This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based, all-in-one iPad restaurant POS system. With a free trial and pricing starting at $39 per month, this system is incredibly affordable for independent restaurants. Lightspeed Restaurant has built-in tools for online ordering, inventory, loyalty, and kitchen display system (KDS), and even integrates with hotel property management software.
What We Recommend Lightspeed Restaurant For
Overall, the Lightspeed POS brand is consistently one of our overall top-ranked POS for small businesses. Lightspeed Restaurant is no different, as this iPad POS system is an excellent all-in-one solution with lots of room for customization.
In particular, we recommend Lightspeed Restaurant for:
- Quick service restaurants (QSRs): Lightspeed Restaurant consistently ranks on our top recommendations for quick service restaurant POS systems for its ease of use, ease of setup, and quick service supporting tools like speed ordering screens and KDS screens.
- Restaurants that use a KDS: Lightspeed Restaurant’s vivid and easy-to-use KDS is one of our favorite restaurant KDS, making this POS an excellent fit for QSRs that rely on them.
- Restaurants that need self-service kiosks: We also like Lightspeed Restaurant’s self-service kiosk screens for quick service and tableside self-ordering screens for full-service restaurants.
- Restaurants that use third-party delivery services: Lightspeed Restaurant is one of our top picks for a delivery-enabled POS for restaurants that want to route third-party deliveries from multiple sites into their POS order stream.
When Lightspeed Restaurant Would Not Be a Good Fit
At the time of this writing, we would not recommend Lightspeed Restaurant for:
- Food trucks: Though Lightspeed runs on iPads, the company does not recommend its POS for food trucks that rely on cellular signals to operate. If you need a fully mobile POS, check out our guide to the best food truck POS systems.
- Those that require workforce management: If you want employee scheduling and restaurant payroll tools, you’ll need third-party integrations like Homebase. If you want these built into your POS, you’ll be happier with Toast or Square for Restaurants.
- Restaurants that want driver management: While Lightspeed Restaurant has two distinct built-in online ordering and delivery tools, neither currently supports driver management and GPS tracking. For those functions, you’ll want to check out Toast or Revel Systems.
Lightspeed purchased competing restaurant POS system Upserve in December 2020, and Upserve’s POS offers tools that directly support in-house delivery and driver management. So, we expect that Lightspeed may soon strengthen these functions on the Lightspeed Restaurant POS.
Lightspeed Restaurant Video Review
Lightspeed Restaurant Pricing
- Affordable beeline price: Pricing starts at $39 per month for a single terminal.
- Transparent pricing: Lightspeed publicly lists most of its pricing right on its website.
- Four pricing tiers: Multiple pricing tiers ensure that large operations have the tools they need and small restaurants don’t pay for things they don’t use.
- Free Trial: Lightspeed Restaurant offers a 14-day free trial.
When you spend hours searching for a restaurant POS, seeing Lightspeed’s clear pricing structure can feel like finding water in a desert. We give high marks to any software provider that makes pricing information easily accessible. Currently, Lightspeed Restaurant lists the price for its baseline POS at $39 per month for a single terminal—one of the lowest entry-level prices available for a restaurant POS.
Monthly Software Fees
Reporting and Analytics
All listed prices are only starting prices, including only software for a single terminal. For full pricing and a custom quote, you’ll want to contact Lightspeed directly. However, you can get a jump-start on the product demo by signing up for a free trial of the Essentials system.
Lightspeed Restaurant 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. You can also 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.
We would love to see Lightspeed offer the same pricing transparency in hardware that it offers for software. Though considering users can likely use hardware they already own, hardware costs may not be a major consideration. Users should note, however, that purchasing hardware directly from Lightspeed comes with added support from the Lightspeed technical team.
Lightspeed Restaurant Payments
- Multiple processing options: Choose the built-in Lightspeed Payments or integrate with popular processors Worldpay or TSYS.
- EMV and PCI compliant: With your liability covered, you are less likely to encounter chargebacks.
- End-to-end encryption: End-to-end data encryption ensures safe mobile payments and prevents potential fraud.
- Mobile payment options: Lightspeed Payments supports mobile tap readers. Also, its Order Ahead module operates via Stripe to accept online and mobile payments.
Lightspeed Payments is built in to the Lightspeed POS. Its transaction rates are a flat, custom-quoted rate based on your business type and sales volume. Rates for Lightspeed Payments start at 2.6% + 10 cents for swiped, dipped, and tapped in-person transactions and 2.6% + 30 cents for manually keyed transactions. Lightspeed Restaurant also integrates with Vantiv, Cayan, BridgePay, and First Data, so you can shop around to get the best rate for your restaurant.
There are a couple slight wrinkles in Lightspeed Restaurant’s payment puzzle, however. The first is that the Order Ahead module (described in detail in the online ordering section below) only accepts payments through Stripe. So, if you want to accept online payments via your own online ordering menu, you’ll need a Stripe account in addition to whatever other payment processor you use for your general POS operations.
The second wrinkle is that Lightspeed Restaurant does not spool credit card payments in offline mode to run when the system regains internet access. This is a common feature in US-based POS systems, and one that many US restaurants have come to rely on. The simple reason that Lightspeed does not spool payments in offline mode is that Lightspeed was developed in Canada, where financial transaction security laws are more strict.
Lightspeed Restaurant instead recommends using a fail-over router. This router can route your transactions to a different, secure internet connection if you lose your main internet connection. This adds to your hardware costs, and won’t work if your internet goes down due to a general internet outage, though. Lightspeed is, however, developing a 4G LTE failover system that will, in the future, route offline payments to a secure cellular network. That feature is not yet live, but should be in the future.
