The Hunger Games:
How Successful Ghost Kitchens Are Built
Delivery Kitchens, Ghost Kitchens, or Dark Kitchens are professional modular kitchens operated on a remote site, optimised for delivery and food production.
Delivery-only concepts are dominating industry discourse in this newly invigorated, consumer savvy era where convenience and speed of delivery appear to be growing exponentially against the backdrop of more traditional restaurant offerings.
But how do we classify this movement? A natural evolution? or a radical revolution in innovation and practices? Either way, trend-aware industry professionals spanning catering, retail and even real estate are continuously revaluating and redesigning their traditional practices to ‘feed’ an arguably less brand-loyal consumer base.
Let’s take it to the numbers! According to Statista, the global online market research tool, the number of people using food delivery services across Europe is expected to reach 96.9million by 2024 – establishing a 21% market share of the restaurant market by 2025.
There are five key considerations that the most successful brands have at the forefront of their enterprises – enabling them to flourish beyond the traditional bricks and mortar.
The primary and potentially most integral factor when considering how the most successful Cloud Kitchen endeavours firmly establish themselves as juggernauts is the successful use of technology – both consumer-facing and internal.
Delivery apps drive upwards of 39% of delivery visits, which is up 14% year-on-year, a statistic difficult to ignore – particularly when you consider the powerful aggregation tools largely associated with ‘the big 3’ delivery apps in the UK. Seamless integration of consumer-friendly application functionality for your Dark Kitchen business should be paramount during the planning phase and beyond. The ever-burgeoning landscape of delivery platforms on the global scene - including GrubHub, DoorDash and Seamless – has compounded the increasing value of each offering, with reach, payment options and fees varying in an effort to posit themselves as the most attractive option for potential clients.
Location may feel like solely a bricks and mortar issue prima facie, but it is anything but irrelevant when it comes to a successful Ghost Kitchen. This all comes down to your individual and external market research, being certain that there is a defined and currently unanswered demand for your concept in the location you have selected.
The beauty of what Delivery Kitchens allows, is the ability to trial and test concepts in areas to firm-up your consumer research, providing practical metrics to prove your concept viable – for both your bottom line and customer demand.
Treasure the Measure
You could say we’ve now worked our way down to the more ‘generalised’ business advisory section, as the importance of performance metrics cannot be understated.
The significance of remaining agile, constantly measuring your customer satisfaction levels and adapting your menu to remain fresh and on-trend is key prosperity in the Ghost Kitchen industry. Fifty -nine percent of consumers will never do business with a company again after two or three negative experiences, coupled with 96% of all customers claiming that individual experience is an important part of becoming loyal to a brand.
The simple truth is that positive reviews breed higher aggregation on search engines, but also improves visibility across social media. With 90% of consumers reading at least one review before using a business – It further supports the symbiotic relationship in which you look after your reviews, and your reviews will look after you.
Budge on Budgets
In a recent market research study, we found that 60% of businesses – both start-up and previously established enterprises – perceive funding and budgetary considerations to be their most significant barrier.
It is integral to view your ghost kitchen venture through a comparative prism, against the backdrop of related food service offerings – namely that of a bricks and mortar operation.
No matter the industry, finances and where to apportion them will be of eternal poignance when it comes to business strategy. Let’s consider the establishing phase of a traditional restaurant project for instance, this could cost upwards of £500k with operational time expectancy being no less than 6 months. Together with this comes the fact that landlords require lease commitments ranging between 5-15 years – sinking valuable capital into lengthy commitments before actualising your concepts’ real-world performance.
Whereas a ghost kitchen project allows you to effectively test your concept through means of lease offerings from as little as a week – expediting the process of completion to around 3 months from initial enquiry.
When considering base-unit budgetary concerns, there truly is no more efficient business model than a ghost kitchen.
The digital revolution has both reinvigorated the marketing landscape and transformed business perceptions of their respective departments value.
Emphasising the intrinsic value of a successful marketing strategy partnered with the effective use of available media is the staggering statistics that content accompanied by imagery receiving 94% more engagement and the utilisation of video generating 1200% more shares on social platforms.
However, your marketing activities must extend beyond the realms of establishing a social media personality. This should include an attractive vinyl wrap on your unit – as seen here with Wendy’s – and should also be inclusive of packaging, flyer and menu materials. With 60% of consumers endorsing aesthetic packaging as a perception changer of business – it really would be foolhardy not to, right?
Food For Thought
It’s safe to say that Ghost Kitchens are not going anywhere anytime soon. The business is erupting on a global level, compounding its own exponential growth year-on-year with a projected valuation of $1Trillion by 2030.
But there is a distinction between establishing a new Delivery Kitchen and establishing a successful Delivery Kitchen. Keeping the five key factors of technology, location, budget, and both internal and external performance metrics at the forefront of your business model will stand you in the best possible stead for nailing your future goals in the industry.
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