How-To
Mobile Dev

Food delivery app development: Everything you need to know

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Sikorskaya Kate

Marketing Manager

December 15
2022
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This article is an extensive guide for those who would like to learn how to make a food delivery app. We’ll go through the food delivery market, its potential, and trends, as well as describe food delivery app types. Further, you’ll find out about food delivery app development with all the nuances discussed such as cost to build, time to market, must-have features, and development tips. So, keep reading to make the right choices to create a successful on-demand food delivery app.

Food delivery app market

In 2020 everything related to delivery and online shopping got an incredible boost. So did the food delivery market. Due to the Coronavirus, almost a hundred thousand of restaurants closed by the spring of 2021 both temporary and permanent. The market was shocked and the only way to survive was to pivot and implement technology. As per Jean Chick, principal in strategy consulting at Deloitte, those restaurants that invested in digital technologies before the pandemic tended to do well. He even mentioned that such restaurants had increased guest counts and sales and managed delivery better. According to Statista, the global revenue of online food delivery has grown from around $160 million in 2019 to $353 million in 2022. It means the revenue doubled within 4 years. What’s more, the trend is likely to continue.
Food delivery market statistics
In 2021 restaurants already generated 67% of their revenue from delivery orders on average. Taking into account experts’ predictions, we can see, that this proportion is likely to increase further in favor of delivery.

Food delivery app development trends

There are a few food delivery app development trends to keep in mind if you want your app to stand out from the competition.

1. Mobile-first development

Mobile-first development means prioritizing food delivery mobile app development over a website or a web app. This approach has become increasingly popular in recent years as the number of people using smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed. Speaking about the food delivery industry, this trend is important to keep up with because around 60% of online orders come from smartphones.
According to our research, people prefer using mobile apps for food delivery for several reasons:
  • Ability to order meals anytime anywhere;
  • Better user experience: view prices, save orders to be able to repeat them later, overall better usability than websites;
  • No queues if compared to ordering in-house;
  • Often include loyalty programs.
That is why, speaking about food delivery, it is much more reasonable and important to start with a mobile application development. If you already have a website check out if it is seamless and easy to navigate for mobile users.

2. Digital transformation

One of the biggest trends concerning restaurants is the focus on the digital transformation of restaurant business processes. Jean Chick, principal in strategy consulting at Deloitte, thinks that “restaurant leaders need to ask how they can automate the back of house to relieve labor pressures and increase safety.” It also means that to stay actionable and profitable they should rethink their business models to optimize middle and back office operations (planning, forecasting, HR, supply, accounting) and make them flexible, frictionless, and automated. These actions will make it possible to be focused more on strategic decisions, and make them faster, plus based on data.

3. Automated delivery

Delivery itself is the most time-consuming and cost-inefficient element of a food delivery business model. That’s why the introduction of automated delivery systems like drones and driverless vehicles is coming into play. It helps to reduce the costs of delivery and improve customer service. Furthermore, it is also a greener way of delivery which matters nowadays a lot. Although the tendency is just getting traction, some companies are already trialing and rolling out these updates. For example, Amazon declares it will start delivering packages with their flying drones by the end of 2022.

4. Subscriptions

One of the major food delivery app trends that we are seeing emerge is the rise of subscription-based models. This means that instead of ordering individual meals or items as needed, users are signing up for recurring delivery of certain foods on a regular basis. This can be daily, weekly, monthly, or the schedule can be customized.
There are a few key reasons why this trend is taking off:
  • It offers convenience and peace of mind for busy people who don't always have time to cook or go grocery shopping. With a subscription-based food delivery service, they know that they will always have fresh and healthy food on hand.
  • These types of services tend to be more cost-effective than their traditional counterparts. When you order in bulk or subscribe to a service, you usually get a discount. For example, Uber Eats provides its subscribers ($9.99 per month) with special benefits: $0 delivery and 5% off eligible orders over $15.
  • Many subscription-based services offer customization options that allow users to tailor their experience according to their preferences. For example, some companies let you choose the types of foods you want to be delivered, while others let you select specific dishes from their menu each week.
Subscriptions help restaurants and food delivery businesses increase the amount and consistency of profit they are able to make.

