Lightspeed vs Square
Square and Lightspeed are two of the best full-featured POS systems on the market today, excellent for restaurants, retailers, and eCommerce businesses. With built-in payment processing and mobile options, you have everything you need to conduct your business in-store or on the go.
Because choosing between these two great POS systems can be difficult, we've compiled a small guide to give you an in-depth look at both.
Come dive in with us as we explore the ins and outs of Lightspeed and Square to help you determine the right point-of-sale system for your needs.
Choose Lightspeed If...
Lightspeed is an excellent choice for mid-sized businesses in need of strong inventory management. You'll find plenty of features for multi-location management and age-restricted selling, which you won't find in Square. Plus, Lightspeed even has golf course management software, which is very unique.
Choose Square If...
Square is the recommended option for small businesses that need a reliable yet budget-friendly point-of-sale system that provides the ability to expand with when sales pick up. It costs $0 to get started, making it easier than ever for small businesses to get off the ground and running.
Lightspeed VS Square POS System Comparison
Mid-sized businesses, multi-location businesses, and golf courses
New sellers, small retailers, or restaurants
$830 to $1,550 (quote-based)
$49 to $799
$39 per month starting
$0 per month starting
24/7 Customer support Monday-Friday. Weekend support from 10 AM to 6 PM EST
Customer support from 6 AM to 6 PM PST over phone, email, and live chat. 24/7 support for Premium plan users
Monthly and annual
Wide range of third-party integrations, shift scheduling, virtual terminal, and eCommerce in lower-tier plans
24/7 support hours with free plan, vendor management tools in the free plan, tiered payment processing fees, and age-restricted online purchasing tools
Digging Into The Details
Lightspeed's Best Features:
Feature 1 - Multi-Location Management
If you run a business with multiple locations, having the ability to funnel all of your data to a single system for real-time viewing can make your life much easier. Lightspeed's multi-location management features seem light years ahead of those on the Square point-of-sale system.
With these features, you can configure your employee permissions and manage inventory for all of your locations from a single app. You won't find these kinds of advanced tools in Square's software.
Feature 2 - Age-Verification Tools
While it may not sound like an exciting feature, age verification is a necessity for many kinds of businesses, such as liquor stores, vape shops and cannabis dispensaries. Lightspeed includes age verification in all of its plans, so business owners never need to worry about risking the legitimacy of their business by selling to underage customers.
Feature 3 - Work Orders
Unlike Square, Lightspeed can handle work orders, making it a much better choice for specific types of businesses, such as tailors, boutiques and florists. Plus, Lightspeed's register is more accommodating for special orders, which can be helpful if you have a customer trying to order hard-to-find products or custom parts.
You can even use the register to track sale warranties, allowing customers to see whether or not special products they purchased from you are still under warranty.
Feature 4 - Inventory Management
You'll find inventory management tools in both the Lightspeed and Square point-of-sale systems, though Lightspeed POS is far more powerful when it comes to managing robust inventory.
The system comes integrated with high-end tools to manage over 10,000 SKYs, bundles, kits, and variants. If you're dealing with large quantities of food, you'll like the option to track inventory by volume or unit.
Beyond its standard inventory tools, the 40+ custom reporting options you can integrate provide an in-depth understanding of your product performance and stock movement.
As you might expect, you can utilize low-stock alerts and vendor management tools to send out purchase orders at the drop of a dime. The Lightspeed Retail system comes loaded with more than 3,000 catalogs to get you started, helping you find new products and replace stock with ease.
Lightspeed lets you set reorder points as well. Reorder points are the quantities at which the system determines that the stock is low, automatically putting in a reorder, so you know your stock is always where it needs to be.
The platform goes far deeper than what we've mentioned above, though hopefully, these characteristics alone can provide you with an idea of just how powerful this platform truly is.
Feature 5 - Restaurant Management Tools
Square and Lightspeed offer excellent restaurant management tools, including kitchen display systems, online ordering, menu modification, and touchless payments. However, with multi-location management, detailed ingredient tracking, hotel property management features, and bar integration, Lightspeed's restaurant capabilities are much stronger.
With Lightspeed, you can easily track food stock at the ingredient level in real time, ensuring you have all of the ingredients you need at all times. The special orders tab is just as in-depth.
Some of the other features include group/split payments and tab transfers. If your restaurant sells alcohol, you can make use of Lightspeed's age verification tools, ensuring your legal compliance.
One of the less common features we've found on Lightspeed's system is the upsell reminder, which gently nudges your employees to sell items that pair well with products customers are currently purchasing.
