The ghost kitchen phenomenon is taking the restaurant industry by storm. But as they become less “ghostly” and more consumer-facing ghost kitchens face the challenge of how to implement curbside pickup and delivery. Often not as visible or apparent to consumers, ghost kitchens are having to re-invent themselves using technology to better serve and market to the consumer directly.
Euromonitor, a market research firm, recently estimated that all forms of ghost kitchens could become a one trillion-dollar business by 2030. And, according to a report by Restaurant Industry & Market Evolution, 52 percent of surveyed restaurants are considering setting up a Ghost Kitchen or some sort of delivery-only service as an offshoot of their brand. All of this is well and good for the evolution of the restaurant industry, but with this dynamic growth, online ordering and curbside pickup and delivery will have to grow proportionately.
At SWIPEBY, we have collaborated with ghost kitchens implementing our curbside ordering and delivery platform because the ghost kitchen industry is now focusing on delivery. According to Restaurant Insider’s UpServe, digital ordering and delivery have grown 300 per cent faster than dine-in traffic since 2014 and delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20 per cent to $365 billion worldwide by 2030.
We see a substantial opportunity for Ghost kitchens to be uniquely positioned for curbside pickup, too. Their entire concept is predicated on being fast and making food takeout ready – very similar to standard QSRs like McDonalds or Burger King. With the right technology, ghost kitchens can become true competitors to the conventional drive-thru establishments and capture more customers while providing higher quality food.
Another trend is the migration of ghost kitchens from the hyper urban areas where everything started to more suburban markets where pickup and delivery are common. In these markets, delivery is less predictable, expensive and takes longer, but expected. There is a massive market opportunity for ghost kitchens to capture demand in suburban locations where QSRs are already operating just by adding curbside and delivery.
Technology, like a turnkey platform, can offer ghost kitchens convenient online ordering, virtual drive-thru, and non-commission delivery with customizable geofenced arrival notifications so that guests and staff have an excellent experience. Since many ghost kitchens are hard to find and aren’t marked, the geofencing technology allows them to set customized messaging for directions as well as to market to customers on their way to pick up their order. If the staff is working within a closed setting such as a shipping container, the geofencing will notify them when the customer is near and when they arrive for better service.
Finally, as ghost kitchen concepts mature, we have seen that these brands want to take more control over using the delivery experience to market to and connect with consumers. With the connectivity during the customer drive the ghost kitchen can market directly to the customer all the while collecting purchasing data to use in future marketing efforts, something the third-party delivery companies keep from the restaurant. This allows ghost kitchens to create greater brand awareness and stickiness by using social media, a greater online presence or digital marketing techniques to drive the business to increase margins even more while controlling customer data.
Innovative technology can help give a ghost kitchen the ability to expand its business by directly selling to consumers. We are seeing, and sincerely feel, that as people turn to online ordering and the reliance on technology, ghost kitchens will become more important to the long-term viability of the restaurant industry.