Food delivery app development has become a thing lately, and for obvious reasons. But how do you do it from the ground up?

The lockdown economy made us rethink how we go about obtaining our meals. All restaurants and retailers had to adopt delivery by either building their own mobile ordering apps or using third-party services. And delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash had to hire more people, striving to meet the booming demand.

However, that demand grew too big for established providers. Among other technology use cases inspired by this pandemic, new businesses stepped into the market, offering fresh outlooks on food delivery.

Rubyroid Labs has helped startups backed by YCombinator, Seedcamp and Capital Innovators build their products and raise total funds exceeding $500 million. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a new company, FullKitchen, used our food delivery app development services. Those included interface design, infrastructure set up, coding, launch and maintenance.

We learned a lot through this project, and are happy to share our experience with you. So, if you’re wondering how to develop a food delivery app from scratch, read on to discover a few tips.

Start with Your Killer Features

Before attacking the market at full force, you will want to test a hypothesis. That means building a minimum viable product (MVP), a usable mobile app that differentiates itself from competitors.

At this point, don’t think about how to create a food delivery app like Uber Eats — you need to provide an alternative. So, narrow down and prioritize the features that will make your product different.

FullKitchen did that brilliantly. It outlined their two killer features:

  1. You can combine food from different restaurants, ghost kitchens and stores.
  2. At the same time, the startup promised quick delivery: under 15 minutes

Consider Food Delivery App Development Standards

Food delivery app development isn’t a particularly new area. Since its emergence, some features have already become industry standards, ones which users expect to find with your product. These include:

  1. SMS authentication
  2. Address field
  3. Dish menu
  4. Cart
  5. Online payment
  6. Push notifications for order status
  7. Order view updating in real time
  8. Dish ratings and reviews
  9. Rewards
  10. Referral program

You may find features like those in any food delivery app similar to Uber Eats. However, you won’t need all of them at the MVP stage. Draw on your killer features — or consult Rubyroid Labs, and we’ll help you define the scope of essential work.

Cut Food Delivery Application Development Costs with Tech

Once you’ve outlined the features to build, you’ll need to choose your technology. And the right technology can help cut food delivery application development costs by over half.

Your choice will depend on which mobile OS you’re targeting. Previously, many startups began with an iOS app, but that has changed in recent years. Android device manufacturers have brought increasingly advanced products into the market, which made them popular with users open for new experiences.

Each OS has its own technology. But there’s also an alternative: cross-platform development. Cross-platform development allows you to build one mobile app that will work across all devices. Obviously, this makes things faster and easier, which is crucial for startups. 

So, if you decide to go cross-platform, we suggest React Native. This framework will most likely meet all your needs. We have previously outlined our thoughts on why choose React Native in 2021.

Consider this: building the FullKitchen mobile app with React Native was 70% faster than if we had used OS-native technologies instead. And we can make it work for you — just let us know how we might help.

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Set Up an Operating System

Part of your mobile app won’t be visible to the user. Nevertheless, this part will directly affect the user experience (UX). Here’s what we recommend tending to.

Analytics

Building a new product is always a risky venture. You’re embarking on a dark, misty journey where you’ll have to test the waters throughout. And testing is all about trying and learning. This means you’ll need an analytics system to see how the market responds to your product and messaging.

With FullKitchen, we configured a robust set of tools, including:

  1. Segment
  2. Mixpanel
  3. Facebook AppsFlyer

This combination enables FullKitchen’s product manager to track all essential metrics and receive notifications on users’ statuses.

Testing Environments

As you analyze how people are using your app, you’ll probably want to play with your features. But you don’t want to frustrate users with a broken experience. To avoid that, you will need to test changes in the staging environment before rolling them out into production.

Suppose your app is aimed for iPhones and Android phones. You will need to use four environments:

  1. iOS staging (for testing on iOS)
  2. iOS production (that’s where your app runs for iOS device users)
  3. Android staging (for testing on Android)
  4. Android production (the Android-device operating environment)

Updates

So, you’ve tested a new feature, refined it and made it work. Time to roll the feature out.

To make changes apply, you need to update the app on users’ phones. If you’re building your app with React Native, you can set up seamless updates that will kick in across all operating systems (Android, iOS, etc.). The user won’t need to do anything. In fact, they won’t even know about the changes unless you notify them.

However, these updates might not always work as expected. In this case, you can introduce forced updates. Forced updates will block people from using the old version and push them to update the app.

No-Code Customization

Not all experiments in food delivery app development require updating the app. You might want to test different messaging with your audience, play with the design or introduce special offers.

But bothering developers or digging into the code to make such slight changes would defeat the purpose. Instead, you can enable actions like those in the admin panel.

How did we do that for FullKitchen? We built a custom feature we named “remote config.” It allowed the client to edit static captions in the app, swap around menu sections and manage settings like how often the app sends notifications to users.

Courier Tools

Finally, you’ll need to provide essential tools for your couriers. They will need to view orders, change their statuses and possibly map smart routes to ensure Uber-like experiences for customers.

You can provide these features through a separate app or interface. For FullKitchen, we created an interface using the Ruby on Rails plugin ActiveAdmin.

Remember: you don’t need google for pieces of code or trying to customize app builders to build all those features. That’s not free. It takes time, time is money and you’ll probably end up subscribing to some plugins anyway.

A financially smarter solution? Contact us, Rubyroid Labs. We’ve been building mobile apps from scratch since 2013, and we know how to help you save time and money.

Working with a Developer

If you don’t have an in-house development team, you’ll probably need a safe pair of hands to help bring your idea into being. Here’s what you should know.

Prepare Yourself for Outsourcing

Building a new product is always a challenge. At the starting point, it only exists in your mind, and software developers aren’t mind readers. You need to take it out there and put it on paper, so you can organize your thoughts and be ready to talk confidently with your developer.

For more detail, check out our guide on how to prepare yourself for outsourcing software development.

Choose the Right Development Partner

Once you’ve put your idea into words, you’ll need to find the right partner. You can start out by browsing independent B2B online catalogs like Clutch where reviews are curated by the platforms.

However, you’ll first need to know what to look for in a potential development partner. Simply put, your ideal food delivery app development company has an experienced, reputable team that can adjust to changes quickly.

We previously wrote about how to choose a software development company.

Present Your App Idea to the Developer

OK, you’ve found your best hired gun. What’s next?

Next, you’ll need to present your app idea to the developer. If you have prepared yourself well, you’ll have a description of your product vision, product requirements in brief, examples and what you expect from your partner. Time to put all that to work.

Manage Your Food Delivery App Development Process

If your partner is a company, they’ll have a project manager oversee the work on your app. However, you might decide to manage your food delivery app development process yourself. If that’s the case, we suggest checking out our article on how to manage remote teams.

Final Thoughts on How to Develop a Food Delivery App

If, after reading this article, you’re still unsure how to develop your food delivery app, here are the key points to help you get going:

  1. Start by researching the industry. This will allow you to define your killer features and provide the user experience people are expecting.
  2. The industry doesn’t have a default choice of technology. But cross-platform development, especially using React Native, will probably cut it for you.
  3. Take time to prepare for working with a developer and find one who can deliver.

And if all of that sounds complicated, don’t fret. You can always write to us, Rubyroid Labs, and we’ll help you go from an idea to an actual mobile app.

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Marketing Manager at Rubyroid Labs

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