How to Develop a Carrier App for an On-Demand Delivery Platform

At Yalantis, we’ve created a number of on-demand solutions. And over time, we’ve noticed a thought-provoking pattern: business owners tend to focus on the client app and lose sight of the app for drivers. 

But the reality is that attracting drivers is harder than attracting customers. Did you know that grocery delivery providers are experiencing difficulties attracting truck drivers? It’s no wonder, as their work requires long hours and long stretches away from home. 

In 2018, the American Trucking Association (ATA) stated that there was a need for at least 50,000 truck drivers to fill open jobs. This shortage still exists, and the ATA predicts that due to e-commerce growth, the US will be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026.

Food delivery is another sector facing a lack of workers. Even such titans as Postmates, with 150,000 couriers in the US, and UberEats, with 300,000 couriers globally, are investing in the tech side of the business to cope with growing demand for their services.

And on-demand delivery has a promising outlook. Over the last five years, delivery services in the US have grown by 4.9 percent annually, and revenue from on-demand deliveries is expected to be $107 billion in 2019. Maybe that’s the reason you decided to get into the transportation business. At this stage, our task is to save you from making a common mistake: investing the lion’s share of your efforts in the customer app. So let’s dive into ways of attracting drivers with a powerful and convenient app.

Core features for a driver app

On-demand delivery services face challenges with the delivery process. These are usually associated with a lack of real-time tracking, issues with automatically sending requests to couriers, and lack of information about orders. Advanced technologies can minimize these issues, simplify drivers' jobs, and consequently save you money on driver app promotion. First of all, make sure your app has this basic functionality:

Easy driver onboarding – Automate document submission and driver background checks. (Lyft and Uber have recently introduced continuous background checks using technology built by the startup Appriss.)  

Search for orders with filtering – Optimize the finding and booking of orders based on a driver’s location and a vehicle’s capabilities (check out Uber Freight’s My Loads tab). 

Bidding – If you don’t plan to pay drivers a fixed rate, let them compete for shipments (check out uShip’s quote system).

Load pick-up and drop-off confirmation – This usually entails taking pictures of cargo before and after transport to prove that it hasn’t been damaged.

On-the-go notifications – Couriers receive notifications on new orders and changes and updates related to jobs.

Real-time chat – The ability to share photos and videos simplifies communication between a courier and a recipient. 

Ratings – Let drivers leave feedback on cargo facilities they’ve visited.

Quoting-in-the-uShip-app

[Quoting in the uShip app]

Now we'll consider seven other features for your driver app in more detail:

Proof of delivery 

This feature aims to improve the delivery experience and avoid disputes between delivery providers and customers. Proof of delivery is usually provided using a pin code, photo, and/or barcode scanner. The purpose is to inform the client that delivery has been made. Furthermore, this feature shows delivery progress and stores records for further analytics. 

But what about your drivers’ comfort? Roadie couriers complained that delivery codes were a hassle and took too much time. The company paid attention and switched to a simpler way to confirm delivery: delivery signatures. Now, Roadie drivers just ask customers to verify receipt by signing for shipments right on the driver’s mobile device. This allows recipients to sign faster, increasing drivers’ productivity and simplifying the delivery process.

Driver dashboard 

Ideally, a driver dashboard provides all details of a driver’s delivery history in one place. Drivers should be able to view their earnings and the miles they’ve driven. They should also be able to look through data for specific date ranges and full years, as they might need this information for taxes. 

Drivers want to keep track of payment details for each delivery, including payment status and any bank account issues. In addition, you can allow your drivers to look through their weekly and daily earnings by selecting a week. On this screen, they should also be able to update their bank account information. 

Consider integrating with management tools for accounting, payroll, payments, and time tracking. For example, Uber has partnered with QuickBooks. Thanks to this partnership, Uber drivers can track mileage, fuel expenses, and other expenses that may be deducted come tax time.

Read also: How to Scale Your Uber-Like Service: Advanced Features to Upgrade Your Taxi-Hailing App

ELD capability 

We suggest implementing FMCSA-approved ELD capabilities in your app. This will let your users avoid the cost of proprietary e-logging hardware. You can learn from the Penske Driver and Samsara Driver apps. They both are ELD-compliant custom apps that provide easy-to-use hours of service features. 

The Penske Driver app connects to Penske’s rental trucks via Bluetooth and synchronizes with a truck’s engine to comply with ELD requirements. Activating the app is possible thanks to assistance from Penske rental associates. Drivers’ accounts are managed with the help of Penske’s driver management website.

