2023 Lightspeed POS Review for Retailers
This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Lightspeed is a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system provider that offers systems specific to retail, restaurants, and golf businesses. In this Lightspeed review, we will focus on the retail POS system solution.
In our evaluation of the best POS systems, Lightspeed came in third overall with a score of 4.47 out of 5. Lightspeed comes equipped with an in-house ecommerce platform solution, integrated payments, great register features, and advanced reporting and management tools. However, what makes Lightspeed’s POS stand out is its granular inventory controls and best-in-class analytics platform.
Lightspeed Retail Pros
- Granular matrix inventory management
- 50-plus preset reports with data visualizations and customization options
- Robust, integrated ecommerce platform
- 24/7 customer support and onboarding
- 14-day free trial
- Option to choose payment processor
Lightspeed Retail Cons
- User interface (UI) can take time to learn
- Can be expensive for small businesses
- Shipping integrations are limited
- Monthly fee increases by $50 per month if you opt for a third-party payment processor
When To Use Lightspeed
- Large or complex product assortments: It tops our list of the best POS inventory management systems.
- Multichannel sales: Its Standard and Advanced plans come with a fully integrated Lightspeed ecommerce site.
- iPad POS: It is one of our leading iPad POS systems.
- Specialty retailers: It offers industry-specific tools and integrations for businesses like vape and bike shops and other types of retail stores.
When To Use an Alternative
- Small inventories: If you don’t have a large inventory, it might be more than you need. Square is an excellent option in this case.
- If you need a free option: Find a free POS option to avoid a monthly premium.
- Mobile sellers: Go for a system that provides mobile hardware, like Square.
- Restaurants: Look to Lightspeed’s restaurant POS system or check out our other top restaurant POS picks.
Lightspeed Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Retailers, wholesalers, dropshippers
Monthly Software Fees
$89–$269 (with Lightspeed payments) + $29 per additional register
Setup and Installation Fees
DIY installation only
Lower your monthly cost by signing up for an annual plan and opting for Lightspeed payments (included free in every account)
Payment Processing Options
Lightspeed payments (option to integrate third-party processors)
Payment Processing Fees
Tapped, inserted, or swiped: 2.6% + 10¢
Manually keyed-in: 2.6% + 30¢
If you’re unsure Lightspeed is right for you, see how it compares with other popular retail POS systems.
Best for: Businesses looking for a free POS and mobile POS app
Best for: Omnichannel retailers
Best for: Restaurants
Best for: Retailers
Monthly software fee: $0–$29 (custom pricing available)
Monthly software fee: $29–$299
Monthly software fee: $0–$165 (custom pricing available)
Monthly software fee: $0–$60 (custom pricing available)
If you still want to explore other POS options, you can check out our guide to the best POS systems for small businesses.
In our review of Lightspeed Retail POS, we found Lightspeed’s standout feature is its robust and granular inventory management tools. It makes it easy to manage large quantities of merchandise and stay on top of your incoming and outgoing goods, making Lightspeed suitable for medium to large businesses that manage large or complex inventories.
Lightspeed Retail POS does an excellent job of providing inventory reports that not only provide you with great data but also offer key takeaways, suggestions, graphics, tips, and instructions on how to interpret the data. There is also the ability to make custom reports to analyze specific product sectors.
In addition to being a top POS software company, Lightspeed offers a comprehensive ecommerce platform that rivals standalone ecommerce solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce. It even comes included in Lightspeed Retail POS’s higher-tier plans. Additionally, all Lightspeed POS systems include Lightspeed payments for your payment processing needs, but you can integrate your system with a third-party processor for a higher monthly rate.
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS system, so it can run on any internet-enabled device. It has a companion iPad app and mobile card reader for ringing up products on the sales floor or processing orders curbside. We still don’t consider it a great option for mobile sellers, however, as it does not have a mobile terminal device, other than the iPad app option. Consider Square for a POS provider that is suited better for mobile sales.
While Lightspeed Retail POS is a great platform for retailers with larger inventories and budgets, the POS system also tends to have more tools (and fees) than are necessary for smaller operations.
