The science of food delivery app development

Don’t think that the food delivery app industry is too big for you to enter and you can’t compete with such large players as UberEats, TakeAway, DoorDash, GrubHub, Yelp, Deliveroo. Here are clear examples of why you shouldn’t be afraid to try. 

You can improve existing solutions, create a solution for a more narrow group of users, or make a similar food delivery app, but for locals who haven’t got access to already existing solutions. In the story a person shares that in their country the weather conditions can get tough, sometimes it gets too hot, sometimes too cold. So getting food depends on the weather, as shops allow orders only by phone calls and sometimes the signal gets weak in the client’s location. Famous international deliveries are not available in his area.

If you are quite a big shop or supermarket trying to exist and flourish in a new reality, the advice below might be useful for you as well. 

We are here to uncover the distinctive features of developing the food delivery apps and key steps to success.

Types of food delivery app

Food delivery app for restaurants and groceries

In this case, the restaurant builds its own food delivery app and handles the entire delivery process. You will pay quite a big sum of $40-60k for custom development + support, updates, and maintenance afterwards, while the benefits are the following: 

  • no-commission is required to give to any third-party
  • no fee for delivery
  • a unique identity to your service 
  • transparency towards your brand 
  • you can serve your target audience well by providing tailor-made offers

In this type, we are mostly talking about traditional on-site restaurants. However, if you can turn your offline place or start from scratch a virtual restaurant when you have a place to cook and your delivery. 

Note! Do not delve into food delivery app development too early in your business, use marketplaces for the purpose (we describe them below). Because following the strategy you are at the risk of spending all your energy (and money) on food delivery app development and not on the business itself. Building your food delivery app is for big restaurants and supermarket chains.

Sure, we are not talking about virtual restaurants and groceries, since a food delivery app in their case is an inevitable part of the business. 

Aggregator model or food marketplace

The food delivery apps work as a mediator between you and restaurants or groceries. Customers can search through a variety of restaurants’ menus using an online tool. They can as well check reviews, ratings, and prices before placing the order. The aggregator sends the order to each of the restaurants, who then contact the courier company or deliver on their resources.

This model provides restaurants with a way to get constant orders, while aggregators can earn a suitable commission. It is quite a common and optimal way for small and medium shops and restaurants.

Logistics delivery system

This is how GrubHub and Uber Eats work. These services handle orders and delivery. Many businesses also work with courier companies.

Besides a commission (about 25-30%) this business model includes a delivery fee. The food delivery apps are opening up new horizons for the food delivery startups who couldn’t afford to have their own delivery system. 

Trends for a food delivery app

First of all, you can check common mobile app trends for 2021 in the previous material. Other specific trends for food delivery app include the following: 

Virtual assistant. By using chatbots customers can place orders via messengers and request food in a single word. For example:

Grubhub, the food delivery service for Americans, has integrated its system with Alexa and Amazon’s virtual assistant. So customers can reorder any of their last three orders.

Thanks to Amazon’s hardware Echo Show, in Just Eat customers can place orders with voice and check the courier’s location.

Smartwatch. Apps designed for smartwatches are similar to other mobile apps but differ in design and functionality. So think about adapting your app to smaller screens.

Wearables are now considered independent devices. The number of connected wearable devices is expected to reach 1,1 billion in 2022. And think of how comfortable it is to order food with your watch. 

Social networks.We are talking about ordering via social media accounts functionality. Domino’s Pizza is the first company to use this ordering option, which allowed customers to place orders via Twitter accounts. App users “tweeted” a pizza emoji to the Domino’s Pizza Twitter account to place an order.

Ideas and examples

When thinking about food delivery app development, do not limit yourself to an «UberEats like app». Here are the ideas for inspiration. Food delivery may be different. 

IGAF — here you need not even choose the food. The team chooses something delicious themselves and sends you for $20. 

Source: ProductHunt.

Ugly Drinks — flavored sparkling water subscription. 

Taste is a marketplace where you can order dishes from some of the best restaurants in the world. And you need not live in NYC. They make the best dinner experiences easily accessible and help the best chefs bring their craft to hundreds of millions of diners across the nation. 

RandomPizza — pizza subscription service. You will get your pizza from a random pizza joint at random time. You just need to set your preferences on an available delivery time and location.

Spread — food marketplace with no commission for restaurants. Instead, they offer a separate «performance marketing» product (that is completely optional) where we make money. Restaurants are happy to pay for new customers instead of being stuck in a system where they are paying 20-30% commissions on the same customers. 

