How to Build an App Like Uber for Trucks

Jul 21, 2020·14 min read

The logistics industry needs changes and improvements. Some startups already chose their strategy, launched an Uber-like app for trucks, and succeed. Want to join the list of leaders? Follow our guidelines!

Contents:

The sharing economy provides excellent opportunities in a defined industry without any assets. Airbnb, an online marketplace for accommodation booking, makes millions of dollars of revenue without actually owning the real estate units. Uber, a ridesharing company, changes the transportation industry with not a single car. Everything you need to succeed is an idea and a great software solution.

Today, we will show you how to provide world-class shipping services with a single software platform. We are going to answer multiple questions like:

  • How to build an app similar to Uber for trucks?
  • What features are a must?
  • How to attract investments and raise a business with your app?
  • Is there enough space in a market for your P2P marketplace?

…and so much more.

Make yourself comfortable, and let’s go!

How Uber for trucks works

The idea isn’t new: Uber Freight was a pioneer in offering on-demand trucking services, and later, numerous similar startups were born. Before we proceed with instructions on building a new highly-potential solution, let’s see how Uber for trucks works.

The core principle is the same as in the case with traditional ridesharing Uber. There are two groups of Users: carriers, or drivers, responsible for the delivery, and shippers, or companies who need to deliver their products to a specific place.

  • Shippers use an app to search for a needed truck and book it according to their requirements;
  • Carriers confirm bookings and provide the service.

Payment functionality allows dealing with financial questions right within the app. Shipper pays a carrier after delivery arrives, and the Uber trucking app collects a fee per each transaction.

how uber freight works

How to build an Uber-like app for trucks?

First of all, build a clear vision of how to compete with such a leader as Uber. If Uber Freight is available in your region, it may be a considerable challenge to outrun a well-established, dominant company. However, if you target a specific, uncovered location or region with your Uber-like app for trucks, the task gets more manageable. Focus on a destination that needs your app the most. Study the market and find the spots on a map that lack your product so much. Once you find the market to enter, the app’s success turns from a hypothesis to a plan.

Your app’s lifetime will include three basic stages: idea, MVP, and further growth. Reading this article, you already have a plan and a basic vision of a product. The full-featured app requires investments. Thus, it is something you will focus on later. In this block, we will lead you through the second stage on your way to success: Minimum Viable Product development - the step that will bring you investments.

MVP stands for a minimum viable product. This is a software app built with minimum resources but maximum efficiency: with its help, you can prove your idea is viable, collect first users’ feedback, and raise funds for further growth. MVP development may take 4-6 months. Just look at the calendar: you can estimate the date your product will be up and running. Let’s waste not a second more and proceed with five steps to an excellent MVP for your trucks app:

Start with a business model canvas

Reflect your vision of the app business growth on a screen or a sheet of paper. Create a business model canvas, or fill a table with essential details like:

  • Key partners you’d like to engage;
  • Key activities your app will help with;
  • Resources you need to utilize;
  • App’s value proposition;
  • Customer segments describing your ideal customer portrait;
  • Channels to reach out to potential customers with;
  • Cost structure describing your critical expenses on initial stages;
  • And revenue streams, or ways to monetize your app.

Proper planning is the first step to great results, so don’t try to cut planning time. Pay particular attention to financial blocks: cost structure and revenue streams.

Tip from the Clockwise team: think carefully about financial blocks. Have you already defined your initial budget? Do you know what resources will be the most expensive? Do you have any plans on how to attract investments? Check the blank below, print, and fill the form.

the business model canvas

Read more about ways to raise funds on our blog. You may employ several app monetization models. In order to convince venture capital companies or angel investors to invest in your trucks app, you should demonstrate that it is potentially profitable.

Find an experienced partner

They say if you want to go fast, do it alone. If you want to go far, make sure you have a reliable partner by your side. A skilled technical team ready to power your idea with a real engineering solution is irreplaceable to cooperate with.

These days, there are lots of options to hire software engineering experts. You can:

  1. Find them on local job websites or Linkedin;
  2. Browse freelance platforms;
  3. Outsource software development.

Points 1 and 2 seem easy but hide many challenges in the shadow.

