The way that the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the restaurant industry made consumer habits and preferences change significantly. In fact, according to a report from The National Restaurant Association, 52 percent of adults said purchasing takeout or delivery is “essential” to their lifestyle. Because restaurants were either forced to shut down temporarily or adapt the delivery model, ghost kitchens began making a name for themselves. However, even with in-person dining experiences almost back in full swing, their presence remains at the forefront of the industry’s growth.
Industry reports are predicting that ghost kitchens will create a $1 trillion global market by 2030, rising by 25 percent each year for the next five years—an estimated $300 million in yearly sales – and a likely indication as to why more investors, as well as major QSRs, are rapidly entering the market.
So what are some of the benefits to ghost kitchens? Let’s break it down:
They help owners save money and enable easier operations – Ghost kitchen allow for an entirely virtual experience, outside of the actual kitchen. There is less space, and in turn less employees needed, which helps restaurants save on operating costs and allow kitchen staff to focus solely on food preparations.
They can offer a larger variety of menu items – Because restaurant owners and operators are able to share their space with other brands, the ability to produce items from totally different menus or cuisines in a single location increases, giving clients more options to order.
They can use data to their advantage – Today’s customers want convenience, but personalization is still very much top of mind. By having the ability to offer different culinary cuisines from the same place, ghost kitchen operators can use data to ensure a personalized experience and be able to use past orders and feedback to offer recommendations on future orders.
They can attract customers through an appealing website and marketing tactics – Because ghost kitchens don’t have a storefront presence, their website is the front door of the brand – the first impression – and it must be convenient and functional for the user. Additionally any online marketing efforts can surely help entice customers to check out what food options the ghost kitchen has to offer.
They can lean on tech to help optimize delivery operations – Without having customers present, it is critical that kitchen operations are tracked exactly to keep customers up to date on the status of their orders. Restaurants that provide the ability for customers track their deliveries through an online tracker get brownie points – strengthening the relationship with the customer by providing transparency. Additionally, if there is a delay with the order, the customer can be fully aware and contact the restaurant for any questions or concerns. Since delivery is the only interaction with the customer it has become even more important to make sure the food arrive hot and fresh and as fast as possible.
Providing a great service and experience to the customers should the main goal of every business – and with ghost kitchens it is even more important. Customers’ expectations increased significantly in the past year and with more options available than ever, their ability to easily switch between brands to ensure they are getting what they want means that operators need to be offering the best experience at the best value. This is the reason why CX must be at the heart of any ghost kitchen strategy.
As ghost kitchens continue to grow, creative approaches to CX and innovative technologies will be required to keep up with evolving customer preferences and expectations. The success of the delivery and fulfillment portions of the business will define the value of the brand. Personalization, convenience, and good performance of the delivery will make a business earns the repeat customers.