2024: The rise of the Super App in retail
In today’s hyper-connected world, the omnipresence of smartphones is undeniable. From unlocking our cars to setting alarms, monitoring bank balances, and managing personal and business affairs, these devices have become the quintessential modern tool.
Phones are the linchpin of our social interactions, consumption habits, communication, work engagements, learning endeavours, reading sessions, fitness routines, and so much more.
According to recent studies, individuals spend a significant number of hours each day glued to their screens, emphasising the central role phones play in our lives.
The average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone every day. And 1 in 5 smartphone users spends upwards of 4.5 hours on average on their phones every day. Source: Exploding Topics
In the fast-paced landscape of industries, businesses across the board are realising the immense potential of mobile applications to drive community engagement, customer interactions, and, inevitably, commerce. However, the retail sector appears to be lagging behind in recognizing the power of apps as a robust customer channel, keeping it a somewhat “big secret” among the insiders and outsiders of the app realm.
During my tenure as the Chief Revenue Officer of Poq, an app company with over a decade of experience, I’ve encountered global retailers at board levels resisting the adoption of apps. Their reluctance often stems from deep-seated fears and biases.
I recall instances such as:
- The chairman who phoned his wife to gauge her app shopping habits as a precis to signing off a fashion retailer app with a 16-24 audience.
- The Chief Digital Officer who stood up at a conference and said “you can carry me out in a coffin before i ever do apps”
- The retail analyst who has commented “I hate shopping apps” to an audience of retailers
Yet, despite these reservations, consumers consistently gravitate toward apps as their preferred mode of engagement. This phenomenon mirrors the initial scepticism faced by e-commerce during its first wave of adoption. Retailers feared cannibalization of physical stores and were hesitant about the costs and uncertainties associated with online ventures. Eventually, though, they embraced e-commerce, leading to the global e-commerce bubble we’ve been navigating for the past decade.
Now, a similar scenario is unfolding with app-led businesses dominating the retail landscape. Retailers, having invested heavily in e-commerce, are facing fierce competition from app-centric counterparts. Understandably, adapting to this new paradigm is challenging. Capital expenditures are constrained, and recent investments in enhancing e-commerce and mobile web capabilities, especially during the pandemic, make it difficult to acknowledge that these channels may not be as performant as apps.
The industry, however, speaks a different language. Data from Airship, Data.Ai stats, and Gartner’s recognition of the rise of super apps all point towards the undeniable influence and efficacy of apps.
Source: Airships Consumer Survey
At poq, we’ve been championing the importance of apps for years, understanding that they cannot function in isolation but should be an integral part of the overall tech stack. This approach ensures that every investment made enhances, differentiates, and ultimately caters to the evolving needs and expectations of our retailers and their customers. The era of apps is here, and it’s time for retailers to embrace this transformative force before they find themselves lagging behind in an ever-evolving digital landscape.