Restaurant Delivery App Development: Types, Features, Success Stories

SteelKiwi Inc.
10 min readApr 1, 2020

On-demand food delivery services have never been more popular. No wonder. They’re a win-win for all parties involved. Customers have food delivered to their doorstep while restaurants make extra sales and increase their profits.

Restaurants that never offered delivery before are now thinking about entering the on-demand delivery market. If you’re among them, read on to learn about the types of restaurant ordering apps and key features. But let’s first talk about why you should go custom.

Why is developing a custom food ordering app useful for your restaurant?

With so many third-party restaurant ordering solutions like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash, you might be questioning whether it’s worth building your own restaurant food delivery app. At Steelkiwi, we believe that custom app development is the best approach for restaurants. Why?

  • Third party commission. Most third-party delivery services charge restaurants a commission fee around 15–30% on deliveries. For example, Uber Eats charges restaurants a 25–30% fee of their listed prices , DoorDash charges 10–25%, and Grubhub charges 5–15%. It’ll take a big bite out of your budget, especially if you’re planning to partner with several third-party delivery providers.
  • The risk of losing customers. Third-party delivery customers are first of all focused on convenience rather than loyalty so they’re likely to use an online restaurant delivery service that offers the largest number of local restaurants. Plus, third-party businesses are often overloaded with orders which causes delayed deliveries. Thus, customers may be unhappy and discouraged from ordering. By entrusting delivery operations to an in-house team, on the other hand, you have greater control over the quality of customer service and food delivered.
  • Absence of third-party delivery services in your area. Some third-party players may not provide services in your area. Take Uber Eats as an example. They don’t operate in the US cities and towns such as Hood river, Leawood, Melrose, Brookfield, Brentwood, and the list goes on.
  • Limited customer data. When you partner with a third-party player, You don’t own your customer data so you can’t run analytics and get actionable insights into how to improve customer service and loyalty.

These drawbacks and more are what make restaurant owners create their own food delivery services. By doing so, they can improve delivery speed, ensure customer loyalty, keep up with competitors, and satisfy customers.

Types of restaurant ordering applications

Below, we outline three types of mobile delivery solutions restaurants can go with.

Branded mobile ordering app

A restaurant can make their own delivery app. This type of app usually includes options for pickup and delivery.

There are three core reasons why restaurants decide to build a delivery app from scratch:

  • High demand. According to GloriaFood, 86% of consumers in the United States use food delivery services at least once a month.
  • Large customer base. If you have a mobile ordering app, your prospective customer is anyone with a mobile device who craves for wings, pizza, burgers, etc.
  • More revenue. Nation’s restaurant News states that orders placed through mobile apps are $4 higher compared to those placed in restaurants.
  • Commission savings. By building your own mobile restaurant ordering system, you can save on third-party commission fees.

Custom restaurant delivery app development requires an investment of effort, time, and money. If you’re interested in how much it costs to develop a restaurant app, check out one of our previous blog posts.

Success stories

Jimmy John’s, an American sandwich fast-food chain, has their own in-house delivery team to provide excellent customer service.


At Jimmy John’s, they care about the food quality as well as the speed of delivery. This is why they deliver orders by bike. The delivery fee varies depending on a customer’s location and is included in the total cost. If the delivery time exceeds 40 minutes, customers can call the restaurant. Customers then get free stuff or even receive the entire order for free.

Domino’s is another great example of a restaurant having its own online restaurant delivery service. With the Domino’s mobile app, and customers can place orders


Domino’s lets customers track their deliveries with GPS. The tracker shows a little car moving on a map till it gets to the customer’s house. Also, Domino’s is about to use self-driving delivery vehicles. In 2017, Domino’s worked with Ford to test basic customer interactions with the service. Today, they benefit from the automated driving tech startup called Nuro. Domino’s customers in Houston can already order and wait for a fully autonomous electric vehicle to arrive. For more information, check out this video.

Third-party online ordering system

Another option is partnering with a third-party delivery company. Three main reasons why restaurants go with a third-party app include:

  • Logistic outsourcing
  • Bigger pool of potential customers
  • Lower operating costs

If you consider a third-party solution, keep in mind that there are two food delivery business models: aggregators and delivery apps.

An aggregator connects users with your restaurant. Customers can view your menu, order, and pay for the order. However, an aggregator doesn’t provide delivery services.


Another type of third-party apps are delivery apps. Apart from the services provided by aggregators, this type of platform offers delivery services. Here’s what it looks like:


Although both aggregator and delivery apps have similar usability from the consumer’s point of view, they differ greatly in the structure of the app due to their varying goals. However, in both cases, the food ordering system involves many people working together at the same time, meaning that it is very important that there is absolutely no friction in communication between them.

The core structure for both types of apps looks like this:

  • start with a login page;
  • connect to the user’s bank account or preferred payment method;
  • allow users to compare different restaurant offerings and place orders for delivery.

The main difference comes in the delivery process itself. While aggregators focus on connecting customers to restaurants, delivery apps must also add the actual delivery side to their service. This adds a level of complexity to new delivery types of businesses as they must also be able to manage order pickup and delivery by drivers, alongside order placement functionality.

Successful third-party delivery platforms

Today, market leaders in the third-party delivery niche include:

  • DoorDash is available in 1,200 cities and works with 110,000 restaurants. One of the unique features DoorDashhas has is the Delight Score. It helps customers discover the best restaurants based on their popularity, food quality, customer satisfaction, and more. DoorDash partners with Subway, The Cheesecake Factory, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle.
  • Uber Eats covers over 1,000 cities and partners with hundreds of restaurants. The Uber Eats app is easy to navigate so users can simply scroll through options or search for a specific restaurant.
  • Grubhub helps users find and order food. It works with nearly 125,000 restaurants in 2,400 cities in the US. When a user signs in for Grubhub, they enter the delivery address to see restaurants nearby. Then, they can search for a restaurant by entering menu items or cuisine. Users can save delivery addresses to speed up the ordering process. Grubhub is the official delivery partner for Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC).

