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    Setup Cloud Kitchen / Dark Kitchen

    What is Cloud Kitchen & Dark Kitchen

    Cloud kitchen, virtual kitchen, dark kitchen, ghost restaurant, dark kitchen, delivery-only restaurant, virtual restaurants, or even restaurant-as-a-service/ RAAS – all of these terms refer to the same foodtech concept: a virtual restaurant that sells meals exclusively through online delivery systems. Such restaurants rely solely on sales through online delivery platforms or own delivery channel. Top online delivery platforms range across UberEats, JustEat, FAASOS, Swiggy and many more.

    This has paved the way for dark kitchens. Such third-party delivery channels work to connect food businesses with customers and deliver meals quickly. Cloud kitchen is where food is produced and delivered at the doorstep by taking orders through online ordering portals and calls. Food delivery from the dark kitchen does not rely on traditional models like takeaway and dine-in. The dark kitchen concept relies solely on food preparation and delivery, plus tie-ups with food delivery platforms.

    For a cloud kitchen, Swiggy, Zomato, and FoodPanda are some top choices for delivering orders. The essential advantage of a cloud kitchen is that they can have many brands under one roof, cutting down costs extensively. All F2F (face-to-face) contact between customers and restaurants has been eliminated. The cloud kitchen business model harnesses cutting-edge technologies, and new marketing techniques to keep and reach demanding audiences. The ghost kitchens are designed exclusively for online delivery and ordering. These online restaurants do not have brick and mortar units. There are no servers, just shared kitchens.

    Dark kitchens involve shared commissary space. There’s a shared kitchen space for restaurants to experiment with new menu items without real estate costs upfront. Delivery only, these restaurants are designed to cater to delivery marketplace orders from a custom website or a third-party platform. Your business can efficiently utilize this new online-restaurant model. Rely on the strategists and specialists from Your Retail Coach (YRC) foodtech consultants and harness their expertise to set up your own cloud kitchen business.

    How YRC Can Help to Setup Cloud Kitchen / Dark Kitchen

    1. Process Manuals (SOPs): Customer Order to Last-mile Delivery

    YRC process specialists offer Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) right from customer order to last-mile delivery. Know that starting your cloud kitchen is easy; running one is hard. Cloud kitchen consultants YRC can decode the operational processes, systems, and procedures involved to ensure your team faces the challenges head-on.

    As a cloud kitchen owner, you need to have systems that dictate how the business will operate. A dark kitchen business model can only be profitable if there are systems in place. Documented methods will help in executing operations effectively. YRC can help in the articulation of policies from how one reports the financial performance of the kitchen to staff duties and responsibilities and even marketing and purchase practices.

    Your SOPs will define your job roles and responsibilities, making it easier for recruits to onboard, train, and make the transition to productive employees. SOPs enable you to use resources of a massive operation and ensure effective work. For flawless services, a clear roadmap is essential. Your team needs guidance on what to do by clearly articulating requirements. Documentation is the first step. Implementing daily systems comes next, and with SOPs, it becomes easier. Depend on YRC consultants to devise the perfect process manuals for your end-to-end dark kitchen operations and management systems.

    2. Inventory Replenishment Planning: Especially recipe planning

    The cloud kitchen concept depends on taking orders. It is essential to set up an ordering and delivery platform that is credible. Inventory replenishment planning, especially waste management and recipe planning, are crucial for effective cloud kitchen restaurant operations. It helps to have inventory management systems in place. As cloud kitchens lack a physical outlet, all details about staff, menu managements, brands, etc. are online. An inventory replenishment system devised by YRC increases accountability and reduce food wastage and facilitates more effective recipe management. Not keeping a check on inventory management or the actual cost of ingredients going into the dishes delivered can prove counterproductive.

    While rent, overhead costs, and peak order periods are not under your control, food cost is. Food costs should range between 30-33 percent. Food cost is tough to manage. The kitchen staff needs to have an understanding of exact measurements while preparing the dishes. With YRC’s help, you can manage inventory levels, improve production time, monitor wastage and standardise food preparation.

    Being product-focused is only about supply-side thinking. Customer focus requires looking at the experience of customers and seeing where to fill the gaps in inventory management. YRC ensures your menu is the solution customers are looking for, by optimizing recipe management and stock management.

