How to build an app like Uber in 6 steps: a complete guide

It’s safe to assume that you have several on-demand transport apps on your phone right now, which indicates the popularity (or demand) of these apps. More and more companies are offering on-demand services in an attempt to disrupt the already established big players in the industry. We’ve seen such successful efforts in the past with Airbnb’s impact on hotels or Uber’s impact on the traditional taxi market.

Right now, Research and Markets predicts that the on-demand market segment will grow a a staggering $4.75 billion during 2022-2026, progressing at a compound annual growth rate of 60.77%. This means that if you’re considering launching a new ride-sharing app, you’ve picked a good time. However, in this competitive market, it is crucial to approach on-demand app development the right way if you want to deliver a solution tailored to the needs of an already saturated market.

In this article, I go through Everything you need to know to build a successful and competitive app like Uber. Alright, let’s dig deeper.

What is a ride-sharing app?

Simply put, it’s an on-demand service app, serving as an intermediary between an end user (p eg, a person looking to travel from point A to B) and a service provider (eg, professional drivers).

Most Uber-likes are mobile first, which it’s incredibly convenient and enhances the user experience. . Just tap your screen a few times, pay for the service with your connected card (or other cashless payment solutions like Google Pay or Apple Pay) and voila: the service you requested is on its way. And that’s the beauty of an on-demand service.

Popular location-based apps on demand

Now, let’s take a quick look at the current state of on-demand apps. market.

As you’ll note below, it’s not just the taxi industry that is affected by the rise of on-demand apps and a crop of young and nimble competitors are revolutionizing their respective markets in an attempt to dominate it. . Here are a few examples:

Sample Taxi Apps

  1. Uber – connects drivers with customers in over 900 metropolitan areas around the world, revenue from 2021: $17.46 billion.
  2. Lyft: A popular Uber alternative operating in 644 cities in the US. 100+ cities, revenue as of 2019: $2.6 billion.
  3. Bolt – Operates in over 150 major cities in 35 countries, revenue as of 2020: $150 million.

Examples of car sharing apps

  1. Sixt: operates in more than 2,000 locations worldwide in more than 105 countries, revenue as of 2021: EUR 442 million.
  2. ShareNow: a merger of car2go and DriverNow, operates in 18 cities across Europe, revenue as of 2018: $69.25 million.
  3. Zipcar: operates in multiple cities in 7 countries worldwide, estimated revenue as of 2019: 278.8 million dollars.

Axis Example of on-demand food apps

  1. Uber Eats: Operates in 6,000+ cities in 45 countries, 2021 revenue: $8.3B.
  2. DoorDash – Operates in more than 4,000 cities in the US, Canada and Australia, 2021 revenue: USD 4.8 billion.
  3. Glovo: Operates in more than 20 countries worldwide, 2021 revenue: 904 million USD.
  4. Grubhub: operates in 3,200+ US cities, revenue as of 2021: 2 billion USD.

As you can see , many of the on-demand apps work quite well. Motivated by its success, you may want to develop one of your own. Or maybe you want to further expand your business and see great potential in offering your own on-demand services. Regardless of your motivation, I’d like to present a step-by-step guide to developing such an application in the hope that you’ll find it useful.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Define the Target Markets for Your Uber App Alternative

Starting the app development process with a series of background checks is a wise move. While you’re trying to build an app like Uber, it’s a good time to find out a bit more about your potential customers and plan the general direction of the entire app development process.

Before you start preparing anything related to the project, you need to identify exactly which market you plan to target. Personally, I would suggest starting by choosing a country first. Different countries come with different economies and, as a result, demand different types of transportation.

If, for example, the selected market happens to have many scooter calling apps and no ridesharing apps, you should be taken as a serious red flag. But don’t jump headlong into developing an Uber-like app, as there may be other reasons for its non-existence.

To continue your market analysis, it would make sense to look for attempts to implement your idea, if such would have happened, and find out why they have failed.The reasons are endless, but it might clarify which one to avoid for sure. If you don’t find any trails, keep digging.

Keeping in sync with my initial taxi calling app example, go ahead and check the intensity of traffic, especially during rush hour. It may not be a good idea to bring rideshare services to markets with high traffic problems.

What if you want to experiment? Helicopters, planes, flying taxis, maybe submarines?

In this case, choosing highly developed economies would make much more sense, which is why many of the projects we hear about in the news are being tested in Dubai. Tourist-heavy destinations could also be a good fit, but you should check their seasonality first.

Step 2: Research and choose your rideshare app business model

This step requires defining user personas, user scenarios and flows, as well as preparing the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas. Founders who approach us sometimes find it a waste of time, however our experience shows that companies that choose to participate in comprehensive product workshops (which involves working on the elements of business strategy I listed above ) have a much better understanding of the business model, the steps required to successfully complete the project and ultimately produce a competitive product.

