Founded in 2005 by Dax Dasilva, Lightshop is a point-of-sale and eCommerce software provider. While primarily focused on bringing POS solutions to brick-and-mortar stores and physical retailers, Lightshop introduced their own eCommerce platform after acquiring SEOshop in 2015 and rebranding it to Lightshop eCom. The company is based in Montreal, Canada.
Shift4Shop began in 1997, founded by CEO Gonzalo Gil. After years of developing custom shopping cart solutions for eCommerce businesses, Gonzalo decided to combine the most-requested features into a comprehensive, all-in-one eCommerce platform. Shift4Shop continues that tradition today, always updating and integrating with the newest tools and software that eCommerce merchants need to compete in online business. The company’s headquarters is located in Tamarac, FL.
If you’re a smaller store, or you’re just starting out in the world of eCommerce, then you’re probably going to want a platform that’s affordable but doesn’t skimp on features. Unfortunately, Lightspeed is none of those things. Lightspeed is designed with established businesses in mind that can afford their expensive plans, with their cheapest eCommerce plan being $59/month. But, you’ll most likely be upgrading to their Advanced $99/month plan if you want to sell internationally, customize your site’s HTML and CSS, have access to their API, or have more than 1 staff account. But, even with all of the money you’re spending every month, you’re still limited across the board. You’re only allowed 10 images per product, 2,000 product categories, and 15,000 products on the highest paid plan. If you want to sell more products than that, then you’ll have to be quoted for an Enterprise plan of unspecified cost. These numbers may sound high, but keep in mind that each product variant counts towards your subscription plan’s product limit.
With Shift4Shop, you won’t be spending more money for less. Plans can cost as little as $19/month without any product limitations; you can list an unlimited number of products, images, categories and more. Any merchant, regardless of plan, also has access to the Shift4Shop API and HTML/CSS code editing. Shift4Shop is ready to support any business, whether you’re established or not.
While Lightspeed does offer 24/7 technical support to merchants, things start to get shaky when you look into becoming ineligible for support or updates. If you make any code changes to your online store via HTML and CSS, then you’re automatically disqualified from site updates or support. But, this becomes even more concerning when you realize that the only way you can make your site stand out is with code changes, since their themes and editor are so limited. Shift4Shop, on the other hand, doesn’t punish you for editing by withholding support; all merchants have access to help from our expert team, available 24/7/365.
A good eCommerce platform should come with all of the essential features you need to build and grow your online store straight out of the box. Unfortunately, Lightspeed either restricts important tools behind paywalls or forces merchants to pay for an extra app integration in order to have simple functionality. Bulk discount rules are locked behind the most expensive plan while digital products are relegated to a third-party app. With Shift4Shop, these features and more are built-in; there’s no need to fork over more money for essential functionality.
“I run a brick-and-mortar shop, so I was looking for an eCommerce platform that also offered a good point-of-sale system. I was drawn to Lightspeed because they specialize in POS systems, but what I quickly realized was that specialization comes at a price. I not only had to pay for the Advanced eCom plan in order to build an online store that had the features I needed, but I also paid a monthly fee for integration with my eBay store and access to a premium theme. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars every month, I came to Shift4Shop, which had everything I needed built in at a much more affordable price point.”
– Ex-Lightspeed Customer
Every eCommerce store should have the ability to brand and customize all aspects of their online presence, from storefront aesthetic to domain name. Lightspeed makes you find, pay for and register your own domain name and gives you no option to get a free one from them, which is something that most hosted eCommerce platforms typically offer. You’re also limited in customizations due to their basic theme editor and selection, meaning your store may end up looking like every other store built with Lightspeed. Thankfully, Shift4Shop doesn’t limit you like that, since all merchants get a free domain included in every plan, along with an extensive theme editor that allows you to get the unique branded look you want for your online store.
How do free Lightspeed themes stack up against free Shift4Shop themes?
Lightspeed offers 3 free responsive themes to choose from when you build an online store with their platform. Each free theme comes with a few presets that offer small variations like layout sizing and color palette. Their theme editor is relatively limited, making it hard to customize your storefront in a unique way, so HTML and CSS editing is an option. But, keep in mind that any code edits will force you to forgo future support and updates for your store. If you’d like to try out a premium theme, they have more than 40 available; however, they’re all charged as a monthly fee for use, rather than a one-time purchase.
Shift4Shop gives merchants a selection of over 40 free themes when designing their online store, all of which are responsive, unique in layout, feature-rich and customizable without punishment. But you won’t need to jump straight into the HTML and CSS editor with these themes; Shift4Shop’s Core Theme Editor and Drag ‘n Drop HTML builder are comprehensive tools that allow you to get the signature look that you’ll want for your online store. Many premium themes are also available, charged as a one-time fee rather than a monthly charge.
With Shift4Shop, you’ll be able to sell to anyone, anywhere. Giving you the option to integrate with a comprehensive list of payment gateways, you’ll be able to accept payments regardless of physical location or industry risk-level – without any extra transaction fees.
Lightspeed only offers less than 20 payment gateways that you can enable on your online store, including popular options like PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net. Their proprietary payment method, Lightspeed Payments, comes with a 2.6% + 30¢ transaction fee. With such a limited selection, some international customers may be unable to buy your products.
With Shift4Shop, you’re not only getting a long list of features out-of-the-box included with your plan; you’re also getting access to hundreds of integrations with your favorite software solutions. But these integrations don’t replace necessary eCommerce functionality, so you won’t need to worry about any extra startup costs if you want to dropship, integrate with eBay, sell digital products and more.
Lightspeed has a decently-sized list of software integrations, but the issue comes when you realize that important tools are included in this list. Dropshipping support, digital products, eBay integration, Amazon sync and more are all only available via a paid third-party app, meaning you’ll need to add an extra monthly fee for basic functionality.