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How to make an on-demand food delivery app like UberEats, GrubHub, or Postmates?

Updated: Aug 22, 2023


The Food Delivery industry continues to keep its progressive growth, which you could have noticed during the last years. So if you had plans to make a food delivery app like UberEats, it’s definitely the right time!

However, considering that there are many food ordering apps (like UberEats, GrubHub, or Postmates which are your direct competitors), the challenge may seem tough. Moreover, it’s difficult to compete with successful companies because they have much more resources for food delivery app development.

So here are a few points from the ADevIndustries Team perspective that will help you succeed:

  1. You should already have some management experience in the restaurant industry. It’s even better if you already have an established delivery system (e.g. if you have a restaurant or a cafe) and have been providing a delivery option via your website or phone calls.

  2. It’ll be a great market opportunity if you don’t have direct competitors (like already mentioned UberEats or Deliveroo) in your area, or if they aren’t that strong in your region, yet.

  3. One of the options for you may be to build a food delivery app for your area and then, when it becomes quite popular at the local level, make an exit and sell it to some “big brother”. Actually, that’s quite a common strategy: it’s enough to mention how UberEats acquired the mobile delivery-only “restaurant” Ando or how New York-based food delivery startup Maple was merged with Deliveroo.

So the key idea is that instead of thinking globally we’d recommend you to find your niche and develop a Food Delivery Web &/or Mobile Product that could get big or later get acquired (for great money, usually!) by UberEats, Deliveroo or whatever big food delivery company would be interested in that. Sounds like a success story, isn’t it?

But to make this happen, the first thing you should do is create an MVP for a niche on-demand food delivery app, that will provide value to your audience and be able to find its Product-Market Fit. How can it be done?

By finding a market opportunity, the pain-point of your customers and developing a remarkable Mobile or Web-App, which will solve this pain. Follow me to find out which features are necessary to make a food delivery app like UberEats but for your local area!

🛠️ What Are the Key Features of Food Ordering Apps?

One of the trickiest things about food delivery app development is that you will have to create several products for all stakeholders to make the system work. Just think of it:

  • On the one hand, it’s obvious, that you need to create a customer application through which all the orders will be made.

  • On the other hand, you need an Admin Panel (a Web-App) where you’ll manage and supervise all the requests.

  • Usually, a courier app is also needed, unless your idea isn’t built around another solution.

Although it seems a little bit complicated at first glance, this may be a key step to success. Why? Despite the needs of every party are different, it’s still extremely important to satisfy everyone:

  • Users should have fast and easy access to the menus of the nearest restaurants with the possibility to make orders right in the app.

  • Couriers are interested in easy access to available orders and built-in geolocating services showing them the way to the pickup and drop locations.

  • Restaurant managers would like to view the orders list, assign them to contractors to organize the delivery of prepared meals to clients. Moreover, it’s important for them to have access to analytical tools, so they can track overall customer retention.

If any link of your chain doesn’t work well, the path to success is closed. However, don’t panic, help is already on the way!

Your heroes from ADevIndustries (hope this wasn’t too dramatic 🙂) have created brief and useful feature templates for each version of a food ordering app that will help you to avoid many common mistakes.

👦 Customer version

Let’s walk along the path and buyer journey of a typical customer and think what features are essential for him.

Getting started: find a restaurant or a food

What are your users going to do after they open your application? Look for what to eat and where they can order it. And that’s where following 2 features become essential:

  • finding the near-located eateries;

  • getting detailed information about the restaurant’s cuisine list, prices, special offers, and reviews.

If you want to provide your users with the perfect UX, you also should pay attention to a searching feature. It may include searching for the restaurant by its name, address or by the dishes that it proposes.

On the other hand, your potential customer may open your app to order, let’s say, sushi but not from some specific restaurant. That’s why you also have to leave an option to search the food itself and then provide users with all possible restaurants that can provide them with that order (in case you’re building a local on-demand food delivery app aggregator).

Houston, we have an order

Everything necessary is found, so let’s make an order!

Adding wishful dishes to the cart should be a piece of cake for users. Moreover, their add-to-cart rate and further purchase are quite important metrics for your business. So make sure this process goes flawlessly.

Pro’ tip: place the button of adding food to the cart in the thumb-friendly zone.

Also, don’t forget to show the summary of the order before confirmation (and leave an option to change the number of dishes). If something went wrong users should be able to cancel orders.

Your users will also greatly appreciate if you allow them to choose between 2 options: preparing and delivering the order as soon as possible or at an appointed time later.

Journey to a user

The core idea of food delivery app development is to let users receive their long-awaited meal no matter where they are: resting at home, working in the office or just hanging out in the park. Hence, setting a drop location (by writing the address or just leaving a pin on the map) is another crucial feature.

You can make the delivery process even more convenient and cool for users by providing them with real-time tracking of their meal delivery.