5. Hyperlocal Food Delivery

Hyperlocal food delivery apps are those that focus on delivering food from local restaurants and businesses to consumers in a very specific geographic area. This trend is taking off for several reasons, but the major one is commissions. Speaking about food delivery aggregators, hyperlocal food delivery helps restaurants to address the issue of high commissions. With such service providers, restaurants can benefit from smaller commissions, which leads to higher profits.

Food delivery app business models

There are several types of online food delivery apps depending on the business model.

1. Restaurant delivery app

If you have a restaurant, a supermarket, or a grocery store, you can launch a mobile app so that your customers can order goods delivered directly from you. This model lets you get rid of the third parties and commissions, but requires more initial investments for app development and support, and hiring drivers. It is a more suitable option for large restaurant and store chains. For example, Domino’s generates over 70% of sales via digital ordering channels including their mobile apps.
Food delivery app business models

2. White-label food delivery software

This business model means that you don’t need to have your restaurant, but rather to become a software provider to supply third parties with a white-label or out-of-the-box solution. It means an app builder that is customized for food delivery and restaurant businesses.

3. Food delivery aggregator

Think of Glovo or Uber Eats — these are food delivery aggregators. So, if you are looking to build an app that provides on-demand food delivery services from different restaurants, it is your option.
Food delivery mobile app development

Food delivery app features

Further, we have listed some basic features for food delivery app development including functionality of a user mobile app, courier app, restaurant and admin aplications. There are also some features that may not be must-have ones, but could dramatically improve user experience. At SolveIt, we provide free consultations so that you can get a feature list for the first MVP with a detailed cost breakdown to develop it. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Food delivery app features

User mobile app

  1. Sign-up and login. Actually, signing up can be optional for customers to use a food delivery application. But if you need this feature, for the first MVP it can be implemented as a standard sign-up / login by entering an email or a phone number. Further, it may be extended to a Social Media sign-up option for faster onboarding.
  2. Profile management. Users should be able to manage their profiles so that they can save their delivery information for future orders.
  3. For food aggregators: Catalog of restaurants. The customer app should allow users to easily browse through a list of available food items and make their selections. To enhance the navigation, you can add a search bar, categories, and filters. For example, restaurants can be filtered by cuisine (fast food, Mediterranean, Asian, vegan, etc.), average check, distance or delivery time, rating, and so on.
  4. Menu. On the restaurant menu screen, the meals are better to be divided into categories: breakfast, side dishes, main course, soups, desserts, beverages, etc. Don’t forget that images are extremely important here. Other information to be shown on the menu includes price, ingredients, grams, and calories. As an extra feature here, you can allow users to customize their orders by adding or removing ingredients.
  5. Check-out. The checkout screen should provide all the information about the current order: the restaurant, dishes, their quantity and price, and overall order price. Furthermore, it should include the following information and features to set up a delivery: estimated delivery time or an option to customize delivery time, delivery address field, and customer contact information. If discounts may apply, make sure you include this functionality in the checkout screen as well.
  6. Payment. Payment can be made directly through the app via Apple & Google Pay, PayPal, debit, and credit cards, or there may be an option to pay with cash if that’s within your strategy. For the MVP you should add one or two payment options that are the most relevant to the region where your app will be used.
  7. Order tracking. Customers should have the ability to track their current orders in real-time, so they know exactly when they will arrive and have a piece of mind. You can make it a delivery status update or let users track their orders on a map. As well, you may want to allow users to view their past orders here, access payment information, and contact the courier.
  8. Push notifications. With push notifications, you can inform users about their order’s status or send special offers, make meal recommendations, and more. Mobile app notifications are a powerful marketing tool that can boost user engagement if it is done correctly and personalized.
  9. Support. Customer support is important to handle user inquiries and problems. This can be done through different channels like phone, email, messengers, or via in-app chat.
Food delivery app development

