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The demand for services has always been on the rise and it has drastically increased during the time of the pandemic. Almost every off-line activity has been replaced by an online and an app-based counterpart. Everything from grocery shopping to banking transactions and even watching movies has now been condensed into a mobile app.
While there are specific apps designed for specific purposes, some Asian countries have conceptualized and created apps that are capable of delivering multiple utilities within a single app. Such apps are fittingly referred to as super applications or super apps.
By definition, super apps are a combination of multiple functions spanning avenues like social, financial, entertainment and utility services integrated into a single app. It can rightly be described as the Swiss Army knife of mobile applications.
The Growing Market
There have been super apps springing up left, right, and center all across Asia. China has WeChat which started as a messaging platform and has now progressed to provide payments, transportation, delivery, and a host of other services. India has an app called PayTM which majorly provides financial services but intends to become a lifestyle app where users can execute almost any task that they need in a normal day using the app. AliPay is another app from China and it is the financial arm of Alibaba. While concentrating on financial services, the app also provides a wide variety of other utilities. Grab is one renowned name in Singapore and while it started with providing transportation services, it is now expanding in all territories. Line, an instant messaging app from Japan has now merged with Yahoo! Japan owned by Softbank and they intend to create their own super app.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that almost every app is trying to venture into a parallel space. Uber that started with transportation has now tried to enter into the food delivery space with UberEats. Zomato and Swiggy from India have been trying to leverage the network of delivery executives to deliver groceries to their customers.
Although there might be many names straight across a vast stretch from India in the south to Japan in the far east, the undisputed and the most phenomenal super app ever made will be Gojek from Indonesia.
Gojek was the first unicorn from Indonesia, and its valuation exceeds the total market cap of all the transportation companies in Indonesia put together. It is well on its way to becoming the first $10 billion company in Indonesia. While it has won laurels in terms of market value, it has also positively impacted the average revenue of an Indonesian citizen and has improved the GDP of the country.
What makes Gojek stand out is the formidable portfolio of investors. The companies that have invested in Gojek include Mitsubishi, PayPal, Sequoia, Facebook, and Google. It started as a simple call center for bike taxis and has grown today to offer more than 30 different services. It has become so impactful that any entrepreneur who embarks on a journey of super app development always seems to replicate the business model and the success of Gojek.
Reasons for customers to choose super apps
The foremost and the most straightforward reason for customers to choose super apps is the advantage of convenience and simplicity. Super apps are relatively easy to use and not extremely convenient for all classes of customers.
A recent study has revealed that most users have not downloaded a single new app in three months and it is quite likely that users spend most of the time on about 10% to 15% of the apps on their phone. Every business that a user is even passively involved in has its own mobile app, and the range includes food delivery, grocery delivery, digital wallets, transportation, banks, payment services, and a lot more. Instead of counting on different apps, a user can just stick to a single app that provides multiple utilities.
Multiple mobile apps also mean getting used to different user interfaces. The challenging part is that all abs might not have the same interface even when it comes to executing key activities like the fulfillment of payments. With a super app, it is possible that a user can get a unified app experience across every utility that they avail. This also helps in saving up a lot of phone memory and Internet usage.
How do super apps make money?
No business is complete without a standard and dependable revenue model. The primary source of revenue is the commission that it can earn from service providers by acting as the mediator between the point of demand and the service provider.
While this is simple and straightforward, the diversity of services provided by a super app enhances the possibilities of profitability. It can be best illustrated with the lockdown
introduced during the pandemic. At a time when the transportation domain suffered a lot, there was an immense growth in grocery delivery and food delivery. An app like Uber or Ola might have suffered but an app like Gojek could have compensated the losses in transportation with the additional profit in grocery and food delivery.
You can also charge a membership fee from merchants for partnering with your super app. You can encourage these merchants to give credits to customers and the app business can monetize these credits given to customers, agents, and even other merchants. The super app can also host ads on the app platform.
When we talk about revenue, we will also need to talk in terms of the money saved by efficient operations. Most mini-apps offered by super apps are not built by the business but by third-party companies. There are a lot of app development companies and individual app developers who would want to capitalize on the massive user base of super applications. Therefore, the super app business does not have to spend a fortune in developing apps for their ecosystem.
With so many avenues of profitability, it is only natural that any entrepreneur would want to start their own super app like Gojek. There are, however, a few aspects that need to be considered before you start your own super app.
A few important points when building your own super app
Most super apps started as single utility applications and they moved to provide multiple utilities by slowly including them. The inclusion, however, was not random. A careful study of the market, the consumers, the consumption patterns, and a host of other details went into the decision of including utilities as a part of the super app offering. When you start your own super app business, it is strongly recommended that you start with a single service and slowly start including other services as a part of your offering.
We must digress a bit to talk about the possibilities of plans backfiring. A great example of this case would be Google Plus. Google Plus was intended to be a social network but it integrated too many features into it, and people ended up neglecting the app because it was too complicated. Therefore, when you build a super app, ensure that you do not compromise on the simplicity and intuitiveness of the app.
It is not enough to have a considerable size of users but also proportional suppliers of services. If you intend to expand your services, make sure that there are enough suppliers to provide those services. You can also consider cross-seeding resources. A person with a
bike can not only provide bike taxi services but also help in the delivery of food and grocery. It is to be remembered that a disappointed customer is probably a lost customer, especially if there are alternatives available.
Make sure that you learn from the mistakes of others. There have been a lot of super apps that have ventured into territories and did not find considerable success. Therefore, if you present a use case, let it not be about committing the same mistake as your competitors have done. Some apps have been known to have heavily cluttered interfaces that made it difficult for the user. There is no use in offering multiple utilities if you are not in a position to attract users.
Maybe it is Asia that leads in super apps today, but it will not be long before the West catches up. It would be a good idea to start early and be a harbinger, especially in a field that is bound to attract competition from some of the biggest guns. If you would like to jumpstart your super app business, it is strongly recommended that you go for a Gojek clone.
The Gojek clone app is a white label solution that is easy to customize and can be made to bear the features that you prefer. All you need to do is get in touch with the company that specializes in the development and customization of Gojek clone applications. They will take care to understand the requirement and give you a perfect super app that fits your business needs!