How Square KDS Can Help You Manage Orders With Or Without A Full POS
The Square kitchen display system can work as part of a point of sale system or as a stand-alone option, making it a versatile option for quick-serve and full-serve restaurants.
Virtually all restaurant point of sale systems have a kitchen display system (KDS) option. Square is no exception, bringing its signature simplicity to KDS as part of its Square for Restaurants POS offering. But no system does KDS quite like Square.
While you can use Square KDS with your Square POS system, Square has taken a bold step by offering its Square KDS as a standalone system, meaning you can use it without a POS. This subscription option makes the Square kitchen display system the perfect KDS for ghost kitchens and delivery-only restaurants that don’t have a traditional point of sale. With that being said, Square KDS works equally well for sit-down, counter-service, and drive-thru restaurants.
Unlike Square’s flagship POS, Square KDS isn’t free. However, Square still offers one of the most affordable iPad KDS systems out there, and the setup couldn’t be easier.
Keep reading this Square KDS overview to learn what a Square kitchen display system iPad can do for your restaurant and how Square KDS pricing works.
Table of Contents
What Is A Square KDS System?
A Square KDS is a kitchen display system that uses an iPad screen to communicate orders instead of a kitchen printer. The Square Kitchen Display System helps restaurants organize and fulfill tickets sent from their Square POS and from online ordering channels. Square KDS requires a monthly subscription.
How Square KDS Provides Flexibility
A Square KDS allows you to you manage all of your restaurant’s orders from one screen, including both in-person orders and online orders marked for pickup or delivery. Square KDS can benefit many types of businesses, including those who need a full POS system for in-person payments, and delivery-only businesses that only take online payments. However your restaurant business is set up, Square KDS can accommodate you.
Square KDS works with various Square devices, plans, and ordering channels. Square KDS can populate orders from any or all of the following:
- Square for Restaurants POS on Square Register or iPad
- Square POS on iPad, Square Terminal, Square Register, or Android devices
- Square Online orders
- Square Online Checkout payment links, including QR code payments
- Third-party delivery app partners
- Third-party self-order kiosk partners
Square KDS can also accommodate various back-of-house configurations, whether you want to use just one or several KDS stations. Each Square KDS iPad can be set up as a Prep station for item preparation, or an Expo station for order fulfillment. Different item categories can be routed to different stations. Or smaller setups might just use a single KDS device for prep and fulfillment.
Square KDS Features
As follows are some notable Square KDS features:
- Custom Layouts: In the Square KDS app, you can easily customize settings like text size, number of tickets you want displayed, ticket layout, timer options, online order view, and notification options. It’s also very easy to switch back and forth between different views and layouts.
- Order Routing: Automatically route different categories of items to different KDS stations for preparation. This helps streamline operations and improve order accuracy. For example, you might use one KDS as an appetizer station and another KDS to manage bar orders. Each station can be set up in Prep or Expo (expeditor) mode to perform different types of functions.
- Online Orders: If you have online orders turned on, your KDS will populate with orders from your Square Online ordering website and partnered third-party delivery service orders from Caviar, Postmates, and DoorDash. To use Square for Restaurants with non-partnered delivery services like Uber Eats and Grubhub, you can use the Chowly integration.
- Ticket Timers & Alerts: You can prioritize and monitor order status on the Square KDS using ticket timers and alerts. After a certain amount of time, an order will appear as yellow or red, letting the kitchen staff know to prioritize that ticket. You can also adjust the desired timeframe for yellow and red alerts.
- Order Fulfillment: Both Prep stations and Expo stations have the ability to mark single items or whole tickets as complete. Expo stations can also show completed tickets across all Prep stations, and can recall completed tickets to a Prep station if an item needs to be remade. Expo stations can also alert third-party delivery services when an order is ready.
- Kitchen Performance Reports: View your Square KDS reports from your Square Dashboard. You can see your completed ticket count and average completed ticket time across all tickets, sort by KDS station, or view performance for a particular timeframe. Multi-location restaurants can also use this reporting feature to monitor kitchen performance by location.
While this list covers the core feature set for Square KDS, you can find a more detailed Square KDS guide on Square’s support website.
Square KDS Pricing & Promotion
Square KDS requires a paid monthly subscription. There are a couple of different ways you can purchase a Square KDS subscription:
- $10/month per device with a standalone KDS subscription ($20/month starting in January 2022)
- $60/month for unlimited devices with a Square for Restaurants Plus subscription
Note that the $10/month price (for a standalone Square KDS subscription) is a promotional offer that expires on 12/31/21. On 1/1/22, the price will increase to $20/month per device, for both new and existing customers. Your Square KDS subscription will come with Square for Restaurants Free included, but you can also use the KDS with your Square POS and Square Online orders.
Another way you can purchase a Square KDS is with a Square For Restaurants Plus subscription, which includes unlimited Square KDS devices as well as other advanced restaurant features, for $60/month per location. Additional iPad POS terminals at a single location are $40/device under the Square for Restaurants Plus plan, but you can have unlimited KDS iPads on your “Plus” account at no additional cost.
If you’re not sure what POS plan you should use with Square KDS, start by comparing Square POS with Square for Restaurants. From there, you can narrow down whether you need the Free or Plus version of Square for Restaurants.
Square KDS FAQs
Is The Square Kitchen Display System Right For You?
Any type of eatery that uses Square as their POS can benefit from using a Square Kitchen Display System iPad in your back-of-house. Square KDS is also an option for new restaurants or ghost kitchen startups that are looking for an affordable KDS only or POS with KDS, as well as restaurants looking to switch from a different system.
With a starting price point of just $10/month, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more affordable iPad KDS system. As for the Square KDS hardware, all you’ll need is an iPad running iOS 13 or later. However, it’s possible that restaurants with more complex needs could find Square’s KDS lacking in features.
One final thing to note about Square KDS is that it only works using Square as your payment processor, so if you want to take payments with your own merchant account, then Square Kitchen Display System is not for you.
Square for Restaurants is an excellent restaurant POS system overall, with a free option and the added bonus of being able to add Square KDS to your setup for a small fee. But Square is not the only game in town. If you want to check out other free restaurant point of sale software, read What You Should Know About Free Restaurant POS Software & How To Make The Best Choice.