How to Make an On-Demand Food Delivery app like GrubHub, Postmates or UberEats?
In the age of capitalism, when most people have a highly dynamic life — be it pursuing a career, challenging academics, or parenthood — time has never been more important. Thus, people look for any opportunity that’ll save their time and give more space to follow their dreams or spend it on what really matters. This fact alone could be a solid ground for food delivery apps to take off.
In addition to that, once the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic, the food delivery market had been growing as intensively as never before — the worldwide revenue in the Online Food Delivery segment has increased by more than $80M in just one year.
Plus, the number of food delivery app users is projected to grow in many regions. For example, the US market should have 53.9M of such app users by 2023. Such huge numbers make perfect sense if we take a look at one of the most important benefits that food delivery offers people — saving our most precious resource.
As of now, we have a dynamic industry with intensive competition and a lot of niches that can be filled in by disruptive start-ups. We, as Software Development geeks, would love to make a contribution and help the industry see new ideas that will meet the requirements of the modern market or even set up new game rules.
So, if you are one of those who want to step into the game and be a part of the market — welcome! We’ll help you out.
✅ Top Things Worth Attention When Building your Food Delivery App
In this section, we’re going to talk about a couple of aspects that we’d like to draw your attention to.
Food Delivery App Types
To begin with, it’s essential to differentiate types of food delivery apps as it impacts the development process. So, you might want to:
- build a food delivery app for your own restaurant/shop or chain of those.
- develop software to provide it to third parties as a white-label or out-of-the-box solution. Here comes the question if you’d also want to provide your clients with delivery services or you’d only take care of the technical part.
- be an aggregator like Glovo or Uber Eats.
In this article, we’ll talk about the food delivery apps for your own restaurant and aggregator food delivery apps since, basically, the functionality of a white-label solution for the food delivery market would be the same as for one of the remaining business models (depending on what you’ll choose).
However, building a white-label solution requires a different development approach. If you’d like to learn more about it, you could read our article dedicated to this topic:
How Can You Benefit from Food Delivery App Development?
Building a food delivery app can be quite beneficial in multiple ways. Let’s take a quick look at some numbers:
- First of all, 63% of consumers find ordering food online much more convenient than eating out.
- Customers who order food online visit a respective public catering place 67% more frequently compared to those who don’t.
- Certain pizza chains report that consumers tend to spend 18% more when ordering per app.
Moreover, there are other benefits that are really important to keep in mind so as not to lose any opportunities. For your convenience, we’ve decided to list them within one table:
|A wider clientele||While having a physical store/eatery without delivery opportunities, your consumers are mostly people who live or have some activities like work/studies nearby. Or those who visit your place because of how much they love it.
Additionally, you cover those consumer groups that were previously excluded. For example, white-collar workers that order lunch.
|New marketing channels||With an app, you also get extended access to digital promotion tools. Surely, it’s possible to increase digital presence without an app, but it’s significantly easier for 6.4B unique mobile users to try your products right after noticing your delivery app rather than looking for a spare minute to come by and, at least, order takeaway.|
|Revenue increase||Having a food delivery app is beneficial on its own as there are multiple monetization models you can opt for. However, if you already have a restaurant and/or shop, you can be sure that, with the right approach, you can expect notable revenue increases.
For example, Domino’s generates 70% of sales through an app and digital channels in general.
Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Minimum Viable Product is a solution with just enough features to offer your first clients a product that solves their problem. It’s an amazing way to test out your idea just to make sure that your idea has potential and the niche you’ve chosen might be actually profitable.
Additionally, based on our experience, building an MVP prevents companies from implementing a bunch of features that customers won’t actually need. It will save you both time & budget.
To help you with creating an MVP, we’re going to give you some technical tips on how to make its concept work for you — and so it doesn’t turn into a useless development stage:
- Add a bare minimum. This is your draft to test out the idea and, maybe, get first paying customers. So, treat it with full responsibility, but don’t add too many features — just those that are essential for your app.
- Test as much as you can. Try to stay flexible and incorporate feedback that you get from early clients into each new version of your app.
- Set goals and expectations. For each feature that you add, try to think about what you’d like to find out. For example, if you add a navigator for couriers, your goal might be “How long it takes the navigator to build a route”. If your goal was 1 second, and the result is 3, you can think about ways to improve it or minimize the influence of bad internet connection, per se.
If you’d like to get more information about building an MVP, we have an article dedicated to this topic:
Even though user feedback is an integral part of the MVP stage, it deserves a separate section. So, user feedback is the MOST important thing when building or improving an app. Essentially, there won’t be any point in developing a solution if your target audience won’t be using it, right?
