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Thursday, October 01, 2020

India’s burgeoning omnichannel space to see more competition with Tata Group’s planned super app

While details of the app have not emerged, sources said it could be made by Tata Group’s new entity Tata Digital.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | August 24, 2020 3:31:53 am
Super apps mainly serve as a one-stop shop for a wide range of products and services, and apps like WeChat and GoJek bundle together these services on a single platform to offer a uniform user experience to their users for a variety of products and services. (File)

India’s super app battle — which currently has companies like Reliance Jio, Amazon, Paytm, Flipkart Group — is expected to see a new entrant in Tata Group which is chalking up plans to launch an omnichannel digital platform bringing together its various consumer businesses.

“It will be a super app, a lot of apps in apps and so on … We have a very big opportunity … The Tata Group, depending upon how you count, touches several hundred millions of consumers in India, if you take consumers who are walking in everyday into a Tata facility … How do we give a simple online experience connecting all of this, and at the same time a beautiful omnichannel experience? That is the vision,” Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran was quoted as saying by the Financial Times newspaper.

While details of Tata Group’s super app have not emerged, sources indicated that the service could be developed by the group’s newly formed entity Tata Digital.

Among the goals of Tata Digital, which was incorporated last year, is “building a world-class platform out of India to serve the Indian consumer”. The Tata Group houses various consumer firms under its umbrella, including in segments such as groceries, multi-brand retail stores, airlines, hospitality, watches and jewellery, electronics, lifestyle, food and beverages, satellite television, consumer finance, among others. These include brands such as Tata CLiQ, Starbucks, Westside, Croma, Star Bazar, Tata Sampann, Vistara, Titan, Tanishq, Zara, TataSky and Taj Hotels. An e-mail query sent to Tata Sons seeking details of the proposed super app did not elicit a response.

The super app concept first emerged in China and southeast Asia where internet companies like WeChat, GoJek, Grab leveraged the opportunity of customer traffic on their platforms that originally came for social media and communication need by offering these customers additional services such as shopping, payments, cab booking, food services, etc. This led to increased revenue realisation for these companies.

In India, Paytm, Flipkart Group-owned PhonePe and RJio are evolving into super apps. According to consultancy firm RedSeer, a country or a region becomes super app-ready when its large base of the population is smartphone first instead of desktop and the ecosystem of apps customised to local needs is not evolved.

Super apps mainly serve as a one-stop shop for a wide range of products and services, and apps like WeChat and GoJek bundle together these services on a single platform to offer a uniform user experience to their users for a variety of products and services. In addition to increased revenue realisation, a super app also gives the company vast amount of customer data, which can be harvested to tailor consumer experiences and offerings.

Currently, in India, Reliance Industries is offering a bouquet of services ranging from content streaming, shopping, payments, messaging, games, cloud services, etc under its Jio umbrella. PhonePe has gone for a brownfield approach by tying up with companies like Swiggy, Ola, Grofers, AJio, Decathlon, Delhi Metro, booking.com, etc to offer these services from within its own app.

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