Karan Singla has over 12 years of work experience in the Indian automotive industry. His vast experience includes functions in new business development, business plan evaluation, financial assessment, and end-to-end operations management in the automotive sector. His passion for food-tech brought him to Rebel Foods, where he started as Associate Vice President Expansion & Procurement and is presently the Head of Operations – India BU at Rebel Foods. A mechanical engineering graduate, from Punjab Engineering College, he has worked with Maruthi Suzuki, Volkswagen, and Audi in his previous roles.
The ongoing digital era has given the food business a major push towards technological advancement. Who would have thought that dining out and cooking at home will be conveniently replaced by ordering at home with just a click of a button? Restaurants without a physical outlet for dining are more intuitively called Virtual restaurants because they do not exist on a physical plane of existence to go, sit and eat. That does not, however, stop delivery-only models of food technology outfits to pull massive clout on virtual platforms. For the past few years, the phenomenon of ordering in, popularity among the urban working population that functions in odd hours, day in day out, has given rise to this side of the restaurant business. Case in point – in 2020 the Indian food delivery market grew by US$ 2.9 billion to US$ 4.35 billion, almost doubling from the previous year.
The great thing about stealth kitchens is that they not only ensure flexibility but also versatility when it comes to their menus. As a customer one can order from multiple stations and yet be assured that their food will reach them in time. This internet-only food delivery model is successful mainly for two reasons – seamless, straight at-home delivery, and a customer experience tailored to the needs of the target audience delivered in the comfort of home with experience the same as of a dining restaurant.
The reasons for the success of cloud kitchens have been proven to ring especially true during the pandemic, when people have largely been stuck at home, and have been looking for small indulgences within their measures. Cloud kitchens grabbed this very opportunity and gave us a chance to properly indulge – with attractive packaging, tasty food, and an experience that offers instant gratification. Providing a quality and relishing experience right at the place of their dwelling, cloud kitchens were also able to house virtually any number of customers under one umbrella of services.
Making new traditions
Even during the pre-covid era, these internet-only brands with their presence and free-flowing social media conversations, captured the attention of the so-called millennials and Gen Z. They fit their on-the-go personalities perfectly. They also managed to capture their individualistic lifestyle and the concept of hustling through life at an uncatchable pace. But with the wheels of the social structure of the world coming to a screeching halt thanks to the pandemic, working and surviving from home became the accepted norm.
Now, people find themselves even further removed from their families in a WFH setting as it has completely altered their timelines. Cloud kitchens, however, leveraging feedback in real-time, have been able to help their customers feel a semblance of normal living. Not only through their enjoyable food but also their far-reaching messaging that allows their customers to live vicariously on social media.
Going beyond the confines of an urban audience, cloud kitchens are surely moving towards the ‘larger picture’ business perspective. They are now also focusing on bringing families together in both tier I and tier II cities, furthering their omnipresence. Expanding the customer base to a more community perspective, cloud kitchens are more capable of catering to diverse customers with just as diverse food requests. Not to mention, while respecting and adapting to the acceptable social health norms and government mandates.
Grounded in data, innovation, and safety
Winning at customer listening, cloud kitchens are ensuring 100% customer delight by bringing in the power of data science, AI, and robotics in the food business. Big ghost kitchens brands typically operate on automated models, ensuring seamless supply chains to mitigate wastage and increase profitability. The model even manages to achieve up to 90% accuracy level to forecast demands using machine learning algorithms, thereby increasing preparedness to serve the customers’ dynamic demands. Some cloud kitchens even utilize AI & IoT-based equipment to prepare food and ensure quality control.
While data and innovation are extremely crucial to ensure the successful running of cloud kitchens, it is equally important to assure consumers of their safety during these troubled times. In order to ensure 100% food safety, cloud kitchens monitor the entire food journey – from farm to fork. For instance, we follow an automated process where at any point in time we know where the product or ingredient has been sourced from with details such as its temperature, expiry, etc. Our kitchens are required to carry over 200 quality checks for product and processing, thereby eliminating any risks, whatsoever, and ensuring the customer receives a fresh, hot, and most importantly, safe indulgence.
The new-age food tech is about complete visibility in every step inside the kitchen with 100% transparency for companies. Ensuring consistency and quality through automated processes and reducing human dependency for product standardization along with real-time data will contribute toward better customer satisfaction and experiences. We use Robotic led smart fryers in our kitchens which detect the food shape and adjust the temperatures accordingly without depending on added interventions which result in consistency and assuring our customers that they will get their dish just the way they like it every single time. Another added focus to consistency is the packaging of food to retain the essence without any spillage or human error. We have learned this and created an extraordinary experience with our standout pizza brand, making it the first pizza brand in India to introduce octagonal-shaped packaging to avoid any kind of movement in the box.
Taking over the food market
Through another year of impending uncertainty, cloud kitchens have proved that they can speak their customers’ language. Offering experiences of fine dining even at home, to the packaging’s credit, is on its way to becoming an inseparable part of retaining a competitive edge. Food establishments today are bound to become more and more convenient, personalized and as the future comes along, more tech-driven than ever before. Cloud kitchens are only the beginning of a revolution that is poised to go a long, long way in the food-delivery industry.