Here are some tips on how you can make giving feedback as user-friendly and easy as possible using your app:
- Implement feedback forms directly to your app and make it as automated as possible. Meaning that while asking to write feedback in the form of text might be more useful to you, it takes a lot of time for users to leave it. So, think about how you can get the needed information without asking users to type.
- Offer bonuses for leaving feedback like early access to an app, free delivery for some orders, discounts, merch — whatever incentive you can think of.
- Send them a post-factum gratitude notification.
- Apart from it, you can send them a bonus that you didn’t tell them about. It might create a pattern that doing your a favor leads to getting something in return.
😀 Client App Features
Food delivery might have 3 parties that will use your app, depending on the business model you choose. These are consumers, food providers, and couriers. So, we’ll have 3 sections dedicated to each feature set. Let’s start with the one for customers.
# 1: Sign Up & Profiles 🔐
First of all, signing up doesn’t have to be necessary. You might offer to create an account to use advanced features like view previous orders, automatic payments, or delivery tracking within the app. However, to complete an order, asking for necessary information (like pick-up address and name) at the checkout screen should be sufficient.
But you surely can stimulate your customers to create a profile by offering sign-up bonuses or allowing custom avatars. Additionally, implementing Social Media Sign Up might be a great idea. This way, you make the sign-up process faster and get data about users’ social media accounts.
In the future, it will be easier to work with promoting your business through SMM tools since you will already have a database of some accounts that are your target audience. It will also allow you to send personalized offers to your customers and perform retargeting. Plus, you can offer users to share their experience with you on social media for additional bonuses.
# 2: Home Screen 📲
First and foremost, users should be able to see a whole list of places right on this screen. You can offer to categorize and filter restaurants here as well as place a search bar so users can look for something specific. However, this part is only relevant for business models with several places to order food from.
Moreover, such a screen normally has quick access to other features like:
- Restaurants menus.
- Profile settings & overview.
- Links to your business’s social media/website/blog.
- “Contact Us” page.
- Payment options page to add/edit connected cards.
- Notifications feed
- Order screen.
- FAQ page & others.
# 3: Searching, Filtering & Sorting 🔍
The search bar feature isn’t only relevant for the Home Screen. As part of the Menu Screen, for example, you can enable searching for dishes by keywords like “salmon”, “tomatoes”, or “vegan”.
As we already mentioned in the previous section, filtering and sorting functionality is also essential for a food delivery app. First of all, there should be filters for restaurants if you have multiple options. You can add filters by:
- Pricing range.
- Distance if users share their location with your app.
- Availability of special options (vegetarian/vegan food, gluten-free products, etc.).
Apart from filtering restaurants, it’s also useful to have the same functionality for menu pages. They can be filtered by price, cuisine, food category (drinks, meals, main courses, desserts, etc.), cooking time, and ingredients. For example, if a customer has some allergies, they should be able to exclude all dishes with these ingredients with one click.
# 4: Menu Screen 📑
Menu Screen is a place for you to display everything you or your potential partners have to offer to customers. Apart from the filtering functionality that we already talked about in the previous section, it should have information about the restaurant like ratings & feedback, address, phone number, etc.
When it comes to this page’s layout, it’s user-friendly to place food categories right above the first offer on the menu/list — just like in this picture.
It’s also a great marketing tool since it’s easy to display your special offers like “Popular orders”, “Catch of the Day”, discounts, “Fish Thursday”, “2 for 1”, and so on.
# 5: Dish Screen 🍲
After the Menu Screen, consumers should be able to get detailed information on each item on the menu/list. The screen can include:
- Cooking time.
- Grams & calories.
- Ingredients & proportions.
It might be useful to allow customers to edit their dish by adding extra ingredients or removing some. From here, customers also should have an option to order the item.
Additionally, you/your partner restaurants can give customers tips on how to get the maximum taste out of the dish. For example, add specific spices or eat the dish with a glass of certain wine. It will be even better if you’ll be able to offer customers to order it in addition to what they already have.
#6: Check-Out Screen 🛒
This screen is supposed to be a summary of the order and its details, which includes:
- place(s) of order;
- dishes & their quantity;
- overall price as well as price breakdown;
- estimated delivery time;
- delivery address bar;
- chats with a courier and customer support service.
Don’t forget to allow users to set a delivery time since not always the preferred option is as soon as possible.
# 7: Payment Gateway 💲
Since online payment has dozens of different options, it’s important that you provide the most popular ones to meet the demand of the majority. It should include Apple & Google Pay, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard debit and credit cards, etc.
If you offer coupons or other forms of discounts, make sure to offer users to use them at this stage (or while checking order at the checkout). Additionally, it’s essential to allow paying in cash on delivery.
