Building an Online Food Ordering System From Scratch in 2021

When was the last time you felt hangry?

Probably a few minutes before or right now.

Unlike a decade ago, it takes only a couple of minutes to get a hold of your favorite dishes – thanks to online food ordering apps.

Whether you have considered this idea before or not, online food delivery is a highly lucrative service, and the industry is estimated to hit US$136,431 million in 2020.

Even if you own a restaurant, developing an online food ordering app can extend your reach to a broader range of customers, process more orders than your physical location can possibly serve, and of course, enhance the return on investment (ROI) within a short time.

In this complete guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about building an online food ordering app and will break down each aspect of development into digestible nuggets.

Without further ado, let’s look at the working principles of an online food ordering system.

Online Food Ordering System: How It Works

Keeping the technicalities apart, the working of an online food ordering system is relatively simple.

It can be considered the digital version of calling up and ordering from your favorite restaurant minus the inconveniences of communication errors.

Before going into detail about the processes behind a food ordering system, you need to be explicit about its nature, intention, and revenue model – we’ll discuss more on that later.

You can either create a system specifically for a restaurant (like the Faasos or Domino’s app) or a third-party application (like Swiggy or Zomato) that will list multiple restaurants.

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To keep the explanation of the processes more memorable and understandable, let’s consider the case of Kate, a hungry customer, eager to relish her favorite dish as soon as possible.

Step #1

Kate uses a food delivery app to access the menu of your restaurant or, in the case of a third-party application, the menus of available restaurants.

If not for hunger, she could have opened the app because of a convincing push notification.

Step #2

Kate browses the menu and decides on what she’ll be having today. She selects the quantity of each item – which is reflected in the food or checkout cart.

Kate browses the menu and decides on what she’ll be having today. She selects the quantity of each item – which is reflected in the food or checkout cart.

Step #3

Kate will have to specify her contact information and address in the checkout section or select from the previously entered list.

Before tapping on the “Order Now” button, Kate will be prompted to confirm her method of payment.

Payments can be made either through online methods or by the good old fashioned cash on delivery (COD) system. Once the payment mode is confirmed, Kate can place the order.

Step #4

Once Kate places the order, the restaurant receives the request via the admin or restaurant panel of the online ordering system. (editor: have not replaced with the suggestion ‘Once Kate places the order via the admin or restaurant panel of the online ordering system, the restaurant receives the request’ since it changes the meaning) They can accept or decline the order.

Once the order is confirmed (or rejected), the same is communicated to Kate, along with the estimated time of arrival.

Step #5

The restaurant prepares the order, addresses the special requests made by Kate (if any and feasible), and packs for delivery.

Step #6

The delivery service or staff is informed of the order delivery via the driver’s app. The restaurant hands over the packed food to the delivery personnel – who delivers it to Kate.

Step #7

Kate will rate the food delivered and the delivery personnel. If there are some issues regarding the quality or quantity, she can rely on customer support for a solution.

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Knowing your competitors is as important as knowing yourself. Let’s look at the modus operandi of some of the big names in the online food delivery industry and try learning a thing or two to top their offerings.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats controls around 29% of the global food delivery market and is the most downloaded food delivery app in the world – meaning, it’s your biggest competitor.

Real-time GPS tracking, order scheduling, restaurant recommendations, and advanced filters are some of the many features of this app.


Swiggy tops the list of best online food delivery platforms of Indian origin and is available on the webiOS, and Android.

Internal payment systems, real-time GPS tracking, order scheduling, no minimum order restrictions, and easy order cancellation are some notable features of Swiggy.


This on-demand food delivery startup functions in more than 4,000 cities in the US and Canada. It hosts more than 30 different cuisines with more than 310,000 restaurant menus

Real-time tracking, scheduled delivery, dual rating, top menu, and suggested list are some of the striking features of DoorDash.

Creating an Online Food Ordering System

Looking at the current market trends, it is evident that an online food ordering app will reap an exceptional return on investment (ROI). And the growing needs of such applications don’t show any sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Looking at the current market trends, it is evident that an online food ordering app will reap an exceptional return on investment (ROI). And the growing needs of such applications don’t show any sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Now, developing an online food ordering system is a piece of cake for our developers.

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These seven steps will lead you through the process of creating an app that can overhaul the big names in the industry, and more importantly, will help you monetize and benefit from your customers’ needs.

Clearly Define Your Objectives

You’ll have multiple reasons to develop anonline food ordering app. You may want to expand your restaurant business and serve more customers. Of course, your loyal customers will appreciate the conveniences of online ordering.

Or, you may want to start a food delivery applike Zomato and bring in multiple restaurants online on a single platform.

To profit from the app, you can charge the restaurants for each order placed, display in-app ads, or both. As previously mentioned, the key is to bring in innovation to entice customers.

Choose the Food Delivery Model

The food delivery model is a critical part of on-demand food delivery app development. It will directly affect the revenue models you can choose, which will decide how you can profit from the app.

