How to build an on-demand app

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On-demand applications are taking over the world. It is a bold statement, isn’t it? Nevertheless, it is quite close to being true. Users see enough value in on-demand services to spend $57.6 billion on them annually. And that is in the US alone.

These figures give entrepreneurs a solid reason to invest in on-demand app development. In fact, such applications offer companies endless opportunities in terms of driving sales. 

Annual user spending on on-demand economy
A chart showing how much users spend on on-demand services

At Syndicode, we have been engaged in on-demand mobile app development since 2014. All solutions we have delivered for our customers have paid off within a year. We also helped customers increase the number of orders by ten times or grow the user base up to 50К active users per month.

So if you set your sights on building a service application but know nothing about on-demand app development, this article will be helpful.

If you’re wondering how to build an on-demand app, check out the list of steps to take.

1. Conduct market research and define your target audience.

2. Find your niche.

3. Focus on the must-have functionality.

4. Choose the right tech stack.

5. Partner with a reliable on-demand app development team.

6. Create an MVP version of your app.

7. Build a fully featured on-demand application. 

On-demand app development with Syndicode

On-demand apps are platforms that connect users with relevant freelancers, private individuals, or companies to do a certain task or use a specific service. The most popular example of an on-demand app is Uber.

We want to show how we helped a customer reduce staff and delivery expenses with a complex on-demand platform.

A house-service and cleaning company reached out to us and requested our help to digitize their manual processes. 

Previously, the company had a long and cumbersome workflow. There were over 300 operators processing more than 10000 phone calls a day. As soon as the order was accepted, they manually searched for a contractor in a large catalog. After finding a proper professional, operators discussed the order details with them by phone.

This cumbersome order processing workflow resulted in high maintenance costs and prevented the company from growing. So the customer decided to build a fully automated system that would allow processing more requests at a higher speed while involving fewer employees.

Our team was happy to take on this on-demand app development project. We built a complex service solution with a registration, search and reminder system, payment system, and analytics.

The results exceeded the customer’s expectations. The speed of order processing has grown by three times while the number of orders has increased tenfold.

The typical interface of an on-demand app
The interface of on-demand application HLPRS developed by Syndicode

What makes on-demand apps so popular?

A clear benefit of on-demand apps is their versatility. It means that this concept will work for a number of industries. So let’s take a look at the key reasons why you should invest in on-demand app development for your business:

  • Scalability. You can start with on-demand app development for your business solely. Yet, in due course, you can add other companies and thus, turn it into an on-demand marketplace. You can monetize your platform by taking a commission of each transaction that takes place on your on-demand marketplace.
  • User satisfaction. By allowing users to book a service or order a product with one click, you better satisfy their demands. In this regard, on-demand app development can help you improve customer retention and grow your business.
  • Comprehensive analytics. It gives you valuable insights into customers’ behaviour. By analysing the data, you can determine what services they like most and what prevents them from making purchases. With this information, you will be able to improve your solutions and provide better customer service.
  • Improved online presence. Today it is not enough to have a website to help your customers find your business online. By investing in on-demand service app development, you take your online presence to a higher level.
  • Focus on mobile users. According to Statista, the number of mobile users will reach 7.49 billion in 2025. This data is a solid reason to invest in on-demand app development to provide mobile users with a superb user experience.
Total number of mobile users worldwide
A chart showing the growth of mobile users worldwide

On-demand app development: key steps to take

Like a traveler needs a map to reach a new destination, you need a carefully crafted plan to guide you through the on-demand app development process. And guess what? We have created such a plan for you. It is based on our years of experience in building on-demand solutions.

Follow the steps below to make sure the whole on-demand mobile app development will run smoothly.

Want to build a thriving on-demand application?
We know how to build service apps the right way.

Step 1. Do the research and understand your customers

Before delving into the on-demand app development process, you need to conduct market research. -Start by exploring the pain point you are trying to fix with your product. When you know the exact problem, you can develop the proper solution to address the issue much faster.

After that, think about your target audience. Learn their demographics—age, location, interests, education, occupation. This data will give you tips on how to build an on-demand app tailored to your audience’s specific requirements.

