Best Strategies for Grocery Ordering App Owners amid COVID-19

2020 with its coronavirus pandemic forced us to make certain changes in our lives and take special safety measures. Over the past months, we have learned to minimize contact with each other and have tried to visit crowded places in as few cases as possible. Of course, this could not but affect the operation of businesses of various sorts. Companies had to rethink their strategies, and grocery stores are no exception. The thing is, we now prefer remote services, including online shopping, which is safer and much more convenient. That’s why all stores that could afford it have created shopping apps and websites to order groceries online for home delivery. 

If you haven't followed such a trend yet, now's a good time to do it. Just bear in mind, even the most promising project can fail if you approach it incorrectly. Therefore, we invite you to read our detailed guide explaining the best way to work out the most efficient mobile strategy aimed at the proper grocery delivery amid COVID-19.

Why do users need shopping apps?

Online grocery purchases have grown from 4% to 15% during the pandemic, according to a Bain & Company study.

This figure is hardly surprising. As we mentioned, online shopping is a great way to get what you want without having to contact other people. However, does it mean that after the end of the pandemic, on-demand grocery apps will no longer be needed? Not at all!

As the results of another study show, online food sales in the United States will make up at least 20 percent of the grocery retail market by 2025 (which is equivalent to $ 100 billion). Hence, people will continue to enjoy ordering products online and having them delivered.

And why not? Online shopping is so convenient! And even if the urgent need for it disappears, we’ll still be happy to avoid queues and waste of time.

Okay, let's list the main reasons to become an active grocery app user:

  • Minimizing the risk of infection. Sooner or later, COVID-19 will become a thing of the past (let's hope so!), but even when it happens, the fear of contracting this or that disease is likely to remain with us (which is quite natural). Using grocery delivery service apps, we won't have to leave our houses and contact sellers and other buyers. The risk of infection is thus minimal.

  • A wider assortment. Sometimes a certain product is unavailable in the store right now, but online shopping has an advantage in this regard: the user isn't limited to just one Internet platform. Without moving, he is able to visit (virtually, of course) as many marketplaces as he wants.

  • Saving time. You can order groceries online at any time and anywhere (as long as you have a smartphone or other device with Internet access at hand). And, most importantly, you’re welcome to forget about long lines at the checkout counter.

  • Feedback from other buyers. Typically, product descriptions include detailed user reviews. So the consumer has the opportunity to get acquainted with the opinion of other people about the item, which interests him.

  • Available information. In most cases, online platforms provide all relevant data on each product, so that the consumer doesn’t need to look for it himself.

  • Saving money. Often, goods in online stores are cheaper because the owners of mobile marketplaces are saving money on renting premises and other similar expenses. And even if the mobile application is only a supplement to the main (physical) store, businesses get a certain cost reduction anyway; accordingly, they may offer various loyalty programs to their customers.

We hope, now you see the importance of a grocery delivery application to consumers. But what is the benefit of business owners? Why would they waste money and time on food delivery app development? 

In fact, neither the money, nor the time, nor the efforts made will be wasted if you correctly approach the issue in question.  And we’re happy to prove our point.

Business benefits of on-demand grocery apps

Covid19 is just one reason why store owners should develop their own on-demand grocery delivery apps. There are also others, no less significant, and we'd like to list the main ones.  

  • Greater audience coverage. You can sell your items to customers in other cities too (provided that you organize competent and safe delivery). This option isn't possible for all products, though. And if a consumer wants to buy fresh groceries that can go bad in a short time, he is better off finding a delivery option within his city. 

  • Additional promotion. Your own grocery application drives sales by promoting your services among targeted consumers. Various loyalty programs, smart push notifications, and many other useful tricks are involved in such promotion. Actually, any mobile application is the most accessible and effective advertising platform.

  • Knowing your audience. The owner of a traditional store cannot thoroughly know his clientele, for he doesn't have enough resources to conduct interviews and polls of visitors on a regular basis (also, such a method is laborious and really outdated). On the other hand, in online trading, you're always aware of who your audience is and what your customers are interested in. And this knowledge leads to the next business benefit, namely… 

  • Customer Loyalty. Improving the quality of service means attracting more loyal customers. And mobile apps are the perfect tool to achieve your goal. They are helping to:

    • make clients the most personalized offers. More than 60% of Gen Z shoppers want a personalized shopping experience, according to a 2018 Criteo Gen Z survey. And applications provide such experience through the possibility to implement an AI system able to collect and analyze data about each user;

    • receive instant feedback and, therefore, respond in time to possible customer dissatisfaction;

    • provide effective loyalty programs and discount systems.

