Cloud Kitchen Management Software: 17 Systems For Delivery Kitchens That Improve Efficiency And Profitability

Geert Merckaert
15 min readFeb 16


There have never been as many cloud kitchens as there are now. Competition is fierce. Software is giving successful operations an edge over the rest.

By 2030, it is estimated that the cloud kitchen market will bring in $112.7 billion in revenue. Everyday more and more people are using their phones and other devices to order food for delivery or pick-up.

Cloud kitchens, also known as dark kitchens or ghost kitchens, were developed specifically to meet the surging demand for off-premise dining. Their setup, layout and location [lean, focussed and near the target audience] make them better suited to handle online orders.

It’s not surprising that numerous restaurant operators (and other entrepreneurs) are setting up dark kitchens to capture a wider audience and meet online demand.

Unfortunately, it’s not all peaches and cream.

While dark kitchens come with advantages such as lower overhead costs and easier scaling, they also face unique challenges that can make it difficult for them to thrive. Two immediately come to mind. Delivery-only kitchens have to be hyper-efficient and super-agile. It’s the only way to remain profitable and adapt to changing market trends at a moment’s notice.

That’s where tech comes in.

Successful ghost kitchens lean heavily on integrated technology systems to accept online orders, process payments, and manage back-end operations.

It’s an open secret but cloud kitchens are as much about tech as they are about food.

This post outlines the different types of cloud kitchen management software you need to knock your delivery-only restaurant out of the park.

We cover:

Not keen on implementing 17 software solutions? We wouldn’t either. That’s why Apicbase takes #2 to #7 right of your plate and has the APIs to create a seamless ecosystem with other tech so you can squeeze every drop of value from the data your software generates.

But before we dive into the solutions, let’s see where cloud kitchens are today.

Are they still the back alley operation they used to be?

How Are Ghost Kitchens Evolving

The ghost kitchen’s success has led to an ever-increasing number of virtual brands and dark kitchen concepts on third-party delivery platforms. As a result, it has become harder to differentiate from competitors and make a mark.

To counter the challenge, dark kitchens are increasingly pivoting towards a hybrid model with sales channels that go beyond delivery and pick-up. For example, some hybrid cloud kitchen models include food halls, where multiple brands come together in a shared kitchen and dining space. Other dark kitchens add self-service kiosks to engage with guests and provide an enhanced customer experience.

Dark kitchens are opening their doors to let the light in and engage directly with customers.

Regardless of the cloud kitchen business model, technology will always play a vital role in creating a scalable operation. This hasn’t escaped the notice of traditional restaurants either. Brick-and-mortar restaurants are closely monitoring technologies delivery-only kitchens are using to lower costs, increase efficiency and build a loyal fan base.

The interest goes both ways.

Hybrid cloud kitchens with physical touchpoints are also picking up customer-facing technologies like contactless payment systems and self-order kiosks from traditional restaurants to take their business to the next level.

Recommended reading: How Will Off-premise Dining Evolve In Europe?

Let’s look at 17 cloud kitchen management software systems you should consider.

Back-of-house Cloud Kitchen Management Software

#1 Kitchen display systems (KDS)

Main characteristics

  • Ideal for ramping up prep and delivery times
  • Improves order accuracy and communication
  • Requires additional hardware
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Smart kitchens use a kitchen display system or KDS. These screens near kitchen stations automatically display orders by priority and show detailed information, such as dietary requirements. Tick ’n Cook is an example of a kitchen display system.

The KDS syncs with the point of sale, so the information on the displays is instantly updated with incoming orders. As a result, a KDS improves communication and order accuracy while making the order flow 100% paper-free. Thanks to the streamlined operational process, cloud kitchen operators can optimise order prep times.

#2 Inventory management software

Main characteristics

  • Critical for real-time inventory tracking
  • Prevents stock issues and food waste
  • Must integrate with POS for maximum impact
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

With dozens of orders coming in through multiple online sales platforms, your dark kitchen requires an inventory system.

Automated inventory management software allows you to

  • easily track stock levels,
  • organise inventory data, and
  • generate food waste reports
  • forecast procurement.

As a result, you can improve inventory accuracy, prevent stock issues like stock-outs or excess stock, and save on operating costs.

At the same time, automated solutions free up employees for more valuable tasks — like preparing consistent food in record time.

#3 Production planning software

Main characteristics

  • Ensures food consistency (across kitchens)
  • Cuts costs
  • Must integrate with your POS, sales channels, and ghost kitchen software for maximum impact
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Whether you prepare food for delivery or on-site consumption, food production is at the heart of your business. So, how can you ensure your kitchen team produces food fast and consistently?