Hiring on-site developers, you lose tons of time on HR processes, recruitment, hiring, and onboarding procedures. You waste hours and hours looking for a perfect office, talking to real estate experts. At the same time, you lose money, get office rent and hardware-related headache, and may even miss the chance to be a local market leader! Besides, depending on your current location, the job market may feature the deficiency of skilled IT engineers.

Cooperation with freelancers has its drawbacks, too. Although you don’t need to devote time to recruitment and office maintenance, hiring freelancers may be risky for your startup business. There are numerous reasons for that, including lack of legal agreements and the inability to verify engineers’ skills, experience, reliability, etc. Besides, browsing various platforms for freelancers, looking for specialists to fit the particular position may be a cruel time-eater.

Outsourcing is a tried and tested tactic to delegate engineering tasks and focus on business processes streamlining.

  • Software outsourcing is the right choice for MVP development: you save time and money while finding expert engineering support, advisor and reliable future partner;
  • Outsourcing companies have deep expertise in MVP development: they know precisely how to meet your requirements;
  • Team’s experience becomes your experience: once you hire a qualified team, you can use their advice and vision, find out potential challenges and pitfalls, etc.

If you are a newcomer in a software engineering industry, an outsourcing partner will enhance your awareness and support your ideas.

We have an in-depth report on how to outsource software project successfully, so don’t miss it.

Tip from the Clockwise team: it may be hard to find a reliable partner. Thus, we have prepared information for you on how to find an engineering team and succeed.

Launch your MVP

MVP development consists of several substages you should be aware of.

mvp development for uber-like app

A prototype, or your app’s sketch

When building a house, architects draw a sketch first. When working on your trucks app, you should represent it on a screen first. There are multiple programs like Figma for the prototype design. However, to save your time and efforts, delegate this task to the design team. In 5-10 workdays, design specialists create an app’s mock-up. Keeping all your requirements in mind, they provide an initial prototype, edit and improve it until it meets your expectations precisely.

Take a note, that a prototype is not only about building a beautiful picture of your app. It is also about a profound business analysis for creating a handy, user-oriented product.

Features for MVP

The significant thing is to create the list of must-have features for your MVP. They should be necessary and demanded – you’ll have an opportunity to add advanced features once MVP brings you investments. Below, we’ve collected some needed info about functionality for both sides of your platform’s users:

Standard features for carriers and shippers

  • Registration and login

Let users enter the P2P platform effortlessly with Facebook or Gmail integrations. Verify users’ identities and collect contact details to provide maximum security.

  • Notifications and reminders

Notify users about pick-up and drop-off dates. Add a calendar or synchronize plans with users’ Google Calendars.

  • Payments

The payment gateway you work with may ask users for personal data. With its help, you let shippers send payments, as well as let carriers accept them after conditions are met.

  • Ratings and reviews

In 2019, Uber for trucks was augmented with rating functionality. Follow the lead: allow shippers to leave feedback on carriers’ services and make your platform more trustworthy.

  • Shipment details

Ask shippers for detailed descriptions of their cargo. Grant carriers access to this information.

  • Live chat

Let users communicate on your platform.

  • Location-based features

Navigation is essential: let drivers build optimized routes and provide shippers with precise information about cargo’s location.

  • Invoice management

Help users to create, upload, and download the needed documents right in your app.

Specific features for carriers

  • Request management

Let drivers accept or deny pending requests.

  • Orders story

Keep track of the driver’s orders and highlight them in a profile.

Specific features for shippers

  • Search and filters

Let shippers quickly sort available drivers and look for the most suitable vehicle.

  • Booking functionality

Allow users to book fleet in advance.

Technology stack choice

In a galaxy of software development tools, it is significant to find the perfect match for your app like Uber for trucks. Your engineering team can give you a competent piece of advice about it, but before the discussion, you should know several essential things.

There’s a need to choose the technology stack for:

Front-end development

App’s front-end is a user interface part or a part of app users will interact with. There are numerous tools and technologies for front-end development. The most popular ones are JavaScript frameworks: React.js, Angular and Vue.js.

