Food delivery and the use of food delivery apps has been growing for years and there has been a huge boost in food delivery orders during the pandemic. It is now essential for food businesses to know and understand the food delivery app landscape, the in-house options and the customer ordering portals so they can best support and grow their food business.

Here, we look at the role of food delivery apps and identify the most popular, we explore how apps relate to food delivery software, discuss the software options available for food businesses and explain how the software works with internal Point-of-Sale (PoS) and restaurant management software.

What Is A Food Delivery App?

Food delivery apps are customer facing. A food delivery app is a phone or tablet application, with a website option for desktop users, that enables customers to browse and order from one or various restaurants, or order specific food items, food boxes or groceries. The UK’s most popular food delivery apps include Just Eat and Deliveroo.

Aggregator Food Delivery Apps

An aggregator food delivery app is an app that enables customers to order food from multiple restaurants, takeaways or food businesses. Most aggregator food delivery apps, like UberEats and Deliveroo, use their own drivers (who are independent contractors) to make deliveries.

Other food delivery aggregators, like Just Eat (though they are also moving towards a model of using their own fleet of delivery drivers), facilitate browsing, ordering and taking payment from the customer, but leave the actual delivery to the restaurant’s own drivers.

Niche Food Delivery Apps

Since food delivery covers a broad spectrum of food products, there are some smaller and more niche food delivery markets also being catered for. For example, there are apps that aim to minimise food waste and others that deliver pet food.

There are a rising number of food waste apps that enable restaurants, cafes and other fresh food preparation businesses to sell or give away any food about to expire. For the eco-conscious food brand (and its customers), utilising these apps is an excellent way of getting rid of food that would otherwise be wasted.

It isn’t just people who have to eat, it’s their pets too. Enter: Monster Pet Supplies. This pet food delivery app aims to provide an easy, hassle-free way for pet owners to shop for pet food. They stock multiple brands, all of which can be delivered straight to your door.

What Is Food Delivery Software?

Food delivery software is the system that enables food delivery businesses to manage their orders, and other information relevant to food delivery, internally. While food delivery apps are customer facing, food delivery software is business facing.

Food delivery software will often be able to work in coordination with multiple food delivery apps, so that a food business can get and prepare their orders from each app without having to check them individually. It will typically include:

  • vendor management services
  • menu updating and editing functions
  • delivery management services
  •  payment processing features

If you are in the business of food then you will likely have either a restaurant/cafe or delivery kitchen. To manage your food business, you will need Restaurant Management Software and a POS System – these can be combined. For food brands newly moving into food delivery, having not had a formal setup, getting these systems in place is imperative to ensure your food delivery software works properly.

Restaurant Management Software

Restaurant Management Software is the collective name for software that supports the running of a hospitality business. It is divided into Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) software. FOH is tied to guest management, like table assignments and number of occupants and booking details. BOH is the central management software that covers stock management, revenue and kitchen operations.

Restaurant POS Software

POS stands for Point of Sale. POS software or systems are used throughout restaurants and cafes, but also in retail. They enable businesses to track purchases, cash flow, inventory, etc. There are all kinds of software and many of them specialise in certain sectors or industries, hence there are some restaurant-specific POS softwares, which cater to the specific needs of those businesses. For food businesses this can mean tracking aspects like food and drink waste.

Quick History: The Rise & Rise Of Online Food Delivery

Did you know that ‘The first online food order was a pizza from Pizza Hut in 1994‘? Food delivery has come a long way in the past 25 years. By 2015, online ordering had overtaken telephone ordering for food. As a result, online food ordering has become more complex (in that we don’t just call up a restaurant to place an order), but also simpler – at least from the customer’s perspective.

Customers can now use aggregator apps to order, picking and choosing cuisines from various restaurants for food delivery, rather than having to find contact details or downloading the app for individual restaurants.

Only large food businesses really feel the need to, or find the value in, having their own apps created for food delivery. For most food brands, it’s more effort than it is worth. Though for those who want to build their own app, there are quick ways to do it, such as by using App Institute.

2020 was a bumper year for food delivery. Groceries, hot food, food boxes… In fact all kinds of food delivery boomed in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns. And food delivery isn’t likely to diminish, even as the lockdown restrictions around the pandemic ease, as it was already on a continuous rise before the outbreak.

Future Of Food Delivery Apps & Software

The possibilities for the future of food delivery are endless, as we develop new delivery systems and make advances in the links between different kinds of technology.

There are some early indicators of what could be in store for food delivery, specifically because new options are already being beta tested around the world. Here are some examples of how food delivery technology might evolve.

Drone & Robot Delivery

Although there are technical and legal barriers to drone food delivery, big brands and tech companies are already trying to figure out how to make it happen.

Amazon’s Air Prime is already beta testing drone delivery flights and in 2016 the drone startup Flirtey partnered with Domino’s Pizza to deliver pizzas by drone in New Zealand. Drone delivery may also only be one of the new humanless food delivery systems, and robot food delivery could be next as advances in delivery bots make it more cost-effective for big brands.

Managing these new delivery systems would require food delivery apps that can track new routes through the sky as well as across towns and cities at ground level. Food delivery software would require coordination with local air traffic and robot maintenance data would need to be fed back to food businesses to ensure breakdowns are minimal.

Better Food Management With The Internet Of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is linking our fridges to grocery deliveries, our smartwatches to our phones and, soon, our food delivery boxes to our restaurant management systems.

We can already get texts or email notifications on our phones so we know when our grocery delivery is about to arrive. Some smart fridges can even create grocery orders for food you’ve run out of. So where could this go next?

IoT-powered food delivery app Food Delivery Solution is leading the way with food delivery boxes equipped with temperature sensors. When you have cold stock delivered, it will need to go straight into a fridge or freezer or it will spoil. On a hot day or a busy one, where team members get distracted by other tasks, you want to make sure you don’t accidentally leave your cold stock out too long. With a food delivery box with a temperature sensor, if your cold stock gets close to too warm, your restaurant management system will receive a notification to remind you to put the stock in the chiller or freezer, and so help you avoid losing cold food stock that spoils. Having this temperature regulation technology is invaluable to minimise waste management within a food business.

Temperature-monitored food delivery boxes can also have benefits for customers receiving hot food delivery. Using this technology in delivery drivers’ food bags would ensure that food arrives piping hot, enough to comply with both health and safety guidelines and the customer’s personal enjoyment.

An increase in how technology and apps speak to one another could open up more possibilities for food businesses, giving them more information about how users are enjoying what they receive and the time it takes for them to receive it, enabling food brands to implement improvements.

Food Delivery Apps & Software Beyond 2021

Food delivery apps and food delivery software have revolutionised the food industry. And amazing technological advances are likely to keep coming thick and fast and will inevitably trickle down into everyday food businesses in the years to come. Keeping up with the latest tech options for food businesses isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a must. Otherwise you could get left behind and be forgotten by your customers.

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