Creating an express delivery service (like Ukraine's Nova Post) can be a great way to make money in the rapidly developing eCommerce market. It will provide customers with fast and convenient delivery of goods and enable small and medium-sized businesses to deliver their goods to different regions of the country efficiently. This article will examine the key steps and tips for setting up an express delivery service to help you launch a successful business in this area.
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Step 1. Select a business model
Nova Post is the largest Ukrainian private postal company, which provides a wide range of cargo and mail delivery services throughout Ukraine. The business model of Nova Post is based on the following principles: customer orientation, a vast network of offices, an effective logistics system, the introduction of innovative technologies, diversification of income, and working with partners.
Before you start developing your app for express delivery, you need to decide on the business model used in your project. You can copy it from Nova Post, but it is better to have it adapted to your country, niche, and target audience.
Here are the basic steps in selecting business models for an express delivery service:
Nova Post business model. Source
- Research the market. The first step is to research the market you plan to operate in. Study your competitors, their business models, and their advantages with disadvantages to understand what principles you can use in your company and what is best avoided with all your might.
- Identify your target audience. You must determine which customers will use your express delivery platform. This will help you understand the needs and pains of your target audience, what delivery model to use (e.g., point-to-point, warehouse-to-door, door-to-door, or warehouse-to-depot), and determine - what set of services to add to your express delivery service.
- Choose a suitable monetization model. Select the monetization option based on market research and audience analysis. Nova Post charges a fee for delivery of each shipment: the specific cost depends on weight, price, type of goods, availability of insurance, etc. In addition to shipping fees, you can monetize your platform with premium subscriptions and sales of additional services.
Step 2: Hire a developer
Hiring a development team is the second step in creating a clone platform. Your team must be experienced in developing websites, mobile apps, and logistics software for warehouses and couriers. Here are some tips to help you find such a team:
- Qualifications and experience. Ensure the applicant has relevant experience and knowledge in web and mobile development, including programming languages, tools, and technologies related to website and app development. In addition, developers should have experience with databases and knowledge of cybersecurity principles.
- Experience with delivery platforms. It's better to choose a development team with expertise in delivery platforms and can provide examples of work in this area. This way, you will understand that they understand how the express delivery process happens and know the specific business requirements in this area (integrations, laws, issues, etc.)
- Knowledge of UX/UI design principles. According to statistics, up to 80% of people decide whether to use a website/application in the first three seconds of acquaintance. And the first thing they pay attention to is the design. Therefore, your development team must have experience designing effective user interfaces that ensure usability and user satisfaction.
- Communication skills. Developers should be able to communicate effectively with the project team, understand the customer's requirements and react quickly to any changes in the development process.
- Quality of service. Pay attention to the rating and reviews of the company or freelancer on sites like Clutch.co, Upwork, Freelancer, etc. You can also contact their previous customers to get their feedback.
Step 3: Decide the application functions
Customer panel of the express delivery service.
The user can checkout and track shipments, choose the type of delivery, pay for orders, obtain information about rates, delivery schedules, and more. When developing it, we need to simplify the delivery process as much as possible, increase the convenience and quality of customer service, and reduce the time it takes to process orders. Here are the features to be in the customer panel:
Postal service courier panel.
Your express delivery service's courier application should provide a user-friendly and functional interface for managing tasks and deliveries. Some possible features that should be included in a courier app include
- Registration. Allows users to create an account to use delivery services. Registration requires filling out a form with contact information, delivery (residential) address, payment methods, and other necessary information. After registration, the customer can use all functions, such as placing orders, tracking delivery status, receiving notifications, etc. Registration also allows you to save order history and customer profile settings for repeat orders in the future.
- Service information. The site should have information on all the company's available services, including delivery times, payment methods, weight, shipment size restrictions, etc.
- Calculate shipping costs. This feature allows the customer to calculate the delivery cost to a specific address: the customer may be interested in selecting a payment method, packaging method, estimated delivery time, and other parameters.
- Placement of orders for delivery. Customers should be able to place an order for cargo delivery on the site by specifying the necessary details, such as the sender and receiver addresses, cargo weight, payment method, etc.
- Tracking Order Status. Customers should also be able to track the status of their orders on the website or through apps to know where their shipment is, when they can expect delivery, etc.
- Contacts and customer service. Your site should have information on contacting the platform staff by phone, email, or online chat. That way, they can understand where to go to ask a question or solve a problem.
- Integration options and APIs. For larger businesses or those who use delivery frequently, you can provide integration options with other systems, such as CRMs or online stores, through APIs.
- Blog or news. Your website may contain a blog and news section where customers can learn about the latest news, promotions, company-related events, discounts, and special offers.
Postal service administrator panel.
This tool provides the ability to manage all aspects of the Postal Service platform. Some possible features should be included in the admin panel:
- Order Management. The courier should be able to view and manage all delivery orders, view order information, check addresses, mark orders as completed, and update their status.
- Notifications and alerts. The app should also support notifications and alerts for new orders, changes in delivery status, and other important events. These can be SMS or push notifications.
- Delivery route management. Couriers should be able to optimize the delivery route, manage their time, and schedule deliveries using GPS navigation and traffic information.
- Cargo management. Couriers must be able to manage shipments, check their weight and dimensions, tag and describe shipments, and monitor the integrity and safety of shipments during delivery.
- Communication with customers. Many express delivery services support communication between the courier and the shipment recipient. This helps to clarify the terms of delivery and keep customers informed of the status of their orders.
- Feedback. The app should also provide couriers feedback and recommendations on improving the postal service. This is significant for the quality of the service.
