What is a Dark Kitchen? Is it the same as a Ghost Kitchen?
It’s a pretty dark name given to a place where food is cooked but be at ease, it is not what it sounds like. A dark kitchen is a kitchen where food is cooked like any other kitchen but the mode of delivery of food is only via online channels. Dark kitchens do not promote the idea of having a dining area. The idea has different names like cloud kitchen, remote kitchen, virtual kitchen, and ghost kitchen. But it primarily means any restaurant or food service which delivered only via the online channel.
1000s of dark kitchens are now operating in the US, 100s of them in the UK, and it is a growing concept in developing markets. Elements like cost-saving, a wider consumer base, and a central production unit drive this idea into a billion-dollar industry.
How do Dark Kitchens work?
Dark kitchens can provide multiple cuisines from one kitchen to a wider customer base. To get the dark kitchen running, you will need a commercial space during operational times. Along with the retail space, you need cooking accessories and, most importantly, a good hold over the software being used. There are different types of dark kitchens –
- The traditional Dark Kitchen: Focus on one cuisine and hire 3rd party delivery partners or in-house delivery partners to deliver the food.
- Multi-brand Dark Kitchen: Multiple brands operate under one parent company. The focus is on offering various cuisines and have their delivery channels.
- Aggregator-owned Dark Kitchen: The 3rd party delivery service providers like Deliveroo, DoorDash and UberEats are investing heavily in setting up their ghost kitchens around residential areas. Here, the aggregators provide everything right from utensils to marketing plans.
Arranging the accessories and commercial places is one thing but looking after the last-mile delivery is another. Dark Kitchens don’t have any physical presence. Their entire functioning is through automating their processes and using high-quality software.
Challenges faced by Dark Kitchen in Last-Mile Delivery
As a virtual kitchen, last-mile delivery is the only possible interaction with customers to gather feedback, and failure in last mile delivery may cause distress in the operations. Dark Kitchens needs strategic investment in last-mile delivery. Some of the challenges faced by dark kitchens are –
Automatic Order allocation
Understanding the route of a particular delivery associate is important while allocating new orders to them. Improper order allocation may lead to added costs. With the help of LogiNext, a logistics automation platform, Ghost kitchens could bring different delivery channels on one platform, making it easier to understand routes and automatically allocate orders to delivery associates.
Route Planning, Optimization, and Rerouting
Another corresponding challenge faced by the Dark Kitchens would be an inefficient route planning system. Depending on the frequency of orders and hotspots, dark kitchens must plan routes using different optimization methods. Rerouting is another important term in last-mile delivery. The delivery associate is unaware of the contingent problem caused while delivering food. At such times, rerouting is crucial, and rerouting should be done without affecting the ETA of other deliveries.
Improper Mapping Technique
In last-mile delivery, the restaurants/businesses need to maintain visibility. GeoCoding knows the exact location of the delivery associate and the actual ETA of the order on the map. In semi-developed areas, it is sometimes challenging to map the location of a delivery associate because of lesser connectivity. With the help of LogiNext’s GeoCoding model, you should know the actual ETA, the real-time location of the delivery associate, live images due to polygon mapping technique, etc. GeoCoding indicated to the delivery associate the exact way to reach the destination and a need for rerouting.
Delivery Driver Management
One of the biggest challenge for any QSR chain or ghost kitchens is the question of managing drivers. In house v/s outsourced drivers is a question and how to optimize delivery driver management. This is where a software solution like LogiNext Mile comes in as a solution.
Ghost Kitchen/ Virtual Kitchen/ Cloud Kitchen is a key component of the future of QSR industry. It is the perfect balance of cost minimization and operational efficiency. Collaboration with companies like LogiNext, ghost kitchen could scale up their profit better than expected.
The LogiNext models focus on last-mile delivery and help upgrade the first mile and mid-mile of Dark Kitchen. Sourcing is an activity where businesses tend to save costs. The fleet management & tracking system of LogiNext enables kitchens to save cost as and when required.
Ghost kitchens are an upcoming trend in the QSR industry along with dark stores on the retail front. This puts focus on logistics and delivery management and hence, logistics automation would thrive in the coming years worldwide. Last-mile delivery will play a crucial role in differentiating who is the best and the best in the QSR industry.