However, there are several disadvantages of using a third-party app:

  • Third-party delivery platforms take a cut of each sale:
  • Delivery platforms tend to pool their trips which negatively influences delivery times.
  • Lack of direct engagement between restaurants and customers.
  • Restaurants lose control over the overall customer experience.

Features of a restaurant delivery app

Once you decide to build a food delivery app, your next step is to decide on the features it should include.

One app and interface must work for everyone involved, from the consumer placing the order, to the restaurant fulfilling the order, to the delivery service that processes the order and, potentially, also delivers the order. This means that one solution has to fulfill the various needs of each stakeholder. Customers should only have access to the order placing side of the app, restaurants should only have access to placed orders, and delivery fulfillment should only have access to when an order is ready to be picked up and dropped off, in the case of a new delivery type of business.

There are two ways of approaching this:

  • Building three separate apps, each focusing on one particular stakeholder: consumer app, restaurant app, and courier/driver app. You can choose the same or similar branding for each.
  • Building one app with separate logins: consumer interface, restaurant interface, courier/driver interface.

Either solution will require a solid design and structure, taking each stakeholder into account and developing the app(s) and interface to satisfy each need. The app’s complexity will increase, depending on how much information needs to be shared between stakeholders, affecting the way it should be developed.

Let’s now take a moment to review must-have functionality for customers, restaurants, and couriers/drivers.

Food delivery app features for consumers

A basic online ordering system should include all of the following features:

  • Sign up — This is the first important step in winning a new customer’s loyalty. Users should be able to create a new account via a login/password combination or using a social signup (like Google, Facebook, etc.).
  • Personal profile — Once a customer has registered for your app, they need to access their profile. The profile can contain order history, the ability to save favourite restaurants/meals or order, and saved payment options.
  • Restaurant search — If you have a restaurant chain, enable customers to see the restaurant nearby. To filter through the choices, you can allow customers to search by time, distance, etc. You can also include details of each restaurant such as location, menu offerings, special offers, prices, and customer reviews.
  • Orders — This is one of the most important features of your ordering app. Let customers order quickly and easily. They should be able to add and delete items for orders and specify a delivery time. Also, make sure you provide customers with an order summary before they complete payment.
  • Payments — Once a customer is finished with ordering, enable them to pay for their order. Payment processing should be secure and fast. Ideally, your app should offer multiple payment options such as credit cards, Apple Pay/Android Pay, PayPal, etc.

Additionally, there are some nice-to-have features that you may want to consider including later:

  • Real-time tracking — Keep customers informed about their order’s status (for example, placed, being prepared, on its way, delivered) through a real-time tracker or push notifications.
  • Loyalty program — To boost loyalty, provide users with rewards. For example, you can incorporate different discounts, membership options, and referral programs to encourage users to keep using your app. Or you can offer free delivery on every fifth order.
  • Social media integrations — Enable users to link their social media accounts to share photos of their food.

The goal of a food delivery app is to retain old customers and attract new ones. Therefore, it’s critical to make it easy for users to check out offers, place orders, pay, and receive their food. By offering additional functionality or rewards, you can boost loyalty to your restaurant.

Food delivery app features for the restaurant

The restaurant-focused app or interface should include the following functionality:

  • Content management functionality — You should be able to easily manage all the content within your app including your menu, ingredients, images, pricing, special offers, and other important information.
  • Order management — Your restaurant staff should be able to see incoming orders and update order statuses. Also, enable real-time alerts for completed orders, canceled orders, and orders out for delivery.
  • Cross-interface communication — Cross-interface communication is about notifying the courier or customer that an order is on its way or ready for pick-up.

The goal of a restaurant-focused app is to effectively pass order information from the customer to the restaurant.

Food delivery app features for couriers/drivers

The courier-focused app or interface should include the following must-have features:

  • Sign up/login — Enable couriers to easily register for an account through a simple login/password or other form of authentication.
  • Order status and pick-up management — Provide couriers with a list of available orders and details of each order (such as expected delivery time, size,additional information) along with drop-off or pick-up locations. It’s also important to have real-time order tracking statuses: placed, accepted, in process, rejected, cancelled. Make sure that order statuses can be quickly communicated via push notifications or similar services. Additionally, couriers should be able to sort through available orders, filtering by relevant details (time, distance, etc.), and book a delivery they want to complete.
  • Cross-interface communication — Couriers should be able to update the order’s status to let the customer know they’re on their way to drop it off or let the restaurant know they’re on their way to pick it up.

You can also consider including these features:

  • Account history — Enable couriers/drivers check out completed deliveries and make notes about customers.
  • Loyalty program — Provide courier/drivers with bonuses or reward them for referring their friends to order through the app or become drivers themselves. This is a great way to ensure brand loyalty while increasing brand exposure.

Create an app for your restaurant

Given the rapidly increasing use of smartphones and tablets at the global level, developing a mobile ordering app 📱 is a great local business strategy.

If you’re thinking of developing a food delivery app, make sure to consider every aspect of it and take the needs of customers into account. If you’re unsure of where to start or need advice and resources when it comes to on demand food delivery app development, read more about our expertise in building software solutions for restaurant owners.

SteelKiwi Inc.

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