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The food delivery industry is globally one of the fastest-growing. This sharp growth is primarily fueled by the ever-increasing customer base for delivered food. According to the Business of Apps, U.S food delivery app users reached 111 million in 2020 and will continue to grow.

According to Statista, the number of people ordering food via online apps nearly doubled in the last three years, rising from 364.8 million in 2017 to 625.9 million in 2020. This number is projected to reach 858 billion in 2024 and should pass the billion mark in 2025.

This new reality pushes restaurants to cooperate with existing delivery services or create their own food delivery apps—causing slumps in sales or loss of business if they don’t adapt. Industry demand is growing, and now it’s a perfect time to become a leading player among restaurants and customers by considering food delivery app development. 

Who Can Benefit From Owning a Food Delivery App

There are three main kinds of businesses that should consider creating a food delivery service instead of using existing popular services. 

How to develop a Food Delivery Service Like DoorDash

Types of Mobile Food Delivery Applications

The model for a food ordering app depends on the business goals and requirements. Food delivery services can be local or worldwide, giving various opportunities to start or expand existing businesses. Below are the typical business models of food delivery apps.

Order-Only Model (Grubhub, JustEat) 

The order-only model сonnects consumers with local restaurants and enables interactions between them. This helps boost the food order rate of restaurants using the food ordering app. 

How to develop a Food Delivery Service Like DoorDash

This model entails that the restaurants pay various fees to the app owner for every order they receive through an app. It can be a commission fee—a flat percentage of the order cost regardless of the order amount or setup fee—an additional fee on top of the commission fee. 

One more con, the owner of an online food order app can’t control delivery speed, service efficiency, or quality of the delivered food—these are the food providers’ responsibilities. 

Order and Delivery Model (UberEats, DoorDash)

This model implies delivery as a service—the app owner manages orders and food delivery in the application and receives a commission from the restaurants and a delivery fee for each order purchased through the app. 

Plus, the app owner controls the delivery speed and management of couriers, which helps ensure a high-quality consumer experience.

How to develop a Food Delivery Service Like DoorDash

Fully-integrated Model (Metabolic Meals, Eat Purely)

The fully integrated model implies that the application owner handles everything in the mobile app, from food preparation to delivery. Even though this is a costly model, the app owner controls delivery speed, service efficiency, and food quality, which creates high-level consumer satisfaction and more revenue.

How to develop a Food Delivery Service Like DoorDash

Steps Before Creating Your Food Delivery App

There are a few critical steps to take before proceeding with the development process:

1. Stay Up-to-Date with Market Trends 

The food delivery industry is heavily reliant on trends—people are attracted to “hot” apps with popular features. If you’re left behind on these features, you’ll miss out on customers.

The first step is to ask yourself what the customer wants. What is today’s customer looking for in food delivery apps? Social media integration, virtual assistants, and smartwatch integration are a few areas to consider.

2. Research Your Target Market

You want to build an app that meets the needs of your target audience, so begin by understanding those needs. At the very least, document the audience’s demographics, prioritizing aspects such as age, gender, nationality, and income.

3. Identify Critical App Features 

Every food delivery app has a few basic features, including registration and login. For instance, can customers log in via social media? Search is another vital consideration. Other key features include ordering, payment notifications, order tracking, reviews, and ratings.

4. Select Technologies for the Development

You’ll need different technologies for different features. For instance, if you intend to list restaurants, the Grubhub API or FourSquare API would be required. Meanwhile, you can consider popular payment gateways such as Square API, Braintree, Stripe, and PayPal to accept and process payments.

You also need technology that pinpoints the user’s location in your food delivery app. Excellent options include Google Places API, Google Maps, and the Core Location Framework. Finally, other common technology options include Amazon SNS, Urban Airship, and Firebase Cloud Messaging for push notifications.

GPS Tracking Case Study

Food Delivery App Development Tips and Best Practices

Once you’re finished with the design, development of a food delivery app ensues. The following recommendations and best practices can be divided into user needs and tech requirements and can help you build a robust app for long-term success:

User Needs

  • Quick and easy search. The app’s ability to access the user’s location to quickly order a meal from the nearest restaurant.
  • Order status. Receiving information about the order status in real-time such as “order accepted,” “meal prepared,” and “courier on his way.” 
  • Real-time courier monitoring. Users want to see the location of their courier to plan their time and know the approximate delivery time.
  • Сonvenient payment methods. The ability to choose preferred payment methods—cash, credit card, or Apple/Google Pay. This will help you expand your target audiences.
  • Customer support. Don’t underestimate the value of the support team that handles complaints, delivery problems, and so on. 
  • Promo codes. This is an opportunity to smooth out conflicts with unsatisfied customers by offering promotions or gifts.

