Blog / January 13, 2021

Here’s the top 8 trends that are impacting the restaurant industry

Ghost kitchens

We've got everything there is to know about the future of the restaurant 

Now’s the time to devise a plan for the future to meet the rise in delivery demand. Everything from internal POS systems, marketing strategies, and common business practices will all evolve as we move into 2022. 

It’s estimated that up to 60% of consumers in the U.S. are ordering delivery or takeout at least once a week.1 Consumers are ordering online delivery more frequently each week and in turn, restaurant owners are switching to ghost kitchens to meet this shift in demand. 

On top of shifting to ghost kitchens, restaurateurs need to reevaluate how they approach their delivery game. 

If you’re looking to open a restaurant for this first time, you’ll need to stay on top of new trends emerging in the market as we approach the new year, so you can stay ahead of the curve.

We’re diving into the top trends that are affecting the restaurant industry in today, so you can stay ahead of the trend and adapt for the future. 

The top 8 trends to look out for in the restaurant industry 

1. Industry-wide shift to delivery-only 

Restaurants are continuing to make the shift to delivery as demand continues to rise. You’ll need to implement new systems and processes to make room for fulfilling online orders. You’ll also need ample restaurant kitchen space for preparing and fulfilling online orders. Making this shift will ensure a seamless experience for drivers and customers. This means happier customers, happier delivery drivers and better online ratings. 

Offering meals with minimal contact will become vital for restaurants, as dining restrictions continue to be put in place and customers remain wary of dining out. 

Planning for increasing online orders will help you prepare for the shift to delivery-only. This means reevaluating your menu. Are there items that don’t travel well or package well? It may be time to 86 those, to make room for the menu items that make the most sense for a delivery-focused world. 

2. Technology-first 

As more consumers browse online for their next meal, it’s becoming more and more important to be able to differentiate your restaurant online. This means being more tech savvy, and staying on top of online delivery trends. How you position your brand online will determine whether a customer will order from you or one of your competitors. 

Making your menu widely available online will help you reach more customers and rack in more orders. You’ll want to leverage the most popular delivery apps such as GrubHub, Uber Eats and DoorDash to maximize your reach online. That way, whenever a customer near you is browsing on a food app that delivers, you’re more likely to reach them and convert them into new and repeat customers. 

Once you’re set up on the top delivery apps, you’ll also need to effectively market your restaurant online. Without high resolution photos and clear menu descriptions, you won’t be able to generate more orders. Once you cover the basics and you’re up and running online, you can opt into promotions by using tools such as Grubhub for restaurants or Doordash for restaurants and setting an offer for new or existing customers. 

In a post-pandemic world, customers will still be worried about cleanliness and safety measures when they’re ordering food for delivery or takeout. We’ll dive into why this is so important later.

3. Off-premise world 

As we look towards the future of the restaurant industry, it’s clear that off-premise food businesses will continue to thrive. Consumers are relying more and more on online food delivery and it’s becoming a new normal to have a wide variety of options available on delivery apps. 

Although some customers may begin to return to dine-in once protective measures have been lifted, the convenience of online delivery will remain a staple in customers’ lives. 

Delivery will be treated as a separate business given that people all over have realized just how convenient and safe delivery really is. 

4. Less restaurant space

With the shift to an off-premise world comes less of a need for a large restaurant space for dine-in customers. As dining options open up and brick and mortar restaurants open their doors again, dining areas will still remain small and socially-distanced. Because of the long lasting effects from the pandemic, it will take some time before regular dining comes back to normal. 

Quick service restaurants and fast-casual chains have even started designing new restaurant layouts that are leaner and more focused on pick-up and curbside-to-go options versus traditional on-premise dining. 

With less real estate space needed to meet delivery demand, ghost kitchens are rising in popularity as they come with the perfect turnkey solution for online delivery. 

5. Ghost kitchens on the rise 

Ghost kitchens allow restaurateurs to expand their reach through each food delivery app. They’re strategically located where the most online food orders are taking place. And since they’re not focused on high foot traffic, that means the real estate is less expensive too. It’s a win-win. 

With the rise in delivery demand, the shift to a delivery-first model is vital to stay ahead. Restaurateurs are using ghost kitchens to create seamless delivery systems that leave customers at home happy and ready to order again. 

With CloudKitchens, you’re able to make the switch to delivery-only in as little as one month and you have the tools you need to unlock your delivery potential. 

6. More digital marketing, less traditional 

In a pre-covid world, you may have relied heavily on foot traffic for your brick and mortar business. And with this, you may have focused more on traditional marketing to reach your customers, or maybe even just depending on the sign outside your physical location to bring in the masses.

Now, digital marketing will be a top priority. Making sure your restaurant has a strong digital presence will remain important for years to come. Without a physical storefront, you’ll need to entirely shift your focus to your digital storefront. 

How do you appear online to customers searching for restaurant delivery services in your area? Do you effectively stand out from the rest?

Not only does shifting to a digital marketing focus help you reach your customers where they already are, but you’re also able to leverage key insights into their behavior and when they’re online searching for food the most. 

You’re able to use online food delivery apps like Chownow to your advantage, where you can track conversions, nail down peak delivery times for your food, and adapt to the data you’re tracking. 

You’ll have an online restaurant working at a higher efficiency than ever before, knowing that you can quickly pivot your menu based on consumer behavior. 

As you receive more customers online, the demand for off-premise dining will continue to expand in the year to come. 

7. Cleanliness is key

As dining habits change, you’ll need to position your business as a safe environment where the appropriate measures are put in place. Communicating all that you’re doing to protect the health and safety of your customers and your employees is vital during and after the pandemic. 

Creating a contactless food ordering experience will continue to be the new normal in the coming year. Highlighting what precautions you have in place will be vital to keep your customers happy and feeling safe when they order from you. 

This ties directly back into our second point where shifting to a technology-first business model will be crucial in every aspect of how you market your restaurant. This means you’ll not only need to market your menu and offerings online but also the steps you’re taking to ensure a safe delivery experience for your customers. 

If customers are unsure of what your safety measures are, they’ll be unsure about ordering from you online. Communicating this upfront and making this messaging widely accessible online will keep your customers happy, knowing you care about their wellbeing and are striving to consistently provide a safe online ordering experience. 

8. New technology for online delivery 

As the hospitality industry continues to bring major technological advancements with AI at the forefront, there’s no telling what else the future holds. Restaurateurs will continue to make cleanliness a priority and with that will come new innovations surrounding how we prepare and deliver food. 

As new technology continues to be developed to help fight coronavirus, there will also be new technology that will help keep food preparation and delivery as clean and safe as possible. 

Coronavirus has forced the restaurant industry to reevaluate how we do business. And with that, restaurateurs are rethinking how they approach delivery. 

Ready to see a ghost kitchen in action? Tour a CloudKitchens facility today!

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