How to build a great eCommerce platform for food delivery in 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown enacted to stop it have changed consumer behavior in the US and the EU heavily and rapidly. According to the SimilarWeb report from the 15th of March, just before the quarantine started, the traffic for travel and event booking industry plummeted, while the traffic for grocery and food delivery traffic skyrocketed. Thus said, a month later people are already used to ordering their food and other supplies online, meaning it’s high time to build a great eCommerce platform before the market is saturated.
This article will showcase all an entrepreneur must know about how to build a great eCommerce platform, the food delivery method you are better off choosing and what existing eCommerce platform is best customized for food delivery. The advice here is based on more than a decade of web development from the IT Svit team and wide expertise we possess in CRM development, eCommerce platform development and optimization, providing managed DevOps services, Big Data analytics, blockchain development, building AI/ML solutions and many more tasks.
3 food delivery models for eCommerce business
There are three basic food delivery models for eCommerce business: the order-only, the order&delivery and the full cycle food delivery services.
The order-only food delivery eCommerce solution acts as an intermediary between a customer and some local restaurant or pizza chain. It is integrated with the respective website via API and helps ease the strain on their internal ordering service by providing a place for customers to make their orders and then transfer the ready orders to the respective website system. Such platforms charge 5-15% per order and the restaurant must hire the couriers or delivery services themselves. This model is done by various platforms and applications like AllSetNow, Grubhub, or JustEat.
The order&delivery eCommerce website would provide the delivery services in addition to simply ordering the meals. This means you would have to hire some local couriers or partner with some delivery chains, but this would allow you to charge more for the orders done while growing the table turnover rates and profits for both the restaurants and the delivery businesses. On the other hand, you would be saving valuable time for their customers, so it is a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
The full-cycle food delivery eCommerce platform provides the ordering, the cooking and the delivery — and various pizza chains are the example of this approach. While this involves additional expenses for renting or buying some location and buying all the cooking appliances like freezers, heaters, stoves, etc. — this approach yields the best outcomes as you get 100% of the revenues. Keep in mind though, you will have to pay the cooks and the delivery team, too.
Also, you will have to pay for marketing and promotion of your services in any case — or rely on the word of mouth advertising. Understanding the workflow of food delivery services is essential for configuring your operations right.
Once you’ve chosen the mode of operations, you must select the approach to building your eCommerce platform. You can either go with some ready CMS (Content Management System) like Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce or develop a solution from scrap, by hiring an eCommerce software development team to handle the product creation.
If you want to start fast and use a turnkey solution with ample integrations, SEO promotion and payment security features — go for ready CMS platforms. You will need to register a catchy domain name and rent some hosting services in any case, but most web/VPS/dedicated hosting providers work with cPanel that can install the most popular eCommerce platforms in a couple of clicks. This might seem the best choice as it allows you to start and configure your eCommerce food delivery business in a couple of days at most (at least the online part of it), so you are able to hop on the hype wagon during the quarantine.
However, if a business wants to ensure long-term success, there are several key factors to consider:
- Market trends change fast, yes, but they newer go from good to worse. When people get used to ordering food online they realize how much time and effort it saves them. They will still go to their favorite restaurants once the lockdown is lifted — but they will order significantly more meals from home than before the quarantine. So there is no need to jump on the hype train — the target audience will always be there for you.
- Magento, WordPress and Shopify are great tools with lots of holes. The recommendation to update your CMS platforms and plugins to the latest versions at all times does not originate from vanity, but from the needs of security. While these tools have a huge number of integrations and plugins, new vulnerabilities there are uncovered all the time, so you risk losing your customer’s sensitive data if some hacker uncovers a new one before they are able to patch it.
