Lightspeed vs Shopify: POS & Ecommerce Software Compared
This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Lightspeed and Shopify are excellent POS systems with strong inventory tools and online sales components. Both offer reasonably priced cloud POS software that regularly appear on our list of the best POS systems for small businesses.
When comparing Lightspeed vs Shopify, the primary difference is that Shopify is designed to support ecommerce businesses, whereas Lightspeed is designed for brick-and-mortar stores, though it can also support online sales.
- Lightspeed: Best for stores with complex inventory management and sellers of high-risk or age-restricted items like tobacco or CBD
- Shopify: Best for online retailers, dropshipping companies, and multichannel sales
When to use an alternative: If you have simpler inventory needs and mostly sell in-store, then you’ll find Square a less expensive but highly versatile alternative. It’s also better for service and appointment-run businesses. Otherwise, check out our list of the best retail POS systems for more suggestions.
Lightspeed vs Shopify Quick Comparison
High-risk sales, complex inventory, specialty shops
Ecommerce and multichannel sales
$39–$399, + $89 software fee with Pro plan
Available sales channels
In-person, online, social
In-person, online, social
Lightspeed Payments or third-party integration
Shopify Payments or third-party integration
2.6% + 10 cents to 2.6% + 30 cents; other processors vary
2.4%–2.7%, depending on plan; 2.9% + 30 cents online; other processors with an additional fee
With Advanced Plan
With third-party app
2.4 out of 5 on iOS
No Android app for Lightspeed (R-Series)
4.6 out of 5 on iOS
4.1 out of 5 on Android
Ease of use
One-on-one onboarding, dedicated account manager
Free tools, website builders for hire
Real-world user score*
*User scores are averaged from multiple third-party user review sites.
Both Shopify and Lightspeed offer different types of POS systems and meet different industry needs. We’ve been impressed by both Lightspeed and Shopify for years. You’ll find them both on our lists for:
- Best POS Systems for Small Business
- Best Retail POS Systems
- Best POS Inventory Systems
- User-friendly Cloud POS Systems
- Best Multichannel POS Systems
- Best iPad POS Systems
- Best Mobile POS Applications
When To Choose Each
Lightspeed POS is first for in-store use, but it offers excellent online features that continue to grow. However, what we like best is that it has some of the best inventory tools we’ve found (though Shopify rivals it in some ways) and the fact that it works with specialty shops, like bike stores, as well as high-risk businesses like vape or CBD sales. In fact, it is listed as one of the best vape shop POS systems.
Lightspeed has acquired many POS systems over the years, which were recently renamed as different series. This review looks at the original Lightspeed, now called Lightspeed (R-Series).
If R-Series is not right for you, consider one of these others:
- Lightspeed Retail (X-Series, formerly known as Vend)
- Lightspeed Restaurant (L-Series)
- Lightspeed Restaurant (U-Series, formerly known as Upserve)
|Extensive inventory management that includes vendor catalogs and waste tracking||Need higher-tier plans for analytics, accounting integrations, ecommerce|
|Integrated ecommerce||Higher learning curve|
|Free onboarding||Not for Android|
|24/7 support||No dropshipping, delivery tools (R-Series)|
|Choice of payment processors|
Shopify is our No. 1 choice for ecommerce platforms, so we recommend it for businesses that sell primarily online. This includes dropshipping as well as multichannel and social media online sales. Its POS system comes free with any ecommerce subscription, and it offers integrated payment processing through Shopify Payments (which made our list of best mobile payment processors of 2022.)
|Smart omnichannel and inventory tools||Third-party apps can get pricey|
|Easy to use||Offline mode can be glitchy|
|Best-in-class ecommerce platform||POS subscription requires ecommerce subscription|
|Dropshipping and delivery features||Many features require higher plans|
Most Affordable: Shopify
Save 50% with annual plans
In-person transaction fee
Lightspeed Payments 2.6% + 10 cents; other processors vary
Shopify Payments 2.4%–2.7%; other processors vary
Online transaction fee
Lightspeed Payments 2.6% + 30 cents; other processors vary
Shopify Payments 2.6% + 30 cents–2.9% + 30 cents; other processors vary
Additional fee for using third-party payment processing
No, but certain software subscription required
Terminal and register pricing
$500–$1,000; call for quote
Call for quote
Shopify’s inexpensive starter plans make it the most affordable choice. Shopify Starter is only $5 per month and lets you add products to a website or blog and accept credit card payments.
