Lightspeed, Montreal’s point of sale (POS) system for retailers and restaurateurs, is launching its ecommerce tool for North American businesses today.
The move comes four months after the 500-person team acquired Amsterdam’s SEOshop. It should signal to fellow online store-builders, like Ottawa-based Shopify, that Lightspeed plans on taking a piece of the e-pie.
Lightspeed eCom integrates with its existing cloud-based POS solution, Lightspeed Retail, and will also offer a multilingual back office and front office, and the ability to sell via multiple currencies within the same platform. According to Lightspeed’s chief revenue officer, JP Chauvet, that’s something that Shopify simply can’t do.
“If you’re looking at our eCom as a standalone, it’s most probably the best platform out there. If you’re looking at our POS as a stand alone, it is the best platform out there. You now have the best of both worlds, fully integrated. If you look at the market, there’s nobody even close to what we offer today,” Chauvet told MTLinTech.
He added that having something more competitive than Bigcommerce and Shopify on the North American market is “game-changing.” Indeed, Lightspeed’s customers have been patiently awaiting its new product to the point where the CRO said there’s a wait list for the product.
According to data provided by Lightspeed, more than 60 per cent of retailers say getting inventory insight, real-time customer visibility and product information across channels is crucial. Yet the same report revealed that more than 40 per cent of retailers struggle to coordinate in-store and eCommerce operations.
With the newly integrated Lightspeed platform, brick and mortar retailers can quickly launch an online store and automatically sync inventory, sales, and customer sales data. Moreover, they can transfer inventory between channels and extract performance insights.
For Chauvet, the new eCom platform will benefit three specific types of clients.
The first, brick-and-mortar stores with no online presence, who feel the technical hassles make it too complicated to migrate online. Chauvet said all they have to do is use Lightspeed for their in-store needs and the tool will automatically create a “Grade A ecommerce website.”
Secondly, those people who have both online and brick-and-mortar stores, but they aren’t integrated. They can’t provide a good experience to their customer and they’re spending hours and hours trying to re-consolidate inventory. “We know that our platform is just as good as any other. It’s actually better.”
And finally, those who also have both online and offline platforms, but their integration experience is poor. These, said Chauvet, are pure ecommerce players who venture into brick-and-mortar stores, much like Montreal fashion eretailer Frank & Oak. “Those guys need to make a compromise at some point. If they’re using a strong ecommerce platform that offers brick and mortar solution, we know that that solution is no where as decent as ours.”
Lightspeed released its first product in 2005, and today processes over $12 billion annually through its customers. Roughly 36,000 businesses in 1,000 countries use Lightspeed. The company employs hundreds of employees in eight countries, while its head office resides in an iconic former hotel and train station in downtown Montreal.
It’s historically brick-and-mortar clients earn around $600,000 in revenue, while Shopify, a leader in the space that Lightspeed is about to make its entrance into, typically sees it’s online clients do $35,000 in revenue.
Lightspeed CEO Dax Dasilva told MTLinTech in November that his company will “definitely compete for certain customers,” but his are typically mid-market customers with more complexity to their inventory.
To distinguish itself from its competitors, Chauvet made a point to bring up Montreal-based t-shirt brand, Poche & Fils, one of Lightspeed’s recently-acquired customers.
After selling its shirts through Facebook’s, Poche & Fils soon migrated to Shopify. According to Chauvet, Poche & Fils earned $400,000 in revenue last year, and are on a runway to $1 million.
We’re pretty excited that a pure ecommerce player would value our solution more than what they’re using today. If you ask them why… the reason why they moved to Lightspeed is because their ambitions are to go international. They’ve managed to get to $1 million just selling in Quebec, but now they want to move to a world where they have a multilingual back office, a multilingual front office and they want multiple currencies. If they were to continue using Shopify, they would have to create individual stores: a different store for US dollars, a different store for Euros, etc… Pretty big advantage for them, obviously.
When asked directly how if Chauvet feels Lightspeed’s product is superior to Shopify’s, the CRO said it’s not about Shopify, but rather the market as a whole. One can no longer be a big player in commerce if you’re just doing one piece of it.
“The question was not Shopify, the question was what segment were we good at,” he said. “We’ve always been considered on the market as ‘serious retail.’ It’s a real store with real profits, not so much the ‘starter’ segment.”