POS Reviews

Toast vs. Lightspeed Restaurant: Choosing The Right POS

Toast and Lightspeed are two of the most prominent restaurant POS systems available on the market.

But how do you determine the one that aligns best with your needs?

In this guide, I will present a breakdown of the principal differences between these two comprehensive restaurant management and commerce platforms.

Toast vs. Lightspeed

You can expect the following:

  • An overview of each system: Toast and Lightspeed Restaurant
  • A comparison of their features
  • My impressions and insights regarding the differences between these two platforms.

By the conclusion of this guide, you will have a good understanding of which system corresponds well to your specific needs. Let’s begin!

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Toast: The Restaurant POS Powerhouse

Toast hardware devices

Toast has recently surfaced as a formidable competitor in the restaurant technology sector. With its swift expansion and a succession of high-profile acquisitions, Toast aims to become an all-encompassing restaurant operating system, positioning itself as a comprehensive solution for restaurants.

Fast Company recognized Toast as one of the most groundbreaking companies of 2023. The platform offers a rich suite of features, inclusive of payment processing, inventory and menu administration, marketing and consumer loyalty programs, staff management, control of labor and food costs, business reporting, and a plethora of other services.

In spite of its comprehensive features, Toast manages to maintain its pricing within reasonable brackets, ranking it among my top restaurant POS systems in the current market.

Who can benefit from Toast?

Toast extends its POS services to a broad spectrum of food service and hospitality businesses, including full-service restaurants, fast-food centers, cafes, bars, food trucks, and more.

Also, due to its high scalability, Toast matches well with businesses of all sizes – from small cafes to larger multi-venue establishments. As your business expands over time, the system is designed to scale up efficiently alongside your growth.

Toast Tables waitlist dashboard

Noteworthy Features of Toast

Toast Tables

  • Integrated Reservation and Waitlist Management: Toast Tables is your one-stop-shop for reservations and waitlists, fully integrated with your POS and Kitchen Display Systems.
  • Real-Time Table Updates: Keep tabs on table statuses, from guest orders to payments, all in real-time.
  • Marketing and Loyalty Program Integration: Guests can check out your menu and even sign up for your loyalty program before they arrive. It’s a win-win for customer retention.

Toast Online Ordering and Delivery

  • Streamlined Management: Manage online orders and deliveries in real-time, reducing errors and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Order with Google Integration: A smooth ordering experience right from Google search, without the need for customers to visit your website.

Toast Mobile Order & Pay

  • Convenience at Its Best: Guests can scan a QR code, browse your menu, place an order, and pay, all from their mobile device.
  • Boost in Revenue: Restaurants typically see a 10-12% increase in processing volume with this feature.

Toast Contactless Payments

  • Safety First: In the post-pandemic world, contactless payments are not just convenient; they’re a necessity.
  • Multiple Options: From Apple Pay to Google Pay, offer your guests a variety of contactless payment methods.

Toast Tableside Ordering and Payments

  • Efficiency and Accuracy: Take orders directly at the table for faster service and fewer errors.
  • Enhanced Guest Experience: Let your guests split the check, add tips, and make payments right from their table.


  • Open API: Integrate with popular platforms like Grubhub and Uber Eats or even create custom integrations to suit your specific needs.

Toast is not just a POS system; it’s a comprehensive solution that understands the unique challenges of the restaurant industry. From reservations to payments, it’s designed to make your life easier and your business more profitable.

More information on Toast:

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

Compare Toast vs. top restaurant POS alternatives

And finally, to try Toast out, head over to pos.toasttab.com

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed restaurant POS graphic

If you run a restaurant and are on the hunt for advanced reporting tools and extra retail possibilities, then Lightspeed is a good bet.

Lightspeed gives restaurant owners easy-to-use tools to figure out and manage how their restaurant works. With ready-to-use data and deep-dive analytics, it’s easier to get a full picture of how the restaurant is doing without having to dig too much.

From knowing what’s hot on the menu and detailed sales data to staff performance reports and more – figuring out what’s selling well, what’s not, or what’s an unexpected hit can make a real difference while updating your menu. With all this important info, you can uncover so many insights that could boost your business.

