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The Rise of WhatsApp as a Superapp

By Jaime Navarro - GUS
Founding Partner and CEO


Jaime Navarro By Jaime Navarro | Founding Partner and CEO - Wed, 05/31/2023 - 09:00

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To cater to users’ needs in the modern world is simple. Your app or tech service will survive as long as it proves to be convenient and simple to use. 

Back in the early 2010s, apps were built to address specific needs. On average, people had 30-40 different apps on their smartphones. But now, not only are users neglecting to download more apps, but they are choosing to use only those apps that cater to a wide variety of services. Why? Because it’s the new “convenient and simple to use.”

In recent years, the concept of "superapps" has taken the tech world by storm. These all-in-one mobile applications provide users with a range of services and functions, from messaging and social networking to shopping, transportation, and financial services. 

Superapps have become particularly popular in regions like Southeast Asia and China, where they are often used as a primary means of communication, commerce and entertainment. But what exactly are superapps and why are they so appealing? In this article, we'll explore the rise of superapps, their key features, and the challenges and opportunities they present for businesses and consumers alike.

In order to be classified as such, an app’s platform needs to include the following platforms and services: social messaging, e-commerce, transportation, banking and finance, groceries and food delivery, bills and payments, and healthcare services.

In China, this phenomenon was introduced by WeChat, the most popular instant messaging app in that country that allows users to engage in many activities and services, all within the same app.

One of the key features of WeChat is its mini-programs, which are small, lightweight apps that run within the WeChat app itself. Mini-programs can provide a range of services, such as food delivery, ride-hailing, shopping, and more. For example, users can order food delivery, book a taxi, or buy movie tickets, all within WeChat, without needing to download additional apps or switch between different apps.

WeChat also offers a range of social networking features, such as Moments, which is similar to Facebook's News Feed, allowing users to share photos, videos, and updates with their friends. It also has a feature called Official Accounts that allows businesses and organizations to set up accounts and engage with their followers through WeChat's messaging platform.

WeChat also holds its own mobile payments system, which is completely integrated with the app. Users can link their bank accounts and make payments directly within WeChat, for everything from buying groceries to paying bills. It has become a key driver of China's cashless economy, with over 1 billion monthly active users.

In Latin America, Rappi started as a food delivery service app and slowly paved their way toward becoming an aspiring superapp, with a multiservice platform. In parallel, WhatsApp ceased to be just a messaging platform for friends and family. Over the past five years and with over 2.4 billion users around the world, WhatsApp also gained popularity as a business tool for companies that activated WhatsApp Business Platform as their main communication channel to engage with their customers. 

As WhatsApp Business Solution Providers, at GUS we have been witnessing how the app is quickly taking action into fully making the transition to becoming a superapp, especially since users are now able to browse, add to cart and pay without leaving the app, in what we like to call the WhatsApp Shopping Experience.

This new feature allows businesses to create a catalog of their products and services that customers can browse, add to cart and purchase directly through the app.

This shopping experience is designed to be simple and convenient, allowing customers to shop for products and services directly within the WhatsApp app, without needing to switch between different apps or websites. For businesses, the WhatsApp Shopping Experience can be a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with customers, especially in regions where WhatsApp is widely used as a communication platform.

The beta testing concluded in the second half of 2022 in India and Brazil with amazing results. Gaurav Jain, Head of Strategy and Business Development at JioMart, said their orders have now grown by nine times since launching this feature.

Conversational commerce is expected to grow by 15 times during the next five to seven years, according to experts from Meta Platforms. At GUS, a company fully dedicated to connecting businesses with their audiences through conversational experiences that occur within aspiring superapps like WhatsApp, we are certain it has the potential to transform the way customers and businesses interact in a pivotal way. Hang on tight, as the next couple of years are going to be crucial for the future of B2C transactions.

Photo by:   Jaime Navarro

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