How to build a profitable on-demand app?

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Mobile devices have taught us that everything we want can be just one click away, anytime and anywhere. We can imagine how hard it is to resist the temptation and order pizza instead of spending the whole evening in the kitchen. Or having an Uber ride instead of marinating yourself in stuffy public transport. It’s no surprise that this growing “here-and-now” trend resulted in the upsurge of on-demand apps.

In this guide, we’ll touch upon the phenomenon of on-demand service apps, mentioning their most popular types and discussing why they have firmly anchored in our daily lives. Additionally, we’ll shed light on the on-demand app development process so that you have the whole picture in case you’re planning to build one.

What is an on-demand service app?

Put simply, on-demand service apps provide an immediate connection between customers and vendors from any location. Even though you may not be familiar with the term, we bet you make use of this app category on a daily basis. From large online marketplaces and food deliveries to entertainment and booking platforms – on-demand apps help you get everything you need without getting up from the couch. Despite the diversity of industries, on-demand apps have well-defined common traits: mobile-first experience and instant outcome.

Why are such mobile apps are so popular? The expansion of on-demand apps is primarily related to the rise of the on-demand economy. The advent of market giants such as Amazon, Uber, and Netflix marked the arrival of a new era and gave a pace for great change in consumer habits, making people seek faster and more convenient services. In fact, statistics promise a very optimistic future for this industry as its skyrocketing growth is supported by corresponding profitability. According to PwC research, the value of the on-demand industry will reach $335 billion by 2025.

Most popular types of on-demand service apps

On-demand apps are revolutionizing the way we interact with businesses across the board. Let’s take a closer look at the most popular types of on-demand applications that make our lives more convenient than ever before.

Food deliveries

Online food delivery is a booming business. According to Statista, the market volume is projected to hit $1.45 trillion by 2027. On-demand delivery apps are the ultimate convenience for those of us who don't have time to cook, or simply don't want to. With a swipe of your finger, you can have a restaurant-quality meal delivered right to your doorstep. All you need is an appetite and a smartphone!

If you’re planning to develop an on-demand food app, you may take the lead from the highest-rated food deliveries like GrubHub and DoorDash. These services are great examples of providing an outstanding in-app experience with an intuitive interface, configurable search options, and helpful recommendations.

Booking services

On-demand booking apps are true lifesavers for making any kind of reservation – whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, a restaurant table, a hotel room in Paris, or a bus ticket. Such apps make your daily planning just a breeze.

Since the traveling sector is rising up from the ashes after the pandemic, let’s consider Airbnb as a nice example of an on-demand booking app. Apart from booking a place to stay in any corner of the planet and communicating with the host right from the app, Airbnb offers something more valuable. The algorithm suggests properties with unique activities! From cooking classes to kayaking adventures, it helps travelers get cool experiences and dive into the culture of their destination.


When it comes to on-demand transport apps, Uber is the name that immediately springs to mind. There’s no doubt that Uber has radically changed the game, giving way to thousands of local on-demand taxi apps that have made their presence felt in recent years. However, the market for on-demand transport is much more than just taxis. Today, when looking for suitable transportation options, we can also use apps to find car sharing, car rentals, and shuttling, just to name a few.

This app category is distinguished by several hallmark features, including interactive map navigation, instant chat options, a feedback system, and in-app payments. Keep them in mind if on-demand mobile app development for transportation is your case!

Retail & e-commerce

It's hard to imagine a smartphone user who has never turned to delivery services for his shopping needs at least once. On-demand retail apps like eBay and Amazon give consumers unlimited access to a wide range of products in just a few clicks. Statista claims that only Amazon's iOS shopping app is experiencing a $20.8 million flow of active users daily in the US. The on-demand retail revolution has opened new horizons to shop without having to wait in long lines or search through endless shelves for what you need. From groceries and clothes to furniture and electronics – all your favorite items are now available at lightning-fast delivery times!

Home services

From work to family obligations, it can feel like there are never enough hours in the day. That’s why home services have become so popular. It’s enough to hit a couple of buttons in the on-demand cleaning service app to have your house tidy and eliminate the trouble of fitting the cleaning into your already busy schedule. Speaking of other common household issues, there’s an app almost for everything: furniture assembling, repairing, moving services, and a lot more.

On-demand app development: step-by-step process

Now that you have a clear understanding of on-demand mobile apps and their examples, let's get down to a more sophisticated question. How to build such an app? Though it can seem like a daunting task, we’ve already been through it so we’ll be glad to share our findings. Here’s what the action plan looks like:

Step 1: Conduct market research

The success or failure of any mobile app depends on how well it meets user needs and expectations. Since the on-demand market is an extremely competitive field, don’t miss in-depth market research during the project discovery phase of the on-demand mobile app development. It will help you understand in which direction to move and correctly set business goals. Who is your target customer? Which features should be included in the product? How many people are willing to pay for it? It also provides valuable insights into competitors' strategies and empowers you to create better products than your rivals'.

