Super App Strategy: How To Make A Profit From Super Apps

Super App is a great buzzword in the technology era. In China and Southeast Asia, the rise of super app has created noise from e-commerce, trading, entertainment to transportation. It is at every day of your daily life. No matter where you are, missing this new technology trend is a big mistake. So, in this article, we will give you the super app strategy that is adopted by Grab, WeChat, GoJek, AliPay, etc. Besides, we also share some common challenges and how to overcome them as well.

Super Apps: Why They Matter?

The rise of super app is changing the way the world does business. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s recap the basics.

What is super app?

It\’s hard to imagine life without Grab. Simply put, you use Grab to book a ride, buy groceries, order food online, deliver stuff, split bills, all in one platform. James Hodgson, Smart Mobility Principal Analyst at ABI Research said:

Considering Indonesia, Grab’s offering of GrabExpress, GrabFood, GrabFresh, GrabPay, and GrabFinancial, speak volumes to the opportunity of larger revenue streams well beyond its traditional ride-hailing model.

A super app model is naturally born in Asia, especially in China and Southeast Asia. For examples, apps like WeChat offers free video calls, images, games, stickers and message texting to stay connected with everyone who matters. Additionally, users can call a taxi, order train and flight tickets, do online shopping, buy cinema tickets, book a hotel, pay household bills, and many other features.

By targeting every customer through one single app, super apps are being a cost-effective solution for business. Not only for various needs of the people, super apps are emerging as a cost-effective solution and build a business model that is transforming the lives of peoples in emerging ondemand markets such as Food Ordering and Delivery, Taxi Booking to Ride-Sharing and Ride-Hailing, eLearning, Plumber, Electrician, E-Commerce, Online Payment, Financial activities, Moving, Parcel, logistics, and social networking everything on a single App.

Let\’s see some examples of Super app below!


If you want to know more about the list of Super App, read also: Super App: 5 Examples of Successful Cases

Standalone App vs Super App Strategy

While Instagram or Youtube run separately as standalone for a specific purpose, super apps like WeChat, AliPay, ZaloPay, MoMo, etc access seamlessly many services in one app.

Instagram case study

Instagram is a social media platform that emphasizes photo and video sharing via its mobile app. You can take, edit, and publish visual content for your followers to interact with thorough likes, comments, and shares. Hence, photo sharing is the most popular feature among its users.

To cut the long story short, the takeaway is that consumers want to use Yelp for restaurant discovery, Google Maps for getting there, WhatsApp for communication, FourSquare or Facebook for checking in, Instagram for posting photos, and possibly Apple Pay for settling the bill.

The rise of Super App


Firstly, we can\’t talk about super app without WeChat. At glance, it isn\’t so different from WhatsApp. WeChat is not only a messaging app, it\’s also there for every moments of your life.

WeChat is primarily used for sending text, voice, and photos to friends and family. Instead of remaining a message app, it keeps adding more and more functionalities to app such as hailing a taxi, ordering food delivery, buying tickets, sending money to friends, reading news. The list can go on.

In many ways, it is similar to the concept where your moments of life are digitized. To drive ustomer loyalty within the WeChat app, third parties can develop and run their mini-programs. According to Businessofapps statistics,

Now, it’s nearly impossible to live without WeChat in China. As of Q4 2019, WeChat counts 1.17 billion monthly active users. In the world’s most popular messaging apps, WeChat is behind only WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

What makes WeChat so successful? One of the reason is that they leverage their competitive advantage of the massive distribution in their apps. Now, after three years of WeChat mini-program development there are now more than 1 million mini-programs launched on the market. It covers over 200 various categories such as e-commerce, games, food & lifestyle, news, tools, entertainment & media, and travel & recreation.

When looking at the evolution of Super App, you can realize that first they start as “single-purpose” apps. After focusing on solving customers\’ need, next, they augment service by adding other functions.


Grab\’s Everyday App Super

In Southeast Asia, the strategy of super app like Grab eventually work. At early stage, Grab has started as ride hailing apps. Their core thesis is a high recurring app usage based on ride hailing. Grab has focused and expanded their ride hailing services across the region including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar.

On the other hand, Its super app strategy has been focused on partnering with the best service providers to add these services onto its platform.