Technical Requirements

  • Reliable project infrastructure. Aggregators and new deliveries with logistics support require a lot of effort invested in server-side software. Suppose there is a sudden influx of users to the service that will affect everything: server software performance, network hardware, resource quota reserves, the application’s ability to handle competing requests on its own, and so on.
  • Robust security. Ensuring the security of a mobile app from the start is critical. Sensitive data, such as payment and contact details, must be encrypted and stored securely to avoid data leakage and misuse of the app’s business logic, resulting in loss of reputation and trust.
  • Logging. Logs are essential when there’s trouble. If you have logs for everything, you can trace the source of the problem with ease. For example, incoming and outgoing traffic, and branches in your algorithms using a unique ID for the set of logs to link them to the same long-term operation. This will help you better understand the app’s behavior and diagnose and prevent potential issues.
  • Clutter-free admin interface. A straightforward admin interface will help you get more work done in less time. This means two things—first, you’re able to process more orders per minute, and secondly, faster order processing results in higher customer satisfaction, leading to repeat business!
  • Tracking business and technical metrics. Everything that makes you money, especially long-term processes, must be reflected in the database and automatically tracked—the number of orders processed per day, returned orders, UX usability, rejections from restaurants, average delivery time, etc. This will help you troubleshoot and proactively manage and prevent problems. 
  • Collect user metrics to enhance the user experience. It’s impractical to measure UI user-friendliness with objective metrics. Instead, consider establishing small focus groups to observe how customers navigate the app, process their feedback, and enhance the app. Moreover, utilities that collect user metrics can help you develop a more functional user interface—duration of the interaction with the app, visited screens, buttons pressed, and so on—to measure UI and UX friendliness. 
  • Code review process. Projects tend to grow, and with them, the team grows, leading to a more diverse approach to implementation. Code reviewing allows the exchange of experience and the rotation of knowledge, which strengthens expertise among individual team members.
  • Strong documentation. Finally, documentation is just as necessary as the app itself. Without proper documentation, diagnosing issues in the app becomes almost impossible. Develop strong documentation and keep it updated at all times.
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NIX Case: OnlineFood — Fully-Integrated Food Delivery Service

The client is one of the largest online food ordering and delivery marketplaces in Europe. NIX efficiently developed a food delivery app that allows users to order food from a favorite cafe or restaurant and covers all processes, from receiving an order to delivery. The app provides users with multiple functions to make the ordering and delivery processes as convenient as possible. Some of the notable features include restaurant recommendations, search filters, customizable delivery details, and real-time order tracking.

The developed food delivery service has a particular user’s flow:

  1. Drop a pin on the map or type in your address.
  2. Choose a restaurant available in your area.
  3. Add everything you like to the shopping cart.
  4. Place an order and track it on the map.
  5. Receive your order and enjoy the meal.

You can read more about the Online Food food delivery app here.

How to develop a Food Delivery Service Like DoorDash

How Much Does it Cost to Develop an On-Demand Delivery App?

A comprehensive project requires a holistic business approach that will help enhance the business’s performance and profitability by providing full-fledged support. 

The essential team for building an app from scratch includes:

  • Product owner
  • Project manager
  • 2–3 mobile developers per platform (Android and iOS)
  • 2 back-end developers
  • UI/UX designer
  • Business analyst
  • QA engineer

Choosing an outsourcing company with extensive expertise in diverse business domains and tech solutions can be a good-fit solution for app development since it appears less costly than an in-house team. 

Buyer's Guide

In-house development suggests a closer connection to the team and a better understanding of corporate culture but requires intensive cash flow for recruiting, maintaining an entire department, and bearing all costs associated with it.

The next step is summing up the advantages and disadvantages of development types and picking the most fitting for your future project.

Let’s look at the priority features of the on-demand food delivery service and how much it costs.

Taxi Case Study

Order-Only Mobile App

An app like JustEat provides ordering and delivery from restaurants in many cities with a food catalog, order management, and 24/7 customer support.

The first version of the online food order app with customer and admin roles and no payment processing or geo-tracking features can be developed within 2.5–3 months. 

If you choose the Eastern European development team, it would cost roughly $50,000–$55,000.

Order & Delivery Mobile App

An app like UberEats covers multiple restaurants, allows ordering food, and provides delivery. It’s usually an excellent choice for startups if they have competing features to stand out among the current players on the market.

With a full cycle of service providing and managing various restaurants, the first version of the app can be developed within 3.5–4 months. 