Courier mobile app

  1. Registration and profile management. Unlike customers, couriers have to complete registration with all the necessary information for safety operations. A standard set of data includes personal and contact information, personal ID, and driver’s license. It may also be a good idea to have an identity verification (integration with a camera is required) and terms and conditions for couriers.
  2. Order management. One of the most important features of a courier app. It has to be highly intuitive to keep the courier’s attention on the most important things related to the order: delivery time, pick-up or drop-off locations, and the ability to get in touch with a restaurant and a customer. Of course, it should also provide all the order information including customer contact details, order number, details, and payment details. Couriers should also be able to view other orders in one place sorted by statuses like completed, rejected, delayed, and so on.
  3. Map and navigation. Routing functionality is critical for couriers and it should be the precisest possible as it is the source of information regarding the estimated time of arrival. It can also be used to monitor couriers’ activity and motivate them. For example, if couriers complete orders faster than was estimated. This functionality can be realized as an integration of 3rd party software like Google Maps, Mapbox, and others.
  4. Scheduling (for aggregators). Couriers can schedule their working hours in advance. To save time and money, you can integrate a calendar API like Google Calendar into your food delivery app.

Restaurant app

  1. Menu management. With this functionality, restaurants can keep their menus up-to-date. Thus, restaurant managers should be able to add, delete, and edit all the fields of the menu items. It is a great option to give restaurants the ability to announce special offers and discounts.
  2. Order management. Allow restaurants to view and manage incoming orders, including marking them as confirmed or canceled, in progress, ready for pickup, and completed. From here, restaurant workers should also have access to all order details: items and their quantity, customer’s comments, customer’s and courier’s contact details, delivery time, payment information, and so on.
  3. Reporting & analytics. Provide restaurants with detailed reports and analytics on their revenue, sales, deliveries, customers, etc., to help them better understand and improve their business operations. You can also provide data for each item separately, including average cooking time, delivery time, and customer feedback.

Admin functionality

If you’re planning to build a food delivery aggregator app, the administrator’s functionality may end up in a separate web or mobile interface. However, if you’re looking to create a food delivery app for your restaurant/chain of restaurants, features of a restaurant app and admin functionality are reasonable to be developed in a single app.
  1. Restaurant management for food delivery aggregators. If you are developing a Glovo-like food delivery app, then you should include a dashboard to manage partner restaurants. From this screen, admins should be able to add/delete partners, review and approve changes, contact restaurant managers, and have access to legal information and payments.
  2. Courier Management. This functionality of this part should include access to the courier’s contact and personal information, working conditions and schedule, productivity tracking, rating, and salary payouts. It can also have an in-built messenger to contact couriers. Here, you might also need tools to manage couriers’ schedules and delivery areas to optimize delivery.
  3. Analytics. Data and analytics are critical for any business to track its operations and state, as well as spot and timely solve problems. That’s why effective data collection and visualization will be highly useful. The most important parameters to track include income and expenses (total and by categories), number of orders, and revenue brought from each partner. Furthermore, advanced AI tools can be implemented as well for risk management or data-driven tips on business optimization.

Step by step: How to build a food delivery app

Successful food delivery mobile app development can be a complex and time-consuming process. Further, we will walk you through the entire food delivery app development process, from idea to launch.

1. Discovery phase

The first step of a project discovery phase is to understand the client’s business and the market landscape. At this stage, we schedule a discovery meeting with a client to learn more about their idea and requirements. Further, we perform a market analysis to understand the existing competition, identify unmet needs in the market, and get the sense of the target audience. Once this landscape is understood, it's time to start developing a product that can meet those needs. This involves creating a product roadmap and wireframes that detail how the app will function. These wireframes are then used to develop a prototype of the app. After the prototype is complete, it's time to validate the concept with potential users. This can be done through user testing or focus groups. Once feedback has been collected and incorporated, it's time to move on to development. At SolveIt, we believe that a properly performed discovery phase can develop the most profitable MVP feature list. It means that based on the performed discovery and analysis, you can identify what features are of the top priority to meet your user needs, and not to overspend the development budget. Learn more how to make it right in this article.

