Lightspeed vs. Square: Which POS is Best for Your Retail Store?
Is your current point of sale (POS) system missing the mark?
Maybe the checkout process is too sluggish, or the inventory management tools are subpar. Or perhaps it’s simply missing key features and functionality you need for your store.
You’re looking to upgrade. You’ve heard Lightspeed and Square both offer top-of-the-line POS systems. But which is best for your retail store?
Many POS systems perform similar tasks, but your store is unique, and you might have different needs from other store owners. Of course, a customized solution is best, but the main thing you need to know is which POS system will help you run your retail store easily.
In this article, we’ll compare Lightspeed vs. Square, highlight the key features of each, and provide you with the pros and cons so you can choose the right system for your business.
Lightspeed vs. Square: What You Need to Know
Your POS system is the heartbeat of your retail store. The best modern retail POS systems include:
- Robust inventory management.
- Detailed sales tracking and notifications.
- Employee management.
- Vendor management.
- Powerful customer loyalty programs.
Two popular options in the POS space are Lightspeed and Square. And for good reason. Lightspeed supports multi-site locations, golf shops, and restaurants. It also has built-in e-commerce capabilities, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking to expand online.
Square POS is an affordable option that integrates seamlessly with its other small business tools. It’s mobile-based and is popular for its ease of use.
We’ll look in-depth at both options in this article, so you have the complete picture before choosing.
Before we do, although Lightspeed and Square are popular choices, there are many other providers worth considering, too. (We might be biased, but our turnkey solutions offer the hardware, software, and payment processing you need to build and manage your retail business!)
We can keep telling you about it, but we’d rather you see it yourself. Schedule a demo today!
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS solution. It serves retail stores, restaurants, and golf shops.
It was founded in 2005 and currently serves over 100,000 businesses worldwide. Known for its powerful inventory features, businesses can track inventory across multiple locations, add product variations, and manage vendor catalogs.
- Sales management: Various tools are available to help your business manage sales processes, such as the capability to create custom reports, manage customer information, and process payments.
- Integrated e-commerce: Lightspeed allows you to create and manage an online store. The system also integrates with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
- Employee management: Control employees’ schedules, timecards, and permissions, track their performance, and set goals.
- Customer management: Track customer information, including purchase history, loyalty programs, and customer feedback.
- Reporting and analytics: Lightspeed provides detailed reports on sales, inventory, and customers. Analytics tools also allow you to identify trends and make data-driven decisions.
What about inventory management? This element is what sets Lightspeed apart. Its granular inventory tools simplify managing large inventory across multiple locations.
You can send notifications when it’s time to reorder items and create single or multiple vendor orders
For medium to large businesses with complex inventory, Lightspeed is a solid choice.
Pros of Using Lightspeed
As well as the key features, there are several pros to using Lightspeed:
- Cloud-based: Use it anywhere with an internet connection. Manage your store and inventory remotely.
- Integrations: Lightspeed integrates with various third-party applications, including accounting software, marketing tools, and e-commerce platforms. You can manage your business from a single platform.
- Detailed reporting: With 50-plus preset reports and suggestions, tips, and instructions for interpreting data, you can make informed decisions.
- Customer support: Free onboarding sessions and 24/7 phone and chat support offer customers peace of mind.
Cons of Using Lightspeed
- Pricing Transparency: Getting a price for your POS system can be complicated because you need to factor in the cost of third-party processing and other add-ons. You’ll also need an annual contract to benefit from lower prices.
- Feature overload: All the bells and whistles that come with a Lightspeed POS system aren’t necessary for small retail businesses. The number of available tools creates a busy interface that can be hard to learn.
Notes: Advanced reporting and omnichannel loyalty only come with the advanced plan.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
We looked at reviews from Capterra and G2.
G2: 4.0 out of 5 based on 279 reviews (at the time of writing)
Capterra: 4.2 out of 5 based on 908 reviews (at the time of writing)
Various reviews highlight the comprehensiveness of the POS system, plus speedy and helpful customer service. Negative experiences revolve around price, lack of functionality without an internet connection, and too many features.
