Logistics App Development: Types, Features, and Costs to Innovate in the Transportation Industry
Logistics is an integral part of any industry.
eCommerce, mining, construction, infrastructure development, and many other industries deal with transporting goods and raw materials.
The size of the heavy-duty truck market was estimated at 350 billion in 2020. The market will grow at a CAGR of over 4% between 2021 and 2027.
Expensive ownership and maintenance costs, frequent wear and tear of trucks, fleet management, warehouse management, and route optimization all impact the logistics industry.
Logistics app development can help businesses deal with the challenges mentioned above. A logistics application is a comprehensive solution that helps companies manage all logistics operations such as their fleet, routes, drivers, goods, shipment details, etc.
In this logistics app development guide, you’ll learn how to build a logistics solution that is tailored to your specific business needs to improve business efficiency and have better control over transportation and delivery operations.
Here’s a short preview of what’s included in the article:
- How logistics apps work
- Why existing transport and logistics apps fail
- Main types and examples of logistics solutions
- Logistics app features
- Tech stack and integrations for logistics app development
- Step-by-step process of transportations app development
- Logistics app development cost breakdown
Let’s get started!
How Does a Logistics App Work?
Logistics deals with the transportation and storage of products and goods. While it’s just a part of a broader field – supply chain – there are a lot of processes involved. Planning, storage, packing, inventory, transport, control, and management are the critical processes involved in logistics.
This is where a logistics app development solution can come to the rescue. This software acts as a single point of control over all operations. Companies can monitor all their processes in real-time, get access to the information they need to make data-driven decisions, and manage their businesses, employees, and processes more efficiently.
Why Do Logistic Apps Fail?
Logistics app development can bring many benefits to a business when done properly. However, these solutions fail to meet the ROI expectations sometimes.
Why does this happen?
Let’s explore some reasons that turn logistics mobile app development into a waste of time and money.
Lack of quality
You can build a logistics solution with robust features, but poor quality of the code will undermine all your efforts. A lot of bugs will hinder business processes instead of making them smoother. Without strong security infrastructure, data leaks and cyberattacks become possible and can bring your business to its knees.
Apps do not consider user experience
Sometimes businesses create apps without considering the users who will use them after release. For example, if you create an app for drivers, it’s important to first explore what devices they are using while driving. This will help create an app that meets user expectations and minimizes the learning curve.
Load of functionality
Businesses often make the mistake of combining a lot of features into a single app. Creating separate apps to work with these tasks might be better if you need solutions to manage warehousing and to track the trucks in a fleet. However, bloating an app with many features will make it too cluttered and difficult to use. This is why knowing your business and its needs is the first step to creating a solution that will be user-friendly and useful.
Lack of marketing
If you build an app for internal use, you won’t need to deal with marketing. However, if you’re building an app for external users, you’ll need to promote it among the target audience. Hoping that a product will sell itself is the road that leads to failure. The sooner a business understands this, the less money they stand to lose.
System is non-scalable
Businesses are always evolving and changing and so do their requirements when it comes to logistics solutions. You can build a solution today and find out tomorrow that it lacks some critical features. If the app is built scalable, adding new functionality won’t be a problem. If it’s not built with scalability in mind, one day, you’ll find a solution that fails to meet business requirements. In a case like this, businesses need to create a new solution from scratch, which costs much more in the long run.
Lack of post-release support
Logistics app development is not a one-and-done process. After the solution release, the phase involving its support and ongoing development begins. You’ll need to analyze how users interact with the solution, what features they need, and how you can improve their experience. As the business evolves, you’ll probably need to add or customize new features.
Businesses that forget about post-release support quickly find themselves with a solution that fails to meet business expectations, stops working properly, and becomes vulnerable to security threats.
While a software development services company can help you create an outstanding logistics solution from a technical point of view, it’s your job to ensure they fully understand your business objectives and the primary users of the app.
Do you want to create a logistics app for your business, but are confused about where to start?
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Logistics App Development Solution Types & Examples
The name ‘logistics apps’ covers different solutions that a business can build to streamline operations. Let’s look at different logistics apps to see what you can get with transport and logistics app development.
1. Fleet Management Mobile Apps
The fleet is the backbone of any logistics business. If you can’t manage your fleet efficiently, you won’t be able to move items between locations.
This is where transportation software development can make a difference. For example, fleet management applications allow businesses to collect, manage, and store information about all of their trucks.
Some transportation management apps can collect and store each truck’s maintenance history to keep track of all part replacements and ensure timely maintenance. Other apps gather data to calculate the total service costs and ownership expenses.