  • A lot of business opportunities. You have a chance to build a grocery app even without opening an actual physical store. It's enough to have a warehouse, find good suppliers, and think over a logistics system to start your project and (why not?) eventually join the number of successful food delivery businesses.

  • Reduced costs. You can reduce your staff and cut overhead costs and do business primarily online.

  • Advanced analytics. It’s impossible to promote and scale your business without an analytical system. Fortunately, modern shopping apps have tools for collecting and analyzing data.

  • New sales channel. On-demand grocery app development is the easiest way to get another additional sales channel. It never hurts, does it?

  • Branding. Any successful company pays special attention to creating its own business image (it's about the so-called branding). And the mobile application is one of the essential steps in this process. Opening your grocery app and seeing your corporate colors and your familiar design style, the user gets a feeling that he has just met an old friend... it cannot but lead to his loyalty growth.

  • Competitiveness. There are many competing companies in every market, and the grocery ordering area is hardly an exception to the rule. So it takes a lot of effort to stand out from other food delivery businesses. Fortunately, a mobile app offers more room for creativity and allows you to better express your imagination in an attempt to win the client.

As you can see, you should consider food delivery app development even disregarding the coronavirus pandemic. And now, during challenging times, grocery applications are just a must-have condition of success.

Mobile vs Online

Which is better: shopping apps or websites? Actually, it would be smarter to have both tools, they coordinate well, which results in increasing your business efficiency.

But if it comes to the ultimate choice, pay attention to the following: according to recent research, mobile apps convert and sell better than websites; specifically, conversion rates are six times higher. Why is this happening? Let's figure it out!

  • Better convenience. Apps with a good, intuitive UI allow the user to take targeted action (say, order groceries online) with less effort. 

  • Shopping on the go. More and more people make purchases literally “on the go”, which means they cannot do without mobile applications with all their cool features.

  • Higher ROI. Shopping apps have a higher ROI compared to similar web platforms. The fact is, in the case of online stores, casual, random shoppers most often make purchases: while surfing the internet, they accidentally see and visit your site. On the other hand, the app user is more likely to become a loyal customer since he had to put in the effort to install your application (hence, the ROI is higher).

  • Greater number of useful features. In another respect, apps are superior to websites either: they might resort to smartphone functionality (of course, with the user’s permission) and thus enhance the customer shopping experience. Say, if a user gives the grocery app access to the camera or his location, he’ll be able to take advantage of such features as image search, AR, and special location-based offers. 

    • A prime example is Sephora, the app of a French cosmetics chain, whose users can “test” lipstick with AR and immediately see which color suits them the most.

grocery shopping app development
Let's discuss the main points of grocery shopping app development. Click here to read our article on the matter

That's all very well, of course, and key business benefits seem clear now, but what about the costs for grocery delivery apps? That is, what budget do you need to develop a grocery app for Android or iOS (or both)?

Grocery app development cost

Many factors affect the project price, including these ones:

  • the complexity of the future application. It’s about the features your app functionality will include.

  • approach to development. Are you planning to build a grocery app from scratch? Or are you willing to use some ready-made solutions and templates? The second option is definitely cheaper.

  • time spent. The above factor is closely related to this one. The more complex the development process, the more time mobile experts need to implement the project, and the higher the final cost.

  • OS support. What platforms and devices will your on-demand grocery delivery app work with (iOS, Android, or both)? 

  • rate of developers. The project cost greatly depends on the scale and reputation of the agency you hired, as well as its location (developers in the United States are more expensive than in Eastern Europe). 

  • further support.

However, the final cost of grocery delivery app development doesn't always exactly match the preliminary calculations. Possible adjustments and the human factor in the development process are quite natural.

speaking of finding qualified and affordable developers
By the way, speaking of finding qualified and affordable developers… where is the best place to find them? Follow the link to read the answer.

We should warn you right away: we're giving you a very rough estimate of the grocery app development cost (on the condition that the application has basic functionality, and the developers' rate is no more than $ 30 per hour). The price of your project may be completely different.

Do these stages sound convoluted to you? It's okay, we've prepared an indicative on-demand grocery app development guide so that you understand what each of the above steps implies (after all, it's good to know what you have to pay for!):

  1. Documentation. At the documentation stage, the developers give their recommendations on the best way to solve your tasks. Also, you discuss with the team you've hired each detail regarding your future product. And be sure to document everything you've managed to agree upon (to avoid misunderstandings in the future). 

