Does New KDS Offer a Square Meal for Everyone?

We continue to cover the world of all things Square. That’s the $90 billion-plus company that enables businesses small and large with digital transformation. Last week Square signaled plans to push deeper into the restaurant space. And as we know, that market is largely driven by small operators.

Fun fact. The notion of a “square meal” actually originates from the British Royal Navy. Meals on Her Majesty’s ships were served on square plates. So we must ask, is Square offering a square meal to restaurant operators?

Square is now taking on some big players in the restaurant software space. Olo and Toast to name just a couple. The company has decided to make its Square Kitchen Display System (KDS) available to restaurants as a stand-alone product via subscription. This move is designed to help those food service companies that have embraced the ghost kitchen model. Notably, the Square KDS doesn’t need to be tied to the Square POS. The Square KDS is more about helping food operators manage and fulfill orders from online ordering and delivery partners. 

For instance, a restaurant in the UK, Burgerism, is only in the delivery and pick-up business. So it doesn’t need a POS because consumers pay when they order. The Square KDS appears to offer places like Burgerism (we think it’s funny that Burgerism is a UK business) a pretty powerful solution at a very low introductory rate of $10 per month, per device through the end of 2021. 

Aiding Digital Transformation

Square’s efforts here are pretty smart. After all, it’s trying to help a sector battered by the pandemic to transform its digital experience. Making the communications between the customer and the cooks seamless is paramount in making a customer experience compelling. 

Square Accelerates Self-Serve Restaurant Mobile Ordering

We’ve written about Olo, which offers a similar solution.  This is a hot space. And from what we can tell it is only getting hotter. Here’s why. As we’re written and heard more and more about the challenges small businesses are having finding employees necessary to fulfill a coming surge of demand, we believe technology can well be the key to growth and success. 

We listened to a report this morning on the Bay Area public radio station KQED about restaurant operators struggling to hire workers. We experienced this same issue in Charlottesville, VA earlier this month. Growth is being stymied by a shortage of qualified workers. So it seems to us that the only way out of this sticky wicket is to use technology to its fullest extent. 

Square Joins the Food Fight

Lowering Adoption Barriers

On a recent earnings call, Square CEO Jack Dorsey said the following.

“We’re certainly displacing legacy systems because people want to upgrade. 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.”

Clearly Square is not going to sit on the sidelines and watch the likes of Olo and Toast command the mind share and market share of America’s restaurant owners. We’ll continue to watch what happens in the ever-competitive restaurant and local food ecosystem. We’re sure the winners will be those software companies that can solve the challenges restaurant owners are facing with simple, integrated, and most importantly easy to use solutions.

In the past, restaurant owners spent too much of their time tinkering with software. That will not fly in today’s world of the modern customer and intense competition for loyal customers and valued employees. What’s your square meal today? Is it simple fare? Or something complicated?

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