Next to training, production planning software is the most logical answer.

This solution enables you to:

  • create mise-en-place and prep tasks,
  • schedule and assign them to your staff, and
  • keep track of execution.

By integrating your production planning tool with other systems, like your inventory management software, you can also update inventory levels based on production progress.

Finally, production planning software automatically generates bills of materials (BoMs), turns them into purchase orders, and sends them to your suppliers directly.

#4 Procurement management software

Main characteristics

  • Key for facilitating purchasing orders
  • Keeps your cost of goods sold (CoGS) low
  • Must integrate with your POS and ghost kitchen software for maximum impact
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Procurement is an integral part of every (virtual) restaurant. The better you can predict demand and purchases, the higher your inventory turnover — and the lower your food waste and food cost.

Restaurant procurement software helps you organise the procurement process by automating purchase orders (POs).

These solutions make it easier to:

  • avoid over- and underordering,
  • manage orders, and
  • build great relationships with suppliers.

In addition, this dark kitchen tech solution eliminates wastage and prevents empty shelves.

#5 Menu engineering software

Main characteristics

  • Great for developing profitable and popular menus
  • Time-consuming if you work with multiple delivery services
  • Must integrate with your POS, sales channels, and ghost kitchen software for maximum impact
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

One of cloud kitchens’ biggest strengths is their ability to remain agile and adapt to changing consumer behaviour. Menu engineering — the process of creating highly profitable and popular menus — is, therefore, crucial to long-term success.

But constantly analysing and improving your menu requires time and effort, especially if you operate multiple virtual brands or ghost kitchens. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

By using the right menu engineering and recipe development software, you can:

  • manage your online offering,
  • develop profitable recipes, and
  • engineer winning menus.

The real magic happens when this software communicates with your POS and online delivery platforms. In that case, you can publish menus to your sales channels with a few clicks. That means you’ll be able to create and test new virtual brands and dishes, seasonal items, and limited-time offers without much effort.

#6 Central kitchen software

Main characteristics

  • Crucial for streamlined internal ordering
  • Great for aligning ordering, production, and shipping
  • For all types of dark kitchens with multiple (production) units

If you run multiple dark kitchens or a CPU, you need to be able to track internal orders and update inventories across locations. The same is true for hybrid cloud kitchens that deliver (semi-)finished products to food halls or for operators using host kitchens to prepare their virtual brands.

That’s where central kitchen software comes in. It streamlines the internal ordering process to eliminate mistakes.

The software aligns across your kitchens:

  • ordering,
  • production,
  • shipping.
  • stock counts.

#7 F&B management software

Main characteristics

  • Platform solution
  • Provides the backbone for your cloud kitchen
  • Vital for creating scalable, future-proof operational flows
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens
  • Easy to use across locations

What if there was a way to combine multiple cloud kitchen management software platforms into one high-end solution? In essence, that’s what F&B management software, like Apicbase, does.

These innovative dark kitchen tech solutions solve different issues simultaneously by connecting the dots between menu engineering, online orders, production, and procurement.

In addition, they automate back-of-house operations so your ghost kitchen can focus on creating epic food and customer experiences.

F&B management platforms:

  • save time,
  • save money,
  • save resources, and
  • optimise operational efficiency.

In short, they provide the data and tools you need to build an online restaurant empire.

Apicbase is the industry-leading F&B management platform. The software takes care of #2 to #7 on the list. The system transforms complex kitchen workflows into automated processes that generate actionable insights about back-of-house performance throughout the business. Take a look at the 9 Apicbase modules.

#8 Virtual brand marketplaces

Main characteristics

  • Connects you with successful virtual brands
  • Ideal for expanding your operation and reaching new clientele
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens
  • Online marketplace

Whereas virtual restaurant brands used to be prepared exclusively in ghost kitchens, traditional restaurants now use them to tap into new food trends, experiment with menus, and expand their customer base.

While virtual brands are easy and quick to set up, you need to do extensive market research before launching them: what types of food does the market crave? Are there any competing brands? Which type of consumer does the virtual brand attract?

If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, you can work with an existing, proven virtual brand. To do so, browse a virtual brand marketplace packed with exciting virtual brands, select the brand you want to work with, and license it. And you’re off to a great start!

#9 Restaurant CRM systems

Main characteristics

  • Essential for nurturing customer relationships
  • Must integrate with your POS for maximum impact (to combine sales data and customer data)
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Every restaurateur wants happy and engaged customers eager to come back for more. But while brick-and-mortar restaurants can create an engaging on-site experience, most ghost kitchens cannot. That means you must find other ways to remain on your customers’ minds.

