The Elevator Pitch … Powering the businesses that are the backbone of the global economy, Lightspeed’s one-stop commerce platform helps merchants innovate to simplify, scale and deliver customer experiences. Its cloud commerce solution transforms and unifies online and physical operations, multichannel sales, expansion to new locations, global payments, financial solutions and integrated access to supplier networks.

The Pandemic Impact … During lockdowns, the connectivity and visibility a cloud-based commerce platform provides became more critical than ever, points out GM-retail Mike DeSimone. “As the pandemic took hold, more and more people prioritized exercise and outside activities and business picked up for many running and bike merchants, but they could only meet this demand if they had a robust e-commerce and inventory management system in place,” he explains, adding that the pandemic has also helped fortify the “buy local” movement. “But consumers today expect to know what’s in store before they make the trip.”

The Google Connection … This demand for knowledge is why Lightspeed partnered with Google this year to empower its retailers to sync their Lightspeed platforms with Google Local Inventory Ads, allowing consumers to see real-time inventory available from local merchants within their Google search. Lightspeed also introduced “Shop by Appointment” this year to provide retailers more flexibility to offer safe, socially distanced service to their customers.

Consumer Demand … According to research from the Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of customers prefer an omnichannel retail experience where they have the option to shop online or in-store. “We believe that the future of retail is a unified digital and physical shopping experience and we provide retailers the tools to build a flexible, reliable business online that can also grow or expand to a brick-and-mortar space that becomes a pillar of their community,” DeSimone says. Lightspeed is one of the only global retail commerce tools that empowers retailers to grow and scale their business however they see fit, online or in person.

What’s Next … “We believe that the convenience of curbside pickup, booking appointments to shop with an expert, contactless payments and online ordering are here to stay,” DeSimone says. “The more technology running retailers can bring into their business to automate the day-to-day operations of inventory, ordering and managing an online presence, the more time they can spend nurturing their customers, staff and communities.”

Advice to Retailers … It’s not easy to start and run an independent business, but technology can take a lot of the challenges out of business management with integrated accounting, merchandising, inventory and ordering tools, points out DeSimone. “Most people start a business because they’re passionate about running or exercise, not about managing their digital marketing or updating their inventory,” he says. “Lightspeed is creating solutions that automate daily tasks around accounting, inventory and online advertising, so retailers can focus on simplifying, scaling and delivering exceptional customer experiences.” Additionally, offering contactless payment, curbside pick-up and online ordering also helps an independent retailer stay competitive in their local market.

The Future … Lightspeed recently entered into Ωagreements to acquire Ecwid and NuORDER, which will unify its commerce ecosystem for retailers through expanded and simplified e-commerce solutions and streamlined access to suppliers, respecttively. Lightspeed is also continuing to expand its partnership with Google to offer additional integrations such as Smart Shopping Campaigns that will further streamline the online and in-store shopping experience, as well as launching new tools this summer around tipping and subscription services for retail merchants.

Sole Sports Finds Lightspeed Lightens the Inventory Load

Lance Muzslay, a triathlete
and endurance runner, is the co-owner of Sole Sports, a running store with three stores in the Phoenix, AZ, area. After a career as a semiconductor engineer, the tragedy of September 11 motivated him to switch careers and open his first running store with a triathlon buddy. He later opened Sole Sports with a new partner in 2007.

Two years ago, he made the upgrade from a legacy POS with an on-site server to Lightspeed’s cloud-based commerce platform. As a software developer, Muzslay had a long list of requirements for a new system — and Lightspeed was the only solution that fit the entire bill.

“We searched for a long time and when I took a look at Lightspeed I realized this is what I was waiting for and I’m glad I didn’t jump the gun sooner because it was exactly what I wanted,” he says. “We’re very inventory intensive, we have hundreds of thousands of dollars of inventory across our three locations, and if that isn’t optimized we’re not going to be profitable.”

If you don’t have a good commerce platform and a good inventory management system or ordering system, when you get into multiple locations it gets much more complicated, he points out. “But with Lightspeed, we have reports that tell us what inventory needs to go where. It keeps track of where everything is for me and the API can feed all the necessary data to external software.”

Using Lightspeed has taken a load off of Muzslay and his responsibility for the technical side of the business. “With Lightspeed I can breathe easier, I have way less technical headaches,” he says. “Most people don’t have technical backgrounds or a desire to take on the technology side. It gets very complicated very fast. But a good cloud system like Lightspeed can offload a lot of that, so I’m a big advocate.

“We were already pretty advanced with our reporting, but now with Lightspeed we can do that more powerfully and efficiently.”

Muzslay frequently advises other retailers to use Lightspeed. “Lightspeed is a solid platform, it’s easy to use, it’s cost-effective, it just makes the operation of your store very smooth and easy,” he explains. “We want to make sure we have the right product on the shelf at all times so we can really serve our customers and Lightspeed is the right platform to maintain that data. It’s amazing and I love that it has a solid API that allows you to connect other software you may need.

“It’s surprising how technical running a small retail shop is, I had no idea how complicated it would be,” he adds. “Having a good commerce platform is crucial.”