Another important part of the research is called user stories. , which is basically a more detailed description of all the features you plan to have in your app. It’s not a must-have part, as you can just go with a simple list of features, but taking this step might help you in the future, for example, when estimating the time and cost of the app development process.

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We take care of all of these components as part of our product design services.

Step 3: Rideshare App MVP Development

Once done research, it’s time to prepare for development. Obviously, you don’t want to develop a large-scale enterprise application from scratch. You want to start developing incrementally and building an MVP should be enough to deliver a working product to market without spending too much time and money. It’s a proven process for maximizing your ROI from the early stages of development.

What does MVP development entail?

Choose essential Uber-like features

To begin MVP development, you need to decide what the primary feature of your ride-sharing app is, and then add secondary features that will complement the primary feature and give your early adopters a full Uber-like experience. To do so, we use prioritization techniques based on the following factors:

  • complexity of the feature;
  • its relevance to the main feature;
  • whether it is better to implement it at the beginning so as not to complicate the following stages of development, or not; and
  • how expensive it is to develop such a feature.

What is important to remember is that ride-sharing services and similar platforms require a set of applications: a for the end-user, another for drivers or service providers, and an administration panel for you and your employees.

Passenger app

If you had to choose a component that is crucial to the success of an app like Uber, then the customer app, in my opinion, is the most important to the success of the entire effort. Everything that happens in the background doesn’t have to be beautifully designed and can be a bit clunky at the MVP stage, but the client app should shine.

Starting with the UX/UI, securing a lock The best way to achieve the wow effect is to provide free performance and provide a well thought out set of core functionality.

Core Features: What Your Taxi App Should Have
  • Phone Number Based Registration: You don’t want to verify your users using just email. The reason is simple: you will probably get a lot of discounts and promotions, especially during the initial phase. And you don’t want everyone to ride for free just because they can use a 10-minute email and create a new promo-eligible account, then rinse and repeat. However, don’t get me wrong. You don’t want them not to use email at all. It will be extremely useful for marketing and support communication, so providing an email is also mandatory.
  • Booking Process – This one is self-explanatory. Nothing too fancy – choose from, choose to, order.
  • Trip cancellation – we all make mistakes, sometimes the driver takes too long to get to your pick-up point or whatever Whatever the reason, you want to give your users the option to cancel their trip. And don’t hide it inside 10 other menus. This will not solve the problem. Your app will be removed as soon as possible.
  • Card Payments: This one can be a little tricky. It seems like making your Uber-like app cash only to begin with is a much easier route, but it’s not.Unless you have an investor behind you, who is willing to throw in some cash. I’ll explain what I mean a bit later in the article.
  • Basic Support: Nothing crazy here. Connect an intercom, FB Messenger, WhatsApp (choose an app that works best for your market) or just create a quick FAQ with redirection to your support email.
  • Basic ticket validation – if your application issues tickets to your users, for example in the case of a bus stop platform, you must find a way to verify that the person boarding is the correct person. During the MVP stage, it will be enough to make it manual. The passenger enters the vehicle, shows their ticket, the driver verifies it and manually marks it in their app as ‘validated’.
  • Push notifications: keep the user informed about the status of your trip, or that the driver has arrived, is important from a CX perspective.
  • Navigation for both passengers and drivers: This one is also self-explanatory.< /li
  • Live ETA and Trip Location – Having frustrated customers is one of the cases you don’t want to deal with, especially among early adopters, who will be crucial to your app. success. Showing them when they can expect their ride to arrive and where it is right now is one of the core features of an Uber-like platform.
  • Basic setup: Ability to change your ride number phone, password, email, notifications. That should be enough for now.
  • Coupons and Refer-a-Friend Promotions: This one is also crucial. Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the reasons you tried Uber at some point in its entry into your local market is a barrage of promotions. They will drive tons of users to try your app. Integrate it with a SaaS of your choice and you’re done.
Advanced features: what your Uber-like mobile app could have
  • Cash payments – Now, back to the cash issue. There are few problems with cash payments. First of all, it is difficult to trace. You will have to prepare fraud prevention processes or other systems to keep it under control. Second, what happens when you have a cancellation fee? If I order a taxi, select cash payments and cancel after some time, in a card payment situation, I would just be charged a cancellation fee and there would be no problem. But, how to collect something non-existent? To handle this you would need to have an internal wallet for each user. It would be charged in situations like the one I described above, when you need to fine a user for something or when you need to process a refund. One of the common tactics is to refund not real money, but some internal credits, which can be used later in the app.
  • Multi-seat tickets: This one is also important if We are building a bus call service. It will allow you to cover not only regular passengers but also parents who would buy tickets for themselves and their children or maybe nurses who take care of people with disabilities etc. Just remember to limit the number of tickets a single user can buy. If not, there will definitely be someone who would like to charter a whole bus for a fraction of the cost.
  • Trip scheduling: Scheduling a ride for later is sometimes very helpful, so it’s a nice feature.
  • Advanced Support: Rather than explain, I’ll just redirect you to take a look at Uber support. It’s too good.
  • Ride and Driver/Passenger Feedback: Self-explanatory.
  • Split Payments: I guess that at least once in our life we ​​have been faced with the situation where we or a friend of ours paid the bill in full and the need to return it was forgotten. Allowing your users to split the bill makes life so much easier.
  • Extended Settings: Add a profile picture, specify home/work addresses, measurements of security, advanced notification system, light/dark themes, etc.
  • Advanced ticket validation (ie ultrasonic, QR codes) – You will want to implement this one for several reasons: prevention of frauds, less time-consuming, without human errors. What type of validation to choose? Up to you. In one of our projects, we have used ultrasonic. It allowed us to make ticket validation a magical experience for the user, because… *silence*… and it’s validated.
  • Commercial accounts and billing: set of extra features like one-time ride or monthly bills.
  • Driver Tipping System: Giving a tip is a great way to say “Thank you!” for outstanding service and help your drivers stay happy. it allows them to earn more.

