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Q&A: Why the POS of the past doesn’t work for today’s ghost kitchens

In this interview, OrderB4 founder and CEO Randy Murphy discusses the virtual kitchen system's origins in restaurants and what makes it an ideal solution for brands, ghost kitchen operators and consumers.

7 min read


Q&A: Why the POS of the past doesn’t work for today’s ghost kitchens

Image: Norma Mortenson/Pexels

This post is sponsored by OrderB4.

Surging consumer demand for food delivery has spurred restaurant operators to add off-premises offerings and create delivery-only virtual brands. The problem is, traditional point of sale systems aren’t designed to operate multiple brands, and relying on third-party delivery partners costs restaurants both a hefty portion of each sale and valuable customer data. FourBurner Technologies created the OrderB4 software platform to solve these problems via an end-to-end virtual kitchen system for digital ordering, order management and delivery. In this interview, founder and CEO Randy Murphy discusses OrderB4’s origins in restaurants and what makes it an ideal solution for brands, ghost kitchen operators and consumers.


OrderB4 started in restaurants. How did having experience in restaurant operation inspire the creation of the OrderB4 virtual kitchen system?

Prior to launching OrderB4, our team members had opened and/or operated more than 60 restaurants. During a 15 year period, we delivered more than 1.5 million food orders to customers, primarily through delivery. At first, self-delivery was the conduit, and as we grew we relied on delivery service providers because it seemed fast and easy given the promises made on their end. We quickly learned we were losing control of the customer experience, most of the economic margin and our customer data. We couldn’t even take care of the customers who were frustrated because the DSPs now owned that customer interaction!

All of this experience, combined with the industry shift to ghost and virtual kitchens, inspired us to launch OrderB4. We know how to solve delivery problems and we understand this space intimately. We have created a full operating system for ghost kitchens that uses technology to benefit all stakeholders (owners, kitchen members, consumers and delivery partners).

What sets OrderB4 apart from other order management software solutions?

Great question! We are far more than an order management software. Think of OrderB4 as an operating system for ghost kitchens. We connect the online components of direct-to-consumer ordering — both per brand and via multi-brand digital ordering, omni channel menu management, just-in-time make instructions, delivery, loyalty and feedback. This allows ghost kitchens to focus on taking advantage of online scale and flexibility. All of this is done without having to give up the most valuable assets of brand — consumer relationship, ticket economics and data — to the third-party delivery services.

In short, we shift all value, order economics and brand strength back to where it belongs — with kitchen operators. Delivery can be done cost effectively with OrderB4, and our focus on data aggregation gives the marketing power back to operators.

How does OrderB4 consider and meet the needs of all stakeholders — ghost kitchen operators, kitchen brand operators and customers?

  •  Ghost kitchen operators: OrderB4 is a ghost kitchen operator’s best friend. Our software platform brings value-added services to each ghost kitchen member and their brand(s). OrderB4 provides multi-brand ordering so any ghost kitchen can become its own neighborhood marketplace ordering platform. More orders, more data and easy integration benefits all parties within a ghost kitchen.
  • Kitchen operators (brands): OrderB4 brings direct-to-consumer ordering plus delivery at a low cost. This increases operator margins per order and funnels consumer data where it belongs, at the member level. OrderB4 allows kitchen operators to build a relationship with their customer by owning the feedback and loyalty channels. No further need to rely on predatory third-party delivery services with no recourse!
  • Consumers: Consumers can find and order food made locally in their neighborhood and pay for that food without excessive fees. Clear lines of communication are established between the consumer and the kitchen member (brand) to allow that relationship to thrive.

Keep in mind, OrderB4 allows ghost kitchens to bundle all of their brands into a neighborhood online food court to satisfy the different tastes of a family in one bundled checkout process. The economics get rid of the egregious third-party delivery fees and share that margin back to the places it was earned: the chefs, operators and the facility owners. Because the relationship between consumer and operator is now bridged, a local consumer can build brand loyalty and get to know who is making their food in their area. Everybody wins.

What unique needs do ghost kitchens have that traditional POS systems can’t handle, and how does OrderB4 address these needs?

The ghost kitchen industry is moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar, where a POS has been the default technology. With the emergence of virtual brands and ghost kitchens where delivery is the primary customer interaction, OrderB4 brings a perfect layer of technology to operate multiple brands within one physical location, something a traditional POS can’t do.

Ghost kitchens have a unique opportunity for their business model to bring together a wide variety of brands in one defined geographic area. OrderB4 allows ghost kitchens to bundle those brands into a virtual multi-brand food court. Because of the geographic concentration of the surrounding neighborhood, each ghost kitchen can target local consumers to come to their own multi-brand site.

OrderB4 provides the technology to enable the entire customer experience, including the behind-the-scenes management and distribution of shared ticket revenue and order fulfillment. Legacy POS systems simply can’t manage multi-channel ordering, payment distribution and integrated delivery across a number of brands in a single system. OrderB4 provides this layer of technology.

 The pandemic has spurred huge growth in the ghost kitchen space. What are some common mistakes ghost kitchen operators make and what can they do to ensure they thrive in this crowded market?

Most ghost kitchen operators believe the only way to deliver is through the predatory third-party delivery services. This is simply not true, and extremely costly to their operation. OrderB4 gives all power and control back to ghost kitchen operators to flip that funnel.

 Whether your ghost kitchen is real-estate focused (one facility with many members) or an existing restaurant adding new virtual brands to your back of house, OrderB4 is built for your operation to scale.

Payment management within a ghost kitchen can be complex. How does OrderB4 solve this accounting challenge?

OrderB4 has a built-in traffic cop in the form of its payment system, so funds are distributed easily to each kitchen member. As orders funnel in, the funds per brand can be siloed off to their respective bank accounts so each member automatically gets paid every 24 hours. One ticket split amongst multiple brands? Easy — we can handle that with our automated back end.

OrderB4 also handles all invoicing and payment distribution for our delivery partners, taking that burden off the kitchen members. When you sign up, integrated fleet delivery is built into our platform so you can start delivering right away. Our primary focus is to make kitchen operators’ lives easier!

Randy Murphy is founder and CEO of FourBurner Technologies, Inc. and the OrderB4 software platform. Randy has led the company since launch in June 2019 via spin out from his then multi-brand, multi-unit restaurant operating company based in Austin, Texas.

Formerly, Randy was co-founder, executive chairman and CEO of Murphy Adams Restaurant Group, which at its peaked owned and operated over 40 total units of Mama Fu’s Asian House, Austin’s Pizza and East Side King brands over the past 15 years.