Driving the Online Ordering Industry with Food Delivery Apps in the UK

Today, consumers value convenience and efficiency. The rise of mobile technology and on-demand services has made it possible to access many products instantly with the tap of a screen. Food delivery apps are a prime example of how modern innovations have streamlined everyday tasks. These apps give diners an opportunity to order meals from a wide array of restaurants and have food brought to their homes or offices.

Being at the center of the transformation trend, the UK food delivery market has seen substantial growth, with estimates indicating that the industry will exceed £14 bn by the end of 2023. Experts anticipate a steady revenue rise annually through 2027 in both grocery and meal segments. According to forecasts, in 2027, companies operating in this segment will increase revenue by half compared to 2023.

The recent rise of the food delivery services in the UK has disrupted the conventional model of ordering takeout and enabled countless eateries to reach more diners. With players like Just Eat, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats competing for customers and restaurants alike, meal delivery applications will keep on further driving the segment’s progress.

In this article, we share our experience on how to create a successful app for food delivery in the UK competitive market and consider practical steps to achieve this ambition.

What are food ordering and delivery apps?

They are mobile applications that provide convenient takeout ordering and bringing food to diners. They connect customers with their favorite local restaurants and handle logistics through their network of drivers.

All the major players basically operate using the same business approach:

  • Their online food delivery platforms form partnerships with local eateries to build massive digital menus.
  • When an order pours in, the kitchen of a partnering restaurant is instantly notified.
  • After the order confirmation, the delivery is arranged, which includes providing the driver’s contact information and the customer’s reception point.
  • Every step of the way, the app keeps customers in the know about the condition of their order.
  • In return for the opportunity to attract new customers, the restaurant provides a pre-agreed commission percentage to the food delivery service.
  • The transaction is closed in the system once the order has been delivered and payment is complete.
  • Any concerns or issues are addressed through the support team of the food ordering and delivery platforms.
  • The apps also provide restaurants an option to promote specials and deals to drum up more digital diners.


UK foodservice delivery market: What’s on the menu for investors?

The growth of the sector in the UK signals a shift in how consumers buy their meals. As global and UK food delivery apps continue to pick up steam, they are poised to further reshape the online food ordering industry.

According to recent research, the UK’s online food ordering market is projected to grow at an annual rate of over 12% between 2023 and 2027, reaching a volume of $64 bn (over £50 bn) by 2027.

There are several factors driving this trend:

  • Ease of use and choice. Top UK’s food delivery apps provide consumers with abundant meal options from various restaurants within easy reach.
  • Changing lifestyles. More people live in urban areas, and their busier work schedules mean less time for cooking at home. Food delivery fills this need.
  • Smartphone popularity. Widespread smartphone use makes it easy for people to order meals on the go.
  • Restaurant adoption. An increasing number of eateries and takeaways are partnering with mobile food ordering apps to target more customers. This, in turn, leads to a greater adoption of the service among diners.
  • Delivery innovations. Applications are experimenting with faster delivery methods, more efficient routing algorithms, and more reliable tracking to improve the customer experience.
  • Millennial market. Youngsters tend to be early adopters of new technologies and are likelier to value convenience and instant access to services. Reaching this key demographic group has been crucial to the success of companies like Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Given the trends pushing the UK online food delivery market, the sector will probably continue expanding. The companies that can best optimize delivery through cutting-edge technology and superior choice have the potential to gain the most market share in this competitive space.

Best food delivery apps in the UK

So, food delivery is on the rise, and although the market is competitive, it still has room for growth. Now, let’s explore some key players and quickly overview popular food ordering and delivery apps in the UK.

These have carved a niche for themselves and have become integral to the online food ordering industry:

  • Just Eat. A leading service provider launched in Denmark in 2001 is currently operating in over 20 countries globally. The platform lets customers conveniently search for local takeaway establishments, whether traditional cuisine or fast food establishments.
  • Deliveroo. The aggregator claims to be the fastest service and offers customers an online way to monitor their orders. Similar to other online food ordering apps, it connects local restaurants to consumers seeking meals from nearby eateries.
  • ChefOnline. Along with connecting users to a wide array of global cuisines, the application enables diners to make reservations at their preferred restaurants. While it’s particularly well-established for ordering Indian cuisine, the application continues expanding offerings to include new culinary regions.
  • Uber Eats. It’s a prominent name in the industry across many countries as a part of the ridesharing company. It partners with restaurants, grocery stores, and supermarkets throughout the UK. Eateries that solely provide carry-out orders can also register with Uber Eats.
  • Foodhub. Another UK’s top food delivery app teams up with over 29k venues nationwide. With operations in more than 100 cities and towns, the aggregator connects its substantial base of users to a broad range of dining options from local establishments of all types.
  • One Delivery. Since 2013, the platform has expanded its operations to 65 major cities, providing coverage to over 90 locations. Such recognizable chains as Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s have chosen it for delivery logistics.