Offline availability

A driver app should be able to download and store delivery information on a courier’s phone so it can be accessed even when offline. This feature is a must for countries where internet connection is limited or unstable in some locations. 

Even offline, you can gather relevant data on delivery operations to help plan future deliveries. When the app is offline, it can keep capturing data and push it to the server as soon as the connection is restored.

Uber’s Optimistic Mode is an example of successful implementation of such a feature. Uber improved offline capabilities in their driver app with transforms. You can read about the technical side of implementing Optimistic Mode here.

 Location awareness 

Obtaining location-based data is a must for driver-oriented functionality in your app. Let’s check out the tools you need to ensure smooth geolocation for iOS and Android.

iOS. Uber uses the Core Location framework to determine a device’s location and orientation. In addition, this framework tracks device movement and forwards location events to the server as frequently as developers wish. Another framework used by Uber is MapKit. It calculates the best routes, taking into account current traffic conditions.

Android. Google’s Location APIs provide features similar to Core Location. Location APIs can track a user’s location and their movements up to their final destination. The Google Maps Android API calculates routes and the shortest distance.  

Thanks to these technologies, Uber Freight was able to introduce two key features. We strongly recommend you introduce these two features in your own app. 

Uber’s Fuel Finder allows users to see fuel prices at nearby gas stations. The Uber Freight app also provides step-by-step, GPS-powered directions to those stations. To make this possible, Uber collects data from third-party services, including data on where its Partner Fuel Card is accepted. Gas prices at all locations are updated hourly. When a user taps on a station icon, they can see the name of the station, price per gallon, and distance. When a user picks a station, the app shows turn-by-turn directions through Apple Maps or Google Maps. 

The-Uber-Fuel-Finder-feature

[The Uber Fuel Finder feature]

Uber Freight’s Take Me Home feature enables drivers to get loads for the journey home. This feature is presented in the form of recommended loads that are going in the driver’s direction. As the volume of shipments on your platform grows, you can help your couriers get home as fast as possible while getting paid for the journey. Allow your couriers to benefit from every minute they’re on the road as Uber Freight does.

The-Uber-Freight-Take-Me-Home-feature

[The Uber Freight Take Me Home feature]

These two features can also be implemented with the help of mapping tools other than Google Maps and Apple Maps. We recommend considering Mapbox and TomTom, which are decent alternatives to Google Maps. You also can provide your app with OsmAnd integration to ensure smooth navigation between locations and provide real-time estimated times of arrival. 

Car crash detection

This feature is still rather cutting-edge. Recently, Volvo announced a new mobile application called Car Accident Advisor. After an accident, the app provides a user with emergency contacts and a checklist to document the crash. Additionally, it helps the user get in touch with repair and insurance specialists. We recommend implementing this feature, as it soon might become a default for automotive apps. 

The-Volvo-Car-Accident-Advisor-App

[The Volvo Car Accident Advisor App]

Read also: How Much Does It Cost to Create an On-Demand Delivery App?

How to create the most comfortable environment for couriers

As we highlighted at the beginning of this article, delivery drivers have to deal with a number of headaches. Yes, there are some advantages to the job, such as the ability to choose work hours and loads to deliver. But the drawbacks are also significant. Let’s focus on how to make the delivery process smoother.

Design an app for real people. Keep in mind that your app’s interface should be structured in a logical way. Include color-coordinated buttons to simplify the delivery process. Also, make sure your driver app has a night mode so your couriers won’t need to turn down the screen brightness; glare from a bright screen makes it harder to see while driving. Night mode will create a more seamless experience for your carriers.

Ensure a variety of delivery orders and provide support. Enable your couriers to use various vehicles, including trucks, cars, motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles. Simplifying the process of car rentals and offering discounted rates will also attract more people to offer deliveries. Deliveroo offers flexible e-scooter rentals with no long-term commitment. The company also offers rider support, an accident insurance package, and a self-serve booking feature allowing riders to work in any area they want. 

The-Deliveroo-Rider-app

[The Deliveroo Rider app]

Provide a variety of perks. In terms of perks for carriers, Deliveroo and Uber Freight are the undisputed leaders. Deliveroo constantly holds contests and offers discounts. It has also implemented OpenClassrooms, an online course platform where riders can attend sessions with experts in various fields of study. As for Uber Freight, their Uber Freight Plus program is aimed at helping carriers minimize some of their biggest expenses: fuel, phone bills, and vehicle purchasing and maintenance costs.

