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Do you currently run a food business and use a food delivery app similar to Uber Eats? If not, then you might want to give the matter some serious thought. According to Business Insider (an American financial and business news website), the mobile food delivery business is one of the fastest-growing industries in 2020 and projected to be worth over $38 billion by the end of the year. If you want a piece of that market, then it’s time to jump in on the trend or get swept away by the current. 

So, where do you start? In this article, we aim to provide a  good idea of what it takes for businesses to develop a food delivery app similar to Uber Eats.

Why do we see the boom of food delivery apps? like UberEats, Deliveroo and Glovo?

It’s no secret that people will always go after what’s convenient. This applies to just about everything in life from the movies we watch, the music that we listen to, the games that we play, and yes, the food that we eat. This is perhaps the most significant factor behind the boom of food delivery apps like Deliveroo Glovo and Uber Eats.

To cite an example, when was the last time you’ve seen a thriving video rental store in your area? Well, a vast majority of those businesses diet out following the advent of video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. As harsh as it may sound, the same could happen to your food business if you choose to ignore the advent of mobile food delivery solutions.

Key elements of a successful food delivery app

Before we get into the details on how to create an on-demand food delivery app, it is well worth noting the various elements that make up such an app. An UberEats app (or any functional food delivery app for that matter) is comprised of the following three elements:

The client-side

  • Sign up functionality for enabling new users to create an account using their email address or via third-party apps like Google and Facebook. 
  • The ability to choose a restaurant or cafe from a list of vendors available from your location
  • The ability to quickly place orders from a menu
  • A payment gate system for processing payments and validating promo codes. Customers should be able to pay for their orders as quickly and efficiently as possible. Ideally, you should add as may payment options as possible — credit cards, PayPal, COD, Apple/Google Pay, and the like.
  • The ability to track order status, estimated delivery time, and courier location.
  • The option to save restaurants, cafes and favorite food items for future reference
  • The ability to chat with both the restaurant and the courier for updates and concerns regarding their order.

The restaurant side

  • A restaurant signup page that would enable food businesses to join the food delivery platform. Such a page captures all pertinent information about the restaurant, including their business name, location, business hours, contact information, and the like.
  • An integrated content management system that enables restaurants to publish their menu and add photos on the food delivery platform
  • The ability to launch promotions and offer promo codes to customers
  • An order tracking feature that enables restaurants to view incoming orders and update customers regarding the status of their orders. Both parties ought to be able to see the exact status of orders at any given time — canceled, completed, for delivery, etc.
  • The ability to find the nearest courier available to deliver orders. The app should be able to track the location of the courier from pick-up and up until the order is successfully delivered.
  • A cross interface communication feature that allows the restaurant to communicate with the customer and courier seamlessly.
how to build food delivery app

The courier side:

  • A signup page that enables couriers to sign up for your food delivery app.
  • An order management page for couriers that enable them to book deliveries in real-time. Such a feature should provide all details of an order, including pick-up and delivery location, order size, and the customer’s contact information.
  • An option to estimate the delivery time before picking up the order. 
  • Cross interface communication features that would enable couriers to chat with both courier and restaurant and send updates concerning delivery
  • An account history page where couriers can keep a record of their experience delivering to a particular customer.

As you may have already realized, the three elements mentioned above work together to ensure that information can be sent and shared with all relevant parties. Notice how integrating the UberEats API in your food delivery app makes it easy for customers to place and pay for their orders. Consequently, restaurants can accept more orders (and more sales) while effectively managing food preparations. Couriers get easy access to all the information they need to fulfill deliveries.

How to Build an App like UberEats

Unfortunately, not many restaurants can afford to build their own mobile food delivery app similar to Uber Eats from scratch. On average, app development cost upwards of $25,000 per project. If you don’t have that kind of money, should you forget about building a food delivery app

Well, not necessarily, and even small businesses can come up with something similar to the Uber Eats for a fraction of the cost. The more cost-effective alternative for food ordering companies is to make use of existing APIs to hasten the app development process and reduce cost. Many popular APIs provide all the necessary building blocks to create a food delivery app.

Programmers need only “assemble” those blocks together to come up with a functional app similar to Uber Eats. Granted, additional time and money will be spent on optimizing the app for users. Nevertheless, existing APIs will significantly reduce the time and money spent on developing a food delivery app.

So what resources can you use to create a food delivery app? Well, you’ll find that you have no shortage of options available. That said, it is well worth learning about each one as well as when and why you should use them.

Google Places API

Places API is a Google service for answering queries about places via HTTP requests, including geographic locations, points of interest over certain regions, and business establishments. To access Google Places API, you will need a valid key and a billing account with Google Cloud Platform. 

At the time of writing, for using Maps API Google charges $2 to $14 for every 1000 queries up to a maximum of 100,000 queries per day. Plus, they have additional pricing for using Routes and Places API’s. That said, you get a $200 credit every month, which makes the Places API practically free for small to medium-sized food businesses. You only get charged when the usage of the API exceeds your monthly credit. By then, you’d have grown your customer base considerably that any added expense is well worth it.

