Square for Restaurants vs. Lightspeed Restaurant POS

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Square and Lightspeed are among the leading restaurant POS systems in today’s market.

Choosing the one that fits your needs can be challenging.

In this guide, I aim to offer a deep dive into the main distinctions between these comprehensive restaurant management and commerce solutions.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • An overview of both systems: Square for Restaurants and Lightspeed Restaurant
  • A comparison of key features
  • My thoughts and insights on the distinctions between these platforms

After reading this guide, you will have a solid understanding of which system suits your needs the most. Let’s begin!

 
 
4.2
4.5
Description:

Best for small restaurants and coffee shops

A small business POS for eateries that need a subscription-free plan, smooth transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.

Description:

Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design

Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and extensive integration possibilities.

Pros:
  • Subscription free plan
  • No long term contracts
  • Integrates with the Square ecosystem
Pros:
  • Ease of use & interface design
  • Reporting & analytics
  • E-commerce capabilities
Cons:
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No on-site support
Cons:
  • Limited offline functionality
  • Not the cheapest option
Includes free plan. Plus plan starts at $60/month
Starts at $69/month
4.2
Description:

Best for small restaurants and coffee shops

A small business POS for eateries that need a subscription-free plan, smooth transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.

Pros:
  • Subscription free plan
  • No long term contracts
  • Integrates with the Square ecosystem
Cons:
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No on-site support
Includes free plan. Plus plan starts at $60/month
4.5
Description:

Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design

Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and extensive integration possibilities.

Pros:
  • Ease of use & interface design
  • Reporting & analytics
  • E-commerce capabilities
Cons:
  • Limited offline functionality
  • Not the cheapest option
Starts at $69/month

Square for Restaurants

Square mobile POS kit

Square began as a generic POS system, but it has impressively developed Square for Restaurants to suit the distinct demands of food service businesses.

With its modern, user-friendly interface, the POS is a fitting solution for many types of food service ventures. What makes it unique? Its user-friendly design, complimentary basic plan, and powerful marketing features.

Read more: Top Restaurant Challenges Square Aims to Resolve

Who should opt for Square?

Square is an excellent option for:

  • Smaller Restaurants: Ranging from quick service eateries to upscale dining venues.
  • Cafes: Perfect for establishments serving coffee, tea, and light fare.
  • Food Trucks: Apt for on-the-move businesses seeking a mobile-friendly solution.
  • Fast-Casual Restaurants: Offers quick service without cutting corners on quality.
  • Bars and Breweries: Handles custom drink menus and ensures age verification.
  • Ghost Kitchens: Ideal for delivery-only ventures without a traditional dining area.

However, for high-traffic venues or full-service restaurants with complex operations, Square might fall short in some respects.

Square KDS

Key Features of Square for Restaurants

Payment Processing: Supports processing payments via all prominent credit cards, Apple Pay, and Android Pay. The system is designed to manage transactions even without an internet connection, complying with Payment Card Industry standards.

Square Team Management & Payroll: It comes packed with features like creating staff timetables, managing leaves, and personalized access levels. Square Payroll integration allows for streamlined payroll handling.

Square Online for Restaurants: Craft your restaurant’s mobile-friendly online ordering website without incurring any commission fees. Convenient options such as curbside pickup, staff delivery, or courier services are offered.

Square Marketing & Loyalty: Encourages engaging consumers through personalized email/text campaigns and social media integration. Customer Retention through automated campaigns and the loyalty program fosters repeat business.

Square Kitchen Display System (KDS): This new system assures alignment between front and back-of-house with real-time order updates. Includes customizable notifications and can set timers and alerts for optimum kitchen management.

Square is no longer just for retailers; it’s a formidable choice for restaurants, also.

More information on Square:

My detailed Square for Restaurants Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.

Compare Square vs. top restaurant POS alternatives

And finally, to try Square out, head over to squareup.com


Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed restaurant POS graphic

Founded in 2005, Lightspeed is a leading global provider of cloud-based point-of-sale and e-commerce solutions for the retail, hospitality, and golf industries. With teams across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, Lightspeed serves businesses in over 100 countries worldwide.

Lightspeed’s unified hospitality platform is designed specifically to meet the needs of restaurants, cafes, bars, and other food and beverage establishments. It combines point-of-sale capabilities with integrated payments, inventory management, staff management tools, and powerful reporting insights.

Lightspeed also provides new advanced features like a blockchain-based technology platform with offline mode, real-time analytics, tailored workflows, fiscal, PMS, and other integrations, all in an intuitive iOS-based interface.

As Lightspeed continues expanding its unified payments solution globally, many customers are already seeing benefits such as streamlined processes and cost savings compared to legacy systems and terminals. The company also frequently enhances the platform with advanced features like machine learning-powered analytics for restaurants.

