The sharing economy provides excellent business opportunities. It’s a clearly defined industry that doesn’t require companies to own any assets. Airbnb, an online marketplace for accommodation bookings, makes millions of dollars in monthly revenue without actually owning any real estate. Uber, a ridesharing company, has changed the transportation industry without owning a single vehicle. All you need to succeed is an idea and a great app.
Today, we’ll show you how to provide world-class shipping services with a single software platform. You’ll find answers to these and other questions:
- How can I build an app like Uber for trucks?
- What features are a must in a shipping app?
- How can I attract investment for and grow a business with my app?
- Is there enough space in the market for your peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace?
How Uber Freight works
Uber Freight was a pioneer in offering on-demand trucking services. Later, numerous entrepreneurs launched similar startups. Before we proceed with our guide to building a new logistics solution with lots of potential, let’s see how the Uber for trucking model works.
Uber Freight shares the same core principle as Uber for ridesharing. There are two groups of users: carriers/drivers, who are responsible for delivery/transportation, and shippers, who need to deliver their products or get to a destination.
In Uber for trucks:
- Shippers use the app to search for and book a truck that meets their requirements.
- Carriers confirm bookings and provide transportation services.
Payment functionality allows shippers and carriers to deal with financial transactions right in the app. A shipper pays the carrier after a delivery arrives, and the Uber-like trucking app collects a fee for each transaction.
How to build an Uber-like app for trucking
First of all, come up with a clear vision of how to compete with a market leader like Uber. If Uber Freight is available in your region, it may be a considerable challenge to outrun it, as Uber is a well-established, dominant company. However, if you target a city or region that Uber Freight doesn’t cover, the task gets more manageable. Focus on markets that need your app the most. Study the larger market and find spots on the map where your product doesn’t have competitors. Once you find a market to enter, you can start charting your path to success.
Your app’s lifecycle will include three basic stages: ideation, MVP development, and further growth. After reading this article, you should be ready to create a plan and articulate the basic vision for your product. A full-featured app also requires investment, which is something to focus on later. Right now, we’ll lead you through the second stage on your way to success: developing a minimum viable product, or MVP, with which you can acquire investment.
An MVP is an app built with minimum resources and maximum efficiency. With the help of an MVP, you can prove your idea is viable, collect your first feedback from users, and raise funds for further growth. MVP development may take four to six months. Just look at the calendar and you can estimate the date your product will be up and running. Let’s proceed with five steps to developing an excellent MVP for your trucking app.
Step 1. Start with a business model canvas
Capture your vision for your app’s business growth electronically or on a sheet of paper using a business model canvas that contains essential details such as:
- key partners you’d like to work with
- key functions your app will perform
- resources you need to implement the mentioned functions
- your app’s value proposition
- customer segments based on a portrait of your ideal customer
- channels you can use to reach potential customers
- your cost structure, including critical expenses at initial stages of development
- revenue streams, or ways to monetize your app
Proper planning is the first step toward great results, so don’t try to cut your planning time. Pay particular attention to financial blockers: your cost structure and revenue streams.
Tip from the Clockwise team: Think carefully about financial blockers. Have you already defined your initial budget? Do you know what resources will be the most expensive? Do you have any plans for how to attract investment? Print and fill out the form below to easily create your own business model canvas.
You can read more on our blog about ways to raise funds. In order to convince venture capital companies or angel investors to invest in your trucking app, you should demonstrate that it’s potentially profitable. To make it so, you may choose from several app monetization models.
Step 2. 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 indispensable.
These days, there are lots of options to hire software engineering experts. You can:
- find developers on local job websites or LinkedIn
- browse freelance platforms
- outsource software development
Finding developers locally and finding individual freelancers on the internet seem easy, but these approaches hide many challenges.
By hiring in-house developers, you’ll lose tons of time on HR processes, recruitment, hiring, and onboarding. You’ll likely waste hours and hours talking to real estate agents and looking for the perfect office. At the same time, you’ll be losing money, getting rent- and hardware-related headaches, and possibly even missing the chance to be a local market leader! Besides, depending on your location, the local job market may have a deficit of skilled IT engineers.
Working 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. There are numerous reasons for that, including a lack of legal agreements and the inability to verify freelancers’ skills, experience, and reliability. Besides, browsing platforms for freelancers and looking for specialists to fit a particular position may be a cruel time-eater.
Outsourcing is a tried and tested way to delegate engineering tasks and focus on streamlining your business processes.
- Software outsourcing is the right choice for MVP development, saving you time and money while giving you access to expert engineering services, advice, and a reliable partner.
- Many outsourcing companies have deep expertise in MVP development and know precisely how to meet your requirements.
- An outsourcing team’s experience becomes your experience. Once you hire a qualified team, you can benefit from their advice and vision, discover potential challenges and pitfalls.
If you’re new to the software engineering industry, an outsourcing partner will enhance your awareness of specific technology solutions and support your ideas.