Foursquare API

foursquare api

The Foursquare API is a tool kit that developers can use to communicate with Foursquare — a social networking search-and-discovery app that provides users with personalized recommendations on things to do and places to go.

Access to the Foursquare API starts at $599 for small to medium-sized businesses.  New users will need to get an account from the Foursquare website and obtain the necessary credentials (Client ID and Secret key) to start sending queries to the API.

While the cost of Foursquare API can be significant for most small businesses, it’s an investment that is more than likely to pay off mainly if you’ve determined that many of your customers found your establishment through the Foursquare app.

Uber Eats API

uber eats api

Perhaps the easiest way for restaurants to jump in on the mobile food delivery business is through the Uber Eats API. The latter can be integrated directly with your establishment’s POS (Point of Sale) system making it easier to manage menus and handle orders from mobile customers. Uber Eats also have their network of couriers, which means business owners won’t have to worry about logistics.

The only downside to using the Uber Eats API is that they implement a revenue-sharing model with vendors, which can be as high as 15 to 40 percent per order. That said, such an arrangement can be well worth it if the result is a massive business for your restaurant. This is because Uber Eats has a much bigger reach than other APIs.

GrubHub API

The GrubHub developer API contains information on more than 115,000 restaurants in the United States. They provide programmatic access to vendors but only to a limited extent (semi-open) — updating business information, which includes the menu, operating hours, and business address.

Similar to the Uber Eats API, GrubHub uses a revenue-sharing model (10 to 30 percent). It’s important to note that while commission fees are lower, GrubHub does not offer logistics, which means that businesses will have to depend on a third-party courier.

MapBox API: MapBox Navigation API and MapBox Geocoding API

The MapBox API is a web service that enables developers to access the toolset for MapBox — an online service that offers custom maps for use in sites and apps. Popular applications include social media pages like Facebook, Snapchat, and websites like weather channels and even the Financial Times.

The MapBox toolset is open-source and free for developers to use, although the platform that it runs on isn’t. That said, using this API doesn’t cost anything to start and free for up to 25,000 monthly active users. Beyond that, businesses will need to pay depending on their usage requirements (e.g., $4 for up to 125,000 monthly active users).

Google Matrix

The Google Matrix API enables developers to accurately determine travel distance and time between a point of origin and the designated destination. It works in conjunction with the Google Maps API, which feeds it with route recommendations.

Similar to Google Places API, pricing for Google Matrix tier-based depends on app activity. That said, users get $200 free credit every month, which is plenty generous for small to medium-sized businesses.

Freshchat API

freshchat api

The Freshchat API is a toolkit that developers can use to add a live chat feature to a website using Javascript code. The feature is powered by Freshchat — a live messaging service designed by Freshworks (a Software-as-a-Service customer engagement company) for small businesses.

Live chat products can be incredibly helpful for businesses looking to convert more of their website visitors into paying customers. The Freschat API can help you do just that without spending a cent with a 21-day trial period and a free starter (Sprout) account. The starter account is free to use for up to 10 team members and 10,000 website visitors. Beyond, businesses will need to upgrade to a premium account, which starts at $15 per month (billed yearly) with unlimited contacts with customers.

Onesignal API

The Onesignal API is a toolkit that developers can use to add push notifications to apps. These notifications can be used to alert users of any updates or news that they’ve subscribed to via the app. 

Access to Onesignal API costs $99 per month, although there is a free version that offers limited support and subscriber count (up to 30,000). Still, that’s more than enough for most small businesses looking to add push notifications for their first food delivery app.

Waze Navigational API

waze api

The Waze Navigational API grants developers free toolkit access to Waze — a mobile app that provides turn-by-turn instructions via real-time road conditions. Unlike Google Maps, Waze is specific to cars and depends on a community of users for information. 

If you’re looking for a viable and free alternative to Google Places and the Matrix API, then the Waze API might be the answer for as long as you are aware of its’ limitations. For example, unlike the UberEats API, will logistics be an issue? If most of your couriers don’t use cars for deliveries, then using Waze for your app isn’t probably a good idea.

TomTom’s NavApp and MapLibrary APIs

The TomTom API (NavAPP and MapLibrary) is a web-based toolkit that developers can use to add custom mapping features to their apps. These maps are in raster graphics format (jpeg or PNG), which means that they’re of a relatively higher quality compare to Google Maps, MapBox, and the UberEats API.

TomTom’s API is free to use for up to 2,500 queries per day. Beyond that, users will need to purchase credits that start at $25 for 50,000 transactions (on top of the daily limit).

Summary

Indeed, the mobile food ordering business is a fast-growing trend that’s just too valuable for any restaurant/cafe to ignore. As the technology behind it continues to grow (Internet and mobile), the strategic value of food delivery apps like UberEats is sure to soar even higher. That said, one must consider every element of developing such an app and adequately address the needs of all parties involved.

If you’re unsure as to how to accomplish the latter, then it would be best to discuss the matter with experts that offer mobile app development solutions that are specific to your business.