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Superpowering Super Apps for the New Normal

— April 28, 2021

Super apps intend to create a complete ecosystem of applications that our everyday lives will depend on. It involves proactive endeavors like taxi booking and groceries, as well as others.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our perspectives about everything regarding life. It has been a game changer for multiple businesses and domains that were, until the pandemic, showing no signs of slowing down at least until 2026.

The imposition of the lockdown and the regulation on social distancing meant that there were heavy restrictions on stepping outside homes, leave alone traveling for work and for leisure purposes. This impositions cascaded across multiple businesses, resulting in irreparable losses, negative GDP growth, and even toppling of some economies. 

Some business segments, however, piggybacked on the lifestyle change and minted a considerable profit positively impacting their revenue. The fact that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon almost steadied his position as the richest person in the world is a resounding testimony to the fact that some industries did grow considerably during the pandemic.

The COVID Impact

One of the most affected domains in the COVID-19 crisis is the transportation industry. Airlines, accommodation, and even public transport for every day use had to be shut down. On the other side, there was an immense growth in on-demand services. People started to depend on mobile apps for ordering almost all products to their homes. The products not only included the usual suspects like electronics, but even some of the most unusual ones like apparel, grocery, and even restaurant food.

It is surely either a profit or a loss for any app that offers one of these businesses. However, there is a new breed of apps, especially in South and Southeast Asia that offers multiple services within a single app. These apps are fittingly called super applications or super apps.

The case of a profit or loss is completely different for these apps because they handled both businesses that suffered profit and losses. How did these super apps cope during the pandemic?

Before we go on to answer the question, it is to be remembered that a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs intended to emulate the super app business model, especially that of the Indonesian brand Gojek. Therefore, it is important for you to know how super app businesses encountered the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can learn from their strategies and mistakes when you build a super app like Gojek.

Focus on profit-centers

Ever heard of the theory that the herd is only as fast as its slowest member? The same theory applies to super apps as well. There are a few segments of applications that were not very profitable even before the pandemic in terms of the percentage of revenue they brought per transaction. The pandemic completely slowed down the specific industry and it did not make sense for the super app business to invest in marketing for those specific utilities. In the case of Gojek, a simple example would be hotel booking. Since the travel domain had completely shut down, no hotel bookings were happening. Therefore, Gojek suspended its hotel booking offerings, so it could divert the marketing expenses from that segment to another.

The same has been the case for food festivals, massages at home, and household cleaning services. This has resulted in some of the most popular super aaps laying off their employees. However, in the long run, it is bound to be profitable and beneficial.

Re-Working on Resource Allocation

The diverted marketing expenses and efforts have been rightly diverted towards the areas that brought better profits and revenue. While the ride hailing segment has suffered losses, the food delivery and grocery delivery have been witnessing unprecedented spikes in revenue. Therefore, it is a great idea for any super app to focus on the profitable segments. There have been instances where some super apps have had the transportation revenue being trumped by the delivery revenues during the pandemic.

The best part about this switchover is that the drivers who have been handling vehicles providing taxi services can now provide delivery services for food and groceries. Grab, the super app from Malaysia focusing on the Singapore market has seen over 150,000 drivers switch from their ride hailing job to become delivery drivers.

Don’t Miss Out on Finance

A lot of super apps intend to foray into the field of finance. It is one of the most powerful fields and It gives better control over every other field of business that you operate in. Both Gojek and Grab have started their own payment processing services. Gojek finalized its acquisition with a local Indonesian payments start-up for a staggering $130 million. Having payment and financial services brings a couple of advantages. The first one is that it becomes easy to manage payments and refunds. Our user will be able to easily utilize the refunded amount for other services. If there is a bank involved, there might be some delay in the processing and fulfillment of refunds. The other is that it becomes easy for the business to disburse microfinance loans. With the rich data that they have, it becomes easy to gauge the repayment capacity of the user, so they can give loans with very low default rates and that too, in a matter of minutes.

The essential features

There might be a few aspects of business and a few features that may need to be added and removed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the skeleton that goes behind the super app remains the same. 

The login should be made simple and easy. Users should be able to create a profile using either their phone number or email address or legacy credentials. The profile should store information about their default payment instruments, the list of all the orders/requests, and their favorites.

As we have discussed, the payment methods should be versatile. People should be able to make payments for their services using multiple payment methods. The payments made should be quickly credited to the accounts of the service providers.

Even if the app offers a wide variety of services, there should not be any clutter in the interface. People should be able to easily navigate to the particular service that they want.

There should be a review and rating system in place that enables both users and Service providers to rate each other based on the experience, behavior, and professionalism.

A few other features, if added to your app, can spell the difference between the mediocre and the excellent.

Artificial intelligence, isometric AI robot on mobile phone screen; image by Fullvector, via
Artificial intelligence, isometric AI robot on mobile phone screen; image by Fullvector, via

Artificial intelligence completely thrives on rich and organized data. With the amount of data that a super app can accumulate, artificial intelligence becomes a breeze. These elements of artificial intelligence should be put together in bringing up useful suggestions for the user. A user is quite likely to interact with a recommendation based on their patterns of consumption.

Most super applications do not spend their effort and investments in building new apps. They have an open ecosystem where small app development companies and even individual app developers can create apps that seamlessly integrate with the existing ecosystem. On one side, it ensures that the super app business gets a steady supply of new applications and new utilities. For the developers and development companies, it gives them a quick way to generate their revenue because they do not have to invest in marketing for the new app they created. 

Some simple suggestions might not even involve artificial intelligence but only maintaining a calendar. Reminders to pay utility bills and recharge mobile devices and television set up boxes helps users stay informed and allotted in their busy lifestyle. Although these additions might be simple, they surely help in positioning your app as being more user-friendly.


Super apps intend to create a complete ecosystem of applications that our everyday lives will depend on. It involves not only proactive endeavors like taxi booking and groceries but even passive engagements like ordering regular medicines, payment of credit and loan, and in the long run, even scheduling doctor appointments. Innovations like IoT and augmented reality are expected to seamlessly integrate into the super app network. This will open up a lot of opportunities and will also provide super app businesses with rich data.

As you may have inferred, a super app is the grand culmination of extensive development and testing. Therefore, building a super app might be a cumbersome and demanding affair. If you would like to still go ahead and engage in the classical method of app development, you can choose to employ your own team of app developers and testers. Alternatively, you can even consider outsourcing the entire process of your super app development to a company that specializes in developing apps like Gojek.

In either case, there is a strong possibility that some bugs and glitches might interfere with the basic functions expected out of the product. As many business experts would agree, there is no need to reinvent the wheel! Therefore, you can opt for a Gojek Clone app. A Gojek Clone solution is a ready-made super app solution that has all the essential and basic features intact. It makes the entire process of developing a super app like Gojek a breeze. Since it is available as a product, it does not demand a lot in terms of time and money. The white label super app solution is easily customizable and can be made to bear the features of your choice.

All that is left for you to do is to get in touch with a reputable app development company that specializes in the development and customization of apps like Gojek. They will take care to understand your requirements and build the app in line with your business needs, so you can launch a perfect super app in the shortest possible time.

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