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Super Apps: what they are, why they’re great, and the latest trends

Super Apps have been a buzzword for a while with top entrepreneurs and investors predicting Super Apps to be the hottest trend in the app world.  

There are two theories about where the term Super App originated from. Some say it was first used in talks about WeChat – one of the first and most popular Super Applications that encompasses messaging, online shopping, payments, and other functionality that together create a unique ecosystem. Others claim that it was Mike Lazaridis, the founder of Blackberry, who first coined the term in the 2010s. 

What are Super Apps? 

As the name suggests, a Super App is a powerful alternative to a regular mobile application. 

Super Apps provide an all-in-one experience to its users, offering a single point of access to things such as e-commerce, financial operations, social media, messengers, entertainment, taxi services, food and grocery delivery, and more. 

Super Apps aim to create an entirely self-sufficient platform, eliminating the need for individuals to use other services or apps for their day-to-day activities. They usually strive to create a user-friendly and intuitive interface to cement users’ loyalty, becoming an irreplaceable component of everyday life. 

Besides WeChat, other notable Super Apps include Gojek in Indonesia, Alipay in China, Grab with headquarters in Singapore and Indonesia, and Yandex Go and Tinkoff in Russia. 

There is no official list of services that are a must for a Super App, however, the majority of today’s market leaders cover most or all of the services listed below: 

  • Social platforms of some sort, for example, a messenger or a place to share content with other users.
  • E-commerce space for purchasing goods and services.
  • Transportation, for example, taxis, car-sharing, and city bikes.
  • Financial services, such as wallets and peer-to-peer payments.
  • Food delivery, whether it’s a restaurant order, groceries, or meal delivery requiring additional at-home prep, groceries, or meals delivery that requires additional preparation at home.
  • Bill payments for mobile phones, electricity, and other utilities.
  • Health services, for example, health insurance and telehealth. 

Why Super Apps are a powerful tool for companies

There are many reasons why companies would want to build a Super App. Here are the key benefits that you can expect going down that route: 

  • Users will be spending more time inside the app as they can do many things there, leading to a boost in customer loyalty and retention. 
  • Companies with Super Apps collect more data about their clients and can offer them better-suited solutions and services resulting in higher customer satisfaction. 
  • Super Apps offer more ways to engage with the existing customer base via many different services embedded in them. 
  • Business becomes more resilient thanks to the diversification of services provided.
  • The Super App opens more doors to upselling and cross-selling
  • Launch and promotion of new tools are easier and more cost-effective because companies already have an audience that can be advertised to and provided with instant access to new launches at minimal marketing cost.  
  • Super Apps have marketplace potential where third parties might want to join the ecosystem first through collaborations and surface-level integrations, later leading to potentially complete immersion, unlocking new target audiences and locations for both parties. 
  • Super Apps mean better optimised development costs for new app components and features, making the company more experimental with innovations.

Super App trends 

Super Apps are themselves, one of the biggest industry trends of today. 

But what are the trends for Super Apps? 

Data privacy and transparency in what data is collected and how it is used. Many leading Super Apps originated and grew in Asian countries. With Western companies stepping in, more transparency and security have to be considered to comply with often stricter Western regulations. 

Inclusivity from design choice to language use. The idea is that a Super App is such a vital part of users’ lives that the line between the physical and virtual worlds becomes blurry. Such an effect is hard to achieve without a focus on inclusivity. 

Social responsibility. Super App creators have to look at how they do things, not just what they do. Build communities; don't tear them apart. Support local initiatives. Choose eco-friendly options whenever possible.  

Hyper-personalisation of services and communication. With so much data on every consumer’s behaviour, patterns, and preferences, it inevitably results in a deeply personalised approach that clients get used to and expect from every market player. 

B2B Super Apps. Super Apps started as a B2C phenomenon but with markets now oversaturated with regular and Super Apps for consumers, many have started to look in the direction of building Super Apps for other businesses. With B2B Super Apps, the focus should be on data analysis, automation, and integration among business platforms to create a single workspace. 

Super App development: in-house vs outsourced

Super Apps have an enormous growth and revenue potential that companies can tap into. 

At the same time, such apps are extremely difficult to design, execute, and maintain in a way that ensures their attractiveness to the end-user over time. This requires technological perfection, excellent performance, and flawless compatibility with third-party solutions such as payment systems.

But don’t feel intimidated by these lofty goals. Every Super App that is popular today started small. WeChat was a messenger and Alipay a wallet before they began their expansion. 

Yet, to build a world-class Super App, it is important to set a solid foundation:

  • Use the right technology to allow future scaling and expansion.
  • Start with the functionality that will hook end-users from the start.
  • Develop a long-term strategic plan for growth and development. 

When deciding whether to work internally, partner with freelancers, or hire an outsourcing company, such as Emphasoft, it is important to consider: 

  1. How many resources do you have for this project? And we are not talking solely about the financial side of it, but rather how many professionals with the right skillset can be allocated to building a Super App and how much time they can dedicate to it. 
  2. Does your team possess the necessary skills to work on the Super App? 
  3. What skills are missing and how many people would you need to hire to close the gap? 
  4. How long are the hiring and onboarding processes for in-house specialists?
  5. How much time is required to select and sign an outsourcing agency before they can start the work? 
  6. Are there visionaries in the in-house team to lead the innovation and iteration process?
  7. Do you have project managers qualified to take over the project? 

Go through each question, think of the honest answer for each of them, analyse the results and make the decision.

There is no right or wrong way to do it, but if the resources are limited and there is little time to wait, then outsourcing, partially or completely, might be a better alternative. Professional outsourcing agencies, such as Emphasoft, have an established team of versatile specialists across different roles, plus they have unique experience building all kinds of solutions for different companies. 

For your future Super App, it would mean that the agency will be able to avoid the typical pitfalls, point out the key priorities, and design an efficient development plan. On top of that, they will not waste time hiring project team members because they already have everyone signed up and ready to start. 

If 100% outsourcing is out of the question, running a mixed team can be a smart way to do it too. Your in-house specialists will focus on areas they’re experts in, delegating the rest to the outsourced contractors. Your project will move faster and with less downtime. 

If you’re unsure which route to take, the Emphasoft team will be happy to consult you and help find the most optimised way that will make sense for your situation. The Emphasoft team consists of a wide range of industry professionals who can build a solution that matches your goals and vision, and who your clients will appreciate.


Read more: 

How To Outsource Software Development

Mobile Application Development Innovations That Redefine The World Of Business



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