The Basic Plan includes POS Lite, an online store with unlimited products, up to four inventory locations, omnichannel sales, and more, all for $39 per month. The higher-priced plans add features, accounts and locations. The Advanced plan is only $30 more than Lightspeed’s.
The plans also come with a free SSL certificate for your website. This is vital for online sales and gives your site the https// that marks it as trusted. You get shipping discounts from DHL Express, UPS, and USPS of 77% to 88%.
Shopify’s payment processing fees are slightly more expensive than Lightspeed’s when looking at online payments or card-not-present transactions. For card-present transactions, however, the rate is actually better for purchases totaling less than $300.
When To Use Lightspeed
Shopify includes its POS Lite plan for free, but if you need more POS features, such as advanced inventory and staff permissions, then you are adding another $89 per month to your plan. In that case, Lightspeed becomes the less expensive option.
Lightspeed is also more affordable if you want to use a third-party payment processor. Shopify adds 0.5% to 2% per transaction if you want to integrate a different payment processor. Lightspeed does not have any additional fees. Thus, if you do high-volume sales, need high-risk payment processing (which Shopify does not provide), or can find a better deal in general, it may be wiser to use Lightspeed.
On a tight budget? Consider one of the best free POS software systems. They are not always as feature-rich as Lightspeed or Shopify, but are nonetheless good for new and small businesses.
Best Retail POS Software: Tie
Depends on plan
Here, we compared Lightspeed with Shopify POS Plus. Both are on our lists of best POS systems and best retail POS systems. In fact, when it comes to advantages, they are closely matched. They both have easy-to-follow interfaces for your cashiers, with programmable buttons for faster checkouts, multilocation management, and customer management tools. Both handle international sales and multiple currencies. Shopify has more marketing tools, while Lightspeed has its own loyalty program built in.
When To Use Lightspeed
Lightspeed is better with specialty shops, as it includes work order functions. This is great for bike shops or auto repair. It also has native age-verification tools and Retail Access Control Standards (RACS) compliance settings. This makes it great for alcohol, vaping, or CBD sales.
Lightspeed R-Series will work on any browser and offers desktop hardware bundles (computer not included). However, if you prefer Android to iOS, then Lightspeed (X-Series) is the better option.
When To Use Shopify
Shopify is still the best to turn to when the majority of sales are online. However, its retail features are top-notch as well, with a customizable checkout screen, hot keys, saved cart functionality, and omnichannel sales tools to ship in-store orders or process returns for online purchases in-store.
Best for Ecommerce: Shopify
Website building tools
Syncs with in-person POS
International online sales
Integrates with delivery services
20 (Shopify Lite only allows one)
Shopify was built for ecommerce, and it shows. It ranks No. 1 on our list of best ecommerce systems, and with its new website creation tools, it’s easier than ever to make a terrific and effective online store. Like Lightspeed, it can sell on your website or social media, and the omnichannel integration means your customers can order online and pick up in-store.
Further, Shopify offers a chat function on its store and extreme discounts on shipping with the most popular shipping companies. Another advantage Shopify has over Lightspeed is its one-click Shop Pay, which saves customer information. You can even provide one-click checkout.
Learn more in our Shopify ecommerce review.
If you want to sell but not carry your own inventory, Shopify integrates free with major dropshipping companies like AliExpress, US Direct, Sprocket, and Printful. (It recently closed down Oberlo, its own dropshipping company.) Lightspeed does not have dropshipping applications.
Interested in dropshipping? Learn more about it in our What Is Dropshipping article, and see how you can start a Shopify dropshipping business.
