Food Delivery: A Technology Guide for Restaurants & Dark Kitchens

Are you an existing restaurant owner looking to capitalise on new trends towards online food delivery? Or are you a startup attracted by the lower barriers to entry offered by a delivery-only kitchen?

The food delivery industry is seeing massive growth. Advances in mobile tech have enabled the success of delivery apps like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

According to research firm NPD, apps now drive 39% of delivery visits – up 14% year-on-year – and the takeaway industry is now worth £4.9 billion. And the delivery industry hasn’t stopped evolving or growing.

What is a Dark Kitchen?

Food delivery, backed by innovative technology, is increasingly expanding and creating a new virtual restaurant market – dark kitchens, ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens or virtual kitchens. These are all set up to sell food online exclusively, which is typically supplied direct from units on industrial parks.

Lucrative new sources of revenue are being unlocked. Outlets that previously faced physical capacity limitations or daily footfall slumps can instead sell food using slick digital platforms and automation.

The aim is to deliver food innovation while cutting costs and industrialising the process at scale to thrive on efficient operations.

How Technology is Helping Restaurants & Dark Kitchens Expand Food Delivery

Modern cloud technologies use ingenious automation to connect and streamline virtually every aspect of restaurant food delivery and dark kitchen operations from online ordering to their back-of-house management.

AI is increasingly being adopted to improve service delivery control. For example, when predicting service peak loads embedded prediction tools can estimate an expected order delivery time subject to the kitchen workload, lack of drivers or traffic – and if you have more than one outlet operating it can choose the right one to fulfil the delivery order.

Other uses of AI and sophisticated algorithms include automatically assigning orders amongst delivery drivers and plotting routes by taking into account food preparation and delivery times. You can also automatically forecast sales to help optimise staff rotas, kitchen preparation planning and purchase ordering.

Cloud-based platforms, such as iiko, now make it possible to set up a restaurant food delivery and dark kitchen business quickly using the latest of technologies.

You can have your own branded online ordering solution linked to your own restaurant management system, including kitchen management, customer management, delivery, stock taking, staff scheduling and financial control.  It’s then simple to manage your own drivers or third-party aggregator delivery orders, taking advantage of a connected ecosystem.

Food Delivery: The key Software Components

Below are the main software components to consider as part of your food delivery cloud solution:

Online & Mobile Ordering

Let your customers order ahead on their mobile phone and accept delivery orders through your restaurant website. Automatically transfer orders to the point of production. Allow the customer to order delivery or collection from any outlet. Have total control of online orders with real time updates.

Delivery Platform API

Automatically send all online ordering data from delivery platforms (e.g. Deliveroo) straight to your POS restaurant management system without any additional middleware licence fees. Eliminate the re-keying of receipts and sync/adjust your menu between your POS and delivery platforms. See how easily it’s done.

Payment Gateway

Use online payments for a fast and secure method of accepting payments through your website, mobile app and/or call centre. Accept credit cards online through a payment gateway, send e-invoices to your customers and track transactions with online reporting tools.

Call Centre

Centralise order taking and the distribution of delivery orders across outlets. Automatically select the nearest preparation area and create invoices for whichever driver is free. Monitor order status, delivery time and quality control in real-time.

Delivery Orders Management

Automatically distribute orders amongst delivery drivers and plot routes based on the preparation and delivery times. Assign drivers based on distance of run, average travel time, time between order and drivers’ arrival, and uniformity of driver workload to ensure the best routes for all the current delivery orders.

Driver Fleet Tracking

On a visual map, track the status of orders assigned and predict the time of driver’s return. See which drivers are on the way to the customer, on the way back, and available. Keep updated with the actual location address of the driver, the route completed and addresses of orders assigned.

Driver Mobile App

Manage your centralised delivery service with an easy-to-use driver app. Drivers get instant notification of assignments, changes or cancellation to orders, and optimal route calculation on Google Maps. It also enables notes for delivery completion and ensures prompt reporting of quality of drivers’ work.

Kitchen Management

Fully integrated production control helps you manage incoming orders from different brands and aggregators with ease. Staff instantly see what needs to be produced and where it must be delivered with dish preparation statuses, cooking times countdown, and actions for orders, dishes and servings.

Customer Management & Loyalty

Create loyalty programs to attract new customers. Register customers to accumulate and use bonuses and manage authentication loyalty benefits on orders. Create open programs and/or setup privileges including loyalty bonuses, marketing programs and gifts, funds credited to the account and coupons.

Inventory Control

Easily monitor your inventory levels, reduce wastage – and streamline the ordering process, using real-time accurate data rather than guesswork. Every time you close an order the sale the stock and ingredients are depleted in real time. Waste information is easily recorded. Mobile stock taking apps guide your staff to keep track of inventory.  All information is updated in real-time.

AI-based Sales Forecasting

Automatic forecasting and planning minimises waste and helps you to take full advantage of sales opportunities. You can factor in holidays, local events and weather – to optimise your staff rota, preparation of menu items and semi-finished products, and purchase ordering.

Cost Control

A real-time, unified system will crunch the numbers for you. It can calculate every single metric, touch point and transaction across outlets you may want: revenue, time worked, cost of food, production stages, delivery performance and more … to obtain real-time visibility and insight into your food delivery and kitchen business.

Accounting Integration

Streamline the accounting process and keep track of business. You can sync POS data with the P&L account of your accounting system (e.g. Xero) to help better manage the accounting behind the scenes. Data can include purchases, sales, dispatch notes, stock transfers, loyalty expenses, petty cash, tax collected/paid and more.

Real-time Reporting & Analytics

Get detailed business data covering your whole food delivery and kitchen service business. This can include what sells best, what’s still in stock and your bottom line at a glance, how much customers spend and how frequently, kitchen production efficiency, and performance on operators, couriers and drivers.

Restaurant Food Delivery: How to Get the Edge

Over coming months, the restaurant food delivery and dark kitchen marketplace looks set to grow even faster. But every operator must be on the top of their game. Competitors are only a swipe away.

To run a successful operation, requires the latest of tech. You need to go far beyond simple cash registers and POS terminals to ensure efficiency across your virtual restaurant operation. It’s all about improving productivity, increasing speed and precision of processes and ensuring scalability.

With iiko, you can run your entire restaurant and dark kitchen operation via a unified business management suite. Contact our team for a demo today.

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