2. MVP development

MVP development for startups is the best approach to launch a new product. MVP helps to minimize business risks and enter the market in the most effective way.
Design This is the first and most important step in developing a successful app. You need to make sure that your app idea is clear, concise, and easy to understand. The design should also be visually appealing and user-friendly. For example, you can check out the design SolveIt team developed for a food delivery app.
Food delivery app design
Development Once the design is complete, it's time to start coding the app. This can be done either by yourself or with the help of a specialized development agency like SolveIt. A reliable team of professionals can bring you a piece of mind here, because such agencies usually handle everything from idea to launch and support. Plus, you get the expertise and high-quality services while you can keep the focus on business and promotion.
Testing Before launching your app, it's essential to test it on as many devices as possible. This will help you identify any bugs or glitches so they can be fixed before going live.

3. Launch

Once everything is ready, it's time to hit the "publish" button! To make it happen frictionlessly, you should make sure the app meets store requirements. Just in case: SolveIt takes care of store publishing as well, so our customers do not worry about this step either. Make sure you promote your app well so people know it exists and can download it from their preferred app store.

4. Monitoring performance & gathering feedback

After you launch your app, you should monitor its performance and gather feedback from users. This will help you identify any areas where your app needs improvement and make the necessary changes. One way to monitor performance is to track key metrics such as the number of downloads, number of active users, retention rate, and engagement. You can use analytics tools like Google Analytics or Flurry to track these metrics. It's also important to get feedback from users through reviews and ratings on app stores, as well as through in-app feedback forms or surveys. This will give you insights into what users like and don't like about your app and what they would like to see changed or added.

5. Support, updates, enhancements

After taking feedback from users to determine, developers typically release updates and enhancements on a regular basis. Updates may include new features, bug fixes, new content, or improved design. For a successful product that users love and stick to, the ability to perform flawlessly is one of the most important criteria. That is why we advise to regularly check and improve mobile app performance.

Cost of food delivery app development

Food delivery app development cost will vary depending on the features you want to include and the platforms you want to support (iOS, Android, Web). If you're looking to build a basic app with only a few features, then your costs will obviously be lower than a more complex set of features.

Factors influencing food delivery app cost and time-to-market

  1. Complexity. Cost-to-build and time to get your product to the market will strongly depend on the complexity of the app: number of features and integrations. A simple app can be developed in around 8 weeks (2 months), whereas a more complex app takes from 12 weeks (3 months) and longer.
  2. Tech stack. The tech stack also plays a role in determining the cost and time to develop a food delivery mobile app. If you already have a team of developers experienced in building mobile apps, then they will likely be able to use their existing skillsets and knowledge to build your app relatively quickly. However, if you need to hire new developers or outsource the work, then this will obviously add to both the cost and development time.
  3. Development approach. The cost of on-demand food delivery app development also varies depending on which software development architecture you choose as well as the size and complexity of your project. If you choose to use an agile or DevOps approach, expect to pay more upfront, as these approaches require more planning and coordination than waterfall or traditional project management techniques.
We recommend starting with the MVP development to validate the product on the real market, set up monetization and gradually add features based on the user needs and feedback.

In-house VS outsource food delivery app development

If you have the internal resources and expertise necessary for food delivery mobile app development, then building it in-house may be the best option for you. This approach gives you full control over the development process and allows you to tailor the app specifically to your business needs. However, it is important to note that building an in-house development team from scratch can be extremely time and money consuming. Outsourcing food delivery app development can be a great option for many businesses. This approach often saves time and money compared to building the app in-house, as you can leverage the expertise of professional developers. In addition, outsourced developers are typically well-versed in the latest technologies and trends, which can help to ensure that your app is built using cutting-edge methods.

Bottom line

At SolveIt, we have the expertise to develop a top-notch food delivery app that meets your specific needs and requirements. Whether you want a simple app with basic features or an advanced app with all the bells and whistles, we can create it for you.

Need an estimate for your food delivery app idea?