Food Delivery App Development Guide for Businesses in 2024

Relia Software

Relia Software

Quoc Bao

Relia Software

Software Development

This guide covers the entire process of food delivery app development, from understanding the food delivery landscape to launching your app and achieving growth.

Food Delivery App Development Guide for Businesse

Table of Contents

Craving a slice of the booming food delivery market? Our comprehensive guide equips you with everything you need to develop a successful food delivery app. Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned business looking to expand online, this guide takes you through the entire process, from understanding the food delivery landscape to launching your app and achieving growth. Let's turn your food delivery vision into a delicious reality!

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4 Business Models for Food Delivery App

There are several key business models for food delivery apps, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here's a breakdown of the most common ones:

Aggregator Model

This is the most popular model where the app acts as a middleman, connecting restaurants with customers. Users browse restaurants listed on the app, place orders, and track deliveries. Restaurants receive orders, prepare food, and potentially handle delivery themselves or outsource it.

Revenue Generation:

  • Commissions: The app charges restaurants a commission fee (typically 10-30%) on each order placed through the platform.

  • Delivery Fees: The app may charge customers a delivery fee on top of the order total. This fee can be fixed or variable based on distance.

  • Premium Subscriptions: Some apps offer premium memberships with perks like free delivery or exclusive discounts.


  • Efficient for both restaurants (no need to manage online presence) and users (wide variety of options).

  • Lower initial investment for app owners compared to in-house delivery.


  • Restaurants have less control over customer experience and branding.

  • Competition can be high, leading to pressure on commission rates.


DoorDash connects users with a vast network of restaurants in their area. Users browse menus, place orders, and track deliveries all within the DoorDash app. Restaurants receive orders, prepare food, and can choose to handle deliveries themselves (if they have their own drivers) or partner with DoorDash for delivery through their network of independent drivers. DoorDash generates revenue through commissions charged to restaurants on each order.

DoorDash connects users with a vast network of restaurants in their area.
DoorDash connects users with a vast network of restaurants in their area. (Source: Internet)

Order-and-Delivery Model

The app handles the entire process, from receiving orders to delivering food. This often involves partnering with restaurants and managing a fleet of delivery drivers.

Revenue Generation:

  • Delivery Fees: Similar to the aggregator model, the app charges a delivery fee to customers.

  • Restaurant Markups: The app might markup restaurant menu prices to cover operational costs and generate profit.


  • App owner maintains full control over customer experience and branding.

  • Potential for higher profit margins compared to the commission-based model.


  • Requires significant investment in building and managing a delivery fleet.

  • Operational complexity is higher compared to the aggregator model.


Chowbus is a popular food delivery app in China. Unlike DoorDash, Chowbus doesn't rely on restaurants for deliveries. They have their own fleet of drivers who pick up food from restaurants and deliver it directly to customers. For operational costs and profit, Chowbus negotiates menu prices or markups with restaurants. Chowbus has more control over delivery but must invest much in drivers and logistics.

Chowbus is a popular food delivery app in China.
Chowbus is a popular food delivery app in China. (Source: Internet)

In-House Delivery Model

Similar to the order-and-delivery model, but the app belongs to a restaurant chain that handles all aspects of delivery itself, from processing orders to using their own delivery staff.

Revenue Generation: Delivery fees and standard restaurant profit margins.


  • Highest level of control over customer experience and branding.

  • Improved profitability due to eliminating commission fees to third-party platforms.


  • Limited to established restaurant chains with the resources to manage delivery logistics.

  • Less scalable compared to the other models.


Domino's has its own online ordering platform and a dedicated team of delivery drivers. When you order a pizza from Domino's, everything from taking the order, preparing the food, and delivering it to your doorstep is handled by Domino's employees. This model provides Domino's with complete control over the customer experience but limits its reach to only their own menu items.

Domino's has its own online ordering platform and a dedicated team of delivery drivers.
Domino's has its own online ordering platform and a dedicated team of delivery drivers. (Source: Internet)

Subscription Model

The app offers a subscription service for a monthly or annual fee. Subscribers might enjoy benefits like free delivery on a certain number of orders per month, exclusive discounts, or access to special menu items.

