Why are food delivery apps so successful? After all, it’s no secret that turning a profit in the restaurant industry is notoriously challenging.
The answer? Convenience.
Consumers are willing to pay extra for convenience, and if you simplify their lives, you can make money as a tech entrepreneur.
Editor’s Note: No lies detected. As I write these words, I’m eating an overpriced poke bowl I ordered from Uber.
How much money is there in food delivery apps?
Last year, food delivery apps earned $26.5 billion USD in revenue. Compare that to the $8.7 billion the industry produced back in 2015, and it’s easy to see that the market is booming.
That’s why Net Solutions has put together this list of the best food delivery apps in 2021. These food ordering and delivery apps are some of the most successful, user-friendly apps on the market. If you’re thinking about entering the industry, you’ll want to study them and learn from their success.
A Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) Model
Keep in mind that the successful companies built their food ordering and delivery apps with both businesses (brick-and-mortar restaurants) and consumers (people who order $22 poke bowls) in mind. That makes it a B2B2C model, not just a B2C or a B2B model.
If you want to succeed in this competitive field, you need to design an app that makes it easy for businesses to manage orders, serve their customers, and interface with your company. If you can help them boost sales, cut costs, and reach a wider market, they’ll partner with you.
Learn from the top 10 food delivery apps outlined below, and when you’re ready to create your own food delivery app, Net Solutions can help.
Zomato, an online restaurant search and delivery platform that was founded under the name ‘Foodiebay’ in 2008. The India-based company did so well in their domestic market that UberEats (see below) sold all its Indian business to them for $400 million. Today, Zomato can be found in 25 countries across the globe. The success of the platform reached a new height in 2021 that witnessed a 39x oversubscribed IPO for them with USD 46 billion in shareholder bids.
What does Zomato do well?
- Easy information sharing–almost like social networking for foodies
- Wide-ranging, intuitive search capabilities
- Easy sorting based on a user’s preferences
- An easy-to-navigate knowledge base to solve customers’ problems
- Streamlined review features
- Complete user profile
UberEats is operational in more than 1000+ major cities around the world. Their market dominance means a wide range of restaurants are willing to work with them. This guarantees plenty of options for consumers, creating a positive feedback loop for growth.
What does Uber do well?
Let’s be real. The Uber app can be a bit buggy and it doesn’t necessarily have the cleanest UX, but for millions, it remains the go-to app for food delivery. That’s the power of brand recognition.
A few app features that do stand out, however, include:
- Group orders (so friends and colleagues can easily split the cost)
- “Schedule Later” feature that allows users to delay delivery until they’re ready to eat
- Simple re-orders, so users can order their favorite meals with minimal effort
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FoodPanda is another online food ordering app available in 41 countries. Headquartered in Berlin, the firm has partnered with nearly 40,000 local restaurants to provide on-time delivery.
What does FoodPanda do well?
- Wide selection of restaurants
- Easy access to rebates and special offers
- Seamless payments
Swiggy is the top-rated mobile app, based in Bengaluru, India. With close to 1,500,000 downloads in the Google Play store, Swiggy has been rated the No.1 online food delivery app in India and is currently available in almost every city across the country.
What does Swiggy do well?
- Seamless GPS to help users order from nearby restaurants
- A clear focus on the Indian market
- Wallet feature that allows users to store money and pay for each transaction from their stored balance
GrubHub’s widespread list of more than 30,000 restaurants in more than 800 U.S. cities makes it one of the best food ordering apps. GrubHub has offices in Chicago, New York, and London.
The GrubHub app was launched in 2004. Arriving early in the game allowed the company to set up a wide range of partnerships, and just like with Uber, market dominance helped maintain their success.
What does GrubHub do well?
- Excellent, live, 24/7 customer support
- Greater filtering and search capabilities
- Easy to save “top picks” for re-ordering
- Plenty of coupons and discounts
Deliveroo is a London-based food delivery startup, which works in over 200 cities. It is the most popular food delivery app in Europe, enabling customers to order food from popular restaurants as well as restaurants that don’t have a traditional setup for dining. Users are charged based on their order, while restaurants pay a commission.
What does Deliveroo do well?
- Wider variety, since it works with non-traditional restaurants
- Access to coupons and discounts
Domino’s is a well-known pizza delivery company, and its app is world-class. Unlike the other apps listed here, it doesn’t deliver food from multiple restaurants (just its own), but we included it because you’d be hard-pressed to find a better UX when it comes to customizing and ordering a meal.
