POS vs. Kitchen Display System: Are They the Same?



What’s the difference between a POS and a kitchen display system? There is a common misconception that a POS and a KDS are the same types of software. Although both of these technologies are closely integrated and an integral part of a successful restaurant operation, they are very different.

Let’s dive into what each type of software is, how they work together, and the benefits they provide.

What is a POS?

A POS is widely utilized and implemented but does not serve the same purpose as a kitchen display system. The POS is a front of house system where a server physically rings up a customer’s order and the POS records transactions. A POS could be a terminal or tablet, such as an iPad. This is the system that initializes the order transaction within a restaurant or above store such as online ordering through an app or restaurant website.

What is a Kitchen Display System?

Kitchen display systems strictly specialize in improving how the back of house operates. In automated kitchens, these systems are used instead of printers and paper. Typically, there is a monitor at each physical station where meal preparation takes place. For example, a kitchen may have five stations: grill, fry, sauté, pantry, and expo. A kitchen display system would include a monitor at each one of these stations. Each one of these stations would only display the items rang in through the POS that are prepared at the respective stations.

A kitchen display system may also include features like the ones listed below.

Coursing Manager

Grouping course items together such as table service, drinks, and desserts, allowing you to send these items in one chunk so that customers receive each course at the right time. You would set up rules as to when courses should course such as timing, item ID, etc. This ensures each item is delivered when it should be, with every item freshly prepared.

Cook times

Ensures food arrives at the appropriate time. Cook times will be managed so that food items with shorter and longer cook times are balanced.


A recipe viewer will help you reduce training cost, secure and search for restaurant’s recipes, track nutrition, and allergy information, and reduce paper waste.

Basic routing to specific stations

Route food to the appropriate kitchen station: grill, pantry, fryer, etc. Routing ensures food is moved in the right direction.

Delayed Routing

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

How They Work Together

A KDS will display the order rang in through the POS. Since the food order is placed at the point of sale, it has to be able to talk to the kitchen display system in order for food to route and show up in the back of house.

Integrating a POS and KDS

When choosing a POS and KDS solution, make sure to do plenty of research. Most kitchen display systems available are dictated by what type of POS you are using. It is best to choose a KDS that will integrate with many different POS systems as some POS system 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 prepared for delivery to tables 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 ensure that customers’ food arrives on schedule.

QSR Automations offers a best-in-class kitchen display system, ConnectSmart Kitchen (CSK). CSK offers robust features and integrates with over 65 point of sales.

This article was originally posted on QSR Automations’ blog here.


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