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Lightspeed Retail is a mobile Point of Sale Cloud-based software platform that was first launched in 2005.
Considered the first mobile Point of Sale app of its kind, it arms retailers with a suite of sales and inventory management tools and is now used in over 100 countries globally.
Lightspeed is available in two different forms – a web-based server that allows it to be used on desktop and other devices running Windows, Mac OS, Apple iOS and Google Chrome, and a dedicated app that is specifically designed for iPads.
The app can also be used on late-model iPhones, but does not process sales.
Lightspeed says their interface is intuitive, allowing both management and employees to understand the system quickly.
Data is stored in the Cloud, making it accessible anywhere at any time.
The dedicated app for iPad, however, is where the Lightspeed really comes into its own, offering retailers the opportunity to have a truly mobile Point of Sale that allows staff to take the POS anywhere in store, access stock and inventory information, and even process sales.
Lightspeed offers a suite of tools to ensure retailers have real-time insight into their inventory and stock levels.
“Never run out of your best-sellers again. Get access to all the data you need to get old inventory off your shelves, fast,” they proclaim.
The system allows vendors to set custom re-order levels for automatic re-ordering, receive stock alerts when items are heading into the negative levels, identify old inventory and set lowered prices in a bid to move it faster, and track unit costs and margins.
As a nifty addition, vendors can order products directly from the POS, with Lightspeed offering a range of catalogues from big suppliers to help facilitate the task.
Retailers can also order stock from multiple vendors using one simple purchase order, or create custom work orders, special orders and customer laybys directly from the system.
In addition, they can transfer inventory from one location to another, track returns and also sell products online.
Lightspeed allows retailers to directly input products individually or import them in bulk via CSV, and the process is described as “simple”.
Product variants are easily catered to with options for different sizes, styles and colours.
Meanwhile serial numbers can be allocated to each item and they can also be grouped in types, allowing retailers to offer pre-packaged bundles of related items. Inventory can then be tracked across multiple locations.
When it comes to setting up product pricing, vendors can establish seasonal discounts, apply bulk pricing changes, set pricing rules, establish employee discounts, create discounts and promotions, and offer giveaways and donations.
Lightspeed prides itself on offering a solution that allows for real-time business insight anywhere, anytime.
Items sold, total sales and profits over a period are just some of the 40 reports on offer, allowing vendors to make better business decisions.
The analytics also allow retailers to drill down into which stores are performing best out of multiple locations, as well as offering an insight into customer trends and purchasing habits.
Reporting also allows retailers to see who their best salespeople are, by offering sales per employee insight.
This allows an understanding of who is working, when, what they are selling, average transaction value, and who discounts the most.
Lightspeed notes this allows for better employee training, enabling retailers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their team, while also planning for staff requirements to meet customer rush period.
The iOS-based app means Lightspeed is truly mobile, and they market this potential to great effect. They note this mobility allows retailers to take the POS to consumers so they can make customer transactions on the floor, and showcase products on the go, while having access to real-time inventory and stock levels.
The POS system facilitates taking payments anywhere on the floor via wireless barcode scanners, cash drawers and receipt printers.
This mobility also allows business owners to log into the system anywhere, anytime and track exactly what’s happening in their store, including:
• Stock levels
• Who’s on duty
This information can be accessed via the app on iPad or iPhone or through the web-server using a desktop, laptop or tablets running Chrome, Windows, or MacOS.
One of the key features of Lightspeed is that it allows a retailer to manage multiple locations from one simple interface.
Management and owners can view reports in detail or overall, looking at factors like stock levels across locations, sales comparisons between outlets, and employee data. They can transfer stock between outlets and make multi-location orders for additional items through centralized ordering.
The Lightspeed iPad app and browser-based software accepts cash, credit, PayPal, cheque, smart phone, and debit card payments, along with gift card transactions. Store credit is also catered to using both exchange credit and house credit accounts.
The software offers retailers the opportunity to sell online as well as in-store using the same payment options across both channels.
Meanwhile, an EMV-compatible payment terminal is available in the US in the form of Lightspeed Payments. Elsewhere in the world other external EMV payment terminals are supported and can be readily integrated with the software.
If you are not using a POS-integrated payment terminal the transaction amount may need to be entered into the card reader.
Receipts can be easily printed via a wireless printer or emailed directly to the customer with detailed notes and product descriptions.
Customers can be imported via CSV or manually entered using the iPad app or desktop interface. Retailers can then keep track of customer contact information, purchasing history and credit limits on credit accounts.
Retailers can then also break customers into segments, allowing them to offer specific specials to specific types of customers.
Outstanding balances and past-due accounts can also be tracked, retailers can print statements, apply payments to invoices and balances, or use credits against future sales.
Integrations like Mailchimp then allow retailers to create and send marketing campaigns and special offers to relevant customers.
Up to five employees are supported with the basic Lightspeed Retail package, and larger enterprises can speak directly with the organisation to determine the costs of multiple locations and more employees.
Employees are then assigned a pin to access the system. This allows a retailer to view their time clock, sales and any inventory changes.
Employees can be assigned different permissions depending on their role within the organisation.
Lightspeed is acutely aware the modern retailer operates across multiple channels, with most likely to have both a bricks and mortar outlet, and an online presence.
They facilitate omnichannel operations with:
A suite of integrations are offered along with Lightspeed Retail, including accounting integrations that access Xero and QuickBooks, inbuilt marketing integrations like MailChimp and MailSync, CRM-software, scheduling software like Nimble, and inventory management technology like StitchLabs.
Meanwhile Lightspeed offers its own custom-made software like Lightspeed e-commerce.
Lightspeed offers the hardware required for a retail outlet as part of two bundles.
The first bundle is designed to run with the iPad tablets and the Lightspeed iOS app. It includes wireless hardware comprising:
The second bundle caters to desktop use and includes a:
Lightspeed also offers individual hardware if not all items are required.
When it comes to compatibility with other hardware brands, Lightspeed notes the following:
“There are ideal hardware setups that we recommend for use with Lightspeed Retail – We sell and support the hardware listed on this page. Not all hardware that you can use is necessarily built to serve as point of sale hardware or work in a retail environment, which likely means we do not support it. For anything not listed on this page, please consult our support page or speak with one of our specialists.”
In essence that’s a very complicated way of Lightspeed saying they cannot guarantee other hardware will be compatible.
When it comes to ongoing support, Lightspeed is renowned for stepping up to the plate to handle customer issues.
They offer virtual assistants for initial inquiries, one-on-one onboarding support via a human being, and unlimited 24/7 support after set-up (for free). This isn’t just confined to the US either, with support offered locally in the countries where Lightspeed operates.
In addition, there are webinars, demos and videos.
In terms of pricing, it tends to vary depending on the number of locations and staff but the software charge is based on a monthly fee.
Multiple locations or higher staff numbers command higher fees that need to be discussed with Lightspeed.
Lightspeed for Retail is one of the best-known and most popular mobile Point of Sale applications in the world.
That said, it’s not without its faults. Although the system is widely regarded as easy to use, customers do regularly mention rounding, which sees pricing rounded out to two decimal places. Some retailers note their pricing input needs to be more accurate.
Others reflect, the basic reporting does not offer enough detail and add-ons come with additional costs. Meanwhile the nature of a Cloud-based system means when the internet is down, transactions and reporting can slow or stall.
On the flip-side, most agree the support is good and the system is easy to use for both staff and management.
Refinements and updates keep that system evolving and by and large it improves with age.
Your can learn more about Lightspeed at www.lightspeedhq.com.