Food Delivery Apps, and Low-hanging Fruit

December 12, 2019

When we’re hungry, we tend to be more impatient. In fact, we’re more likely to be grumpy, irritable, and impatient (or is it just me?). These are not the people you want to keep waiting, and these are the people food delivery app vendors serve daily. How can they satisfy their hungry users? A few hungry folks at HeadSpin recently did some analysis on food delivery apps and identified the key performance indicators these apps can look at to keep their users full and content.

Criticality of Responsiveness in The Food Delivery App Space

The food delivery app market is huge and expanding, expected to grow to $16.61 billion by 2023. According to eMarketer research, food delivery app usage will surpass 44 million people in the US by 2020, reaching nearly 60 million by 2023. However, this is a market that’s also growing more competitive, especially given that consumers can now use multiple apps to order from the same restaurant. This market is also very fluid, with low barriers to entry and exit, which means customer retention is proving to be very tough. In fact, a CleverTap report found that 86 percent of new users will stop using an app within two weeks of the first launch.

The challenge is that, for many dev and QA teams, performance of mobile applications is still something of a black box. Prior to releasing an app, developers have to contend with a lot of variables, including different devices, operating systems, and network carriers across a range of locations. Further, if a user reports an issue, it can be difficult for teams to recreate the circumstances that led to the problem, identify the root cause, and figure out how to fix it. This is the problem that we at HeadSpin help our customers solve.

Findings and Key Takeaways

Below we’ve identified key performance areas that food delivery apps can pay attention to, and potential fixes based on proven general fixes. For vendors looking to optimize user experience, these tactics can represent low-hanging fruit. Ultimately, digital experience impacts social ratings. Averaging a 4.5 out of 5 is good, but 4.6 is better; you always want to be moving the needle in a positive direction.

While the takeaways are focused on customer experience in the food delivery segment, performance is also a critical aspect for drivers. Food delivery app vendors could perform drive tests on select routes. One of our customers recently conducted such a test. Their team used our proprietary physical boxes for on-premises solutions, running them in the trunks of their delivery vehicles.

  • Slow servers: Servers can be lagging for any number of reasons, but this is an important area to dig into. By clicking on the message block for an impacted host on the HeadSpin platform, we can see what resources are being served to an app and validating that the physical location of the destination IP is where we expect it to be.

  • Slow TLS: Some apps are plagued by lagging TLS response times and wait to complete handshakes with hosts. The network hop between distributed devices and destination IP addresses are sometimes the cause of these delays. A third-party SDK for an application performance management tool that a vendor uses can contribute to slow TLS.
  • HTTP Redirects: These issues can be very costly from a performance standpoint, requiring additional DNS, TCP, TLS, and request-response round trips.
  • HTTP Errors: HTTP responses that are client errors (401s) for certain requests can have a negative impact on the end user experience.
  • Duplicate messages: In most cases, an app wouldn’t need to download the same resource multiple times. Often times, hosts in apps receive identical copies of resources. One potential fix for this issue could be caching HTTP requests so duplicates never reach the server.
  • Connection reuse: Some apps create new TCP sessions rather than use existing ones, which can introduce delays. By changing timeout settings, teams can avoid having connections dropped prematurely, which could mitigate any performance hits.
  • Low Page Content: When apps display a virtually blank screen, this is a clear user experience issue. To address this, teams should correlate among a number of root causes, including long network requests, network saturation, usage levels, and so on.

Whether you’re in banking, retail, or any other segment, the performance of your mobile apps matters. When you’re in a segment that’s as competitive and prone to churn as the food delivery space, it’s especially critical to ensure an optimal experience every time. That’s why having a tool that can give you visibility into the end users’ experience, and deliver insights into exactly where performance hits are occurring is so critical.

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