Restaurants are not strangers to changing trends. A continuous shift in customers base and higher competition have been the major driven force for restaurants around the globe to pursue innovative ways of enhancing customer satisfaction and doing business.
The recent pandemic and lockdowns made a major impact on the restaurant industry. This wasn’t something anyone was prepared for, but restaurants found ways to overcome this setback. It led to the introduction of digital kitchens.
Digital kitchens, also referred to as cloud, ghost, or virtual kitchens, are restaurants that provide their customers food through a takeaway or delivery service. They may or may not have a physical dining location. While it is an unorthodox model, it has gained popularity during the pandemic, and the restaurant industry has embraced this concept.
The Popularity of Digital Restaurants
Almost all aspects of our lives have included the digital world, and the businesses that haven’t yet embraced this have already started experiencing the negative impact. While restaurants were one of the few areas where people loved to enjoy their food, the lockdowns due to the COVID pandemic resulted in the emergence of digital restaurants.
Turning your restaurant into a delivery-only establishment or establishing a new delivery-only restaurant can help you overcome the pandemic's challenges. Even with the lockdown being lifted and both outdoor and indoor dining restarting, many people are still reluctant to eat in public.
Moreover, the reopening of restaurants is still skeptical, depending on the number of COVID cases that might arise. Therefore, many restaurants and café have embraced the digital kitchen system. Since they aren’t catering to dine-in customers, they can acquire more online orders and deliver to more customers.
Many have forecasted that the food service would stay off-premise in the future through order ahead, takeout, and delivery. This means that digital kitchens would be the ideal solution for both restaurants and customers. Digital kitchens are helping restaurants meet the growing demands of customers hoping to enjoy food in the comforts of their homes during the pandemic.
The best thing about having a digital kitchen is that restaurants can still benefit from them even after the lockdowns, as it allows them to benefit from the technology to enhance efficiencies and serve their customers better.
Advantages of a Digital Restaurant
Here are some of the many advantages of a digital kitchen:
Capitalizing on Demand
Digital kitchens are an excellent means for restaurants to explore the options of order ahead, takeaway, and delivery. You can capitalize on the demands by streamlining the process online and catering to more customers than you could with dine-in only options.
Enhancing Customer Experience
Customers can directly order online and set up the option for takeaway or delivery. From food quality to packaging, the restaurant could have better control over the customer experience. The major factor of a digital kitchen is that it includes integrated technologies and traditional equipment to standardize the operations.
The restaurant industry focuses on profitability and speed, and digital kitchens offer just that. It allows you to use the technology to decrease order errors, highlight specific customers’ instructions, and accept orders from various devices to provide the best customer experience.
The enhanced connectivity of online ordering results in a more effortless and seamless workflow to make more food, serve more customers, and provide improved experiences.
Digital kitchens help restaurants to comply easily with the COVID guidelines and requirements. Whether it is extending safety to the customers or better sanitary methods, compliance is significant.
Since the staff requirements in a digital kitchen reduce, it also reduces the chances of a breach in safety measures. It allows the restaurant to establish stricter safety protocols and maintain hygiene from food preparation to food delivery.
Understanding the Latest Trend
Digital ordering has become the latest trend and, of course, convenience during the pandemic. Understanding the importance of this can allow restaurants to automate order taking and delivery to provide an ideal customer experience.
Instead of taking orders manually, digital kitchens allow you to digitalize everything to prevent errors and miscommunications. This automation provides consistent service to the customers. It also reduces the chances of incorrect orders, misplaced deliveries, unrecorded transactions, and dissatisfied customers.
With the main goal of providing an experience tailored specifically to food delivery, from processes and tools to customized technology and spaces, a digital kitchen makes it easy to cater the to-go orders. Restaurants even have the opportunity to manage more than one brand through the digital kitchen. This makes it easy to prep the ingredients for numerous cuisines and menus.
Digital kitchens make it easier for restaurants to change the menu more quickly than how it is done with physical menus. No need to reprint the menus every time you change or add new items. You can even update the specials every day and remove the sold-out items for smoother operations.
Digital kitchens are better options for both new and established restaurants to expand their operations. Established restaurants can use this model to complement their dine-in options, and new restaurants can expand their operations without a physical location with minimal risk involved.
It is even a way in for food industry entrepreneurs to initiate their food business without trying to get a physical location. It allows them to open a virtual business to test the waters before they dive in. Since digital kitchens are cost-effective, they are easier to open with minimum risk.
Businesses that want to expand can also get responses by operating virtually before they make an investment.
One Thing to Keep in Mind
When starting with a digital kitchen, it is essential to always prioritize marketing.
Your messaging and branding are significant when it comes to digital kitchens as they help spread the word. If you don’t have a physical location and are new in the industry, marketing is all you have to attract customers.
Indeed, establishing a clientele would be challenging for a delivery-only restaurant. Therefore, you need to take advantage of the power of marketing. Your website, social media accounts, email marketing, brand personality, and food photography should be spot on if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Marketing should not be optional, even if you are an established restaurant that isn’t incorporating a digital kitchen.
There are numerous ways and strategies to help you out, including:
- Email marketing,
- Review management,
- Referral programs,
- Social media marketing,
- Special offers.
Having reliable and consistent hours for food orders would further improve the customer experience. Be creative and consistent when marketing through social media. Always ask for reviews and suggestions from your customers, as they will help you build an audience and a strong reputation.
Even today, the best type of marketing is word of mouth. Be sure to provide an excellent and smooth user experience, delicious and hygienic meals, and quick delivery service. Ask for feedback and be sure to make necessary changes while keeping your customers informed.
Doing a survey can also help in determining the wants and needs of your target audience. This will help you in filling any gap and catering to any concerns your target customers might have. Marketing is an effective way to ensure your digital kitchen is a success.
Digital Kitchens Have Made a Mark
While you might have recently heard about digital kitchens, the concept of online orders is certainly isn’t new. People have already embraced this concept of shopping online, and COVID has spiked the adoption of this already trending concept.
While many restaurants are exploring the idea of digital kitchens out of necessity during the pandemic, it is certainly a concept that is here to stay. Digital kitchens help the restaurant industry diversify the way they serve their customers.
By investing in the right technology, you can efficiently run an entire food business without even having a physical dine-in facility. It can help you establish a menu, manage orders, and deliver the meals without any disruptions. This is an ideal opportunity for food entrepreneurs to start their delivery-only food services with lower overhead costs and fewer capital resources.
Digital kitchens are certainly changing the way the restaurant industry works and helping businesses cater to their customers even with the barriers created by the pandemic. This concept is also helping diversify and expand the restaurant industry by allowing new restaurants to open without a physical dine-in option.
This trend has the potential to establish a new foodservice segment between restaurants and food trucks. The challenges and barriers to enter the food industry have never been lower. It is essential to create a strategy, develop a niche, and test your products by investing in a suitable tool that can help you start a digital kitchen.
MenuCRM offers a full-features web application that simplifies customer loyalty programs for small businesses and independent restaurant owners. It can be your restaurant’s website, online ordering system, CRM, restaurant loyalty app, and customer communications toll, all packed into one!
The future of digital kitchens looks promising. Sign-up and start establishing your digital kitchen effortlessly.