Square's Best Features:
Feature 1 - Virtual Terminal
Square and Lightspeed offer powerful POS systems, though the breadth of features available on Square's Virtual Terminal make it much better as a register. The interface is very streamlined, perfect for businesses who prioritize checkout speed and need to train employees often due to high turnover.
The feature-rich checkout system can often be found topping POS hardware lists around the internet.
Some of the functionality includes gift cards, refunds, customer profiles, mobile selling, online purchase orders, in-store pickup, and just about any payment options you'd like to offer your customers.
Feature 2 - Appointment Services
Square for Appointments is one of the best systems for appointment-based businesses, such as salons or spas. The countertop and mobile POS solutions provide an easy way for your customers to book appointments online. Your employees can then use the Square point-of-sale system to handle bookings, set up recurring appointments, send out SMS reminders, or charge no-show/cancellation fees.
This particular Square point-of-sale software even allows you to choose between checking clients out at the counter or sending invoicing. We also enjoy the fact that you can build in-depth customer profiles to enhance the overall customer experience.
Lightspeed can't even compete in the appointments sphere. However, if you run an online store, customers do have the ability to set up shopping or service appointments, sending out reminders and confirmations if necessary. Basically, you get surface-level functionality for appointment-based services.
Feature 3 - Mobile Features
When it comes to overall performance, versatility, intuitiveness, and quality, Square point-of-sale takes the cake for its mobile solution. The system can be used on Android mobile, iPhone mobile, and Linux mobile, as well as Windows desktop, Mac desktop, and Linux desktop.
The great thing about Square's mobile system is the fact that it works for a wide range of applications. You can use it on the go at your local farmer's market or while driving around town in your food truck.
Essentially, you get to take advantage of all of Square's benefits regardless of where you're working.
Lightspeed Retail, on the other hand, does not work on iPhone mobile, only on iPad. However, if you use Lightspeed Restaurants, you can use the iPhone mobile version.
Feature 4 - Free ECommerce Solution
While Lightspeed may have a more robust eCommerce option overall, you have to pay $99 per month minimum to take advantage of the eCommerce features. With Square Online, you can use basic eCommerce features for free.
Square offers plenty of helpful tools to get your online business up and running, such as purchase buttons you can add to your website that hook up to your online store. Plus, compared to Lightspeed, you'll find far more third-party integrations with Square.
Feature 5 - Hardware
While both Lightspeed and Square have hardware available, Square's hardware is far more affordable and just as versatile. For starters, you get a free card reader just for signing up with Square, which is a pretty good deal.
Beyond that, you can pick from one of Square's many main hardware options, including:
You can also bundle various products in kits if you need a full countertop solution, such as a receipt printer or barcode scanner.
The main drawback of Lightspeed is that it is much more expensive than Square. If you're just trying to get your business off the ground, Lightspeed might not be the most affordable option. Features you'd likely want to use for your business are only available via top-tier plans, such as eCommerce integration, accounting, and analytics.
While it's a relatively intuitive system, it certainly has a higher learning curve compared to Square. If you have a high employee turnover rate and constantly find yourself having to train new employees on your point-of-sale system, working with a more complex solution can be difficult.
Lightspeed does has plenty of top-notch features built-in, but it has fewer possible integration options compared to Square. You won't have as many apps to choose from when customizing your system to the needs of your business.
Lastly, Lightspeed does not have shift scheduling tools. You will need to acquire a separate integrable application such as Agendrix to schedule employees.
The main drawback of Square vs. Lightspeed is that Square is much more limited in its functionality in many ways. The robustness of the features found in Lightspeed Retail, Restaurant, and eCommerce functionality trump those of Square's system.
Beyond that, when you sign up with Square, you're locked into its built-in payment processing. If you're a high-volume seller, the payment processing fees can be quite costly. Note that Square will work with some high-volume businesses to determine whether or not they are eligible for custom fees. It's also worth noting that having an integrated payment processing system can lead to instability if there are ever software issues.
Some Square customers complain of held funds.
If you run a high-risk business, franchise, or enterprise business, Square may be a bit limited for your needs. The multi-location management features are lacking, especially compared to those found in Lightspeed's software.
Which is A Better Value?
Choosing between Lightspeed and Square certainly isn't easy, as both solutions offer top-of-the-line features.
For small business owners, the POS system cost comparison proves Square the clear winner. It has an excellent mobile payments system, much lower monthly fees, and tons of features to help your business grow and expand. You'll find plenty of basic inventory, sales, and eCommerce features included in the free version, which you won't find from many other vendors.
Unlike Square, Lightspeed offers a more in-depth inventory system, stronger retail and restaurant functionality, and versatile payment processing options. If you run a higher-risk or higher-volume business, Lightspeed is the much better choice.