If you want to get to the heart of any POS system, it’s essential to look at the key features. In this section, I’ll explore all the advantages you’ll receive if you use this POS provider for your restaurant.
Design Your Digital Restaurant
This feature is so beneficial for restaurant owners that I thought it deserved its section. Lightspeed Restaurant allows you to build an extensive restaurant model so you can control every component of your venue via your POS system. You can create a physical representation of the tables and seat numbers within your restaurant – this can be used to track orders, reservations, bill payments, availability, and more.
The table management feature is an excellent tool for your staff members, who can access any table via the app. Servers can keep track of their tables and help out with others — it’s the perfect way to manage your entire floor space. Lightspeed Restaurant also offers its users a variety of restaurant templates that can help you build your restaurant’s outline within the system.
Additional Key Features
- Build custom menus that can easily change for seasonal specials and promotions
- Track inventory and stock of food items to avoid customer disappointment
- Tableside ordering for staff members that want to directly input orders into the POS system
- Staff manager for individual accounts — clocking in and out
- An offline mode that stores information and allows functionality while internet connection is not working
- Table assignments
- Takeout and delivery mode
- Split bills between customers
- Transfer items to different tables or bills
- Distribute tips to staff members
- Full reporting functionality that allows you to view all restaurants from an external location
- Track individual and team performance
Cloud-Based or Locally Installed?
Lightspeed Restaurant is an app that is locally installed on your iPad device, but there is a cloud connection between your hardware and a central online reporting system. In this regard, Lightspeed is a hybrid between cloud-based and locally installed — this is the same format that many modern POS systems follow.
Unlike many cloud-based systems, the offline mode built into Lightspeed Restaurant, with the help of a little hardware device called Lightserver, helps prevent loss of data. If your hardware device is disconnected from the internet, the hardware will operate normally and store data until the internet connection is detected again. Your system will then synchronize with the cloud. Keep in mind; you will not be able to accept credit card payments if your internet is down.
Industries Served & Business Size
Lightspeed Restaurant is specifically geared towards the restaurant and hospitality industry. While Lightspeed offers other POS solutions for different sectors and eCommerce, this particular POS platform should only be used for restaurant owners. In many ways, this is a significant benefit — it ensures all the package’s features are specially geared towards the exact needs of restaurant owners.
In terms of business size, Lightspeed Restaurant can be scaled to fit any restaurant or restaurant chain, but the app is probably best suited for small to medium-sized businesses. The ability to view all of your locations from a central portal ensures that you can manage any number of restaurants with this POS system. The cloud data reporting system also provides you with the tools you need to obtain an overall snapshot of your business’s performance.
Here’s a general list of restaurant types mentioned on Lightspeed’s website where the software is capable:
- Quick Service
- Hotel Restaurant
Ease of Use
Many newcomers to the POS industry have made it a primary goal to increase the ease-of-use of their platforms. Hard to use systems can cost you time and money — it can also take you ages to get new staff used to a sophisticated platform. Fortunately, you can customize the Lightspeed Restaurant interface to include color-coded menus, categories, tables, and more. You can make the entire platform an interactive hub for yourself and your staff.
One of the primary downsides of Lightspeed is its restricted platform requirements. Unfortunately, if you want to use a tablet to engage with Lightspeed, it has to be an iPad. The company doesn’t currently offer any Android support. iPads can often be much more expensive than standard Android products, so it’s essential to keep this in mind.
Regardless, it’s capabilities with an iPad means that you can carry around your POS system with you. Also, you can access Lightspeed Restaurants on an iPhone, though you won’t be able to accept payments on anything aside from an iPad platform.
Like most iPad solutions, Lightspeed offers a hardware kit to get you started, which includes:
- Cash Drawer
- Receipt Printer
- iPad Stand
- Kitchen Printer
- Lite Server (for offline mode)
As always, we recommend getting all your equipment directly from the POS company so that everything is compatible and works nicely together. Fortunately, you can get all the hardware individually or in complete kits directly from Lightspeed, but they do not advertise prices on their website, so you’ll need to contact Lightspeed directly for a quote.
Integrations & Add-ons
Lightspeed as a whole integrates with a wide range of products. But many of these products are for those using the eCommerce platform. For those who are using Lightspeed Restaurant, you may not benefit from many of these add-ons and integrations. Regardless, you can sync your reporting data with a wide range of accounting platforms, such as QuickBooks and Xero. For those who want to add a loyalty program, you can integrate it with third-party apps or use the loyalty add-on mentioned in the pricing portion of my review.
Compatible Credit Card Companies
Lightspeed Restaurants has different credit card processors depending on the country where your business is located. For US-based customers, you’ll be able to choose between Lightspeed Payments, Vantiv triPOS, Cayan, Element Express, and Mercury Payment Services.
This means that you’ll be able to accept most major credit cards, as well as contactless payments (such as Apple Pay and Android Pay). Keep in mind; you’ll need to pay attention to the transaction fees associated with each of these credit card processors.
Customer Service and Support
While you won’t be able to contact Lightspeed on most major holidays, they do typically have 24/7 telephone support. This is a significant advantage — if you run a restaurant that has long opening hours, you may need to speak to someone if something goes wrong overnight. Being caught without the ability to process payments can be extremely damaging to your company’s revenue. Believe it or not, this level of support is absent with many of the other leading POS providers.
Another critical customer support benefit that is afforded to Lightspeed Restaurant customers is personal onboarding. This process will help you get to grips with your new POS system — you can ask your onboarding specialist any tough questions you may have about your new system. It’s a good idea to have your staff present during this process.
As with any large company, there are a few negative comments about Lightspeed on some consumer watchdog groups. Most of these comments suggest that Lightspeed can be glitchy and that the company binds you into a contract that you can’t exit. It’s essential to keep in mind, this type of feedback is often associated with companies that have legally binding agreements. For this reason, it’s critical to overview the agreement before signing it — make sure you can afford to leave the contract if you must!
There’s plenty to like about Lightspeed Restaurant. You are afforded some of the best features in the industry — it’s one of the best options for people who are looking for an iPad POS system purely devoted to the restaurant industry. Its ability to create a virtual restaurant, track staff, manage orders, and record data helps you better manage your restaurant.
Lightspeed’s subscription and hardware requirements can add up if you’re starting a new business. Also, you’re locked into a one year contract. Fortunately, part of this problem is solved by the company’s 14-day free trial. I recommend you utilize this trial period to ensure it’s the right platform for your business.
Overall, there’s plenty to like about Lightspeed. You can request a demo via the company’s website — it’s definitely worth your time! If you don’t think this is the right POS system for your restaurant, make sure to check out some of my other reviews on our site.
Image Credits: lightspeedhq.com
Editor’s note: How’d we do on our Lightspeed Restaurant POS review? Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns? Your feedback is important to us. Please let us know in the comments below or contact us.