How to build an app like Deliveroo: From ideation to launch

As an entrepreneur looking to capitalize on the booming market, you may consider developing an aggregator to make dinners, restaurants, and delivery drivers meet. The above-mentioned applications have proven that online food delivery can be highly successful and lucrative.

With proper planning and execution, such an application can become the core business in your portfolio.


1. Validate your idea

To build a profitable meal delivery app in the UK, you must first validate your idea and thoroughly research the market.

The following steps are crucial:

  • Analyze your competitors to determine their USPs and see what you can improve.
  • Research your TA and see what food options and features they want.
  • Evaluate the supply side by reaching out to restaurants to determine their willingness to partner with you.
  • Consider driver screening and vehicle requirements to ensure safe delivery practices.

2. Determine your app’s USP

A precise analysis of the market, especially its major players, allows your new app for food delivery around the UK to differentiate itself from competitors. A well-defined USP not only enables you to stand out among many other services but will also help in further promotion.

Let’s briefly examine and compare the USPs of several leading aggregators. In the rundown below, we assessed their marketing and technological features and paid attention to the income strategies. As for the latter, since all the services under consideration use a hybrid monetization model, we don’t focus on this aspect here as a possible USP.

Uber Eats’s global reach and service integration

Uber Eats has established itself as some of the best food delivery apps in the UK and worldwide thanks to

  • Uber’s unified digital platform that allows users to connect with its popular transportation service seamlessly, and
  • Order tracking that lets users follow each stage of the delivery process, helping ensure a satisfactory experience for all parties.

Deliveroo’s speed as a core offering

Being the most modestly represented geographically, this UK food delivery app is still one of the market leaders because

  • technology plays a central role in their operations, with AI used to optimize routes and predict demand fluctuations; and
  • delivery speed is their key aspect, with some cities seeing an average ETA of under 30 minutes.

DoorDash’s pampering customers

The food ordering and delivery app, DoorDash has established partnerships with restaurants across the US, Canada, and Australia, and it also boasts

  • customer service that is a top priority at the company, and
  • 24/7 access to support staff that ensures solving any issues and guarantees a positive user experience.

Key takeaway: determining one or two key USPs for your UK’s online food delivery app contributes to building a unique, memorable brand.

3. Choose your monetization model

When developing a food delivery app like Deliveroo, selecting an effective monetization model ensures the long-term viability of your business.

The most popular revenue-generating strategies are

  • Commission. You charge a percentage commission on each order, typically around 30% (it can vary from 15% to 35% and higher). The commission is deducted from the total bill before payment to the restaurant.
  • Order fee. You charge a small fee for each order ($2 to $5). The fee is paid by diners in addition to the cost of their food. This model provides a more predictable revenue stream (but may discourage some customers if fees seem too high).
  • Subscription. Customers pay a monthly or annual fee to access and use your online food ordering and delivery platform. This model creates a recurring revenue source from your most loyal customers.
  • Advertising. You can sell advertising space on your app to eateries. However, this option can be inconsistent based on economic factors.
  • Hybrid models. Many established market players use a combination of all models for multiple revenue streams and the opportunity to maximize income.

When determining the best monetization strategies for your business, again analyze your TA, competitors, and the fees those competitors charge. Consider starting with a simple model and gradually expanding to a hybrid one as your application gains more users and restaurant partners.

Looking to build your food delivery app in the UK?

Having a proven track record of developing thriving on-demand delivery apps, we at Eastern Peak can help your food delivery startup enter the UK market with a custom-built food ordering solution.

Contact us

4. Select key features for your UK’s food delivery app

As an entrepreneur, you know that launching a winning project can be challenging in the competitive market. However, our experience with the UK startups says that with the right ingredients, you can create an aggregator that delivers.