Revenue Generation: Subscription fees paid by users.


  • Provides a predictable revenue stream for the app owner.

  • Increases customer loyalty and repeat business.


  • Requires a compelling value proposition to attract subscribers.

  • May not be suitable for all user segments who might prefer a pay-per-order model.


Amazon Prime with Prime Now. Amazon Prime offers a subscription service that includes additional benefits like free and faster delivery on many items, including food orders through Prime Now. Prime members pay a monthly or annual fee and enjoy the perk of free or discounted delivery on food orders from select restaurants or grocery stores partnered with Amazon. This model provides Amazon with a predictable revenue stream from subscriptions and incentivizes users to order more frequently.

Amazon Prime offers a subscription service that includes additional benefits like free and faster delivery on many items
Amazon Prime offers a subscription service that includes additional benefits like free and faster delivery on many items. (Source: Internet)

Revenue Models for A Food Delivery App

Modern food delivery apps have multiple revenue streams to generate income. Here's a breakdown of the most common models:

Commission on Orders

The app charges a commission on the total order value placed by the user. This is the most common revenue model for aggregator apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

  • Pros: Simple to implement, provides a steady stream of income based on order volume.

  • Cons: Highly dependent on user base and order frequency. Restaurants might find high commission rates a burden on their profits.

Delivery Fees

The app charges users a separate delivery fee on top of the order total. This fee can be fixed or vary based on factors like distance, order weight, or delivery time.

  • Pros: Provides additional income and can be used to offset operational costs.

  • Cons: High delivery fees can deter users from ordering, especially for smaller orders. Transparency in fee structure is crucial.

Subscription Model

Users pay a monthly or annual subscription fee in exchange for benefits like free or discounted delivery on a certain number of orders per month. This model is gaining traction.

  • Pros: Provides recurring revenue and incentivizes users to order more frequently.

  • Cons: Requires a strong value proposition to convince users to subscribe. May not be suitable for all user segments.

Restaurant Advertising

The app offers premium placement or advertising options for restaurants within the app to increase their visibility to users. This can be in the form of sponsored listings, banner ads, or targeted promotions.

  • Pros: Provides an additional revenue stream and allows restaurants to reach a wider audience.

  • Cons: Needs a large user base to attract restaurant interest. Ensure transparency to avoid compromising user trust.

In-App Upselling and Marketing

The app partners with restaurants or other businesses to offer in-app upselling opportunities, such as suggesting add-on items or promoting specific menu selections.

  • Pros: Can generate additional revenue for both the app and restaurants.

  • Cons: Must be implemented thoughtfully to avoid overwhelming users with promotions and compromising user experience.

The optimal revenue model (or a combination of models) depends on your target audience, market dynamics, and overall business strategy. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Target Market: Price-sensitive users might be more receptive to lower commissions and transparent delivery fees.

  • Competition: Analyze how competitors are generating revenue and identify potential gaps in the market.

  • Value Proposition: Ensure your revenue model aligns with the overall value proposition you offer to users and restaurants.

Emerging Trends and Technologies for Food Delivery App Development

The food delivery industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and innovative approaches changing how food reaches our doorsteps. Here's a glimpse into some of the key trends shaping the future of food delivery app:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Personalized Recommendations: AI algorithms can analyze user data to suggest dishes, restaurants, and cuisines based on past preferences and dietary restrictions.

  • Dynamic Pricing and Promotions: AI can optimize pricing strategies based on demand and user behavior, offering targeted promotions and discounts.

  • Delivery Route Optimization: AI algorithms can calculate the most efficient delivery routes, reducing wait times and fuel costs.

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Automation and Robotics

  • Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) and Drones: Driverless vehicles and drones have the potential to revolutionize food delivery, especially for long distances or congested urban areas. While legal and safety hurdles remain, advancements in this field could lead to faster and more cost-effective deliveries.

  • Delivery Robots: Ground-based robots are being tested for last-mile delivery, particularly in college campuses or closed environments.