Lightspeed also has something like 200+ integrations with other services, so you can add in extra features and services as your restaurant grows.

Let’s say you’re thinking of taking your restaurant in a new direction – a POS system that can handle retail could be a real game-changer. With Lightspeed Restaurant POS, it’s easier to start selling merchandise, kick-off cooking classes, or start other retail-side things.

Who Can Benefit From Lightspeed?

Lightspeed POS is suitable for various restaurant types due to its adaptable features and customization options. It can benefit full-service independent restaurants, cafes and bistros, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), food trucks and pop-up restaurants, and multi-location restaurants, catering to their unique requirements and providing support for different aspects of their businesses.

Lightspeed order screen

Noteworthy Features of Lightspeed

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.

And finally, to try Lightspeed for free, head over to lightspeedhq.com

Feature Comparison: Toast vs. Lightspeed

Ease of Use

Toast has an intuitive, restaurant-optimized interface with role-based permissions for easy staff onboarding and management.

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

Toast Go mobile device

Payment Processing

Toast: In-house credit card processing only. No third-party processors are allowed, offering a seamless but less flexible solution.

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

Menu Management

Toast: Strong menu creation and management capabilities in Toast allow for menu customization, updates, and versioning. Highly customizable with options for seasonal or rotating menus.

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

Toast XtraChef Inventory tracking example
Toast XtraChef Inventory tracking example

Toast enables ingredient-level inventory tracking and food cost management through dynamic reporting.

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

Employee Management

Toast: Complete workforce management including scheduling, labor cost tracking, payroll integration, and robust reporting.

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

Online Ordering & Delivery

Toast has Toast TakeOut for integrated online ordering with real-time tracking as well as partnerships with major third-party delivery services.

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

Toast order from Google search
Toast order from Google search example

Toast has “Toast Tables” for reservations and waitlist management, even integrating with your Google Business Profile and enabling ordering with Google..

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

Customer Loyalty Programs

Toast includes integrated loyalty programs and CRM to help restaurants retain and reward customers.

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

Reporting & Analytics

Toast: Powerful reporting and analytics tools give actionable insights into sales, orders, inventory, employees, and more.

Lightspeed reports dashboard
Lightspeed reports example

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

Hardware Options

Toast sells restaurant-grade terminals, kiosks, handhelds, and displays along with compatibility for third-party hardware.

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

Third-Party Integrations

Toast has an open API to allow two-way integrations that enhance capabilities for connecting with third-party restaurant technologies.

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

Payment and Credit Card Processing

Toast POS:

  • Flat Rate: Offers a flat rate for payment processing, making it easier to predict costs.
  • Integrated System: Toast’s payment processing is fully integrated with its POS software but unlike TouchBistro doesn’t allow you to use a third-party processor.
  • Offline Payments: Toast allows you to accept payments even when your internet connection is down.


  • 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 adding of tips directly on the payment screen, enabling ease in tip management.

Hardware Compatibility

Toast POS:

  • Proprietary Toast hardware required.
  • Integrates well with Toast Go handhelds.
Toast Go device
  • Toast Flex: This handheld device is perfect for fast-paced environments where tableside service is essential. It’s spill-resistant and supports various payment types like swipe, dip, or tap.
  • Toast Go: Designed for smaller establishments like coffee shops, this all-in-one portable device allows you to take orders, process payments, and print receipts without switching between different gadgets.
  • Toast Kiosk: If you’re running a quick-service restaurant and want to reduce wait times, the Toast Kiosk offers a self-ordering experience through a large, interactive touchscreen display.
  • Toast Terminal: This is a comprehensive countertop setup ideal for full-service restaurants. It includes a touchscreen display, card reader, cash drawer, and receipt printer, all ready to go.
  • Toast Display: This customer-facing setup helps you manage restaurant orders in real-time and handle your inventory, enhancing the overall customer experience.


  • 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

Toast is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland.