Service Provider Application

Now let’s talk about a service provider application. In the case of an app like Uber, that would be the drivers’ app.First, you need to think about how the service provider will use your solution. When we created an app suite for bussr, an Indonesian bus transportation app, we designed the app with bussr drivers in mind, not looking for fancy design ideas.

As a driver, you don’t want to spend a lot time on your phone app, because you need to focus on the road ahead. In this case, the screens have to be kept to a minimum and present a very clear indication of where the driver is going in any given situation.

When they are driving, the navigation screen only shows information about their route and Next stops. When they are selling and validating tickets, the screen only shows the relevant information and was specifically designed to facilitate quick error correction. For example, if the driver validated the wrong person, then a simple swipe could undo that action, while avoiding errors by requiring the swipe to be of a certain duration.

When When To the features, let’s point out some general ones:

Basic features of a rideshare app
  • A simple ID card-based registration process – Useful if you want to be able to easily hire drivers or other service providers without getting into too much red tape, at least in the early stage of the application process.
  • Basic setup : Allows service providers to change basic personal information, password, email, bill details, phone number, etc.
  • Browsing: No you have to develop a custom navigation system for your taxi app, simply redirect them to the browsing applications of your choice.
  • Service Delivery Process: The application must enable the provision of the rs service in order to deliver its service and confirm successful delivery or, in case it is not, process a free cancellation.

The rest will be more or less defined by the specifics of what you are offering as a service-on-demand business.

Management application for an Uber-like application

To connect the components listed so far, you will need a back-office application. It will allow your employees to manage users, service providers, monitor business analytics, run promotions, etc. Which admin panel you will choose will depend on the technology stack, which I am discussing below. In the case of bussr (see our bussr case study here), everything was developed with JavaScript and therefore we used our own admin solution: AdminJS. In short, it’s the world’s leading open source auto-generated admin panel for Node.js.

Since the entire bussr backend was written in Node.js (many popular applications use Node.js on its backend), going with a highly customizable solution that can be integrated with all the must-have external services (like Google Assets Tracking) was a no-brainer. Bussr employees could define bus routes simply using Google Maps integrated into the admin panel, thus avoiding the need to use latitude and longitude, making it less likely that an error would occur in the process.

If your technical stack is not JavaScript but PHP or Python, make sure you choose a reliable solution for your admin panel. You’ll need a lot of customization space, and you’ll need to provide your developers with the tools to code additional modules on their own. Out-of-the-box solutions are easier and cheaper to use, but there’s only a slim chance that the feature set they offer is 100% right for your business. You don’t want to change the dashboard after your rideshare app is live.

Choosing the Right Technology Stack

Now, let’s talk about the technology itself. When it comes to making that decision, there are many variables that can influence the outcome. Consider the following examples:

  • You might have a CTO who knows a specific technology and decides to choose it for your technology stack.
  • You may need to use a specific technology to develop a specific function.
  • You can seek the advice of an external software development agency to use the technology within your expertise.

There is no wrong choice if you have an experienced developer. Most apps like Uber aren’t rocket science.

