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Lightspeed Review

Best Mobile POS System for iPad

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 2020 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: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need. 

 

The company posts pricing on its website, so you can easily determine whether or not it's within your budget before you invest time learning about the system. 

Each version of this POS software has different pricing, and the website shows both annual and month-to-month subscription prices for a single store. All plans include free onboarding, updates and 24/7 support, and there are no setup or implementation fees. If you have a large business or a high monthly sales volume, you can call a sales agent for a custom price quote. The company offers a 14-day free trial and a demo, so you can try out all the features and make sure Lightspeed is a good fit for your business before you subscribe.

Starts at $69 per month. Five plans are available for this version of the POS software. Each plan supports a single register, but you can add more for $29 each per month.   

  • Basic: $69 per month (annual billing) or $79 per month (monthly billing).

  • Starter: $99 per month (annual billing) or $119 per month (monthly billing). The e-commerce module is included with this plan.

  • Standard: $119 per month (annual billing) or $139 per month (monthly billing). The e-commerce module and accounting integration are included with this plan.

  • Advanced: $169 per month (annual billing) or $189 per month (monthly billing). The e-commerce module, accounting integration and loyalty program are included with this plan.

  • Pro: $229 per month (annual billing) or $259 per month (monthly billing). The e-commerce module, accounting integration, loyalty program and analytics are included with this plan. 

Starts at $59 per month (annual billing) or $69 per month (monthly billing). This version of the software supports an unlimited number of users and has standard reporting, tableside ordering, customer management and access to Lightspeed's integrations. This plan supports a single register. Additional registers can be added to your plan for $34 each per month. 

Lightspeed offers two tiers of add-ons for your restaurant POS system. Here's what they cost:

  • Add-ons start at $12 per month. Options include a customer-facing display, kitchen display system, self-order table menu and advanced reporting.

  • Premium add-ons start at $39 per month. Options include an accounting integration, loyalty program, loyalty app, self-order kiosk and delivery integration.

Lightspeed Payments, the company's own payment processing service, is now available to U.S.-based retailers and will soon be offered to merchants in other regions. It has flat rates, and there aren't any monthly or annual fees to use it. 

  • In-person sales accepted using a card reader: 2.6% + 10 cents
  • Online transactions and keyed-in cards: 2.6% + 30 cents 

Additionally, Lightspeed integrates with TSYS (Cayan) and Worldpay form FIS (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 is a fully mobile, cloud-based POS system that runs on all types of iPads so you can choose the screen size you prefer. Lightspeed Retail and the back end of Lightspeed Restaurant also run on any device with a web browser. Lightspeed Restaurant's front end works on iPods and iPhones. 

After you install the Lightspeed app on an iPad (or for restaurants, iPods or iPhones), you can use it 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 them using the iPad. 

If you already own POS hardware, you can use it with Lightspeed if it's compatible. You can check the knowledgebase on the company's website for a complete list of compatible devices or call the company to check 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 dozens of 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. 

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 – with more than 14 million items – so you can easily add new products to your product catalog. You can also bulk import product data to the system using Lightspeed's import tool, which allows you to transfer up to 10,000 SKUs at a time. Lightspeed alerts 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 that your menu items are priced correctly.

This POS software comes with built-in customer relationship management tools. 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. 

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 can be used as is, or you can customize them. You also have the option to create additional roles or set access for each 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 performance. 

You can access 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 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. Advanced reporting and analytics modules are available for additional monthly fees. 

Lightspeed offers dozens of integrations for 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. 

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. 

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 with internet access (iPad, Android or Windows) or monitor connected to a computer that has internet access. 

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 the features we asked about. 

Lightspeed provides several helpful 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 pricing for its hardware on its website, but it works with third-party hardware, so you may be able to continue using the hardware you already own, or you can use its list of compatible models to make sure you get a good deal, whether you buy from Lightspeed or a third-party vendor. 

Also, Lightspeed doesn't offer as many integrated credit card processing options like some of its competitors, which may be limiting for merchants who are locked into contracts with other processors or who 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 are competitive. 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. 

Editor's note: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need. 

 

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.