The chart below shows the basic demographics of on-demand apps’ users.

The demographics of on-demand apps’ users
A chart showing the demographics of on-demand app’s users

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at your industry overview. It will provide you with valuable insights into your market segment and the biggest players. You will also discover the most groundbreaking industry trends. 

When it comes to on-demand app development, we should mention artificial intelligence and data analytics as prevailing trends.

Finally, let’s talk a bit about your competitors. You want to know how to build an on-demand app that will stand out from the crowd, right? In that case, you need to find examples of solutions that already exist in the market. What are their advantages and drawbacks? Is the delivery slow? Or is the app interface too complicated?

When you know the pros and cons of your competitors, you have a better chance to outperform them with your unique, high-quality on-demand app.

Step 2. Choose a niche

Your next step is to find your niche. We recommend you avoid overcrowded niches. Instead, focus on finding the so-called blue ocean. The reason is simple: this way, your on-demand app will not get lost among dozens of generic products.

On the contrary, you have a better chance to make a name for yourself with a completely new, groundbreaking solution.

Types of On-Demand Apps

Let’s take a look at the list of the most popular on-demand service app development niches. 

Food delivery.

With such apps, users can get tasty dishes from their favourite restaurants with one click.

Uber eats is a popular food delivery on-demand app:

On-demand food delivery app UberEats
UberEats as an example of an on-demand food delivery app
Taxi.

The success of Uber and Lyft stirred interest in this sector of the on-demand economy. With such apps, users can book a taxi right off the bat. All they need to do is to specify their destination and wait for a driver to pick them up from a starting point.

Below you can see the popular on-demand taxi app, Lyft

On-demand taxi app Lyft
Lyft as an example of on-demand taxi app
Grocery.

Such apps free people from tedious grocery shopping and waiting in line to pay for the required items.

Video streaming.

Statista predicts that the video streaming segment will reach $82,431M in revenue in 2022. The rise of this domain started with Netflix and its unique way of providing users with video content. By building an on-demand video streaming app, you offer users the flexibility they need and bring them an enjoyable experience.

E-learning apps.

These applications have a noble mission of enabling students to gain new skills. Students can learn in a self-paced mode with the help of the internet.

Khan Academy as an example of an e-learning on-demand app:

On-demand e-learning app Khan Academy
Khan Academy as an example of an on-demand e-learning app
Home services.

It can be to find a reliable cleaner, plumber, or electrician. Luckily there are on-demand home service apps that allow users to find a required specialist, book a service, and enjoy a positive experience.

Healthcare.

Suppose you got sick in the middle of the night. What would you do? Going to a clinic for a check-up is definitely not an option, but you can use the on-demand app to contact a doctor nearby, explain your issue, and get a recommendation. In addition, with medicine delivery apps, you will be able to order medicine and get it delivered without leaving home.

Flight booking apps.

They enable travelers to book a flight at their convenience and free them from paying a commission to a travel agent.

Flower delivery.

Sometimes people cannot visit their nearest and dearest on their special occasions. In this case, flower delivery becomes a great way to сongratulate them on celebratory events.

The most popular on-demand app development niches
The most popular niches for an on-demand app development project

Business model

Apart from choosing a niche, you need to select a business model that suits your business best. Let’s take a look at two available options:

  • On-demand app. You already run an established business. Why don’t you consider turning it into an on-demand service? Alternatively, you can add some on-demand functionality. For example, if you own a café or a restaurant, think about an on-demand service app development to allow users to order your dishes and get them delivered. It is a great way to improve customer service. However, in this case, apart from on-demand app development cost, you will need to think about vehicle expenses to deliver orders as well as the labor cost for drivers.
  • On-demand marketplace. This model is a bit simpler than the previous one. In this case, you do not have to manage the actual delivery business. Your task is to think carefully about how to build a marketplace that will connect the particular user category with the relevant businesses or specialists. Uber, Upwork, and Airbnb are successful examples of this very model.

Take a look at the infographic below to understand how on-demand marketplaces work:

How an on-demand service marketplace works
The business model of an on-demand service marketplace

Step 3. Select must-have features for on-demand app development

At this point, you have conducted the market research, defined your niche, and identified your business model. The next step is to define the must-have features for your future on-demand app. 

