March 27, 2024

Lightspeed vs Shopify: Best POS System in 2024

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Key takeaways

  • Lightspeed is perfect for brick-and-mortar operations and handling complex inventories
  • Shopify excels with omnichannel sales and scaling ecommerce businesses 
  • You can use both: Certain versions of Lightspeed Retail POS integrate with Shopify ecommerce

Shopify is a household name for powering online businesses. Lightspeed is quickly gaining market share among retail point-of-sale (POS) systems, especially after acquiring ShopKeep and Vend in recent years. 

Both offer native ecommerce, POS, payment processing, order management, marketing, customer, and employee management tools for retailers. The main difference is Lightspeed was a POS first, expanding into ecommerce later. Shopify was an ecommerce platform first. It comes down to which is your primary sales channel of focus. 

If it’s ecommerce, consider Shopify. If brick-and-mortar is your bread and butter and online sales are just a bonus, you might prefer Lightspeed.

Looking for more retail POS solutions? Check out our Retail POS Systems Buyer’s Guide.

Lightspeed: Best for brick-and-mortar 


Pros

  • Matrix inventory management
  • Best-in-class real-time analytics 
  • Customizable workflows and dashboards
  • Multi-location and channel visibility 
  • Flexible ecommerce options 
  • Automated marketing 

Cons

  • Complex interface 
  • Basic native ecommerce functionality 
  • Pricey software fees
  • Requires a longer-term contract  
Logo of Lightspeed

Our Rating: 3.81/5

  • Inventory management: Arguably Lightspeed’s best feature, its inventory tools, make it easy to track variations, reorder points, sales trends, on-hand counts, and even reorder stock directly from the POS.  
  • Reporting and analytics: Lightspeed has highly customizable and detailed reporting. The information is also displayed visually, making it easy to spot trends. It has prompts that help guide you through what the data means so you can take action and make informed decisions based on the information. 
  • Multi-location visibility: Lightspeed can track stock across multiple locations, including storefronts, warehouses, and online orders. You can transfer stock between locations and have real-time visibility across locations, so you can still fulfill customer orders even if one location is out of stock. 
  • Dedicated 24/7 support: Lightspeed offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Certain plans have dedicated account managers, customized implementation plans, and access-level role training.  

Pricing: 2.81 out of 5

Hardware: 3.75 out of 5 

Software: 4.17 out of 5 

Support and reliability: 4.38 out of 5 

User experience: 3.75 out of 5 

User reviews: 4.03 out of 5 

Lightspeed is a POS and payments platform powering retailers of all sizes, from startups to enterprises. Unlike most modern POS systems, including Shopify, which are solely app-based, Lightspeed is browser-based, meaning you can run the software on a computer at your checkout counters. 

However, Lightspeed Retail also has an iPad app to ring sales and help customers on the go. 

Ecwid, which Lightspeed acquired in 2021, powers Lightspeed’s connected ecommerce platform. Lightspeed eCom allows you to build a no-code “instant site” in a few minutes, sell on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, or sell on Amazon and Google Shopping. 

If Ecwid doesn’t suit your e-commerce needs, Lightspeed Retail integrates with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and more.

Where Lightspeed blows Shopify—and all other comparable POS systems—out of the water is with its inventory management and analytics features. 

Read more: What are the Different Types of POS Systems 

Shopify: Best for ecommerce and omnichannel  


Pros

  • Incredibly user-friendly
  • Sophisticated AI tools 
  • Built to scale 
  • Best-in-class social media selling tools 
  • Advanced omnichannel customer journeys 
  • Shop Pay one-click checkout 

Cons

  • Limited customizations, especially with POS 
  • Limited offline functionality 
  • Lackluster customer support 
Shopify logo.

Our Rating: 4.12/5

  • Omnichannel selling: Shopify has excellent tools to facilitate customer journeys across in-store, mobile, online, and social media. Options include buy online, pickup in-store; buy in-store, ship to customer; browse in-store, buy online with virtual carts; local pickup and delivery; and buy online, return in-store. 
  • Streamlined checkout: Customizable tiles and hot keys on a touch-screen interface make it easy to ring orders quickly in a fast-paced retail environment. 
  • Customer engagement tools: Built-in customer profiles, email marketing, rewards programs, chat tools, tags, and filters, product review prompts, and integrated social media campaigns make engaging with customers straightforward and possible directly through Shopify. 
  • Shipping and fulfillment: Because Shopify was first designed for ecommerce, its order management, shipping, and fulfillment workflows are streamlined and easy to follow. Plus, certain Shopify accounts come with significant shipping discounts. You can manage all shipping and label printing right from Shopify.