A customer relationship management platform or CRM system will help cultivate such a relationship. The software collects customer data, like email addresses, phone numbers, and order data, for example, what someone ordered, at what time, and in what area.

Dark kitchen operators can then use this information to create personalised marketing campaigns and promotions to encourage repeat business and engage with customers.

#10 Robotics platforms

Main characteristics

  • Good for eliminating manual, error-prone, or dangerous tasks
  • Improves operational efficiency and consistency
  • Expensive to implement
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

While robotics may seem futuristic, restaurants across the globe are already using them today. Chipotle, for instance, is testing a robotic tortilla chip maker, and Stellar Pizza has developed robot-made pizza.

Restaurant robotics are gaining momentum because they eliminate dull, dirty, or dangerous kitchen tasks. Applications range from ‘simple’ robotics like conveyor belts or automatic stock-pickers to complicated ones like automated robot waiters, chefs, or bartenders.

What all these applications have in common is their purpose.

Robotic solutions aim to:

  • improve efficiency,
  • free up employees’ time,
  • boost product consistency, and
  • automate tasks.

That’s especially important for cloud kitchens. They need to be ‘all muscle, no fat’ to survive and stay ahead of the competition.

#11 Business Intelligence tools (BI)

Main characteristics

  • Essential for consolidating real-time business data into one place
  • Facilitates informed business decisions and reduces mistakes
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Business Intelligence tools (BI) are designed to:

  • gather,
  • analyse, and
  • visualise large volumes of data.

It enables restaurant companies to generate actionable business insights and make informed decisions.

The great thing about BI platforms is that they collect and monitor past and current data, making it possible to predict future business scenarios based on those insights. That’s potent knowledge for restaurateurs — not just for strategic development but for identifying upcoming food trends and spotting evolving customer behaviour.

BI software, like Tenzo, brings together all relevant data in one place and in real time. It automatically pulls in POS, inventory, sales, and other data, providing you with a single point of view on all your business processes.

Additionally, Business Intelligence software eliminates manual tasks. For example, you can easily pull reports, presentations, or even visualisations from the tool instead of consolidating data from different sources into a spreadsheet or PowerPoint. In this way, the software enables faster planning, analysis, and reporting.

Front-of-house Cloud Kitchen Management Software

#12 Customer loyalty software

Main characteristics

  • Perfect for building tailored customer loyalty programs
  • Helps you create personalised marketing campaigns
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Like CRM systems, customer loyalty software focuses on customer relationships. However, this software takes things a step further as it helps you

  • build,
  • manage, and
  • evaluate customer loyalty programs.

The ultimate goal is to turn loyal customers into brand ambassadors and boost your revenue.

F&B operators can use customer loyalty platforms like Yollty to reward loyal diners with points or stamps, giving them access to gifts. In addition, customers can provide your restaurant or cloud kitchen direct feedback through the platform, helping you improve your loyalty program, promotions, and marketing strategy.

#13 Online ordering systems and delivery apps

Main characteristics

  • Crucial for reaching customers online and order fulfilment
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens
  • Relatively cheap to implement
  • Third-party software or business-owned

Ghost kitchens serve customers primarily through delivery and pickup. Therefore, you require online ordering systems and delivery apps to reach consumers and enable them to place their orders online.

Many virtual restaurants partner with third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, Just Eat Takeaway, and Deliveroo. This partnership helps them expand their visibility and focus on preparing food rather than fulfilling orders.

However, developing your own online ordering system may be worthwhile as more and more consumers prefer to order directly from restaurants. Creating an online ordering store allows you to own the entire experience, get big data (and build a strong marketing strategy), and receive direct customer feedback. Easy Order is a great partner to help you set up your own app and loyalty program.

#14 Delivery aggregator software

Main characteristics

  • Great for improving your online order flow
  • Helps you manage multiple sales channels without much effort
  • For traditional delivery-only dark kitchens and hybrid cloud kitchens

Imagine operating 3 cloud kitchens with 5 virtual brands, each available on 3 different delivery platforms. That’s a lot of delivery tablets pinging away and distracting your kitchen staff from their core tasks.

More importantly, managing multiple online sales channels requires a lot of effort. You need to track order statuses, manage menu and inventory, and gather insights into your sales and customer behaviour. These are all time-consuming activities prone to error because they’re mostly done manually.