Additionally, you need to select a model that will complement your core objectives. Generally, there are three food delivery models you can choose from. Let’s take a detailed look at each.

Delivery Model #1: The Order Only Model

The order only model was introduced and is used by the first generation food delivery services such as GrubHub, JustEat,, and Eat24.

In this model, the companies behind the applications are responsible only for ordering and managing the orders. This means the restaurants will be accountable for delivering the food orders.

The order only model can be considered as a digital replacement of the phone-ordering system and is ideal for restaurants striving to expand their customer base. Restaurants can either deliver through an employee or rely on a delivery service provider.

If you’re planning to develop an application revolving around this model, you can charge the restaurants anywhere between 7% to 15% of the order value for each order placed.

You can act as a facilitator between the restaurants and customers and never worry about cooking or delivering.

Delivery Model #2: The Order and Delivery Model

The majority of food delivery apps and food startups you see follow the order and delivery model. Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and DoorDash are all examples of apps following this model.

The principle behind these applications is simple – you’ll be responsible for ordering and delivering the food.

If you’re planning to build an on-demand food ordering that follows this model, your monetization strategy can include a commission, ranging from 25% to 30%, from the restaurants for each order placed.

To meet the logistics expenses, you can charge a flat-rate delivery fee or charge depending on the distance connecting the customer and the restaurant. As you’ll be listing multiple restaurants, spanning across numerous cuisines, you’ll never be short of orders.

Delivery Model #3: The Fully Integrated Model

In the fully integrated model, you’ll be responsible for ordering, cooking, and delivering. If you have a restaurant and the needed resources to expand, then this model is ideal.

Restaurant chains like Domino’s Pizza and Faasos follow this model. This food delivery model will also work for cloud kitchens, a new type of restaurant model that doesn’t provide in-house dining services and is only open to deliver food.

If you’re planning to build a food ordering system following the fully integrated model, do note that doing so would mean you’ll have to operate the kitchen, manage the orders, and organize the logistics.

This can significantly reduce the cost of operations as you no longer need to depend on third-party service providers.

Too long, didn’t read? No worries! Talk to one of our adept developers at SKEIN TECHNOLOGIES and kickstart the app development in no time!

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Choose the Revenue Model

Once you are certain of the delivery model, you can choose the revenue model, which is essentially the monetization strategy of your application.

Here are some of the widely-used methods by which you can profit from delivery apps.

Delivery Charges

The delivery charges can be flat-rate or based on the distance between the customer and the restaurant. Uber Eats is also known to charge a service fee, which changes based on the order size and is generally 10% of the subtotal.

Revenue Sharing

Depending on the delivery model your app follows, you can charge a predefined commission rate for each order placed. You can also charge based on the size of the order.

In-App Ads and Promotions

Consumers find it okay to watch advertisements in return for using an app for free. As in-app ads are an extensively used app monetization model, you can incorporate it in your online ordering app to enhance its ROI.

Deals and Discounts

Deals and discounts drive the on-demand food ordering apps these days. The more deals you offer, the more customers you will retain. However, contrary to popular belief, giving out discounts doesn’t always harm your financial goals.

Instead, you can work with the restaurant to formulate daily deals at lower prices. As the number of orders increases, your revenue in commissions and delivery fees will also increase.

Get to Know Your Target Audience

Your target audience refers to the people who will be using your website or application to order food. Almost every food delivery app developer will request you to clearly define your target audience first before getting into design or development.

Your application’s UI/UX design must be significantly dependent on your target audience.

Similarly, defining your target audience is crucial for formulating your app marketing strategy. You can use demographic criteria such as age, gender, nationality, income status, and many others to draw a clearer picture of who your prospective customers are.

Handpicked article: Role of AI in web development

Decide the Critical Features

The features you plan to incorporate will be significantly dependent on the delivery model you choose and has a profound impact on the food delivery app development cost.

  1. If you’re planning to develop an application following the order-only model, then you’ll have to manage three parts – the admin app, the restaurant app, and the customer app.
  2. If you’re planning to follow the order and delivery model, you’ll have to manage an additional part – the driver app.
  3. If you’re considering the fully integrated model, depending on your convenience, the admin and restaurant app can be merged into a single application.

Since deciding the core features is heavily critical, we have discussed it in detail in the next section.

However, you don’t have to develop a fully-fledged app to test your product hypothesis. Instead, consider a minimum viable product (MVP), which is essentially an application that contains the basic, yet essential features.

The cost of investment for developing an MVP app is nominal as compared to a full-fledged app. Interestingly enough, Uber, the parent company of Uber Eats, was an MVP in its initial days.

At SKEIN TECHNOLOGIES, building MVP is an art we have mastered. To know more about developing an MVP and how much it will cost you, connect with us nowWe’ll help you build the best online food app to revolutionize the food industry!

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As previously mentioned, the food industry is highly competitive. In terms of loyalty, customers flock towards the app that stays on top by marketing with the latest trends and offering the best deals.

Here are some notable trends of this decade that can increase the chances of your app’s success.