Analysis of the most crucial features will give you a cue about how to build an on-demand app that will win users’ recognition and bring you stable profit.

Below you will see a list of features you should consider to start:

  • User registration. Admit it; users get irritated by the necessity to register a new account on a new platform. Besides, remembering all the passwords can be a real challenge sometimes. For these reasons, allow users to sign up using their social media accounts or e-mail address.
  • Vendor profile. If you decide to build a multi-vendor on-demand marketplace, implement this feature first. You should allow service providers to specify their corporate details. This way, you will gain credibility for both your platform and each separate vendor.
  • Multiple filters. With the help of filters, users will be able to narrow their search by specifying individual criteria. As a result, customers will find what they are looking for much faster.
  • Real-time tracking. With this feature, users no longer need to do the guesswork as for a supposed delivery time. They will be able to track the current location of the courier and when their order will be delivered.
  • Multiple payment gateways. Enable users to choose their preferred payment option. Don’t forget about digital wallets apart from traditional credit or debit cards, PayPal, or other online payment services.
  • Push notifications. Allow users to receive messages that inform them about the current status of their order, new messages, and special offers.
  • Rating and reviews. Let users write reviews about a specific service provider. It is a proven way to show users that your platform can be trusted.
Must-have functionality for an on-demand app”
The most important on-demand apps’ features

Step 4. Choose technical stack for on-demand app development

A key to successful on-demand app development is the right technology stack. It will help build a product that is not only visually appealing and user-friendly but also stable, secure, and maintainable. In the long run, the technology stack will define an app’s efficiency and ability to bring business owners desired results.

Typically, the on-demand applications are aimed at three types of end-users. These are a client, a service provider, and the platform admin. At Syndicode, we choose the technology stack for on-demand app development based on the functionality we want to implement for each user role. 

Also, we make sure the programming languages, frameworks, and other development tools we use guarantee the high performance and scalability of the on-demand solutions we deliver.

Basically, the technology stack for an on-demand app development project is divided into two equally important parts: the server-side or back-end and the client side or front-end. So let’s take a closer look at the technology we use in our on-demand mobile app development process.

Back-end 

At Syndicode, we use Ruby on Rails for building the server-side of on-demand applications. This framework offers a great number of ready solutions for almost any functionality. They speed up the on-demand app development process significantly since the developers do not have to build a feature from scratch.

As a result, customers can reduce the on-demand app development cost.

In addition, Ruby on Rails developers can benefit from the convention over configuration concept. It was created by the RoR creator, David Heinemeier Hansson, with the aim to reduce the number of mundane decisions for the developers. With this approach, they can build more in less time.

Besides, Ruby on Rails works fine for both MVPs with limited functionality and complex web applications.

Finally, we should mention a great number of Ruby on Rails guides, manuals, and other educational materials. They will help increase your productivity and get the most out of the RoR framework.

Front-end

For building the client side of on-demand apps, we use all advanced frameworks, including React, Angular, and Vue.

React is a popular JavaScript library that fits web projects of any complexity. It is simple to learn and use and comes with a number of design and debugging tools. Besides, owing to a great number of React developers on the market, on-demand app development costs with this technology will be lower compared to other frameworks.

Here we should also mention reusable components. During the on-demand app development process, developers can reuse components built for another app with the same functionality.

Angular works well for building dynamic web apps. Since it is built with TypeScript, this framework is noted for its advanced security.

However, you may experience issues with backward compatibility. Other drawbacks of Angular include a steep learning curve and a higher cost due to the fewer number of developers.

Vue is pretty easy to begin with, which explains its lower cost. In addition, it provides developers with an impressive set of tools. Also, Vue.js allows for seamless integration with other applications. 

You can choose this web development framework if you need to build a small app with a dynamic front-end.

Tech stack for on-demand mobile app development

iOS

We use Swift as the main on-demand mobile app development language for iOS. It is a native programming language for the iOS operating system since it was developed by Apple. The company made it easy for beginners. It is also known for being safe, open-source, fast, and sought-after.

Apart from Swift, we use Objective-C, C++, and C to achieve maximum productivity.

