Lightspeed has been in the POS business since 2005 and its software has improved tremendously over the years. The company has refined its software offerings to solve common problems retailers face and address their changing needs in the digital age. Lightspeed Retail is a comprehensive POS, business management and eCommerce platform that covers all of the basics and more.
The consistency of quality across its software is impressive, too.
The main downsides with Lightspeed Retail is that some smaller businesses might find the monthly payments a little steep and the 12-month contract you have to sign.
Lightspeed Retail is a specialist POS system designed for small-to-medium sized businesses selling products in-store and online. The company provides all of the software and hardware you need to take orders, manage stock and run your retail business on a day-to-day basis.
Aside from a point of sale system, Lightspeed Retail sets you up with a specialist eCommerce platform, store management system, loyalty programmes and analytics reports to maximise your business performance. You’re getting much more than a POS system for your money with Lightspeed Retail and this review will help you decide if this is the solution your business needs.
While there are plenty of POS systems designed for retail brands, they often fail to deliver for brands that sell both in-store and online.
Lightspeed Retail is different. It provides dedicated systems for brick-and-mortar retailers and eCommerce, which integrate perfectly to create an all-in-one system. If you don’t need the eCommerce system, you simply don’t pay for it. Likewise, if you’re an online-only retailer, you have a dedicated eCommerce platform without any of the in-store POS features getting in your way.
By dividing its software offerings into two separate platforms, Lightspeed gives you the flexibility to create a system that meets your needs. Crucially, they integrate seamlessly, creating an all-in-one solution that feels and operates like a single piece of software that delivers the same level of quality for offline and online sales.
Lightspeed Retail is an extensive platform crammed full of features to help store owners sell products and manage their business. These are broken down into five separate product categories that you gain access to, depending on which pla you sign up for (more details in the pricing section later).
Here are the five categories we’ll be looking at in this section.
Now, let’s take a look at the key features you can expect from each product category.
You can find a full summary of features for each product on the Lightspeed website and additional information about which kind of businesses the platform is designed for.
Lightspeed Retail is an advanced platform designed for modern businesses and there are some important technical features to understand. In this section, we look at which operating systems it’s available on, system requirements and the hardware you might need to run the software effectively.
Lightspeed Retail is split into two systems, one of which provides the front-end POS capabilities and another that gives you back-end access for managing your store.
The POS system is an iOS app that can run on iPads and iPhones but functionality is restricted on iPhones. For example, you can sell products using your phone, which means you’re going to need an iPad for every point of sale you want to create in your store.
Just to clarify, there is no Android app for Lightspeed Retail.
Accessibility for the back-end system is much better, thanks to this part of the system being a cloud-based platform. This means you can access it using any major web browser, allowing you to manage your store on any Mac, PC or tablet connected to the web.
You can access the back end of Lightspeed Retail using any major browser so you shouldn’t have any problems with this. For the Lightspeed Retail app, you’re going to need iOS 12.2 or later and the app also works on all versions of the newer iPadOS system designed specifically for Apple’s tablets.
It’s a shame that Lightspeed doesn’t provide support for Android devices, as this would make the entire system more accessible.
Lightspeed also provides a range of hardware for retail businesses to set up their points of sale in-store. There are two main kits available through Lightspeed: one for iPads and another for desktops.
The iPad hardware kit includes a LAN receipt printer, cash drawer, bluetooth scanner, iPad stand and receipt paper. While the desktop hardware it comes with a USB receipt printer, cash drawer and USB scanner.
Additional hardware can also be ordered individually and you can find a full list of items here. For pricing information on hardware items, you’ll have to contact Lightspeed directly.
Lightspeed Retail is designed for any small-to-medium sized retailer that sells in-store and/or online. If you fit into this category then you’ll definitely want to consider this as one of the best all-in-one POS and sales platforms on the market.
Lightspeed understands that every business is different, though, and its software products are fully customisable to meet your needs. The company has built in specialist features for niche types of retailers – for example, clothing stores can create their own returns policy and music store owners can arrange instrument repairs.
Don’t let vague statements about Lightspeed Retail being ideal for any store owner suggest this is a generic platform. It isn’t. This is a robust system built with comprehensive features for the most niche of retail specialists.
You can find a full list of retail types Lightspeed’s platform is designed for here.
Lightspeed Retail offers four flat-rate plans, as well as an enterprise plan for high-volume retailers, and you can find pricing on the company’s website. Here’s a breakdown of the different plans available and what you get for your money.
As you can see, Lightspeed Retail uses a simple pricing plan that clearly communicates which features are available on each plan. It does mean you have to pay up for more expensive plans if you want the loyalty features, for example, so it is important to consider what you need from the platform and what you’re willing to pay.
