how your restaurant can compete with meal kits

Since they initially appeared in Sweden in 2007, meal kits have only gained in popularity around the world. The meal kit market has benefitted from this expanding popularity. By 2025, the industry’s revenue is forecasted to hit $8.94 billion.

Meal kits are available at a variety of price points, and they’re often flexible enough to accommodate an array of diets and dietary restrictions. Meal kit companies frequently get consumers to try their products by offering discounts on the first order or for signing up for repeat deliveries rather than placing a series of individual orders.

The Popularity of Meal Kit Services With Consumers

Meal kits have only been widely available in the U.S. for six or seven years, but an increasing number of companies offer them. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh were among the first entrants in the market, and the meal kit delivery industry has grown to include Amazon, Walmart, and even Martha Stewart.

One of the many reasons these kits are so popular is that they don’t require users to have advanced or even moderate cooking skills. Even a home cook that doesn’t have much cooking experience can still create a high-quality meal with a meal kit. Additionally, all the ingredients in a kit are pre-measured, so there’s no reason for users to invest in utensils like measuring cups or spoons.

People across all demographics are spending more to prepare quality meals at home. Neilsen reports that men are 40 percent more likely to buy a meal kit compared to women of the same age. Members of the Millennial and Gen X generations are 321 percent more likely to purchase meal kits compared to the people in previous generations, and families with children are 326 percent more likely to order meal kits than households that don’t have any children.

Winning Customers Back From Meal Kit Delivery Services

Meal kits often give people the chance to prepare high-quality, nutritious food at a cost comparable to what they’d pay to make a meal without a kit.

While convenience, ease-of-use, and affordable prices are pros that make meal kits attractive to a growing number of consumers, there are a few notable cons of food delivery services.

The first downside is that meal kit providers require people to prepare and cook the food they deliver to their doorstep. At the end of a long day, some people might prefer to be catered to rather than having to prep and cook food despite how simple the instructions for doing so might be.

Although delivering complete meal kits is one of the reasons why consumers use these service providers, the deliveries themselves can sometimes be problematic. Meal kits often contain fresh food that can spoil if it’s not stored correctly soon after a kit has been delivered to an end user. Similarly, if a kit is misdirected during shipping, it may not reach its final destination in time for consumers to make a planned meal for guests.

With meal delivery services having some noteworthy cons affiliated with them, restaurants have the potentially bankable opportunity to win back customers from meal kit providers. And that’s great news for every restauranteur whose bottom line has been impacted by the growing popularity of meal kit delivery services. Here’s how restaurants can take advantage of this opportunity:

meal kits require a commitment

1. Meal Kits Require a Commitment—Dining out Is Flexible

One convincing thing you can do to win back diners is to remind people that meal kits require them to commit to a meal well in advance. Having to pre-commit to menu options days, weeks, or even a month before they are consuming these meals doesn’t leave room for changing tastes or for accommodating an additional headcount in case a visitor stops by unplanned. While consumers can ordinarily store the ingredients in a meal kit for several days, they won’t last forever. Meal kit recipients will eventually have to make the food before it spoils to avoid wasting money, even if the meal no longer interests them or their dining companions.

In addition to committing to a meal in advance, kits require users to prep and cook food. Even if consumers are looking forward to those activities when they order a meal kit, they may not have time for them in the days following the arrival of their meal kit.

If consumers choose to order food from a restaurant instead of ordering a meal kit, they’ll retain flexibility right up to the moment they receive their food. Diners can consume restaurant food at the eatery that prepared it, or they can take it home to enjoy. People love flexible meal options and trying new food. Millennials especially love snapping a picture of the new foods they are eating and sharing them online. If your restaurant has a rotating, seasonal menu, post it on your website and social media accounts to build some buzz. Nothing builds diners’ excitement like knowing that your seasonal strawberry creme brulee is coming back on the summer menu! Some people also join meal kits due to food allergies or dietary restrictions to take the guesswork out of grocery shopping, and your restaurant can highlight your flexible menu options that cater to the following needs:

  • Keto
  • Paleo
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Pescetarian

Many restaurants have a “GF” symbol beside items that are or can be prepared gluten-free on their menu or they may have an entirely separate menu for dietary restrictions. It is key that menu items have these specific indications so guests know what menu items can be customized. Your servers should also be knowledgeable of your menu and can help assist diners with their questions and give dish recommendations that are suited for their lifestyle. Ultimately, this provides a more personalized dining experience. Be sure that the menu on your website features the flexibility in these items too to help drive foot traffic.

promote new menu items on website and social

2. Highlight New Menu Items on Your Website and Social Media Platforms

There is a widespread belief that home cooked meals are healthier than meals prepared by restaurants. Many meal kit providers use this belief to their marketing advantage by promoting their organic ingredients, flexible recipes that can be tailored to specific diets, and non-GMO meal components.