For restaurant owners looking for an industry-leading cloud-based POS platform, Lightspeed provides a compelling option with global reach.

Lightspeed order screen

Where Lightspeed Stands Out

Analytics and Reporting

The analytics and insights features of Lightspeed include personalized reports, sales analysis, and dashboard summaries to help you pinpoint trends, identify bestsellers, and highlight areas that need attention.

User-Friendly Interface

Lightspeed’s modern and intuitive UI makes it simple for staff and management to use. The dashboard displays real-time transaction data, and its organized menu layout speeds up navigation, reduces wait times, and elevates overall service quality.

Managing Staff

Use Lightspeed’s features including time tracking, scheduling, and performance assessment tools to manage labor costs, spot top employees and boost workforce productivity. Designate roles and permissions tied to job roles for additional security and safeguarding confidential data.

Engaging and Rewarding Customer Loyalty

Improve customer relationships with a structured loyalty reward program and gift cards. The embedded CRM system allows for tracking customer preferences and disseminating personalized promotions, loyalty programs, and communications. Gift cards not only promote repeat business but also serve as an effective way to gain referrals.

Lightspeed eCom: Online Store Feature

The eCom feature simplifies online orders and inventory management, showcasing menus for customer delivery or pickup orders. It integrates a reservation system to ease table booking, offers in-store collection and curbside services for customer convenience, and enables efficient digital gift card management.

The feature ensures balanced online and in-store inventories, avoiding overstocking or understocking. Through its integration with delivery services like UberEats, Doordash, and OpenTable, it also helps reach more customers.

Lightspeed Kitchen Display System (KDS)

The Lightspeed KDS replaces the traditional kitchen printer by displaying orders on an iPad for kitchen staff. It allows for monitoring preparation time, staff engagement with orders, and automatically sends alerts to the front-of-house when an order is ready. Display options can be customized based on different restaurant and kitchen requirements.

More information on Lightspeed:

My detailed Lightspeed Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.

Finally, to try Lightspeed for free, head over to lightspeedhq.com

Feature Comparison: Square vs. Lightspeed

Ease of Use

Square: Modern and familiar user interface design simplifies learning and operation. The system is easy to set up and doesn’t require much training.

Lightspeed uses an intuitive, tablet-based interface designed specifically for restaurants to enable easy training and usage.

Image showing Square payment device

Payment Processing

Square: Accepts payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet, as well as all major credit and debit cards. Square requires you to use its platform for payment processing.

Lightspeed: Integrated payment processing with competitive rates as well as support for third-party processors.

Menu Management

Square: Decent basic menu management system, enables you to handle menu items, inventory, and pricing. You can create distinct menus for various times of day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Lightspeed: Robust menu management features in Lightspeed allow restaurants to customize menus, update pricing, create modifiers/options, and build menus for different service styles.

Inventory Management

Lightspeed inventory management dashboard
Lightspeed inventory dashboard example

Square: Allows you to track essential information such as stock levels, cost of goods sold, and item variances. This helps maintain an accurate record of the inventory.

Lightspeed has real-time inventory tracking and food cost management through detailed reporting and analytics.

Employee Management

Square: Handles scheduling, managing, and paying employees from your Square POS. Integrated with Square Payroll, which automates tip and commission calculations.

Lightspeed: Comprehensive workforce management features include scheduling, timecards, task management, and granular permission settings.

Online Ordering & Delivery

Square: Offers a free add-on Square Online that allows you to build and design your own mobile-optimized websites for online ordering. Supports multiple delivery options including on-demand DoorDash or Uber couriers.

Lightspeed customer order dashboard
Lightspeed customer order dashboard

Lightspeed offers integrated online ordering, delivery management, and partnerships with major third-party delivery services.

Table Management & Reservations

Square: A new feature for 2023 is the OpenTable and Square for Restaurants integration. Now, you can improve turn times and seat more guests with real-time table status alerts.

Lightspeed provides customizable floor plans, table layouts, waitlist management, and reservation capabilities.

Customer Loyalty Programs

Square: Use the Square Loyalty add-on to offer rewards or gift cards for repeat visits. Enroll customers in the program at the checkout by having them enter their phone numbers.

Lightspeed: Built-in loyalty and rewards programs are available in Lightspeed to help restaurants retain and engage customers.

Reporting & Analytics

Square: Provides insights into the best-selling dishes and menu items, tracks sales trends over time, and assesses the performance of individual employees.

Lightspeed reports dashboard
Lightspeed reports example

Lightspeed: Robust reporting and analytics in Lightspeed provide sales, financial, inventory, employee, and customer insights.

Hardware Options

Square for restaurants hardware devices

Square: Offers a variety of hardware options including Square Stand Restaurant Station, Restaurant Mobile POS Kit, Square Reader for Contactless and Chip, Square Terminal, and Square Register

Lightspeed is compatible with iPads and Android tablets, offers integrated payment processing hardware, and supports third-party peripherals.

