Skip to main content
Skip to footer

Super Apps – A One-stop Destination for Everything

Sandeep Meher

Deliver enhanced customer experience through super apps and increase customer acquisition and retention rates.

When smartphones were introduced, most of the mobile apps were designed to deliver one primary feature –a game, social networking, or video streaming and as such. App stores have continued to buzz with app developers introducing new apps every week which vie for users’ attention on the store as well as after being installed on the phone.
25% apps downloaded are accessed only once after download between 2010 to 2019. Every year, the app retention rate is decreasing because many users have started suffering from app fatigue – they already have all the apps that are essential for their needs. Any new app downloaded eats up valuable screen real estate, storage, and impacts the phone’s performance. This has resulted in a fierce competition between app developers to make their apps to be seen, downloaded, and used frequently.

What is a super app?

Organisations have introduced a novel solution for overcoming app fatigue – super apps.

A super app is a one-stop destination for everything and allows the user to do multiple tasks; it helps the user avoid phone memory and storage issues. It also means less frequent smartphone upgrades. A smartphone upgrade should be an individual’s choice based on features instead of a necessity to tackle issues such as insufficient storage space or degraded performance from high memory usage.

A new phenomenon started in China and other South East Asian countries wherein a popular chat app or a payment app provided additional services like e-commerce, food delivery, insurance, e-tickets etc. to its users. WeChat and Alipay are the prominent success stories, followed by Grab, Gojek and Zalo. In India, Paytm, JioMart and TataNeu too have capitalized on this trend.

The Government of India has been an early adopter of the concept and demonstrated success by launching UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance). It provides a single platform for citizens to access e-Gov services from central to local bodies. Another upcoming super app will provide a one-stop solution for all vehicle ownership and driving license related services and eliminate the need for citizens to visit multiple websites of different states and union territories.

Building a business case

A market with several users who have not used a particular digital feature provides an opportunity to businesses for acquiring new customers during the first transaction and increase customer retention for new needs in the future.

The following benefits of super apps can form the basis of a strong business case:

  • New functions being added will increase customer retention
  • For availing various services, the customer does not have to enter details on different apps and thus, improving customer experience
  • Data privacy - App permissions need not be managed separately by customer for each service
  • Customer acquisition costs will be reduced as the need to market different apps is eliminated

Key technical considerations

There are multiple technology solution options to be explored for implementing super apps. For making an informed decision, the suitability of options must be weighed against the following parameters:

Parameter

Description

App size

Not to be very large

Development workflow

CI/CD across development teams using different technologies

Design

Uniformity in design and branding

Session management

Session and journey information exchange between core app and microapps

Switching services on/off

Ability to instantly enable or disable with no impact

Single sign-on

No multiple logins

Journey analytics

Collection of journey analytics data

Native features

Incorporating native features offered by mobile OS

 

Finally, cost and timeline to implement selected options will be an important deciding factor.

Technology options

WebView/Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Each function served by a website opened within the app or in a browser. The website can be a PWA, which allows UI elements and UI logic to be stored on the device and rendered through a borderless browser.

Deep linking multiple apps

Separate apps developed and to be invoked from the main app.

Monolithic app

Single app regularly updated and developed as new functions are added.

Proprietary super app SDK (Software Development Kit)

Super app SDK for app development teams to use predefined API, frontend features and data structures creating modules which are seamlessly integrated through configuration.

Summary

Smartphones become sluggish due to the myriad of apps installed, each serving only one single purpose. Mobile manufacturers address this with new designs like split screen options, more memory, more storage ultimately adding to the cost.

Like in the physical world where customers moved from different stores to malls and then to e-commerce apps that provide a one-stop destination for everything, smartphone users are preferring a single destination for all their digital service fulfilments including entertainment, finance, travel & hospitality, food delivery, marketplace, social media, and customer service.

Organizations looking to expand their customer base or take advantage of their large, existing, and loyal customer base have a great business opportunity in the form of super apps.

About the author

Sandeep Meher
Sandeep Meher leads the Digital Channels Solutions team for India at TCS. He has 24 years of experience in TCS, and has worked closely with its customers in India, South Africa, UK, Europe, and Hong Kong, delivering business and technology solutions for digital transformation initiatives in BFSI, telecom, manufacturing, TTH and retail. Sandeep holds a bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from Fr. Conceicao Rodrigues College of Engineering, Mumbai.