How to Make a Transportation App: Guidance Based on Our Case Study

15 min read
Jul 15, 2021
How to Make a Transportation App: Guidance Based on Our Case Study
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Transportation Apps: Market Overview

Ever since Uber revolutionized ride-hailing, stakeholders have refocused their lenses on the transportation industry. But before Uber, transportation apps have existed in many other forms, both in transportation and logistics mobile apps development.

There is every indication that transportation apps usage would continue to soar. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration of the US Department of Transportation published a document explaining all the various ways in which smartphone applications will begin to influence travel choices. This includes transport pricing, cognitive impacts, information availability, consumer trust.

make a transportation app and the world will be a better place

Stakeholders continue to look towards solutions that enable easier commute for riders as well as better transit for logistics drivers. All these form the foundation of a truly innovative society. Therefore, this is an important guide for how to make a transportation app for a company that looks to record success in the transportation business by building a competitive mobile solution. You can also read about ERP software for supply chain management in our blog.

Main Reasons to Build a Transportation App

Not only transportation companies need to develop a transportation app. Any company that has an elaborate supply chain can benefit from creating a transportation app. Really, you can’t separate transportation and logistics mobile apps development. It is helpful for managing their warehousing, trucking, and logistics management needs, to ensure a smoother flow across the supply network and ultimately enhance service delivery.

Building a transportation app for logistics management would facilitate seamless movement by optimizing supply routes, fleet administration, freight dispatching, and delivery schedule. Therefore, how to make a transportation app begins with establishing the main reasons you might need one, in the first place. Examples of transportation apps, by the way, include Uber, Moovit, Citymapper, Google Maps, etc.

Uber mem

Eliminate redundant paperwork: mobile solutions are useful for collecting, managing, and consolidating data from various sources. Such data can then be used to generate instant reports by analyzing relevant metrics from driving time.

There is no how to make a transportation app that won’t help you to optimize your office processes unless the solution is inefficient. Many of these processes can be automated, thereby eliminating redundant paperwork. In so doing, the transportation management system and productivity receive a boost.

  • Monitor performance and maintain visibility: logistics business is a complex, intricate process. There are several layers of management, just to ensure that operations run smoothly. However, very often, there are still performance gaps and blind spots that escape the watchful eyes of line managers. In this case, tracking logistics operations via a mobile platform can help to eliminate many of these blind spots, enabling managers to maintain consistent visibility over products, goods, assets, as well as the employees involved in handling these items.
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  • Driver efficiency: transportation apps are not only useful for managers, but also for vehicle drivers themselves. Using a mobile platform, drivers can track payments and orders to ensure that they adequately fulfil their KPIs. With direct access to their work history, drivers can be more efficient and reliable in discharging their duties and also by providing regular reports to their managers even without face-to-face contact or filing paperwork.
  • Customer Experience: customers are another category of people that can benefit when transportation or logistics companies create a mobile app. Today’s customer wants fast deliveries as well as regular updates on the status of their orders. By building a transportation app for customers, they can access real-time information about their orders. Also, by providing a mobile solution for such a purpose, a logistics company can deliver orders faster. This ultimately leads to greater customer retention and brand loyalty.
fast delivery
  • Create a marketing channel: transportation apps for customers are a great way to market to the customers. All the information that you want customers to access is present on their phones within the app. Therefore, creating a transportation app brings opportunities in terms of upselling, cross-selling, push notifications and other marketing efforts, crossing the bounds of traditional marketing channels including social media.
  • Reduced cost and improved management: overall, using a mobile app can help a transportation company save on costs that would have been expended on traditional, inefficient methods. Mobile apps optimise several processes that in turn reduce costs. In addition, with a mobile platform that provides accurate real-time updates on supply chain operations, managers, drivers, customers, and every other person involved in the process can make decisions faster.

Key Features of the Transportation Apps

Another important aspect of how to create a transportation app is to determine the key features of the apps. This section lists some of the most popular features of a transportation app for the customer panel, driver panel and admin panel. You can find that in many ways, transportation and logistics mobile apps development share similar features.