Lightspeed POS appears in lots of our expert reviews for its great features, including:
- Best Bike Shop POS for Small Businesses
- Best iPad Restaurant POS Systems
- Best Mobile POS Apps
- Best Multichannel POS Systems
- Best Point-of-Sale Systems & Software
- Best Restaurants Inventory Management Systems
- Best Inventory Management Software for Small Businesses
- Best POS Inventory Systems
- Best Retail POS Systems
Lightspeed Retail POS has three plans with monthly fees that vary based on features, payment processor, and payment cadence. It earned points because each of its plans offers unlimited products and transactions, along with built-in payments. Not only that, but the higher plans also offer additional features to support you as you grow, such as an ecommerce store, advanced reporting, and accounting tools.
Lightspeed Retail POS lost points, however, for not offering a free plan, as we see with Square, the generally high price point of its plans, and the limited features in the base plan. It does offer a 14-day free trial, though.
The prices below are for one register—additional registers are $29 each per month. Every plan also comes with a free payment terminal. Enterprise-level and high-volume customers can negotiate custom packages.
POS and Payments
*Pricing plans are based on accounts that opt for Lightspeed Payments. If you use another processor, monthly fees increase by $50 per month
**There is an additional $29 per month, per location charge for additional locations
Check out the frequently asked questions (FAQs) section at the bottom of this article for how you can save on your Lightspeed monthly fee.
Every Lightspeed POS account includes Lightspeed’s in-house payment processor, Lightspeed Payments. This means that you can start accepting payments and processing transactions as soon as you sign up—there is no need to integrate a third-party payment processor. Not only that but when you opt to use Lightspeed payments over another processor, you will save money on your monthly POS subscription fee.
Lightspeed Payments offers a flat processing rate across plans with 2.6% plus 10 cents for chip, tap, and swipe payments and 2.6% plus 30 cents for keyed-in payments. For retailers processing more than $250,000 each month, however, you are eligible for volume processing rates.
Lightspeed can take all major credit cards via contactless, chip, and swipe. You will also have access to dispute management officers and chargeback assistance, and Lightspeed Payments has taken steps to ensure your and your customers’ information stays secure with EMV-compliant end-to-end encryption.
If you would rather use a third-party payments processor or operate outside of North America, Lightspeed integrates with several other options, including Worldpay triPOS, Cayan, Element Express, Mercury, Tyro, BNP, and Concardis. However, opting for a third-party processor will increase your monthly software fees by $50 per month.
Lightspeed is a browser-based POS system, meaning it can run on any computer browser. It also has an iPad POS app, so you can use an iPad as your main register or use the app for mobile sales.
To run your POS system, you can either use your own third-party hardware or purchase kits and individual items directly from Lightspeed. For new businesses needing hardware, you will be paired with a sales manager who will help match you with the right equipment from top to bottom.
Unfortunately, Lightspeed is not very transparent with its hardware pricing and you cannot purchase it directly from the site. Rather, you work with a sales associate who will offer you a quote. While Lightspeed has not revealed its pricing to us, some sites say that Lightspeed’s hardware can cost upwards of $1,400 for a complete kit.
Lightspeed earned a 3.75 out of 5 in our evaluation of its checkout screen, mainly losing points for its lack of interface customization options, such as you find with Square or Vend POS systems. Lightspeed does, however, feature an easy-to-use checkout process with both mobile app and desktop checkout options. The system prompts you through each transaction, making it nearly impossible for you or your staff to make errors. There is also a convenient spot on every transaction to leave notes and add customer information.
Easy Product Lookup
Lightspeed has both barcode scanning and a product search function right on the checkout screen. You can not only search products by name and product code but also by keyword, making it easy to track down anything you need. When starting a transaction, the cursor will default to the item field, so if you start scanning or typing in items, the products will be added to the sale automatically, which is not the case with all legacy POS systems.
Park & Save Transactions
Another great Lightspeed checkout feature is that you can exit the transaction to explore other parts of your POS system, whether that be your inventory log or customer list, and then pull it back up to complete the sale at any time.
Accepted Payment Types
You have a variety of tender options with Lightspeed’s checkout process, including gift cards, layaway, on-hold, cash, check, credit and debit cards, and near-field communication (NFC) mobile wallet payments.
Since our last update:
Lightspeed introduced a buy-now-pay-later integration with Klarna for its online stores. There is no Klarna POS integration, however, for in-person sales. If you want a POS system that offers buy now, pay later (BNPL) payments for in-person sales, consider Square.