- Clear visuals showing what users can order order
- Ability to swap toppings, modify orders, and fully customize a meal
- Order tracking that shows every step in the process: Prepping the pizza, putting the pizza in the oven, order pickup, and delivery.
Just Eat Takeaway
Just Eat Takeaway offering is a European food delivery app established in 2001. It partners with more than 82,000 restaurants and earns revenue from commissions.
What does JustEat Takeaway do well?
- Simple, streamlined interface
- Excellent search features
- Plenty of coupon codes
Available – Android
DoorDash is one of the world’s most established food delivery apps. It supports over 300 cities in 32 markets. The world’s third-largest pizza chain, Little Caesars Pizza, struck a deal with DoorDash Inc. to add delivery to its operations for the first time in its 60-year history.
What does DoorDash do well?
- A clear commitment to offer quality food
- On-time delivery
- High customer satisfaction
The Postmates delivery app is available in more than 90 cities throughout the United States. Postmates works like many other food delivery apps, with one exception—it also handles groceries and other types of delivery.
What does Postmates do well?
- Flexibility—allowing users to order more than just restaurant food
- Simple, clean interface
- Strong branding around the world
The Future of Food Delivery Apps
There’s one thing you can be sure of when you’re dealing with a multi-billion dollar industry. When you’ve got this much money at stake, you’ll continue to see innovation, with new technology, new apps, niche services, and different ways to apply technology to meet consumer demand.
The following are some trends we’re likely to see when it comes to new food delivery apps, and they’re worth paying attention to if you want to break into the market.
Restaurant owned apps and delivery fleets: Just like with Domino’s pizza (see above), we’re likely to see more restaurant chains designing their own apps and using their own delivery fleets. The advantage of this model is that the restaurant maintains complete control over the customer experience, from branding to app design.
What makes the Domino’s app experience so special is that it’s tailored to their specific customer journey. There’s simply no way Uber Eats, which partners with thousands of restaurants, could design a generic app that tracks each detail of the order process. Domino’s is also able to take advantage of cross-selling opportunities (e.g., “Do you want breadsticks with your pizza?) far more efficiently than the third-party apps ever could.
Grocery delivery: Companies like Instacart allow shoppers to order groceries from their favorite supermarkets, and the trend is becoming more and more popular. This is a lucrative market that saw a huge uptick during Covid-19, since people wanted to stay out of the stores. Now that customers are hooked on the service, we’re likely to see continued growth.
One thing worth noting is that Instacart has been called into question for its pricing model. It’s hard to tell how much extra you’re paying for the groceries you order online—sometimes there’s no markup (which means the store has paid for a partnership), while other times the items are priced higher. Instacart also earns a monthly subscription fee.
Perhaps there’s a market for a grocery delivery app with more transparent pricing? One thing we know for sure is that busy professionals are willing to pay good money to have things delivered.
Rise of the subscription model: Recurring revenue is something Software as a Service (SaaS) companies love because it allows them to predict profits over time. It makes investors happy and leads to greater infusions of capital. That capital, in turn, helps companies dominate their market.
Many of the best food delivery apps listed above offer monthly subscriptions that provide discounts, thereby increasing customer loyalty.
Pre-made meals: Companies like Freshly offer pre-made, healthy meals that are easy to heat up in the microwave. These end up being less expensive for the consumer compared to ordering from restaurants, and it lends itself perfectly to a subscription model.
Meal kit delivery: Another fascinating phenomenon in the world of food app delivery is the meal kit. Companies like Blue Apron provide all the ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions that help home chefs cook amazing meals. Not only does this save time, but it helps people learn their way around the kitchen if they’re apprehensive about cooking to begin with.
It’s also not a bad way to address the Millennial and Gen-Z market, many of whom do less cooking than their Gen-X and Boomer counterparts—even though they’re completely into the idea of cooking meals at home.
Today, your city. Tomorrow, the world.
If you’re looking to launch a food delivery app, you probably know you’re not going to take on Uber or GrubHub right away. The best food delivery apps grew slowly, serving one niche market well before expanding. Eventually, some of them were purchased by the big guys, making their founders wealthy overnight.
What made these food delivery startups successful? Easy ordering, great customer service, and an app designed to optimize User Experience (UX).