    3. Time & Motion Analysis for layout planning

    Layout planning is at the core of practical cloud kitchen. By creating a concept articulating a menu and documenting recipe, one can identify the resources and equipment to start a kitchen. Another critical step is designing the kitchen prototype to understand how it will appear. Several options are available. With YRC’s assistance, you will be able to future proof changes and design your cloud kitchen to perfection. Articulating the ideal kitchen design is one thing; implementing it is another. Creating a kitchen prototype can save a lot of cash. Effective kitchen design can help in optimizing staffing requirements and raise the speed of operations.

    Cloud kitchens need well-designed layouts, where time and motion analyses can help in maximizing sales opportunities and connecting with customers. YRC’s time and motion analyses for layout planning have a core focus on speed, optimization, and automation. Having a layout that integrates with useful tools and runs on cloud technologies requires detailed time and motion analyses to understand how to utilize workforce and resources effectively. With high volumes of orders, optimizing the kitchen layout is essential. Devise a plan that helps in engaging clients across different mediums.

    4. Security measures to avoid theft

    The biggest challenge for food and hospitality chains is ensuring non-pilferage of stock and effective menu management. Additionally, capable back-end infrastructure is essential to deliver ingredients across outlets in safe ways. Security is vital to ensure innovative food delivery systems. Security measures suggested by YRC involve employee training to manage security concerns. Standardization, rigorous SOP-driven training, automation, and custom equipment ensure safety and security at the workplace and assured supplies for a useful cloud kitchen.

    5. Setup Guidelines: What to do & What not to

    The critical criteria for launching your dark kitchen also includes setup guidelines. YRC stresses that while selecting the location for the cloud kitchen, functionality is vital. The best site revolves around the commitment to deliver the best possible food. Set up guidelines established by YRC study the target audience, affordability of location, and other factors while setting up dark kitchen businesses.

    YRC specialists consider everything from facilities and amenities to accessibility for delivery agents to reach out with optimal space. As orders pour in from various platforms, it is essential to have a mechanism to facilitate smooth functioning. Online ordering integration is also necessary for setting up a cloud kitchen.

    YRC also helps you to evolve systems to track orders, assist in quick billing, prevent recipe or inventory pilferage, tracking business metrics from anywhere. It manages requests and helps in collecting customer data, likes, and dislikes, leading to the right path. Significant investment in cloud kitchen helps the kitchen to be equipped with the correct machinery. Getting hold of the right vendor is also easy, with YRC’s help.

    Setup guidelines also include working on appropriate staff recruitment and selection measures. For a cloud kitchen, because orders are continuously in circulation, seasoned staff handle stress better. Depending on the size of your cloud kitchen business, YRC HR Consultants oversees the selection and hiring process for chefs, helpers, and delivery teams, besides working on your staff retention rate.

    Cloud kitchens have less visibility compared to restaurants with physical outlets. It is mission-critical to have a robust online profile. Social media sites can help in spreading the word about the business. But you need effective marketing campaigns. Devise the perfect SOPs to spread the word about your business, with the help of YRC’s setup guidelines.

    6. IT System Integration in cloud kitchen

    IT system integration help you understand customers and manage menus effectively. When orders are integrated with technology, the collection of customer data becomes simpler which helps in loyalty program management. As the primary source of order-taking is online, a cloud PoS is critical for cloud kitchens and delivery kitchens. Multiple restaurants and channels are dealt with when it comes to managing cloud kitchens.

    Virtual orders across the site can be managed with effective PoS and analytic reporting systems. For effective IT system integration, which involves inventory tracking, wastage management, recipe integration, order & delivery management you need to have the right team who can help implement the IT systems at hand, and this is where YRC food consultants comes in.

    Investing in kitchen IT systems or other foodtech concepts requires careful planning for effective execution and implementation. Integrating PoS or ERP systems with CRM and SOP processes is critical for effective functioning and customer data management. IT system integration can be effectively managed through the expertise and knowledge of YRC’s team of specialists.

    If you’re a food tech company or a businessman wondering “how to start a cloud kitchen or dark kitchen?” kindly fill up our contact form and our experts shall get back to you.

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    We work only for Visionaries.

    PROCESS AUTOMATION

    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

    VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

    DIGITAL MARKETING

    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

    IT INTEGRATION

    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

    WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

     

    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

    UI & UX DESIGNING

    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

    SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

    PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

    BRANDING

    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

    ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

    CRITICAL PATHWAY

    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

    BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.