Going Virtual in the Food Industry

Did you know that around 60 percent of new restaurants fail within their first five years of operation?

 

Now, if you are restaurateur, you might be thinking this is a bad time to start a new restaurant. But that simply isn’t the case. Beginning in 2016, Americans for the first time in history spent more on restaurant food than on groceries. So, there is no better time to launch your restaurant than now—just not the traditional brick-and-mortar way though.

 

Thanks to the increasing popularity of mobile technology and improved efficiency of at-home-delivery-services, virtual restaurants are growing to be the next big thing, with a big thanks to COVID-19. As a result of the current pandemic, online carryout orders and delivery have increased significantly. And according to the investment bank UNS, the food delivery sales are predicted to grow annually by nearly 20 percent— from $35 billion to $365 billion worldwide by 2030.

 

Virtual restaurants remove the option for customers to dine in your restaurant and are becoming a staple in most of the large cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Over time, you will more likely witness more virtual restaurants across the country due to the changing customer demands. So, if you are thinking about launching a virtual restaurant, here are a few things you should know.

 

What Are Virtual Restaurants?

 

Also known as a ‘Ghost Restaurant,’ a Virtual Restaurant accepts orders through online apps like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, and Grubhub and prepares food solely for takeout, pick-up, and delivery patrons. The concept of virtual restaurants exists only in apps, and thus serves a virtual menu to virtual customers.

 

Virtual restaurants are a great option for many restaurateurs out there because of:

 

  • Low Overhead Cost: No expense on wait staff, dining room rent, tableware, parking space, etc.,
  • Wider Reach: Profits through digital apps without spending much on marketing efforts,
  • Incremental Sales Growth: No requirement of additional labor,
  • Real-time Market Insight: Learn about your local diner’s behavior, demands, and demographics,
  • Online Menu Control: A powerful digital marketing boise asset
  • Enhanced Digital Brand Awareness: Ability to address the needs of the growing millennial segment, and
  • Ability to Experiment: Try out different concepts to find the right ones to become successful.

 

However, you don’t need to go entirely virtual to reap the benefits. There are plenty of traditional restaurants adopting virtual features on top of their usual fast-casual locations or dining room operations. You can do the same and enjoy the best of both worlds.

 

Informative, User-Friendly Websites

 

In the event you have no food ordering apps available in your area, the best way to get your virtual restaurant off the ground would be through a quality website. Hire a professional web designer to design your website with all the required functions, including an online order form. Also, make sure that the menu is kept up-to-date.

 

Furthermore, you should create social media accounts and link them to your websites. Staying active on social media will help potential customers discover your site. Post frequently, and encourage your audience to tag and share your posts. When they do, make sure you interact with them. The online process is vital to get your faceless restaurant into the sight and mind of people.

 

App Integration

 

An app can make it easier for customers to order from your virtual restaurant in seconds. Craft an intuitive app that helpful features like push notification, voucher system, automated customer retention and loyalty campaigns, collection or delivery, group ordering, multiple locations, payment options, and more. Additionally, consider keeping your regular customer ordering by offering loyalty rewards.

 

Virtual Ordering Options

 

Regardless of whether you run a drive-thru or dine-in restaurant, offering online ordering is vital for success. Turn your operations into virtual drive-thrus, virtual kiosks, and online ordering and make it completely contactless leveraging ordering system with QR code scanning.

 

Guests can use their device to scan your QR code, access the menu, order, and pay through their preferred payment method. It’s that simple. What’s more, it helps you create a new stream of revenue, increase efficiency, and eliminate errors.

 

You could also utilize QR codes when the customer picks up their order. Instead of having customers or third-party deliverers remember an order number, restaurant staff can scan their code, which is associated with their order, and can quickly identify which order is theirs and the status of that order.

 

Delivery Partnerships

 

The majority of virtual restaurateurs prefer to partner with takeout apps to gain exposure. When your ghost restaurant gets featured on apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, Uber Eats, etc., you can garner the attention of the customers who are online with the instant objective of ordering.

 

Even better, these apps have people who pick up and deliver your customers’ food once prepared. Thus, you have one job lifted off your shoulders. So, all you need to worry about is preparing orders for delivery. However, these apps come with delivery services fees. So consider your options and opt to set up your own delivery services to avoid the fees.

 

Keep Your Business Going During Rough Times

 

Times are rough with the coronavirus outbreak. If you have an experimental restaurant concept you wish to try but are unsure about investing in a storefront, a virtual restaurant might be just the right option for you.

 

On the other hand, if you already own a restaurant space with limited options due to the pandemic, treating your kitchen space as a virtual restaurant will help you increase sales and keep your business afloat.

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