Cloud kitchens—also known as ghost kitchens—present an emerging market opportunity for the baking industry. Multiple segments that intersect with baking show potential, including direct-to-consumer bakery click-and-collect or delivery of fresh breads, sweet goods, desserts, and novel concepts like automated dessert carry-out via vending.
Some cloud kitchen businesses lease available time slots throughout the week to other businesses serving their own market segments.
While each cloud kitchen will feature its own range of equipment required for baking, cooling, and possibly packaging—items familiar to any commercial bakery operation—it also requires an underpinning of technology to facilitate on-demand, internet-based ordering and fulfillment.
The connected kitchen
“In a ghost kitchen setup, orders are coming from multiple channels, such as websites, social media apps, native apps, and third-party delivery providers,” says Chris Adams, vice president of strategy, Oracle Food and Beverage, Columbia, MD. “Trying to manage all of the orders, customers, and timeframes without the right technology in place would not only be chaos, but a customer service nightmare.” With an integrated point-of-sale (POS) system, cloud kitchens can accept online orders and route them to the correct kitchen station, process payments, automatically account for inventory, and confirm time and delivery of the order, he says.
Having a POS system that integrates with your online ordering system increases the efficiency of the kitchen, since orders no longer require manual entry, notes Adams. “This saves time and reduces errors, leading to a reduction in labor costs, better profit margins, and overall improvement in customer satisfaction.”
In some fast-paced cloud kitchen environments, says Adams, order preparation time can be as quick as 10 minutes, with delivery within 30 minutes. This makes an integrated kitchen display system (KDS) a necessity to help optimize order preparation. “As soon as the order is received, your POS routes the order to the correct KDS and associated prep station,” he says. “Kitchen staff can view the order details and the order pickup time immediately, and can prepare the order accordingly. This enables teams to ensure promise times, and provides a feedback loop to the business on how accurate delivery times are based on order channel.”
Inventory management is also a must. “A smart POS system integrated with modern inventory management capabilities enables a business to track daily stock consumption,” says Adams. “Not only can these systems prompt the kitchen to order more stock when needed, but can also give transparency into regularly unused inventory, helping reduce waste and manage food costs.” Inventory is automatically updated once an order is placed, eliminating daily stock counts, he notes. “Processes can also be created to inform your online menus across all your channels if something is out of stock, automatically removing that item from you online menus—reducing an internal headache and the risk of disappointing customers.”
While some bakery companies operating their own direct-store-delivery (DSD) fleet might opt to control their own cloud kitchen deliveries, others might opt to outsource delivery to companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Deliveroo. Using an open-integration POS platform lets cloud kitchens easily connect to those delivery apps, notes Adams. “This also gives you flexibility and agility as a business to adapt to the changing needs and trends of customers, as popularity in new delivery apps change.”
COMPANY: Oracle Food and Beverage
SANITATION SNAPSHOT: The Oracle MICROS Simphony point-of-sale (POS) system, running on a secure cloud infrastructure, offers everything you need to run a restaurant, cloud kitchen, or virtual brand. It is easy to get operations started, and is scalable to adapt as your business grows.
Online ordering, which we offer through our recent acquisition of GloriaFood, enables brands to set up a website at no cost and launch their cloud kitchen business. When they’re ready to start taking orders online, they can easily turn on that functionality. In addition to GloriaFood’s online ordering system, we have POS integrations with several online ordering partners and delivery aggregators.
Restaurant analytics and reporting comes with Simphony at no additional charge. You can customize your dashboards for specific users to better understand your cloud kitchen’s performance, or get insights on trends, forecasts, and opportunities from a desktop web browser or the InMotion mobile app.
Oracle MICROS Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) increases kitchen efficiency, reduces errors, enhance food quality, and optimize speed of service. Having a dedicated KDS per station or concept with touchscreens, bump bars, and remote views allow kitchen staff to easily prioritize food preparation and manage timing across multiple kitchen stations.
Additionally, an inventory system is recommended, particularly if a cloud kitchen is managing multiple brands from a single cloud kitchen. Simphony’s restaurant inventory management software helps cloud kitchens minimize waste by maintaining optimal stock levels. Using real-time forecasting data, you can optimize order timing and always know what’s left on the shelf to prevent over-portioning, waste, and theft, and to ensure your online menus reflect what you can actually deliver in real-time.
Online ordering through GloriaFood is easy, fast, and user-friendly, with cloud kitchens setting up a website in 30 minutes
Platform guides users on how to improve the website for better Google rankings, and on how to open up ordering through new channels like Facebook
Simple to placing orders and process payments
Multichannel order management with Oracle MICROS Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) helps streamline cloud kitchen and optimize speed of service
Simple KDS to install, purpose-built with long-life components that can withstand excessive exposure to heat, humidity, grease, liquids, and heavy use
Reporting and analytics from Simphony directly integrates with all customer touchpoints
Strong user experience, with upgraded dashboard user interfaces, personalization options, and Oracle’s business intelligence API, which allows customers to directly feed all POS data to other business applications
Unlimited access to your data, when and how you need it