Don’t miss our in-depth report on how to successfully outsource a software project.
Tip from the Clockwise team: It may be hard to find a reliable partner. That’s why we’ve prepared information on how to succeed by choosing the right engineering team.
Step 3. Launch your MVP
Developing an MVP consists of several stages.
Build a prototype (or make a sketch of your app)
When designing a house, an architect first draws a sketch. When working on your trucking app, you should first represent it on a screen. There are multiple programs like Figma for designing prototypes. However, to save your time and efforts, you should delegate this task to a design team. In 5 to 10 workdays, design specialists provide an initial prototype by keeping all your requirements in mind. They keep improving it until it precisely meets your expectations.
Note that creating a prototype is not only about painting a beautiful picture of your app. It’s also about conducting profound business analysis in order to create a handy, user-oriented product.
Features for an MVP
Creating a list of must-have features for your MVP is significant for a proper start. You’ll have an opportunity to add advanced features once your MVP attracts investment. Below, we’ve collected some information about standard app functionality for both carriers and shippers:
Standard features for carriers and shippers
- Registration and login
Let users effortlessly register on your platform with Facebook and 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 with Google Calendar.
The payment gateway you work with may ask users for personal data. With its help, shippers can pay and carriers can receive payment after delivery conditions are met.
- Ratings and reviews
In 2019, In 2019, Uber added rating functionality to Uber Freight. Follow the lead: allow shippers to leave feedback on carriers’ services to make your platform more trustworthy.
- Shipment details
Ask shippers for detailed descriptions of their cargo, and grant carriers access to this information.
- Live chat
Let shippers and carriers communicate on your platform.
- Location-based features
Navigation is essential. Let drivers build optimized routes and provide shippers with precise information on a cargo’s location.
- Invoice management
Help users create, upload, and download documents right in your app.
- Request management
Let drivers accept or deny requests.
- Order history
Keep track of drivers’ orders and highlight them in driver profiles.
- Search and filters
Let shippers quickly sort available drivers and look for the most suitable vehicle.
- Booking functionality
Allow users to book delivery in advance.
Step 4. Choose a technology stack
In a galaxy of software development tools, it’s significant to find the perfect match for your Uber-like trucking app. Your engineering team can give you advice about the tools to use, but before you discuss this matter, you should know several essential things.
First, you should know that you’ll need to choose technology stacks for frontend development and backend development.
Tip from the Clockwise team: Shippers will likely access your app using laptops, while drivers will probably open 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. This framework is famous for its code reusability and other amazing features. After building a React web app, you can easily reuse part of your code to create a mobile app in React Native. This will significantly reduce the development time and cost for building iOS and Android mobile apps.
The back end, or the application’s server-side, is something users don’t see. This is where data and queries are processed. Here, you may choose between multiple technologies. For example, Java or Ruby can be a good fit for large enterprise solutions. However, they may be rather expensive in terms of development and maintenance.
Tip from the Clockwise team: While working on high-quality software projects, we’ve noticed that combining React.js and Node.js brings fantastic results. Numerous successful startups employ this technology stack, including Uber and Uber Freight. Consider React and Node.js to build your own trucking app.
To connect your app to external services like maps for seamless navigation or a payment gateway for secure payments, your team will need to work with third-party application programming interfaces (APIs). Usually, this is a task for backend developers.
Tip from the Clockwise team: We recently prepared two detailed reports on topics you may be interested in:
- How can I build a location-based service?
Your Uber-like app is a location-based service: it works with maps and builds routes, tracks traffic conditions, and provides real-time information on vehicle locations. Read our article to find out everything you need to know about location-based apps and associated APIs. Find the most popular solution in your area to meet users’ needs in the best possible way.
- How can I choose a payment gateway?
Choosing a payment gateway may be challenging. Your choice will depend on your business location, target market, business model, and other factors. Devote some time to comprehensive research: What payment model is the most common in your target market? Once you know what payment gateway potential users prefer, check out our article comparing top payment gateways.
Coding is the next step. Once you’ve formed a development team, hire a project manager to organize and control the work, analyze and manage risks, and estimate development time and efforts. A skilled project manager knows how to organize efficient teamwork. Besides, by delegating essential responsibilities to an experienced project manager, you can save significant time. While your team is busy coding, you can devote your attention to activities such as marketing, sales, advertising, and partner negotiations.
Tip from the Clockwise team: Use a proper software development methodology for organizing your team. If you choose Agile practices and the Scrum framework, your project manager will play the role of a Scrum Master, and you’ll represent the product’s idea as a product owner. According to the Scrum model, the entire development process is cut into two-week iterations, optimizing performance and efficiency.
With Scrum, flexibility plays a critical role, which is extremely important for a startup. An Agile methodology allows you to make decisions fast, change requirements, react to the situation changes on the local market, and deliver the product users need most.