Detailed Customer Profiles
Lightspeed gives you the option to attach a customer to the sale, create customer profiles, and add custom notes to each transaction as you make your sales. You can also view customer profiles during a transaction, so you can view purchase histories, loyalty status and points, contact information, and other shopper notes.
Controlled Discounts & Promotions
When checking out, you can add discounts and promos to individual items and your entire sales, but only those preprogrammed into your POS by someone with discounting permissions. By limiting the applicable discounts, you ensure that your employees only add valid discounts and make no promotional errors. Available discounts include:
- Percent discount
- Buy one, get one free
- Seasonal sales
- VIP discounts
- Free shipping
In addition to a feature-rich checkout, Lightspeed has tons of backend tools to help you better understand and manage your business, earning it an impressive 4.75 out of 5 in our scoring. Not only that, but Lightspeed also includes a preintegrated ecommerce website platform, Lightspeed Ecommerce, in its Standard and Advanced plans and a fully integrated loyalty program for Advanced subscribers.
Where Lightspeed stands out in the management category and the POS market overall is in its inventory management tools, making it ideal for businesses with large or complex inventories.
Robust Inventory Management
- Customizable matrix inventory
- Built-in purchase ordering
- More than 3,000 preloaded vendor catalogs
- Serial number and stock keeping unit (SKU) tracking
- Real-time low-stock alerts
- Bulk import, edit, and download tools
- Track assembled products
- Work order management
- Track unit costs
- Change pricing and price rules in bulk
- Granular variant control
- Automated return management
- Vendor returns
- Multilocation syncing
- Integrated supplier network catalog (more than 3,000 vendors)
- Mobile access
- Bulk pricing
While Lightspeed’s price tag is slightly higher than its competition, the POS system’s robust inventory features are included with every plan—even the Basic package. Of everything that Lightspeed has to offer, what sets it apart from other POS systems is its advanced inventory controls and reporting capabilities. Unlike competitors Square or Shopify, Lightspeed is made to organize and track large quantities of inventory and help you manage high sales and order volumes.
Its software covers all the inventory tracking basics—real-time stock counts based on transactions across sales channels, low stock alerts with customizable reorder points, detailed inventory catalogs with rich product descriptions, and options to organize products with tags and categories.
You can also create and track serial numbers and/or SKUs and manage bundled or kitted products to monitor joint performances. All information about your inventory is broken down on the analytics page, where Lightspeed will also provide you with tips and key takeaways.
Do you want to try out Lightspeed’s inventory management with its 14-day trial? Upload our downloadable inventory list to Lightspeed’s inventory so that you can experiment with all the tools that the platform has to offer.
Lightspeed’s standout features come into play with larger inventory quantities and its order management features. With the POS system, you can manage products purchased in bulk yet sold individually, such as water bottles or build-your-own six-packs. You can also manage your inventory orders with its built-in purchase order forms, order tracking, and integrated supplier network catalog.
Essentially, Lightspeed lets you discover vendors, purchase their products, and then organize and track those products all from one dashboard―without involving any third parties.
To learn more about how to use Lightspeed’s inventory tools, read our how-to guide on managing inventory with Lightspeed Retail.
Best-in-Class Reporting & Analytics
Although Lightspeed’s advanced analytics platform, which we highly recommend for businesses looking to scale, is only available to Advanced subscribers, Lightspeed Reporting is included with every plan and is a very comprehensive reporting tool for most retailers. Overall, Lightspeed, making it ideal for people looking to incorporate more data-driven decisions into their business model.
What sets Lightspeed’s reporting tools apart is that they not only show you how your store is performing but also anticipate shopping trends and alert you to projected stock outages. This makes keeping the right items in stock at the right time simple.
Powerful Native Ecommerce Platform
- 50-plus mobile-friendly, customizable themes
- Industry-specific website templates
- Syncs with in-store POS
- Centralized product, data, and customer management
- Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS)
- Customers can leave product reviews
- Shipment tracking codes
- Order tracking
- Conversion reports
- Google Pay and Apple Pay one-click checkout
- Built-in SEO tools
- Facebook and Instagram integration
- Monitor marketing campaigns
- Shopper profiles for returns and wish lists
- 14 languages, multiple currencies, and international shipping options
- Integrated shipping carriers
- Real-time product counts across in-store and online orders so you can’t oversell items
Although Lightspeed’s ecommerce platform did not make the list for the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses, it offers a powerful online selling solution and comes included with Standard and Advanced Lightspeed POS accounts.