It’s payment time

It may be the most unwanted part for your users but the necessary one for contractors and business owners. The golden rule here is that in-app payments should be secure, fast and easy.

Also, don’t forget to give users an alternative. For example, include the option of paying cash on delivery.

Rate and review

There is only one last action left after an order is paid and delivered. Leave feedback for other users about the eatery and courier. Was your meal tasty? Haven’t you waited for too long? Was everyone polite?

You can start with a simple 5-stars solution for your MVP and add comments and extended feedback for future iterations. Such a feedback system is useful in both way: you will see what parts of your business need improvements and customers will feel that their opinion matters to you.

One last thing: registration and account editing

By implementing the ability to create accounts in the app you establish deeper bonds with your users and provide them with a possibility to quickly log in without losing their custom settings.

At a minimum, users should be able to create username and password and link a card to their account for automatic payments. Improved account editing feature may include adding food preferences, profile photos, a list of favourite places etc.

However, don’t ever make the sing up process mandatory. It will do no good but scare off users.

Some more tips:

  1. Login via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular social networks is a must-have for such an app.

  2. Make the registration process short and not too itemized - people want it to be fast.

  3. Make sure you store any personal data in accordance with the GDPR or other regulation acts that are valid for your area. The price of neglecting is too high.

How to make the customer app even cooler?

Whereas mentioned above features are necessary to create a food delivery app there are a number of additional features that would significantly improve UX. Among them are:

  • wish and favourite lists;

  • social media share;

  • history of orders;

  • push notifications;

  • delivery time estimation (ETA).

Now that we have discovered the components of the perfect customer app - let’s take a look at the features, that are important for couriers.

🛵 Courier version

The application for couriers, in general, isn’t as functional as the customer one. However, make sure that it has all the necessary features. Which ones? Let’s take a brief look:

  • Registration and profile editing

Before taking orders contractors have to identify themselves. How? This greatly depends on the process which you’ll pick for your business.

But as a general example, it could be the same way as users do - by completing a registration form via mobile number, email or social network account and filling out the profile with the necessary info. Don’t forget about “recover password” and “change password” options as well.

The choice to either validate all your couriers or not is up to you and your business model.

You may also remember that we recommended not to make the registration process mandatory when talking about the customer app. However, when it comes to couriers, sign up is a must-do step before they can actually be validated and get some work via your app.

  • Managing orders

So, our delivery guy has logged in. Now he should be able to check out the list of available orders with detailed information about size, pickup and drop location, and other specifications. Finally, he can confirm any appropriate delivery request by booking it.

  • Status update

After an order is accepted, the courier can update the status so a customer is informed about the progress. There are usually 3 main types of statuses:

  1. Accepted/rejected.

  2. Picked up.

  3. Delivered.

Once the courier updates status to “delivered” and gets confirmation from a customer, he receives a payment (in cash or on his card). The job is done!

How to improve the courier version of the app?

To achieve even better results you can add some extra features to the app. They are not as vital as the ones we have just reviewed, but they are meaningful if you plan to successfully compete on the market. Here they are:

  • in-app tracking from the pickup to the delivery point;

  • push notifications;

  • booking history and checkout inside the app

Finally, we can talk about developing a food ordering app that will be used to manage the whole work at the highest level. Let’s see the typical structure of the Admin Panel!

🍽️ Admin Panel

What is the Admin Panel?

Without any doubt, this is the key element for the business owners. The admin panel is a web-based app to manage all processes like accepting, editing all kinds of information, setting prices, managing customer and courier bases etc. Sounds important enough, doesn’t it?

It’s a core stage of food delivery app development for restaurant managers. Let’s take a closer look!

1. Registration

The first essential feature here is exactly the same as for customers and contractors. Yes, it’s registration.

To be visible in the system a restaurant has to create an account (using email ID and password). Also, don’t forget about changing and recovering password options as well.

Yet, this feature is only needed when you’re creating a food delivery aggregator that allows ordering food from many different restaurants that you don’t own.

2. Assigning orders

If your model requires manually assigning orders to couriers, the admin panel is the right place to perform this task. This is needed, if you rely on your own delivery staff and all the tasks are distributed by your manager.

3. Managing content

If you want to keep your retention rates and LTV of your customers high, you should offer them the best UX possible. Therefore, be sure that managers are able to achieve this by:

  • editing general information about the restaurant (like name, contact information, address, working hours etc);

  • adding photos;

  • managing menus (add and delete items, change prices and descriptions).

4. Managing the orders

The profile is complete and it remains only to wait for the first customers. But what is to be done when the first orders appear? At this point we would need a bunch of following key features:

  • View the detailed information of an order.

  • Update the order status and send notifications to the customer (when it’s accepted) and to the driver (when it’s ready to be picked up).

  • Have access to the list of the current orders.

By the end of this stage, the meal is prepared and sent to the customer.

What features can be added to the restaurant version of the app?