  2. UI/UX, the stage of creating a User Interface (UI), the purpose of which is to provide the most perfect User Experience (UX). So we’re talking about the design of your program interface, which must be intuitive and user-friendly. Users should have no problem interacting with your application.

  3. Grocery delivery app development. Perhaps, it’s the most time-consuming and difficult stage (which is why it’s the most costly). It is during the development phase that the application itself is being created: your mobile developers have to write the code, connect the necessary libraries, integrate helpful third-party solutions (say, payment services), etc.

  4. QA (in other words, application testing). It usually runs on simulators and/or real devices. During the testing phase, QA engineers have to make sure your product meets the specified standards and requirements and works correctly on all platforms and in all conditions.

Do you want to cut your grocery app development costs? Then start by creating an MVP model, a pilot application version with the most key features. After testing it on real users, you’ll see if there is a demand for your mobile program and how to improve it.

How do on-demand grocery apps work?

The following infographic perfectly illustrates how most on-demand grocery apps work. Of course, there may be some minor differences, but the basic principle is the same.

The essence is pretty clear, we guess, but, just in case, let's explain the whole scheme in words too.

So, these are the main steps of a consumer who wants to place an order to buy fresh groceries using your app:

  • opening the application and selecting the desired product from your catalog (adding it to the shopping basket);

  • filling out the contact information form (store employees must know where and to whom to deliver groceries, as well as how to contact the customer if there are any questions);

  • paying for the order. There are usually two main options offered: cash payment on delivery or prepayment using a bank card. The latter method assumes your application is integrated with certain payment solutions;

  • specifying the desired delivery time;

  • tracking the order status to be aware of what processing stage it is right now.

payment solution
Choosing the right payment solution isn’t an easy task. Let's figure out how to simplify it.

But these are just general words, right? To fully understand what a grocery delivery service application is and how it works, you need to know what features it might have. 

The more features a mobile program has, the more opportunities it offers to users. Though nobody's canceled the rule of the golden mean yet, and there is no need to overload the app functionality with unnecessary features.

Key types of grocery delivery apps

There are different types of grocery delivery apps, we'll describe 3 main of them:

  • Intermediaries, an ideal option if you don't have your own store and don't plan to open one. You may act as a kind of intermediary, offering delivery services to customers and serving as a link between them and the stores. Users of such an application select the products they are interested in from different stores (combined in one catalog) and indicate their contact data. Then your service helps them with the purchase and delivery of the chosen items.

  • Small shop owners. Usually, they have neither their own warehouses nor the possibility to organize a full delivery of goods. The purpose of the application in such a case is to provide customers with a more convenient shopping experience. Users can receive the selected products either in the store itself or from a nearby pick-up point. Although, frankly, that's not the best option during a pandemic. But it still reduces the threat of infection.

  • Large shops. We're talking about full-fledged businesses with their own warehouses, a chain of stores, a well-thought-out system of logistics and delivery. Their on-demand grocery apps offer a whole range of services: from choosing a product using a mobile program to delivering selected items to a customer's home. For the period of covid19, such an application has every chance of becoming the main source of sales. 

Effective strategies for grocery delivery amid COVID-19

As you've already understood, shopping apps would help you improve your business performance, but during a pandemic, the most important thing is safety. That's why it isn't enough to build a grocery application, you still need to exert every effort to make both your customers and your employees well-protected.

How to achieve this during a pandemic? Here are a couple of key tips:

  • providing couriers and store employees with all means of protection;

  • constant sanitizing equipment and disinfecting the working space;

  • maximum transfer of the business to the online mode (say, think about the introduction of contactless mobile payments to avoid touching cash); 

  • delivery of goods without contact with the recipient (as an option, you can leave an order by the entrance to the apartment or house).

To fully recoup the cost of grocery delivery app development, you should also consider how you stand out from the competition. And again, we offer only a few ideas to strengthen your market position, such as:

  • round-the-clock service (including delivery);

  • delivery of the order within an hour;

  • sale of digital goods (e-books, audiobooks, guides and instructions, gift certificates, video tutorials, etc.);

  • engaging the client in an active (albeit virtual) dialogue using loyalty programs, push notifications, and other things;

  • collaboration with the stores that cannot afford to create their own on-demand grocery delivery apps.

If you think things through in a clever way, customers will be happy to order groceries online through your application even when quarantine ends.


Various types of grocery delivery apps solve business problems during a pandemic by helping companies stay afloat. And upon completion of the quarantine period, these programs will remain a useful tool to successfully compete in the market.

Considering the idea to start an app for ordering groceries after COVID-19? Let us help you by offering our professional services. Agilie team has vast experience in mobile development.


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