Growth of the global online food delivery marketAnother feature of restaurant digitalization that progressed during the pandemic was online ordering. The global online food delivery market size reached 111.32 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, a figure that is expected to see growth in the wake of COVID-19 and its negative effect on in-house dining. When looking at the biggest players in the online food delivery market worldwide, Chinese service Meituan Waimai was the firm leader with revenue nearing 14 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 - also included in the ranking were companies such as Grubhub, Delivery Hero, and Uber Eats. While China may have been home to the largest online food delivery company, many other countries saw digital restaurant food delivery growth in this time. The country with the highest growth was the United States with 123 percent, followed closely by Russia, and Canada.
The development of online food ordering has also caused another segment of the restaurant market to grow – the ghost kitchen market. A ghost kitchen, otherwise known as a dark kitchen, cloud kitchen, or virtual restaurant, is a restaurant that does not provide dine-in or takeaway services to customers. It is primarily virtual and is reliant on food delivery apps, such as Grubhub, website/web portal orders, and/or calls, to generate sales. The global ghost kitchen market size was estimated at 43.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and is forecast to reach as much as 71.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2027.
Most important restaurant technology: businesses vs. consumersBusinesses typically prioritize using technology that leads to sales and retaining loyal customers. For example, during an August 2020 survey, North American businesses in the food service industry ranked their top transformative technology preferences. These included integrating physical, digital, and mobile shopping experiences, driving consumer loyalty through customer identification and personalization, and increasing process automation to drive quality and efficiency – all of which are connected to attracting and retaining customers. The lowest ranking transformative technology was “reducing costs through sustainable technologies”, which, while important to consumers, does not directly link to sales or their brand loyalty.
At the same time, the most important technologies to restaurant guests in the United States were drive-through availability and contactless mobile payment. Meanwhile, loyalty programs, something that businesses value highly, were the least important technology to restaurant guests.