  • Financial service – GrabPay refers to a collection of all cashless payment methods from your linked ATM card to International Debit Card (Debit Visa/ MasterCard/ Amex/ JCB).
  • Hotel bookings — Grab partnered with Agoda and to allow users to compare prices and book hotels and apartments.
  • Healthcare — Grab formed a joint venture partnership with China’s Ping An to provide integrated medical services such as consultation, medicine delivery, and appointment bookings through an online platform.
  • Food delivery – GrabFood is a food delivery platform that offers the most dependable service providing the widest range of food offerings with best value-for-money and fastest speed of delivery.
  • Parcel delivery – GrabExpress is a on-demand delivery service, with the aim of providing a fast, convenient, safe and affordable on-demand door-to-door delivery service.

The super app model is springing up the world over. There are also numerous companies trying to readapt the rise of super apps in the West, including Uber and even Facebook, yet fears of monopolization are currently hampering their advances in the field.

So, What Strategy Behind Every Successful Super App

1. Strong core use case


For example, AliPay was born out of the need to solve a specific problem. The e-commerce platform, Alibaba, becomes China\’s online shopping market leader. However, customers have trouble while purchasing via their bank accounts.

Therefore, Alipay was introduced to improve trust between customers and merchants. As a 3rd party, it temporarily held the money paid by the buyer. After that, the sellers won\’t be received money unless the buyers confirmed that the product was received and in good condition.

Similar to WeChat, Alipay started expanding its financial services for everything from loans to mutual funds, insurance policies and travel bookings. According to latest news by Nikkie Asia,

Ant used its payment service as a user acquisition engine for building broader financial services features… effectively creating a closed loop ecosystem where there is no need for money to leave the wallet ecosystem.

2. Good payment system


The problem about payment systems has forced Gojek into partnerships with local bank or having its payments system. That\’s why Go-Pay was launched.

Less than 10 years later, GOJEK through its digital wallet arm GO-PAY accounts for some 30 percent of the total electronic money transactions in Indonesia. It has partnered with more than 300,000 micro, small and medium enterprises across the country. Sakti Nuzan, GOJEK’s Product Research Lead, said:

There’s no problem with cash. The problem is when people can’t manage their finances.

With this reason, Go-Pay provides your transaction history so that you can easily keep track of your spending. From this data, you can also know where you drain money most. Thus, you can manage your money much better.

3. Third party programs

An ecosystem of the app services is offered by either app itself or its third-party partners. For instance, WeChat ecosystem in China enables many apps which is built on top of their ecosystem.

  •, China\’s largest online retailer by revenues, operates several different WeChat mini-programs. The mini-program helps customers in China\’s lower-tier cities group-buying, livestreaming, and C2M manufacturing products.
  • Wal-Mart\’s mini-program provides wide selection with on-demand delivery services and e-commerce ordering for longer-tail, higher-value products.
  • Rothy\’s is one of America\’s hottest new sustainable footwear brands. As a direct-to-consumer brand, Rothy\’s virtual showroom creates a superior customer experience and helps the brand stand out amidst numerous peers.
  • King Power is Thailand\’s largest chain of duty-free stores. Its WeChat mini-program lets tourists pre-order items in advance and pick them up at airport duty-free stores.

How To Get Profit From Super Apps


In just a few years, super app has become emerging trends in many markets. The key strategy to develop successful super app is to offer convenience and simplicity for customers. Business leaders need to find ways to simplify all aspects of the purchase journey, from discovery to purchase to fulfillment.

Why should business owners build super apps?

  • Companies don’t need to develop their own super apps. Instead, you can join the ecosystems that already exist.
  • Even if you need a standalone app, you can adapt the super app strategy after that.
  • Super apps help earn fees and commissions from transactions, monetization opportunities as well as advertising opportunities.
  • There’s higher user retention. Because super apps offer much more than standalone app, users can comeback for its convenience.

What are benefits of super app for users?

  • From the user’s perspective, you don\’t have to download new apps for daily activities.
  • Mini programs require fewer clicks to do a task than a stand-alone app. Because users don\’t have to go outside the super app.

Our experience

Building a Super App might seem like a promising idea. However,  it might not be the right strategy for every business. Some factors that companies should consider:

  • When comparing to create a single app, the cost, resources, and time in building super app is higher.
  • A great user experience will make your users happier.
  • If your services are too specific, it might not make sense to integrate them into one platform.

As the result, if you want to keep up with one of the most technology trends in 2020, we will give you consultation. Here, we can help you find the solutions to your issues.

You can contact us at [email protected] or (+84) 936 281 059 for more information.

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