Lightspeed and Shopify are two very worthy POS providers on the market, but our independent research has determined that Shopify is a better option for any small business.
While you might know Shopify as an ecommerce platform, it also offers an impressive POS solution. In fact, Shopify’s status as an ecommerce and a POS provider has led to the company creating some brilliant integrations between both its services. And, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever for small businesses to have an online function.
Here at Tech.co, we’re determined to help small businesses thrive. That’s why we’ve invested hundreds of hours of independent research into the point of sale market, allowing us to produce truly helpful reviews. Our free comparison tool will also take the guesswork out of choosing when it comes to finding the right POS system for your company.
In this review, we’ll be digging into exactly why we think Shopify is a better option for most small businesses than Lightspeed, while also explaining the pros and cons of each company’s offering.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Overview
Lightspeed and Shopify can appear similar, but in actuality, both providers are targeting slightly different types of small businesses.
Lightspeed is offering tools designed to help small businesses grow – the company’s CEO said as much in our interview with him. This means that you can start your business using any of Lightspeed’s plans, and add extra features when you need them.
Shopify, on the other hand, is targeting businesses that started online and are looking to expand with brick-and-mortar stores. However, considering that you also get the Shopify Lite POS plan included with any of its ecommerce plans, it could be a good fit for most companies.
Tech.co rating for retail
Score out of 5 based on Tech.co's independent market research.
The typical lowest starting price. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
$29 per month
A trustworthy choice to strengthen your business
A great all-round POS solution that excels for online stores
While Shopify is almost guaranteed to work with your business, Lightspeed is a bit more selective.
Shopify will easily serve any type of retail or restaurant business. Lightspeed, on the other hand, is best suited to retail businesses which sell lots of barcoded items – think toy stores or clothing stores rather than haberdasheries and florists, for example. This is because Lightspeed does not support partial quantities of products, expiry date information, or weighing scales.
If your business does provide barcoded products, Lightspeed could be the most user-friendly choice for you. However, we wouldn’t recommend Lightspeed for service-based businesses, such as beauty salons or hairdressers. It’s also worth noting that Lightspeed is unable to provide POS systems to businesses selling motorized vehicles, including boats.
For more information about what sort of businesses Lightspeed can serve, check out our full Lightspeed review.
It’s worth noting that if you really need ecommerce and point of sale, Shopify will let you add its point of sale solution to any of its ecommerce plans, which start from $29 per month.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Pricing Plans
Lightspeed and Shopify are relatively well-matched when it comes to their pricing and value for money – even despite their different pricing structures. It’s also worth noting that neither Shopify nor Lightspeed can hold a candle to Square POS when it comes to value for money.
You can also compare the best POS providers on the market with our comparison tool. It gives you bespoke prices for each provider and can help you find the perfect service for your business.
Lightspeed POS Pricing
Lightspeed offers five pricing plans – Basic, Starter, Standard, Advanced, and Pro.
$69 per month
$119 per month
$199 per month
Card-present rate: 2.6% + 10¢
Card-present rate: 2.6% + 10¢
Card-present rate: 2.6% + 10¢
Preferred payment rates
The Basic plan starts from $69 per month when billed annually, or $79 per month with monthly billing. With the Basic plan, you won’t get access to Lightspeed’s ecommerce platform, nor will you be able to connect to an accounting platform. Customer loyalty and sales analytics features are also not included, but can be added for extra monthly charges.
What you will get, is access to the Lightspeed POS system and its Lightspeed Payments processing service. Lightspeed Payments will charge you 2.6% + 10 cents for card-present transactions, while card-not-present transactions will cost 2.6% + 30 cents. Lightspeed Payments is included with all plans and the charges won’t change, unless you upgrade to the Lightspeed Enterprise plan — its pricing is based on bespoke quotes from Lightspeed and is designed for larger businesses.
The Starter plan costs $99 per month with annual billing, or $119 per month with monthly billing. The Starter plan’s main advantage over the cheaper Basic plan is that you can now sell online with Lightspeed eCom. We’d pause before jumping in with the Starter plan, though. Shopify will give you ecommerce and POS for less.