When designing your site, you can use tons of tools to enhance your site. You can add descriptions and keywords to your product pages, incorporate page headers and product categories, upload high-definition (HD) photos, and optimize your product listings for SEO. You can also incorporate extra features like a blog, testimonials, size guides, and embedded videos.
Once live, all activities in your ecommerce store will be fully integrated into your POS. You can view reports about your online store, analyze its performance, manage your orders, and watch as your customer database grows across your sales channels—all from a single platform. Inventory will also be synced.
Loyalty, Customer Management & Marketing
- Customer database
- Points-based omnichannel loyalty program
- Auto-segment customers based on purchases
- Drag-and-drop email builder
- Short message service (SMS) and email promotions
- Sell products on Facebook and Instagram
- Built-in blogging tools
- Promotions and coupons
- Automated birthday coupons
- Track customer habits
Every one of Lightspeed’s plans includes a customer database where you can store customer information and view their purchase histories. If you move up to the Standard plan, however, you will also get online marketing tools like email marketing, blogging, and customer behavior tracking.
Additionally, with the Advanced plan, you get access to an omnichannel points-based loyalty program that rewards customers for purchases at any store location or through your online store. It also offers categorized rewards, automated smart customer groupings, and one-time rewards, such as for birthdays or VIP customers.
- 24/7 support
- One-on-one guided onboarding and setup
- Bulk product upload and data editing
- Additional free training
- Compatible with any computer or iPad
- Library of guides and videos
- Busy interface
- Dedicated account manager
- Branded POS dashboard
Lightspeed earned a perfect score for its customer support and ease of use. Unique to Lightspeed, every POS subscriber gets a dedicated account manager to help you learn how to use the system and answer any questions you may have. It also earned points for its pre-integrated payments and ecommerce store—making setup easy and allowing you to start taking sales as soon as you sign up.
While Lightspeed does have a lot to offer, it is feature-rich, and all those tools create a much busier interface than some of the other POS systems available to small businesses. It can take some time to learn the ins and outs of Lightspeed and configure everything to your liking, and it also has fewer dashboard customization options than software like Square or Shopify.
Are you looking for a more streamlined POS interface? We love Square for Retail and Shopify POS.
Lightspeed earned a 4.5 out of 5 in our expert score category. We love it for the incredible amount of control that it allows you to take over your inventory and performance metrics. The ecommerce platform is also strong, the online support is great, and the overall bank of features is rich.
However, all these features come at a cost, and Lightspeed is at the top end for POS subscription fees. The user interface can also be a bit challenging to get the hang of, mainly because it has to accommodate so many options and information.
What Users Say in Lightspeed POS Reviews
Users agree with our assessment of Lightspeed Retail being a top POS choice for inventory management. At the time of publication, it earned the following scores on popular user review sites:
When reading through Lightspeed POS reviews, we noticed some of these trends:
|Speedy and helpful customer service||Pricey|
|Comprehensive system||No features to manage rentals|
|Detailed inventory management||Busy interface|
|Easy implementation with lots of training||No functionality without internet connection|
|Ability to handle bulk order and inventory||Integrates only with Lightspeed online stores|
How We Evaluated Lightspeed Retail
In our Lightspeed review and all of our POS reviews, we start by looking for affordability and basic POS functions like check and order management, the ability to process multiple forms of payment, and inventory tracking.
We test every POS ourselves, including Lightspeed, to determine ease of use, quality of features, any standout functionality, and limitations. Finally, we consider user reviews, the feedback we’ve received from talking to business owners, and our personal experience using the software.
Click through the tabs below to see the full evaluation criteria for our Lightspeed POS review:
30% of Overall Score
We prioritize POS systems that include a free plan or free trial, affordable subscriptions, and additional plans so that you won’t grow out of the system. While Lightspeed doesn’t offer a free plan, it can grow with your business.
We also award points to systems with affordable integrated payment processing, flexible hardware options, and no restrictions on the number of users, inventory, and transactions -all of which Lightspeed has.
15% of Overall Score
Businesses need speedy and customizable checkout tools, easy customer management, mobility to sell anywhere, a process to track orders, and a way to process online orders. We also considered contactless payments, integrated online ordering, and online store features. While Lightspeed has powerful register tools, it does not have many customization options, so businesses cannot adjust the software to meet their checkout needs.