Customer Panel Features

  • Push Notifications: there are a lot of uses for push notifications. One, they can be used to alert users to unexpected failures and interruptions such as a traffic jam, an emergency, or any other such incident that may cause a delay. This puts the customer’s mind at rest. In addition, push notifications can be used to update customers on the live status of their orders including schedules, in the case of logistics service.
  • Messaging: customers should have access to an app chat feature that allows them to communicate with drivers and admins as necessary. The messaging feature doesn’t have to have heavy functionalities like a full-fledged messenger app. However, users should be able to share text messages and also, possibly pictures and documents, as required per the unique situation.
dialog with uber driver
  • Vehicle booking: for creating a transportation app that doesn’t deal with logistics, such as a ride-hailing service, customers surely need to be able to book vehicles and schedule trips. So this is an essential feature. The booking feature should also provide fare estimation. Other essential customer panel features include user authentication (for sign-ups), profile management, driver rating, billings and payments, contact driver, etc.

Driver Panel Features

  • Map and Navigation Guidance: with a map integrated into the app, drivers can follow the correct navigation via guided routes so that drivers don’t get lost while on duty. The app can also provide live information on the traffic situation so that drivers can optimise their routes ahead. There should also be an offline map functionality, especially for places without adequate connectivity.
uber mem
  • Log feature: this feature allows drivers to record their daily and hourly activities, including mileage travelled, deliveries picked up, orders successfully delivered, number of work hours, etc. This feature is also useful for the admins, as they are responsible for protecting company assets and the driver’s log, which admins must also have access to, is a great way to ensure that nothing is lost and everything goes according to plan.

Admin Panel Features

  • GPS location tracking: this is useful for everyone including customers and drivers but mostly for the admin. By monitoring the real-time location of drivers and packages, admins and managers can be kept abreast of the live situation of things. They can also be alerted immediately in the case of an emergency or other unexpected interruption.
  • Offline support: even by building a transportation app, you can’t be sure that drivers and other users won’t find themselves in a place without adequate internet connectivity. Therefore, as the admin, you should be able to provide offline mobile support so that drivers and customers can reach you in time, particularly for emergency complaints.
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  • Admin dashboard and trip reporting: with an admin dashboard, managers can access trip reports and make adequate decisions. The dashboard is typically a summary of each driver’s activities, shipments and orders completed, and so on. The trip report provides more details about each activity. Admins can also manage their vehicle fleet from the dashboard.

Tech Stack for Building a Transportation App

How to make mobile application for transportation is not really different from mobile solutions for other industries. You can only decide on the tech stack with which to build a transportation app after you have determined which features the app would have.

This section summarises the options for different parts while you develop a transportation app. You should be careful when selecting each option because the tech stack used to build an app has a lot to do with its resulting performance and functionality. Remember that in how to create a transportation app, the tech stack is everything.

Messaging and support

  • Twilio: provides communication APIs that allows you to connect with customers via different channels, including intelligent chatbots and videos.
  • Bandwidth: a Twilio alternative that has cheaper pricing and a decent array of communication API features.

Authentication

  • Auth0: a very popular API platform for identity authentication and designing custom login boxes including Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication
  • OneLogin: OneLogin promises 9x faster onboarding and over 6,000 app integrations
password mem

Payments gateway

  • Stripe: Stripe describes itself as the ‘payments infrastructure for the internet’, used by several companies including Fortune 500s.
  • PayPal: Paypal’s Payflow payment gateway provides high checkout conversion, supporting all major debit and credit cards.

Database management

  • MongoDB: MongoDB boasts of useful features such as horizontal scaling, automatic failing, unified API, and the likes, in database management.
  • MySQL: MySQL is designed for cloud-native applications

Cloud functionality

  • Amazon Web Services: AWS is the leader in cloud hosting of the three top platforms (with Azure and Google Cloud)
  • Microsoft Azure: Azure provides very fast, scalable cloud hosting services.

