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How We Helped Our Client Tackle the Challenges in Food Logistics Technology

Success Story

How We Helped Our Client Tackle the Challenges in Food Logistics Technology

And developed a robust, scalable food tech platform for them

If you’re a part of the Food and/or Logistics industry, you’d know that this is one challenging field. Every stage is dependent on multiple stakeholders and the success of the entire system depends on perfect execution of each step. And the difficulty in handling food logistics is even more significant when developing the technology, that is, the brain that holds every piece of the puzzle together.

We got the real taste of this while we were working on one such project, not so long ago. It was a food delivery platform that was intended to be used in Dubai. The client had requested that a fully-functional application with a lot of features, be built in a short time frame, as they already had an old system in place which was proving to be highly inadequate as it couldn’t scale with the rising demand and crashed frequently. As soon as we came on board, we wanted to understand what challenges we had on our way, which by the way, turned out to be quite a lot.

We had to accomplish two main tasks – Building a web application platform for the merchants and a Mobile app for the riders.

Dealing with the challenges in food logistics

While we were still in the brainstorming stages of the project, we learned that a mobile app or any application/platform concerning food and logistics demanded a few characteristics that were essential in determining its success. But, transforming these characteristics into functionality was not an easy task. These were precisely the challenges we had to deal with.

Ease of use

No matter how complicated the intended functions of the platform was going to be, we could not compromise on one factor—the ease of use for the users. The platform would not be used by technical people, and so the app had to be intuitive enough to ensure the users would be comfortable navigating it from the get-go.

Right set of features

While we aimed to keep the application as easy to use as possible, we also knew that it should include every necessary detail to ensure maximum usability and reliability. Technically, this translated to adding information about every stage of the process including the order details, rider status (arrival time, wait time, delivery time), credits and payments details, and so on. But we had to do this without adding layers of complexity or clutter to the user interface of the platform, which was a real challenge.

Meeting the demands of the location

Dubai is a bustling cosmopolitan—this platform had to cater to people from different countries and cultures. Understanding the diverse patterns in their food tastes, ordering habits, and ordering frequencies were very important for us to gauge the trends and expectations of the market so that we could offer the right customer experience.

Transparency

The best way to boost the adoption rate of any application is to invoke a sense of trust in users through transparency. Transparency, in the food logistics domain, implied that the end users should clearly understand how the platform works, how the payments and credit system work, what the daily delivery and sales metrics are, etc. Such a transparent system would also encourage candid user feedback which was crucial to enhance the platform’s features.

Technology

If we built the app right, a city like Dubai would undoubtedly bring in plenty of growth opportunities for the company. And therefore, we had to build for the future. This meant that we use the right set of tools and technologies that would make the application future-ready in every sense, allowing it to be seamlessly scalable to meet the growing numbers and demands of the users.  

Introducing our FoodTech Client

Having closely studied the requirements and challenges of the project, we put on our developer hats and got down to do the real work. But before we tell you about how we did it, let’s spend some time understanding the business model and goals of the company.

What’s the business model?

Our client is an on-demand B2B food delivery company operating in Dubai. It is slightly different from the usual food delivery companies we are familiar with, like, Swiggy, Zomato Order, or Food Panda. Unlike Swiggy or Zomato, they receive orders only from businesses (restaurants) and deliver food to the end customers.

What did they want to do?

Through this new and improved application, the company wanted to meet the expectations of the merchants who have signed up with them and to entice new ones to join them.

Building the platform – Our Approach
We worked with the client in a carefully-planned manner, and mutually agreed upon a comprehensive but aggressive roadmap for the project. As time was a constraint, it was decided that the most critical needs would be addressed immediately, after which new features will be progressively added.

We had to accomplish two main tasks – Building a web application platform for the merchants and a Mobile app for the riders.

While thinking and planning the architecture, functionality, and features of the apps, we had to find answers to some of the most important questions.

What were the business goals of our client from a technology standpoint?

On dissecting this question, we were able to identify and define our technical goals more clearly. To be specific, we wanted to:

  • Tap the maximum number of platforms (web, mobile – Android, iOS)
  • Integrate the platforms with the maximum number of payment options
  • Capture and show real-time data to both merchants and customers
  • Ensure a smooth and seamless navigation experience for the riders
  • Have 99% of system uptime to mitigate order losses
  • Make the best use of geolocation features for a frictionless, low contact experience
  • Make the platform smarter every day
  • Report various data and insights to the users in the smartest, intuitive way

Next, it was time to action these goals. But, not without distilling the most critical technical considerations. Some of the questions that had on our minds were…

What core technologies do we use to efficiently build the platform?

  • Do we build the platform with Open Source or proprietary technologies?
  • What technology do we use to build the backend, which is the heart of the platform, to ensure scalability and reliability?
  • What type of server setup would we need to obtain 99% uptime?
  • What would be the rollout plan – what all features to include in the different versions of the platform?
  • How do we plan the best rollout? Build fast and launch light OR build slow and launch with all the features?

Development and Implementation – Important Features

Once we had answers to the above questions, we had a clear action plan. Now, it was game time.

Let’s walk you through some of the most immediate and important features and milestones on our journey.

Step 1 – Fixing the system crashes and loss of orders

The biggest problem we needed to fix immediately was the system crashes that happened during high order volumes resulting in loss of orders, because it directly impacted our client’s and their users’ revenue. We fixed this issue with algorithms that ensured that the systems scale seamlessly with absolutely no room for order losses.

We also implemented a rule-based system to assign the order to the nearest rider available with no more than 3 orders. The priority at this point was to pick up the orders on time, which was important for our merchants. We also implemented auto-scaling of our servers so that they could handle spikes at peak hours.

Step 2 – Building the Rider and Route Optimization Features

Next, we turned our attention to the much-needed rider optimization feature, which was not only crucial for offering the best delivery experience but also had a direct impact on the operational costs.

The goal was to automate and optimize the processes involving rider assignment, route optimization, and order load management. We implemented this in multiple, incremental phases. And with each release, we gathered valuable data that helped us tweak the existing features and also refine the upcoming ones.

In an effort to automate the entire process with optimal performance, the concept of fixed zones was introduced within the platform. This meant that specific riders would cater to each zone. Not only did drastically reduce wait times for both pickups and deliveries, but also helped optimize routes by smartly assigning multiple orders to a particular driver along a route, without compromising on the ride time.

Step 3 – Smart use of Geolocation

We also extensively leveraged geolocation features to offer a smooth delivery experience. Given the fast and busy life of Dubai, it was always our goal to offer a low-contact delivery experience which meant that the rider and the customer should have the least number of interactions through phone calls, texts, etc. We achieved this by mapping customer phone numbers to their delivery locations and using that information smartly for future deliveries.

Moreover, to make the experience better and easier for our riders, we added various features such as sending notifications to the merchants and end customers about their ETA and updating their live location.

Step 4 – Real-time Reporting and Dashboards

To give the merchants a full view of the system and to offer complete transparency, an intuitive and interactive dashboard was introduced that displayed a wide range of real-time data. This helped the merchants to plan ahead for their deliveries and offer better service to their end customers.

And then, what happened?

Soon after launching the new platform, our client’s orders increased from 18,000 per year to over 65,000 every quarter. Today, the platform can handle over 1,200 orders every day. And while the platform is up and running successfully for quite some time now, we are working continually on keeping the platform smart and state of the art at all times.

If you liked what we did for our client and if you’re dealing with similar, or even more difficult problems, we’d love to solve them for you. Just reach out to us at info@defraglabs.co,  and we’d get in touch.