Most mobile users have a dedicated application for a particular service or function. The more services they want to use, the more apps they need to install. No wonder that in 2020 alone there were 218 billion app downloads (iOS App Store, Google Play and third-party Android stores combined) and the number is always growing.
What if a number of these apps got consolidated into one? This is exactly the idea behind a super app - an integrated ecosystem made of dedicated services called mini apps. And yes, like so many things in the world, it was made in China.
What is a <cyan>super app<cyan>?
A super app is a multi-purpose platform that offers a plethora of services through one mobile interface. The user can chat, check news, make daily purchases, call a taxi, and so on, and they don’t need to have separate apps to do the jobs. This is exactly a super app’s superpower: giving users the access to all functions in one place.
The whole concept could be compared to a huge shopping mall that rents its space to interested retailers. When using a super app, you don’t leave the building, you just move around its premises. The “mall” saves your preferences or payment details so each retailer knows how you want to pay and where they should deliver your purchase. Once introduced, all the details are there. That also means fewer registrations as only one sign-in is required.
Examples of super apps worldwide
The super app emerged in China. The very first one, WeChat, was initially created as a messaging app (a Chinese counterpart to WhatsApp), and it soon evolved into a marketplace of various services and offerings. Now there are hundreds of public services, mini programs, coupons, bill payment options, etc., available for over a billion WeChat users.
All-in-one applications took the Asian market by storm with apps such as Alipay, Grab, Gojek or Paytm, to name just a few. It soon became an international tech trend and now the key market players are either in the process of implementing a super app, e.g. Uber, or they are planning to upgrade to a super app, e.g. Paypal, Airbnb or Amazon.
Super apps - super opportunities
There are good reasons why most giants strive to build a one-stop portal. Having a super app comes with a wealth of benefits. To start with, it’s convenient for both the user and business owner. For the former one, it means the comfort of downloading one app to access a bunch of services and hit the big market. In practical terms, it also means less registration and login hassle.
For the latter one, it definitely means a long-term reduction of development and maintenance costs. Running a super app minimizes the challenges that might occur when developing and maintaining multiple apps. All in all, it means less effort made to reach a wider audience that is very likely to make in-app purchases you will earn from.
The biggest selling point, however, is the all-in-one experience itself. Creating a one-stop shop for all things users need on a daily basis is almost bound to succeed. With a good plan and team of trusted app developers, your success should be just a matter of time.
Developing super apps
Super apps have the potential to reshape the mobile marketing landscape - no wonder that more and more companies want to develop one! How to get started?
First of all, your super app still needs to focus on one main service so you need to make sure this is already settled. WeChat did start as a messaging app and over time it did evolve into a super app, but it never moved away from its original purpose. It’s still a communication tool after all - even way more advanced than it used to be.
What do you need to develop a super app, technically speaking? There’s no “one and only” path to doing it right. There are different approaches and solutions, depending on whether you want to go for native or cross-platform development.
Possible solutions you can adopt when designing a super app architecture:
- Native Android application with Feature Delivery
- Native iOS application with WebViews
- Cross-platform React Native application with Metro
- Cross-platform React Native application with Webpack and Re.Pack
Each solution addresses different needs and comes with different benefits. Given our experience, it’s better to adopt cross-platform solutions because native applications not only use different platform languages, but also require radically different architectures.
Only React Native allows us to leverage a truly cross-platform code splitting technique which enables super apps’ implementation. Because of Webpack's widely used and battle-tested code splitting, we can easily introduce it into React Native applications with the help of Re.Pack.
Super apps are spreading rapidly nowadays. The model is gaining popularity in Latin America and Africa. Businesses from almost every market segment take interest in developing a super app. Even though the very definition of a super app may vary from continent to continent, the trend is there. And it’s there to stay!
The worldwide use of super apps is spurring a new era in online shopping, payments and communication. Among the big brands that are planning to jump on the bandwagon are also social media giants such as Facebook or Twitter. That clearly means the super app landscape is going to further evolve.
The super app quickly went mainstream in Asian countries - with a mobile-first population, homogeneous markets, blocked competition, and huge government support, the evolution of a multi-purpose ecosystem seemed only natural.
Most probably, the super app trend will continue to grow in and out of Asia. More and more companies worldwide see the potential of retaining their users within their all-in-one application.
Building a super app can give you serious competitive advantages:
- The comfort of using only one place to get things done offers a unique user experience
- The fact you open up your space to different service providers lets you monetize your app easily
- The implementation of super apps gives you a stronger digital presence