Now organisations across the globe are looking to get in on the action, with multiple players looking to make super app plays in Australia. Facebook has added features for shopping and product discovery. Klarna has released an app that merges features including payment management, delivery tracking and returns into one place. PayPal’s latest app combines shopping, savings, bill payments, and crypto. Uber is offering food and grocery delivery and car rentals.
In the Australian market, the companies now most strategically positioned to create super apps are the major banks. Westpac already has Afterpay as the first partner on its new digital banking platform, while the Commonwealth Bank recently made investments in shopping content aggregator Little Birdie and energy retailer Amber.
The question is, will these apps win the race, or is retail a more fertile hub to lead the way?
Super apps as partner ecosystems
Critically, a super app goes beyond product or service aggregation, providing a platform and a channel on which partners can build mini-apps and actively connect services. They’re the next step in extending a play in a relatively saturated marketplace.
But the decision to progress down a super app path fundamentally changes the business model and ultimately the DNA of a company. The organisation shifts from being a product business and ecosystem to a platform business upon which partners can build. However, for retailers that already offer expanded services, such as supermarkets that have extended into financial services, utilities, internet and pharmacy, a super app may be an obvious next step in digital.
For other retailers, careful thought is needed as to how creating a super app platform will evolve their core business and affect existing partner relationships. Should they build new services in-house or team up with companies that already offer them? Grab, for example, obtained its own digital banking licence in Singapore by forming a consortium with Singtel. Uber created its own food delivery service arm with UberEATS. In contrast, AirAsia recently partnered with Trip.com to add 1.2 million hotel booking options to its super app.
How to create a winning super app strategy
1. Meet customers’ mental models: Whilst a super app is a convenient, one-stop shop for multiple tasks a consumer wants to get done, individual products and services already meet specific unmet needs and goals that a customer has. What super apps enable is a seamless connection that bridges the space between brands and services.
2. Remove the paradox of choice: Super apps can solve a problem that all consumers wrestle with – choice overload and fragmented sets of user experiences or tasks as they traverse their end-to-end journey. Invisibly intersecting data and utility to further streamline and personalise a customer’s super app propositions will reduce the time, cognitive load and effort required. This capitalises on the broader attention economy within a saturated digital marketplace.
3. Create a single experience: when bringing together multiple brands and learned interaction models, having a single experience architect to safeguard the customer and brand experience is critical. WeChat takes a ‘Grand design’ approach to innovation, ensuring a consistent tone and experience. Nailing the brand architecture – and how you curate multiple brands, tone of voice, and potentially contrasting interaction models – is critical.
4. Be super sticky: successful super apps turn a stand-alone service from a nice-to-have app into a need-to-have app because they get consumers to use them every day. Most successful apps are sticky – they generate frequent use. They do that by offering a primary go-to function for the majority of customers, before extending to offer additional propositions.
5. Build on a core asset: most fintechs now evolving into super apps started by creating a single, superior alternative product to those the banks offered, that met an unserved or underserved customer need, reached product-market fit, then scaled into an array of new products and services. Super apps build on a core asset or strength, and scale through re-bundling. To sustain a competitive level of engagement, they need to develop over time in an organic way, with new features and updates .
6. Achieve open data: Open data is critical for a super app to unlock its potential of being greater than the sum of its parts. Seamless interoperability is enabled because customers have explicitly consented for their data to be shared among those different services or organisations; this has been possible by Consumer Data Right frameworks. Super apps can, therefore, rebundle additional products or services, as their customers’ consent means fewer barriers to accessing their data. This means it’s critical to ensure consumers understand what they are consenting to sharing and for what purpose.
Super apps offer the opportunity for a self-sustaining, continuous and autonomous retail ecosystem that’s fuelled by partner data. They have the opportunity to weave a unique constellation of services for customers, based on their interests, needs and goals, that not only services the moments that matter in their journey, but also plays a role in guiding them on the steps between those moments and, critically, guiding them between service providers.
The conscious re-bundling of products and services is critical for success. When defining the future ecosystem and product taxonomy of connected services – they don’t necessarily need to be connected to one another, they need to be connected to a customer’s aspirational goals, their needs and jobs to be done in a particular time and place that may look different for each individual.