Chefus delivers professional chef-made food directly to eaters by taking out the middlemen — restaurants & delivery platforms. Chefs get 53% of revenue and take care of ingredients and cooking while Chefus gets 47% and takes care of packing & delivery logistics.

Basic features to have

Customer app version

Login to the app using email or social networks profile to use it on several devices.  Giving instant access to customers via multiple social media profiles could be a great way to retain them and get more visitors.

The customer profile contains information about the customer, such as their full name, address, location, mobile number, and email-id.

Search by meal, filters, as well as food category. Smart search makes it easy to find preferred items, with specific keywords, without navigating through the entire app. 

Order placing allows adding meals to the cart. 

Order checkout includes all selected dishes and the order total. 

Recommended products. This feature will display a list of recommended products based on the search preferences of the user in the past. Moreover, targeting product recommendations could play a crucial role in providing increased average order value to your online store.

Price comparison. This feature will help users to know what other brands are priced at for similar products without making them leave the app.

Delivery time. A machine learning feature to calculate the delivery time based on order volume, delivery location, availability of drivers, etc.

Location. Users enter a delivery location manually or permit to auto-detect it.

The payment gateway for users to pay for the order via the built-in system. Our advice is to integrate several payment systems. Also, offer to apply promo codes and select a payment method (online/offline).

Notifications inform users about the order status via SMS and push notifications.

The delivery scheduler allows choosing a delivery time as per the customer’s convenience. It ensures that the delivery person comes to the house when at a time convenient time for the customer to get groceries or dishes.

Real-time order tracking using the CoreLocation framework for iOS apps and Google Location API for Android apps. 

Chat with drivers and help center.  This will make it easier for your customers to find solutions faster, which will in turn help with customer satisfaction.

Dispute. Users can raise a dispute if their orders are delivered late, or there are some other issues with an order. 

Rating. For customers to evaluate various groceries and restaurants. For example, by giving them from 1 to 5 stars. 

Reviews to share users’ experiences with the service and restaurant/grocery.  When users give ratings to the restaurants, their services, or the delivery people, other customers benefit as well. Also, as an app owner, you can know which of your staff is trustworthy.

Repeat order feature allows customers to repeat the previous orders. It’s a great way to make the ordering process easier for loyal customers.

Restaurant / Grocery app version

Profile Creation. It helps admins to add restaurant details such as name, location, and working hours.

Dashboard. View various orders statuses like all pending, upcoming, delivered, and cancelled orders, as well as the details and analytics of the users.

Managing list of available dishes, products and categories. Add and delete the items.

Order management. Admins can view details of upcoming orders and update their status. Cancel, update, or schedule the order delivery. 

Track order history. View past orders with the dates and summaries.

Chat and reviews. To be able to answer users’ messages and comments.

Payments. Give a restaurant or a grocery opportunity to receive and track total and daily earnings. 

Delivery app version

Create profile. The delivery person can register in the food delivery app by filling up a few details like name, phone number, and email id. Include social media profiles for providing instant and seamless app access.

Availability status — online/offline. To check whether the delivery person is available for orders at a certain period of time. 

Order management: To monitor order delivery status, accept or reject requests. 

Navigation between a restaurant’s and customer’s location with the best route to make multiple deliveries easier using route optimization.

Call or chat with a restaurant or customer. To learn the cooking status or to inform the customer about reaching the delivery location, delivery executives can turn to the restaurant or the customers. 

Notification. To know about customer or food supplier updates.

Despute if the delivery guy can’t reach the user location or have other difficulties.  

Delivery history — how many orders a person has delivered in a day, the transaction, and user details.

Earnings. This feature helps delivery drivers to keep track of their earnings and payments.  A delivery person can transfer their earnings to their bank account when required.

Feedback. Once delivered, users can rate and review the delivery person.  

Team for development

The members of the team may differ depending on what features you have already developed and what business model you have chosen. In the beginning several full-stack developers might be enough. They will help you with an MVP. But for further functioning you will need the following experts:

  • Project manager
  • Business analyst
  • Android and iOS developers
  • Web designer
  • QA expert

It might be your in-house team, experts from an outstaffing company, a fully equipped development team from an outsourcing company, or freelancers. The article describes the difference between the alternatives, their pros and cons. 

The cost of a food delivery app development greatly depends on the way you hire employees, the number of team members, the complexity of the features you need to develop. To get an approximate cost of food delivery app development use this calculator

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Some of the benefits of working with us:

The top 3% of Ukrainian developers are working in Digis, due to our detailed selection of five stages.

24 hours to see your first candidate’s CV from us

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