Android

Kotlin is our primary choice for on-demand mobile app development for Android. We prefer this programming language since it allows our developers to write less code and easily understand the code written by our teammates. 

In addition, we value Kotlin for its higher-level safety, compatibility with Java, and easy adaptation.

However, if an on-demand services app requires any other programming language, such as Java, C++, or C, we support them as well.

Want to build an on-demand app like Uber?
Our expert team will develop a similar solution for you.

Step 5. Find an on-demand app development team

Suppose you are planning to build a complex, long-term solution that requires constant support. In this case, the best solution is to engage your in-house on-demand app development team. The key benefits of this approach are high engagement and full control over the work of your employees.

Below you can see the composition of the on-demand app development team:

On-demand app development team
Team required for building an on-demand application

However, if you do not have an in-house team, there is no point in building it from scratch. The reason is simple: money. It will be too expensive. 

In this case, we recommend that you turn to a reliable outsource software development partner. This way, you will get a team of highly skilled professionals who know how to build an on-demand app that will bring you stable profits. They will rely on industry standards and your specific requirements.

This approach is versatile, meaning that it will work fine for projects of any complexity.

Benefits of outsourcing on-demand app development services

  • Cost-effectiveness. Partnership with an experienced on-demand app development company will allow you to cut the overhead expenses and reduce labor and operation costs.
  • Increased efficiency. By choosing an experienced software development company, you can expect to get an efficient, scalable, and high-quality solution.
  • Precise focus on the business activities. By entrusting the process of on-demand app development to a software company, you save yourself a lot of time that you can spend on other business-related activities.

Step 6. Create an MVP version of your on-demand app

Don’t race to invest your money and effort into building a fully featured on-demand service app. We recommend you create a minimum viable product instead. MVP development is a sure-fire way to check the feasibility of your business idea in a fast and cost-effective manner.

Think about it this way. You create an initial version of your on-demand app with the very basic features so that your potential customers know what your app is about. 

After getting feedback from pioneer users, you will define how to build an on-demand app that will better satisfy the requirements of your target audience. To be more specific, you will learn what functionality should be added, modified, or removed in future versions.

A clear benefit of the MVP approach is cost-effectiveness. Since you will need to build a few core features, on-demand app developers will need less time to complete your project. Consequently, you will have to pay less for their services.

Another advantage is the fast launch. You will be able to launch an MVP version of your on-demand app much quicker compared to the release of a fully featured product.

Step 7. Create the final version of the on-demand app

So you have launched an MVP version of your on-demand app. You have received feedback from pioneer users. You know how to build an on-demand app that will meet the demands of your target audience and fix their pain points.

Now, consider adding some features that your customers may find desirable. This way you can make your on-demand app development solution more competitive and attractive to users.

Estimate of on-demand app development

The time has come to discuss the most intriguing part of this equation, which is the on-demand app development cost. But before we provide you with specific figures, we want to focus your attention on the most crucial things that will define the total cost of an on-demand solution.

The key factors that affect on-demand app development cost

The total cost of a completed on-demand services app will vary based on the following factors:

  • Complexity. On-demand app development project complexity. The more complex functionality you want to implement, the higher the price will be. The same goes for the number of features. The on-demand app development cost will rise with each new feature.
  • Design customization. If you need to make your on-demand app more unique, you will have to invest in customization.
  • Integration of payment gateways. Integration of a payment solution requires paying an additional fee. Also, we should mention extra fees the payment gateways require per transaction on your on-demand platform.
  • Location of a software development company. Software developers from Western Europe and North America set high hourly rates. The services of their Eastern European counterparts, for example, developers from Ukraine, are less costly.
  • Platform development. The on-demand app development for one platform only, be it iOS or Android, is less expensive. However, building a separate version for each of these mobile operating systems will be a costly solution.

On-demand app development cost

Based on our experience, we can say for sure that the on-demand app development cost for building an MVP version on-demand app starts with $80,784 for a mobile native app and $71,712 for creating a cross-platform app.

When it comes to the fully fledged on-demand app, the cost will start with $123,984 for building a mobile native app and $104,544 for creating a cross-platform app. 

