The coronavirus pandemic has seen digital transformation accelerated across nearly every industry – from online shopping to virtual doctors appointments and contactless payments.
But in the food industry, with many restaurants unable to open and operate as normal, we’ve noticed a rise of ‘cloud kitchens’ to cater for the demand of at-home dining.
Try a cloud kitchen
Cloud kitchens – also known as dark kitchens, ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens – is when a restaurant only exists online.
They may rent a physical kitchen space but have no room for customers to sit down or collect orders from, opting for a delivery only business model. They’re seeing a rise in popularity as more of us opt to order in food at home to recreate the experience of night out.
Should I set up a cloud kitchen?
Unlike restaurants who have a brick and mortar location, cloud kitchens massively save on overhead costs.
Due to the hiring of a smaller space, rent is often less, operational costs are reduced and only kitchen staff are needed.
Many cloud kitchens are choosing to partner with a delivery giant such as Just Eat or Uber Eats to cut delivery costs and piggyback on their digital network.
Whilst major restaurant chains who may already have a delivery process in place and wish to open up spin-off cloud kitchens, will be able to use current customer data and brand reputation to launch their new business.
But what do you do if you’re new to the virtual food scene – how do you market a restaurant that doesn’t actually exist?
We’ve taken a look at three simple ways you can make sure your cloud kitchen shines online.
Create an irresistible brand
With a lack of in-person engagement with customers and less control over how your brand is marketed on delivery apps, start-up cloud kitchens will need to rely on a strong brand to attract attention.
When customers initially have only your menu and logo to judge whether or not they trust you enough to deliver their food, you need to instill brand authority from the get go. A professional looking visual identity will make you stand out from competitors in a busy market and reassure customers you know what you’re doing.
Deliver a smooth online experience
If you’re launching a cloud kitchen, make sure you also focus on building your brand online. Create a website with online order capabilities and feature the address on any promotional materials or food packaging.
This will encourage repeat customers to order direct and save you forking out on third-party commission charges.
Focus on enticing repeat custom
To build up a strong relationship with your audience and keep them returning for repeat orders, encourage customers to sign-up to an email list. This will allow you to contact them directly with special offers or promotions in the future.
Make your (virtual) restaurant stand out
As the food industry continues to adapt and transform itself during the pandemic, it’s likely cloud kitchens will continue to be a growing trend for the foreseeable.
Without a physical premise it will no doubt be a challenge to make a virtual restaurant profitable, but presenting a stand-out, relatable brand to customers online would be a wise place to start.