Step 2: Identify the key features

If your customers don’t have access to the features they need in their app experience, then why would they bother using it? Having a list of the most important functions will help you prioritize resources so you can create a compelling user experience from start to finish. As follows from the examples given earlier, the functionality of on-demand applications largely depends on your niche, but there’re a few basic features that are common for most on-demand service apps:

1. User profiles Due to their specificity, on-demand applications require at least two types of user profiles: customer and seller/service provider. Depending on your industry type, there could be even more variations.

2. In-app chat In-app messaging allows businesses and customers to keep in touch without extra phone calls or emails.

3. Push notifications This is the best way to keep customers engaged and informed about application updates, delivery details, special offers, and more.

4. Search filters As a rule, on-demand apps display lots of goods or service categories. Search filters make sure that users will find exactly what they're looking for, based on specific criteria like price, location, and personal preferences.

5. Calendar feature With a calendar in place, users can quickly view upcoming commitments and check free spots. Additionally, it can help reduce the time spent managing multiple calendars by providing a single source of truth with up-to-date information across all devices.

6. Payment services Integrating payment alternatives for on-demand mobile apps is a must-have as it gives customers the freedom to select the preferred payment method and make transactions quickly and securely.

7. Comments & ratings Allowing customers to provide their honest opinion is a win-win scenario as users get better service while developers get ideas for improvement!

Step 3: Find a reliable service provider

Picking up the right on-demand app development company for your project may seem like a challenge, especially if you lack previous experience. We’ve come up with some tips that will help you decide on the perfect match for your needs. Firstly, check out their portfolio to see if developers have worked on projects similar to yours in the past. Plus, don’t feel shy to ask around friends and colleagues who may have used on-demand app development services before and can recommend someone trustworthy to get your job done right! Additionally, ensure that developers hold valid certifications and take time to read reviews from previous clients that can tell a lot about how well (or badly) a certain development team performs.

Step 4: Develop an MVP

Frankly speaking, we always advocate starting from MVP development as it’s the smartest way to tackle on-demand service app development. An MVP gives your team the opportunity to test out their ideas which saves both time and resources in the long run. It’s vital to remember that no matter how well-thought-out a plan is, unforeseen challenges always come up along the way. By focusing on the core features of your app first, you can quickly get feedback from users and make changes if necessary.

Guide to successful MVP development. Read the article,

Step 5: Collect user feedback

The crucial role of user feedback literally needs no explanation. Personal interviews, in-app surveys, A/B testing, and analytics tracking open up granular insights about how your target audience interacts with your app. Use all available ways to collect feedback! This approach allows you to base your decisions on real experiences rather than assumptions, and adjust features and app design in order to achieve better performance and meet customer requirements. Ultimately, you’ll see more engaged customers who keep coming back for more.

Step 6: Scale the app

Once you gathered user reviews and impressions, you’re ready to take your mobile app to the next level. On-demand service app development requires supreme creativity. Of course, you should take into account all customer suggestions, but also elevate user experience by adding some extras. Remember that your competitors are not asleep so brainstorm different ways of making the user journey as smooth as possible! By the way, your app scalability must be taken into account when the initial architecture is designed. As such, discuss the scalability options with your development team in advance to avoid unexpected obstacles.

Сost of on-demand app development

It's no secret that creating a full-fledged product can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. According to our average calculations, the cost of a complex fully-packed app is $100K+, and it takes 6+ months of development. In case your primary goal is testing ideas without making too much of an investment or waiting too long for results, then opt for the MVP route. It usually takes 4+ months of development and starts from $15k. Development cost is among the most essential matters you need to figure out when planning an on-demand mobile app development. Unfortunately, the answer is not clear-cut as it depends on various factors. But don't let that discourage you! With a little bit of research and planning, developing an on-demand service app doesn't have to break your budget, or cause too much stress.

Key factors that may impact on-demand app development costs

1. App Complexity The quantity and complexity of features is a turning point when planning your on-demand app development budget. If you want a lot of bells and whistles, then expect your wallet to take a hit.

2. Additional integrations Integrations with other apps and third-party services like payment systems, social media, and maps, among others, can be a great way to increase both: app efficiency and development costs.

3. Tech stack If the development of two separate applications, one for iOS and another for Android platforms, is not a pivotal question, you may opt for cross-platform development. Not only will it save time and money, but also provide a quick time to market and help you reach users across multiple platforms.

Summing up

It's no surprise that on-demand apps are so popular these days. Who doesn't love the convenience of having what you need at your fingertips? They don’t only provide access to goods without leaving home, but often suggest cheaper rates compared to traditional methods of purchasing. The development of such a mobile app requires a robust idea with a vivid competitive advantage since the industry is overcrowded.