This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a constantly evolving cloud point of sale (POS) that regularly appears on our rankings of the best restaurant POS systems and the best POS systems for small businesses. In our most recent ranking, Lightspeed Restaurant earned a 3.6 out of 5 for its highly customizable, user-friendly tools. This POS is best for growing restaurants that need a flexible POS that can grow as their needs change.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a terrific fit for growing restaurants that need an affordable iPad POS. The peripheral software for KDS screens and self-service kiosks is some of the most user-friendly we’ve seen, and the advanced reporting syncs with credit card information to automate customer and sales insights.
If you regularly need to manage a team of in-house delivery drivers, Lightspeed Restaurant is not the system for you (check out Toast or Revel Systems instead). And, if you want to use advanced features and bring your own processor, Lightspeed will disappoint; most advanced features require enrollment in Lightspeed Payments to fully function. Outside of those minor limitations, though, you’ll find Lightspeed Restaurant to be a constantly evolving, self-installable restaurant POS.
Lightspeed Restaurant Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Full Service Restaurants, Quick Service Restaurants, Cafes, Coffee Shops, Ghost Kitchens
Monthly Software Fees
*Prices vary based on whether you pay your fees monthly or annually; see detailed pricing below.
Setup and Installation Fees
1–3 years, depending on subscription plan
Payment Processing Options
Lightspeed Payments*, BridgePay, Cayan, WorldPay
Payment Processing Fees
Lightspeed Payments starts at 2.6% + 10 cents per in-person swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction. Manually keyed transactions are 2.6% + 30 cents.
Lightspeed Restaurant Fee Calculator
Lightspeed Restaurant POS Alternatives
Monthly software fees
In-person processing fees
Free POS on restaurant-grade hardware
From 2.49% + 15 cents
Small restaurants that need a free, iPad POS
From 2.6% + 10 cents
Offline functionality and driver management
From $99 per terminal
Varies by processor
Lightspeed Restaurant is midpriced, compared to other cloud restaurant POS systems. It does not offer a free baseline subscription like competitors Square and Toast, but it is less expensive than Revel and legacy POS systems like MICROS. It does offer a 14-day free trial, so you can try the system before committing to a one- to three-year contract.
The POS is offered at four different subscription levels: Essentials, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. This helps small restaurants afford this comprehensive POS without paying for high-volume tools they don’t need.
Since our last update:
Lightspeed Restaurant has updated its pricing. In most cases, prices have increased along with the included features. The Plus level now includes bar tab pre-authorizations and Advanced Insights.
Lightspeed Restaurant Pricing Plans
Monthly software fees (paid annually)
Monthly software fees (paid monthly)
Reporting and Analytics
Lightspeed Restaurant POS Hardware
Lightspeed Restaurant operates on iOS devices like iPads, iPods, and iPhones that run iOS 13 or later. If you have compatible iPads or other devices, you can use them to run your POS, or you can purchase tablets from Lightspeed for custom-quoted prices. Lightspeed also operates with industry-standard printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners from Epson, Star Micronics, and Socket.
Epson TM-M30II-NT Receipt Printer
Socket 7Ci Barcode Scanner
Studio Proper iPad Stand
Lightspeed POS Terminal Kit
Thermal Receipt printer
Bluetooth barcode scanner
Low-profile iPad stand
iPad stand, receipt printer, kitchen printer, and cash drawer
Beyond simple POS terminals, the Lightspeed platform enables you to configure iPads as KDS screens, self-order kiosks, and customer-facing displays. You can use iPhones and iPod touch devices as handheld POS devices for placing orders. Additionally, you can process payments on tap, dip, and swipe card readers attached to terminals or via handheld Verifone PIN pad devices.
Restaurants that operate with KDS screens will find Lightspeed’s KDS screens incredibly easy to navigate, with easy color-coding that separates orders as they near completion. iPads that are configured as self-service kiosks are equally intuitive for both full-service and quick-service restaurants.
Lightspeed Restaurant POS Payments
Lightspeed Restaurant is one of the few cloud POS systems that supports multiple payment processors. So, you can choose from the convenience of built-in payments with Lightspeed Payments, or shop for the lowest rates from processors on the BridgePay, Cayan, and WorldPay gateways.