Meal kit providers aren’t the only organizations that can market their food by highlighting those traits. If your menu includes dishes that share the same characteristics just mentioned, promote those dishes on your website and social media pages. Doing so may be even more effective if the meals are brand-new or recently introduced.

If you’re going to feature new, healthy dishes on your website and social platforms, be sure you mention any practices you’ve adopted to make your restaurant sustainable and environmentally responsible. Sustainability and eco-friendliness are important factors many consumers consider when making purchasing decisions. If you source seasonal ingredients locally to make your new dishes, let people know.

To drum up more interest in the new dishes you mention on your social accounts and website, consider offering tips that an interested home cook may find useful when creating variations of your signature dishes at home. You don’t need to reveal your secret ingredients or closely guarded cooking techniques, but you can simply offer suggestions on how guests can repurpose leftovers to prevent waste and get the most bang for the money they spend at your restaurant.

3. Make Online Ordering as Painless as Possible

If you doubt the importance of online ordering as it relates to helping you compete with meal kit delivery services as well as other restaurants, consider this — ordering online is increasing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic is growing. Eateries that implement an online ordering platform earn 32 percent more orders compared to those where people need to call in to place a food order.

A key decision driving a lot of people’s food choices and dining behaviors are based on convenience. Households with children are the most likely to be drawn to meal kits since it makes food prep and cooking easier for on the go parents. Online ordering is perfect for busy parents looking for something to pick up on their way home from practices or appointments. With more mouths to feed, their online order will likely be higher too. As technology continues to evolve, bachelors and busy parents want access to convenient eating options that can satisfy their taste buds.

make online reservations easy

4. Make Reservations Easy

Just as most consumers expect to be able to order from their favorite eateries online with ease, many people will also expect an easy, hassle-free reservations process. As is the case with orders, this often means giving people the option to make reservations at your eatery online.

Although giving people the option to book a table online is convenient for your customers, it can also make things easier on you. Having a virtual reservations management platform can help you avoid overbooking your establishment or double-booking sought-after tables. A digital reservations platform can also help you manage your guests better and identify trends you can capitalize on.

Having an online reservations system eliminates the risk of human error that’s too often associated with traditional reservations processes. When people have to call or visit your restaurant to book a table, you’re stuck relying on the capabilities of your staff to make sure they reserve the right table at the appropriate time. With an online reservation system, guests can verify their reservation time and table request before submitting.

How CAKE Products Can Help You Win Returning Customers

Whether you’re trying to win customers back from meal kit delivery services or you want your guests’ patrons to return to your restaurant more often, CAKE products can help you achieve your objective. Our innovative products are made exclusively for the restaurant industry because that’s precisely what CAKE was created to serve.

CAKE helps get more returning customers

1. Online Ordering

We offer Online Ordering that will work seamlessly with your website as well as your CAKE Point of Sale (POS) system. When you install the CAKE Online Ordering platform on your website you can link your menu on any of your social media pages, including Facebook. Unlike other third-party integrations, CAKE only charges an industry-low rate of 5 percent processing fee per order, which represents substantial savings over other third-party options that charge 15 – 20 percent on processing fees.

In addition to making it a breeze for hungry people to order food using your website, our Online Ordering can improve the experience consumers have with your restaurant. Because consumers choose every component of the food they order, online ordering can reduce costly errors and improve customer satisfaction. CAKE’s Online Ordering enables faster payment processing and allows your customers to leave tips digitally.

To learn more about how we make ordering online a piece of cake for both mobile and desktop users, get in touch with the restaurant experts at CAKE, or schedule a free demo today.

2. Point of Sale System

Restauranteurs have the option to lease or buy an affordable point of sale (POS) system from CAKE. Our user-friendly POS system enables staff members to enter orders faster and with greater accuracy. We know eateries need equipment that can withstand busy work environments where spills, humidity, and varying temperatures are common. That’s why we made our state-of-the-art POS system durable and splash-resistant.

CAKE’s POS system enables you to install a customer facing display that allows for faster checkouts and easy tipping. If you’re going to use sustainability to promote your restaurant, you can inform your customers that your CAKE POS system uses less paper than older alternatives because consumers don’t need to sign a paper receipt to close out their tabs.

Learn more about our restaurant POS system now.

3. Guest Manager

CAKE’s Guest Manager enables customers to make reservations online while requiring minimal information, and your employees can adjust bookings easily on the go. This system improves how you handle waitlists, and it expedites seating by alerting patrons when their table is ready with an automated text message.

With Guest Manager, you and your staff members will be able to view your guests’ visit history, enabling you to provide a higher level of personalized service than ever before. You can also view the status of your tables in real-time, which can help your team seat and serve more diners, day in and day out.

Don’t put off having CAKE at your restaurant any longer. Schedule a complimentary demonstration of CAKE’s Guest Manager now.