For your convenience, we created a table showing the correlation between the main on-demand application features and the amount of time the on-demand app developers will need to build them.

FunctionalityDescriptionTime estimates for an MVP version of a mobile appTime estimates for 
A fully-featured app
Project setupBack-end – 32 hBack-end – 32 h
User registrationUsers should be able to sign in using the data from their social networksDesign – 8 h
Back-end – 8 h
Android/iOS – 32 h
Design – 12 h
Back-end – 12 h
Android/iOS – 40 h
Vendor profileAllows vendors to specify their corporate dataDesign – 8 h
Back-end – 8 h
Android/iOS – 32 h
Design – 12 h
Back-end – 12 h
Android/iOS – 40 h
FiltersHelps users narrow the search results based on specific criteriaDesign – 12 h
Back-end – 12 h
Android/iOS – 48 h
Design – 16 h
Back-end – 16 h
Android/iOS – 80 h
Payment gatewaysEnable users to choose the preferred way to pay for the serviceDesign – 12 h
Back-end – 12 h
Android/iOS – 64 h
Design – 16 h
Back-end – 16 h
Android/iOS – 120 h
Real-time trackingAllows to track the exact location of the courierDesign – 24 h
Back-end – 24 h
Android/iOS – 64 h
Design – 40 h
Back-end – 40 h
Android/iOS – 80 h
Push notificationsKeep customers updated about the current status of their order, special offers, or new messagesDesign – 8 h
Back-end – 8 h
Android/iOS – 64 h
Design – 12 h
Back-end – 12 h
Android/iOS – 80 h
Rating and reviews systemEnsures trustworthiness of your on-demand platformDesign – 16 h
Back-end – 16 h
Android/iOS – 48 h
Design – 16 h
Back-end – 16 h
Android/iOS – 64 h
Shopping cartAllows customers to proceed with purchasing the required service or productDesign – 16 h
Back-end – 16 h
Android/iOS – 48 h
Design – 24 h
Back-end – 24 h
Android/iOS – 64 h
DeploymentBack-end – 16 hBack-end – 48 h
Total656 h936 h

When it comes to a timeline, it will take our on-demand app development team four months to build a mobile service app with the functionality described above. The full version will take us five to six months to complete.

As for the on-demand app development team that will be working on our project, it will consist of the following specialists:

  • 1 back-end developer
  • 1 front-end developer
  • 1 designer (mobile + web)
  • 2 mobile developers
  • 1 quality assurance engineer
  • 1 project manager

Conclusion

On-demand applications are here to stay. They increase customer satisfaction by allowing users to book a taxi, food delivery, or any other service with one click.

In this regard, on-demand mobile app development helps businesses improve their online presence and increase sales.

So it is high time to invest in on-demand app development if you have not done it before.

Came up with an idea of building an on-demand app?
Our team will be happy to take on your project

FAQ

  • Let’s discuss how an on-demand app works on the example of Uber. You place a request to pick you up at a certain place and drive you to a specific destination. The application connects you with a service provider, a taxi driver, to be specific. The taxi driver accepts your request. Then the payment is authorized. After that, the taxi driver gets you to the destination, you confirm that the service was delivered. Finally, the taxi driver gets the payment.

  • When it comes to business models of on-demand apps, you have two available options. You can invest in on-demand app development for your business solely. Here you should take into account vehicle/driver expenses to deliver orders to your customers. Alternatively, you can build an on-demand service marketplace. The second business model is simpler because you do not have to run your delivery business. Instead, you need to build a platform that will connect a particular user category with specific service providers. This model is very popular. The success stories of Upwork or Airbnb only prove this fact.

  • There are several reasons why you should consider outsourcing on-demand app development to Ukraine. The first one is the best value/cost ratio. Ukrainian software developers set lower rates than their Western European counterparts, but the quality of their services is still pretty high. The second reason is the convenient location, meaning that you will have no issues with getting there, provided you need an in-person meeting with your development team. In addition, you will easily communicate with the developers since there is no significant time difference. Finally, we should mention the creativity and intelligence of Ukrainian developers, their strong work ethics, and knowledge of the English language.

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