Focus on Sustainability

  • Eco-Friendly Packaging: Consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious. Biodegradable or reusable packaging options will be crucial for reducing the industry's environmental footprint.

  • Carbon-Neutral Deliveries: Apps might offer carbon offsetting initiatives or partner with restaurants offering sustainable practices to appeal to eco-conscious users.

Enhanced User Experience

  • Augmented Reality (AR) Integration: AR apps could allow users to virtually "try on" dishes before ordering, visualizing portion sizes or customizing toppings.

  • Virtual Kitchens and Dark Stores: These cloud kitchens focus solely on online orders, optimizing efficiency and delivery speed. This trend could be further enhanced with automation for food preparation and packaging.

Essential Features for A Food Delivery App

Here are the essential features you should integrate into a food delivery app, categorized for both users and restaurants:

For Users

  • Automatic Location: Automatic location detection for effortless delivery address selection, with the option to save multiple addresses for convenience.
  • Restaurant Listings: Comprehensive details about restaurants, including cuisine types, ratings & reviews, delivery fees, opening hours, and estimated delivery times. 
  • Search and Filter Options: Allow users to search and filter restaurants by cuisine, dietary preferences (vegan, gluten-free, etc.), price range, or even specific keywords (e.g., "healthy").
  • Menu Browsing: High-quality photos and clear descriptions of menu items are essential for informed choices.
  • Secure Payment Gateway: Integration with secure payment options like credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallets for a smooth checkout process. Consider saving preferred payment methods for faster transactions.
  • Live Order Tracking: A map visualization showing the delivery driver's location and estimated arrival time keeps users informed and reduces anxiety.
  • Order Status Updates: Provide updates throughout the process, such as order confirmation, preparation, and when the driver is on the way. This transparency builds trust and manages user expectations.
  • Customer Support: Offer easy access to customer support through various channels like live chat, email, or a dedicated phone number for inquiries or resolving issues.

For Restaurants

  • Simple Registration: A quick and easy process for restaurants to register and list their menus on the app.
  • Menu Management Tools: User-friendly tools to upload menus with clear descriptions and pricing. Allow for easy updates in case of changes to availability, pricing, or special offers.
  • Real-time Order Notifications: Instant alerts for new orders from users.
  • Order Processing System: A system for managing and confirming orders, including clear communication with customers. The ability to mark items as out of stock helps avoid order fulfillment issues.
  • Analytics and Reporting Tools: Access to data on order history, customer preferences, and peak ordering times. These insights help restaurants optimize their menus, pricing strategies, and overall performance on the platform.
  • Secure Communication Channel: Enable secure two-way communication with customers for order clarifications or updates. This fosters a better customer relationship and reduces misunderstandings.

For Delivery Drivers

  • New Order Alerts: Drivers should receive real-time notifications about new order requests within their designated delivery zone.
  • Order Details: Clear and concise information about each order, including the restaurant location, customer delivery address, and order items.
  • Order Acceptance and Rejection: Allow drivers to accept or reject orders based on factors like distance, estimated delivery time, or potential conflicts with other deliveries.
  • Integrated GPS Navigation: Utilize a reliable GPS navigation system integrated with the app to guide drivers to the restaurant for pickup and then to the customer's delivery location.
  • Turn-by-Turn Navigation: Detailed turn-by-turn navigation ensures efficient delivery routes and minimizes delays.
  • Traffic Updates: Real-time traffic updates can help drivers avoid congestion and optimize their delivery times.
  • Delivery Completion: Features to mark orders as picked up from the restaurant and successfully delivered to the customer.
  • Contacting Customers: Allow drivers to contact customers directly through the app in case of any issues with locating the delivery address or unforeseeable delays.
  • Earnings Tracker: A clear overview of the driver's earnings for completed deliveries, potentially including breakdowns by shift or individual orders (depending on your pay structure).
  • Performance Metrics: Optional features could include delivery completion rates, average delivery times, and customer ratings, providing drivers with insights into their performance.
  • Push Notifications: Targeted notifications for important updates like new order availability, account-related information, or app maintenance.