Choose a Design and Development Team

Okay, the tech is set and it’s time to start development. You can follow one of these paths:

Internal development: This is a simple one. You recruit your own team of developers, project managers, testers, designers and build a development team. This approach has many advantages, but it is time consuming and expensive. If a recruited developer turns out to be no good, then you can’t change them as easily as you would if you were working with a nearshore development company, for example.

Independent development – probably the cheapest option but also the most risky.You don’t have a lot of control over the development process and that’s not really something you want, but it can be useful if you’re on a very low budget and want to develop something tangible to show investors before committing to full-scale development.

Nearshore/Offshore Development: You can outsource your development cycle to an experienced team of developers. It is much lower risk than the standalone option due to the fact that you will be dealing with a registered company; they have invested heavily in their workforce so there is no point in them giving you anything less than their best. After all, they have a reputation to uphold. Also, they will have tons of experience and a great portfolio of work. And if one of your assigned developers isn’t performing as expected, switching to another experienced developer will most likely be a matter of days or weeks, not months.

Ultimately, this choice it will depend on your budget, the expectations of your investors, etc.

Delivering the MVP

Once everything is ready, you should prepare for the next 6-12 weeks it takes to Develop a functional MVP. Make sure you’re confident in the feature set you’ve selected for the MVP stage, as changing them mid-cycle will only postpone delivery and frustrate your team.

Since you’re not going to participate in development in Yes, you could focus on sales and marketing in the next few weeks. You don’t want to develop an app that can’t compete with other apps and inevitably cause your business to fail.

Step 4: Marketing and User Acquisition

Marketing. While marketing itself deserves a separate article, I’m going to briefly mention a couple of marketing strategies that are specifically useful for promoting apps like Uber.

Coupons

If you’ve ever followed launch campaigns for Uber, Bolt, other taxi apps, or Uber Eats, then you know that for the first few months (and sometimes longer), most people use their on-demand apps with coupons only. ‘50% off’ codes are commonplace in your inbox.

It’s an expensive strategy and companies usually pay full salary to their service providers while earning only 50% for each order. From a business perspective, this is capital intensive, but it works and certainly attracts new customers.

When the promotional period ends, you will face a decrease in the number of orders as those who are not willing to pay the full price will stop using their services. Hopefully, you should also have many users who are happy with your services and stick with you, forming your core user base.

Create Awareness

Like the vouchers, discount codes can be used strategically to target both users and service providers in order to build your brand and create a presence in the market.

For example, here is an email that DoorDash sent out its delivery staff before Valentine’s Day:

Another good example is one from Uber (again). Here, where I live in Wrocław, Poland, we don’t have UberCopter and it’s not easy to order a helicopter flight. However, a few years ago, Uber ran a limited-time promotion where you could get a couple of minutes on a helicopter flight. Only a few people managed to take flight before the promotion ended, but the scale of social media reach skyrocketed.

The opportunities are endless and if you come up with a creative idea, the media communication will be available. they are quick to pick up on the news; after all, they need interesting material to work with.

Step 5: Further Development and Growth

Once you have successfully developed your MVP and acquired your first clients, there will be no more time to stop and celebrate with a bottle of Crystal somewhere in the Maldives. Rather, you’ll need to go ahead and essentially repeat the cycle from the beginning.

The way we typically do this for our clients is by hosting an MVP stage retrospective. During the meeting, we write down all the good and bad decisions made throughout the process in order to be even more effective in the future. After the retro, we scheduled another product workshop and began brainstorming for further development. We then prioritize those ideas and the cycle continues.

By using this approach, we ensure that we stay agile while focusing on a concrete set of goals that we aim to achieve using short incremental timeframes.

Step 6: Fraud Prevention

Uber, as well as apps like Uber, face a big problem: fraud. Detection and prevention of such maneuvers requires a lot of work. Some people come up with amazing ideas on how to cheat the system, but only a few people can think of it all.

For example, in Uber, drivers have a set of target trips that, if they get it right, – They get a bonus.To convince the system that they have taken enough trips, people will use various fake location apps to spoof their GPS data and complete trips without doing anything. But, there is a ‘but’. Knowing that people are doing this, Uber collects a wide range of location, speed and altitude data, among other telemetry data.

If Uber suspects that someone is trying to trick the system, it can obtain, for example, example, altitude data. and compare it with specific location data. Here’s what you’d get:

Smart stuff, right?

Creating an Uber-like app

As you can see, building an Uber-like app is not an easy task, but if structured in the right way, it becomes a simple process that can be followed with minimal interruption during each cycle.

I hope this guide is helpful to all who are willing to spend your time, effort, and money to improve any marketplace that could benefit from a ride-sharing app or other location-based on-demand service.

If you need help or want to take advantage of our extensive experience in creating easy-to-use, scalable software, feel free to contact me at ross@rst.software.

Until next time. Cheers!

.

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