If you choose the Eastern European development team, it would cost roughly $70,000–$80,000.

Fully-Integrated Mobile App

An app like EatPurely includes one restaurant chain and covers a whole cycle of ordering, preparing, and delivering to the nearest locations with the support of clients, partners, and couriers. Individual businesses and restaurant owners usually choose this type of app.

The app’s first version with the restaurant chain’s infrastructure, payment processing, and geo-tracking support can be developed within 3–4 months.

If you choose the Eastern European software development team, it would cost roughly $60,000-$65,000.

We at NIX Can Help

Our experience developing IT solutions for businesses gives us an edge when developing modern applications of all kinds. Let us help you plan your food delivery app development for your business, deliver an outstanding service—and enter the market with a bang!

RFP Template For App Development


What Are the Key Features to Consider When Creating a Food Delivery App?

A modern food delivery app is expected to have key features, including GPS tracking, multiple payment options, an in-app messaging tool, search filters, and push notifications. Companies also offer additional incentives like bonuses, loyalty programs, and cashback to retain customers and improve their experience. Ratings and reviews can also help app users evaluate the market’s offerings and choose high-quality products. Finally, the best food delivery apps have easy onboarding, intuitive navigation, and an elegant design that shortens the learning curve for users. 

What is the Typical Cost for Food Delivery App Development?

There are multiple factors that influence the overall food delivery app development cost. The scope and features of the application, technological stack, design complexity, and labor rates will determine how much you will end up paying. For example, developer rates in Eastern Europe and Asia are on average significantly lower compared to North America and Western Europe. For comparison, to create an average food delivery app will cost around $50,000 USD in Eastern Europe versus $70,000 in the US.

What is the Functionality of a Food Delivery App?

Custom food delivery application development involves four main elements: customer app, courier app, restaurant app, and admin panel. Each element requires different sets of features and may vary in complexity. For example, the admin panel is the administrative side of the product, while the courier app offers couriers access to customer and restaurant information. End users need food options, payment gateways, GPS tracking, messaging, and more. Finally, the merchant-side is for restaurant owners who can set up their accounts, manage food options and pricing, etc.

What Are the Key Steps Involved in Food Delivery App Development?

Food delivery application development, much like the creation of other app types, requires a few important steps. The first vital phase is information gathering, market research, competition analysis, target audience setting, and other steps associated with product discovery. The second phase includes the building of a prototype and minimum viable product (MVP) with basic features, design, and navigation to test the idea and collect initial feedback. Using the gathered responses, you can fine-tune the design and features and continue the coding process. Later, companies move to the quality assurance phase and release the product to their audience. However, food delivery app development is an ongoing process that requires continuous revision and maintenance, even after launch.

How Can I Create a Food Delivery App That Stands Out in the Market?

The best way to stand out from the competition is to make a food delivery app that users genuinely enjoy. To achieve this, invest some time and money into minimum viable product (MVP) development that will allow you to test your idea in real-life settings. An MVP is a basic, functional app version that users can actually interact with and provide feedback about its strengths and weaknesses. This step will give you a significant advantage and help you launch a product that your user base will like. Another tip is niching down and making a unique tool that will appeal to a specific demographic.

Can I Make a Food Delivery App for Free?

Creating a food delivery app is a lengthy and complex process that requires extensive market research and involves numerous tech specialists with a high level of expertise in app development. Even if you are a developer yourself, you will require assistance from UX/UI designers, business analysts, marketers, testers, and other experts to build a functional product. Although there are methods of reducing the costs using certain technologies and outsourcing, it’s not possible to build an app completely expense-free.

What Are Some Strategies for Building a Successful Mobile Ordering System?

If you’re wondering how to make a food delivery app that reaches your audience and attracts customers, focus on both development and marketing. Make sure to extensively test your product for errors and smooth operation. Besides that, invest a portion of your resources into marketing activities such as app store optimization (ASO), social media growth, digital advertising, etc. Another best practice is to identify your unique selling proposition and market your app accordingly.

How Long Does It Typically Take to Develop a Food Delivery App?

Your food delivery app development time is contingent on the complexity of the product and your expertise. Besides core features like registration, maps, and payments, you can extend your app functionality with additional options for real-time GPS tracking, social media integration, reward systems, personalized recommendations, voice instructions, etc. On average, the entire app development takes a year or longer.

What Are the Biggest Challenges in Delivery App Development?

Any delivery app development team needs to ensure a high level of data protection as the product will deal with personal user data, including payment information. One of the biggest concerns is to build an app that will not unintentionally reveal this data to hackers. Another common obstacle is creating an app that stands out and does not disappear inside the competition pool.


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