The Standard plan costs $119 per month with annual billing, or $139 per month with monthly billing. This time around, you can connect a third-party accounting provider to your Lightspeed store, giving you one less job to do. Lightspeed supports integrations with a range of providers, including Omniboost, QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage.
The Advanced plan gives you access to its customer loyalty program. This allows you to offer regular customers some nice extras, such as store credit, loyalty points and rewards, or special offers. You can also communicate these offers with your customers via a built-in drag-and-drop email campaign builder, or a text and push notification sender. These features will set you back $169 per month with annual billing or $189 per month with monthly billing.
Lightspeed’s most expensive fixed-price plan, Pro, costs $229 per month with annual billing or $259 per month with monthly billing. With this plan, you’ll finally get access to advanced store analytics. This gives you an overview of how many sales you’re making, employee performance, and marketing campaign effectiveness.
As we've mentioned, Lightspeed works best for retail businesses, but if you're unsure which of the above plans might work best for your store, you can take advantage of a free trial with Lightspeed, and try before you buy.
Shopify has two POS pricing plans – the free Shopify POS Lite plan, and the Shopify POS Pro plan.
However, don’t think that you’ll be getting POS software for free – you’ll need to sign up for a Shopify ecommerce plan first. These start from $29 per month.
You can also compare Shopify's pricing plans against all of its POS rivals using our easy and straightforward POS pricing comparison tool.
Shopify POS Lite
Shopify POS lite is included with all Shopify ecommerce plans, meaning that you won’t need to pay anything extra to get POS with your ecommerce functionality.
You’ll get access to Shopify Payments, which gives you in-person credit card rates starting at 2.4% + 0 cents. Shopify POS Lite will also let you buy Shopify’s branded hardware, too.
What’s more, Shopify POS Lite comes with a lot of relatively high-end features considering it is, effectively, a free POS system. You get customizable checkouts, custom discounts, a global search across your store and storage to check product availability, automatic tax calculation, refunds, unlimited products and variants, multi-location inventory, customer loyalty, and analytics.
Shopify POS Pro
The paid-for plan costs $89 per month per location, as well as the cost of your Shopify ecommerce plan. This means that you could get ecommerce and a fully-featured brick-and-mortar POS from around $118 per month – far from a bad deal.
The POS Pro plan gives you access to some slightly more high-end features. You get automatic discounts, for example, which allow customers to redeem percentage, fixed amount, or BOGO discounts both in-person or online. You can let customers buy online and pickup or return/exchange in store. Customers will also be able to buy products in your store and get them shipped to their homes.
Any Shopify hardware you buy gets a two-year warranty, rather than the single year on the Lite plan. You can add unlimited staff to your store, as well as give them unique roles and permissions. You’ll be able to make stock adjustments manually, as well as transfer products across locations. Inventory counting with barcodes becomes available, as do custom purchase orders and inventory receiving functions. Inventory and demand analysis will help you work out which products sell the best, and when you need to have them in-store.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Who’s Better for Value?
There’s only one winner here: Shopify.
Shopify isn’t the best value for money provider on the market but, compared to Lightspeed, it seems like a bit of a bargain. The fact that you can get full ecommerce and a strong POS platform for just $29 per month with the Shopify Lite plan is good enough for us.
However, there might be a better POS solution for your business outside of Shopify and Lightspeed. To find the perfect fit for your business, you can check out our POS pricing comparison tool.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Feature Comparison
While Shopify might give your business more bang-for-buck on paper, that might not be the case in practice. Let’s take a closer look at everything each provider offers.
Lightspeed and Shopify are both designed to help businesses deliver omnichannel sales – basically meaning that businesses like yours will be able to sell in-store, online, and on-the-go with a variety of different payment types.
As such, both Lightspeed and Shopify accept credit, debit, and gift card transactions, as well as cash and checks.
You’ll also be able to sell subscriptions for regular services and products with Shopify and Lightspeed.
Reporting and analytics
When it comes to reporting on sales and performance, the more data you have, the better (at least most of the time).
In this respect, Lightspeed edges out Shopify. Both platforms cover the basics, reporting on sales, individual product and category performance, and general finances. However, Lightspeed gives you more reporting tools on labor and software users, while it can also produce daily, weekly, and monthly reports.
