How Much is the Cost to develop an app like Instacart, and what new ideas can you add-on.

By Ruchir C.

People are buying helicopters online, and not too much surprise that was bound to happen. The on-demand app market has grown massively over the last few years. People are getting busier every waking moment and are looking for new tech-abled ways to meet their daily needs. And hence grocery delivery application. We are sure, one way or the other, you might have yourself ordered groceries online and were blown by the convenience and rapidness of the entire process.

So, here we are, picking up the leading grocery delivery application such as Instacart and helping you estimate the cost of development of an app like that. Also, don't missout on the new ideas section where we would be sharing some new-age features to incorporate in your grocery delivery application.

What's there in the Instacart application?

Started in 2012, Instacart is one of the leading on-demand grocery delivery applications that provides door-to-door delivery of groceries and other home essentials. It was founded by Apoorva Mehta and Max Mullen and is available for US and Canada users. Currently, it has 200000 active users and has partnered with 30000 local and hyperlocal stores. It offers over 5 million products on the application and serves 85% of all US households.

How to Develop an App like Instacart?

The estimated cost of development allows you to plan the budget needed to pull off a project like Instacart. Instacart like clone app or the applications like Grofer and BigBasket have many features and a strong backend to manage their internal and external operations better. There are many dependent and non-dependent factors that we include in this blog to help you align your project well.

  1. Technical Documentation

Technical documentation is a document that has detailed information on the mobile application architectural framework. It is a written document that gives you an understanding of the project scope, app needs, and underlying process to bring it to life. In a technical document, you would find the development process, technical aspect – designing, development, testing, and deployment of the application.

  1. Platform

There are two major mobile app development platforms – Android and iOS. You can choose to develop an application for any one of them or both of them. Depending on the choice of the platform, a grocery app development company would suggest you the right technologies. Also, in case you are developing an application for both platforms, you can go for hybrid app development. Hybrid app development is a way to develop an application for both the platform, they share the same code and work perfectly well on both the platforms. However, complex applications cannot have a hybrid development as it might compromise the quality of the app, user-experience and can end up as a complete disaster.

  1. Testing and Deployment

Testing is very crucial for any application. It helps you identify any flaws in the application related to design, performance, etc., and would allow you to iterate them before you launch them into the market. App testing helps you in finding the possible risk and helps you manage those well. It gives you an assurance of the smooth functioning of the application and is usually done on the go as the developers finish each module. This helps speed up the development process too. Here are different types of testing:

  • Performance testing
  • Security testing
  • Automation testing
  • Embedded testing
  • Mobile application testing
  • Acceptance testing
  • Integration testing
  • Usability testing
  1. App Design (UI/UX)

Grocery app development requires you to hire professional developers, designers, testers, project managers. Once you share your project requirement, brainstorming starts. The development and design team work closely to identify the usability of the application and the desirability of the product. Once they are done with extensive competitor research and brainstorming, they start defining the app design on the basis of usability, user-interaction and would find a way to solve the biggest problems of the app development process, i.e., user experience. An app's interface should be user-friendly.

  1. Features to be carried on by the application

Deciding on the app features is a necessary part of the entire process. It helps you stand out from the competition and allows you to bring more ease in the user interaction with the application. It also improves user experience, as every feature would help you generate massive amounts of data that you can use to develop marketing strategies, new features and bring more improvement to the entire product.

Furthermore, the grocery delivery business is not just about developing an application for the users. It would entail you to develop four different applications are there would be four different stakeholders in the entire app – customers (buyers), a vendor (provider), delivery person, and admin (you). Let's start with the customer app.

Customer application

The customer app is simple; it would be an on-demand application from where users can place, track, pay, see order history and connect with customer support if they need assistance. These are some basic features you must incorporate in the customer application. We would be discussing add-ons in the later part of the blog. Adding more features in the application would increase the development cost, but they are worth it as they would improve your customer experience and would give you data to thrive on.

Customer app features:

  • Sign up/ Sign-in

Most of the applications today are using social logins on the application. You can offer the users to register to the app using Facebook, Google, Twitter, or even Apple Id, apart from the phone number and email ID.

  • Choose Supermarket

Allowing customers to see the list of supermarkets where they can procure the products they are seeking would be a great addition to the user experience. Furthermore, consider adding some local and hyperlocal stores which people trust. For this, you need to add a location-based search tab too in the app, but a good grocery delivery app builder would find no difficulty building it.

  • Search and Filter

Adding filters to the app would allow users to search products easily based on prices, brand, size, quantity, and other factors.

  • Shopping Cart

Cart development is a bit tricky; it has to show all the selected products and needs to fetch the information in real-time to provide the right information to the users about product availability. Users can check the products added by them in the cart and choose to click to proceed to payments or remove something from it or edit the quantity.

  • Payment

People look for different payment modes and would choose the one that suits them best. Allow users to choose from a wide variety of payment modes like Credit/ Debit cards, e-wallets, UPI, etc.