- Reporting. And, of course, the app for couriers should have reporting on completed deliveries, delivery time and routes, the number of deliveries, and other key metrics.
- Delivery Order Management. The administrator should be able to view them and manage all delivery orders, accept and reject orders, change order status, and manage payment. The design of this screen must be implemented in such a way as to minimize miscalls and other admin errors.
- Inventory Management. This screen allows the administrator to manage warehouse inventory, track the number of goods stored in warehouses, and regulate shipment and delivery processes. The design of this screen must also be as simple and convenient as possible to avoid admin errors.
- Manage delivery routes. This functionality allows you to optimize delivery routes, select priority delivery destinations, manage resources, and view delivery schedules.
- Manage customer requests. Allows your admin to view and manage customer requests through various communication channels, including phone, email, social media, and online chat.
- User account management. Provides the administrator with the ability to manage customer accounts, including registering new accounts, changing personal information, setting access rights, and management.
- Vehicle Management. The administrator should be able to manage the fleet, monitor the condition of vehicles and their maintenance, and control fuel and maintenance costs.
- Personnel management. Through this screen, the administrator will manage the personnel, including hiring and firing employees, setting work schedules and vacations, regulating salaries and allowances, etc.
- Analytics and Reporting. Allows you to view analytical reports that show order statistics, fulfillment status, personnel and transport costs, and other key metrics.
Step 4: Develop the platform’s architecture
In the next stage of developing a clone service, you must develop the platform's architecture. It should be designed based on the principles of a microservice architecture, which implies that the entire system is divided into separate services, each of which performs its specific function and can be developed and scaled independently of the other services. This approach ensures flexibility and scalability of the system and simplifies its maintenance and development.
A logic architecture example by Gartner. Source
Step 5: Develop a UX/UI interface design
A good UX/UI design is a key element of any project, including an express delivery service like Nova Post. During the UX/UI design phase, you must consider user experience design, including interface design, navigation, logic, and other aspects. The goal is for the user to easily and quickly find the necessary functions and perform actions on the platform without difficulty.
In addition, it is also worth remembering that your service will be used by users on various platforms and with different capabilities. You must also pay attention to mobile adaptability, accessibility for people with disabilities, easy navigation, and a pleasant color scheme.
The design process usually takes place in several stages:
- Concept. The first stage of UX/UI design is creating a design concept, where the overall concept and style of the platform, color scheme, typography, and typical usage scenarios are defined.
- Information architecture. Next, the structure and organization of information on the platform and between its parts are determined - that is, the information architecture is created. After that, designers create several wireframes (low-detailed sketches) that help visualize how users will interact with the service.
- Design development. Next, the design of the site's interface begins. Design elements are created, such as icons, buttons, text boxes, etc., that will be used on the website. For this, designers use tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, etc.
- Testing. In the last stage of an express delivery service's UX/UI design, its testing is done to determine how user-friendly the interface is. This can be done through user testing, data analysis, and other methods.
Step 6: Write the backend and the frontend code
Backend development. This is part of the software responsible for the application's data processing and business logic. In the case of an express delivery service, the backend is responsible for several essential functions, such as managing customer, order, and delivery data, calculating cost and delivery times, managing integrations with external services (such as payment and tracking), and much more.
Here are the technologies for developing a service backend:
Frontend development. This is part of development that is responsible for the visual aspect of the site or application. When developing the front end of an express delivery service, it's important to remember that users can use your platform from different devices and browsers, so the interface must be adaptive and have very high performance. It must also be secure and tamper-proof, with an easy and intuitive user interface and quick access to the right features. In addition, the front end must integrate well with the back end and allow immediate changes to the interface.
Here are the frontend technologies for developing an express delivery service:
- Database management systems: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Oracle.
- Frameworks (the set of libraries and instruments): Spring Framework (Java), Django (Python), Express.js (Node.js), Ruby on Rails (Ruby), Laravel (PHP).
- Cloud services: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), etc.
- Testing instruments: JUnit (Java), Pytest (Python), Mocha (Node.js), RSpec (Ruby), PHPUnit (PHP).
- Integration with other servers: REST API, GraphQL.
- Web servers: Apache, Nginx.
- Version control systems: Git, SVN.
- Operating systems: Linux, Ubuntu.
- Notifications line: RabbitMQ.
- Caching: Redis.
- Search engine: Elasticsearch.
Step 7: Test the product
Testing is one of the most critical stages in software development because it allows you to identify and correct bugs and errors before launching it. This contributes to improving product quality and user satisfaction. Several testing methods can be applied when developing a service:
- Functional testing allows you to verify whether the platform's features and capabilities meet the specified requirements.
- Usability testing verifies the platform's usability and whether its interface meets users' needs.
- Performance testing checks how fast the platform works with many users.
- Integration testing verifies that the various components of the platform work together.
- Regression testing verifies that the platform is working properly after making changes.
Step 8: Launch the support team
In the last phase of developing an own platform, it is necessary to organize support services to solve user problems, handle inquiries and provide feedback. It is essential to maintain customer satisfaction and improve service quality. To do this, you can use tools such as ticket systems, chatbots, phone communication, staff training, data analysis, and user feedback.
It is also desirable to use specialized software solutions such as CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management) to improve the efficiency of the support service. They allow you to track the history of user requests, automate the process of answering repetitive questions, analyze the problems customers face, and determine trends in their behavior.
The cost of developing a Nova Post clone
Estimating the time and cost of developing an express delivery platform can depend on various factors; for example, the complexity of features, the number of components required for development, the experience, and qualifications of developers, the technology, and tools used, the scope of application, etc. In addition, there may be changes in customer requirements during the development process, which can affect the time and cost of the project.