With Lightspeed Payments, transaction fees are flat-rate, so you pay the same fixed fee no matter the card type (unlike interchange-plus rates which can vary by card type). This makes it easier to budget for your expected processing fees.
Lightspeed Payments Baseline Processing Rates*
In-person tapped, dipped, or swiped
2.6% + 10 cents
2.6% + 30 cents
2.6% + 30 cents
*These rates are baseline rates; contact Lightspeed for a custom quote based on your sales volume and business type
Lightspeed Restaurant’s Advanced Insights reporting module syncs directly with payment data from Lightspeed Payments. So if you plan to rely on automated customer and sales insights from your POS, Lightspeed Payments is your best bet.
Lightspeed Restaurant combines high function with affordable cost. The POS has everything that a small restaurant needs in the baseline POS software, and these functions quickly expand with optional add-ons and third-party integrations.
You can create detailed, customized floor plans that reflect your restaurant location and create multiple menus for in-house dining, takeout, catering, or retail items. Your employees can clock in and out directly in the POS, and you can set a variety of access permissions to customize what tasks each of your team members can perform. The system includes course and seat management, combo building, check splitting, house account management, and pre-authorized bar tabs.
Since our last update:
Lightspeed Restaurant has added the ability for US Lightspeed Payment users to pre-authorize bar tabs. The feature is still in beta mode, but you can contact Lightspeed for more information.
Lightspeed Restaurant Reporting
Lightspeed Restaurant features all the basic reports you need in the baseline POS. You can view shift reports by server and see sales by day, week, or month. It also includes easy W-2 and Form 8027 reports for reporting employee withholding and tips for tax purposes.
Advanced reporting features are optional at lower subscription tiers, and included in Pro and Enterprise memberships. These features include additional reports like revenue by restaurant location, payments summary, and customizable category and modifier reviews. Through Advanced Reporting, you can also create custom reports using a simple drag-and-drop report builder.
Lightspeed Restaurant includes two tiers for ingredient-level inventory tracking. Basic inventory is included in the baseline POS, while Advanced Inventory requires a Pro or Enterprise subscription. Both inventory modules include ingredient-level inventory, real-time supply depletion based on sales, and low-stock alerts. Lightspeed Restaurant’s basic inventory module functions similarly to TouchBistro’s, requiring users to place vendor orders outside of the POS and manually update on-hand quantities as deliveries arrive.
Track the performance and manage the menus of multiple locations from a central, browser-based management dashboard. You can view individual or combined reports to get a full-spectrum view of your group operations. Multilocation restaurant groups can also get multilocation gift cards, and create items, modifiers, and discounts for each location from the master POS account.
Lightspeed Restaurant integrates with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, and Sage One for accounting accuracy. It also connects with over 50 popular third-party apps like Homebase (employee scheduling), Restaurant365 (our top recommendation for restaurant accounting), and MarketMan (our top recommendation for restaurant inventory management).
Lightspeed Restaurant has added a slew of advanced features in the past two years. This all-in-one system became a super-system when it absorbed other popular POS systems Upserve and ShopKeep. These acquisitions added new levels to the Lightspeed Restaurant POS; ShopKeep’s tools provided more focus on the smallest businesses while Upserve’s advanced tools strengthened the system’s high-volume tools.
Lightspeed Restaurant didn’t earn a perfect score here, though, because many of the advanced features come with advanced prices. Many of the former Upserve’s analytics and inventory tools are only available in the higher-priced Pro and Enterprise packages, which run at least $399 per month. And there is one niche restaurant POS tool that Lightspeed is missing completely: built-in delivery driver management. But otherwise, this POS has all the bases covered.
Lightspeed’s standout functions include excellent deep-level reporting and analytics, automated Advanced Inventory, and insightful online ordering and order management features. Expand the sections below for a deeper look at Lightspeed Restaurant’s advanced functions.
Lightspeed recently added a feature that it calls Advanced Insights. This module is available on Pro and Enterprise accounts. Advanced Insights unlocks automated analytics like menu quadrant reports that show you which menu items are your highest performers, which should fall off your menu, and which menu items might just need a marketing boost to become stars. Advanced Insights also includes detailed staff performance reports that help you identify top performers or training opportunities.