Tip from Clockwise team: Shippers will access the app using their laptops, drivers will feel the most comfortable opening it on tablets or smartphones. Thus, your app should be cross-platform. To make your app compatible with different devices and operating systems, choose React.js. This framework is famous for its code reusability and numerous other amazing features. Building a React web app, you can easily reuse a part of code for mobile app in React Native.

In the future, using React Native tool for cross-platform development, you will get a chance to reuse a part of code. Code reusability will cause significant development time and cost reduction.

Back-end development

Back-end, or application’s server-side, is something users don’t see. This is a skeleton of an app where data and queries are processed. Here, you may choose between multiple technologies. For example, Java and Ruby are a good fit for large, enterprise solutions. However, they may be rather expensive in terms of development and maintenance services.

For startup needs, Node.js is one of the best options. With its help, you can utilize a “JavaScript everywhere” principle: your app’s front-end and back-end will use the same programming language. As an option, you can cooperate with full-stack engineers to optimize the development process instead of hiring separate teams for user and server sides. Node.js makes development fast and cuts unnecessary expenses.

Tip from the Clockwise team: working on high-quality software projects, we have noticed that the combination of React.js and Node.js brings fantastic results. Numerous successful startups employ this stack. Uber for trucks and ridesharing is built on its basis, too. Consider React and Node to build a truck app.

External APIs

To connect your app to some external services like maps for seamless navigation or payment gateways for secured payments, your team will work with the third-party application programming interfaces. Usually, this is a task of back-end developers.

Tip from Clockwise team: recently, we have prepared two detailed reports on topics you may be interested in:

  • How to build a location-based service?

Your Uber-like app is a location-based service: it works with maps and builds routes, tracks traffic conditions on highways, and provides real-time information on the fleet’s current location. Read the article to find out everything you need to know about navigation-based apps and needed APIs. Find the most popular solution in your area to meet the potential users’ needs in the best way.

  • How to choose a payment gateway?

The choice may be challenging. It depends on your business location, target region, business model, etc. Devote some time to comprehensive research: what payment model is the most common in an area you target? Once you know precisely what potential users opt for, check our article devoted to payment gateway comparison.

Engineering routine

Coding is the next step. Once you have formed a development team, hire a professional project manager to organize and control work, analyze and manage risks, estimate terms and efforts, etc. The skilled manager knows everything about efficient teamwork. Besides, delegating essential responsibilities to an experienced manager, you save your time significantly. While the team is busy with coding, you may devote your attention to marketing, sales, advertising, negotiations with your partners, etc.

Tip from the Clockwise team: use proper software development methodology for teamwork organization. Choose Agile practices and Scrum framework. In this case, the project manager will play the role of a Scrum Master, and you’ll represent the product’s ideology acting as a product owner. According to this method, the entire process is cut in 2-weeks iterations, which leads to performance and efficiency improvements.

Here, flexibility plays a critical role, which is extremely important for a startup app. You can make decisions fast, change requirements, react to the situation on a local market, and deliver the product users need the most.

Quality assurance

In your engineering team, there should be specialists responsible for the product’s quality assurance. These guys create test plans and test cases, check the developed functionality and ensure that front-end looks exactly as requirements describe. At the beginning of market expansion, a single QA professional can deal with this task on a small project. Later, as the product grows, you may need to involve more QA experts and implement QA automation tactics.

Tip from the Clockwise team: start development and QA processes simultaneously. Scrum process creates advantageous conditions for it: during the first iteration, developers create the app’s skeleton, and QA engineers prepare test plans for the next sprint. Two weeks later, they can start checking designed functionality, report bugs, and delegate fixing to developers for the next sprint. This sort of process allows building a flawless, high-quality Uber-like app for trucks.

Pain points to heal with your app like Uber for trucks

Although it seems that success is so close, you may still hesitate about the chosen path. In this paragraph, we will resolve possible concerns and prove that the logistics industry needs a new hero.

The logistics industry is immense. The estimated total costs of the industry exceed 9 trillion dollars. As the industry expands, more and more software products are born to make it better, more profitable, and efficient. Even though the market is enormous, existing solutions do not cover all customers’ needs. Thus, there is a gap for better solutions.

