Super apps – and, from some of the biggest names in commerce, super enthusiasm. And: super amounts of capital being committed to craft consumer-focused ecosystems.
The rise of the super app seems to be on the near-term horizon, fueled by the cash needed to develop functionality and launch into new markets.
The super app is one that gives users access to a broad range of activities spanning all aspects of everyday life – daily financial management, ride-hailing, food delivery – and integrating payments into it all. The grand design is to create an ecosystem that fosters a sticky relationship with users, and enables (while boosting) the great digital shift.
The bid to create those ecosystems comes against a backdrop where, as reported, Walmart is in talks to take a stake worth as much as $25 billion in Tata Group, in a bid that would launch Tata’s super app as a joint venture.
The initiative, reported initially by Mint, would leverage India’s eCommerce economy across Tata and Flipkart (majority-owned by Walmart, which has a 66 percent stake). As noted by CNBC, the super app would be hosted through a Tata Son unit, would focus on retail (across verticals such as groceries and electronics) and is on track for a year-end 2020 or January 2021 launch.
Separately, in April, Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms to take a roughly 10 percent stake in the latter’s telecom unit, which might open the door for super app development.
The latest Walmart push into super apps is no isolated incident, nor is India the sole market attracting funds to develop app-centered ecosystems. Asia, of course, is seeing continued scaling by companies like Grab and Gojek, which integrate food delivery and other services into their own ride-hailing operations.
Here in the States, of course, Uber has been expanding in a horizontal manner beyond its own ride-hailing beginnings, having introduced everything from Uber Eats to freight delivery options. And WeChat has been well-established as a super app, complete with a host of mini-programs that keep users engaged across a range of services.
And as detailed in this space, Latin America remains a particularly busy market for super apps. Earlier this month, Rappi said it had raised more than $300 million from a consortium of investors. The company has been busy building out its own super app focused on Latin America – though no matter the region or country, local (consumer) preferences dominate.
Moises Chaves, chairman and co-founder of OMNi, which is focused on digital infrastructure in Central America and the Caribbean (CAC), told Karen Webster that firms looking to deploy super apps in new markets must think local, even as they go global. Done successfully, Chaves maintained that “super apps are the perfect vehicle to get into any market because you bring many solutions. You have many ways to capture users.”