This module also integrates with Lightspeed Payments to show you highly detailed customer information. You can track how often customers visit and how much they spent, creating a pattern of guest behavior over time. These guest insights are automatically generated from card swipes—even if the same customer uses various cards—so there is no additional data entry or administrative oversight required. Users should note, however, that Advanced Insights only works with Lightspeed Payments. If you use a different integrated payment processor, you won’t reap the benefits of automated customer reporting.
Advanced inventory is essentially the automated inventory module from Upserve, which Lightspeed acquired in 2021. This inventory tool has long been a strong, automated inventory tool, featuring purchase order and vendor management, alongside deep-level inventory insights that highlight price fluctuations and show where you can save on your cost of goods sold (COGS).
Lightspeed offers two distinct options to support digital ordering and delivery management. The first module, Lightspeed Delivery, streamlines a restaurant’s relationship with third-party delivery platforms. Meanwhile, Lightspeed handles online and mobile ordering via its Order Anywhere tool. Both modules are offered as add-ons to the restaurant POS, with pricing that is currently not publicly listed. Though, previous versions of these two tools started at $39 per month.
Lightspeed Delivery operates via third-party online ordering aggregator, Deliverect. This module directs orders from third-party delivery platforms into your POS order stream. With Lightspeed Delivery, you can also create a separate delivery menu with delivery-only pricing that you can manage from a central dashboard. Updating this menu will update your menus across any integrated third-party delivery platform that you partner with.
Lightspeed’s Order Anywhere tool enables you to receive pickup orders from a POS-connected online ordering site. This site is optimized for mobile devices and supports orders from internet-connected computers, mobile devices, and smartphones. Order Anywhere also includes QR code ordering tools that enable customers to place contactless in-person orders and payments from their smartphones. To accept payments in your Order Anywhere module, you need to enroll with either Lightspeed Payments or have a Stripe account.
Loyalty & Customer Management
Lightspeed’s Loyalty features are included in Plus, Pro, and Enterprise subscriptions. Essentials users can add the module for a custom-quoted price (previous versions were offered at $39 per month).
The module’s robust features help you reward returning customers and target your promotions to their interests. You can sort your customers into custom groups based on their purchases, dining frequency, birthday month, or anything you choose. For example, you can create a group of customers who drink bourbon and then email them an invitation to a bourbon tasting; Lightspeed Loyalty has all the tools you may need.
You can prompt your staff to ask customers to join the loyalty program at the end of a sales transaction, and they can enroll the customer directly in the POS. Loyalty customers can be tracked in your system by their cell phone numbers, or you can choose to distribute custom-designed loyalty cards.
Choose how you want to reward guests who reach certain milestones—by offering a promotional item or a dollar or percentage discount. Alternatively, you can offer a specific menu item like a free coffee or dessert. Rewards can be offered to specific customer groups or offered to all loyalty customers. You can also accept reward points as a form of payment if you like.
Lightspeed Restaurant is iOS-based, similar to competitor TouchBistro. However, Lightspeed Restaurant’s user interface is much more dynamic than that of TouchBistro. Lightspeed breaks out of the iOS gridded navigation menus, creating a highly textured visual ecosystem that is much easier to read at a glance.
Order screens can be image-based so customers can see what they are ordering on self-service kiosks, and staff can show customers images tableside. Moreover, you can set a specific name for dishes that will only print in the kitchen, so if your line cooks read French or Spanish more fluently than English, you can give them tickets in their preferred language.
Owners and managers can access Lightspeed Restaurant’s management dashboard from any browser, so they can view reports in the back office, on their home computer, or on any web-enabled mobile device. The report interface is streamlined and easy to navigate, and reports are highly visual, showing your performance metrics at a glance with vivid charts to illustrate data.
Lightspeed’s customer care team is available 24/7—except for holidays—via phone. It also offers live web chat during standard business hours and responds to emails within a day. You’ll find a variety of training videos in the manager dashboard, and Lightspeed maintains a database of helpful training resources online that you can access at any time.
Lightspeed Restaurant has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. The POS is as easy to use as they come and offers massive functionality for a self-installable cloud POS. The addition of advanced inventory and reporting capabilities make this user-friendly POS a truly excellent POS for restaurants of all types.