If you feel like you want to deepen your payment gateway implementation knowledge, feel free to follow the link and read our article on this topic:
# 8: Delivery Tracking 📍
After the order is placed, it might be a good idea to enable real-time delivery tracking. First of all, it will allow users to see that their order is actually taken care of. Another benefit is that it’s easy to solve issues with tricky customers that want a discount for a “delayed delivery” when it actually has reached the destination on time.
As for the functionality, it’s reasonable to place the tracking map on the order screen. This way, users can always check their order details, access the payment receipt, tip the courier once the delivery is done, or text them a message.
# 9: Push Notifications 💬
Push notifications are meant to inform users about their order’s status, messages from the courier.
You can also use it as an effective marketing tool. For example, send special offers, make dish recommendations to increase sales, reduce abandoned orders rate, etc.
Unfortunately, many users tend to turn this feature off so make sure to clearly explain how they’ll benefit from allowing your app to send them.
⚙️ Restaurants/Shops App Features
Another part of a delivery chain is an eatery or shop where the order should come from. Let’s take a look at what functionality you might need to add for this part of the app.
In case you’re building an app for your restaurant/chain of businesses that you need delivery for, these features are also important for your admin panel so as to manage the delivery workflow efficiently.
# 1: Menu Management 📋
First and foremost, it’s essential to keep food offers up-to-date. For this purpose, you can implement the following features:
- Adding/removing/changing dishes/items from the menu.
- Editing descriptions.
- Changing prices.
- Announce special offers and discounts.
- Edit the photos & others.
Plus, restaurants also need to be in control of food placement — for example, what categories they’re in. They should be able to create new categories as well as remove old ones.
Think about adding some design customization features like coloring different categories within a restaurant’s menu. Surely, you can’t make every single thing customizable, but at least a couple of them would do it.
Another important aspect that we’d like to point out is that restaurants often use some centralized PC network to manage online orders. Thus, managing everything from the app might be new and confusing to them.
So, make sure to either assign an instructor to each partner restaurant or record a detailed onboarding video. Or, you can surely consider developing web software for this purpose.
# 2: Order Screen ✔️
This screen is intended to help with incoming online orders management. It might consist of:
- Orders list with different tabs for new orders, those in process of cooking/preparing, completed, delivered, and canceled.
- Order details like a time when the order was made, items and their number, personal details of the order recipient as well as the courier, and so on.
- Lists with dishes. This way, you can track the status of each separate item on the order. It’s essential to mark each item with a relative order number.
- Comments from the client.
- Payment receipts.
- Chat with a client as well as a courier
- Delivery tracking. Yet, it shouldn’t be as complex as the one for clients.
Plus, you should think about how you’ll pass the order to the kitchen. You can set up an information exchange flow between different devices and transfer the order to the kitchen automatically. Or you can assign employees (for example, waiters) responsible for taking care of online orders.
# 3: Analytics 📊
The analytical part of a solution is highly important to manage business strategy and adjust it to customers’ preferences. You can allow tracking:
- An overall number of sold items within a certain amount of time.
- Data for each item specifically.
- The proportion of online/offline orders if there are both.
- Average cooking time.
- Average cheque.
- Average delivery time.
- Rating & customer feedback.
This data can help you optimize your marketing, sales strategy, procurement spendings, and a lot of other business metrics. Advanced functionality can include business optimization recommendations or making sales predictions with the help of AI, for example. However, that’s definitely not something you should think of right at the start.
🍔 Courier App Features
The Courier version of the app would have more features if you’re building a Glovo-like aggregator solution — couriers working for such businesses use a separate workflow unit that normally determines working hours on their own, accepts deliveries, communicates with a client, and gets tipped within the app, etc.
However, the final set of features depends on the delivery process at your company. So, even if you’re not going to build an aggregator food delivery app, it doesn’t mean that this section won’t be helpful to you. Plus, if you’d like to hear our opinion on your case, feel free to reach out to us.
# 1: Application & Profiles 📝
Unlike customers, couriers have to be registered to complete orders. Even though you can ask for as much information as needed for a working contract, for example, we’d still recommend giving them some space just in the beginning of the applying process.
Let them know about your paying policies, way of determining working hours, whether you offer a time-limited contract, whether couriers have a probation period, etc.
After they’ve read all the terms and decided to fill in the application, you can ask for every necessary piece of information like full name, email/phone number, personal ID, driver’s license, etc. Plus, if your application process includes live identity verification, you can integrate microphone and camera functionality to do it via the app.