15% of Overall Score
The most important feature we considered was inventory tracking. We also considered how sophisticated and user-friendly the reporting dashboard of each system is and what marketing and employee management tools are available. Inventory and analytics is where Lightspeed really shines, so it earned very high marks here.
20% of Overall Score
We prioritize systems with 24/7 phone support and consider help tickets and email or chat support, installation processes, and whether the system has an offline mode or hybrid installation so that you can continue operations when you lose internet access. While Lightspeed has a bit of a learning curve, it offers excellent 24/7 support and a detailed online knowledge base.
20% of Overall Score
We considered the overall quality of Lightspeed, along with system stability and security. We evaluated whether it offers a good value for its price point and standout features. Finally, we accounted for our experts’ personal experience using each system and interacting with customer service representatives, its reviews, and the personal experience of other small business owners.
Lightspeed is one of our personal favorites because it offers much better inventory and analytics than other small business POS systems on the market. However, it comes with a steep price point and learning curve.
The evaluation of Lightspeed’s Retail POS system was performed by three of Fit Small Business’s top retail and restaurant experts. Get to know them below.
Mary King With more than 14 years of hospitality experience, Mary has used POS systems in coffee shops, food trucks, full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, bars, hotels, coworking spaces, event spaces, and retail stores. She has several years of experience advising bar and restaurant owners, and three-plus years evaluating POS systems.
Brigitte Hodge is a retail specialist with several years of retail management experience. Before joining Fit Small Business, Brigitte worked on a variety of POS systems to run a store in downtown Denver. Brigitte has since been writing as a retail expert, evaluating POS systems and working with them firsthand to learn their ins and outs.
Meaghan Brophy has 10-plus years of retail experience, during which she has operated a variety of cash registers and POS systems in different settings and applications.
Since working in retail, Meaghan has seven-plus years of experience writing for retailers and four-plus years of experience evaluating POS systems.
Lightspeed POS FAQs
Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most-asked questions about Lightspeed.
What is Lightspeed?
Lightspeed is a software provider that offers POS systems for retail, restaurants, and golf businesses. It also offers ecommerce and payment solutions that you can integrate with a Lightspeed POS system or third-party POS systems.
Who should use Lightspeed POS?
We recommend Lightspeed to brick-and-mortar or omnichannel sellers with large inventories or those looking for a high level of inventory control. Almost all of Lightspeed’s standout features revolve around its inventory management, with granular controls, custom reports, and in-account purchase ordering and vendor management—there isn’t a better option for retailers whose focus is controlling and maximizing their inventory.
When should I use a Lightspeed alternative?
While Lightspeed is a great option for many retailers, if you are in search of a free POS option, or your focus is mobile sales, you might want to look to Square. Its basic plan is full of great POS features and is completely free to use for one location. It is also designed to be mobile, with card readers and an app, ideal for on-the-go sellers.
What is Vend by Lightspeed?
In 2021, Lightspeed acquired Vend, another retail POS competitor product. All Vend users can still use their accounts and, other than improved integration with Lightspeed products like payments and ecommerce, no features and pricing options will change.
Currently, Vend’s new name is Vend by Lightspeed, but Lightspeed is working on transitioning Vend over to an in-house product called Lightspeed Series X in the coming months. The transition is incomplete, so you will see the product referred to both Vend by Lightspeed and Lightspeed X Series in the interim.
How can I get a better rate on my Lightspeed subscription?
We know that Lightspeed is on the pricey side when it comes to POS software. However, there are several ways to lower your monthly rate, including paying annually and opting for Lightspeed Payments, which is included free with every account.
Monthly Pricing (Without Lightspeed Payments)
Monthly Pricing (With Lightspeed Payments)
Annual Pricing (Without Lightspeed Payments)
Annual Pricing (With Lightspeed Payments)
Lightspeed Retail offers incredibly robust inventory management ideal for almost any independent retailer. Plus, its user-friendly analytics platform provides insights to keep your business profitable, and its top-of-the-line ecommerce tools help your shop compete with the chain stores in your neighborhood.
Although Lightspeed is pricier than other options and has a more cluttered interface due to all the features, it offers a great overall value for retailers, especially if you are serious about growing your business. Begin its 14-day trial today―with no credit card required.