Let’s face it, the Internet has spoiled us. The advances that technology has made have been incredibly beneficial to our productivity and efficiency. But, as a result, we want and expect to have everything within the reach of our fingertips, no matter what the service or product might be.
This, along with the increased usage of personal electronic devices, has contributed to the massive growth of delivery businesses all over the world.
One of the fastest-growing areas for delivery services has been in the food industry. We can’t live without food and, thanks to our recently developed need for instant gratification, food delivery services have skyrocketed in popularity over the last couple of decades. Even more interesting is the way in which this market constantly evolves, spreading itself all over the world and competing globally for customers.
Before the smartphone boom, people would have to call a business to order food. Now, thanks to advances in mobile technology and the widespread development of on-demand delivery apps, people can quickly and easily place orders online and have their food delivered wherever and whenever they wish.
Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet), had this to say about how delivery services have impacted their growth strategy:
“We’ve got to find ways to make it easier for customers to get to our brands. We do that two ways: We build more units, but we also look at delivery as a way to get our food to customers in their homes."
If you want to cash in on the global success of food delivery services, you’ve got to create the greatest on-demand food delivery app for restaurant possible to compete with an already robust market. Your app needs to have all of the right features, supported by smart infrastructure and user-friendly design and functionality.
And SteelKiwi’s team of experts is here to help! First, let’s take a brief look at how this industry has developed. Then we’ll look at different types of apps, give you some examples of current apps on the market, and show you how to start creating your very own successful food delivery app!
The food delivery business is growing at a rapid pace and those in the sector tend to make billions very quickly. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering that 25% of all smartphone users have at least one restaurant-related application on their phone.
However, it’s important to understand that there are different types of food delivery services and the types of software they require to operate will differ because of that. The two main categories that food delivery services fit into are aggregators and new delivery services. Let’s take a brief look at each type to understand the differences and how they translate into software requirements.
Aggregators have been around for roughly 15 years and are not actual delivery businesses, per se. This type of business is responsible for accepting orders and connecting them with restaurants that offer delivery services themselves.
Users can compare prices, menus, and reviews for multiple restaurants and can place their order directly through an aggregator app. The app then sends the order to the appropriate restaurant where the food gets made and then delivered.
Aggregator-type apps tend to spread over massive areas. Their focus is connecting customers with multiple restaurants, handling the ordering process, but passing over the delivery aspect to the actual restaurant business. This means they consist of two main stakeholders, the consumer and the restaurant business.
New delivery types of apps emerged in 2013. Their goal is to offer food delivery services from restaurants that don’t offer delivery themselves. The idea here is that customers can still enjoy a meal from a restaurant that doesn’t deliver, without having to actually go to the restaurant.
New delivery apps still allow consumers to compare different restaurant offerings. They process orders, send them to the appropriate restaurant, and then go pick up the order and deliver it to the consumer at home, work, or wherever else they’ve ordered the food to.
With a focus on higher-end restaurants that typically do not have delivery services, new delivery apps address a different part of the food delivery market that aggregators are not able to cater to. They handle the logistical and resource aspect of food delivery, providing a more convenient service to the consumer and adding delivery services to restaurants that wouldn’t otherwise offer them. This means that they have an additional third stakeholder to worry about and manage, the delivery driver or courier.
Although both aggregator and new delivery apps have similar usability from the consumer’s point of view, they differ greatly in the structure of the app due to their varying goals. However, in both cases, the food ordering system involves many people working together at the same time, meaning that it is very important that there is absolutely no friction in communication between them. The core structure for both types of apps looks like this:
start with a login page;
connect to the user’s bank account or preferred payment method;
allow users to compare different restaurant offerings and place orders for delivery.
The main difference comes in the delivery process itself. While aggregators focus on connecting customers to restaurants, new delivery apps must also add the actual delivery side to their service. This adds a level of complexity to new delivery types of businesses as they must also be able to manage order pickup and delivery by drivers, alongside order placement functionality.
In both types of apps, multiple people, businesses, and services must work together to satisfy the customer. It’s imperative that the communication between all players involved is frictionless. And that’s why food delivery app development can be a little tricky to get right. One app and interface must work for everyone involved, from the consumer placing the order, to the restaurant fulfilling the order, to the delivery service that processes the order and, potentially, also delivers the order.
This means that one solution has to fulfill the various needs of each stakeholder. Customers should only have access to the order placing side of the app, restaurants should only have access to placed orders, and delivery fulfillment should only have access to when an order is ready to be picked up and dropped off, in the case of a new delivery type of business. Each stakeholder adds a level of complexity to the app’s structure and design and there are several approaches to consider in order to resolve conflicting goals.
