FoodTech mobile apps: What is important to know about?

Natalie S, communications expert
Natalie S, communications expert
Jan 30, 2024
13 minutes
Contents
If you’re a part of the restaurant business, HoReCa, retail or come up with an idea to kick off a startup connected with food, continue reading the article below. Get to know why you need a mobile app, how to create it and what you have to pay attention to, without further ado. Just the truth and nothing else from the bottom of our hearts.

FoodTech Trends 2024

A few years ago food retailers made their first steps into e-grocery. The pandemic sped up these processes and businesses were forced to adjust to new conditions, in other words, move to online. Therefore, in 2020 we got one of the most perspective niches with a promising success and wealth - FoodTech
If you don’t know what FoodTech means, read our article. Almost everything you have on your smartphone related to food is a FoodTech, not to mention artificial meat, vertical microgreens farms in restaurants and drones for farm soil research.
Until 2022 investments into these projects have reached such heights that startups have grown like mushrooms all over the world. Meanwhile, people after the isolation were getting used to the new reality and made their choice in favor of offline or online. Businesses were recovering. The next 2 years were passed under the flag of foodtech market development, however, not as bright as it was predicted. What is going to happen in 2024?
People’s habits are changing. Feeling the consequences of the food crisis caused by a series of political events, people are inclined toward saving money, hence the growing trend of discount stores.
Retailers, in turn, in pursuit of audience attraction and retention dive into the loyalty programs development and expansion of various service types.
The delivery market is undergoing changes as well. On one hand, we see the gig economy is in a clear trend nowadays. However, on the other hand, many major players are leaving the market, because food tech investments, as any other investments, depend on the overall health of the economy. If interest rates are lowered, as expected, the return on investments in risky assets will become attractive again.
There are two factors that may mitigate this decline:
1
Appetite for Artificial Intelligence and Responsible Consumption: The interest in artificial intelligence and responsible consumption remains relatively easy to attract funds to.
2
Abundance of Capital in Funds: There is still a significant amount of money in funds available for investment, primarily in early-stage projects.
In a word, this year will still be very challenging for startups that attract series A and B investments, especially if they lack reliable technology and profitable prospects. Read more about food delivery in our article.
Taking into account all the factors mentioned above, we believe that creation of your own app is the most sensible choice for food tech, which allows:
  • engage with your existing audience
  • attract new customers
  • develop and scale business without risky innovations
  • obtain a substantial amount of data about your customers
  • create a social media buzz
  • differentiate yourself from competitors
We have many cool case studies about app development and even more intriguing ideas. Keep reading, and we'll provide all the details!

Why do you need a mobile application?

Let’s assume you already own a business related to food retail, restaurants or fall within the HoReCa category. What business problems can the development of a mobile application solve?
1
Improve the consumer experience: provide a convenient and accessible way to order and pay for products or services.
2
Customer loyalty: complement loyalty programs, discount coupons and other bonuses to enhance customer retention.
3
Order and delivery management: tracking order status, notifications and other features make the whole process more transparent and convenient.
4
Personalization of offers: collect customer preferences data and provide personalized offers to make interactions more meaningful.
5
Marketing and promotion: utilize an additional channel for marketing. Sending notifications, advertising, promotions and discounts through the app may effectively attract attention and stimulate sales.
6
Analytics and reporting: collect user behavioral data to analyze results, optimize strategies and make reasoned business-decisions.
7
Market expansion: attract customers from different regions.

What are the types of food tech applications?

Food delivery via the app is already a classic. Let’s explore what else mobile devices are capable of.

Recipes and culinary apps

  • Applications provide recipes and cooking instructions.
  • Applications for meal planning and grocery shopping lists.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡ Cookpad: A community for sharing recipes and culinary ideas.
⚡ Yummly: An app offering personalized recipes based on user preferences.

Services for cooking at home

  • Applications provide ingredients and recipes with the option of delivering meal preparation kits.
  • Platforms for ordering ready-made meals that can be prepared at home.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡ HelloFresh: A platform for ordering kits with ingredients and recipes for home cooking.