The main goal of transportation management application development is to help business owners run their logistics operations smoothly and cost-effectively.
Examples: GasBuddy, Azura Fleet, Verizon Connect, Fleetio
2. Logistics On-Demand Mobile Apps
On-demand delivery apps are probably the most popular types of logistics apps. These applications allow businesses to improve income if the trucks can take customer cargo and move it between locations.
After a company that needs transportation services creates a request, the nearest driver with the spare room in their vehicle receives it, accepts the freight, picks it up, and delivers it to its destination. The company that owns the truck makes money on every one of these deliveries. Therefore, you can add a new revenue stream for your company with custom application development for logistics.
Examples: Uber Freight, Cargobase, Truckstop.com, Motive
3. Warehouse Mobile Apps
Keeping track of a warehouse and everything happening there can be challenging. Warehouse management solutions make sure that all shipments reach their destinations on time.
Warehouse management applications are usually equipped with barcode scanning technologies that help businesses keep track of hundreds or thousands of items. These solutions automate processes, reduce human-induced errors, and update real-time information.
Examples: Veeqo, NetSuite WMS, Sortly, Astro WMS
If you think that your warehouse could benefit from automation, check out the article Technology in Warehousing: Ultimate Guide on Innovation with 10 Trends. You’ll learn what problems innovative technologies can solve for your business, examples of solutions that you can build, and uncover the three-step process of incorporating technology in warehouse operations.
4. Route Optimization Apps
Route optimization can also be a task for custom logistics mobile app development. These applications help dispatchers and drivers plan the most efficient routes between points A and B. Thanks to the automation of this task, route optimization apps increase business efficiency and allow drivers to deliver shipments faster while keeping drivers up to date on traffic jams, accidents, construction, and other occurrences that might delay delivery.
Examples: Onfleet, Circuit Route Planner, Routific, Upper Route Planner
As you can see, there are various types of apps that a logistics app development company can help you build to make your business more efficient.
Logistics App Features for Customers, Drivers, and Dispatchers
Once you know what type of logistics app you’re going to build, you’ll need to choose the features you want to integrate into the app. The final set of features of logistics app development should depend on your business objectives and goals.
Let’s review some key features distributed based on the user role within the app.
Customer Logistics App Features
- Easy sign up/sign in – depending on the app you’re going to build, you might need to create a user account. User registration is a cornerstone functionality and the first interaction users have with the app. The registration process should be seamless and fast and shouldn’t require filling our thousands of fields. It’s possible to add multiple sign-up and sign-in options such as with an email address, phone number, or with social media accounts.
- Real-time truck tracking – real-time truck location allows customers to track their products on a map in real-time.
- Confirmation and payment – when customers order a delivery, provide them with the ability to pay for delivery right inside the logistics application. You can integrate the app with multiple payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. As well, it’s important to provide customers with the ability to pay with cash upon delivery.
- Driver rate & reviews – with this feature, customers can rate the delivery and its quality. This information allows the business to build a trusting relationship with customers and also allows the business to track the performance of drivers and the services provided. The insight gained through this functionality can be used to improve business operations and the services provided.
Dispatcher Logistics App Features
- Admin features – an admin panel provides you with full control over a logistics application, its content, and other users. An admin panel aggregates and provides access to information about all deliveries, drivers, trucks, shipping reviews, maintenance, and repairs statuses. Depending on business purposes, it’s possible to add different features to the admin panel such as a map with vehicle tracking in real-time, fleet management, etc.
- Insightful dashboard with analytics – real-time analytics is a must-have feature of a logistics app for dispatchers. A dashboard with insight like this will help you make better data-driven decisions in an ever-changing market.
- Vehicle management and maintenance – one of the core features of logistics software development integrates with devices installed on vehicles in your fleet. You get real-time insight into the depreciation of the core technical aspects of fleet units like braking systems, shock absorbers, etc. As a result, businesses can order maintenance services even before they are required.
- Transaction management – management of all transactions is a must-have feature for the admin panel. The manager of the business can store and process all data related to transactions and manage payments to drivers or customers, as well as control other financial operations.
- Driver management – this feature automates routine tasks and provides insight into the performance of each driver. Driver management features can provide information about on-road activity, kilometers covered, fuel consumption, etc.
- Reports – these include revenue estimates based on current performance, the most productive drivers, best delivery times, estimated time of arrival, etc.
- Notifications – managers receive notifications about some critical event that may require their involvement. These events may be unexpected deviations from the route, unexpected delays in delivery, and so on.