Fortunately, delivery aggregator platforms like Deliverect and RusHour will solve this issue. They aggregate all online orders and synchronise them with your POS, automating your operational flow.

They also enable you to manage menus across sales platforms with just a few clicks. Additionally, delivery aggregator software offers insights and reporting functions to help you make informed decisions.

#15 Point-of-sale systems (POS)

Main characteristics

  • Typically cloud-based
  • Great for taking payments, improving operational flows, and gaining data insights
  • For hybrid cloud kitchens, but also useful for delivery-only ghost kitchens

At its most basic level, a point of sale — POS in short — records sales, takes payments, and issues receipts. Restaurant POS Systems are an essential part of a business’ tech ecosystem. Without them, restaurants wouldn’t be able to record transactions.

But traditional ghost kitchens offering only delivery (and possibly pickup) don’t have direct customer interactions. Instead, consumers order online through delivery apps or online ordering stores. That’s why ghost kitchens don’t necessarily need a POS.

However, handling orders on multiple tablets for each delivery service is not efficient. On the contrary, it’s chaotic and error-prone and slows down the entire order flow. Therefore, many cloud kitchens work with a POS to increase productivity and simplify the process. Hybrid dark kitchens also need a point-of-sale system or another tool to consolidate all orders into one system.

Besides, today’s POS has evolved, offering operators more than ever. Modern POS software integrates seamlessly with software for inventory management, menu management, restaurant analytics, and CRM. The data these integrations generate are essential for ghost kitchens to do effective marketing, menu engineering, and cost control.

Your tech ecosystem with POS integration is ready to go — discover all Apicbase integrations.

#16 Contactless ordering and payment systems

Main characteristics

  • Great for secure, contactless ordering and payment
  • Easy to set up
  • Mainly for hybrid cloud kitchens, but also useful for traditional virtual restaurants

Contactless payment technologies grew significantly more important during the global pandemic, and it looks like they’re here to stay. According to a survey by Juniper Research, contactless payments will be a $6 trillion business by 2024.

Mobile ordering and payment apps offer many benefits for traditional restaurants and hybrid dark kitchens with physical touchpoints or food halls. Advantages include faster table turnover, improved order accuracy, and an enhanced customer experience.

But contactless payment and ordering systems aren’t just useful for hybrid dark kitchens. Delivery-only ghost kitchens can also use them to reach more consumers and meet their convenience needs.

For instance, you can utilise a QR code platform to allow customers in bars, hotels, and event venues to order your virtual brands and make payments online. As a bonus, consumers ordering through a QR code don’t need to download a delivery app. That’s incredibly convenient for tourists or business people in town for only a few days.

#17 Self-order kiosks

Main characteristics

  • Great for speeding up orders and improving the customer experience
  • Fairly expensive to install
  • For hybrid cloud kitchens and dark kitchens offering pickup or takeout

Self-service kiosks, like Tabesto, are another example of technology that boomed in the wake of the pandemic. These kiosks meet in-house diners’ expectations, allowing them to browse your menu, select items quickly, and pay for their order without waiting in line.

On the restaurant’s end, kiosks free up your staff’s time, speed up the order process, and increase average check sizes — thanks to upselling prompts. But, of course, these benefits also apply to (hybrid) ghost kitchens offering pickup, takeaway, or on-site dining.

In other words, setting up self-order kiosks in your (hybrid) cloud kitchen can pad your bottom line while improving the guest experience.

Conclusion: Cloud Kitchen Management Software Is Indispensible For Managing Online Orders And Kitchen Ops

Dark kitchens must be more flexible and resilient than ever, adapting their business model to meet changing consumer behaviour and needs. Cloud kitchen software enhances that flexibility while generating actionable data to optimise processes, kitchen operations, and deliveries — which in turn increases revenues.

We live in an age where you can choose from an abundance of dark kitchen tech that streamlines all your back-of-house and front-of-house operations. The most innovative software platforms combine several applications or modules into one high-end solution, like Apicbase, giving you all the tools and insights you need to grow your ghost kitchen and run a thriving business.

One Platform To Manage F&B In Your Ghost Kitchens

Apicbase is the leading platform for online restaurants. It combines essential software for recipe development, inventory and central kitchens into one high-end solution. The ghost kitchen software helps you create scalable back-of-house flows to keep costs down and quality up.

Apicbase is the backbone of dark kitchen networks worldwide. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build your ghost kitchen empire.

Get in touch

Originally published at on February 6, 2023.



Geert Merckaert

I write about F&B Management Best Practices for Multi-Unit Food Businesses. My goal is to help you keep costs down, quality up and operations running smoothly.