Lightspeed Restaurant POS Features
Lightspeed Restaurant combines high function with low 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.
The basic Lightspeed Restaurant has all the features you need to run a full service or quick service restaurant. 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, and house account management.
We’ll explore Lightspeed Restaurant’s reporting, inventory, online ordering, and loyalty below. In addition to those expanded features, Lightspeed Restaurant includes:
- Mobile accessibility: You can access the restaurant manager dashboard from any internet-enabled device to read reports, update menus, and manage inventory.
- Multilocation controls: Track the performance and manage the menus of multiple locations from a central, browser-based management dashboard.
- Accounting integration: Lightspeed Restaurant integrates with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, and Sage One for accounting accuracy.
- Other third-party integrations: Lightspeed Restaurant connects with over 50 popular third-party apps like Homebase (employee scheduling), Restaurant365 (restaurant accounting), MarketMan (advanced inventory management).
Lightspeed Restaurant Reporting
- Get the big picture: Snapshot reports show hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly views.
- Foundational functions: Shift summaries by server, shift snapshots, and close-of-day reports streamline daily operations.
- At-a-glance analysis: Dynamic graph and chart graphic.
- Choose your format: Export select reports as CSV or PDF files.
- Two-tier analytics options: Choose what level of analytics you need, basic or advanced.
- Advanced insights: Advanced insights integrates with your payment data for automated reports.
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. Lightspeed 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. Advanced reporting includes additional reports like revenue by restaurant location, payments summary, and customizable category and modifier reviews. Advanced reporting also allows you to create custom reports using a simple drag-and-drop report builder.
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.
Lightspeed Restaurant Inventory
- Two tiers: Choose basic ingredient-level inventory or automated Advanced Inventory.
- Bulk updates: Bulk import menu items from .csv file and bulk edit ingredients in restaurant manager dashboard.
- Low-stock alerts: Notify you in real time when supplies are low.
- Centralized: Inventory syncs with all your ordering channels: in-house, online, and delivery.
- Custom permissions: Give select employees inventory editing access.
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. Advanced Inventory includes automated tools like vendor and purchase order management, and allows you to place vendor orders from your POS dashboard.
Lightspeed Restaurant’s basic inventory module functions similarly to TouchBistro’s, requiring users to place vendor orders outside of the POS and manually updating on-hand quantities as deliveries arrive. Advanced inventory is essentially the automated inventory module from Upserve by Lightspeed. 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 Restaurant Online Ordering
- Lightspeed Delivery: This built-in module manages all of your third-party orders from a central dashboard. No need to juggle individual tablets.
- Centralized pricing: Create a delivery-only menu with separate prices to keep your costs in line.
- Lightspeed Order Anywhere: A mobile web app supports direct online ordering via any web-enabled device.
- Keep in touch: Automated SMS text messaging lets customers know you have received their orders
- QR code ordering: Offer contactless onsite orders and payments via a QR code connected to your Order Anywhere site.
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. 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 enables customers to place contactless in-person orders and payment from their smartphones. Though to accept online payments, you will need a second payment processing account, with Stripe.
Lightspeed Restaurant Loyalty & Customer Management
- Customizable Points and rewards: Choose how customers earn points and reward with percent discounts, dollar discounts, or promotional items.
- Flexible enrollment: Enroll customers via POS pop-up prompts or by scannable receipt QR code.
- Pay with Rewards: Accept loyalty points as payment if you choose.
- Custom messaging: Create marketing emails or texts and send them to filtered lists of customers
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 rewards points as a form of payment if you like.
Lightspeed Restaurant Ease of Use
- Streamlined interface: Navigate through screens and menus with intuitive taps, swipes, and smartphone gestures.
- Image-based: Menu screens feature food photos, and back-office screens show options in thumbnail icons.
- Kitchen customization: Use printers or KDS screens on your kitchen line. Write kitchen-only menu names for printers.
- Accessible back office: Managers can access browser-based manager dashboard from anywhere there is internet.
- Strong support: Customer support is available 24/7, and the manager dashboard contains training videos.
Lightspeed Restaurant is iOS-based, similar to competitor TouchBistro. However, Lightspeed Restaurant’s user interface is much more dynamic than that of TouchBistro, as it breaks out of the ubiquitous 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, their home computer, or 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 Alternatives
For a cloud-based POS, Lightspeed Restaurant has a lot of bases covered, but it may not be perfect for every type of restaurant.
Best for: Strong offline functionality and included inventory tools
Best for: In-house online ordering and delivery
Best for: Small restaurants that want a free POS
Pricing: Starts at $99 per month
Pricing From $0 to $165+ per month
Pricing: From $0 to $60+ per month
What Users Think of Lightspeed Restaurant POS
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 4.52 out of 5 based on more than 60 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 about 45 user reviews.
That said, there are some limitations you should note. The most common criticism Lightspeed Restaurant receives is about offline functionality. If your restaurant does not have robust and consistent internet access, it is just not going to be a fit for you. Some users would also like to see more detail on the server shift reports. Others say the back-office functions have a learning curve; this is understandable, as Lightspeed Restaurant has recently updated several features.
Users Don’t Like:
Payment processing options
Offline functionality is limited
Browser-based management dashboard
Does not support offline payment processing
Lots of integrations to create a custom solution
Server shift reports could be more detailed
Support for multiple languages
Back-office features can take some time to learn
Streamlined user interface for front of house staff, customers, and kitchen staff
Lightspeed Restaurant is a streamlined restaurant POS with a mission to provide affordable software to independent restaurants. This accessible system is great for restaurants that rely on peripheral hardware like KDS screens and self-service kiosks. It is also an affordable, feature-packed solution for restaurants with strong internet access. 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.