Additional Features (For All):

  • Loyalty Programs: Reward users and restaurants for frequent engagement to increase retention.
  • Push Notifications: Keep users informed about order updates, promotions, and exclusive offers through targeted notifications.
  • Referral Programs: Incentivize existing users to invite friends by offering referral bonuses, expanding the user base.
  • Social Media Integration: Allow users to share their food experiences and reviews on social media platforms.
  • AI-powered Features: Explore the potential of AI for personalized recommendations (users), dynamic pricing strategies (restaurants), and optimized delivery routes (drivers).
  • In-App Chat Support (Drivers): A dedicated chat channel for drivers to communicate with app support.
  • Delivery Preferences (Drivers): Allow drivers to set preferences for working hours or delivery zones (if applicable).

By integrating these essential features and considering additional functionalities, you can create a user-friendly and efficient food delivery app that caters to all stakeholders - users, restaurants, and delivery drivers. Remember, a successful app requires a balance between core functionalities and features.

A Comprehensive Guide for Food Delivery App Development

The journey of developing a successful food delivery app involves several crucial stages. Here's a breakdown of the life cycle, encompassing planning, development, and launch processes:

Step 1: Planning and Ideation

  • Market Research: Conduct thorough research to understand the competitive landscape, identify your target audience, and analyze current trends in food delivery apps.

  • Define Your Value Proposition: What makes your app unique? How will it address a specific user need or differentiate itself from existing competitors? This is a critical step to guide your development efforts.

  • Business Model Selection: Choose the most suitable revenue model for your app. Consider factors like user behavior and operational costs.

  • Feature Prioritization: Develop a roadmap outlining the essential features and potential future functionalities. Prioritize features based on user needs and project timelines.

Step 2: Design and Development

  • UI/UX Design: Craft an intuitive and user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate for both customers and restaurants. Focus on a clean design, clear labeling, and a smooth workflow for ordering and delivery tracking.

  • App Development: Choose a development approach. Will you create native apps for iOS and Android, or opt for a hybrid app solution? Select appropriate programming languages and development tools based on your chosen approach.

  • API Integration: Integrate APIs with restaurant partners (if applicable) and payment gateways to facilitate seamless ordering and transactions. This ensures secure data exchange between your app and external platforms.

Step 3: Testing and QA

  • Rigorous Testing: Perform thorough testing on various devices and operating systems (iOS and Android versions) to ensure functionality, usability, and security across different platforms.

  • Bug Fixing: Identify and address any bugs or glitches that could hinder user experience. Prioritize critical issues that impact core functionalities.

  • Security Assessments: Conduct comprehensive security testing to ensure user data and financial information are protected. This includes measures against data breaches and unauthorized access.

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Step 4: Launch and Marketing

  • App Store Optimization (ASO): Optimize your app listing with relevant keywords and captivating visuals to improve discoverability in app stores (Apple App Store, Google Play Store).

  • Marketing Strategy: Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to reach your target audience. This may include social media marketing, influencer partnerships, public relations efforts, and potentially targeted advertising campaigns.

  • App Launch: Finally, launch your app on the respective app stores. Ensure a smooth launch process with clear communication and potential launch promotions to attract users.

Step 5: Maintenance and Growth

  • Performance Monitoring: Continuously monitor app performance metrics like user engagement, crashes, and feedback. Utilize analytics tools to track user behavior and identify areas for improvement.

  • App Updates: Regularly update your app with new features, bug fixes, and security patches to maintain user interest, address evolving needs, and stay ahead of security vulnerabilities.

  • User Feedback Integration: Actively collect user feedback through surveys, reviews, and support channels. Analyze feedback and prioritize improvements based on user needs and suggestions.

Additional Considerations

  • Compliance with Regulations: Ensure your app adheres to relevant data privacy regulations and food safety standards in your target markets.

  • Scalability: Design your app and backend infrastructure to handle increasing user traffic and potential future growth.

  • Team Building: Secure the services of skilled developers, designers, testers, and marketing professionals to execute your development plan. Build a team with the necessary expertise to bring your vision to life.