Virtual assistants are becoming increasingly popular in food delivery apps. They allow users to order food, confirm order placement, and more – all with the tap of a button or even with voice assistance.

Social Media Ordering

Let’s face it. The majority of our time is spent scrolling through the never-ending social feeds. So, wouldn’t it make more sense to provide customers with social media ordering?

That’s what Domino’s did, and customers can now order pizza by tweeting a pizza emoji to Domino’s official Twitter account. Of course, users need to register on Domino’s platform before ordering and choose their favorite default orders.

Choose the Technology Stack

The technology stack you choose will invariably depend on the delivery and revenue model you choose. Nevertheless, we’ve gathered a list of tech stack to give you a glimpse of what a potential one will look like.

  1. Registration or Login Gmail SDK, Facebook SDK, Auth0
  2. User Location Core Location Framework, Google Places API, Google Maps
  3. Direction Google Maps, Routific, MapKit
  4. Payment Gateway PayPal, Square API, Braintree, Stripe
  5. Restaurant Listing Grubhub API, FourSquare API
  6. Storage Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Storage, Digital Ocean
  7. Push NotificationsFirebase Cloud Messaging, Amazon SNS, Urban Airship
  8. AnalyticsGoogle Analytics, Firebase Analytics

Having an excellent idea for an app and not having the means to execute it can be tough – we know. Connect with us today, and let’s together transform that idea into a reality.

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What Are the Core Features of an On-Demand Food Ordering App?

Food ordering systems cater to the needs of multiple participants, namely customers, restaurants, delivery personnel, and the administrator of the delivery app.

This means individual solutions (with numerous common functionalities) are to be developed. For example, features such as registration and login will be common for the customer, restaurant, and delivery personnel panel.

Let’s look at the key features each panel will require.

Admin Panel Features

The admin panel probably has the maximum number of features, primarily because the administrators are responsible for maintaining the decorum of the application and ensuring that things remain fair for its users.

To make things more definite, here are some of the critical features an admin panel will require.

  1. Intuitive dashboard
  2. Registration and profile management
  3. Registration and profile management
  4. Campaign management
  5. Customer relationship management
  6. Push notifications
  7. Reporting and analytics

User Panel Features

While deciding the number and types of features introduced in the user panel, make sure you keep in mind the target market you are catering to.

Here are some of the critical components that the customer app should have.

  1. User, restaurant, and delivery personnel location
  2. Restaurant list
  3. Food cart
  4. Payment mode
  5. Order history
  6. Filter options
  7. Real-time tracking
  8. Customer support

Restaurant Panel Features

if you’re following the fully integrated model, you can try to combine the admin and restaurant panel features into a single application.

Here are some of the core features a restaurant application system should have.

  1. Dashboard
  2. Restaurant profile
  3. Order management
  4. Financial account management
  5. Accept or reject orders
  6. Order alerts
  7. Payment tracking
  8. Customer support
  9. Add or remove products

Delivery Personnel Panel Features

Unlike other participants of the food ordering system, delivery personnel requires the least number of features – even though their effectiveness can significantly affect the delivery service as a whole.

Here are some critical features the delivery personnel panel must include.

  1. Order details
  2. Location
  3. Location
  4. Delivery history
  5. Status update
  6. Online support
  7. Order management

How Much Will a Food Ordering App Development Cost?

Short answer – anywhere between US$10,000-30,000 on average, which translates to around Rs. 7-22 lakh.

Long answer – it depends.

As you know, theapp development cost is calculated by multiplying the time required to develop an app with the hourly rates of a developer. Hourly rates can vary depending on the area of residence and the years of experience of the developer.

At Skein Technologies, we can create a robust online food ordering system in just 8-10 weeks.

In India, the food delivery app development cost is much cheaper than other countries, primarily because of the lower hourly rates of developers. But that doesn’t mean there will be the slightest difference in quality.

If you’re going for a minimum viable product, the cost will be even lower and affordable. And don’t worry! We’ll help you build an online food ordering app within the shortest time possible.

Final Thoughts

According to a survey conducted on Indian food delivery apps, 23% of the respondents order food online, at least once a month. By 2022, India’s online food delivery market is expected to hit US$8 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 25-30%.

The fact that online food delivery apps make things more convenient and instantaneous for consumers makes the concept a lucrative one, with high success rates. If you feel you can disrupt the food industry, there is no better time than now.

App development can be an arduous task – but it doesn’t always have to be that way, especially if you partner with the best food delivery app development company.

Get in touch with our mobile app development experts today and never let a single soul go hangry!


Why Is Online Ordering Better?

Ordering online via food delivery platforms is a hassle-free choice that makes it easier to track and cancel orders. Food delivery apps are also known to offer impressive customer service and easy to approach refund policies.


How Do Food Ordering Systems Make Money?

Along with collecting a commission for every order, food delivery apps can earn from advertisements, delivery fees, and listing fees.


What Are the Advantages of Online Food Ordering?

Online food ordering can help you quickly build customer loyalty. Since everything happens online, you can gather valuable information from each order served, allowing you to further improve your service.

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