Platforms for restaurants and cafes

  • Services for table reservations at restaurants.
  • Applications for pre-ordering dishes at restaurants and cafes.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡Tik-tak: Reserve tables or order food from any place.
⚡Resy: Another app for table reservations and getting information about restaurants.

Canteen or cafe management

  • Applications for managing orders and payments within the place.
  • Platforms for digital menus and serviсes via QR codes.
Who do you get inspiration from?
YPA: A service that allows pre-ordering at a place, leaving tips, calling a waiter, checking reviews, ordering a taxi to the restaurant, and much more.
⚡Orderly: An app for digital menus and order management.

Social media for gourmets

  • Applications for sharing recipes, reviews and recommendations.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡Zomato: An app with restaurant reviews, food photos, and recommendations from other users.
⚡DishPal: A social network for food enthusiasts with the exchange of food photos and recipes.

Technologies for improving cooking processes

  • Applications for tracking calories and nutrients.
  • Applications with artificial intelligence for the creation of personalized recipes or diet recommendations.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡MyFitnessPal: An app for tracking calories and nutrients.
⚡Nutrino: Uses artificial intelligence to create personalized dietary recommendations.

Food marketplaces

  • Applications for selling products from local suppliers and farmers.
  • Applications for ordering products and home delivery.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡Farmy: A platform for ordering products from local farmers and producers.
⚡Instacart: An app for ordering groceries and receiving delivery from supermarkets.

Educational applications

  • Applications provide educational content about nutrition, culinary and a healthy lifestyle.
Who do you get inspiration from?
⚡Food Network Kitchen: An educational app with culinary classes and recipes from renowned chefs.

Loyalty programs

  • Applications that provide access to exclusive offers and bonuses for regular visits.
  • Applications that allow users to accumulate and spend bonuses.
Who do you get inspiration from?
Pivtochka: A digitized loyalty program with gamification.
John Dory: A loyalty program with the option to create a family group.

Where do you start if you decide to create your own app?

First of all, do competitor research and analyze their target audience. Does it overlap with yours? In addition to direct competitors, there are also indirect ones.
Let's illustrate this with an example. Let's say you have a bakery specializing in fresh bread. Direct competitors would be other bakeries in your area that also sell fresh bread. They offer a similar product and compete with you for customers.
Imagine there's a store that also sells fresh bread but it’s not a bakery. This store is an indirect competitor. Even though it doesn't specialize in baking bread, it can still offer the same product and attract the same customers as yours.
Examples of indirect competitors for a bakery:
1
Supermarkets: They may sell fresh bread in their bakeries or grocery sections.
2
Cafes: Places that serve breakfasts or lunches may also offer fresh bread.
3
Fast-food chains: Some fast-food places may include fresh bread in their dishes.
Does it sound daunting especially when we're just at the beginning? But at this stage, you can already find out that your idea might not be as great as you think. Perhaps the market doesn't need your idea at all. Or maybe it just requires some additional steps. Check the hypothesis, create an MVP, gather feedback – all these steps were described in the startup article. If you don't want to cope with everything on your own, we can help!
Another important preparatory step is collecting information about your business's pain points to think about how to solve them using IT. Perhaps customers don't come back to repeat purchases, or there's a small average check, or they buy the same things and don't want anything new. Then, with the help of the MVP, you can test growth points for your business that you identify during the analysis stage. For instance, implement a loyalty program or expand to new regions.

What does a food tech application consist of?

Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of introducing a new user to the functionality and features of an application. It is an important stage that can make the user’s first experience more enjoyable and convenient. However it’s often underestimated. Although onboarding can address a variety of tasks:
Familiarization with functionality: explain to customers how to use key functions of the application. It’s especially crucial if there are unique features that may be difficult to recognize.
Data collection: start gathering information about users at this stage, learn their preferences, interests and location. It will help to personalize services.
Motivation for action: if you use gamification (give rewards for certain actions), tell to inspire action.
It’s important that the onboarding process is intuitive and doesn’t take too much time, to avoid irritation among users.

