How Ghost Kitchens are Increasing Delivery Driver Demand
Over the past two years, the way consumers interact with restaurants has shifted dramatically. Diners who once preferred to sit down in person for a meal are beginning to show a preference for eating meals at home. Those who once would never consider placing a digital order are becoming increasingly reliant on quick online order options.
What began as a necessity due to lockdowns and limited seating capacity has turned into a permanent shift in behavior. Busy families, remote workers, and diners of all ages are turning to take-out and delivery meals as their go-to choice.
As the consumer demand for to-go food options has continued to climb, restaurants are responding by shifting their focus toward offering improved take-out and delivery menus. But in order to do so, many of these restaurants are looking for creative ways to create a more efficient ordering process and lower the costs associated with traditional brick-and-mortar locations.
The subsequent answer for many is to open up a ghost kitchen. Let’s look at how ghost kitchens are changing the restaurant and delivery industry.
What is a Ghost Kitchen?
Ghost kitchens have been around long before the pandemic began, but with the increase in consumer demand for delivery options during COVID lockdowns, they have seen an uptick in usage. A ghost kitchen is essentially a delivery or to-go only restaurant and is designed without a traditional space for dining.
Ghost kitchens are also referred to as cloud kitchens, dark kitchens, or virtual restaurants. While they all feature the same basic elements — a commercial kitchen and staff for fulfilling orders — their operation styles vary.
In some cases, a ghost kitchen is a stand-alone kitchen for a restaurant that only provides delivery or to-go options. In other situations, a ghost kitchen is an extension of an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant, focusing on fulfilling to-go orders. Some restaurants even launch a new to-go-only menu, with chefs in the ghost kitchen focusing solely on items that are a better fit for being served as take-out. Additionally, some restaurants share commercial spaces with other restaurants. This helps to cut down on the high costs associated with getting a new restaurant off the ground.
Understanding the Recent Growth in Ghost Kitchens
While ghost kitchens have been utilized around the globe for a number of years, they are seeing a large wave of growth fueled by new consumer behaviors. It is estimated that the food delivery industry alone will grow to $320 billion by 2029. As more consumers are interested in ordering food to-go or having it conveniently delivered to their doorstep, the use of ghost kitchens is growing in tandem. According to Euromonitor, ghost kitchens are predicted to exceed $1 trillion in revenue by 2030.
The benefits of ghost kitchens are immense. During the pandemic, switching to this business model helped restaurants that were suffering from a dramatic decrease in business to recover costs. Rather than paying for an expensive dining room space, ghost kitchens allowed these restaurants to streamline their overhead expenses while still fulfilling orders.
Additionally, operating a ghost kitchen requires fewer staff members while increasing the number of to-go orders that a restaurant can handle. This will continue to be of paramount importance during a period of time when hiring and retaining staff is particularly challenging.
Ghost kitchens are also extremely efficient and can be optimized to avoid the chaos that can ensue from fulfilling both in-person orders and to-go orders from the same kitchen. Staff members are focused solely on the flow of incoming to-go orders, and there is never any confusion about how to plate a meal.
Finally, these kitchens can be hosted in a location without concern for ambiance, which can lead to lower rent costs and less money spent on expensive dining room necessities, such as seating and decor.
The Integral Role of Delivery Drivers for the Ghost Kitchen Model
As the adoption of ghost kitchens grows in the restaurant industry, delivery drivers are poised to play an integral role in the success of these businesses. As customers become accustomed to ordering from ghost kitchens, their demand for delivery options will increase, and their expectations of the speed of service will influence their experience with virtual kitchens.
For this reason, restaurants considering using a ghost kitchen will need to address how they will handle the ordering and delivery of food.
It will be critical for ghost kitchens to set up a simple, digital solution from which customers can place an order. Order information will then need to be delivered to kitchen staff in an easy and effective manner. From here, a system will need to be put into place that will track the order from the moment it was placed to the moment it is delivered to a customer’s doorstep.
In some cases, ghost kitchens are investing in their own delivery staff. But many are opting instead to tap into existing delivery networks due to the high cost of hiring delivery drivers.
Power Your Ghost Kitchen with Ally
If you are considering adopting the ghost kitchen model, make sure that you are set up for success by powering your kitchen with Ally. Ally’s end-to-end ordering capabilities will make it simple for your customers to place orders while also making it easy for your staff to manage everything in one convenient location.
Additionally, Ally supports customer orders from both your own website and mobile apps and third-party platforms such as DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Shipt, etc. This allows your customers to continue ordering via the channel they prefer, increasing your reach.
Regardless of which source an order comes from, Ally will then aggregate this information and serve it up in a convenient dashboard.
You can also integrate Ally with your POS system to ensure that your entire staff is on the same page when responding to orders. Updates will be provided to your customers, allowing for clear communication around delivery expectations.
Ally can also manage delivery for your restaurant by connecting you to a network of drivers. Unlike many traditional third-party marketplaces, you will not pay commissions on deliveries. By removing commissions from the transaction, Ally is able to reduce fees while increasing earnings for both parties.
Ally also makes it easy for your kitchen to build direct relationships with customers. You can access important customer data and build marketing strategies and future growth plans accordingly.
With the projected growth in ghost kitchens, the demand for delivery drivers will continue to increase. Restaurants need to respond strategically, ensuring the highest level of profit while increasing reach. Learn more about how Ally can help your ghost kitchen take off.