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It’s The Year Of Superapps And They Will Dominate The Market!

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It’s the year of superapps. Brands across the world are already jumping on the bandwagon to make the most of it. Superapps enable businesses to offer a lot more than their core services in order to keep the customer retained and within the ecosystem. Gartner likens superapps to swiss army knives, with many tools that serve multiple purposes, but ultimately all creating a better, more tailored user experience.

What Are Superapps?

A superapp is a mobile application that offers a wide range of services, often including social networking, messaging, e-commerce, travel services, payment services, food offerings, and other features. These apps are designed to be a one-stop-shop for users, providing them with access to a wide range of services and functions within a single application. Gartner estimates some of the well-known superapps have been downloaded more than 4.6 billion times around the world, with 2.68 billion monthly active users.

In addition to users, organizations have also shown great interest in superapps. From fintech to banking, organizations are increasingly looking at new ways to leverage mobile experiences to meet user needs. Digital-native companies are already disrupting their respective industries by implementing mobile-first models and rendering seamless user experiences. Creating a viable superapp or converting existing app into one will help to create a first-mover advantage in an ecosystem that’s just getting started.

Creating End-To-End Solutions

Many leading organizations in the world are consolidating their mobile apps into a superapp. It starts with figuring out where a user spends most of their screen time. Is it to watch shows, or book a ride, or order food or to track fitness? Can our app deliver all of the above along with our core features? Organizations such as Walmart, Wechat, PayTM and others that started with a simple mobile application have now transformed into superapps where users can do multiple things within an app such as payments, food ordering, buy financial products, watch OTT shows, etc. This enabled these organizations to increase their stickiness, daily/monthly active users, and the user’s average time spent on the app. These KPIs significantly enhance the valuation of the company, thereby, enabling them to attract more investors.

Superapps are gaining popularity in developing countries more than developed ones such as China, Indonesia, India and Singapore, where they have become a dominant force in the mobile market due to their convenience and versatility.

Some examples of superapps include WeChat (China), Gojek (Indonesia), and Grab (Singapore), and PayTM (India). They all have pivoted from their respective core business to offering end-to-end solutions to the user.

The Global Landscape

Superapps are popular in certain regions of the world – mainly developing economies, and there are a lot of factors behind this trend. Evolved markets had access to computers and became a computer-first market for all their needs. Developing markets and their audience neither had the infrastructure nor the capacity to buy computers. In late ‘00s, mobile phones and smartphones became very cheap, and manufacturers started believing in quantity over quality so that more users, mostly at the bottom of the pyramid, gain access to it. Companies such as Samsung, Reliance, etc. introduced low budget phones with basic features that introduced the TIER 3 users (rural parts of the country) to the internet. This gave rise to the smartphone-first economy in such countries, which led to brands come up with innovative solutions to cater to their users’ requirements digitally. Superapp was one such avenue that instantly became a hit amongst the loyal audience.

Elon Musk’s Project X, is similar to WeChat in China. What makes Project X better is that it’s not restricted to one country and can be consumed by users globally. Musk stated that “WeChat is actually a good model. If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat. It does everything. It’s sort of like Twitter plus PayPal plus a whole bunch of other things all rolled into one with actually a great interface. And we don’t have anything like that outside of China. So I think such an app would be really useful.”

To Be Or Not To Be

Whether to have a superapp or not has a fairly simple answer. Rather than measuring the app against competitors, measure your app with the time spent by the user on your app against time spent on other apps the user has. This expands the area of competition to not only apps of brands in similar industry or function but apps the user uses on a day-to-day basis.

For instance, Axis bank (India) has built a financial services app. It offers financial services to its users such as fund transfer, financial products, loans, etc. Now, if it’s a run-of-the-mill app, it will look for other bank apps the user uses, and will try to match the offerings of those apps. But if they want to build a superapp, they will consider what the user does on the phone throughout the day. This could include food ordering, tracking delivery, texting friends, booking a ride, etc. If these services are directly rendered through Axis Bank’s mobile app with some attractive offers, it will enhance the overall user experience, retention, and stickiness. Rather than having multiple apps on the phone with different login, different passwords, PINs, etc. users will happily trade other apps for a single superapp for convenience and comfort.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, launched a superapp called Alipay. This superapp focuses on virtual financial services and features such as finance management, online shopping, etc. The users can also order food from restaurants, get discounts and send recommendations to friends, all on a single platform. The superapp currently has more than 500 million users.

Paytm, a superapp in India, has over 78.8 million monthly transacting users (MTU as on August’22) with a 40% year-to-year growth rate. It offers multiple fintech features such as scan and pay, financial products, loans, buy now pay later, movie tickets, flight tickets, doctor appointments, food orderings, and more.

Plethora of Benefits

Organizations must consider building superapps right away, reasons being:

  1. Increase customer engagement & retention – as superapps are capable of offering more features that eliminate the requirement for alternative apps, users spend more time on apps and interact with more pages.
  2. Reduce development and maintenance costs – as building a single app and regularly maintaining it costs lesser compared to managing multiple apps. Superapps allow developers to focus on a single product and save unnecessary costs involved in the app development process by reducing the requirements of resources.
  3. Improve ROIs and customer satisfaction levels – Multiple features allow onboarding of more categories of users which eventually lead to an increased user base and revenue. Also, a single app providing all important features also leads to a better user satisfaction level as customers do not have to shuffle between multiple options.
  4. Collect more user data – with more touchpoints with the user, gather more user behaviour data. This data can then be fed into analytics tools to offer curated services to the customer.

Way Forward

The trend of superapps is here to stay, especially with a rise in the average internet speed available to people with the advent of 5G/6G. Today’s smartphones have found a way to connect to people and cater to all services digitally —from banking, food, transport, content, music and so much more. Superapps have the power to meld experiences that were previously distinct. While such apps may not replace every app that serves a niche audience, they will likely shake up consumers’ expectations for a mobile-first experience. With superapps and tech innovations disrupting industries, consumer brands and other enterprises have an opportunity to foray into other services and render a truly complete end-to-end experience to its users.

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