Drivers Features for Logistics Apps
- Driver profile – this profile should contain key information about drivers and their vehicles such as name, age, driver’s license number, type and expiration date, photo, and phone number. This information can be used for business process management and assigning specific orders to drivers.
- Shipping details – all the details about orders that drivers might need such as pick-up address, drop-off address, contact details, preferred delivery date and time, etc.
- Voice control – voice control is critical for any driver application. Integration with Siri or Google Assistant will allow drivers to use the functionality of the app while driving and in situations when they can’t hold a smartphone or tablet in their hands.
- NFC – integration with near-field communication technology allows you to automate some tasks like tracking shipment status.
- QR code/barcode scanning – this feature also allows you to automate routine tasks like controlling different stages of the delivery process such as warehouse management, checking products when unloading, etc.
- Voice and text messaging – built-in communication tools allow drivers to communicate with dispatchers or managers with voice or text messages. This functionality allows drivers to exchange messages without switching to another application and voice messages are great for safe driving.
- Videos and photos – the built-in messenger needs to provide the functionality to take photos or videos of goods and save and send them. This feature is great when drivers need to take photos of goods before and after delivery or when they need to send photos of documents to their managers.
- Navigation & AI/ML route optimization – navigation is a must-have feature of logistics app development. The functionality is just like Google Maps, where drivers can see a map with the pick-up/drop-off locations. You can also add some advanced features like route optimization with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The app would analyze the data in real-time and offer the best routes based on traffic situations on the roads leading to the destination.
- Weather updates – the app for drivers can also be integrated with a weather solution to provide real-time updates on weather conditions. This information may be very useful for drivers who work around difficult weather conditions, especially in winter or during hot summer days.
- Push notifications – these allow drivers to stay up to date with everything from new shipping orders or any changes and adjustments made to current shopping orders.
- Availability toggle & ability to accept/reject pick-up requests – if you’re planning to create a logistics marketplace, you’ll need to add this feature to allow drivers to set their availability within the app.
- Electronic proof of delivery – ePOD (electronic Proof of Delivery) allows drivers to take order confirmation with photo capture, signature capture, or barcode scanning.
Learn why it’s worth investing in the development of GPS-powered features in our article How to Create a Location-Based App: Detailed Process & GPS Technology Explained. The guide covers the technical and business aspects of building such an app, and explains how the development cost is calculated.
Tech Stack & Integration for Logistics App Development
After you’ve decided on the features list for logistics mobile app development, you will need to choose the technology stack to power your application. The final list of technologies will depend on your business objective and the app you’re going to develop.
Below, you can see a list of some technologies that can be used for logistics app development solutions:
- User registration & authentication: Auth0, OneLogin
- Database management: MongoDB, MySQL
- Payments: PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay
- Cloud computing: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud
- Navigation: Google Maps API
- Push notifications: Twilio, Push.io
- Analytics: MixPanel, AppsFlyer, Firebase by Google Analytics
Logistics Mobile App Development: Step-by-Step Process
Custom logistics services app development is the process during which you create the backbone of your solution. This backbone is an ecosystem that encompasses different features and parts of the app.
To create a logistics application, you’ll need to go through the following steps:
- Find and hire a logistics app development company
- Sign an NDA and communicate your business idea
- Get a rough estimate of logistics app development cost
- Launch the process of custom logistics mobile app development
- Build and launch the logistic app’s MVP
- Expand the logistics app with advanced features
Let’s take a deeper look at the key steps in logistics mobile app development.
1. Find & Hire Capable Developers
As the first step of logistics app development, you will need to hire a development team to take on your project.
When looking for experts providing logistics delivery app development services, you’re presented with a few options:
- Hire in-house developers
- Hire app developers from an IT vendor company
- Outsource logistics app development to an offshore company
Get in-depth insight into hiring the best developers in our article How to Hire an App Developer for Your Project. The article explains where to look for developers, tech specializations, and covers key steps of the hiring process.
You can use such platforms as Clutch, GoodFirms, and SoftwareWorld to choose from among software development companies from all over the world.
Make the right choice from among thousands of mobile app development companies in the world. Check our article Vendor Selection Criteria (It’s Not Only the Cost & Rates That Matter) to understand what you need to base your choice on and how to make the most important choice for the future of your application.
Whatever option you choose, you’ll need to hire not one developer but a whole team of experts for your project. Usually, a development team consists of the following specialists:
- Project manager – the person responsible for the planning, procurement, execution, and completion of a project. The PM is responsible for the entire project, manages the team, allocates resources to tasks, and controls the whole project’s scope. If you hire an outsourced development team, the project manager will become the intermediate between you and the development team.