- People respect personal approach more than speed. There are very few who would prefer taking a bus to driving your own car given the choice. People respect the effort paid to create unique customer experiences for them. Thus said, bespoke eCommerce solutions are usually more successful as compared to their standard-issue Magento or WooCommerce counterparts. Besides, people also know that new Shopify or Magento vulnerabilities are found all the time and might be reluctant to use such platforms
- Developing a custom CMS takes time and money, but it allows you to innovate. Technologies don’t stand around and don’t wait for eCommerce platforms to catch up. Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality features, AI-powered chatbots, prescriptive analytics and other tools make a huge difference to customer experience and classic CMS platforms do not provide these out of the box.
A bespoke solution, on the other hand, allows planning for such things in advance and presenting your visitors with a much wider range of options and a much better customer experience, as compared to less innovative competitors. For example, your customers might be able to visualize how 350 grams/portion look at their dishes using AR/VR features, they can order while commuting using chatbots in their messengers or order while driving home using voice selection feature, etc.
Thus said, going for the low hanging fruit is not always the best approach to building the eCommerce solutions for food delivery in 2020. You will be much better off building a unique proposal that will transform your target audience’s customer journey and turn one-time visitors into lifetime promoters of your products and services. The question is, how to develop an eCommerce platform right? The answer is — do it the DevOps way!
Benefits of DevOps services for eCommerce platforms
DevOps is a methodology of software development and infrastructure management concentrating on reducing expenses and optimizing performance through automation of all repetitive actions and transformation of software development culture.
It is enabled by cloud computing, as working with virtualized resources in the cloud helps avoid tedious, laborious and repetitive manual configurations and maintenance tasks. It also helps significantly reduce the time-to-value for all projects, as the Devs and the Ops engineers work in tandem, not quarrel all the time.
DevOps is based on three basic approaches: CI, CD and IaC.
- IaC means Infrastructure as Code. This approach ensures the repetitive operations (like provisioning and configuration of testing environments, which is done hundreds of times during the software development lifecycle) is fully automated. All the parameters are stored in textual configuration files, so-called manifests, which are consumed by DevOps tools like Terraform, Pulumi and Kubernetes. These manifests can be modified as any other code and launched by any developer, reducing the development time by up to 90% as compared to manual configuration workflow.
- CI stands for Continuous Integration. This approach allows the developers to write the code in small chunks and test it extensively using IaC tools, instead of having multiple merge conflicts trying to get multiple development branches together before testing the new product version on the staging server right before the release. This way the numbers of bugs are significantly lower and the post-release crashes are literally history now, not the plague they were a mere decade ago and allows integrating customer feedback in a week or two, not in a year.
- CD stands for Continuous Delivery. This is a method of configuring pipelines of tools like Jenkins, Circle CI, Ansible and many others, where the outcome of one operation become the input for the next operation. This way a new code batch goes all the way from git commit through testing and staging servers to release with a single command of 1 developer, not a combined effort of the whole team. This saves a ton of development time, money and effort — and it works in production also, automating processes like backup and recovery, data exchange through APIs, message broker operations, microservices and many, many more.
Any company can benefit from adopting DevOps culture, but doing it internally requires a significant investment of time and money. Thus said, the businesses that want to benefit from using DevOps services right away have to choose between hiring such a team from a cloud vendor or working with independent Managed DevOps Services Providers, like IT Svit.
Hiring DevOps teams from cloud platforms like AWS, Google, Azure and their certified partners ensures you work with skilled professionals who know all the specifics of their corresponding vendor’s operations and are able to configure all the tools correctly to minimize the time and expenses needed to launch and run your product. However, this also ensures vendor lock-in and results in restrictions in the way you can update your product.
Quite the contrary, working with independent IT outsourcing companies like IT Svit ensures you also work with skilled DevOps professionals and software engineers while avoiding vendor lock-in and using ope-source tools to minimize the software development cost. This way, while investing a pretty penny in developing your bespoke CMS platform for food delivery, you get the most out of your dollars.
If you want to experience this firsthand and use the window of opportunity provided by the COVID-19 crisis — let us know and we would be glad to help you build a great eCommerce platform for food delivery in 2020!