How to Build a Food Delivery App?

Even the most passionate cooks find themselves in front of an empty fridge and no energy to cook anything whatsoever once in a while. Anyone reading this post has probably used a food delivery service on more than one occasion. There are also those who prefer to have their food cooked and delivered most of the time for whatever reason – busy schedules, lack of cooking skills, a desire to have something different for each meal rather than eating leftovers.

Another large audience that uses food deliveries is office workers. When they have tried everything within walking distance and want something new, or when their schedules leave them no time to go out for lunch, a food delivery service may be just the thing.

The statistics confirm that the food delivery market is growing steadily, with online ordering services outpacing offline ones. An increasing number of people prefer to order their meals online with minimal distraction from their other activities.


Image credit: McKinsey & Company

Since food is one of the basic necessities of humankind, this market is going to grow still larger. Therefore, we can safely expect that well-developed food ordering apps have a good chance of success. Let's see how to create a food delivery app and make it popular, recognizable, and effective.

What do food delivery apps do?

Indeed, why do we need special food delivery apps when we have been ordering pizza or Chinese food by phone for ages? In addition, today many restaurants and fast food chains have websites where you can order your dinner if you do not feel like cooking. How are food delivery apps different?

Food delivery apps are, in fact, aggregators, or marketplaces, where different restaurants offer their menus and users choose what they feel like eating – a burger today, a salad tomorrow, a soup the day after. Having everything in the same place is a great attraction for users who tend to return to the service they like or that someone recommended. And the variety of menus, tastes, diets, and ethnic cuisines is an additional factor engaging the user.

Food deliveries can be local or global, but their users and food providers are always in the same area, as nobody will order food from a faraway location. When you order your dinner, it should be fresh, warm and come as soon as possible, thus on-demand food delivery apps can start locally and then move on to other regions.


How to make a food delivery app

Before we dive deep into the specifics of food delivery app development, we need to note that there are two basic approaches to building and operating such an app. Depending on which service provider groups you are going to involve, your food delivery app may fall under one of the two major types:

  • Aggregator application. In this model, the app serves the purpose of connecting the restaurants and their customers. The app acts as a marketplace where restaurants offer their services and customers choose and pay for them. The restaurants do their deliveries themselves using whatever service they find the most convenient.
  • App with a delivery service. In this case, there is a third group of users of your app – the delivery service providers. When the application takes care of the delivery service, the restaurants no longer need to maintain their own delivery personnel. The deliveries are arranged within the app using the on-demand service providers who also have the same application.

Obviously, the main difference is that in the first case you need to provide a platform for two groups of users – the restaurants and the customers, while in the second case there is one more group – the delivery service providers. The second option requires you to build one more interface – for the drivers or couriers – and arrange the delivery service.

Features to include in a food delivery app

As we have established, the application should provide two or three platforms for different groups of users. Naturally, all three platforms should have specific features relevant to the user “persona”. However, there is one feature that is common for all three platforms:

Registration. A user, a driver or courier, and a restaurant wishing to participate in your app services should be able to register in the app and create their profiles. At the same time, there are certain differences that you should consider.

As users and drivers are mostly individuals, they can register with their personal emails or social network accounts. Restaurants are enterprises with different people managing the application at different times, thus for them the primary option should be registration via a corporate email.

Of course, it is always recommended to provide the possibility of changing the password and recovering it when lost or forgotten.

Naturally, each new user should be offered a choice of roles and to select the one to register with – a restaurant, a delivery person, or a customer. The registration form should be tailored to each role – for example, drivers should be able to upload their license and vehicle registration, while restaurants will need fields describing their type of cuisine, if any (vegetarian, ethnic, seafood, etc.), the ability to enter multiple location addresses, and so on.