The only thing that could make Lightspeed more compelling would be a free or pay-as-you-go subscription option. And it would be great to see their take on drive-thru management. This system develops new tools quickly though, so there’s every chance we’ll see these offerings when we next review this excellent system.
Lightspeed Restaurant User Reviews
Overall, Lightspeed Restaurant users love this system. Nearly every Lightspeed Restaurant POS review you can find online is positive—and the users are not alone; industry experts love it too.
- Finances Online: Awards Lightspeed POS a rare 100% user satisfaction rating. On the site, 10+ user reviews give the system an average score of 4.6 out of 5, while Finances Online experts rate it an 8.6 out of 10.
- Software Advice: Lightspeed Restaurant is listed as a Frontrunner software tool and earns a rating of 4.51 out of 5 based on around 70 user reviews.
- G2: Lightspeed Restaurant won G2’s 2022 “Users Most Likely to Recommend” award, and users award it an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5, based on around 50 user reviews.
Users love the responsive and friendly customer support. Our experience with the Lightspeed team definitely backs this up; we’ve never waited longer than a few minutes for a response from the sales or support team.
That said, there are some limitations you should note. If your restaurant offers lots of complex order combos—like a pizzeria, say—Lightspeed’s combo functions may not be robust enough for you. And some users say the back-office functions have a learning curve. This is understandable, as Lightspeed Restaurant has recently updated several features.
|Payment processing options||Back office features can take some time to learn|
|Lots of integrations to customize the POS||Combo building tools are somewhat simple|
|User-friendly KDS, kiosks, and other hardware||No native driver management tools|
|Highly responsive customer support|
Methodology: How We Evaluated
We score restaurant POS systems on 20+ criteria that are critical to restaurant success. First, we consider price and ease of use and then look at general and niche POS functions. Finally, we consider how actual users respond to the system, alongside our restaurant expert’s personal experience using the software.
Click through the slides below for a detailed explanation of our criteria:
10% of Overall Score
We first considered whether each POS system offers a free plan or free trial and entry-level software subscription under $75 per month. We gave high marks to POS systems that support multiple payment processing options. Finally, we considered hardware costs and subscription length. Systems that allow restaurants to bring their own hardware or avoid long-term service contracts earned the highest marks.
30% of Overall Score
Every restaurant needs to track employee hours, process contactless payments and gift cards, and quickly access sales and labor reports. Because many restaurants process tips for employees, we looked for systems with robust tip-tracking functions. We also considered advanced workforce management features like built-in employee scheduling and enforced clock-ins to keep costs in line.
30% of Overall Score
We compared the number of restaurant-specific functions that are relevant to various restaurant types. We looked for functions like cash management and credit card preauthorization. We also rewarded POS systems with customizable reports, ingredient-level inventory tracking with physical counting tools, integrated online ordering, and dynamic loyalty and marketing tools.
15% of Overall Score
We prioritized restaurant POS systems that offer 24/7 customer support. We also awarded points to POS systems with hybrid installation or an offline mode, so it is still operational if your internet goes out. We also considered how much installation support each system offers and whether it is cloud-based, enabling mobile access to management and reporting dashboards.
15% of Overall Score
Lastly, we evaluated any standout features that individual systems may have. We also considered whether the system offers good overall value for its price and judged each system’s popularity among restaurant businesses. Then, we awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support representatives.
Lightspeed Restaurant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who should use Lightspeed Restaurant?
When you need a midpriced, high-functioning POS that runs on iPads, Lightspeed Restaurant is an excellent choice. The system is robust, and with four subscription tiers, it can suit any size and type of restaurant.
When should I use a Lightspeed alternative?
If you need driver management built into your POS or process a lot of complex combo orders, Lightspeed Restaurant is not a great fit. For either of those scenarios, Revel Systems or Toast is a little bit better.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a streamlined restaurant POS with a mission to provide affordable software to independent restaurants. This accessible system is great for restaurants of any size, but especially those that rely on peripheral hare KDS screens and self-service kiosks. A 14-day free trial makes it easy to try out the system before you commit. To find out if it is a fit for your restaurant, contact Lightspeed for a demo or free trial.