Pricing: 2.81 out of 5

Hardware: 4.75 out of 5 

Software: 4.44 out of 5 

Support and reliability: 3.75 out of 5 

User experience: 4.38 out of 5 

User reviews: 4.57 out of 5 

Since its launch in 2006, Shopify has powered more than 7 million websites and ~$886 billion in sales. The platform is so popular that it’s basically a household name. You can’t say the same for most business software. 

Shopify invests a lot of resources in developing and improving its ecommerce platform. Annually, Shopify issues Summer and Winter Editions, each with hundreds of product updates. Lately, Shopify has launched AI tools and improved its inventory tools, online checkout pages, store builder, dashboard capabilities, and more. 

In other words, if you want a solution that offers the latest and greatest ecommerce tools, Shopify is your best choice. In addition to ecommerce, Shopify has two point-of-sale systems: a free Starter POS app and a more advanced Retail POS app. The latter features omnichannel tools like local delivery and pickup fulfillment options; buy online, return in-store; and ship-from-store sales. 

Another huge bonus of using Shopify is its deep partnerships with platforms like TikTok and Meta for seamless social sales. 

How are Lightspeed and Shopify different? 

Logo of Lightspeed Shopify logo.
User Interface Slightly complex Streamlined & easy to use
Detailed Inventory Tracking Excellent Average
Reporting and Analytics Excellent Average
Value for Money Average Excellent
Website Builder Basic Excellent

On the surface, Lightspeed and Shopify both offer retail POS systems and online store builders for selling products in-store, online, on-the-go, via social media, and through marketplaces like Amazon. 

However, each product’s user interface, workflow, and specific features function differently. The through line in Lightspeed was designed for brick-and-mortar and added ecommerce functionality later. Shopify is the opposite—it was designed for ecommerce and later added POS functionality.

Here are some of the key differences: 

Omnichannel sales

Lightspeed operates with store sales in mind, so it truly excels at multi-store and multi-location sales tracking. It also has an unrivaled omnichannel loyalty program that bridges in-store, online, SMS, and email and is highly customizable. 

On the other hand, Shopify is unparalleled in creating a seamless customer experience between online and in-store. Ship from store; buy online, return in-store; buy online, pickup in-store; email cart from store, browse online, buy in-store; and buy online with local delivery are just some examples of the omnichannel customer journeys Shopify enables.  

Scalability 

Lightspeed and Shopify both have enterprise solutions. And, both are SaaS solutions that offer developer APIs. 

However, Shopify is specifically designed to support businesses scaling to multimillion-dollar ventures. If that is your ambition, you’ll likely quickly outgrow Lightspeed’s native ecommerce tools. Shopify also has a network of Shopify Experts to help you build and optimize your store, and thousands of apps so you can customize your solution.   

Compatibility with other business types 

Shopify is built for retail and is best suited for retail. This includes ecommerce, wholesale, dropshipping, international sales, direct-to-consumer, and headless commerce stores. Anything outside of a retail or merch operation will likely not find the industry-specific tools you need. 

Lightspeed, on the other hand, has dedicated software to support a variety of restaurant types, including hotels, quick service, full service, and cafes. 

Read more: Best Restaurant POS Systems

Lightspeed’s retail POS is also popular with specialty shops like bike and jewelry stores because it has native tools for managing repair and work orders, parts, and warranties (which Shopify doesn’t offer natively). Interestingly, Lightspeed also has a solution built specifically for golf courses: public, private, resorts, and more.  

