It’s been said if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, a saying that would suggest Square is undaunted in its latest point of sale (POS) tech offering announced Thursday (May 20) that will pit it head-to-head against some of the biggest players in the kitchen and order management space.
By making its Square KDS available to restaurants as a stand-alone product, Square is not only looking to keep pace with restaurants’ changing needs but is upping the ante for restaurant point-of-sale (POS) systems.
Previously only available as part of the company’s Square for Restaurants Plus plan, which features a suite of services including advanced POS and team management features and more comprehensive support, the company has now made Square KDS available as its own subscription service.
The KDS provides an on-screen interface for tracking and organizing orders, for maintaining up-to-date communication about these orders throughout the restaurant, and for overseeing progress. The system automatically receives orders from the restaurant’s POS, Square Online site, or third-party delivery site.
By providing additional restaurant technology solutions — technologies that are compatible with the company’s other restaurant services — Square is offering restaurants the opportunity to mitigate one of the largest obstacles standing between restaurants and their tech-enabled future: the hodgepodge of incompatible software keeping information from flowing smoothly from one system to the other.
“Restaurant brands historically have not standardized the type of technology platforms that must be deployed across their locations,” software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Olo stated in its S-1 filing in March. “Legacy restaurant systems were not built for modern, cloud-based environments … Furthermore, brands are unable to access their consumer data, as it resides in different systems and databases that cannot communicate with each other.”
In fact, with Square’s online store platform for restaurants and other ResTech solutions and with Olo’s forthcoming Olo Pay feature, the two companies are increasingly coming into competition with one another, though Square is a much larger company.
By offering Square KDS as a standalone subscription service at a significantly lower price than the bundled Plus subscription plan, the company is making it easier for restaurants to grow increasingly reliant on Square’s technology. The move plays into the company’s broader strategy of encouraging sellers to engage with the “breadth” of Square’s ecosystem, which Square Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Jack Dorsey spoke about on a recent earnings call.
“We’re certainly displacing legacy systems because people want to upgrade,” said Dorsey. “We just made it super easy for them to do that … We found in the past that a lot of sellers tend to be a little bit slow to adopt newer technologies because what they have is working. And we just want to take that fear away and make sure that they, with a few button presses, can get right into it.”
Of course, Square and Olo are not the only ResTech providers making moves toward becoming one-stop shops for restaurants. Last month, POS and restaurant management platform Toast launched a suite of contactless tools including enhancing its marketing and loyalty platforms and streamlining group ordering processes. The move to make Square KDS more widely available also poses a serious threat to tech companies whose main service is cloud kitchen management software, which may not be able to compete against the multibillion dollar POS giant.