LightSpeed rings up global growth with new retail concept
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For Dax Dasilva, the growing importance of online shopping isn’t a threat to bricks-and-mortar retailers. It’s an opportunity.
Dasilva is the founder of fast-growing LightSpeed Retail Inc., a Montreal software company that allows retailers to combine the convenience of online shopping with the customer experience of browsing in a store.
It’s been a winning formula for LightSpeed—sales of its software products have soared 2,000% in the last five years. Close to 10,000 retailers in more than 30 countries have bought into the company’s shopping concept and its software products designed for Apple computers, iPads and iPhones. Clients range from New York City SoHo boutiques to large retailers like Adidas and Vespa.
“There’s a whole generation of people who are accustomed to online shopping,” Dasilva says. “But we understand the magic of retail shopping. LightSpeed combines the best of eCommerce with the human touch.”
When you shop in a store equipped with LightSpeed software, you’ll find salespeople roaming the floor and taking care of customers with the help of an Apple device. Gone is the need to wait in line at a cash register. Purchases can be made from anywhere in the store via a smart device.
Before the sale, salespeople can use the device to show customers additional items not on display and recommend accessories to go with their purchase (as is the case with online shopping).
Fully integrated with this customer experience is LightSpeed’s back-office service which allows retailers to track sales and service, manage inventory, connect multiple stores and operate their eCommerce site.
“For customers, LightSpeed means the shopping experience is more informative and efficient, while for retailers it translates into more cross-selling opportunities and the ability to build customer loyalty,” Dasilva says.
Dasilva saw the potential for a retail system on the Apple platform after years of building Mac software and working in dealerships that sold Apple systems. He set about creating the LightSpeed software and launched the company with three employees in 2005.
The company, a client of BDC Financing and Advisory Services, has received the attention of not only retailers but also investors. Accel Partners from Palo Alto, California, whose previous investments include Facebook, Angry Birds and Groupon, recently invested $30 million in the company.
“The capital will help us grow faster and expand more quickly,” Dasilva says. “But of even greater benefit are their knowledge and connections.”
LightSpeed’s first customers were Apple dealers. “We started by selling to them,” Dasilva says. “They then became our reseller network. It was ideal because they knew Apple and they knew the product.” Today LightSpeed counts 400 resellers in 30 countries, a key factor in the company’s growth.
About half of its sales come through these resellers, with the other half through the company’s sales team.
Dasilva says LightSpeed’s success has been built on solid business planning. “When we were starting out and applying for government grants, we had to provide a business plan. I wasn’t convinced of the value, but when you put your plans on paper, it really does focus your thoughts.
“It’s uncanny how we hit the nail on the head. By sticking to our core strategy, we achieved almost exactly what we had planned.”