Traditionally, a virtual brand is one that only exists online with no physical presence, as far as customers are concerned. In the restaurant industry, a virtual brand is typically a delivery-only restaurant concept that uses an online order system to boost sales. It's another way to put your existing kitchen and staff to good use, especially as online ordering continues to surge in popularity. Some virtual brands may also offer contactless carryout or pickup, but they're generally known for delivery orders.
Virtual branding is becoming a more popular concept in general, but it's especially important for restaurant businesses. The demand for online food orders has risen sharply since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and regulations. This pandemic caused unprecedented challenges for traditional restaurants, and many were even forced to close their doors. Those who survived were forced to quickly adapt to a new way of doing business by updating their restaurant's website and services offered.
Ordering food online through a restaurant's own website or using a mobile app surged in popularity as people were forced to stay indoors, and the convenience of these delivery system services is giving rise to a new normal. With online food delivery expected to achieve revenue growth of 12.2% in 2022, it's clear that virtual branding is essential for any restaurant owner who wishes to thrive. Whether you're using your existing kitchen for delivery and curbside pickup, opening an additional ghost kitchen to manage your online presence, or delivering meal kits through your website, here are three reasons why you'll need to embrace virtual branding in 2022.
Hungry customers will always need food, but you need to focus on implementing the best solution for your area. It's great if you're still able to turn a profit from your traditional dine-in customers alone, but small restaurants and large ones alike can benefit from having more options for revenue. COVID-19 devastated many restaurants when they could no longer open their doors to customers, but if you provide additional ways for customers to order food through takeout or mobile app delivery, you'll be much better equipped to weather unexpected circumstances.
Online sales can be an incredible boon for any restaurant, and even before COVID, 60% of restaurant customers made new orders for takeout or delivery at least once a week. An online ordering platform also tends to encourage larger food orders, so customers can avoid increased delivery fees for a small order amount. When you consider that roughly 34% of customers spend at least $50 per online order, it isn't hard to see how significantly this capability can boost your monthly sales and provide a financial cushion.
Adding an additional food ordering system doesn't have to make your restaurant more complicated, either. Point of sale (POS) systems can make all of this easier for you and your customers. With a reliable restaurant POS, you'll be able to collect your online orders, phone orders, and any other customer orders and run them all through the same system to create organized tickets for everything. Naturally, improving the accuracy of your orders and increasing the speeds at which you can deliver them is great for customer satisfaction.
Speaking of customer service, automatically collecting customer data via your point of sale system empowers you to provide an increased level of service. You'll be able to easily identify your best customers for your virtual brand and send special promotions and other incentives to their email address to further increase customer loyalty. POS integration is good for more than organization and food delivery as well. Diners at your dine-in restaurant can even use their iPhones or Android phone to make orders and pay for their food, thus cutting down on paper waste.
There's no denying the popularity of each restaurant ordering app like GrubHub and DoorDash, and working with these mobile ordering apps is an easy way to boost your number of orders. Appearing on as many of these apps as possible increases the odds of online customers finding your virtual brand and ordering with you. One of the biggest challenges of this approach is that mobile ordering platforms generally charge commission fees for each online order, which can quickly start to eat into your bottom line.
What if there was a way to collect all of your mobile delivery platforms on one device for a simple flat monthly fee? Sounds great, right? That's the exact service we offer at Cuboh with our online food ordering system. This makes it easy to expand your virtual brand to keep up with your needs, and seamless integration with your POS system means that you can automate your tickets with no headaches. You can even take full control of the onboarding process using our self-serve menu mapping portal. Our deep analytics capabilities will even give you data-driven insights into which platforms are bringing you the most value, so you can change your strategies as needed.
Arguably the best thing about virtual brands is that you can have as many of them as you want since there's no need to build or maintain a physical location. You could even have the same kitchen fulfill orders for multiple virtual brands, assuming your staff can handle it. For example, in addition to serving the traditional delivery market, you could also have your virtual kitchen prepare meal kits and ship them to customers under a totally different brand.
If you decide to go this route, it will be important to ensure that each of your virtual brands has an online presence that makes sense for it and the intended audience. For example, each virtual brand could have its own social media presence that helps you connect with your customers on a deeper level and educate them on what your virtual brands offer.
The restaurant industry has been through plenty of challenges recently, but if you can step up your virtual branding, you'll have your best chance at securing new customers and thriving as we move into 2022.