a girl using a super app on smartphone

5 popular super app features to make your app stand out

The only way to move forward in the digital world? Evolution and innovation. Consumers continuously look for better ways to connect online, prompting smartphone brands to develop better features that address their audience’s pain points.

As the demand for better mobile devices develops, so do the services within them. A 2021 Statista report shows that there are 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide. And as the adoption rate grows, more and more users are relying on their smartphones for everything from socializing and banking, to shopping and ordering lunch or a ride.

An internet-enabled smartphone is a globalized access point to products, services, communities, information, and more. Users can bank, chat, and purchase with just a few taps. The increased ease of access resulted in a shift of expectations: customers want convenience, and they only use digital products that make their lives easier.

With so many competitors trying to be the most accessible to consumers in a saturated app market, how can you be sure that your app stands out? The answer is simple: be everything they need as a super app.

Coined by Blackberry founder Mike Lazaridis in 2010, a “super app” is a platform that offers a “seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience.” In other words, it should contain all of the primary features that end users need. 

A super app eliminates the need for multiple apps on smartphones, allowing brands to focus on consistent quality and personalization.

But there’s more to understand before diving into super app development. Here’s everything you need to know.

6.4 billion smartphone users

Why invest in a super app?

When too many apps are installed, neither users nor product teams are coming out on top.  The average smartphone user has 40 apps installed on his phone, but only 18 apps are actually used. Moreover, those 18 apps are used sporadically—the user is forced to split their usage time, making retention difficult for brands. 

But super apps are starting to get noticed in the modern world. This is because they simultaneously address customer pain points and demands, like shuffling between apps or downloading something new for a one-off task.

Customers are willing to pay more for convenience. Think of it this way: super apps are like shopping malls, where people go to purchase everything they need in one visit, have a variety of dining options, and maybe even watch a movie. The variety of products available makes shopping malls a powerful magnet that drives demand and engagement. 

With a super app by your side—one that includes features in the areas of eCommerce, community, food delivery, and more—you can convince your customers to stay, invest, and engage. It’s like a shopping mall that fits in your pocket.

Simply put, super apps allow you to answer more customer needs and become a consistent part of their digital lives. All your customers need in exchange are valuable experiences. 

What makes super apps super?

Super apps may seem complex, but the best ones actually focus on a few key features that solve the majority of pain points. Simplicity attracts, engages, and retains users. Identifying the primary components that make the biggest impact is often the best thing you can do, especially if you’re working with limited resources.

The most successful super apps in the market value inclusivity, problem-solving facets, and mobile-friendliness. They touch on intangible aspects like customer pain points, shifting expectations, and even social issues. Above all, they are functional. 

Your goal when building a successful super app is to increase customer usage and engagement. Here are the five features that will make all the difference:

1 - Social features

Social platforms are spaces where users can share and interact with one another. They can be digital communities revolving around social circles (e.g., Facebook and Instagram) or topics (eg. Reddit and Quora). 

Integrating social features such as instant messaging, calls, groups, and social feeds can help you build a digital community within your super app. In-app communities increase what experts dub “stickiness,” which refers to the quality of having high user engagement and loyalty within your app.

Community members exchange information, experiences, and entertainment that they more or less resonate with on a personal level. Over time, they build bonds and grow their digital circles.

Why does this work? Communities build on the intrinsic human need for connection. Providing users with a space to interact shows them you understand this need and want their voices to be heard. 

wechat case study

Case Study: WeChat

WeChat was initially built to be exactly what it sounds like—a social platform based on instant chatting. It simplified social enough to gain traction in the Chinese market and become a one-stop shop for all social and transactional processes. 

After mastering instant messaging, WeChat launched other services:

  • Social: Keeps users updated on each other through social feeds
  • Media: Allows daily access to news and search bars, like Google
  • Entertainment: Enables video chatting with thousands of filters and interactive games
  • Finance: Allows financial transactions through WeChat Pay

Chinese consumers now spend at least two hours daily on the app, sending over 45 billion messages daily. They also use the app to pay for online shopping, book restaurants, and even store coupons and membership cards, but the primary driver is its social features.

Because social platform features already offer undeniable value, you may be able to build your brand a super app by incorporating features like online shopping, news updates, social feeds, and other features. 

2 - eCommerce features

eCommerce refers to the buying and selling of products online as well as commercial transactions. Features that make this possible are online listings, buyer-merchant communication channels, delivery tracking, and online payments.

In the modern world, eCommerce services have replaced the need for physical stores. A world of selections is at users’ fingertips, and closing times don’t apply. 

Online shopping has been around for some time, but it skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person activities, including shopping, were limited, and brands had to scramble to survive. 

Consumers migrated online, and the trend isn’t likely to drop soon. There’s an 8% forecasted growth in retail eCommerce sales through 2024, so integrating features that allow users to shop and sell online will help your app cover users’ needs for online shopping.

tata neu case study

Case Study: Tata Neu

Tata Neu by the Tata Group launched in April 2022, packaged as a super app that combines a wide range of digital services—including online shopping. 

