Food Delivery App Development: Everything You Need To Know About Building a Food Delivery Platform

Maryna Pasko
Market Researcher

The demand for food delivery app development is rising. Digital orders and deliveries have grown 300% faster than traditional dine-in sales since 2014. According to Statista, the ‘platform-to-consumer’ delivery segment is expected to reach US$96.8 million worldwide by 2024. Considering the consequences of COVID-19, this growth will remain steady for the foreseeable future.

Source: Business of apps

COVID-19 created increased need for food delivery services amid social-distancing protocols and people's fear of infection. In this way, 2020 seems to have marked the beginning of a golden era for food delivery, especially for aggregators like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and DoorDash. The grocery delivery service Instacart said it achieved its 2022 goals after just three weeks of 2020's lockdown. 

The competition may be fierce, but newcomers to the food delivery market shouldn’t be discouraged by rivalry. If you’re armed with an original idea and robust software with advanced features, there’s every chance of success. Analysing competitors and looking for gaps in their services can help you come up with a brilliant solution. 

MadAppGang has a decade of experience building on-demand service apps for various industries, including  food delivery.  Our products, such as the Tayble app, are used by people all over the world.

We put together this post to help you get started with food delivery app development. But before we dive into details, let’s review how COVID-19 impacted the industry and how the food delivery process changed in response to the pandemic.

Food delivery market overview and challenges in 2021

In 2021, the food delivery industry continues to thrive. "Food delivery app usage has not slowed down, even as consumers return to in-person dining more frequently," says Alisha Kapur, an industry consultant at Similarweb (a service for analysing web traffic and app downloads). The future of food delivery apps appears to be bright for the next few years, but there are still two main challenges for both well-established ventures and small startups to overcome:

Rivalry

It may seem like the industry giants control the market, but that’s not entirely true. Food delivery startups worldwide soared during the pandemic and are still gaining influence. For example, Gousto, a UK meal-kit service, managed to raise $41 million under lockdown. Gorillas, the on-demand grocery startup that aims to deliver goods in just ten minutes, raised $290 million and surpassed its initial one billion dollar valuation. 

Still, there’s a lack of differentiation. Many apps look alike and customers tend to choose the services they already know, such as UberEats. That's why your food delivery app should offer a unique service or features to get attention from your target audience. For example, the startup ConverseNow made waves with its AI-powered voice ordering assistants. Its innovative product helps restaurants automate the taking and processing of orders via different channels, freeing restaurant staff for other tasks.

Convenience for restaurants

Another good way to attract customers and build a large restaurant base is by lowering fees. Third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Seamless are prohibitively expensive with charges reaching up to 30% per order. These fees are a heavy financial burden on venues struggling to overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic. 

food-delivery-apps-fees-analytics

Source: Techcrunch

Low or zero fees is an attractive proposition to restaurant owners, and likely to make your app popular with providers. But it presents another problem: if you don’t charge restaurants, how can you make your app profitable? An ad-based monetization model or cross-selling might come in handy. Or you could adopt the model of Owner.com, a Palo Alto-based startup. Using Owner is free for restaurants, but customers are charged a 5% convenience fee.  

What features are users looking for in food delivery apps?

Regardless of the business strategy you choose, it’s clear that you need to provide transparent pricing and high-quality service. Apart from core features, your app should take into consideration current industry trends to meet your users' needs and expectations. Let’s review what should be included in your food delivery app development plan, from the basics to the most innovative solutions.

Key features of food delivery apps

If you intend to launch a food delivery platform that connects diners with local restaurants and provides delivery (like GrubHub or DoorDash), you need to develop three separate applications for customers, couriers, and restaurants. Each app must have a set of basic features to make the ordering and delivery process smooth and convenient for all sides. We’ve highlighted the essential features for each application below.

Customer app

Within this app, users should be able to view nearby restaurants and their menus easily. For greater convenience, the app should include search filters and order tracking functionalities. Consider implementing the following features:

  • Profile creation and logins via social media channels

  • Search filters (by cuisine, price category, delivery time, and such)

  • Ordering from the menu

  • Multiple payment options

  • Real-time delivery tracking

  • Push notifications

  • History of orders

  • Rate and review

  • 24/7 customer support

An example of food delivery app filters. Source: Dribbble

Courier (delivery) app

The delivery app is similar to the customer's application. It should provide delivery workers with easy access to available orders and must include a built-in GPS navigation feature for pick-ups and drop-offs. Among other key delivery app features are:

  • Registration and profile editing

  • Managing orders (including checking order details, accepting/rejecting a delivery request, and so on)

  • Status update (accepted/picked up/delivered)

  • Push notifications

  • History of delivered orders

develop order management system

An example of an order management system. Source: Knowband

Restaurant (merchant) app

The primary role of a restaurant app is to notify the platform’s partner restaurants about incoming orders. When an order is ready, restaurant managers can use the app to assign the delivery to an available courier.

Some platforms provide analytical tools so restaurants can collect statistics that help with customer retention. Apart from that, you should include the following features to your restaurant mobile app development road map:

  • Content management (adding photos and updating menus)

  • Loyalty campaign creation (create vouchers and sales, promote special offers)

  • Financial accounting

  • Push notifications

  • Cross interface communication (with couriers and customers)

 

To develop all these features, you need powerful software development kits (SDKs) and tools. Later, we detail the technologies used in food delivery app development. But first, let’s take a glance at the trends that can help you win the market:

Food delivery app trends for 2022

To compete in the food delivery market, a basic app isn’t enough. It's wise to add advanced and trendy features to your software. For inspiration, here are a few examples of the innovative solutions food delivery apps are using:

Social media orders

People spend hours browsing social media and delivery companies have spotted a viable opportunity in food ordered via social networks. ChowNow integrated its ordering system with social media platforms and created a new ordering feature for Instagram. Now, over 13,000 partner restaurants can accept orders through the "Order Food" button on their Instagram page or with stickers in their stories. The company says this feature will help restaurants drive revenue and boost order volumes.

integrate food delivery app to instagram

Ordering food via an Instagram story. Source: TechCrunch

Smartwatch

Smartwatches are probably our second-most loved gadgets after our smartphones; no wonder the current surge in the smartwatch market is massive. Some companies took this trend into account and developed apps for smartwatches. 

