There’s no doubt that walking into an Apple store is a magical experience. And part of that magic is the pleasure of the speedy checkout. In a conversation with Dax Dasilva, the Founder and CEO of LightSpeed, bringing the Apple magic to small business owners has been his mission for 9 years.
Headquartered in Canada, LightSpeed has offices in New York City, Olympia, WA, Ottawa, Santa Cruz and Sydney. According to Dasilva, at the present time the company has over 150 employees.
There are two products – one is LightSpeed Pro, which is “Apple-based, on-premise and non-hosted”, and the LightSpeed cloud product, which is hosted. Both versions have an iPad app which puts real-time product and inventory information at the fingertips of employees on the showroom floor.
LightSpeed has installations in thirty countries, is processing over 6 billion dollars a year in transactions, and has been growing exponentially. The business was founded in 2005 when Dasilva, was working at a Apple Mac dealership in Montreal.
Their clients and prospects:
LightSpeed now has about 17,000 clients, up from 7,000 a year ago and some of their larger clients have 40 to 50 stores running on it. About 1,000 of the clients are running on the cloud version. That’s an outstanding growth rate for a company that’s going on nine years old. I asked about who the average client was. Dasilva advised me that typically they upgrade clients from an older system like a Retail Pro or a Quickbooks, although some 40% of their clients are brand new stores. The average LightSpeed retailer does about $400,000 to $500,000 in annual revenue. The goal is to double the number of clients again this year. Clients also typically are brick-and-mortar first.
The optimal prospective retailer generally has high value inventory – a niche that contains about 1 million stores, according to their research. I asked about competitors such as NCR Silver, Shopkeep and Revel and other cloud based companies; he replied that their typical customers have very different needs and as each of these providers has different capabilities, their customers vary. They do not see them or directly compete with them all that often.
“Typically we have very little churn” said Dasilva, “people rely on these tools day in and day out to manage and grow their businesses.” “One of the things we’ve realized is that more is expected of the POS system than ever before.” “Stores today have to be a destination unto themselves”
As to the future,and the need for omni-channel capability; “The younger generation of business owners, the sons and daughters that are taking over, want ecommerce to be a part of their system by default – and they know they need to “Wow” the customer.”
Their regional resellers:
LightSpeed has 300+ trained and certified resellers. These resellers offer a variety of services including workflow analysis, training, configuration, networking, support, upgrades, web customization and POS hardware.
LightSpeed has received over $30 million dollars in funding, most notably in June 2012 from Accel Partners ($30 million) and later received additional funding from from local venture capital firm iNovia Capital.
The Apple platform – benefits
The Mac platform offers a number of advantages to retailers including a classy design and interface, something that Lightspeed has invested heavily in. Many businesses are purchasing Macs because there are security advantages. Virus written for the Windows PC out number viruses written for the Mac by an enormous factor and the recent hackings at Target and other retailers are raising awareness of the need for more security at the point of sale.
Other notable features of LightSpeed POS
Today’s retailers have the need to sell not only with a physical retail location, but also a web presence: “Even the smaller retailers have e-commerce on their minds. They want to open their store AND their website on day one.” said Dasilva. To that end LS has built a strong e-commerce platform that makes it very easy to get products up and onto the website – the retailer only has to add photos. “All sales, whether online or in-store, come back to the same system and inventory is being deducted in real-time, so business owners can do purchasing with confidence.”
Integration with other products:
The product integrates with Perkville – a customer loyalty program that integrates with LightSpeed Cloud. Perkville motivates customers to come back as well as tell their friends about your business. It automates retention, referrals and social media.
DirectMailManager.com – this integration provides the ability to easily produce highly effective, targeted direct mail postcards, that are directly linked to LightSpeed Cloud customer data. Businesses can send 1 or 1000s of thank you and promotional postcards with a click of the mouse. The add-on increases customer relationships with high quality, tangible postcards and tracks the results.
Both products are sold on a subscription basis, the entry level price is $79 for either product for one station, $134 for 2 stations and $229 for 4 stations. E-commerce is an additional $49 per month.
How LightSpeed sees the future of point of sale:
* A store where the front cash register is optional, where all the employees are empowered with mobile devices that allow them to easily manage selling, inventory lookups, and ringing up sales).
• Information on items, consumers, and other analytics are at hand.
• A fully informed consumer has a seamless online to in store transition.
• And a powerful cloud system for business intelligence and management help optimize the business.
According to Dasilva, LightSpeed will continue to evolve with the needs of retailers, but its mission remains the same: to provide the easiest way for serious retailers to build, manage and grow their business.