Third-Party Integrations

Square: Part of a larger ecosystem of Square products, which means it can integrate with other Square services like Square Payroll and Team Management.

Lightspeed offers an app marketplace with integrations for leading restaurant tech providers to enhance POS capabilities.

Payment and Credit Card Processing

Square:

  • Variable Rates: Square offers variable rates based on the type of transaction—swipe, chip, or online.
  • Third-Party Integration: Square can integrate with other payment processors if you’re not willing to switch entirely.
  • Instant Transfers: Square offers instant transfers to your bank account for a small fee.

Lightspeed

  • Lightspeed Payment supports most payment methods like credit/debit cards, mobile payments, and gift cards.
  • Third-party payment processors are also available.
  • Offers the flexibility to split payments or items among guests, and allows the adding of tips directly on the payment screen, enabling ease in tip management.

Hardware Compatibility

Square:

  • Compatible with iPads and most Android devices.
  • Can use existing hardware to some extent.
Square POS hardware
  • Square Stand Restaurant Station: This is a full setup that includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, and kitchen printer, making it a good fit for full-service restaurants.
  • Restaurant Mobile POS Kit: This kit is designed for mobile or pop-up setups. It includes a Square Reader for contactless and chip payments, a phone case, and a Samsung Galaxy A32.
  • Square Reader: This device is versatile and can be used in all types of restaurants. It has improved Bluetooth connectivity, enhanced security, and longer battery life.
  • Square Terminal: Priced at $299, this terminal can read all types of cards and provides full access to the Square POS system. It’s a versatile option that covers everything from taking payments to printing receipts.
  • Square Register: For those looking for an all-in-one solution, the Square Register is priced at $799 and includes a touchscreen card terminal facing the customer and a built-in card reader. All you need is WiFi.

Lightspeed

  • Compatible with iPads and other third-party devices.
  • Can use existing hardware to some extent.
Lightspeed hardware

There are several hardware options available for restaurants. These include an iPad hardware kit that includes a receipt printer, cash drawer, and kitchen printer but does not include an iPad or payment terminal.

There is also a Lightspeed iPad Stand by Vault, which is a restaurant-grade stand designed to mount an iPad securely.

Lightspeed restaurant examples of handheld hardware

In addition, there are several payment terminals available, including the Verifone e285, Verifone P400, and Verifone 400m, which all support tap, swipe, and dip payments and the e285 also supports tip entry and signature capture.

For a full list of supported hardware options, Lightspeed provides more information.

Supported Countries

Square is available worldwide. Card payment acceptance is available in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, France, and Spain.

Lightspeed is currently available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Australia.

Square for Restaurants Pros and Cons

  • Ease of Use: Square’s modern, user-friendly interface ensures minimal training is required, allowing staff to focus on guests.
  • Affordable Pricing: With a free basic plan and a comprehensive Plus plan for $60 per month, Square offers value for money. All plans have a transaction fee of 2.6% plus 10 cents.
  • Flexibility: No installation fees or long-term commitments make it easy to start using Square. Plans can be upgraded, downgraded, or terminated according to need.
  • CRM Capabilities: Customer profiles, order history tracking, and integration with Square Loyalty and Marketing create a complete customer management solution.
  • Square Online: A free add-on that allows restaurants to design their own websites for online ordering, integrating with Google for easier accessibility, and providing e-commerce capabilities.
  • Integration with Square Ecosystem: Square for Restaurants integrates with other Square services like Square Payroll, Team Management, and Square KDS.
  • Limited Advanced Features: Square may not provide some advanced features like in-depth inventory management and comprehensive reporting tools.
  • Complex Reporting: The reporting feature can be complicated to use and lacks sufficient detail, making it difficult to find specific information.
  • On-Site Support: Square may not offer on-site support in your area, which may be inconvenient for businesses that need in-person assistance.
  • Limited Support for Complex Menus: Restaurants with frequently changing or complex menus may find making changes on Square slower than other systems.