There are certainly cheaper options on the market if you’re selling both online and offline but they don’t necessarily achieve the same quality across the board at Lightspeed. Aside from that, we appreciate this simple, transparent pricing policy that many software providers could learn from.
The most complicated aspect of Lightspeed software is getting it set up in the first place. How complex this process is depends on which Lightspeed Retail plan you’re signed up to and how many of its products you’re setting up.
Once you’ve purchased the software, a customer success rep will guide you through the setup process, which mostly takes place in-browser. As long as you’ve got an iPad, you can start using the system right away although you will need to wait for your hardware package before you can print receipts (unless you already happen to have suitable hardware).
Once you’re set up, you’ll soon appreciate how intuitive Lightspeed’s software is. Considering how much functionality is crammed into this platform, it’s impressive that Lightspeed has managed to refine it into something this simple and easy to use.
Both the web app and iOS app are designed with daily use in mind. Key functionality is broken up into logical categories, which are easy to find and switch between. The software takes a back seat and allows you to manage every aspect of your retail business without any clunky navigation slowing you down.
Usability is easily one of Lightspeed Retail’s biggest strengths.
Lightspeed Retail has a strong reputation on independent review platforms. You won’t have any problem finding positive feedback from Lightspeed customers, that’s for sure. But it always helps to look at customer complaints to see if any important issues are raised.
At the time of writing, Lightspeed Retail has a rating of 4 out of 5 on Softwareadvice.com from over 800 reviews. As the scoring suggests, feedback is largely positive with customers praising both the software and standard of customer service. Here are some typical reviews from Softwareadvice.com:
“Lightspeed has literally saved us 20-30 hours per week. It connects and communicates well with all of our other systems; including accounting and loyalty platforms. Their customer and technical support have been extraordinary and have exceeded our expectations.” – review by Sean from Whats In The Bowl Pet Shop, May 2019
“Lightspeed is easy and efficient to operate. From training new employees to hectic busy days, Lightspeed reduces human errors and allows our staff and business to achieve their fullest potential.” – Shawn from the Bicycle Center, Feb 2020
You can read through more Lightspeed Retail reviews on Softwareadvice.com and filter reviews to see what existing customers like and dislike about the platform.
You really do need to filter reviews to find any complaints about Lightspeed Retail, as well. At the time of writing, the platform has a score of 4.2 out of 5 at Capterra.com and most of the feedback is highly positive, once again. Here are some typical cons listed at Capterra:
“Some minor quirks (unable to drive inventory into negative so it automatically makes an adjustment when sale completes) (whole numbers only in the number of units field, no decimals).” – Daniel, Restaurant Manager, Nov 2018
“It’s all stored on their end which is extremely inconvenient. You can download all of your inventory into a XLS file so that when you stop using lightspeed you don’t loose absolutely everything.” Tony, Retail Manager, Feb 2020
“The built in HELP software is out dated and the instructions are not clear due to the fact procedures and page set ups have changed” Jonny, Consumer Electronics Owner, March 2020
Aside from that, there are some complaints about Lightspeed sales reps and lengthy contracts being signed but you shouldn’t be encouraged to sign up for anything more than a 12-month contract – so don’t let anyone sign you up on this basis.
Lightspeed Retail has a customer support team available 24/7 in the UK (and other countries) to provide help with any technical issues you might experience. You also have a customer success team, which is also based in the UK, to help you get your system set up and operating as you need.
You’ll also find an online Retail Help Center, filled with online documentation and guides to help you get the best of the platform.
A common feature in Lightspeed Retail reviews is that the company provides excellent customer service, beginning with the initial setup and onboarding process right through the entire customer experience. No software company has a perfect profile of reviews but Lightspeed’s impressive feedback reassures us that customer service is up there with the best providers.
Lightspeed Retail is hard to criticise from a software perspective. Not only does it provide a comprehensive all-in-one solution for modern retailers (both online and offline) but the quality of its software and features is consistent across every product. This, combined with the company’s excellent customer support and service, makes it easy to recommend Lightspeed Retail as a POS and business management platform.
There are some downsides to consider, though. The pricier Lightspeed Retail plans are pushing the limit for smaller businesses while features are highly limited on its cheaper plans. Cheaper options are available but it’s hard to find an all-in-one system with this level of consistent quality.
The other obvious issues with Lightspeed Retail is a lack of support for Android devices, which will be a problem if you’ve already invested in tablets powered by Google’s OS.
Those two main issues aside, Lightspeed Retail is one of the most accomplished POS systems designed specifically for modern retail brands and we’ve got no hesitation in recommending it.
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