App for restaurant partners

The app version that is to be used by restaurants participating in your service should provide a complete flow from posting menus to order acceptance, payment processing and delivery. In this context, we recommend that you think of the following functionality:

  • Admin panel. The admin panel is a complex, multi-layered feature, as it is the point where all other lines converge – the orders from the customers, the communications with the delivery team, the menus and their preparation time estimations. The admin panel is the workstation of a dispatcher who needs to keep the whole process together, thus it should be intuitive, easy, configurable and provide real-time information. The administrator should be able to see the incoming orders, set the approximate preparation time, update the order status, make changes on the fly if necessary.
  • Content management. This feature should enable adding and editing all content related to the restaurant's business – the menus, contact details, restaurant specialties, prices, promotions. Naturally, it is a good idea to support image upload, so that restaurants can add photos of their cuisine.
  • Payment engine. Implement a transparent and secure system of payment options including the most popular credit cards and payment systems, such as PayPal or Stripe. To ensure smooth service and customer satisfaction, you might want to include a delay mechanism, unlocking the payment to the restaurant only after the order has been delivered and confirmed by the customer.
  • Loyalty program. To encourage customers to return to the same restaurant, you may offer a loyalty program. The program can store the order history, the amounts that each customer has paid, and the frequency of orders, tying all the statistics to the customer's profile. The reward system may be based on the number of orders or the amounts the customer spends that translate into bonus points, discounts or other reward formats.

App for delivery service

If you offer order delivery by attracting the providers – car drivers, couriers, etc. – there should be a separate platform for them to manage their orders. As they are the link between the restaurant and the customer, they should have certain access to the information from both. A good idea would be to implement the following set of features:

  • Order management. The delivery guys should get all the information about the order they need to deliver – the size, the customer address and contact number, the pickup location. In addition, they must be able to update the order status – accept or reject it, show the order as in progress or completed.
  • GPS navigation. This feature serves multiple purposes – first, it allows the delivery personnel to get the driving directions and judge the distance from their current location to both the pickup and dropoff locations. It makes it easier for them to decide whether they will accept an orders and estimate the delivery time. Second, it allows the customers to track their delivery in real-time. And, finally, it can also show nearby drivers that can help with the delivery in case of an emergency.
  • Customer rating. The drivers and couriers may find it useful to be able to can rate customers. Issues caused by the customer like providing an inaccurate address, significant delays in collecting the order or other unpleasant conduct may earn the customer a low rating, resulting in the frequent rejection of their orders. In turn, customer rating can increases driver satisfaction with your service and their success.


App for customers

  • Search. Of course, search is one of the central features of the customer's platform. The whole idea of the app is to help customers find the food they feel like eating today. Include a complex filter system – by cuisine type, restaurant name or location, name of the dish, ingredients, dietary specifics, price. This way, you are ensuring that most of your users find what they are looking for.
  • Payment options. Just like on the restaurant platform, offering multiple payment options allows customers to choose between different credit cards and payment systems.
  • Order tracking. This feature is the counterpart of the GPS navigation that we mentioned for the delivery personnel. Allowing customers to follow their orders on the map gives them increased confidence in their delivery and the possibility to plan their activities. Everyone, probably, can remember a case of “delivery within two hours” when they spent those two hours waiting and not being able to leave for even ten minutes. Now, when customers can see their dinner moving on the map on their smartphones, managing their time is much easier.
  • Reviews, ratings and feedback. This is a feature most customers love. We all tend to look up the reviews when we want to try something new. With food delivery apps, it's just the same – customers will want to check on the restaurant they are thinking of trying, see what others say about a particular dish or read the reviews on the service quality. Many customers would also want to provide their feedback describing their experience of a particular restaurant or your service as a whole.
  • In addition to reviewing the restaurants, give the customers an opportunity to rate the drivers. Just like in Uber or other similar services – if the driver has received too many negative ratings for being late or rude or damaging the order, they end up not getting orders anymore.
  • Order history. Being able to see their previous orders, customers can remember what they liked or did not like, follow the price dynamics, and, if they participate in a loyalty program, reconcile their bonus points.
  • Social sharing. This one is an all-time favorite and brings benefits to everyone. People are eager to share their great experience that very minute – give them the chance to describe it on a social network. That opens the window for viral marketing, as in addition to sharing their impression, they also promote the restaurant and your service too.

How much does food delivery app development cost?

If you are planning to make an app for food delivery, the cost issue will arise rather early in the project. However, before you go full throttle and invest in the development of a comprehensive app with all the bells and whistles, we recommend that you test your idea first.

In food delivery service, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that people will always want to eat. The bad news is that you are definitely not the first in this niche. Indeed, the market is full of food delivery services, but not all areas are served, so there is always room for more. In addition, your startup can support new restaurants by offering their products and promoting them in the process. For you, the benefit will be part of the novelty that nobody else has.