In your engineering team, you should have specialists responsible for ensuring the product’s quality. Quality assurance (QA) specialists create test plans and test cases, check developed software for proper functioning and ensure that the front end looks exactly as the requirements describe. At the beginning of the market expansion, a single QA specialist can deal with this task on a small project. Later, as your product grows, you may need to involve more QA specialists and implement QA automation tactics.
Tip from the Clockwise team: Start development and QA processes simultaneously. Scrum creates advantageous conditions for this. During the first sprint, developers create the app’s skeleton, and QA specialists prepare test plans for the next sprint. Two weeks later, they can start checking the designed functionality, reporting bugs, and delegating fixes to developers for the next sprint. This process allows for building a flawless, high-quality Uber-like app for trucking.
Pain points to heal with your Uber for trucking app
Although it may seem success is so close, you may still be hesitating about your chosen path. In this section, we’ll assuage your concerns and prove that the logistics industry needs a new hero.
The logistics industry is immense. The estimated total value of the industry globally exceeds 9 trillion dollars. As the industry expands, more and more software products are born to make logistics companies more profitable and more efficient. But even though the market is enormous, existing solutions don’t cover all customers’ needs. Thus, there’s a demand for better solutions.
To make your Uber-like app viable, you need to be aware of existing industry challenges:
- Automating order processing
The scope of a logistics manager’s work is vast. Logistics managers are responsible for fleet loading and safety, route maps, fuel bills, and more. Most of these responsibilities are performed manually, which requires exceptionally high attention to detail and repeated cross-checking. The devil is in the details, and calculation or planning mistakes can lead to severe issues en-route. Besides, the work is tedious. Logistics companies experience high turnover among logistic specialists.
With your well-thought-out Uber-like app for trucking, you can automate routine tasks and ensure flawless logistics operations. This will help companies worldwide save time and money on solving potential troubles. Besides, you can cut the time needed for recruiting and hiring employees.
- Optimizing fuel costs
Cutting transportation costs is a top priority of any logistics business. When fuel costs rise, there’s little companies can do about it. What they can do is optimize fuel consumption. But how?
With detailed information about routes, possible delays, customs rules, weather conditions, and so on, logistics managers may slightly optimize costs. However, calculations and forecasts take much time and effort. An app like Uber for trucks can process data in the background and efficiently optimize fuel costs. As a result, companies can decrease transportation costs.
Inefficiency is another pain point to pay attention to. After delivering an order, trucks often return empty. On average, more than 35% of all miles driven are empty. This leads to unnecessary expenses, additional headaches, and wasted time.
An Uber-like app may easily fix this pain point. As all orders are processed on demand, trucks will be optimally loaded. The principle is straightforward: software analyzes orders and their features like size and weight and combines orders in the most efficient way to optimize a truck’s load.
- Protect the environment
Empty miles result in unbelievable amounts of CO2 emissions. Thus, while striving to cut expenses and optimize workflows, businesses can fulfil another critical mission: taking care of the environment.
- Avoid brokers
To overcome the challenges mentioned above, carriers often work with brokers. A broker plays the role of an intermediary between a shipper and a carrier. Brokers can help carriers cut empty miles, but doing so means adding a broker’s fee to the overall transportation costs. And as costs rise, the interest of potential customers decreases.
More than 90% of trucking services are booked using the old-school brokerage method. However, a high-quality software solution may replace intermediaries for an affordable price. You can build an app that’s attractive to both carriers and shippers, calculating the most efficient load and solving multiple challenges at once.
Now that you know how to build a trucking app like Uber Freight and can clearly see the market demand, let’s take a look at some startups that have succeeded in the niche you’d like to enter.
This startup’s prominent feature is a focus on ecology. The Convoy team implements a zero-waste approach in its mission and claims to eliminate a huge amount of carbon emissions.
Droppa is an on-demand trucking service operating in South Africa. Founded in 2016, it meets the needs of customers in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. The booking process is straightforward: a shipper enters a pick-up address, chooses a vehicle, and sets the drop-off address. During the global coronavirus lockdown, this small but promising company has reported massive growth.
Blackbuck is India’s largest trucking platform, and it now operates in Europe too. Its story began in 2015. Four years later, Blackbuck raised $150 million. Currently, there are more than 300,000 trucks and 10,000 clients on the platform. Industry experts expect Blackbuck to soon reach a $1 billion market valuation and become the 17th Indian unicorn.
Act as the founders of these companies did. Find a region that needs a reliable, high-quality, and bugless app like Uber for trucking. Choosing the right target market is the key to your app’s popularity.
Last but not least, we have another weighty reason for you to build a trucking app:
— Dr. Walter Rentzsch and Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, Automotive World
Focus on a region where trucking apps like Uber don’t operate or where the quality of service is poor. Then find out how to satisfy local demand. Start slowly and build a trucking 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
Build an MVP and become a strong rival to Uber Freight.