  • App Wallet

You can choose to add an in-app wallet to the application. Credit points and the refunded money on the returns can be displayed in the app wallet.

  • Return and Cancel

A return and cancel features are a must; people can return the products and cancel the orders placed with the app if not satisfied. Have a refund policy in place.

  • Schedule Delivery

A scheduled delivery option is a must now, given the hectic life. Scheduling delivery allows users to select the convenient time of delivery and receive orders and deliveries as per their choice.

  • Track order delivery

Allow your users to track orders in real-time. Also, notify your users as the status of their order is updated; these small things that you add to the app to improve your customer experience would help you in the long-run.

  • Delivery order history

Allow your users to view the order history, help them filter the order date-wise, year-wise, etc. Once they select a particular order, direct them to the order summary page to see the details.

  • Rate and Review

People love to provide their feedback. Rating and reviewing also allow you to see how your delivery partners and vendors are doing. See if there are extremely negative reviews about a delivery partner or a vendor and what is the constant problem faced by the users. Try working it out with them.

  • Wishlist

A wishlist feature helps them add a product that is currently unavailable on the site and receive a notification once available.

  • Push notifications

Send updates about orders, promotional offers, and deals with easy push notifications.

  • Referrals, offers, and coupons

Lucrative deals on your application would help you attract users to your site. Give away money-saving coupons, referral programs, and discount offers to increase conversion on the application.

Admin application

Admin applications are usually web applications, as admin has a lot of management work to do at different levels of the business operations. A grocery delivery software would give you an admin panel that would give you insights, helps you manage your supply chain, inventory, add or remove delivery partners/vendors, etc.

Admin Features:

  • Order management

Order management feature allows admin to view the list of orders and notify the stores. You can even monitor the order status, the amount you earn per order, and what vendors are earning from you.

  • Inventory Management

Monitoring all the products available in the store and managing the inventory is very crucial. When you build a food delivery app, you can consider going for an enterprise all development also, which would allow you to manage your store operations, pool information from the database on the go, and present it over a mobile application.

  • Planning discounts and promotions

Discounts and promotions are an important part of any app, be it grocery or a food delivery app development; you must not leave that feature in the app at any cost. The feature would allow you to run promotional offers.

  • Report and analytics

Analytics allow you to obtain necessary, actionable insights to plan strategies to boost your sale, improve user experience and develop powerful marketing campaigns. Admin panel can be developed with a monitoring feature allowing them to see how their campaigns are doing and how you are gaining traction in the market.

Delivery partner application

Delivery partner applications are for the use of the delivery boys. It allows them to update the status of the package or order in real-time, helps them find a delivery location, seek support, connect with customers for extra direction.

Delivery partner application features:

  • Sign up and sign in

Just like user applications, allow delivery professionals to sign up with your brand. You can even choose to have a share option to receive and send out all the necessary documentation needed.

  • Dashboard

A dedicated dashboard for delivery application will help your delivery partners to see the orders they have completed, orders that are pending, and what are the scheduled deliveries. Also, it would help them know how much they have earned, check their ranking, and review.

  • Delivery status

Allow your delivery partner to update the delivery status. It would reflect on the user application through push notification.

  • Order request

Develop a push notification service in the delivery application, allowing your drivers to view any pending or new requests or any changes in the scheduled delivery time. They can also choose to accept or reject the requests.

  • Map integration

No grocery or food delivery app development can be complete without having a powerful map integration; it allows delivery partners to reach the right location and deliver their order.

  • Route optimization

Grocery delivery app development that includes route optimization feature recommending the shortest or fastest routes to the delivery person's location.

  • Chat and call feature

Develop a seamless communication channel between the delivery partner and the user or delivery partner and company in case they need any assistance on and off the job.

  • Payment

Allow your delivery personals to receive online payments from the users. Also, add a dedicated dashboard to the app, helping them view their earnings – daily, monthly, yearly.

Vendor application

Vendors are the people that fulfill the grocery orders you receive on the application. For the vendor to receive the order request and perform all the necessary tasks such as updating the order status, connecting with the delivery partner or the user, or anything related to the entire process, you would need a vendor application with the following features.

Vendor panel application features

  • Item management

Allow vendors to manage their inventory on your on-demand grocery delivery application. Add tools such as store product listings, prices, minimum order quantity, and the amount and make the product available for ordering.

  • Order management

Bring more transparency in the operations by allowing delivery partners and store owners to manage the orders, update the order status, view new/ pending requests, etc.

  • Order alerts

Push notification service sending alerts in real-time one receiving a new order.

  • Track payments

A dedicated dashboard to see the account details, successful transactions, pending payments, settlements, etc.

  • Customer support

Call, chat and email support for the vendors, allowing them to raise an issue in case of any exceptions in the order or store-related operations.