Lightspeed Restaurant Pros and Cons

  • Reporting and Analytics: Lightspeed Restaurant boasts advanced reporting and analytics tools, enabling you to gather in-depth insights into your business’s performance. The 2020 acquisition of Upserve upgraded Lightspeed’s analytics with detailed sales data, employee performance metrics, and inventory management information.
  • Advanced Insights: The system provides enhanced insights to optimize server and menu performance, and time management, and fosters better communication among restaurant staff across various shifts through a virtual logbook.
  • Ease of Use: The intuitive interface and customizable layout of Lightspeed Restaurant cater to both experienced and novice users. The system’s uncomplicated navigation and simple order entry process facilitate faster table turnover, easier staff integration, and a smoother transition with reduced training time.
  • E-commerce Capabilities: With the Lightspeed ecom feature, you can create a website equipped with retail capabilities to sell branded products or gift cards to your customers, thereby attracting new clients and boosting revenue. You can link your website to delivery platforms such as UberEats or DoorDash and connect with OpenTable for reservations.
  • Customer Support: In the 2021 G2 Grid Report on restaurant POS systems, Lightspeed earned top marks for its quality of support and ease of use among its competitors in the industry.
  • 14 Day Free Trial
  • Price: Lightspeed is a bit pricier than some other POS systems in the market. While the system boasts several features and benefits, the cost might deter some restaurant owners, particularly those in the early stages of their business.
  • Limited Customization: Despite Lightspeed’s user-friendly interface, it might not deliver the desired customization level for some restaurant owners. For instance, some users reported that customizing the order screen layout is challenging, which could hamper efficiency during busy periods.

Conclusion

Choosing the right POS system is critical for restaurant owners as it significantly impacts the overall efficiency of operations. Both Square for Restaurants and Lightspeed Restaurant have their advantages and are powerful tools that make managing a restaurant easier.

Square for Restaurants shines with its user-friendly design, complimentary basic plan, and excellent marketing features. Its suitability for a wide spectrum of food service venues like smaller restaurants, cafes, food trucks, fast-casual restaurants, bars, breweries, and ghost kitchens makes it versatile. Its weakness, however, may appear when used in high-traffic venues or full-service restaurants with intricate operations.

Read more: 5 Best Square for Restaurants Alternatives

Lightspeed Restaurant, on the other hand, stands out with its robust reporting and analytics capabilities, advanced insights, ease of use, e-commerce features, and top-rated customer support. As a global provider of cloud-based point-of-sale solutions, it offers a comprehensive platform to effectively meet the challenges faced by restaurant owners.

In the end, the choice between Square for Restaurants and Lightspeed Restaurant will rest on the specific needs of your restaurant. Small to medium ventures may find Square more fitting, while high-volume businesses might appreciate Lightspeed’s advanced features.

Read more: 5 Best Lightspeed Restaurant POS Alternatives

To try Square for Restaurants, please visit squareup.com. For Lightspeed Restaurant, head over to lightspeedhq.com.

Which types of restaurants may be better suited for Square or Lightspeed

Square may be better suited for:

  • Small counter-service restaurants – Square’s simple interface and lower pricing work well for quick-service cafes and takeaways.
  • Pop-up and mobile restaurants – Square’s pay-as-you-go model and mobile POS suit temporary establishments.
  • Single-location restaurants – Square suits independent restaurants not needing the multi-location support offered by Lightspeed.
  • Budget-conscious restaurants – Square’s lack of monthly fees beyond transaction costs appeal to cost-sensitive restaurants.

Lightspeed may be better suited for:

  • Full-service restaurants – Lightspeed provides tailored support for workflows like tableside ordering common at full-service restaurants.
  • Restaurants needing advanced analytics – Lightspeed’s robust reporting and analytics provide data-driven insights to optimize operations.
  • Restaurants with high order volume – Lightspeed can scale to handle high transaction volumes better than Square.
  • Multi-location restaurants – Lightspeed enables centralized management and oversight across all locations.
  • Restaurants with retail operations – Lightspeed supports integrated e-commerce functionalities for retail sales.

In summary, quick-service, pop-up, and budget-friendly restaurants may benefit more from Square’s simple and affordable model, while full-service, high-volume, analytics-focused restaurants may be better served by Lightspeed’s advanced capabilities despite the higher costs.

 
 
4.2
4.5
Description:

Best for small restaurants and coffee shops

A small business POS for eateries that need a subscription-free plan, smooth transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.

Description:

Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design

Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and extensive integration possibilities.

Pros:
  • Subscription free plan
  • No long term contracts
  • Integrates with the Square ecosystem
Pros:
  • Ease of use & interface design
  • Reporting & analytics
  • E-commerce capabilities
Cons:
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No on-site support
Cons:
  • Limited offline functionality
  • Not the cheapest option
Includes free plan. Plus plan starts at $60/month
Starts at $69/month
4.2
Description:

Best for small restaurants and coffee shops

A small business POS for eateries that need a subscription-free plan, smooth transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.

Pros:
  • Subscription free plan
  • No long term contracts
  • Integrates with the Square ecosystem
Cons:
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No on-site support
Includes free plan. Plus plan starts at $60/month
4.5
Description:

Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design

Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and extensive integration possibilities.

Pros:
  • Ease of use & interface design
  • Reporting & analytics
  • E-commerce capabilities
Cons:
  • Limited offline functionality
  • Not the cheapest option
Starts at $69/month

Author