In any case, we do recommend building an MVP first. In the food delivery sector, you have rather broad choices as to the type of MVP. You can start with a landing page announcing a new service and offering visitors the option to leave their contact details to be informed about the launch. Once you start to find some restaurant partners, you can opt for a Wizard of Oz or Concierge service, where you will need to do some manual work, for example, place orders over the phone, collect them from the restaurants and deliver them to customers.

When you see that your idea has taken hold, evolve it into a full-featured app with all the automation you planned originally.

Now, how much will it cost? Since we have already decided that our app is, in fact, three versions of the same product, the cost to develop an on-demand food delivery app consists of the costs for building each of these three versions.

The cost of development is most often calculated by multiplying the number of hours by the hourly rate. Further on, we will provide the average time needed to develop each feature. When estimating completion time for mobile apps, we have considered React Native only, as we don't work with Android or Swift (Apple programming language). React Native enables us to write code once for both Android and iOS, building cross-platform apps that look and feel like native ones.

Common features (for customer and delivery personnel mobile versions)

 Back-endReact Native
Account editing812
Total hours4036

While we mentioned that the registration feature is required for all three platforms, for restaurants a web version is much more convenient, as it will be most often used by office workers from their desktops. Therefore, we do not include this feature in the calculation for the mobile platforms. Below we provide you with an estimation of the restaurant web application.

Restaurant version (web)

Admin panel160160
Content management1034
Payment engine (Stripe)12040
Loyalty program8040
Total hours402306

Delivery personnel version (mobile)

 Back-endReact Native
Order management5280
GPS tracking3240
Customer rating3235
Total hours116155

Customer version (mobile)

 Back-endReact Native
Payment optionshere we use the restaurant web version backend40
GPS tracking3240
Reviews and ratings3230
Order history4038
Social sharing016
Total hours160294

The total development budget depends on the experience of the software engineers, company rates, and the exact time taken to create the application. You should also consider project management and testing costs that on average comprise 20% and 40% of the total app budget, respectively. Based on our experience, the minimum cost of a food delivery app with a basic configuration will be roughly $55,000. Of course, if you add, modify or remove certain features, it will affect the final sum.

Food delivery success stories

There are quite a number of businesses that have achieved remarkable success on the food delivery market. Let's briefly look at their stories to see if there is any “magic ingredient”.

Uber Eats

This name is going to come up even if you briefly search for food delivery services. Uber Eats is one of the services of the global Uber corporation and according to certain sources, Uber Eats has outperformed Uber proper.

Uber Eats launched in 2015 and, for fairness' sake, had a huge competitive advantage from day one. It rode the massive Uber presence in many cities across the globe and used its enormous user and driver base. In addition, Uber, as a brand, was already recognized, thus the spin-off service also enjoyed its parent's popularity.

Uber Eats works according to the model where the service provider also does the delivery. For the delivery, it engages the taxi drivers who are using regular Uber.

Due to its wide geographic presence, Uber Eats offers a great choice of restaurants and cuisines. In addition, its application is very intuitive both for the drivers and customers and includes all the necessary features: flexible search, GPS tracking, order status update, and secure payment options.


Image credit: Uber Eats


GrubHub also operates according to the “delivery included” model. It has been on the market since 2004 and is mostly present in the US and UK. It partners with over 95,000 restaurants thus offering a huge variety of cuisines and diets.

GrubHub uses a flexible discount system for customers and a rating system for restaurants. Its features are designed to attract users and partners and thus expand its user base and its available options.

The GrubHub app features most of the functions of a food delivery app – an advanced search engine, payment options, and accurate delivery time estimation. Its intuitive UI and easy flow make the app popular with users. According to GrubHub's portfolio, the service processes over 400,000 orders daily, 60% of them being placed via mobile devices.


Image credit: GrubHub

Wrapping it up

Building a food delivery app can be a tough task, as the competition is fierce. At the same time, since you are going to provide additional business opportunities both to restaurants and courier services, you may get their support. And, as we said, people will always eat.

Our team will be glad to help you with such a project. Bring your idea to us, and our experts will consult you on everything – market analysis, MVP creation, budget optimization. You can rely on our skilled developers to build a unique on-demand application that will bring you recognition and popularity.

Food is one of our basic pleasures, it has been so for millennia and is going to remain so for just as long. Bringing food means bringing pleasure, so why not do it together?

To make your on-demand app user-friendly and functional, check out the way how users choose a food delivery service provider:


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