Lightspeed vs Shopify: Pricing 

Logo of Lightspeed Shopify logo.
Monthly fee (POS) $89–$269 per register 89
Monthly fee (POS, with annual payment) $69–$199 79
Additional registers $59 per month 0
Additional locations $69 for second location, discounts for additional $89 per location
Monthly fee (ecommerce) $0–$82.50 $29–$299
In-person transaction fee 2.6% + 10 cents* 2.6% + 10 cents*
Online transaction fees 2.9% + 30 cents* 2.9% + 30 cents*
Card reader Quote-based From $49

*Discounts available with certain plans or high processing volumes

On the surface, Lightspeed and Shopify are comparable in terms of the monthly software fees and payment processing fees you will pay. However, Shopify is cheaper for most businesses and generally offers a better value for money. Namely, Shopify does not charge for additional registers with its Pro POS. Most other POS systems on the market, including Lightspeed, do charge per register. 

Let’s say you have a boutique with two registers and an online store and opt for an annual POS subscription. Here’s how the monthly subscription fees will roughly break down for each: 

  • Lightspeed: $178 for the Standard plan, including ecommerce at $119, plus $59 for the second register. 
  • Shopify: $108 for the Pro plan at $79 and Basic ecommerce for $29. The second register is included with POS Pro.

For bigger businesses, the difference is even more noticeable. Let’s look at how much each will cost you per month if you have three retail locations, each with four registers, and an online store, still on an annual contract:  

  • Lightspeed: $1,128 for the Advanced POS plan—including a customer loyalty program and advanced reporting, and ecommerce—for $199. It’s $398 in fees for your two other locations and $531 for your nine additional registers.  
  • Shopify: $536 for three locations of POS Pro at $79 each (unlimited registers included) and Advanced ecommerce, which makes up the bulk of these fees. This cost will be significantly lower if you opt for a lower ecommerce subscription tier. 

Shopify and Lightspeed both have the same standard processing fees: 2.6% + 10 cents for in-person sales and 2.9% + 30 cents for online sales. However, Lightspeed offers custom rates for businesses processing over $250,000 annually. 

While Shopify doesn’t offer custom rates, you get a discount with certain plans. For example, with a Shopify ecommerce plan (about $50 more than the Basic ecommerce plan), you would receive a 1% discount for in-person sales and a 2% discount for online sales. 

As mentioned above, both platforms allow you to use third-party payment processors. However, Shopify will impose an additional 0.5–2% transaction fee, depending on your plan. Note that Shopify only allows third-party processors with its ecommerce software. Shopify POS is only compatible with Shopify Payments. With Lightspeed, you can use a third-party processor for both POS and ecommerce. However, you’ll pay a slightly higher monthly fee. 

Now, let’s take a look at hardware options and fees. 

Lightspeed vs Shopify: Hardware 

Lightspeed and Shopify both offer mobile and countertop POS solutions. However, there are a few key differences: 

  • Shopify POS is app-based 
  • Lightspeed POS is browser- and app-based 

Shopify POS is available only on Shopify devices, as well as Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Specifically, Shopify POS is available on: 

  • iPhone 7 or higher (iOS 15+)
  • iPad Air Gen 2 or higher
  • iPad Gen 5 or higher
  • iPad mini Gen 4 or higher
  • All iPad Pro models (iPadOS 15+)
  • Android devices (Android 10.0+).

Shopify also has a proprietary mobile POS terminal called Shopify POS Go. This handheld, all-in-one terminal runs Shopify POS software, has a built-in card reader and barcode scanner, an all-day battery life, and can accept contactless payments. Read more: What is a POS Terminal?

Shopify POS Go features a large touchscreen on the front and a card reader and handle strap on the back.
Shopify POS Go enables easy mobile sales. (Source: Shopify’s Amazon Storefront)

Lightspeed, on the other hand, can be accessed via Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers on any computer running Windows 8.1 or higher or Mac OS X 10.15 or higher. Certain versions of Lightspeed Retail can also be accessed via iPad on iOS 15.5 or higher. 

Both systems offer mobile and countertop card readers, tablet stands, cash drawers, barcode scanners, receipt printers, label printers, and assorted accessories. 

Read more: Best POS Hardware for Business

Lightspeed vs Shopify: POS capabilities 

Lightspeed and Shopify POS have the same core functionalities. They both allow you to ring orders, create customer profiles, see inventory levels in real-time, view sales reports, and process payments. 