The first solution would be to create three separate apps, each focusing on one particular stakeholder. You can choose the same or similar branding for each, with the internal structure being built to fulfill the goal of the stakeholder, i.e.:
- Consumer app - compare offers from different restaurants and place an order within the app;
- Restaurant app - manage placed orders (and delivery if app is aggregator type), including the ability to distinguish between canceled, completed, ready for pickup, or delivered orders;
- Delivery (courier/driver) app - manage pickup and dropoff of orders in real time (if app is new delivery type), ideally with the ability to communicate with both the consumer placing the order and the restaurant that’s fulfilling the order.
A different solution would be to create a single app that has three types of logins. In this case, the interface would differ based on the type of login, i.e.:
- Consumer interface - compare offers and place order;
- Restaurant interface - manage placed orders (and delivery if app is aggregator type);
- Delivery interface - manage pickup and dropoff of orders (if app is new delivery type).
Either solution will require a solid design and structure, taking each stakeholder into account and developing the app(s) and interface to satisfy each need. The app’s complexity will increase, depending on how much information needs to be shared between stakeholders, affecting the way it should be developed. No matter which solution you choose to go with, it’s important to understand that customers tend to be incredibly loyal to their favourite food delivery application. Statistically, 80% of them will stick to a particular platform once they’ve found one that satisfies their food delivery needs. That’s why it’s critical that a new app on the market meets or exceeds the needs of the consumer first and foremost. A successful app should be easy to use, offer lots of options, and complete delivery effectively. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of each stakeholder’s needs.
The app or interface aimed at the consumer ideally satisfies the following needs using these basic features:
a sign-up page: a simple, quick, and attractive sign-up page is the first important step in winning a new customer’s loyalty. Sign up pages need the ability to create a new account using a login/password combination or via a third-party signup (such as Facebook/Google, etc.) for added convenience.
a profile/account page: once a customer has created a new account via the sign-up page, they should be able to access their profile. The profile can include saved payment options for easy access, order history, and the ability to reorder or save favourite restaurants/meals.
restaurant search/locator: in either list or map format, the restaurant locator shows which restaurants consumers can choose from to place an order using the app. Some sort of search function (by distance, time, or style of food) is necessary to help consumers filter through the choices. Details of each restaurant, such as location, menu offerings (ideally, with pictures), prices, special offers or promotions, and comments or other user reviews should be easily accessible.
order placement: once a customer has compared restaurants and made their choice, they should be able to easily and quickly place their order through the app. The ability to add or delete items from an order is necessary, and an order summary should be presented before the consumer completes payment so that any last-minute changes can be made. Being able to specify delivery time (as soon as possible versus at a specific time) could be a great additional feature here.
payment processing: being able to complete payment of an order through the app is ideal. Payment processing should be fast, secure, and allow for multiple payment options (discount coupons, credit card, cash to be paid to delivery person, PayPal, Apple or Android Pay, etc.).
A basic food delivery app should factor in all of these features. Some additional nice-to-have features include:
a rated favourites list or order history: allowing consumers to rate or review meals, restaurants, delivery service, etc., either publicly or privately. The ability to save favourites or wish list items can also be a convenient addition that helps users quickly remember what they liked or wanted to try, adding to the app’s usability.
notifications or real-time tracking: keeping consumers informed or their order’s status (order placed, order being made, order on its way) through notifications or a real-time tracker is a great additional feature.
social media integrations: letting users link their social media accounts to share photos of their meal is an easy way to boost consumer loyalty while also increasing the exposure of both the restaurant and app brands, respectively.
a loyalty or rewards program: offering users rewards (either through the app or through a particular restaurant) is a great way to boost loyalty as well. For example, offering free delivery on every fifth order will encourage users to come back and use the app or order from the same place. Incorporating other discounts, membership options, or referral programs encourages users to keep using a particular app and also entices them to get their friends to join, rewarding them for their loyalty as a brand ambassador.
The goal of the app here is to attract new users and retain old ones. Allowing for easy comparison of available offers from various restaurants and processing order placement, payment, and delivery is most important. Providing additional features or rewards is an easy way to boost consumer loyalty to a particular app, service, or restaurant.