Domino’s introduced its Android smartwatch application, a simplified version of its web and mobile apps, to ease the ordering process and cover more potential user bases. The "Easy Order" feature allows users to order pizza from their wrists in just a few clicks, then the user’s smartwatch displays information about the order’s status — no need for phones.

build app with smartwatch integration

Domino’s smartwatch application. Source: Eater

Virtual assistant

Technologies such as Alexa and Siri swiftly became our digital companions, assisting us with numerous routine tasks, so why not engage them in the online food ordering process? Caviar recently introduced a Siri shortcut that lets users check order statuses or reorder frequent items through voice commands such as: "Hey Siri, order my usual pizza" or "Hey Siri, Caviar order status." 

siri food delivery app

Siri shortcut for Caviar. Source: BusinessInsider

Another example is Grubhub, which added an Alexa skill that lets users reorder any of their last three purchases with the command: "Alexa, open GrubHub." Alexa then recites previous orders for the customer to choose from, and after processing the order, Alexa announces the estimated delivery time.

build service like grubhub

For the best chance of success with your delivery application, analyse key industry trends carefully. Implementing cutting-edge digital solutions is beneficial for the business in the long run, but requires significant investments, so might not be the highest priority for startups with restricted budgets.

Defining the technology stack

Your app’s key features define the set of technologies needed. Because food delivery apps handle lots of data, they must be backed up by a reliable and scalable backend. Integrated payment systems also matter as users pay for orders via the app. Restaurant listing application programming interfaces (APIs) provide detailed information about eateries while integrated GPS tracking systems allow orders’ movements to be tracked. 

So which SDKs and tools can be used in on-demand food app delivery development? Here’s the tech stack needed when building a food delivery application.

Backend

To store all the data related to food delivery securely, you need a powerful backend solution. In our Tayble project — an order processing app for restaurants — we switched from Firebase (used in the app's prototype) to MongoDB, a more robust document database known for high performance and exceptional security.  With MongoDB, we could create a scalable database with load balancing capabilities. It also allowed us to create regional replicas.

team to develop food ordering app

The Tayble app.

Payment system

There are numerous online payment solutions, and each comes in a different format. It’s best to integrate a payment platform that’s efficient and reliable. Stripe and Braintree SDKs are simple, robust and work well in apps where online payment is required. 

In the Tayble project, we were able to integrate eight point-of-sale (POS) systems at once in cooperation with Doshii, a cloud platform that combines different POS systems in a single API. The solution helped with manual entries and reduced operational costs, so the final price was half as expensive as a traditional system with a tablet and an external printer.

Restaurant listing

When launching a food delivery platform with multiple restaurants, your main priority is to provide access to all the essential information, such as restaurant addresses, working hours, menus, and so on. Luckily, numerous API solutions, such as GrubHub, Zomato, and FourSquare Places, are available. These third-party APIs provide users with up-to-date menus and pricing. Zomato API, for example, holds information on more than 1.5 million restaurants in 10,000 cities worldwide. 

GPS tracking

Technology that pinpoints the user's location is necessary for any food delivery app. To determine the user location and monitor the movement of orders, consider technologies such as Google’s Geolocation API for Android and the CoreLocation framework for iOS. With MapKit and Google Directions APIs, you can provide couriers with directions. Google Maps can be integrated into both Android and iOS versions. 

An example of GPS food tracking. Source: TrendHunter

Messaging system

For quick and smooth deliveries, proper communication is crucial. An in-app messaging system allows restaurants, couriers, and customers to stay in touch and keeps communication channels open. Twilio is a leading communication tool, but there are decent alternatives such as Plivo, MessageBird, Nexmo, and others. To understand which fits your app best, check out our research on integrating messages and calls into a mobile app.

Cost of food delivery app development

As with restaurant mobile app development costs, calculating the price of a food delivery app involves several factors including: the project’s scale; the platform the app is launched on; the number of features and their complexity; the number of third-party integrations required; and developers’ rates. So, the final cost ranges somewhere from $US30,000 to $US500,000 depending on the complexity of your project.

Because we understand how important it is to stay on budget, at MadAppGang we rely on sprint planning. Sprints are short, repeatable software development periods when a development team completes a set amount of work. For many of our projects, such as Tayble, this approach helped better plan the cost, have better control on the number of features for a minimum viable product (MVP), and deliver the end-product faster.

Bottom line

Mobile food delivery was one of the previous decade’s fast-growing trends, and with the COVID-19 crisis, it immediately became an essential service. Investment opportunities in the industry are plentiful  — as is the competition. However, with a smart business strategy and a nimble approach to product development, the chances of success are high. 

When starting a food delivery business, a well-performing, beautifully designed app is of the utmost importance. The most effective way to develop such software is to hire an experienced software development company such as MadAppGang. By working with us, you can expect a high-quality final product, as well as a reliable partner who's ready to share experience and advice. 

Just drop a line with a brief description of your project and we’ll be in touch to discuss the details.