Mistakes your rivals have made 

The achievements of the market leaders are indisputable. But at the same time, their couriers often complain about significant flaws. We’ve looked through driver reviews to help you avoid common mistakes. 

Technical issues. Postmates’s tech support is often blamed for being hard to reach. Some users of Fleet by Postmates aren’t satisfied with its GPS navigation, which can lead to incorrect drop-off locations. To avoid these problems, provide an excellent issue management system. Your app should also allow multitasking so drivers can use other apps in parallel to cover all of their possible needs.

Troubles with payments. Payments are the main source of complaints about Roadie. Drivers are often irritated by delays in receiving earnings. One more common complaint is low pay that doesn’t correspond to the effort required. Analyze what your rivals are paying to offer competitive rates to your drivers. Properly implemented payment software will help you avoid payment processing issues. Check out our article on mobile app payment gateway integration.

Lack of info on jobs. The Deliveroo Rider app works according to supply and demand, and demand is inconsistent. That’s why some riders complain that sometimes they simply don’t have deliveries. Make sure your couriers are informed about inconsistency in order volume to avoid disappointment and dissatisfaction. A well-thought-out order distribution system is another solution to this problem. 

What payment options to offer your couriers

Money is obviously the main factor affecting a courier’s interest in working for any company. Giants like Amazon Flex don’t lack drivers. No wonder! Amazon Flex offers a base rate of $18 per hour to all its delivery partners, whereas the average hourly rate for a delivery driver in the US is $13.96 per hour. The Amazon Flex rate can be even higher on holidays and other times with increased demand. So how will you be able to compete if you aren’t ready to offer higher rates to your couriers? In this section, we’ll consider common payment strategies. We’ll also give you some tips on what strategy to pick based on collected insights and your intentions. Let’s begin with reviewing the practices of top companies in this sector.  

Uber Freight 

The amount that Uber Freight carriers earn depends on many factors. Most of these factors are the same as for any other freight delivery business. Carriers benefit from greater mileage, and during the booking process, they see actual pricing based on market conditions. 

Key insight: Why do many carriers prefer Uber Freight to other transportation apps if it offers the same rates? Because Uber Freight significantly simplifies the process of booking loads and receiving payments. Upfront pricing guarantees that a carrier will never have to bargain with shippers about prices – carriers always see the price they’ll get paid. Also, carriers feel secure knowing that they’ll definitely get paid for work done.

uShip

Once called “the eBay of shipping” by CNBC, uShip is built on the principle of auctions. Once a carrier signs up, they can search for jobs and place bids (quotes) on customers’ shipments. When a customer accepts a carrier’s quote, they pay a booking deposit: a percentage of the accepted quote price, which is credited to the carrier’s account. The rest of the shipping amount is paid to the carrier by the customer upon delivery.

Key insight: Bidding enables carriers to decide how much they want to make on a job. Loads are updated every 30 seconds. uShip has 3.5 million customers, providing lots of opportunities for carriers. This has led to 788,000 service providers joining the platform. If your platform has enough delivery orders, you’re likely to attract and retain drivers.

Roadie

Roadie’s payments are calculated based on a combination of factors, including mileage and delivery volume. The price of delivery is defined in advance. A driver can browse delivery requests by price, location, distance, and size to pick what they prefer to deliver. Most local deliveries pay between $8 and $50. On the other hand, long-distance oversized items can pay up to $650. Delivering pets pays even more. 

Key insight: Roadie has chosen a great strategy – working with ordinary drivers going in the same direction as deliveries. This attracts people looking to earn a little extra money. A user-friendly app that simplifies the delivery process makes Roadie doubly popular among drivers.

Read also: Uncovering the Secrets of the Grocery Delivery Industry: How Apps Like Instacart Work

These companies have succeeded in attracting and retaining couriers. With the existing competition, it will require effort to break into the game. Get inspired by ideas such as the Postmates Party feature, which allows customers living in the same area to combine orders, and Roadie, which uses couriers already heading the same way as a delivery.

To attract and retain couriers for your delivery service, make sure you provide them with an intelligible UX, quality support, and comfort. An experienced outsourcing app development company will help you with driver services app development.

Yalantis has broad experience developing native apps for on-demand delivery. We invite you to check out our case studies on a transportation app for Android and an on-demand delivery app for iOS that we’ve developed. We also invite you to read this article if you want to redesign an existing driver app. Contact us and we’ll help you bring your business idea to life. 

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