  • Add products

Allow store owners to manage products on your application on the go, user-friendly app interface allowing them to add or remove products in the app inventory.

  • Reject order

Allow store owners to reject orders in case a product is out of stock or is not possible for any specific reason.

  1. Other important factors in cost estimation of grocery delivery software

Instacart is a leading grocery delivery application, but behind the user-friendly app,the interface is a complex backend that took months to get shaped as a high-end app. To give it a tough competition, you would have to step out of the box and also somewhat out of the budget of a generic grocery delivery app. Here are a few important factors that would help you closely estimate the development cost to build a grocery delivery app.

Read the blog- How Much Does Clubhouse Like Social Media App Costs?

  • App complexity

The more ambitious the project is, the more feature and functionalities you would include, and for sure, they are not just going to be generic. Everyday a new technology emerges in the market, and it might help you improve your app. This means more complexity in the application. If you are thinking about any such feature, consult with the tech experts and understand the complexity of the feature, the time required to build it, and the cost.

  • Integration points

There are many available 3rd party APIs that can improve the functionality of your application. It saves a lot of development time and reduces the workload on developers.

  • Use of smartphone hardware features

Applications can use the smartphone hardware features like voice assistant, GPS, NFC, motion co-processor, gestures, etc.; other technologies packed into the smartphone and tablets can also be used to improve user experience.

  1. Technology used

The technology used in the development of the app has a lot to do with the budget. It depends on the skillset and the budget fixed for the mobile app development for which technology you use.

Some of the popular ones are:

  • Database: Mailchimp, MongoDB,Postgress, HBase, Cassandra
  • Payment: PayPal, eWallets, Braintree, Stripe
  • Cloud: AWS, Google, Azure
  • Push Notification: Twilio,
  • Analytics: IBM, BigData, Cisco, Hadoop, Spark, Apache Flink
  1. Development time can increase your development cost

The development cost is very much affected by the development time. Most of the software builders work per hour bases on the project. The more time they spend on the development, the more would be the cost of development. Here is a stepwise breakdown of the time taken for grocery app development

  • Discovery (80 hours)
  • Idea Validation (60 hours)
  • Visual Prototyping (60 hours)
  • Design (130-190 hours)
  • Customer app development (800-1200 hours)
  • Backend development (300+ hours)
  • Super admin backend (80+ hours)
  • Testing (80+ hours)

The per-hour cost of developers, designers, testers, and project manager vary country-wise. Development in the countries Asian countries like India is three-times cheaper than development in the US and UK. The US has the highest per hour charge. We recommend you to go for development in India, as we are knowledgeable and experienced professionals, and you can easily find a globally reputed grocery delivery app builder. Here is a country-wise per hour cost of developers. Don't forget; your project would need designers, project managers, and testers for a seamless development process and assurance of quality.

  • US ($70 to $150 per hour)
  • Eastern Europe ($30 to $100 per hour)
  • India ($10 to $40 per hour)
  1. Hidden charges

Unfortunately, the cost of running an on-demand grocery delivery business would not stay put at the development cost. You should plan the budget for:

  • Licenses

If the mobile app development technology involves two or more technologies and any one of them or all are paid technologies, your overall development cost rises. You can go for open-source technologies but check with your developer the challenges.

  • Maintenance cost

After the deployment of the application, maintenance work starts. The app needs periodic updates with new features, security patches, bug removals, etc. You would have to keep the software builder engaged with your company to maintain the app. If they are charging too high, you can choose to hire some other company to monitor and manage your app. The average maintenance cost is 15-18% of the original development cost.


New ideas you can add on

  1. Price comparison features:

When you would have a wider network of store owners, multiple stores would have similar products in their stores. Allow your users to compare prices, check the delivery prices, and also active offers.

  1. Automated Chat support

Apps like Uber and Google offer either chat support or email support; apart from that, they have faqs. This helps them reduce the operational cost. Technology such as AI can help you create a high-end chatbot on the application and provide real-time customer support to the app users.

  1. Social Logins

Improve your user experience by bringing more ease to their sign-up and sign-in process. Allow them to sign up and sign in using Apple ID, Facebook, Google, Twitter accounts.

  1. AI and ML

Using AI and ML, you can learn about your users buying behavior and provide them more personalized offers on the application. This would increase your ROI and help you retain users for a longer time.

  1. Monthly shopping list reminder

Most people shop home essentials once every month, and allowing your users to make a list of their grocery items and sending out a reminder to them of the monthly shopping list can improve their experience to ten folds.

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Wrapping Up

Grocery delivery applications are going to be in trend for a very long time. And if you want to start a grocery delivery business, there cannot be a better time. Due to covid, people are already ordering their daily essentials online, and you can leverage that opportunity and bank upon new grocery delivery app ideas.

Instacart is a great app. But, don't mimic the entire app; have something unique in the application that would engage more users to the brand. Work on the convenience and experience, and you would do great.

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