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

Toast Pros & Cons

  • A Complete and Scalable Restaurant Management System: This end-to-end platform ensures smooth operations between your front and back-of-house teams while catering to restaurants of all sizes. It allows you to expand your operations seamlessly as you grow.
  • Rapid Development of New Features: Toast constantly introduces new features to help your business adapt to the latest consumer trends and preferences. This not only increases efficiency but also ensures you can keep up with the evolving restaurant industry.
  • Built for Restaurants: Toast boasts features catered to different types of restaurants, like fast food chains, fine dining, and casual eateries. Their focus on the industry enables you to adopt a POS system that understands your needs.
  • Omnichannel Service and Online Ordering: Toast helps you operate seamlessly across mobile, online, and in-person ordering channels. This supports online, pick-up, and delivery options to not only cater to evolving customer preferences but also enhance convenience while increasing sales through digital channels.
  • Locked into Toast Payment Processing: Users are required to use Toast’s in-house credit card processing solution, restricting their ability to shop around for potentially better or more affordable alternatives.
  • Add-ons Can Get Expensive: While Toast POS offers a range of valuable add-ons to help restaurants enhance their operations, these extra features often come with additional costs. These expenses might be prohibitive, especially for small or start-up establishments looking to maintain a low-budget operation.
  • Not Very Transparent Pricing: Another downside of Toast POS is the lack of transparent pricing information on the website, including the various hardware bundles and add-on features. This can make it difficult for potential clients to compare Toast POS with other providers.
  • Only Available in a Few English-speaking Countries: Toast is only available in a select few English-speaking countries, limiting access for restaurants operating outside these markets. This geographical restriction may make Toast POS less desirable for global or multi-national brands looking for a comprehensive solution across all their locations.

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.


At their core, Toast and Lightspeed both provide restaurant-grade POS systems with robust capabilities for point of sale, payment processing, online ordering, inventory management, staff management, and reporting. However, there are some notable differences in their approaches.

Toast offers an end-to-end platform developed specifically for the restaurant industry. It provides specialized features tailored for restaurants such as tableside ordering, reservations, and advanced kitchen display systems. Toast also offers integrated online ordering and delivery management. The interface is optimized for restaurants, facilitating training and usage. However, Toast only allows its own in-house payment processing.

Read more: 5 Best Toast POS Alternatives & Competitors

Lightspeed offers more generalized tablet-based POS software with advanced analytics and retail capabilities. Lightspeed provides advanced sales reporting and data insights for optimizing restaurant operations and menus. It also enables e-commerce functionalities for restaurants to sell merchandise or offer cooking classes. Lightspeed supports connections to third-party payment processors. However, the interface is not as restaurant-specific as Toast.

Restaurants wanting an all-in-one solution focused on restaurant workflows may prefer Toast, while those wanting deep analytics insights and retail flexibility may favor Lightspeed.

Read more: 5 Best Lightspeed Restaurant POS Alternatives

Which types of restaurants may be better suited for Toast or TouchBistro

Toast may be better suited for:

  • Full-service restaurants – Toast provides specialized support for workflows like tableside ordering and reservations management common in full-service restaurants.
  • Restaurants focused on delivery – Toast offers strong integrated delivery management through their own online ordering system and partnerships with major third-party delivery services.
  • Multi-location restaurants – Toast’s platform scales smoothly across multiple locations with centralized reporting and management.
  • Restaurants wanting an all-in-one solution – Toast combines POS, payment processing, online ordering, reservations, marketing, and labor management in one integrated platform.

Lightspeed may be better suited for:

  • Restaurants wanting robust analytics – Lightspeed provides highly detailed sales, inventory, menu, and employee reports and analytics.
  • Restaurants with retail operations – Lightspeed enables e-commerce capabilities to complement restaurant operations with retail sales possibilities.
  • Single location restaurants – Lightspeed suits independent restaurants not needing multi-location support as much as Toast.
  • Restaurants wanting processor flexibility – Lightspeed allows integrating external payment processors beyond its integrated payments.

In summary, full-service restaurants and multi-location chains may benefit more from Toast’s end-to-end restaurant platform, while independent restaurants wanting flexibility, analytics, and retail capabilities may prefer Lightspeed.

Avatar photo

Jan is a writer and content creator at KitchenBusiness.com with a focus on the restaurant and food service industry. Drawing from his background in tech and UX design, Jan breaks down complex systems into digestible, actionable insights.

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