Also, your Admin Panel may have a bunch of other useful features among which are:

It seems we have reviewed both essential and complementary features for all three types of food delivery app. But how much would it cost you? That’s the question we are going to answer right now!

💵 How Much Does It Cost to Develop an On-Demand Food Delivery App?

Let's try to understand what the cost of a Food Delivery Web/App would be. Keep in mind, that each Product is unique, as it’s aimed to solve different pains of different customers.

So, let's just take the MVP of an example Food Delivery App with the set of features mentioned earlier and calculate the cost of developing it with ReactJS and React Native - for the FrontEnd/Mobile, and Firebase/AWS for the BackEnd.

There are some basic features that are the same for both customer and courier apps. These features are developed once and then just reused for both apps, so we decided to allocate them in a separate table. Here they are:

The customer version of the food ordering app like UberEats has the largest number of features. Take a look:

So the customer version of food delivery app will cost you about $24,650 (which includes BackEnd + iOS/Android Development).

The courier version doesn't have as many features as the customer one, so it will cost you less. Check out our estimation:

Courier app development will cost you less, about $12,400 for the BackEnd and iOS/Android App-FrontEnd.

Finally, the latter part of the food delivery app development cost is building a restaurant app. Since it's not a mobile but a web-app (which will be developed using React.JS), there's no need to create different versions for iOS and Android operating systems. The approximate cost of such the app is following:

Restaurant web-app doesn't require development for specific mobile platforms so it will cost you only about $6,950.

Note: we took an average rate of $50/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.

However, this is only a rough estimate that can’t fully cover all possible expenses. But if you share your idea with us, the ADevIndustries tech-team can prepare a more precise estimate exactly for your app idea.

💡 Tech tips

We have also compiled a list of tech tips from ADevIndustries developers. Hope, they will come in handy for you during the food ordering app development! Check them out:

  • You can use Auth0 for any authorization of your users - passwordless email, SMS-auth, classic auth.

  • Stripe and Braintree SDKs can be used to integrate the payment system. The both SDKs has already proved its efficiency and reliability.

  • To add the detailed info about eateries you can use Google Places API.

  • Firebase can be applied for your Backend and also to send push notifications. Our developers use it right now, so they know for sure that it's pretty convenient.

  • We also advise using Routific API for route optimization. This feature will suggest your couriers the best way from pickup to the drop location.

💰 Business Tips: How to Succeed in the Market?

We have also gathered a few useful hints for you that will help to avoid some common mistakes. Read on!

📊 Tip № 1: make the market analysis

Prior to building an app similar to UberEats, you should define your target audience and analyze your competitors. What exactly do I mean? At this stage, you should find short and accurate answers to the following questions:

  • What types of food are most often ordered for delivery in your area (city, region or country)?

It’s not a secret that residents of every country and even city have their own food preferences. As an example, there are kinds of food ordered for takeout or delivery in the USA:

It’s clear, that the possibility to order burgers and Chinese food will bring more users to an app rather than sushi or Thai food. Therefore consider such differences in food preferences when building your business strategy.

Takeaway thought: pay more attention to the kinds of food popular in your region.
  • Who are your competitors and what niche can you hold?

Food ordering apps seem to appear pretty fast. Take your time to analyze your possible competitors and their target audiences.

For example, they may aim for busy people who are interested in healthy eating (just like Instacart does) or for a younger audience attracting them with a fast-food.

Takeaway thought: finding a free niche for your business idea is a half of success.

👫 Tip № 2: grow the user base

The formula for success in delivery business is as simple as that. The more users you have, the more orders they will make. The more orders they make, the higher the revenue you will get. But how to grow the user base? Check out following bits of advice:

  • Start with a simple: launch your app in a small area to test your business concept and quickly get first users.

  • Use different advertising channels: this may include PR technologies, social media, and inbound marketing, referral programs and many others.

  • Collaborate: small and large retailers have already acquired some audience so don’t hesitate to collaborate with them to advertise your growing business.

👍 Tip № 3: retain customers

Attracting users is just a half of the deal. They won’t make much sense if leaving your app after a single use. However, there are some proven ways to keep users interested in your app:

  • Provide perfect customer support: make sure you give quick, helpful and friendly responses to issues of your users.

  • Launch special offers: discounts, gifts, and vouchers are always popular among users.

  • Implement a rating system: this is a simple but effective tool that lets your customers keep the delivery service on the highest level.

🚗 Tip № 4: retain couriers

Without delivery guys, a food ordering app will be as meaningless as without users. Thereby don’t forget to build a strategy for keeping them interested in working exactly with your app. Top 3 sources of motivation for them are:

  • Salary (Postmates couriers earn about $10-20 per hour).

  • Flexible schedule (let them choose their working hours as they want).

  • Encouragements (reward the best couriers with special prizes).

❗ Conclusion

It seems like food ordering apps are going to become even more popular in the next few years. Luckily for you, there are still some free niches left which you can take. We hope our article will encourage you to create a food delivery app and win the market!

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