How to Make an App Like Uber Eats: Features, Cost and Tools

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12 Aug 2020
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17 min
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Maria D.
Business Analyst

Recent study finds that around 44 percent of consumers in the US use food delivery services at least once per month. Great time for online food startups to flourish, isn’t it? And that’s exactly what Uber Eats, Foodpanda, GrubHub, and similar platforms do.

But it's not easy to build an app like Uber Eats. The development takes time, finances, and you won’t fit all the features in a single app. You need one application for users, another for couriers, and an admin panel for restaurants. Each having its own development complexities.

In our article, we’re discussing all the ropes of building a food service like Uber Eats and promoting it.

Table of contents

Food Marketplace Models

There are two food startup models that take a big share of the current market. Let’s take a more detailed look at both.

Order-Only Platform

Order-only apps act as an aggregator showing nearby eateries to app users. They connect customers with a wide network of food venues. The system gathers information about restaurants, and users get access to menus, look through restaurants’ rates and reviews, and so on.

This model helps restaurants to expand their market—while customers simply look for a good place to order food from. These platforms do not offer delivery services, though (restaurants have to use their own couriers), they gain profit by charging up to 15% commission to restaurants.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Users choose food and place an order.
  2. The payment is authorized within the system.
  3. A restaurant receives the order and starts preparations.
  4. The food is handed to the restaurant's courier.
  5. The courier brings food to the customer, payment is deducted.

The biggest challenge for such startups is building a wide network of nearby food venues. App owners should look for all possible partners, including small eateries.

Examples of order-only apps:

All these platforms are well-designed and have different filters (by dish, location, price) to help users find the best eatery. Still, they remain limited in options and income sources.

How order-only food apps work

Order-only apps from order placement to payment

Order & Delivery Platform

Order & delivery model differs from restaurant aggregators as it provides full logistics support. These services are a great asset for startups, small restaurants, and other minor venues. New entrants often don’t have enough resources to establish their own delivery, so they turn to companies that provide such services for a fee.

With a order & delivery platforms, restaurants no longer need to worry about delivery management—personnel, vehicles, fare cost.

Order and delivery services work in the following way:

  1. Users place an order, payment gets authorized.
  2. Eatery receives the order and starts food preparation.
  3. The platform arranges delivery by providing their own couriers.
  4. When the order is ready, the eatery notifies a courier.
  5. The courier picks the food up and completes the delivery.
  6. When the customer confirms the delivery, payment is deducted.

These platforms charge restaurants up to 30% of total order price. In addition, customers also pay a delivery fee (fixed or depending on the distance).

Examples of order & delivery platforms:

How Uber Eats-like applications work

How food order plus delivery services work

A Word About Monetization

In this article, I'm explaining how to build an app like Uber Eats and thus focusing on order & delivery model.

Uber Eats delivery rates depend on the distance (previously the company charged a fixed $4.99 fee in the USA). It’s a great resource of stable income, still, the company doesn’t stop on a single approach.

If there are more orders in a certain area than available couriers, Uber charges a so-called ‘fee for busy areas’. This fee ensures that customers get food in time even when all delivery partners are busy.

Uber Eats also charges restaurants 30% commission. If a customer pays $50 for their order, the restaurant will only get $35 (Stripe fee not included).

Finally, Uber Eats gives restaurants a chance to promote their services through paid advertising. They offer to feature venues on the top of the list for an additional fee.

How UberEats monetize their services

Uber Eats makes money in four different ways

Both models have their benefits. Although it's costlier to build an app like Uber Eats, it's a way more profitable, too.

If you’re new to developing food apps, it may be better to start with the order-only system. As soon as your business grows, you can transform it into an order & delivery service.

What to Consider Before You Make an App Like Uber Eats

Before you start looking for mobile developers, make a deep research. Find out who’s your target audience, create a value proposition, and learn how to work with restaurants—your future partners.

Or get acquainted with FDA regulations in your country, for a start.

FDA Regulations

FDA stands for The Food and Drug Administration, and their job is to watch over food stores, restaurants, and online food aggregators to ensure the food they produce and deliver is safe.

Before an industrial kitchen starts making products, local health agencies will require to submit to regular inspections. No matter where you make your food, they need a label that fully complies with the FDA labeling guidelines.

If you want to build apps like Uber Eats and avoid any possible troubles with the FDA, make sure all your packaging and labels are 100% compliant. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marketing Tips

We've made a cheat sheet to help you with the marketing aspects. Inside, you'll find tips on defining your target customers, what to offer them, and why the UI/UX design of an app matters a lot.

Ways to promote a platform like UberEats

How to create an app like UberEats: things to do prior the development

If you want to develop a food marketplace, building a single app is not enough. Uber Eats, for example, consists of customer app for clients, delivery app for couriers and admin panel for restaurants.

Still, prior to contacting a company that provides marketplace development services or works with mobile apps, make sure to list the features your business needs.

Customer App Features

I’ve listed the most important features you need to consider if you're going to create an app like Uber Eats.

Let's start from the customer app.

Must-Have Features

  1. Registration and profile management
  2. Search field
  3. Order placement
  4. Payment
  5. Order tracking
  6. Notifications
  7. Rating & reviews

1. Registration and profile management

Users get acquainted with the app directly from the sign-up page. That’s why the registration process should be fast and easy, asking for minimum details. Most apps use email, password, and phone number combinations or integrate Google or Facebook SDK.

After the registration, users customize their profiles by adding photos, preferences, payment details, delivery addresses. Or choose default profile settings which should be applied automatically with each new login.

Finally, not only registering but logging in through Facebook or Twitter instead of entering email/phone+password is much simpler for the users.

2. Search field

After profile setup, users get access to the catalogue of venues, and it's better to add a search option to navigate. Customers search where to order food by restaurant’s or cafe’s name, location or menu.

In addition, search fields usually include various filters to simplify the process and let users sort options by choosing price ranges, cuisines, or ingredients.

How menu looks like in Uber Eats

How to make an app like UberEats: make an extensive search system

3. Order placement

When it comes to making an order, the process should be clear and easy. Or you risk losing customers before getting any income.

Users should be able to add a dish to their carts in one-two clicks, as well as edit or remove it. Then goes the summary, including important details about the order that should be confirmed before users make a payment.

And consider adding a range of delivery services—customers can probably pick the order up by themselves, no couriers needed.

How Uber Eats delivers orders

Uber Eats offers a few delivery options during the checkout

4. Payment

The main points to take care of on this stage are speed, security, and convenience. Mind integrating a few payments gateways like PayPal or Stripe.

Start with offering 2-3 payment methods and when your business expands you can always add more if needed.

?

How to make an app like UberEats and secure the payments? We've compared three popular payment processors— PayPal vs Stripe vs Braintree.

If users have previously added payment details to their profiles, let them choose this option during check-out.

5. Order tracking

The tracking feature helps users find out when the order will reach them. Courier’s tracking is done with Location API provided by Google (Android) or CoreLocation framework (iOS). Both determine couriers’ current location to let the app display an approximate delivery time.

Customers track couriers via the app

Users can track couriers via the app

6. Notifications

Busy customers (who are you target audience) don’t have time to track the delivery. That’s why notifying users about order status (Placed, In Progress, On Its Way, Delivered) via push notifications or SMS works perfectly. Just make sure that you send only important notices.

Custom push notifications sent via UberEats app

Custom notifications sent by Uber Eats

7. Rating & reviews

The best way for users to share their amazing experience is give the highest rating or write a review. Engage users by offering them to evaluate delivery services, waiting time, and the dish itself.

Review section will let you and restaurant owners know if there are some issues with the personnel or food quality.

UberEats customers rate provided services

Rating system in Uber Eats app

Additional Features

The features I’ve listed above are required to build an app like Uber Eats. Still, to enhance the UX, you may think of applying additional features to make your app stand out.

They may include:

  1. Bookmarks
  2. Order history
  3. Estimated delivery time
  4. Discount system
  5. Social networks

1. Bookmarks

When customers need to grab something fast, they’re likely to check bookmarks or wishlist. Using this feature, user mark dishes they want to try or add best food places to order from.

How bookmarks look like in Uber Eats

Want to make an app like Uber Eats to engage users? Try adding 'your favourites' screen

2. Order history

A list of previous orders is another feature that enhances user experience. By checking the order history, customers easily find the names of dishes they like most and can order them again.

3. Estimated delivery time

By seeing when exactly their food arrives, people can plan their time better. And you will offer relief from waiting and guessing right from the start.

UberEats app shows customers when the order will be delivered

Users can see when their food will be delivered

4. Discount system

It’s simple yet very effective to offer rewards. Start with free delivery services or a free drink for big orders. Apply membership or cumulative discounts, or special promo codes to boost user loyalty.

Homescreen of Uber Eats

Example of a discount Uber Eats offers to users

5. Social networks

Allowing users to link their social network accounts works for both consumer loyalty and the company’s promoting. After all, which company doesn’t want to have their own hashtag on Instagram or Twitter?

Courier App Features

Now, let's move to delivery staff. Here I'm describing the most important features that cover the needs of personnel and business owners:

  1. Registration and profile setup
  2. Order management
  3. Status updates
  4. Delivery history
  5. Earnings screen

1. Registration and profile setup

Same way as customers, delivery personnel should have their own profiles for identification. Once the profile is created, couriers get access to the system’s database and can track recent orders.

2. Order management

As soon as the couriers have registered in the system, they can access all relevant information including the list of nearest orders. To start accepting offers, couriers toggle ‘go online’ button.

Also, delivery personnel should be able not only accept but decline customers’ requests.

Couriers toggle the button and start accepting orders.

Couriers toggle 'Online' button to start accepting orders

Couriers toggle the button and start accepting orders

3. Status updates

For customers’ convenience, delivery personnel should update their statuses along the way. In this case, clients will remain aware of order processing and estimate the waiting time.

These statuses may include:

  • Accepted/declined
  • Delivery in progress
  • Delivered

Once the delivery is complete, the customer should confirm it via the platform. The payment is then deducted from customers’ account or handed out to the delivery partner.

4. Delivery history

Making notes and reviewing the list of delivered orders is useful for couriers. This way they can leave a note next to difficult delivery places or routes.

5. Earnings screen

In addition to delivery history, couriers should be able to check their daily and monthly earnings. The app should also display the current balance, recent transactions, promotions, and cashing out possibilities.

Couriers can see their earnings directly in UberEats app

My earnings screen in Uber Eats

Admin Panel for Restaurants

The admin panel transfers order information from users to the restaurant staff. Then restaurants process orders and pass the dish to couriers. They may work with internal delivery services provided by the app or use their own delivery personnel.

In this section we're reviewing:

  1. Registration and profile management
  2. Content management
  3. Order management
  4. Payments

1. Registration and profile management

Works the same way as with customers and couriers. However, the restaurants should also be able to add business’ details to their profiles. It can be their name, location, menus, and more.

2. Content management

Restaurant’s admin panel focuses on attracting clients and promoting the eatery. It's important to let restaurant staff add or update details about the dining place, including its name, address, working hours, etc.

Next, the menu management. Staff should be able to add names and description of dishes, edit or remove positions, update prices. Finally, don’t forget about adding photos which a great tool for user attraction.

How eateries add menu via UberEats admin panel

Uber Eats application from restaurant side

3. Order management

The staff should track incoming orders and update their statuses. Real-time updates on the preparation process, order cancellation or completion and delivery status are also must-haves.

How eateries manage orders via UberEats admin panel

Order management screen

4. Payments

Here comes the best part of any business—when the venue gets their money. The payment should be released to the restaurant as soon as the client confirms successful delivery.

Synchronization via API

As I've said, Uber Eats-like service consist of three apps. And these apps should show only up-to-date information—or the whole system won't work.

That's why arrangement of data exchange between apps and the server is vital for the whole service.

To synchronize data developers apply client-server architecture using API for data exchange. When a user places a request, the client reaches API which defines their profile type (super admin, restaurant, courier or customer), then goes to the database to return relevant information.

Although data is usually ‘pulled’ from a database via API request, in some cases information get cached and thus can be accessed through the client even when there’s no Internet connection.

Synchronization in food delivery marketplace apps

How synchronization works

Insterested in tech aspects?
Our team is ready to help! We'll consult you on technologies and answer your questions.

Tech Side and the Development Team

Let's dive into more technical aspects of a food marketplace development. Based on our experience in foodtech, we've singled out an approximate tech stack.

Technology stack:

  • Programming languages: Kotlin (Android) and Swift (iOS)
  • Back-end development: Node.js

Frameworks and libraries:

  • Mailing service: Amazon SES
  • SMS service: Twilio
  • Synchronization: Socket.io
  • Push notifications: FCM
  • Social media integration: Facebook SDK
  • Maps: Google Maps
  • Navigation: Google Directions
  • Addresses: Google Places
  • Payment provision: Braintree
Uber Eats-like app technology stack

How to make app like Uber Eats: teck stack example

!

This list of technologies is not final and provided FYI. It may differ from app to app according to business objectives, features, and platforms.

Development team:

  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • UI/UX designer
  • Android engineer (2)
  • iOS engineer (2)
  • Front-end developer
  • Back-end developer
  • QA engineer

How to Create an App Like Uber Eats: Development Cost

Finally, it’s time to define the approximate cost to make an app like UberEats. Our Business Analysts have estimated the development cost of the following apps:

  1. Customer App
  2. Courier App
  3. Admin Panel for restaurants
  4. Super Admin Panel for owner
  5. Frameworks and libraries integration
!

Please note that food marketplaces often include a fully-fletched web application which was not added to the estimation.

Full cost of an UberEats-like service

Uber eats app development cost

Need more?

Besides, we'd like to share several ways how we save our clients money by reducing the overall development time.

  1. Documentation. We have a workflow template for both web and mobile development. All the points are already added to the specification, and we only adjust them to each new project.

  2. Front end. We use Inspinia to provide a prepared template of the admin panel, so there’s no need to spend time on its designing.

  3. Back end. We have a ready-made architecture framework for web development.

  4. Mobile applications. Our engineering team has created a starter project with a common authorization approach with developed architecture.

Our Expertise

Finally, I’d like to introduce an on-demand platform we’ve developed—Ayio. While working on this project, we added several features similar to what Uber-like apps have. Namely:

  • quick switching between customer and vendor roles
  • a sophisticated search system with categories
  • integrated Stripe to collect and send payments fast
  • a real-time tracking of incomes and expenses with estimations for a specific service

We focused on simple and intuitive UI/UX so that anyone could use the app, no matter how tech-savvy they are. And carefully estimated the development time to remain within the MVP budget.

AYIO social business platform

How AYIO dasboard looks like

Build an app that'll beat Uber Eats
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