Square is a mobile-based POS system popular with small and mid-sized businesses. Founded in 2009, it was initially a payment processing solution for small businesses (“the little white reader”).
Since then, Square has evolved into a complete solution for solopreneurs and small on-site shops.
While Lightspeed and Square offer similar features, Square stands out in a few ways:
- Free plan: Square offers a free basic plan with essential POS features like payment processing, inventory management, and sales reporting.
- Loyalty programs: Square has a built-in loyalty program (as an add-on) feature so you can create and manage your loyalty programs.
- Register features: Set up time is short, and Square POS accepts various payment forms like cash, all major debit and credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App, and online payments.
- Hardware: Square works on iOS devices and its own hardware.
- Marketing: With the Square marketing add-on, you can send automated text and email messages, and pricing is based on the number of messages you send.
Pros of Using Square
For small businesses looking for a free POS option, you can’t go wrong with Square.
- It’s easy to set up: We mentioned this earlier, but Square is so easy to set up you can start processing transactions in minutes.
- Integrated payment processing: Square has its payment processing system, so you can avoid the complexity and fees associated with integrating with third-party processors.
- Highly mobile: Square is popular among pop-up stalls and farmers markets for its mobile POS application.
Cons of Using Square
Although the free POS solution is tempting, there are some drawbacks.
- It’s not for every business: Square doesn’t support online sales of age-restricted products, and if you have a complex inventory, you’ll struggle to customize the system, so it’s not a good option for tobacco or liquor stores.
- Limited customization: Hardware options are limited. You can’t customize your interface and reports, which you might find restrictive. Square doesn’t offer advanced inventory management, employee scheduling, or purchase order management.
- Support limitations: Support options are limited. You might have to rely on community forums or email support for help. Phone support is only available for higher-tiered plans, which can be frustrating if you need quick assistance.
$0 plus processing fees
$60/month per location, plus processing fees
Custom pricing plus processing fees
Every account comes with encrypted payments, active fraud prevention, live phone support, and fast online sign-up. You can cancel, penalty-free, at any time, and there are no contracts or long-term agreements.
The free plan does limit you if you need advanced inventory features. For example, you’ll have to upgrade if you need inventory counting tools, smart stock forecasts, and automatic purchase orders. You can’t print barcodes, manage vendors, or look at inventory history either.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
Again, we looked at reviews from Capterra and G2.
G2: 4.4 out of 5 based on 61 reviews (at the time of writing)
Capterra: 4.7 based on 462 reviews (at the time of writing)
Various positive reviews highlight ease of use, seamless integration with other Square business tools, and straightforward pricing. Negative reviews revolve around poor customer support, limited features in the free plan, and lack of customization.
Lightspeed vs. Square: Which One is Right for Your Retail Store?
Taking the middle ground is never sexy, but deciding between Lightspeed Retail and Square for Retail ultimately comes down to your unique needs.
As you can see above, Square is an excellent choice if you need an affordable option and have a small store with basic inventory needs.
It’s user-friendly, and the setup is quick. Square’s integrated payment processing, mobile POS application, and e-commerce integrations are attractive, and if you want to integrate the POS system with other Square business tools, you can.
Conversely, if you need more advanced features and customizability, Lightspeed Retail may be the better choice.
With Lightspeed Retail, you can access advanced inventory management, analytics, and reporting, a customizable interface, and e-commerce and accounting software integrations.
Lightspeed vs. Square: Not the Only Choices
If you use the Square ecosystem and have a small business, Square is a solid choice. It’s basic, but that might be all you need. Lightspeed offers more capabilities at a higher price point.
Many POS systems have similar features, and Lightspeed and Square aren’t your only options for a robust POS system.
We understand small businesses at POS Nation because we’re a small business ourselves. We know that customization and support separate good POS systems from great ones — and we pride ourselves on creating a turnkey solution for your business with all the features you need to run your store, and none you don’t.
But don’t take our word for it. According to GetApp, we are the #1 category leader for retail management systems based on reviews from 2022.
You’ve got a couple of options as you make your decision. Schedule a demo with our retail experts so we can walk you through our solution, or use our free Buyers’ Guide: Finding the Best Retail POS System to help you decide.