However, their interfaces and user experience are very different. Lightspeed, again, is browser-based and has a lot more form fields and data collection options. There are also more clicks and screens to navigate through in the checkout process. This is ideal if you need detailed customer information, want to track work orders, or need a high level of customization. 

Lightspeed's checkout screen featuring 12+ buttons and settings.
Lightspeed’s POS interface is useful but not as streamlined as Shopify’s.

Shopify, on the other hand, is app-based and the checkout screen operates via customizable tiles or hotkeys. Processing orders is much faster, and everything is done via touch screen. While the tiles themselves are customizable, the workflow is not as detailed as Lightspeed’s. 

Both Shopify and Lightspeed offer back-office management tools like reporting, analytics, customer management, order management, and more in browser-based dashboards. 

Read more: POS Data Guide for POS Analytics

Lightspeed vs Shopify: Ecommerce site builders 

Logo of Lightspeed Shopify logo.
Free themes/templates 30 13 (dozens more paid options)
Social media sales integrations Facebook, Instagram, TikTok Facebook, Instagram, TikTok
SEO tools Basic Advanced
International sales 14 languages, multiple currencies, 20 languages, multiple currencies,
Maximum digital file size 25GB 5GB

Both Shopify and Lightspeed ecommerce:

  • Sync seamlessly with its POS
  • Can be used to sell physical items, digital products, and subscriptions 
  • Have strong automatic tax calculation tools
  • Make social media sales easy 

Shopify was built for ecommerce and is a more robust online sales platform than Lightspeed. Shopify lets you create more full and feature-rich websites than Lightspeed’s basic site builder. For example, Shopify has a drag-and-drop site builder that enables you to customize the look of your page, the sections you have on your site (including adding elements like a blog or sales promotions), thousands of more apps, and significantly better search engine optimization (SEO) tools. 

That said, Lightspeed’s system is incredibly easy to use. If Lightspeed’s POS tools are a better fit for your needs, and you don’t mind a basic storefront, Lightspeed’s ecommerce solution will be just fine. It allows you to create a basic storefront displaying products, company information, and contact information. 

However, you’ll likely be happier with Shopify if you need anything more than that. 

Lightspeed vs Shopify: Ease of use 

When comparing Shopify vs Lightspeed for ease of use, Shopify’s app-based system is simpler to navigate. Creating a sophisticated online store through Shopify’s website builder is also incredibly easy. Lightspeed’s interface is a little more complex, and there are more decisions to make when it comes to ecommerce—specifically, whether you want to use Lightspeed’s basic ecommerce tools or connect a third party (like Shopify or BigCommerce). 

However, Lightspeed does have much more granular inventory controls. So, suppose ease of use for your business means having a wealth of data at your fingertips or lots of visibility and control over product variants and work orders. In that case, you might find Lightspeed easier in practice because Shopify won’t give you the same level of visibility. 

Which is best? 

If you regularly need to manage work orders like assembly, repairs, parts, or warranties in-store, Lightspeed is best for you. Otherwise, Shopify is likely the better choice. It is cheaper, the POS is easier to use, and its ecommerce and omnichannel offerings are significantly stronger. 

However, Lightspeed POS excels at managing work orders and tracking detailed brick-and-mortar inventory. 

That said, certain versions of Lightspeed Retail integrate with Shopify ecommerce. So, if you have brick-and-mortar shops with complex inventories, like jewelry or bike stores, and also plan to do significant ecommerce sales, you may want to consider Lightspeed for POS and Shopify for ecommerce. 

Featured Partners: POS Systems

1 Lightspeed Retail

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Streamline your POS and payment process with Lightspeed.

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2 Cake

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Cake allows you to take payments and orders, update your menu quickly, and provides a range of data points.

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FAQs

Yes, certain versions of Lightspeed Retail POS integrate with Shopify ecommerce. 

Lightspeed is best for brick-and-mortar stores with complex inventories or product assortments or retailers needing to handle parts, work orders, or repairs. However, It is generally suitable for most brick-and-mortar retail operations. 

Shopify’s POS system is not as robust as Lightspeed’s. However, Shopify launches hundreds of new features and product upgrades twice a year, including improvements to its POS system. So, Shopify is steadily catching up to Lightspeed in terms of POS capabilities. 


Meaghan Brophy Avatar

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