Modern restaurant kitchens rely on kitchen display and point-of-sale (POS) systems to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. It’s a common misconception that POS and kitchen display systems (KDS) are the same types of software, but they do work together to streamline front of house and back of house tasks.

If you’re upgrading an old system or making the transition from paper-and-pen orders, you may be wondering how to use a POS system in a restaurant. It’s important to first understand the difference between POS and KDS systems.

how to use pos system

Restaurant POS Systems vs. POS Kitchen Display System

POS and KDS systems are two different types of software, but they typically connect to one another to streamline all stages of the buying process, from ordering to preparing, serving and checking out.

As you know, a POS system is used to ring up a customer’s order and record transactions. Some restaurants use tablets, while others still have register terminals. These systems handle both in-restaurant orders and online orders through websites and apps.

A kitchen display system, on the other hand, is better suited for kitchen management. They replace pen-and-paper orders, reduce order errors and help streamline the preparation process. The POS system communicates with the KDS to display orders and ingredients.

Benefits of POS and KDS

An integrated POS and KDS can provide your restaurant with many benefits, including:

  • Quicker Service: Streamlining the food prep process ensures that dishes are served more quickly.

  • Lower Food and Paper Costs: Reducing order errors will save you money on food and reduce waste. Eliminating the need for paper tickets and kitchen printers will save you money on paper.

  • Better Food Quality: An integrated POS and KDS will ensure that food is prepared properly and delivered in a timely manner, which improves the quality of your food.

pos kitchen display system

How to Use a POS System and KDS to Manage the Kitchen

When a POS and KDS work together, they allow for better overall kitchen management. Food is prepared with precision and in a timely manner, and inventory is managed properly.

Typically, with a KDS, monitors are placed at physical meal preparation stations (one for each station). Each monitor will display only the items rung up through the POS that apply to that respective station.

Let’s say that your kitchen has three stations: fry, grill and sauté. The monitor at the fry station would only display items that need to be prepared at that particular station, like fried pickles or French fries. The grill station’s monitor would only display items that need to be grilled, such as chicken or steak.

The POS at the front of the house feeds the information to the KDS at the back of the house to ensure that everyone knows what to prepare and how to prepare it. It reduces or eliminates errors while improving staff efficiency.

But a POS and KDS can also be used to manage your kitchen in other ways, such as:

Grouping Course Items

Many systems have a coursing manager that allows you to group course items together, such as drinks and desserts, to ensure that customers receive each course at the right time. Rules can be set for timing, item IDs and other factors. The goal is to ensure that all items are served when they should be with the help of the in-house POS.

Displaying Recipes

Recipes can be stored in the system and displayed as needed to reduce training cost and time. This also allows you to track nutrition and allergy information to provide better customer service. Paper waste is also reduced, as recipes are stored digitally.

Managing Cook Times

An integrated POS and KDS allows you to better manage cook times to ensure food arrives on time, every time. Cook time management allows your kitchen staff to better balance food items with longer and shorter cook times.

Customizing cook times ensures that guests receive their orders in the right order and at the right time.

Food Routing

The right system will allow you to route food to its appropriate kitchen station, eliminating errors and wasted time. Routing can also be delayed when items have shorter cook times. This ensures that the food is fresh and at just the right temperature when served.

how to use pos system in restaurant

Inventory Management

Point-of-sale systems are typically integrated with inventory management systems. When orders are completed through the POS, ingredients and other items are automatically removed from the inventory system for accurate and automatic inventory management.

Managers can be alerted when inventory is running low, so they may place orders as needed.

Even if you choose not to integrate a KDS into your current system, a POS will help you keep your inventory in check. That in itself will improve your kitchen management and help streamline the inventory ordering process.

Theft Prevention

POS and KDS also cut down on employee theft. Items aren’t prepared unless they are ordered by customers through the POS system. Of course, there are some things that the system can’t prevent, such as a bartender giving away free drinks. Waitpersons and bartenders can also charge customers for items, but never input orders into the system and pocket what the customer pays.

Still, a POS system can deter employees from theft, and with a good inventory management system, you can better detect these under-the-radar acts.


Many systems offer reporting features that help improve your kitchen management. Inventory and sales reports can be used when making decisions, such as menu changes. If sales reports indicate that certain items or dishes aren’t selling well, they can be removed from the menu to improve your bottom line.

Some systems even offer ingredient-level reporting, which can help with inventory purchases.

When used together, a POS and KDS can improve kitchen management and customer service. In order to maximize its benefits, it’s important for you and your employees to learn how to use the POS system properly. Proper training will take time, but it will save you time and money in the long-run. Every system is different, but some companies provide training.