Understanding the Differences Between POS and KDS

A POS and KDS are commonly confused as the same type of software. Although both of these technologies are closely integrated and an integral part of a successful restaurant operation, they are very different. What’s the difference between a POS and kitchen display system? Let’s discuss how each software works by themselves and together, as well as the benefits they provide.

What is a POS?

A POS is a front of house software that takes the place of a cash register. A traditional POS keeps a list of menu items in a database, allowing servers to input customer orders. It will also include credit card processing and receipt printing.  A modern POS would have the same features as a traditional POS but can also record and track transactions, process customers’ payments, provide employee productivity reports, sales patterns, and manage inventory.

A POS could be a terminal or tablet, such as an iPad. In addition to the terminal and tablet, there is a mobile POS. A mobile POS is a wireless POS that allows servers to take orders directly at the table. The mobile POS will then send the order to the appropriate station in the back of house. Customers can also pay and split checks on a mobile POS. This system is the starting point for online ordering through an app or restaurant website.

What is a Kitchen Display System?

A kitchen display systems’ primary focus is how the back of house operates. In automated kitchens, a KDS takes the place of printers and paper. You’ll usually find a KDS monitor at each meal preparation station such as grill, fry, sauté, pantry and expo.

A kitchen display system could include the following features:

Coursing Manager

This feature allows you to send a customer’s complete order in one chunk so that the customer receives each course at the appropriate time. Coursing rules can be set based on timing, item ID, etc.

Cook times

Managing cook times helps ensure that meals arrive fresh and at the proper time to your customer. When a meal includes several courses, the cook time feature will guarantee that shorter and longer cook times are balanced.

Basic routing to specific stations

This moves orders to the appropriate kitchen station: grill, pantry, fryer, etc.

Delayed Routing

Make sure that food is ready at the appropriate time. You can delay items with shorter cook times to make sure everything arrives fresh to your customer.

How They Work Together

Once an item rings through the POS, it displays on the KDS. Since the food order is placed at the point of sale, it has to be able to talk to the kitchen display system for food to route and show up in the back of house.

Integrating a POS and KDS

When you are shopping for restaurant technology, I recommend choosing your POS wisely. Most kitchen display systems available are dictated by what type of POS you are using. Other software such as online ordering system, guest management system, and loyalty program would need to integrate with the POS as well.

It is best to choose a KDS that will integrate with many different POS systems as some POS systems are less robust than others. With this in mind, you will want a KDS that includes features that the POS might be lacking. For example, not all POS systems offer features such as cook times. You will want to find a KDS that easily allows you to add default kitchen cook times.

Benefits of a POS and KDS

Some of the many benefits of having a POS and KDS include:

  • Reduced ticket times- Ensures food is ready to deliver to customers at the proper time.
  • Decreased food cost- When your customers’ orders are accurate, you waste less food.
  • Reduction in paper costs- Having a POS and KDS eliminates the need for kitchen printers and paper tickets, saving you money on receipt paper.
  • Improved food quality- When a POS and KDS work together, it helps guarantee that customers’ food arrives on schedule.

Both pieces of technology are vital to creating a successful restaurant operation. That’s why it is important that they integrate and communicate with each other. When a POS and KDS work together, they unify your front and back of house, creating a more efficient restaurant and a better guest experience.