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How to start a delivery-only kitchen business
March 2, 2019

Americans love takeaways and ordering online, which no doubt explains why the USA Restaurant to Consumer Delivery market is now worth a whopping $ 16 billion in annual sales. Experts predict that the market is expected to grow at a rate of 7.3% to reach $ 24 billion in annual revenue by 2023.

Transforming the Takeaway Business

Recently, the delivery-only or dark kitchens have increased in popularity, especially in major cities like New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area. This is a newly transformed industry where delicious delicacies are now being powered by technologies to reach its consumers in the quickest manner possible. With brutal competition at large, no doubt, the mightiest players in the segment are not averse to some muscle flexing in order to extend their dominance in the market. Furthermore, with dark kitchens, there are only two agendas on the list: making great food and delivering it quickly.

If recent deals in the sector are anything to bank on, then the local on-demand food delivery business is certainly lucrative and a complementary revenue source. However, this was never an over-night phenomenon that cropped up out of the blue.  As Bhuvan Sachdeva, Co-Founder of Restolabs, an online ordering system built for restaurants, recalls, “10 years ago, the takeaway business was extremely different from what it is today. It was mostly used by those people working late in the city.” There are several benefits of operating a takeaway or off-site kitchen dedicated to delivery. Such business models mean increased coverage and capacity, less overhead expenses, lower fit-out cost, and better customer experience through online channels.

Quick Fact: Did you know by 2022, 67% of restaurants would prefer opening a delivery-only kitchen over a dine-in as their next project.

But challenges of running a takeaway or delivery-only kitchen are very different from a managing a full-fledged restaurant, and to do it effectively requires the restaurant owners need to adapt and invest in technologies that can make it work. The ability to harness digital technologies and embrace innovation is key to a successful venture. Also, since delivery online models rely solely on online presence to draw in customers, a website with the option to order food online is an absolute must.

Therefore, the obvious questions are:

●        Should small food businesses or restaurants take the plunge and jump on the bandwagon too?

●        What are the best ways to go about launching your takeaway and delivery business?

If you wish to start out cautiously, the best way to go about launching your online restaurant channel is choose an online ordering platform that can provide your with branded websites and mobile ordering app that not establishes a strong online presence for your restaurant but also gives you the freedom to do your advertising and marketing your way.  A full stack online ordering system is a great vehicle for you to build and strengthen your restaurant brand. It helps you connect better with your customers and build customer loyalty.

While you sign up with a restaurant online ordering system, there are a few prerequisites of starting an online-only restaurant that you must take care of.  Let’s take a look at them:

Have a flow chart of your expected online operations in place:

As a booming business, you may already have your systems and operation in place catering to your brick and mortar establishment. Your current scenario is designed to optimize the experience for dine-in guests. However, when you choose to go the takeaway route, the same efficiency levels in systems and operations must be met.

Here’s how you can achieve that:

●        Find a location to set up your kitchen: The primary advantage in the cloud kitchen model is that you don't need to invest in a high-end location. All you have to focus on getting a place that provides proper sanitation matches with your customer demography and supports the demand of the type of food that you plan to serve to your customers.

●        Minimize staff time on accepting orders on the phone: You are a new business and you definitely don't want to engage your team members taking orders over the phone. Automating this process will allow your employees to focus on other important aspects of the operations.

●        Syncing with your existing POS systems: One of the efficient ways to ace the delivery-only business is select a POS that is customized to suit the requirements of the online ordering website. Once the food is ordered on your website, it is directly sent to the POS ensuring that there is no any delay in receiving the order.

Get your orders right:

The accuracy of orders is of paramount importance that ensures that customers get what they have paid for.

Online ordering systems eliminate the miscommunication that often occurs when taking orders over the phone. Another advantage of automating this process is that customers can select and modify their food order exactly the way they like it. The order is then sent directly to the restaurant printer with no misunderstanding or miscommunication. Being able to take orders straight from the system will not only ensure 100% accuracy but also save the restaurant from bad reviews. Lastly, convenience is key. Providing a seamless and easy-to-use online ordering system will create a better experience for customers, resulting in an increase in sales.

Give due emphasis on packaging:

You may showcase your plating skills at the restaurant, but is the takeaway customer getting a similar experience when the food arrives in a box? Packing like a pro can do the trick.

Follow these guidelines:

●        Have vendors send you packaging samples. Try a case study by packing your food and have it delivered to your home. This can help you decide the style of packaging that gives the best customer experience.

●        Style is important, but so is sturdy packaging. You do not wish the food to spill over, en-route.

●        Branding your packaging in your colors, look and feel is key to your customers remembering that you have provided them with hearty and valuable food experience.

Online ordering platforms built for restaurants provides a promising factor for good quality and branded food ordering services along with in-depth customer analytics.

Marketing. Marketing. Marketing:

While you may start your online ordering service, most businesses fail to efficiently get the word out to their already loyal customers.  Online ordering provides a perfect setting to advertise any promotions or deals that can maximize returns on marketing efforts

Use these tools and platforms to market your new business vertical:

●        Display the online ordering options at a prominent spot on your website.

●        Have discount offers in place for first-time orders.

●        Use social platforms to loop in both new and existing customers by linking them directly to the online ordering system.

●        A mobile app that permits online ordering is the logical progression post launching the web ordering system.

Once you’ve built your database with marketing strategies, you can then use analytics offered with online ordering services to track order funnel. Online ordering software for restaurants allows you to understand the guest’s purchase history, guest buying behavior, as well as help communicate with them directly on reward systems, new products and specials. You can also use this information to add, remove or modify menu items based on what your customers are ordering.

Staying on Top

Technology has been a powerful instrument in bringing about this transformation in the food business. By staying on top of online ordering advances, you create a plethora of opportunities for your restaurant to attract new customers, even if you have just entered the industry.  Implementing an online ordering system is a great way to turn curious online searchers to regulars.

Hope you enjoyed the read. Now that we know the importance of setting up an online food ordering system, Restolabs is here to help you build that stands out. With the right customizations, branding, and marketing,  you will be on your way to launching your takeaway and delivery business successfully.

Over to you!

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