When To Use Lightspeed
Lightspeed may not have made our best-of list, but it still impresses with its online tools. It has 50 templates to choose from. It also integrates with shipping services as well as 21 third-party services for local deliveries. Everything integrates with the POS system, including marketing and inventory. So, if you are more interested in in-store sales but need a strong online component to complement, Lightspeed fits the bill.
Best for Inventory Management: Lightspeed
Depth depends on plan
Built-in purchase ordering
With Stocky app
With Stocky app
Syncs online and in-store inventory
Sync inventory with social sales channels
Lightspeed offers the best POS system for inventory. It blows Shopify away in its depth of categorization, custom pricing, and ability to order. It even has vendor catalogs to make it easy to find the best deal on stock you need to reorder or find new products to expand your offerings. The ability to kit items and track wastage is yet another reason it works so well for shops that make custom items.
One terrific tool is smart pricing. You can automate the pricing of your products depending on the customer profile or situation. This lets you easily offer discounts for students, loyalty members, or other preferred customers—but on particular items instead of a discount on the total sale.
When To Use Shopify
Shopify offers a wide range of variants and pricing controls (although it lacks smart pricing like Lightspeed). It also offers more features if you add on apps. For example, if you use Shopify Fulfillment services, you get low-inventory alerts based on projected sales, and the Stocky app adds purchase orders and other tools. Like Lightspeed, it can manage inventory across multiple locations, including online/in-store, and you can set it to track inventories separately at specific locations.
Best Mobile POS: Shopify
Call for quote
Integrates with POS
Shopify offers better mobile apps than Lightspeed. First, they are better quality, as the higher user ratings show. Second, they are available for Android as well as iOS.
Shopify’s mobile POS app makes it easy to take your store anywhere, with a fully functioning checkout that lets you collect customer information and scan barcodes using your phone’s camera. You can even create a shopping cart for a customer, and if they decide not to purchase, save it and email them about it later. Lightspeed does not have this tool. You can also manage inventory.
The ecommerce app lets you run your online store from your smartphone or tablet. You can process orders, manage products, run campaigns, and access reports. Additionally, you can use the app to contact customers.
About Lightspeed for Mobile
Lightspeed offers multiple apps for each of its POS series. The R-Series is not the best rated, however, and is only available for iOS. Nonetheless, it does provide all the same tools you would find when using Lightspeed online. This includes custom POS screens for your cashiers and a manager setting that lets managers and admins get to the back-end tools for inventory, customer, and sales management. Lightspeed has separate apps for barcode scanning and ecommerce management.
Best POS Hardware: Lightspeed
iPad or desktop
Card reader for smartphone
Kitchen display screens
While both Shopify and Lightspeed offer high-quality POS systems, Lightspeed has the greater variety of types and tools for a busy retail store. As a web-based POS, it requires a web browser but works on macOS or Microsoft Windows OS. Lightspeed recommends Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You can use the Lightspeed app on iPad, if you wish, but considering its low user ratings, if you can connect to the browser, that’s the better choice.
Lightspeed offers two bundles. The iPad bundle requires you to supply your own iPad, and includes a stand, printer, cash drawer, scanner, and receipt paper. Meanwhile, the desktop kit does not include a computer, but has the receipt printer, cash drawer, and scanner. It offers dozens of card swipers, varying by what country you do business in. There are handheld devices as well, something Shopify does not offer.
While applicable to Lightspeed Restaurant (L and U Series) rather than Lightspeed for Retail, it’s good to know that Lightspeed also has kitchen display screens as well.
Mobile Tap Reader
Tap, chip, or swipe payments. (For Lightspeed Payments US users only)
Choose from iPad or Desktop; includes cash drawers, scanner, printer
Handheld device for taking payments when not at the register
About Shopify’s Hardware
As of the time of this writing, Shopify is experiencing shipping delays as a result of supply chain issues. Retail Kits and Retail Bundles are estimated to be available again in Q3 2022.