The app or interface aimed at the restaurant stakeholder should include the following features:
a registration page: equivalent to a consumer’s sign-up page, this page should allow restaurant businesses to create an account for themselves that includes their business’ details (name, address, hours of operation, etc.).
content management functionality: a simple interface that allows restaurants to add their menu details, including images, pricing, ingredients in dishes (especially for people with allergies/food intolerances), special promotions, and any other important information about what they offer. This page should allow for easy editing so that restaurants can update the info as needed.
order management/tracking: restaurant staff should be able to see incoming orders and update order statuses here. Tracking where orders are in the preparation process is important. Having real-time updates of canceled orders, completed orders, and orders out for delivery is also an important part of this feature.
cross-interface communication capabilities: being able to update the courier/delivery person, as well as the consumer, on order statuses is necessary for both aggregator and new delivery types of apps. Having a way to notify the consumer or courier that the order is ready for pickup or is on its way requires some form of communication within the app or interface.
The goal of the app here is to pass order information from the consumer side to the restaurant side effectively. Restaurants should be able to manage orders in a way that fits their order prep process and delivery should be completed, either through the restaurant itself or through a courier or delivery drive from the app.
The app or interface aimed at the courier or delivery stakeholder should include the following basic features:
a sign-up page: a way to register for an account using a simple login/password or other authentication format.
order status and pickup/dropoff management: a list of available orders and details of each order (such as size, expected delivery time, additional information, etc.) should be displayed here, along with locations of pickup and dropoff. Having real time order tracking statuses (placed, accepted, in process, rejected, cancelled, etc.) is important here as well and could be quickly communicated via push notifications or something similar. Couriers should be able to sort through available orders, filtering by relevant details (distance, time, etc.) and should be able to easily book a delivery they want to complete. This booking feature should update in the app in real time so that other couriers know that particular order has been claimed.
cross-interface communication capabilities: the ability to be updated and to update the consumer and restaurant in real time about the status of an order is critical to a delivery driver. Once they’ve claimed a delivery through the booking feature, they should be able to update an order’s status to let the restaurant know they are on the way to pick it up or let the consumer know they are on the way to drop it off.
Additional improvements to a courier-focused app or interface might include:
account history: being able to view completed deliveries and potentially make notes about the customer/restaurant could come in handy for drivers, letting them flag difficult deliveries for future reference.
loyalty or rewards program: including a rewards or referral program could also be beneficial to boost courier loyalty to a particular app. Providing drivers with bonuses or rewarding them for referring their friends to order through the app or become a driver themselves is a great way to ensure brand loyalty while also increasing brand exposure.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the most important features for each stakeholder in the food delivery app industry, let’s see what’s already been successful in the market.
UberEATS, being part of the Uber apps family, offers to get you everything you need using Uber speed. The food delivery app started off as UberFRESH in 2014, catering only to the Santa Monica, CA area. It became UberEATS in 2015 when the creators expanded the platform to include other cities. Today, UberEATS is active in dozens of cities all over the globe with new areas being added regularly.
Postmates was founded in 2011, Postmates started off as a logistics delivery company, offering to deliver groceries, household items, furniture, and more via a network of local couriers. The team soon realized that food delivery was increasingly popular and far more profitable than other types of deliveries being offered. Food delivery is now a main focus of the company.
DoorDash was created in 2013 by three Stanford students, Andy Fang, Stanley Tang, and Tony Xu. It is considered a food delivery industry giant, delivering food from about 50,000 restaurants in the US on demand. >Fun fact: through a partnership with DoorDash, Taco Bell was able to expand their delivery to around 500 locations in the US, thanks to the delivery company’s services and reach.
Foodora is a German company founded in 2014 under the name of Volo GmbH. It offers meal deliveries from more than 6,500 restaurants in countries around the world, including areas of Europe, Canada, and Australia. The app features many things we’ve highlighted in this article, such as letting users browse through local eateries, place orders, and track the progress of their order’s preparation and delivery.
Deliveroo is a famous British food delivery company, founded by Will Shu and Greg Orlowski in 2013. The company is active in many other European and non-European countries (including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Spain, Ireland, UAE, Hong Kong, and Singapore). A unique feature of Deliveroo is that orders can be transported by bicycles, motorcycles, or cars.
A great time to enter the food delivery app market
If you’re considering entering this rapidly-growing market, you’re in luck! Projections for the sector show exponential expansion, with an estimated 25% growth rate a year until 2018 and then a gradual slow-down to 14.9% growth per year until 2020.The food delivery app market is a great sector for entrepreneurs and startups and now is the perfect time to enter it. Going hand in hand with the rapidly increasing usage of tablets and smartphones on the global level, developing a food delivery app is a great local business strategy with a very successful potential outcome. If you’re thinking of developing a food delivery app, make sure to think about every aspect and take the needs of each stakeholder into account. And if you’re unsure of where to start or need advice and resources when it comes to its development, contact us and our team of experts will be happy to help!