After they become your courier, you can enable signing in by their employee/phone number or email plus password — whatever you’ll find the most suitable. Some companies build apps that couriers can download only for determining working hours. Everything else is done via corporate mobile devices that don’t have anything but courier functionality and that aren’t allowed to be taken home.
Their profile should also be changeable through settings, however, you might want to approve such changes since couriers are a part of your team and it's essential that you control data authenticity.
You can also allow uploading & downloading documents so couriers have access to their working contract or can upload receipts right in the app. We’d also highly recommend recording an extensive onboarding video so you don’t have to assign onboarding employees to each new courier.
Within their profile, couriers should be able to track their earnings (including tips). If you pay them automatically, meaning that couriers can’t just transfer the payment to their bank accounts, then you don’t need to add this feature. Yet, if you allow them to choose whether they want to keep it in the app or not, you should also allow them to add various payment options.
# 2: Order Screen 👈
On this screen, couriers should be able to access all necessary information regarding the order. Basically, it should include everything that users select on their Order Screen. That is, order number, description, name and phone number of the recipient, pick-up or drop-off location, payment details, notes, etc.
The chat with a customer as well as feedback from them perfectly suits this screen. Additionally, it’s reasonable to have a list of completed orders, sorted by different categories like completed, rejected, delayed, just in case you or couriers will need to go back and double-check something.
Plus, depending on your business model, you might need to enable such functionality as accepting the order or rejecting it, starting and finishing the working day, etc.
# 3: Map & Navigator 🗺️
A map with a built-in navigator assists your couriers on their way to complete the delivery. To begin with, make sure that your routing functionality is as precise as possible. This feature plays a huge role in forwarding an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) to a customer. Thus, if the functionality won’t work properly and determine the ETA falsely, it might lead to customers’ dissatisfaction. Additionally, you might need to implement routing for different vehicles if that’s what your use case implies.
With the navigator feature, you can also track courier working time. If you pay them completed orders, you can give them bonuses for finishing some of them faster than ETA, for example. Since they’re technically who provide services to the clients, it’s essential that they stay motivated to perform well.
You surely don’t have to spend time & resources on building your own routing functionality — there’s a lot of technically decent APIs on the market. For example, Google Maps Platform, Mapbox, Bing Maps, etc.
# 4: Scheduling Functionality 📅
This feature is relevant to the business models that allow couriers to set their working hours on their own. To enable it, you can integrate your app with a calendar API like Google Calendar or Cronofy.
It might be a good idea to have some notes next to the days or time in the calendar. For example, if it’s a night shift or shift during holidays, and you pay for such shifts more, you can mark it next to each day.
💻 Admin Panel
So you can manage the delivery workflow, you’ll need a functional admin panel. Before we talk about each separate feature in detail, we’d like to talk about how you can structure it depending on your business model.
If you’re planning to build a Glovo-like app, it’s likely to be a whole separate software where you are able to manage all partner restaurants.
However, if you’re building an app for your restaurant, you probably already have some kind of restaurant software. Thus, it might be reasonable to either build delivery management functionality into the existing software or vice versa — integrate the existing one into the new-built one.
In case you have a chain of restaurants/businesses that you also want delivery services for, you can also unify their management within one software.
If you’re building an app for your restaurant/chain of restaurants, features from the “Restaurant/Shop App Features” section are essentially what your admin panel needs. Additionally, we’d recommend paying attention to the “Courier Management” section to get the full picture of how your admin panel should look like. “Restaurant Management” and “Analytics” features are rather for Glovo-like aggregator apps.
# 1: Restaurant Management 🍎
To manage partner restaurants, you’ll need a dashboard with all partners listed there. Surely, it doesn’t mean that you get to actually determine what they offer and at what price, however, you’ll need it for onboarding purposes, approving changes that partner restaurants might be willing to make, etc.
So, the functionality you might need includes:
- Adding/deleting restaurants from the list.
- Reviewing/accepting/denying changes that a restaurant would like to apply to their Menu or Dish screen. It’s necessary in case you don’t allow restaurants to do it without your approval.
- Chats. For example, you can have business conversations with your partners within the admin panel.
- Payments. Depending on the monetization models, you should be able to overview all payments coming from restaurants and other documents that are important for financial institutions.
You might also want to have your regulatory documents like the partnership contract right on this admin panel page in case you have digital versions of those. If not, you can simply scan and upload them, but you would need a respective feature for that as well.
# 2: Courier Management 🚴
Managing couriers is another important part of your admin panel. From this screen, you should be able to access personal information about each courier and their contact information, your working contract with them, ratings and feedback for quality control, etc.
As for the functionality here, it can include:
- Working hours trackers.
- Salary payout.