To make your app similar to Uber really viable, you need to be aware of the existing industry challenges:

problems to solve with uber-like app for trucks

  • Order processing automation

The scope of logistics managers’ work is vast. They are responsible for fleet loading and safety, route maps and fuel bills, etc. Most of these tasks are performed manually which requires exceptionally high attention to details and repeatable cross-checking. The devil hides in details, so mistakes appear and lead to severe issues en-route. Besides, the work is tedious. So we can notice a high staff turnover among logistic specialists in the job market.

With your well-thought Uber-like app for trucks, you can automate routine tasks and ensure flawless logistics operations. You can help companies worldwide save their time and money on solving potential troubles. Besides, you cut employees’ recruitment and hiring time.

  • Fuel cost optimization

Cutting transportation costs is a top priority of any business involved. Fuel costs rise, and there’s little we can do with it. The thing we can do is to put our efforts into optimizing it. But how?

Possessing detailed information about the route, possible delays, customs rules, weather conditions, and so on, logistics managers may optimize costs slightly. However, calculations and correct forecasts take much time and effort. Thus, we go back to the automation topic.

An app like Uber for trucks can process all the data on the background and provide the best fuel cost optimization solution. As a result, transportation costs decrease.

  • Empty miles minimization

Inefficiency is another pain point to draw your attention to. After delivering the order, trucks often travel back empty. On average, more than 35% of all driven miles are empty. It leads to unnecessary expenses, additional headaches, and wasted time.

A uber-like app may easily heal this pain point. As all the orders are processed on demand, the truck will always be loaded. The principle is straightforward: the software analyzes the orders and their features like size and weight and combines orders in the most efficient way to optimize truck’s load.

  • Environment protection

Unbelievable amounts of CO2 emissions are the result of so-called empty miles. Thus, striving to cut expenses and optimize workflow with an app for trucks, businesses fulfil another critical mission. They take care of the environment.

  • Participation of intermediaries

To get rid of the trouble mentioned above, carriers often cooperate with brokers. Broker plays an intermediate role between a shipper and a carrier. The opportunity to cut empty miles appears, however… it costs more. Companies need to add a broker’s fee to overall transportation costs. As the product price raises, the interest of potential customers decreases.

More than 90% of trucking services are booked using this old-school method. A high-quality software solution may replace the intermediaries for an affordable price. The app you build may be attractive to both sides of cooperation. It may calculate the most efficient van’s load and solve multiple existing troubles at a time.

Success stories

Now, when you already know how to build a truck app and see clearly that the market needs it, take a look at some of the startups that succeed in a niche you’d like to enter.

convoy trucks app

Started in 2015, the startup already collected more than $400M of investments. According to Linkedin, it belongs to the top 50 Startups in 2019 and finds its place among influential logistics players.

Convoy’s prominent feature is that it focuses on ecology. The team implements a zero-waste approach in its mission and claims to eliminate a huge amount of emitted carbon.

droppa trucks app

Droppa is another truck on-demand service operating in South Africa. Founded in 2016, it meets the customers’ needs in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. The booking process is straightforward: the shipper enters the pick-up address, chooses a vehicle, and defines the drop-off address. During the global lockdown, this small but promising company reported massive growth.

blackbuck trucks app

This is India’s largest trucking platform, which now operates in Europe, too. Its story began in 2015. Four years later, they raised $150 million. Currently, there are more than 300,000 trucks and 10,000 clients on the platform. Once it reaches the $1 billion mark, it will become the 17th Indian unicorn.

Act as these products’ founders did. Find a particular location, the region that needs a reliable, high-quality, and bugless app like Uber for trucks. The right choice is the key to your app’s popularity.

Final thoughts

Last but not least, we have another weighty reason for you to build a truck app:

“Truck freight startup funding has grown over the past years. While startups have raised about US$180m in VC funding between 2011 and 2016, the last few years saw investment increase to US$470m.”

Focus on a particular region where truck apps like Uber don’t operate, or their quality is low. Find out how to satisfy local users’ needs. Start slowly and build a truck app MVP to get your piece of the logistics market pie. Follow our tips to win users’ hearts, speed up your growth, and succeed in your chosen niche.

Get ready to invest:

  • 4-6 months
  • $20,000-50,000

in MVP development, and become a strong rival for Uber for trucks.

Looking for a way to save money and release your Uber-like app for trucks in the shortest time?

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