Frontend development

  • JavaScript: the language of the web; and the most popular programming language in the world. Mainly used for building web applications. It also features frameworks such as Node.js, Angular, Vue.js, etc.
  • HTML: this is the markup language that determines the structure of a website’s content.
  • CSS: it is an assistive technology used with JavaScript and HTML for styling web pages.
when you create a transportation app make sure, that frontend and backend developers work together

Backend development

  • Node.js: described as a JavaScript runtime environment, Node.js is open-source and popular for its single-threading, event-driven approach to application development.
  • Ruby: Ruby has been around for a long time and its object-oriented programming (OOP) is still loved by developers.
  • Python: Python is object-oriented, like Ruby but not as elegant as the latter. However, it prioritises stability and that is a huge advantage in the debugging process.
  • Laravel: a PHP web framework that prides itself on expressive and elegant syntax.

Mobile app development

  • React Native: an open-source framework by Facebook for building cross-platform mobile apps.
  • Ionic: software development kit for building cross-platform native apps
  • Flutter: a software development kit by Google for building cross-platform apps

How Much Does It Cost To Make a Transport Application

It is important to take into cognisance that different transportation apps would require different features. More so, the more complex the feature, the more hours required, and the more expenses would rise. Just like when you want to build an inventory management system it requires a custom solution for each project. To build a transportation app with basic features can cost as little as $30,000. But keep in mind that such an app would be really stripped down.

For additional functionalities, without making the logistics app feature-heavy, you most probably need to expend more than $50,000. Very complex apps often cost more than $100,000 and even as high as $150,000. Keep in mind that these figures only cover transportation app development costs.

You may also need to include possible expenses on recruitment, onboarding, etc. However, by using an offshore goods transport app development, you can eliminate some of the recruitment and onboarding costs for a more cost-effective process.

Also, the estimates above are typical estimates to develop a transportation app that’s full-fledged. An MVP (minimum viable product) definitely costs less, since deployment expenses are usually not yet considered. An MVP is important because it allows you to collect important feedback before developing the app.

MVP design and development, since it’s the bare-bones version of the app, can be concluded within a couple of months and cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000. Building an MVP first helps you save cost when proceeding with the full-fledged goods transport app development process because you would have gathered more useful information on how users can interact with the app.

To get an idea of how much it costs to hire transportation app software development talents to build your app, see the table below, which gives details of each type of professional needed, as well as their average hourly rates.

RoleAverage Hourly Rate
Android developer $54
iOS developer $55
Backend developer $40
Frontend developer $45
Web developer $36
QA Tester $36
UI/UX Designer $44
Project Manager$38

The table represents the national average hourly rates in the United States according to ZipRecruiter. Definitely, you can come across cheaper rates for the same quality in countries such as Ukraine, India, Mexico, etc.

Particularly, Ukraine is the best choice because of its low rates; developers in Ukraine charge less because of the low cost of living. So, you are still getting the same quality service. In how to create a transportation app, you are most likely better off hiring a company from any of these countries to handle the process.

6 Steps to Make a Transport Application

As mentioned in a previous section, there is no much difference between the overall process of how to make mobile application for transportation or building one for another industry. However, there might be differences in the finer details.

Step 1. Why do you need a transportation app?

Determine the type of app it is going to be. There are different types of transportation apps for different reasons: fleet management, ride-hailing, logistics management, warehousing, and so on. This is the stage when you define your main objectives for the app. You should determine how the app would work and whether it would be monetized or not, among other details.

business talk

Step 2. Who is the app for?

Determine your audience. A transportation platform app may be for either or all of three categories of people: the customers, the drivers, and the admin. Uber, for instance, has two publicly available apps, Uber, for the riders, and Uber Driver app, for the drivers. You need to understand the target audience and their needs. That would inform the next step.

Step 3. What features should the app have?

Another step in trying to make a transport application is that once you have determined your objectives and your target audience, the next step is to make an outline of the necessary features. There is a section in this article that you may use as a guide. Be sure to capture as many possible features as possible. Moreover, categorize these features according to priority, so that your developers would know which to put their best efforts into.

Step 4. What is the tech stack?

The next step is to determine the tech stack and integrations that would be enabled on the app. At this stage, you already know which operating system your app would run on (Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, etc.) Also, would the app be a native app, a hybrid app, or a web app? Would the app require cloud storage? All these questions are pointers to form the tech stack.