Both platforms do allow for sales forecasting, which isn’t something you can say about all POS providers.
Integrations and add-ons
Again, both Shopify and Lightspeed offer lots of third-party integrations to make your life easier.
Both platforms offer integrations with QuickBooks, for example, in order to make accounting more straightforward. What’s more, Shopify and Lightspeed both offer app stores that allow you to add ready-made plugins to your system.
Both Shopify and Lightspeed offer extensive inventory features which will help make managing your business simple.
However, as we mentioned at the start, Lightspeed is best suited to businesses that have a lot of fixed items that they sell, instead of items that vary by weight or complexity, such as flowers, materials, or pieces of art. Shopify faces similar issues, but it's slightly more flexible than Lightspeed in this respect.
With that being said, here’s a quick rundown of what each platform’s capabilities are. Lightspeed will let you process and follow work orders, as well as give products unique serial numbers. You can also track inventory levels across multiple locations. Plus, you can directly import products from more than 3,000 preloaded catalogues. Finally, you can consolidate a list of purchases, transfers, and orders into single orders and change prices in bulk.
Shopify, on the other hand, will let you create inventory transfers and count your inventory across different locations. You’ll also be able to view the history of inventory adjustments for products and their variants.
All told, Lightspeed has a slightly wider inventory feature set compared to Shopify.
But, if you want to compare Lightspeed against its biggest rivals, you can check out our free POS comparison tool.
You might have seen this coming, but Shopify is a more capable ecommerce platform than Lightspeed.
Lightspeed’s platform offers you the basics to start selling online, as well as in store. You can import stock from your physical to online store, as well as create bespoke discount codes.
Lightspeed’s platform also gives you customizable mobile-responsive website templates. You can easily create shipping instructions with EasyPost and ShipStation, and connect your store with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to help you sell products. You can even sell in multiple languages, and in multiple currencies thanks to Lightspeed’s international shipping rates.
Shopify, on the other hand, offers all these features and more. Rather than offering customizable themes, it has a full drag-and-drop store builder. It has an in-depth dashboard to help you analyze your sales. Shopify even offers discounted shipping with USPS, meaning you could save up to 40% on shipping, and send customers automatic tracking updates through the Shop app.
If ecommerce is a central pillar of your business, we’d recommend taking Shopify ahead of Lightspeed.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Mobile App
Again, both Lightspeed and Shopify have mobile apps which allow you to control the entire POS experience.
Shopify’s app works across a range of iPad OS and iOS devices, as well as any device running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or later. If you’re on iPhone, it’ll need to be an iPhone 5s running iOS 11.4 or later. If you’re an iPad user, you’ll need one of the following:
- iPad Air – Gen 2 or later running iPadOS 11.4 or later
- iPad – Gen 5 or later running iPadOS 11.4 or later
- iPad Mini – Gen 2 or later running iPadOS 11.4 or later
- All iPad Pro models as long as they run iPadOS 11.4 or later
You’ll be able to process credit card payments on-the-go, as well as automatically apply the correct sales tax. You can send email and SMS receipts to customers, as well as print customized receipts with your store details. Barcode scanners can be integrated to simplify the sales process, and you can even manage your marketing operations from the app.
Shopify’s iOS and iPadOS app gets almost universally good reviews, and receives an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5. Shopify’s Android app, meanwhile, gets 4.1 out of 5 on the Play Store.
Lightspeed’s apps, on the other hand, work on iPads, MacOS devices, or Windows PCs – no iPhones or Androids here. It requires iPad OS 12.2 or later, and MacOS 10.12. You’ll obviously need a Windows 10 PC.
Like Shopify’s app, Lightspeed’s options let you control the entire POS experience from a mobile device. But, unlike Shopify, Lightspeed’s app gets a bit of a kicking on the App Store, receiving a rating of just 2.7 out of 5.