To build it, carefully select features that satisfy your users’ needs and align with your business goals.

Ordering functionality

The core functionality of your online food delivery app in the UK should revolve around facilitating food orders. Provide an easy ordering flow that helps diners to

  • check out menus from participating restaurants,
  • select items and customize orders,
  • choose delivery or pickup,
  • enter payment and contact information, and
  • track the status of the order.

Restaurant portal

Give eateries an opportunity to manage orders, menus, and coverage areas easily in your app for food delivery from restaurants. Key attention should be put on

  • ability to run menu (add, edit, and remove items);
  • manage delivery areas and minimum order values;
  • accept, reject, or reassign orders;
  • monitor order status and details;
  • access reports and analytics on sales, popular and high-margin menu items, delivery heatmaps, and more.

Delivery management

Provide tools to effectively manage the fleet and ensure prompt handing over of orders. Must-have functionalities here include

  • route optimization to assign orders to the nearest available driver;
  • live tracking of driver location and delivery status;
  • communication channels for restaurants, drivers, and customers;
  • performance reports to analyze metrics like average delivery time, busy periods, and more.

Payment processing

Integrate a gateway that allows diners to pay directly in your food delivery app like Deliveroo. Look for a provider that offers

  • support for popular payment methods,
  • security and fraud prevention tools,
  • competitive processing fees,
  • easy integration, and
  • instant transaction reporting and payouts to restaurants.


5. Start Deliveroo-like app development

To ensure your customer satisfaction, pay attention to app design and development. Our experience suggests that an uncluttered, image-focused look with intuitive navigation, large buttons, and a simple ordering form makes it breezier for your users to find what they seek.

Opt for the trustworthy infrastructure for your food delivery app development

The technology stack determines how well your application functions, how secure the data is, and how easily you can scale your business. Some of the crucial elements include the following:

  • Backend infrastructure. Using a framework like Django (Python) or Ruby provides scaffolding to build a robust API and admin portal.
  • Frontend framework. A JavaScript framework like React Native allows you to build native iOS and Android apps from the same codebase.
  • Third-party services. Integration with the services with simple API to handle payments, SMS, GPS navigation, email, and more is essential. Plus, continuous integration with a service like CircleCI reduces the chance of bugs.
  • Scalability. Following best practices around microservices, caching, and load balancing lets you grow and ensure a stellar user experience.

6. Test your food service delivery application for issues

Thoroughly testing each function and feature of your aggregator – a vital stage before launch – allows you to identify any bugs and ensures optimal usability.

Functionality testing

Test all functions to confirm they are operating as intended:

  • Users can easily create an account and log in.
  • The payment process works accurately for all accepted methods.
  • Push notifications are being sent properly for order and delivery updates.
  • Tracking user location and routing drivers to the correct addresses is functioning accurately.

UX testing

Have a group of test users navigate through the food delivery app to

  • pinpoint any areas of confusion or frustration,
  • identify aspects that could be streamlined or improved,
  • check that all information is clearly displayed and the interface is intuitive, and
  • confirm the design is visually appealing and cohesive across platforms.

Compatibility testing

Vigorously test your app for food delivery on all intended mobile operating systems and screen sizes. Make sure

  • the layout displays appropriately on both Android and iOS, as well as on various device sizes;
  • all features and functions work the same across operating systems; and
  • it does not crash or lag on any tested devices.

7. Launch and beyond

Once launched, continue monitoring your app for online food delivery around the UK. Track any reported issues, check users’ feedback, and make ongoing improvements.

However, developing the application is only a part of the battle. With loads of applications competing for attention, you need a strategic marketing plan to rise above the noise. The plan helps build brand awareness, acquire users, improve engagement, and ultimately drive more orders.

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Recipe for the UK restaurant and food business growth

The UK takeaway delivery market is blossoming, and launching your startup can be highly lucrative if executed properly. You can gain significant market share with effective growth strategies and high-quality development.

How to get started?

The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.

The product discovery phase can help you:

  • define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for building an application
  • set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
  • test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
  • craft a convincing investment pitch
  • get to know your team

Partnering with a proficient agency like Eastern Peak with a proven track record of building thriving on-demand delivery apps ensures a capable launch and sets you up for sustainable growth.

Our team has helped many UK food delivery startups launch and scale their apps successfully. Contact us to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals.

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