If you are not knowledgeable in transportation app development, you can defer this to the next stage, that is, by hiring a software development partner and going through counseling sessions to determine the tech stack. The tech stack simply refers to the set of tools to be used in building the app according to the set requirements.

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So, there is the server-side stack, comprising backend programming languages and frameworks, servers, databases, etc. The client-side stack comprises HTML, CSS, and other tools including JavaScript and relevant libraries and frameworks. Some popular tech stacks include MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and NodeJS), LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), MEVN (a variation of MEAN that uses Vue.js instead of Angular).

There is no hard and fast rule to this; your tech stack must be customised to the solution you want.

Step 5. Who builds the app?

Some companies have an in-house development team. However, for projects like this, you may want to outsource the actual transportation mobile app development to a software development company; it reduces the load on your in-house team so that they have free time to focus on other business tasks.

Moreover, companies like ProCoders provide custom transportation app software development solutions and hire app developers for you. That is, we listen to the needs and requirements of our clients and find developers for startup, then assemble a team of expert developers from our ready pool.

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This has helped our clients to save a lot of expenses that would have otherwise gone towards recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and the likes. In any case, the most important point is to let your transportation mobile app development be handled by experts, even when you outsource app development.

Step 6. Who maintains the app?

This is an important step if you know you are building an app for the future. If you decide to hire a transportation app software development team via a platform like ProCoders, you need to clarify details of maintenance.

Will the offshore team be responsible for maintaining the app? Or will they have to hand over the codebase to your in-house team for maintenance? If the latter is the case, how will you ensure an effective transition? These questions are important if you want your app to survive for as long as possible in the market.

Our Case Study in Transportation App Development

ProCoders had experience building a transportation app for Same Day Courier Network, a transport trading exchange solution that serves companies as well as couriers, hauliers, shippers, etc. Therefore, the app was to be a full-fledged transport logistics solution. SDCN contacted ProCoders to build a mobile app for handling reservations.

The goods transport app development project took us 1 year and 4 months, a highly efficient turnaround period that beat the estimated time, considering the demands of the app. It was built on a tech stack comprising AngularJS for the frontend, Laravel PHP for the backend, and MySQL for database management.

SDCN logistic platform development already had a functioning mobile app but its functionalities needed to be upgraded to an updated Laravel framework as well as new features. ProCoders developed the complete app with half the price that Western developers would have cost, thereby helping SDCN save costs.

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Functionalities required on the app included a live availability feature for space reservation, an upgraded billing system, etc. ProCoders also needed to handle sundry maintenance needs and technical migrations.

After reviewing the needs of this app, ProCoders proceeded to assemble a team of expert developers to work offshore and ensure the right delivery of the app. As the project was approaching its end, Richard Mole, the Managing Director of SDCN said that “The first 12 months have been very productive and communication has been excellent.” This testifies to the impressive job that ProCoders had delivered.

F. A. Q.
What is the biggest challenge for transportation apps?

Transportation apps are never one-way. Transportation apps for supply chain logistics have to cater to drivers and managers. Customer-facing transportation apps have to additionally cater to customers. Developing an app that addresses multiple channels is a test that every transportation business must pass.

What tech stack should you use to develop a transportation application?

To develop a transportation app, the tech stack entirely depends on the requirements and features. There are certain popular stacks but after setting the requirements and objectives of the application, you may discover that a different tool is better. Before determining a tech stack for your transportation app, finalise your expectations concerning the app.

Why does a transportation business need an app?

The world is advancing rapidly and increasingly mobile. People use their mobile devices to not just keep in touch with loved ones, but also to run their lives more efficiently. Building a transportation app reduces the raw workload of your managers, enhances the productivity of your drivers, and improves the lives of your customers.

Conclusion

Certainly, you have learned a lot from this guide on how to make mobile application for transportation. Smartphones and mobile apps have made our lives easier in many ways, transport not being the least of these. By building a functional app, a company is poised to make headway in the industry, given the number of applications where an app would be required.

That’s where ProCoders comes in to hire remote developers, assembling teams of transportation mobile app development talents to build highly functional apps, including transportation apps for fleet management, logistics management, ride-hailing, and so on. Contact ProCoders today for your custom transportation app development solution.

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