Lightspeed has also recently updated its dedicated Restaurants app. If your Lightspeed Restaurants app icon features a red logo on a white background, you’re using the older ‘L Series’ app. The new ‘K Series’ app has a white logo on a red background.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: POS Hardware
Hardware is as important as software for getting the most from your POS system. Comparing Lightspeed and Shopify’s offerings, however, is a bit complicated.
Shopify, like most other POS providers, sells a range of hardware that you can choose from and pay for however you like. Lightspeed, on the other hand, will sell you a range of hardware, but doesn’t disclose its prices.
Fortunately, you can check put the best POS providers head-to-head using our free POS comparison tool. It'll show you which POS platform is perfect for your business quickly and easily.
Here’s a quick look at some of the hardware that Lightspeed offers:
If you’re using an iPad to control Lightspeed, the iPad hardware kit will give you a range of peripherals to improve your wireless POS experience. These include:
- LAN receipt printer
- Cash drawer
- Bluetooth barcode scanner
- Lightspeed-branded iPad stand
- Receipt paper
Sadly, there’s no iPad included.
Similarly, Lightspeed offers a kit designed for desktop users. It includes:
- USB receipt printer
- Cash drawer
- USB barcode scanner
You can also buy the following items from Lightspeed on their own:
- Zebra ZD410 label printer
- Safescan LD-3336 cash drawer
- Star Micronics CB2002 cash drawer
- SocketScan S700 2D barcode scanner
- SocketScan S740 2D bluetooth barcode scanner
- USB barcode scanner
- Epson TM-M30 printer
- Epson TM-U220B LAN kitchen printer
- Star Micronics SP742 kitchen printer
- Star Micronics TSP-100 LAN receipt printer
- Switch 8/16/24/48 Ports POE
- AC Pro Unifi Indoor wifi booster
- Antenna Mesh outdoor wifi booster
- LiteServer local database
Shopify, on the other hand, lets you buy a range of items individually. Here’s a look at what you can buy, and how much it’ll all cost.
Shopify Retail Kit
- Tap & Chip card reader – $49
- Shopify Dock for Tap & Chip reader – $39
- Shopify Retail Stand for iPad 10.2”/ Air 10.5” – $149
- Shopify Retail Stand for iPad 9.7” – $149
- Shopify Retail Kit 10.2”/ Air 10.5” – $299
- Shopify Casual Kit – $99
- Shopify Mini Dock Cable – $9
- Shopify Mounting Kit – $9
Shopify’s barcode scanners cost between $299 and $329, while label printers start from $199 but can run to $499 for a wireless unit. Receipt printers, meanwhile, can cost between $289 and $359, while cash drawers cost $139. You can also buy shipping scales from Shopify – a 10 lbs scale will cost $49, while a 100 lbs scale will set you back $89.
All told, we think that Shopify offers better hardware than Lightspeed. Not only does it disclose the prices of its hardware options, but Shopify offers a better variety of options than Lightspeed.
Lightspeed vs Shopify: Ease of Use
Problems with your POS system can have massive ramifications for your business – any time your shop is down, you’ll be losing money.
Both Lightspeed and Shopify offer 14-day free trials to help you get accustomed to the platform, as well as online knowledge centers to help you diagnose and fix issues yourself. However, Shopify offers live chat and 24/7 phone support; Lightspeed, on the other hand, offers email and phone support, but no live chat.
When it comes to the actual UI of each company’s POS apps, there’s precious little between them. Both utilise nice, easy to understand designs, with intuitive menus and visual cues. However, given Lightspeed’s poor App Store ratings, this suggests that Shopify’s app has far fewer issues.
Verdict: Lightspeed vs Shopify
It might seem like there's nothing to separate Lightspeed and Shopify on paper, but in reality, Shopify is a more useful solution for most businesses.
Shopify brings a better ecommerce solution to the table, and is more transparent about its hardware pricing. Plus, Shopify serves a wider range of businesses, including those with more complex inventories.
Lightspeed isn’t a bad option by any means, and will suit retail businesses with large inventories of discrete barcoded items well – but it is certainly a more restrictive service than Shopify.
If you're not sold on Lightspeed or Shopify, you can compare all of the leading POS providers with our quick and easy comparison tool. It will help you see all of our researcher's favorite platforms and pick the perfect one for your business.