- Tech support and logistics department to help couriers in situations where they have troubles with the app or its navigational functions.
- Chats with couriers.
- Orders tracking. Within orders lists, you should be able to see who completed the order and its details.
- Courier productivity tracking. In case you offer some bonuses for reaching milestones regarding KPIs, for example, you might need this feature to determine couriers’ efficiency.
Additionally, you can use this feature for managing the working schedule/calendar. For example, if there are enough couriers registered for a specific working time, you can block it for further booking and mark it with a different color so couriers would know what’s happening.
Additionally, you can add a tool for managing the ongoing delivery areas. If there are too many couriers in one area, you can mark it for all new coming couriers with a specific color so they know that this area is already full. After that, you can easily instruct them to go to another one, where there are not enough delivery workers.
Both features mentioned above can be automated so you don’t have to track it manually. Meaning that once your software registers a limit in time slot bookings or couriers per one area, it automatically takes appropriate actions.
We also have an article on building an advanced courier management system. In case you’ll be interested, we’ll link it here:
# 3: Analytics 📈
To keep track of the financial flow within the framework of your partnership with other restaurants, you might need an analytical dashboard. In case you already have some sort of metrics tracking, you can build a new one for managing deliveries specifically into it as a separate tab.
You can track:
- Overall income, expenses, net worth.
- Income and expenses categorization. For example, income from partners and salary payout expenses.
- Number of orders over a given period of time (day/week/month, etc.).
- Revenue brought from each partnership separately.
- Number of orders made from each partner restaurant & others.
Apart from gathering the data, it’s useful to build software with features that would visualize the information in all forms of statistical infographics — tables, graphs, diagrams, etc. It significantly helps with tracking the dynamic development of your business to spot weak points and understand what are your strong sides.
If you have time, budget, and desire to implement AI tools into the software, you might include risk management features or have your software provide you tips on business optimization based on collected data.
🤖 Tech Stack to Develop a Food Delivery App
Luckily, there are multiple API/SDK options on the market, meaning that you don’t have to build a lot of features and infrastructure from scratch. For example, you may use the following ones:
- To integrate the Payment Gateway, you can use Braintree, Stripe, PayPal.
- For the Social Media sign up, there are Twitter or Instagram SDKs.
- To enable communication features like chats, you can use Sendbird or TalkJS.
- As for navigation and mapping, there are two sides. To determine customers’ or couriers’ locations, you can use Google’s Places API or Core Location Framework (for iOS). And for navigation, there is Google Maps API or MapKit.
- Scheduling functionality can be enabled with the help of Google Calendar or Cronofy that we already mentioned.
In fact, there are multiple tech solutions that you can use for your app like AI for order recommendations, VR for 3D menus, software that allows you to keep track of food stock and sends you notifications when you’re running out of something (like MarketMan or Crunch Time, and many others. However, such modifications are often pricey.
👨💻 Our Expertise: Asha
We at Stormotion got to work with an amazing food delivery project. By the way, it’s a great example of choosing the right niche and bringing uniqueness to the market. The project is called Asha.
Their main idea was to make ordering food more diverse since nowadays, due to the hustle culture, we tend to order something “low-risk” — dishes we 100% know we like. So, to diversify our eating habits, Asha decided to build an app with Tinder-like swiping mechanics.
Customers get offers just like in dating apps — in case you like it, you swipe left and can then order it. Apart from such functionality, they surely have eye-catching HD pictures and detailed descriptions of the dishes.
Within 12 weeks, we built the Proof-of-Concept using React Native so as not to cause any damage to performance and have a decent level of time-/cost-efficiency. For ordering flow, we used GraphCMS, which is also easily integrable with React Native.
Users were getting notifications about their orders being ready with help of Slack integration that we also implemented via GraphCMS. As for in-app push notifications, we decided to use Firebase Cloud Messaging together with Cloud Functions for Firebase.
Food delivery apps perfectly meet the demands of the modern world, meaning that you can build a successful business in the industry. However, you should know what makes you better and/or different from other competitors.
Let’s briefly summarize what steps you should take to a well-functioning food delivery app:
- Decide on a business model if you haven’t yet.
- Contact a development company (or choose other development options like out-of-the-box solutions).
- Build an MVP and collect user feedback.
- Apply user feedback to create a development plan that includes desired features.
- In case you didn’t build an MVP, develop and launch an app.
- Implement efficient technical maintenance, updating, and technical debt covering methods to support your app’s “well-being” in the future.
And you’re done with the technical part of the development!
In case you need help with the development or have any questions left — feel free to contact us! We already have a few successful cases on delivery app development using various Tech Stack. We’ll gladly share our expertise to help your idea skyrocket 🚀