Exploring the power of super apps for businesses

Today, shoppers are looking for simple ways purchase goods and services, no matter where they are or what time it is. They want a shopping experience that's made just for them, available all day, every day.

The shift started after the COVID-19 pandemic and changed the way people prefer to shop and handle their money. Coupled with geopolitical changes, global crises, more people going digital, and economic ups and downs, they’ve all combined to forever change how people make payments.

In fact, a recent survey by Accenture examined the shopping preferences of 16,000 people across countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. What they found is that more than half of respondents used digital methods of payment, such as digital wallets and peer-to-peer payment apps. These new payment methods are pushing traditional out of the centre of the picture in the customer's shopping experience. While credit and debit cards are still the preferred method of payment, these emerging payment options are quickly gaining popularity.

Customers want shopping to be easy and quick, and they want to be able to pay however they like, whenever they want, and wherever they are. With this demand for convenience, merchants and online marketplaces are looking to ‘super apps’ as a solution. But what are they and how will they transform eCommerce?

Super Apps

Super apps are platforms that have evolved from straightforward, single-use applications into all-in-one service brimming with a variety of features. These apps blend functionalities like messaging, social media, payment processing, and shopping into one handy application. Super apps like WeChat, Alipay, and Meituan have already taken Asia by storm, and Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have expressed intent on creating an ‘everything app’ for recently-acquired X (formerly Twitter) and Meta, respectively.

The potential of super apps to shake up commerce is huge. They provide a single platform with a one-stop-shop approach that centres on user engagement, as people find all they need in one place, reducing the hassle of switching between apps. For brands, this means greater visibility and a chance to reach a broader audience through a singular medium.

However, the true impact of super apps on global commerce hinges on how they're received by the market and how consumers adapt to them. In some parts of the world, like Asia, super apps like WeChat and Grab are already a big part of daily life, with the former boasting more than a billion active monthly users.

If this trend catches on globally, super apps could indeed revolutionise how we think about and engage in online commerce, leading to a more connected and efficient digital marketplace. But it's also important to keep in mind that different regions have different tech habits and preferences, which could influence how widely these super apps are embraced.

Attracting customers with super apps

Convenience is a strong pull to attract and retain customers. Imagine being able to shop from your phone, computer, or even through a voice assistant like Alexa, and having the same seamless experience across all three platforms. In terms of online shopping, it would be the pinnacle of convenience.

Being able to track payments easily is another huge draw as it is possible to use different payment methods like credit cards, PayPal, or even digital wallets. All are tracked from one place, meaning there is no risk of confusion or people having to remember where they paid from last time; the system remembers it all.

Elsewhere, super apps enable a consistent experience across brands, meaning the shopping experience for the customer feels familiar, no matter the merchant. It also personalises the shopping experience, as this approach can allow brands to tailor what shoppers see, like showing products that match one’s style or interests, making shopping more targeted, personalised and relevant.

Lastly, super apps can enhance the overall customer experience by updating product info—such as availability and prices—in real time. Shoppers can know right away if a product is in stock, available for pickup or delivery, or more affordable through another retailer. In addition to finding the right product or service, super apps can make checkouts quick and simple, meaning less friction and more time to enjoy shopping.

Super Apps – a smart move to stay ahead

Overall, exploring the features and benefits of the super app-enabled future must be a consideration for brands looking towards success. It has the potential to make online stores better and more appealing to customers by being faster and more flexible—keeping brands nimble and able to match what their customers want and like. While time will tell if or when Western cultures will adopt super apps as a preferred method of communicating and purchasing, merchants should be informed on their customers’ sentiment regarding super apps and be ready to act should consumers elect to transition to a one-stop mega app.