Since its launch, Tata Neu has been home to over 11 million users. Today, it serves as users’ access point to AirAsia tickets, the Taj group of hotels, Westside fashion, online pharmacies, and even the BigBasket online grocery.

eCommerce has changed consumer buying behaviors and patterns forever. As a brand that enables easy and convenient online shopping services, you can diversify your offerings. In doing so, you express a powerful message: you care for convenience and valuable experiences. 

3 - Transportation features

Transportation allows consumers to move from one place to another or have goods delivered on demand. Features that make transport possible are those that connect service providers to users, allow for 1–1 chatting, and power GPS tracking. 

On-demand transport makes it easy to send packages from one point to another or choose a taxi over a bus. It gives customers an option that could make their lives easier. 

Offering transportation services in your super app allows you to cater to users’ needs to move around and handle deliveries.

gojek case study

Case Study: Gojek

Over 38 million Southeast Asian customers use Gojek’s on-demand platform, which includes transportation as a key feature. Other services provided include food deliveries, logistics, and even payments. 

Gojek began as a taxi bike (ojek) service in 2010, which served Indonesians working in call centers. As it gained traction and set its sights on super app status, however, it launched the following:

  • GoRide, the ride-hailing service  
  • GoSend, the delivery service
  • GoMart, the grocery service
  • GoFood, the food delivery service 
  • GoPay, the e-wallet service

With over 190 million downloads throughout Southeast Asia, Gojek has captured 52% of the market share in mobility spending in Indonesia, overtaking competitors such as Grab.

Transportation is regarded as the backbone of society. Demand for these services will never stop, but standing out from the crowd requires more than just speedy services. You also need to build a super app they can rely on, no matter where they currently are. 

4 - Financial features

The financial service industry has been transformed by technology over the years. We see this in the sheer adoption rates of digital banking and other online services. 

Banks know that the key to customer retention is a frictionless mobile experience. But with so many apps offering similar financial services, there needs to be another way to stand out. 

Super apps can give you the edge you need. Investing in features such as chatbots, digital wallets, and even fintech partnerships can then further drive value and engagement.

With these features, you may allow users to transfer money, purchase insurance policies, and apply for loans from their mobile phones.

paytm case study

Case Study: Paytm

Paytm, founded in 2010 by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, now serves as a well-known superapp and among India’s largest digital payment and financial service company. It offers solutions not just to individual customers but also merchants. 

Customers can make transactions for online purchases, utilities, bills, and more. They also have access to small loans and buy-now-pay-later offers.

Merchants, on the other hand, can receive payment through the following features:

  • QR Codes
  • Various online payment gateway options
  • Point-of-sale services

Paytm currently powers more than 20 million merchants and businesses to accept digital payments, leading to a revenue of 16.8 billion rupees ($211.16 million) just this year. 

Financial transactions make up a large portion of users’ digital needs, and by offering this feature in your super app, you fulfill a demand.

5 - Food delivery features

Online food ordering and delivery systems are other services that have grown in popularity over the past few years. People enjoy the convenience of choosing their meals on their phones and waiting for food to show up at their doorstep. Add in the convenience of in-app chat and mobile banking, and it’s clear that this is now the preferred way to order food.

The food delivery industry has seen massive growth due to the pandemic; strict lockdown protocols and health concerns associated with in-person dining boosted the demand for food ordering systems.

Sure enough, food delivery apps reached a revenue of 26.5 billion USD in 2020—a steep jump from 8.7 billion in 2015. With its steady growth, Business of Apps expects the food delivery app industry to reach a revenue of 320 billion USD by 2029.

By adding food delivery services to your roster, you can tap into another growing market and target a key demand among many consumers.

grad case study

Case Study: Grab

Singapore-based super app Grab (formerly GrabTaxi) currently dominates Southeast Asia. It started out in 2012 as a ride-hailing app like Uber. However, in March 2018, it took control of Uber’s Southeast Asian operations

Grab sought to develop an interconnected network of services aimed at user convenience, so following this acquisition, the app offered more than just ride-hailing. The company launched GrabFood in May 2018, filling the niche of Uber Eats, Uber’s food delivery platform. It synced well with Grab’s other transport and financial services.

This expansion proved to be a sound decision for the super app. Momentum Works’ 2020 “Food Delivery Platforms in Southeast Asia” report stated that GrabFood contributed almost half (49%) of Southeast Asia’s 15.5-billion USD food delivery gross merchandise value (GMV). 

By incorporating the same features into your brand, you have the potential to grow beyond what’s expected of food delivery services.

Make your app stand out

Brands like WeChat and Grab have managed to diversify their offerings to fulfill the needs of their existing customer base. And you can do the same by scrutinizing your current core service and exploring opportunities to build better and more valuable experiences

Increased usage and engagement means going above and beyond your comfort zone. Even if standalone feature apps are performing, the most recognized apps worldwide have leapt boundaries and supercharged their services. Can you keep up?


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