Lightspeed POS can be used on the iPad or website and your entire experience kicks off with a little guide that provides you with walkthroughs for adding inventory and the like.
It is highly advisable that you select one of the guide buttons – they will take you through to the Retail Help Center – before you click on Get Started because then you’re faced with black and white words and little else.
The learning curve on Lightspeed is steep. Don’t be daunted, however, because once you’ve read through the copious help articles and started loading the system, Lightspeed starts to shine.
Lightspeed POS review: Features
- Lots of tasty features with excellent customization options
- Support for plenty of different payment types
- Robust inventory management
Online/ Offline access: Offline mode that allows for normal operating until connectivity is resolved
Stock / Inventory management: Excellent suite of services
Data / Reporting: Customisable reporting structures to suit specific use cases
Customer engagement: Customer loyalty program and gift cards are add-on features
eCommerce features: eCommerce is a standalone Lightspeed solution
Staff management and control: Several employee management options
Operating systems: Web and iOS
Free Trial – Yes
Payment options: Customisable payment plans dependent on number of registers and type of POS system
Support: 24/7 and customised to suit the specific POS system
Your inventory management controls in Lightspeed can be complicated or they can be easy, which one depends entirely on your type of business and the level of functionality you want from the platform.
You gain features such as item search, you can import your entire inventory from another system using a CSV format or you can add it in manually. If you want to use the CSV approach though, Lightspeed does it for you and you’ll have to wait about a week.
Customers and Sales are bare, sad little pages that have little excitement on them when you first kick off, but as you add new data, they’ll look a lot less like you’ve accidentally lost all your stock.
Moving on to the Reporting pages is a different story. Here, the data nerd can literally roll in reporting from sales and refunds through to missed item counts to inventory reports to registers and payments. Some can be customised; most are detailed enough to give you a rich view of your business.
The settings section includes basic employee management features, control over your payment types, your company branding and various other useful features. It’s odd that some are stacked here rather under their relevant area, but it’s easy enough to find.
Lightspeed POS review: Design and usability
- Bland user interface
- Plenty of features that take time to learn but deliver the goods
- This is what it means when reporting is made easy
Lightspeed has so many cool reporting features that you could probably get lost in the system for days, only emerging to yell for more sales and more data. You can use these to fine tune business performance across multiple areas and to drill down into the areas that need improvement. The value of this level of insight cannot be understated as it can fundamentally change how you spend and what you spend on.
As mentioned earlier, Lightspeed isn’t for the fainthearted. You won’t leap in and suddenly find yourself swathed in Apple-esque apps, plus the learning curve is tight. But it is worth it because you can use the technology to pull out so much detail and manage systems so finely.
That said, it isn’t an impossible task to use Lightspeed and if you want an easy to use interface you can simply bypass the sections that aren’t to your taste. Lightspeed is one of the older dogs in the pack and this shows in its stability and the fact that you get a lot of nifty little extras, such as customisable tags that you can use to bundle specific items or offers.
Lightspeed POS review: Performance
- A workhorse that gets the job done
- Superb feature sets that help you drive your business
- Oooh, that is a big price tag you’ve got there
Lightspeed is expensive. Again, the final price you pay will entirely depend on the size and type of your business, but it is a costly option for smaller companies that need something a little less weighty on their wallets.
However, it is expensive for a good reason. Lightspeed offers one of the most stable performances on the market with minimal issues around downtime or speed when connectivity drops.
The customer service centre not only has thousands of articles tailored to answer very specific questions but a response helpdesk if you’re really stuck. You can also add a variety of extra integrated options to your Lightspeed investment to boost its capabilities – another cost.
The register, inventory and reporting functions are superb and easily knock many of their competitors out of the water. Once you’ve spent your learning curve setting things up, the software is fairly intuitive to drive and is organised intelligently.
You aren’t going to spend 20 minutes hunting for labels only to find them stored under Customer Settings, for example. Nothing is hidden, the buttons are big, and you can opt into an on-site setup over the cloud if you prefer something a bit more solid.
Lightspeed POS review: Verdict
Lightspeed comes in three different versions and the company has worked hard to ensure that the features match each one perfectly. You gain an immense amount of software power when you immerse your business into Lightspeed as it has developed a bevy of options, customisations and settings designed to help you get the most out of your business and your data. The features are easy to find, the inventory fantastically rich, and the register exactly on point.
Pricing and initial setup complexity may influence some to stay away from Lightspeed – perhaps look to Toast or TouchBistro for really big and shiny buttons and festive interfaces – but for the large to medium business this is an exceptional POS system.
What other POS systems should you consider?
Lightspeed POS is undoubtedly one of the best POS systems around but it might not be ideal for your business. Here's a few more you might consider. We've given you an idea of what each system is best for but click through to read the full review:
We rate Square as the best POS system for startups; Shopify is the best for eCommerce; Intuit QuickBooks POS is the best option for retail; ShopKeep POS is the best for interoperability; TouchBistro is the best POS system for restaurants; Toast is the best for bars and coffee shops; and Vend is the best for retail outlets of all sizes.
To see all these point of sale systems tested head-to-head, check out our Best POS Systems buying guide.