Shopify offers a full range of hardware based on iPads. You need to purchase your own iPads, but you can select a variety of stands, cash drawers, card readers, and other peripherals. It does not offer handheld card readers, however. You need to purchase the hardware upfront, although you can spread out the payments using Affirm.
Chipper 2X BT Reader
Starts at $299
Bluetooth-enabled tap, chip, and swipe reader
Adjustable POS stand that supports multiple tablet sizes
Comes in 13”, 14”, and 15”
Purchase from Shopify (currently not available)
Best for Ease of Use: Shopify
Can take time
POS setup assistance
Website setup help
Real-world user scores
*We averaged third-party user review sites like Capterra and G2.
Overall, Shopify’s intuitive POS and ecommerce features, along with its extensive community and resources make it easier to use.
Shopify also has a lot of additional tools for helping you make your business a success. Use its free tools for generating a business or domain name, stocking your store, generating invoices, and creating QR codes. (We were underwhelmed with the logo generator, but it may spark some ideas.)
It has templates for things like policies and bills of lading, as well as calculators for profit margins or discounts. There are business courses, a business encyclopedia, and community events. Shopify helps you develop yourself as a businessperson.
Shopify is very easy to use, although if setting up a website is not your strong point, you can hire one of Shopify’s recognized expert services to help.
When To Use Lightspeed
Lightspeed has a slightly larger learning curve than Shopify because of all the extensive inventory tools. Because of the complex features it offers, Lightspeed is just more complicated to navigate and offers fewer customization options.
However, like Shopify, it offers access to experts to help you set up your system or website—and like Shopify, you will pay extra for this service. However, most users have said the setup is easy. A special callout was made for the integration of POS and ecommerce as well as the ease of reordering products thanks to the vendor catalogs.
Best Customer Support: Shopify
Online help articles
User reviews—customer support only*
*Customer support scores taken from Capterra
While both score well on customer service in terms of what they offer and in overall user score, Shopify takes the lead because it is the most consistently helpful. In over 100 of the most recent reviews, we saw only one one-star rating and one two-star rating. Lightspeed, meanwhile, ran either hot or cold, with almost half the reviews in the four- and five-star range and the other half getting one- or two-stars. We did like Lightspeed’s extensive library of how-to videos on YouTube, however—just be sure you are looking at the correct series.
Lightspeed vs Shopify Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I have a restaurant. Will either solution work for me?
Yes. Shopify can create a website for restaurants, with online menus, pickup and delivery functions, and more. However, Lightspeed is your best option. It makes our list of the best restaurant POS systems.
Can either handle appointments well?
Lightspeed has some appointment-setting abilities, and its Lightspeed Golf version is great for golf courses. Shopify offers very little for appointment-setting. For a better, inexpensive POS option for appointment-based businesses, consider Square for Appointments.
Will either service create my online store for me?
Shopify has recommended agencies and freelancers on its website who are experts at creating Shopify sites. It lists pricing at $500 to $1,500 for restaurant sites. Lightspeed only offers the tools to create a beautiful online store, but you may find a Lightspeed expert who also does webstore design.
Do either have discounts for nonprofits?
Shopify offers special plans for nonprofit organizations. We did not find any nonprofit plans or discounts for Lightspeed, although it does support nonprofits with donations and sponsorships.
When it comes down to it, both Shopify and Lightspeed are excellent choices for POS systems, with in-person and online tools as well as some of the best inventory controls on the market. The choice of Lightspeed vs Shopify comes down to, “Where are your sales?”
If mostly online, then Shopify, with its heavily featured, ecommerce-first solution, is the best way to go. You can get a plan for as little as $5 a month, reasonable payment processing fees, and a free POS system. If you need a more complex POS, then you can pay an extra $89 per month for POS Pro. Visit Shopify to get started with a free trial.
However, if you are a brick-and-mortar business, especially if you do custom work or sell age-restricted products, then Lightspeed is your better choice. It still offers an excellent ecommerce system, and its inventory tools are best-in class. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial to test it for yourself.