A Mobile Platform That Simplifies Buying and Selling Food Online

Our clients, Lauren & Blair Steenholdt (LBS), seasoned players in the food industry, wanted to build a custom platform that allows users to sell and buy food items using mobile devices. They wanted this platform to facilitate home cooks, professional chefs as well as small-scale restaurateurs, while adding more cuisines to the menu for buyers.

Main Image

The Problem

The client wanted to build an application to allow both buying and selling.

Spending several years in the food industry, our client envisioned making an impact by building a unique solution that serves as a double-sided marketplace – generating equal opportunities for small and large-scale food sellers, and adding convenience for buyers.

Our client envisioned an application allowing interchangeable roles for the user – who could be both a buyer and a seller at the same time. They wanted equivalent functionalities for both the roles. A concept of this kind, called the double-sided marketplace, was rare in the UK, especially in the food industry.

The Challenges

Maintaining Dual Roles of User

One of greatest challenges in building this application was to accommodate the functionalities of both user and buyer, in the same user window. The demand was to allow a single user to sell his catalogue by maintaining a shop, and also allow him to purchase food items from other nearby shops as a buyer.

Delivering an Ultimate UX Despite Numerous Features in One Screen

Since the same user was allowed to behave as a buyer as well as a seller, many features had to appear on one screen. All of this needed to be accommodated without hampering the UX of the application. In fact, since this was the first of its kind in the region, the requirement was to build a UI that was very intuitive, leading up to an awe-inspiring UX.

Scalability to Handle a Large User Base

Another major challenge was to build a platform robust in functionality with scalable architecture. Being a food industry application, it drew the interest of almost everyone in the UK region. Hence, scalability was a critical aspect.

Multiple Shipping Options

The client wanted the app to allow easy delivery from sellers via a third-party service provider, such that sellers don't need to cope with overhead costs of maintaining a delivery fleet.

The Solution

The Solution

The product owner team took the baton of creating a list of requirements with the client via regular brainstorming sessions. The requirements were then given a visual representation in terms of wireframes, which represented the probable user flow on the platform.
We then assigned relative priorities to the features for identifying the minimum viable product, and kept the 'bonus' features out of the first release. This helped to keep the costs down, and value high.

Multiple delivery options

The app would offer 3 types of shipping: delivery, click & collect, and postage. This was convenient for the users.

High-end Payment Layer Including third-party charges

A specialized layer would manage how finances travel from the buyers to the sellers, platform owners and third-party delivery provider (Shutl). The platform commission charges would be transferrable to platform owners, order total with postage or shipping charges would be given to the seller. In case of a delivery service procured from Shutl, the charges for it would be credited to the platform owner who would then pay directly to Shutl.

Single Login and Vast Catalogue

The app ensured that the same user ID was applicable for both managing user shop on the platform and also buying items from other shops. The buyer could browse items from the shops available nearby, or whatever location they chose. A buyer could filter and sort the catalogue including by ingredients, according to one's preferences.

A Friendly UI that Led to Ultimate UX

The app included some highly intuitive features, thus making it user-friendly while allowing several options on the screen. For instance, the sellers could add new products in their shop and choose relevant shipping methods, along with applicable taxation on the product. The buyers were able to add products from multiple shops and check out via a single cart management screen. This allowed simplicity to the user flow instead of individual product checkout.

Technology stack

The platform development started with building a mobile version for the users, while the administrative side was managed on a custom developed back-end. The technologies used were:

  • Native iOS using Swift Framework
  • Custom PHP back-end with MVC architecture

The Result

A platform generating equal opportunities for both food sellers and buyers

The app allowed equivalent opportunities for buyers and sellers associated with the food industry. The buyers could add items to the cart from multiple shops and checkout of each shop swiftly. The platform tapped the still untapped space of small scale, non-organized food industry, in comparison to the existing platforms that catered to mid-level or established food vendors only.

Increased delicacies for food buyers

The buyers got a wide variety of local delicacies, on top of the regular offerings they are used to enjoying, from established food vendors.

An on-demand platform with logistics

The food marketplace app not only brings orders to the shop owners, but also manages delivery for them, through a fleet of independent couriers, connected by a third-party UK-based service provider like Shutl. The third-party delivery service provider is both a software and logistics company, allowing their services to be procured by the APIs they provide. Shutl would be charging as per their own slab, which would then be charged to the buyers.

The Result