- Business analyst – the person responsible for assessing processes, determining project requirements, and interpreting and documenting business processes through analysis of data.
- UX/UI designers – create a user-friendly interface for a mobile application. User Experience designers concentrate on creating the layout of the app and defining how users will interact with it, whilst User Interface designers create the visual elements of app design.
- Software development engineers – developers create the code of an app based on business requirements. Their main goal is to build a high-quality mobile application that is secure, highly scalable, and robust.
- Quality assurance engineers – the professional who finds bugs in a product before its launch, collaborates with developers to fix those problems, and releases a bug-free application to the market.
Need the expertise to build a logistics app?
Get in touch with MLSDev to discuss your business operations and requirements. We’ll help you build a custom and scalable solution.
3. Receive a rough logistics app estimate
A rough estimation of the cost of logistics app development will help you make the right choice from among the companies available. When you choose a vendor, the cost differences can fluctuate from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The final price depends on a number of factors such as the location of the vendor, their size, and their specialty.
While making a choice, keep in mind that the cheapest option might not be the most cost-effective in the end. In some cases, companies with higher rates have more experience and are ready to take on more complex projects. As a result, no unexpected problems arise in the middle of logistics app development and the process runs smoothly and according to the project plan.
4. Launch the development process
After you’re ready to proceed with logistics mobile app development, you need to launch the process. Usually, any project consists of a few main stages:
- Discovery – the discovery stage concentrates on further analysis of the business idea, finalizing said idea, and the preparation of complete functional specifications and product backlog. This stage requires the involvement of a business analyst, software architect, and project manager. You can do the business analysis yourself or use the business analysis services of the company working on your project.
- Prototyping and design – during this stage, you need to do UX research and create UX and UI design of your app. When designing an app, you need to keep your users in mind. The app should provide them with a seamless user experience and be user-friendly. You can either work with the vendor you’ve chosen for development or hire a third-party company providing UX/UI design services.
- Development and testing – during this stage, all the fun happens. Developers work on the features of the app while QA engineers provide quality assurance services and make sure that no bug will survive as far as the app release. A fully working app is the key goal of this stage.
- Deployment – after the app is ready, you need to launch it to the market. After the release, you can add your application to app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store.
- Maintenance – app release doesn’t mean the end of logistics app development. Even if you don’t plan to add new features, you’ll need to work on the app’s security and scalability.
5. Build and launch your logistic app's MVP
You can go two ways – build an MVP or a full-fledged product. Most companies use the first option, as it provides faster time to market and ROI. When working on the MVP of a mobile app, it’s crucial to identify the list of the must-have features that the app should have. All the other features can be added later with the release of further versions.
6. Expand the logistics app with advanced features
After the app has been successfully launched to the market, you can continue working on its improvements and future versions. Utilize feedback from users helps to decide what changes to make with further app iterations.
For instance, usage of Big Data and AI/ML would significantly improve internal logistics operations, allow you to gain new insight from data analysis, as well as outperform industry competitors.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Logistics App?
The logistics app development cost can vary depending on the number of platforms you are going to target with the first version of your solution.
Usually, the basic version of a logistics application will cost you around $60,000 and have a timeline of 3 to 6 months. For these calculations, we used an average development rate of $40/hour with Ukraine as the outsourcing location.
The final development cost depends on the following factors:
- Design complexity
- Number of platforms
- Number of features
- Functionality and its complexity
- Type of IT vendor and their location
The cost of logistics app development also depends on the team you need for your project. While it might be tempting to hire freelancers for the job to cut expenses, this is a risky decision that may undermine all your efforts and put your project at risk.
Learn more about factors that influence the logistics app development cost in our article App Development Cost: Understand Your Budget To Build Powerful Apps. The article explains how app development cost is calculated and uncovers hidden costs that can increase the budget a few times over.
Final Takeaways on Logistics App Development
Logistics app development provides a business with a lot of benefits such as automation of routine tasks, better insight into business processes, faster processing of delivery orders, and better efficiency.
You can build a solution with different features depending on your business type and requirements. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, drones, robotics and cloud technologies are gaining traction in the industry and revolutionizing business processes.
However, logistics app development is associated with a number of challenges, such as:
- Unexpected development costs spikes
- Failure to meet deadlines
- Security and data protection
- Low scalability
- High app maintenance costs
Thankfully, you can mitigate all risks by hiring a professional software development company to build a logistics application.
Looking for experts in logistics app development?
Get in touch with us to get an estimate of your project, along with a detailed consultation form our business analyst and software architect. We work hard to ensure the success of our clients’ projects and apply our extensive experience to build robust solutions that streamline business processes.