By following these steps and considering these additional factors, you can move your food delivery app idea from concept to a successful launch. Remember, the food delivery market is dynamic, so continuous improvement, user-centricity, and adaptation to changing trends will be crucial for long-term success.

Tech Stack and Techniques for Food Delivery App Development

The tech stack for your food delivery app will depend on several factors, including your target platforms (iOS, Android, or both), budget, and desired features. Here's a general overview of commonly used technologies:

Front-end Development


  • Native Apps: Choose platform-specific languages (like Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android).

  • Hybrid Apps: Using languages like JavaScript or Dart (with frameworks like React Native or Flutter allowing you to create a single codebase for both iOS and Android).

UI Frameworks: 

  • Native Apps: UIKit (iOS) or Jetpack Compose (Android).

  • Hybrid Apps: React Native Elements or Flutter.

Back-end Development

  • Languages: Python (with Django or Flask frameworks) or Node.js (with Express.js) are popular choices.

  • Real-time Features: Consider using technologies like Socket.IO or Pusher if real-time features like live order tracking are crucial, 


  • Structured Data: Relational databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Microsoft SQL Server are widely used for storing user information, restaurant details, and order data.

  • Unstructured Data: NoSQL databases like MongoDB or Cassandra might be suitable for storing user reviews or images.


  • Mapping Services: Integrate Google Maps or MapKit for location services, route optimization, and delivery tracking functionalities.

  • Payment Gateways: Integrate secure payment gateways like Stripe or Braintree to handle online transactions.

  • Restaurant Integrations: Depending on your model, you might need APIs to connect with restaurant management systems for menu management and order fulfillment.

Additional Tools and Techniques:

  • Cloud Platforms: Utilize cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure for scalability and hosting.

  • Version Control Systems: Use Git for code management and collaboration.

  • Push Notifications: Utilize Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) or Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) for real-time updates.

Emerging Technologies

  • Machine Learning (ML): Explore the potential of ML for personalized recommendations, dynamic pricing strategies, or even chatbots for customer service.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI-powered route optimization can improve delivery efficiency.

>> Read more about AI-related topics:

Food Delivery App Development Cost

Factors Affecting Cost

  • App Complexity: Simple apps with basic features will cost less than feature-rich apps.

  • Development Approach: Native app development will generally be more expensive than a hybrid app.

  • Development Team Location: Hiring developers in regions with lower hourly rates can reduce costs.

  • UI/UX Design: A well-designed and user-friendly interface might require additional investment in design expertise.

  • Back-end Development: Robust back-end infrastructure for scalability and security can add to the cost.

  • Ongoing Costs: Factor in ongoing costs like app store fees, server maintenance, and security updates.

  • Marketing and User Acquisition: Budget for marketing efforts to attract users after launch.

Cost Range

While the exact cost can vary considerably, here's a ballpark range for developing a food delivery app:

  • Basic App: $10,000 - $25,000 (limited features, potentially a hybrid app)

  • Mid-Tier App: $50,000 - $150,000 (common features like real-time tracking, separate iOS & Android versions)

  • Complex App: $150,000+ (advanced features like AI, in-app chat, complex back-end)

Tips for Managing Costs

  • Prioritize Features: Start with a core set of essential features and build upon them based on success.

  • Explore Open-Source Solutions: Utilize open-source libraries or frameworks where possible to reduce development time and costs.

  • Consider a Hybrid Approach: If targeting both iOS and Android, a hybrid app can be a cost-effective option.

  • Get Quotes from Multiple Developers: Compare quotes from different development teams to find the best fit for your budget and project requirements.

By understanding these factors and considering cost-saving strategies, you can develop a food delivery app that meets your needs and budget.

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The food delivery app market is a thriving space with the potential to revolutionize how people order and enjoy food. By carefully planning, selecting the right development approach, and prioritizing user needs, you can create a successful app that caters to both users and restaurants. Remember, the key to success lies in a user-friendly interface, a robust tech stack, and a focus on continuous improvement to stay ahead of the curve. 

Are you ready to take a bite out of the booming food delivery market? Partner with our experienced developers to create a user-friendly and feature-rich food delivery app that stands out. Schedule a call or email us now!

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