered plans for the first iPad license is expensive the more features you opt for, especially on a monthly plan or within Lightspeed Payments. Add to that the extra software licenses for the 2nd+ registers and costs will rack up.

Verdict: good all-rounder if you take full advantage

Where inventory features are concerned, Lightspeed Retail is quite advanced on any of the plans. Add to that the convenience of keeping payments, ecommerce, customer loyalty and all the rest of your software together on one platform, and it could easily save you time and hassle.

On the other hand, you don’t see the full potential of the system unless you upgrade to a higher plan and/or use Lightspeed Payments. If you just want a specific feature module, such as Customer Loyalty or Analytics, it requires paying for a much more expensive plan than the Basic tier. This is Lightspeed’s way to get merchants to use all its integrated features like ecommerce, but it may not suit everyone.

Small shops will find even the Basic plan more than enough for in-store operations if they’re looking for a good POS system with a serious product management system. If the entire platform works for your business, the price is worth it.

Pros

  • Excellent for rich inventories and vendor management

  • 24/7 customer support and free onboarding session

  • Works on desktop, which cannot be said of all cloud POS

  • Integrated card payments with competitive rates

  • Built-in ecommerce and CRM systems

  • Suitable for multiple locations

Cons

  • Not that intuitive

  • No Android support

  • Higher price without Lightspeed Payments

  • Expensive with more add-ons

  • No offline mode

Name of Reviewed Item: Lightspeed Retail Rating Value: 4.5 Image: https://www.mobiletransaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/lightspeed-retail-review-us.jpg Review Author:Review Date: