11 min
Oct 21 2020
Alex К
Alex КTechnical writer
Danil L
Danil LWeb Developer
We live in a fast-developing world. And it’s not a secret that modern technologies bring new habits into everyday life. One of these habits is food delivery via mobile applications like Uber Eats, Food Panda, Zomato, and others. With the mobile food delivery app, you’re not limited by the menu of a particular restaurant when ordering your breakfast, lunch, or dinner from any place to any location, and at a convenient time. Food delivery is not a new service. You might remember the orders via phone – by 2011, Americans have spent over $60 billion, according to Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney. It’s fair to say that food delivery services were pretty popular for the last decade. And then mobile phones and high-speed Internet connection made a revolution in the food delivery area – in 2015 the number of online orders became higher than via phone. Nowadays mobile food ordering is a lucrative business.


Food delivery apps allow making orders from the mobile phone. You can order a few dishes from different restaurants with one click. You can make an order and go to the restaurants to pick it up or just wait for the courier. Such apps are a great opportunity for communication between clients and restaurants.
And it’s actually a very profitable business. Statista said in 2019 food delivery generated revenue worth $107.4 billion and will increase to $151.5 billion by 2021. The market volume of the customer delivery area was $53.8 billion in 2019 and will increase to $82.2 billion by 2023. During the lockdown in 2020-2021, the food delivery market has grown by 10.3%. It's now expected to reach $192.16 billion worth in 2025.
As you can see, food delivery is a popular sector that can never be out of trend, even during the worldwide crisis. Current market opportunities allow entrepreneurs convenient immersion to food delivery via mobile applications. So, if you have an idea about the food delivery app and want to know how to realize it, keep reading.


5 easy steps to build a food delivery app
There are four common models. Let’s discuss each of them.

1. Order-only Model

You might face this model in applications like Delivery Hero, JustEat or Grubhub. It means you provide only a software layer for the restaurants. Restaurants can use your app for attracting clients, clients can make orders and you provide all the software services but logistics, delivery and couriers are restaurants’ concerns. Your application makes communication between eateries and clients faster and easier. Usually, the order-only model provides commission 7-15% from restaurants to the application owner.
How it works. The customer makes the order in application. The restaurant receives this order and notifies this. After the order is done, the restaurant provides the delivery through special service or in-house courier.
Advantages. This model doesn’t need additional preparations for order realization and is very scalable.
Limitations. In this model, you completely depend on the restaurant and can control the process of delivery.

2. Order and Delivery Model

As you might have guessed, this is an advanced version of the previous variant. It’s used by Uber Eats, DoorDash and Zomato. In this model, the service provides not only a mobile application but also logistics and couriers. The platform for making orders and delivery is very beneficial for the eateries because they can provide only dishes without additional worries about delivery, paying couriers and other services. In this model delivery providers can charge additional payments for delivery and increase the order price during peak hours.
How it works. The restaurant uploads its menu in the application, the client can choose dishes, make an order and pay for it. When the restaurant sees the order, it can be confirmed or rejected. When the order is ready it’s given to the closest courier. The last step is delivery to the customer.
Advantages. The service provider can charge a bigger price because of delivery. Also, this way is more preferable for restaurants, so you can have a wider menu and as a result, a bigger audience.
Limitations. Unlike the first model, this variant needs more resources and investments. You’ll need to hire a bigger team that includes developers, drivers, customer support, etc. Also, you should spend time and resources on teaching drivers and making logistics.

3. Cloud Restaurant Model

Cloud restaurants mean that eatery doesn’t have a place for guests at all and works only for delivery. Customers can see the menu, make orders and receive them. But can’t go to this restaurant for dinner. Such eateries use in-house delivery service or outsource it to food delivery apps. For the restaurant, this is a good way to start a business with a minimum of investments. Food delivery applications often collaborate with cloud restaurants and help them to start.
How it works. The process of work is the same as in previous variants. The difference is that client could not visit such a restaurant.
Advantages. For restaurants, it’s an efficient way to start with minimum investments. As for the delivery app service, it’s a way to find a new restaurant with lower prices (because such eateries don’t need big real-estate areas and can save costs on rent) and attract new customers.
Limitations. Such restaurants depend on delivery providers and could be not well-known without a physical presence on the market.

4. Meal Kit Delivery Model

This is not a classic food delivery. In this case, the client doesn’t receive the dish but have all the necessary ingredients for cooking a dish. Restaurants deliver the whole meal kit with the recipe. The customer shouldn’t buy products by himself or herself and think about proportions because all ingredients are delivered in the right amount. Customers can choose from a variety of dishes with professional recipes, receive the whole meal kit and cook at home.
How it works. The client makes an order, the restaurant prepares all the ingredients and the recipe. Courier gets the order and delivers it to the client. Not the client can cook the dish at home.
Advantages. This model works with the subscription. Thus, the provider has a lot of regular customers and the revenue per user is quite big. For the restaurant, it’s the ability to provide additional service almost effortlessly and for the clients this is the ability to cook favorite dishes at home.
Limitations. If you provide only meal kits, you might lose a big audience of customers that want to order cooked dishes from the favorite restaurants.


Step 2 choose the revenue model
Below we’ll list the most popular revenue models.
Step 3 analyze trends
Food delivery services are quite popular, so there is a high level of competency. If you want to have success, you should understand the latest trends in this area. The last two trends are making orders on social media and chatbots. People have too many applications and notifications and they don’t want to install one more. If you can integrate food delivery in the app they already have, do it.
For example, Domino Pizza was the first food delivery provider that allowed clients to make orders via Twitter. Users should create an account on the Domino platform and connect their Twitter to the platform.
The next important trend is the chatbots. We use messengers every day, so it’s very convenient to order food via chatbots. This is a great way to collect orders and notify users about special offers, sales, etc. Also, companies use the virtual assistant Alexa. You can order food through Alexa in Grubhub, Just Eat and other delivery providers.


Step 4 select the functionality
There are a lot of functions can be included in your application. You should define the most important and focus on them. In general, app can include four panels: admin, user, restaurant and driver. The last one is not necessary if you won’t work with the delivery. Below we’ll describe any panel.

User panel

Admin panel

Restaurant panel

Delivery panel


Step 5 choose a technological stack
When you have a common understanding of application type and features, you should choose tools and services for its realization. They will depend on the business model and chosen functions.
There are some of the tech stacks you can use:


Newbies in the food delivery business should know that nowadays the most popular approach is the order-only model. In this case, you can start pretty quickly because you need to create only a software layer without a delivery process. The next popular variant is the order and delivery model because it’s convenient for restaurants and very popular among them.
With order-only model you’ll have somewhere of 7-20% per order. In case of order and delivery, you can earn more because the commission will include the payment for the order and payment for the delivery.


We’ve discussed all the necessary steps and features for a successful mobile delivery application. And the last but not least question is how you need to invest to start a food delivery business? The development price depends on many factors like the platform (Android, iOS, Windows Mobile), business model, number of features, integrations, etc. Even the location of development team matters.
The initial phase of making a roadmap and development plan usually takes near 50 hours. The UI/UX design takes the same time. The process of back-end building can take 60-70 hours, the development might take 120 hours, and testing near 100 hours. As you can see, the total time is near 300-400 hours. But you need to understand that these are very rough calculations.
The payment per hour depends on the level of specialist and often a location. For example, US developers can charge $200-300, West European $100-200, Indian $20-100, East European and Russian $30-100. Thus, the median is $50-100, so the application will cost $15,000-30,000. The advanced application with wide functionality like Uber Eats can cost you about $35,000.


We've worked with mobile apps in the food delivery industry for the food delivery industry. You can read our guides on building an app like:
Would you like our professional help with design, development, testing, and support? Check out the portfolio for our latest projects. Write us about your food delivery business and we'll answer soon.
Most popular questions

What are the primary steps to take when making a food delivery app?

1. You decide on a business model. 2. You select a monetization model. 3. You study the current trends. 4. You choose features and functions for your future app. 5. You hire developers and select a tech stack.

What are the main features to build for a food delivery application?

The app consists of four essential parts: User/Customer panel, Admin panel, Restaurant panel, and Delivery panel. Each of them will have a signup system and a user profile, geolocation, payments, notifications, online support, rating, etc. Customer functionality includes the list of restaurants and order tracking. For employees, there also should be a dashboard with statistics. Admin panel has the most important features that allow controlling the content like menus and all user activity.

How much does it cost to make a food delivery app?

The payment per hour depends on the level of specialist and often a location. For example, US developers can charge $200-300, West European $100-200, Indian $20-100, East European and Russian $30-100. The advanced application with wide functionality like Uber Eats can cost you about $35,000.
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Tatevik DarbinyanHead of Sales