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Lightspeed Review

Best iPad POS System

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

There are several reasons to choose an iPad POS system for your small business. They're less expensive than traditional POS terminals, you can use them as handheld devices and assist customers anywhere on the sales floor, or if you prefer to attach them to a stand, they take up less counter space and are more attractive than their bulky counterparts. You won't be sacrificing functionality either: The best iPad POS systems are highly capable and have a full arsenal of features.

Our 2018 research and analysis of POS systems leads us to recommend Lightspeed as the best iPad POS system for small businesses.

We chose Lightspeed from the dozens of POS systems we considered. To read our methodology and see a comprehensive list of POS systems, visit our best picks page.

Lightspeed is the best iPad POS system for small businesses. It is fully mobile, and both the retail and restaurant versions of its software are highly capable, with a strong collection of features. It also has the qualities we look for in our best picks for POS systems, such as competitive pricing, the option of month-to-month terms, a choice of integrated payment processors and compatibility with third-party hardware.

Editor's note: Interested in a customized quote from Vend - our winner for best retail POS system for small businesses? Use the questionnaire below and Vend will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Although additional pricing details would be helpful, the company's posted pricing gives you a ballpark idea of what you can expect to pay, so you can determine whether or not its within your budget before you invest time learning about the system. Lightspeed's retail, restaurant and e-commerce plans are cloud-based, but an onsite version of the software is available for merchants who prefer to store their data themselves on a local server.

Each version of this POS software has different pricing, though all prices are based on an annual plan for a single store. They include free onboarding, updates and 24/7 support, and there are no setup or implementation fees. Lightspeed also offers month-to-month plans, but you'll need to speak with a sales agent for a pricing quote. The company offers a 14-day free trial, so you can try out all the features and make sure Lightspeed is a good fit for your business before you subscribe.

Lightspeed Retail: Starts at $99. There's only one published plan for this version of the software. It supports one iPad, five employees and comes with basic reporting.

  • Lightspeed eCom: Starts at $59 per month. If you want to extend your physical store online, you can add this plan to your retail subscription. It supports a single user and up to 250 products.

Lightspeed Restaurant: Starts at $69. There are three published plans for this version of the software. All restaurant plans support an unlimited number of users and have standard reporting, tableside ordering, customer management and access to Lightspeed's integrations.

  • Small: $69 per month. Supports one iPad.
  • Medium: $129 per month. Supports up to three iPads.
  • Large: $198 per month. Supports up to five iPads.
  • Kiosk add-on: $59 per month. If you want to give your customers the option of placing their own orders, you can add this option to your restaurant subscription.

Lightspeed Onsite: Starts at $99. Merchants that prefer to host the software on a local server instead of using Lightspeed's cloud-based solutions can do so with this plan. Like the cloud-based solutions, you can use an iPad with this system, and plans include setup help, basic reporting, free updates and 24/7 support.

  • Small shop: $99 per month. Supports one user.
  • Medium shop: $169 per month. Supports two users.
  • Large shop: $289 per month. Supports four users. Additional users: $51 per month, per user.

Choice of integrated credit card processor. Lightspeed integrates with TSYS (Cayan) and Worldpay (Vantiv). This isn't as many options as some of its competitors offer, but it still gives you a choice of processor, so you can compare pricing quotes and select the one that offers you the best rates. Lightspeed Payments, the company's own payment processing service, will soon be available as well; it was in beta testing at the time of review.

POS hardware compatibility. Lightspeed runs on the iPad, iPad Mini and iPad Pro, so you can choose the screen size you prefer. After you install the Lightspeed app, you can use the iPad POS system as a fully mobile device to assist customers anywhere in your business. For example, if you have a restaurant, your servers can take orders and payments tableside. Or, if you have a store, your cashiers can check out customers from the sales floor. You can connect wireless peripherals, such as a cash drawer, receipt printer and barcode scanner.

Alternatively, you can pair the iPad with a stand and peripherals to create a stationary POS station. If you choose a plan that supports extra iPads, you can use them as customer-facing displays at your checkout stations or as self-serve devices, either at the table or set up as kiosks, that allow your restaurant customers to place their own orders and pay for it using the iPad.

If you already own POS hardware, you can use it with Lightspeed if its compatible. You can check the knowledgebase on the company's website for a complete list of compatible devices or call the company to check for compatibility. You can also use this list if you want to compare prices from third-party vendors. Or, you can purchase your equipment from Lightspeed, including iPads, since the company is an authorized Apple reseller.

Like other iPad POS systems, Lightspeed is easy to set up and use. You download the app to your iPad, then contact the company for a free onboarding session where it walks you through setting up and using the system. Complete instructions are available as a getting-started guide on the company's support page, as are 50 training videos. There's also a Getting Started Wizard that greets you the first time you log into your account.

Using the iPad, you can access both the POS mode that has register features and the Retail Manager mode that has advanced POS tasks like layaways and special orders, plus back-office functions like settings, inventory, and reports. You can also access these features when you log into your account using a web browser. The software has a clean, uncluttered interface with a left menu bar that makes it easy to find the features you're looking for.

Whether you choose an iPad-based POS system or a traditional one, you want to pay close attention to features that help you manage your inventory, customer data and employees, and reporting capabilities. Ideally, the system supports integrations that expand its capabilities or sync with other business applications you use so you don't have to manually export and import data between systems.

With an iPad POS system, you also want to check for an offline mode, so your business doesn't come to a standstill when your internet connection goes down. Here's what Lightspeed has to offer for each of these feature sets.

Inventory management. Lightspeed's inventory management tools track inventory, manage vendors and help you create purchase orders. Merchants with more than one location can track and purchase stock for all their outlets. You can also transfer stock between outlets.

The retail version of the software is preloaded with more than 3,000 catalogs, so you can easily add new products to your product catalog. You can also bulk import product data to the system using a CSV or Excel spreadsheet. Lightspeed can alert you when items fall below the threshold you set, and the system has purchase ordering tools. If you have a physical and an online store, you can manage inventory for both using this POS system.

The restaurant version of the software has ingredient-level inventory tracking to help you keep all your supplies, including those you use for your recipes, in stock. It tracks food costs and profit margins, helping you ensure your menu items are priced correctly.

Customer management. This POS software comes with customer relationship management tools built in. With them, you can create profiles for your customers, see purchase histories and add notes that help you personalize the service you provide them. The retail version of the software lets you offer promo codes and discounts to customers, and the restaurant version lets you track visits, see previous reservations and create bar tabs.

Employee management. When you add an employee to your Lightspeed account, you can limit the information and tasks they can access by assigning them roles. These preconfigured roles  you can use as is or customize them, and you can create additional roles or set access for each individual employee.

Your employees can clock in and out each day using Lightspeed's built-in timeclock, and you can run reports that show you your employees' hours and erformance.

Reporting tools. You can access your reports from any device with a browser, allowing you to monitor your business's performance and sales at any time, from any place. The retail version of the software has an interactive dashboard with colorful charts that illustrate your sales data. It has more than 40 reports that analyze sales trends, product performance and customer behavior. The restaurant version has end-of-day and staff reports that allow you to check sales and track tips for every user, and identify your busy hours and days so you can schedule your staff optimally.

Third-party integrations. Lightspeed offers dozens of integrations for both the retail and restaurant versions of its POS software. You can use them to connect to your accounting software, analytics programs, credit card processors, email marketing services and other business applications. If you need a custom integration, Lightspeed Retail has an API, but the Lightspeed Restaurant API is only available to Lightspeed partners.

Offline mode. Lightspeed has an offline mode, so you can continue working if your internet connection goes offline. When the connection resumes, it syncs your data to the cloud. If you want a local database for additional peace of mind, Lightspeed offers a Lite Server that you can add to your POS system.

In addition to the above features, Lightspeed has a Customer Facing Display feature for retailers that lets customers see and verify their purchases at checkout. You can use any tablet (iPad, Android or Windows) or monitor, and it shows your customer the sale as you're ringing it up.

Customers can see their name (if you've added it to the sale), the list of items they're purchasing and how much they cost (plus any discounts, surcharges and taxes) and total amount due. You can set a custom background image, and if the display is a touchscreen tablet or monitor, your customers can email themselves the receipt.

For restaurants, Lightspeed has a Self-Order Menu feature that lets customers place their own orders. You can place iPads at tables so customers can pay after their meals, or you can set up a kiosk that your customers can use to order and pay before they pick up their food. Customers enjoy using this technology and place larger orders, and it frees up your staff, allowing them to serve more customers.

Lightspeed provides its customers with 24/7 phone and email support, and you can also reach out to the company via live chat. Whether you need help setting up the system, migrating data or resolving issues with the software, Lightspeed's tech support agents can assist you. When we reached out to the company, posing as a small business looking for a POS system, the rep we chatted with was friendly, knowledgeable and quick to reply. She was upfront with pricing information and offered helpful details about features we asked about.

If you prefer to look for answers to your questions online, Lightspeed provides several resources on its website. It has a searchable knowledgebase with getting started guides, release notes, training videos and a community forum. It also has webinars, white papers, a blog and active social media accounts.

Lightspeed doesn't post its complete pricing on its website, so you must contact the company if you prefer a month-to-month plan, need a higher retail or e-commerce plan, or if you want add-ons such as kiosk ordering or advanced reporting.

Also, Lightspeed doesn't offer as many integrated credit card processing options as its competitors, which may be limiting for merchants that are locked into contracts with other processors or want to continue working with the company they currently use.

Bindo was our previous best pick for iPad POS systems. It was selected for its competitive pricing, innovative features and versatility.

Bindo's iPad POS system can be used by small businesses with one or multiple locations in retail, restaurant, and professional service industries, such as salons and spas. Although Bindo is one of the few mobile POS companies that doesn't post pricing on its website, the rates it quoted us in our testing are competitive. For a single location with one register, its software subscription plus loyalty plan costs $79 per month. However, if you choose a month-to-month plan instead of an annual plan, you're charged a setup fee.

Even though Bindo has its own payment processing service that you can use with its POS system, the company gives you the option of working with other credit card processors. It also works with third-party POS hardware, so if you already own equipment, it may be compatible.

Bindo's website says that it has more than 300 features, with tools for inventory, customer and staff management, reporting, loyalty programs, and more. Its Simple Scan technology makes it easy to add new products to the system by automatically populating product information using its database of more than 10 million products. Another notable feature is its Identity Safeguard timeclock that takes pictures of your employees every time they clock in and out of the system, ensuring employees only clock in for themselves.

Ready to choose a POS system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Interested in a customized quote from Vend - our winner for best retail POS system for small businesses? Use the questionnaire below and Vend will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Lori Fairbanks

Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.