May 23, 2023

What is a Kitchen Display System (KDS)?

What is a Kitchen Display System (KDS)?


Running a kitchen is a challenge. From inventory management to communication between front and back-of-house teams, restaurant staff have a lot of logistical balls to keep in the air before even getting to meal preparation. Make things simpler with a KDS. In this article, we’ll explore how a kitchen display system can help restaurants like yours streamline operations, improve service, boost revenue—and save time and money.

KDS Meaning

At its most basic level, a KDS, or kitchen display system, automizes the old paper ticket method of order management. Rather than using staff time to write (or print) tickets, you can use a KDS to automatically send customer orders back to display on a digital screen in the kitchen.

Getting rid of paper tickets is in itself a huge time saver (and stress reliever) for restaurant workers, but this is just the base level of KDS functionality. Many systems include more advanced features like automatic inventory updating and order prioritization based on prep time.

How Does a Kitchen Display System Work?

A customer orders one of your signature pasta dishes from their server. Here’s how the request travels through your KDS system.

1. The server inputs the order

Your customer’s order goes straight from the server to a digital POS to ensure nothing gets lost in translation between front and back-of-house teams. If the customer decides they don’t want the zucchini that usually comes with their pasta dish, modifications are easy to input and flag for the kitchen. Your servers won’t need to furiously scribble down orders and your kitchen staff won’t need to interpret hand-written tickets—a win-win!

2. The order pops up on the kitchen display

No need to send your servers running back and forth from the kitchen. With a KDS, when orders are input, they’ll pop up automatically to alert kitchen staff and get the meal moving along.

3. Each element of the dish gets coordinated

If you have multiple display screens, a KDS can intelligently break down orders and send each part to the right prep station. For example, your pasta dish might come with grilled chicken and a side of vegetables. A good KDS will be able to parse the recipe and coordinate between your main prep station and the grill.

4. The KDS prioritizes and orders tasks based on timing

You don’t want your pasta to sit and get cold while you finish cooking the chicken. Kitchen display systems can help keep your staff organized so every dish gets finished at the right time.

5. Your inventory updates automatically

As orders come in and get fulfilled, your system will keep track of the ingredients used and compare them to your inventory. If something is out of stock, your staff will be notified, allowing them to quickly find an alternative for the customer. You’ll also have all the data you need to restock efficiently and save money.

6. Updates are sent to the server

When a dish is done, or something needs to be changed, your KDS will notify servers so they can get each dish out as fast as possible, minimize wait times, and keep tables turning.

KDS vs. POS: Is There a Difference?

A POS system and KDS are distinct but highly integrated tools. A POS is a front-of-house system that servers use to input orders, while the KDS is the back-of-house system that receives and displays orders made through your POS. In other words, they’re two halves of a single working solution. In order to have an effective KDS, you’ll need a great restaurant POS that can integrate and communicate properly. This means it’s essential to research and find the right pairing for your restaurant.

Does a KDS Make Sense for Your Kitchen?

If your restaurant runs like most, a KDS will be a great idea, but, depending how your business is set up, there might be some things to consider before diving in.

Benefits of a KDS

  • Expedited orders: A KDS eliminates the manual process of writing, printing, organizing, and managing tickets, giving staff back plenty of time to finish orders faster.
  • Better communication: The integration of a KDS and your POS means much less back and forth between servers and the kitchen.
  • Improved dining quality: With time saved and processes streamlined, your kitchen staff has more energy and room to focus on cooking delicious meals.
  • More accurate orders: Real-time updates mean information is quickly and accurately relayed from the dining room to the kitchen.
  • Efficient inventory management: Get updates when you hit low stock and access data to efficiently process your next supply order.
  • Organized kitchen operations: Automatically route dishes to the right prep stations prioritize dishes by time needed.
  • Integrated online ordering: Fulfill online orders—including those for pickup and delivery— through ONE automated system.
  • Reduced stress: Easier operations and better communication mean less physical work for your staff and less mental load, making it much easier to keep morale high and deliver great quality food and customer service.
  • More eco-friendly: Eliminate paper tickets—a win for the environment and a major simplification for your operations.
  • Access better reporting data: Get insight on your business as a whole—critical for restaurant operations.

What to Consider First

There’s not many reasons to hesitate before getting a KDS, but you do want to make sure you do your research first. Make sure you have a good idea of where you would place display screens in your kitchen, especially if you’re operating in a small facility. It may also be a good idea to plan ahead so you can get your system up and running with plenty of time for your staff to learn the ropes.

The most important things to think about before getting a kitchen display system are the features you want and the compatibility with your POS. If you’re not in love with your POS already, it might be time to start fresh and get a system (like Exatouch®) already built to integrate with a KDS. If a new POS isn’t on the table right now, make sure you research your options and choose a KDS that will integrate successfully with the system you already have.

Save Time and Money with a KDS

A kitchen display system can revolutionize the way your restaurant runs, and for most businesses, you’ll soon find out that a KDS is really a win-win-win—good for your bottom line, good for your staff’s wellbeing, and good for your customers.

As you start researching the right KDS for your restaurant, take a look at our own Exatouch KDS. Already integrated with Exatouch POS and great for sit-down and quick service restaurants alike, this system fits easily into your existing workflows, comes with all the best benefits of an advanced KDS, and is simple to install, configure, and use.

Ensure food never comes out cold and deliver an unforgettable dining experience that will keep your customers coming back for more. Learn more about Exatouch today to see how you can start saving time and money with an integrated KDS.

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