Authorization

The next step is logging into the system. Add the option for authentication through a social network, phone number or email. Users should be able to save their passwords and apply autofill, besides.
At this stage, by the way, many challenges may arise. For example, with an SMS code for registration confirmation. Or with various attempts to break your system, especially, if there is an option to accumulate points for purchases in your loyalty system. Hackers often try to steal other people’s points, but we know how to prevent it.

Filtered search

After registration the user starts to search for a product or service. No matter what niche you occupy within food tech - food delivery, groceries, ingredients, searching for chefs, couriers or restaurants - it’s crucial to set up a convenient search. Make sure that users can filter by popularity, rating, etc.
Does it sound easy? Let’s go a little deeper. Do you know what kind of filters you’ll have? In the form of a range, with answer options or a listing?
And how will you sort values within the filter? Alphabetically or by the quantity of items in it? It may seem like a minor detail, but if it’s not properly thought out, a user might easily stop using your application and download another one.

Quality visual design

In any application related to food, a certain amount of time should be dedicated to the visual part. First of all, clients pay attention to dish images and chef’s photos, and only then check calories and reviews from other users. Therefore, images should be appetizing and the graphics should be beautiful and simple to avoid user distraction. Usability should be clear, using already familiar patterns such as liking, adding to favorites or swiping.

Various payment options

What are the methods for payment? Online payment by card or in cash to a courier, via payment systems, for example, Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal. It’s also possible to use bonuses. Sometimes, payment can be on a subscription basis. But the most important thing among all these ways of receiving money is the refund process. This happens even in food tech.

Push-notifications

Push notification won’t let users forget about your app. Imagine that a person made an order, but put the phone down and has no idea about the exact time the courier will arrive. And you send them a push notification! This is of course the simplest scenario. Push notifications can be used for status updates, data, personalized offers, news and a bunch of other things. However you should allow users to choose which notifications they want to receive to avoid negative reviews later. Just work out all the scenarios and inform users through prompts why you included them.

Rating

Whether it’s a restaurant, chefs of product rating, in any food app it’s important to provide the opportunity to give stars and leave reviews. This is the driving force for the application. Firstly, it works as a search filter. Secondly, it’s a communication channel with users and an opportunity to collect feedback, process negativity. And thirdly, it’s a treasure trove for further development.
In our application Beerpoint besides the public rating, users can maintain their own rating, adding comments and giving ratings to beer varieties they have tried, preventing them from purchasing something they didn't like a long time ago.
In Ypa, when a user leaves a review, they have the option to access the camera to take a photo of the place or dish immediately — no need to go to the gallery and select a picture there.

Menu

If we are speaking about applications for food delivery, one of the crucial components will be a menu. There are many variations on this theme, for example, in the Ypa application complex animation is implemented for the menu listing - titles are automatically switched when you are scrolling through dishes.

QR-code scanner

It’s needed if you want to call a waiter, provide access to an extended menu or identify a client at the checkout.

Map

If we are talking about table reservations or store searches, maps are an essential part of your application. Usually, existing maps are integrated so that users can see a familiar interface. But it’s important for you that the application can handle a large number of markers on the map, grouping them into clusters and having custom icons for different types of places.
Calling a taxi from the app is a pleasant bonus for the client. For example, in Ypa it’s enough to click on a link and Uber will plan the route and calculate the cost of the trip to the point you selected.

How much does it cost to make an application?

In a few words, starting from $20 000 to infinity.  An MVP of a food tech application with a well-designed user flow, simple UI and development will cost around $10 000 – 15 000. The more features you add, the higher the price becomes. Here, we explained what the cost consists of.
Don't be scared by the numbers. It will still be much less expensive than trying to do everything on your own. Because time is on our side. We know how to create an MVP that you can show to investors, and we can do it not in a year, but in three months. If our article has inspired you, we recommend you hurry because more and more of your competitors are turning into strong players.

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