LightSpeed: The Apple of the Retailer’s Eye

Greg Bates, June 21st, 2012

LightSpeedThe LightSpeed API allows developers to build on LightSpeed’s retail platform, one designed to mimic the experience of walking into an Apple bricks and mortar store. The platform also helps stores sell online. Developers can add loyalty programs, integration with enterprise-resource-planning systems, and build mobile sales dashboards. More information is available through its LDX, the LightSpeed Developer Exchange, that opens up the program and website.

Founded in Montreal in 2005 by CEO Dax Dasilva, LightSpeed is swift–becoming Quebec’s fastest growing company in 2011. Their system is now deployed in 28 countries, and used by 10,000 retailers.  In June it secured $30 million in series A funding. The pedigree of the money is impressive: Accel Partners, which ponied up the sum to become a minority investor, was an early investor in Facebook and Groupon.

As reported by Christine Dobby in Canada’s Financial Post, June 12,

Ryan Sweeney, a partner at Accel who will take a seat on LightSpeed’s board, said he and a small team spent about 18 months looking for businesses that are tapping into the trend of Apple technology cropping up in the enterprise environment due to consumer demand.

“E-tail versus retail is happening,” he said. “If you are a physical retailer, how do you get people to get off their couch and come into your store and shop? We believed that this trend was going to happen where Mac products and Mac devices were going to be essentially the tool to convince people to come in and almost create an online experience in the offline world.”

What does that mean for LightSpeed–and for developers working with the API? As Anthony Ha reported in TechCrunch, June 11,

…that means offering software for Macs, iPads, and iPhones that combines the services that retailers need to manage their business (like payment processing and inventory management) with features that make for a more engaging shopping experience.

For example, one of LightSpeed’s features is called Show and Tell, which allows salespeople to use the iPad show off related products that be not be available on the selling floor. This means you get the large inventory and detailed info that you’d find on an e-commerce site, combined with the “human touch” of a salesperson, Dasilva says.

If Apple’s success is any indication, LightSpeed could be onto the next big thing in retail. Originally scoffed at for creating brick and mortar stores to sell computers, Apple now earns more profit per square foot in its retail stores than any retailer in the U.S.

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