Consumer trends include more off-premises dining – a demand that merchants can meet efficiently and cost-effectively – provided they have the right technology.
The ghost kitchen restaurant concept has grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ghost kitchens – restaurants that prepare food for pickup or delivery but have no facilities for dine-in customers – can operate in a number of ways. Two of the most common models are the rented commissary and a secret back-of-house kitchen. In a rented commissary model, multiple restaurants (often 10 to 20) share the same kitchen space to prepare meals. In a secret back-of-house kitchen, a restaurant with a physical location will spin off a delivery-only concept using their brick-and-mortar kitchen to prepare meals.
With either model, restaurateurs benefit from minimal start-up costs, improved margins, and unlimited growth potential. Having said that, one thing any type of ghost kitchen needs to maximize those benefits is the right point of sale (POS) and payments solution.
6 key ingredients for the perfect ghost kitchen POS and payments solution.
ISOs and VARs have the opportunity to grow their portfolios by offering ghost kitchen merchants solutions that include the following six elements.
1. Online ordering.
Although ghost kitchens can accept orders by phone, online ordering is far and away the most efficient method for these restaurateurs and the most convenient for their customers. The best online ordering system will integrate directly with a POS system, so orders don’t have to be re-entered by employees and therefore, subject to errors.
Ghost kitchen restaurants can work with third-party ordering and delivery platforms. However, there is a cost associated with such arrangements. Additionally, the restaurant loses some control over customer experiences since the third party handles the website, ordering process, and delivery. Enabling your merchants to accept online orders and payments directly from their websites will help them maintain higher margins and provide great customer experiences.
2. Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) and printers.
It’s imperative that food prep areas receive orders as soon as they come in. A KDS displays orders and starts a timer so that the staff can prioritize orders correctly. Likewise, a kitchen printer communicates orders to the kitchen, so that all parts of the order are ready for pickup or delivery in a timely manner.
3. Mobile POS solutions.
Some customers may prefer to pay when picking up their orders, or at the door when their food is delivered. Equipping employees with mobile POS systems allows merchants to accept any way their customers want to pay.
Mobile POS solutions that accept contactless payments, including mobile wallets and contactless cards, will give the ghost kitchen’s staff the ability to offer touch-free service that many consumers are looking for post-COVID-19.
4. Omnichannel platform.
An omnichannel solution is a must. Ghost kitchen patrons will expect merchants to accept payments by phone, online, via app, or in-person when meals are delivered. It is therefore essential to give merchants the ability to manage all payments from one platform. Omnichannel payments may also allow a restaurant to take advantage of more sales channels, connect with more customers, and increase revenue.
5. Integrated payments.
Integrated payments allow all digital transaction information to sync automatically and accurately with a restaurant’s POS and accounting systems – saving time and improving accuracy in the process. Restaurants will also find value in data from integrated systems, which will help them better understand their customers’ behaviors and preferences for menu items, loyalty participation and rewards, and promotions. Meanwhile, customers will appreciate the faster, more efficient transactions that integrated payment solutions provide.
6. Label printers.
A ghost kitchen needs to make sure the right orders go to the right customers. Efficiently and professionally labeling orders can help keep ghost kitchens and their curbside or delivery staff organized.
Seize the opportunity.
Off-premises dining was gaining traction before the pandemic. It’s growing even more quickly since. In fact, according to Upserve, weekly online ordering volumes increased 840% from February to April 2020. Although diners are slowly returning to brick-and-mortar restaurants, they’ll also continue to patronize their favorite ghost kitchens for the great cuisine and convenience they provide.
Consider how the solutions you offer can provide value to ghost kitchens, then build a strategy for this niche to grow your portfolio.