Superapps Series Part 1: What is a Superapp

Published: 02/03/2023
Author: Nick Welch

What is a Superapp?

Superapps offer a compelling way to give your customers a wide range of services and experiences on their mobile device.

Frequently referred to as the Swiss army knife of mobile apps, a superapp allows end-users to install a range of smaller mini-apps that meet a range of different needs, for example shopping, messaging, payments, order tracking and support.

Superapps offer the potential to make your brand and services stickier with your audiences. By allowing the install of smaller mini-app services, you can provide your customers with a one-stop shop that drives greater engagement with your brand.

The supperapp approach began as a trend in Asia, driven partly by increased uptake of mobile connections over fixed line internet. Over recent years they’ve grown in popularity, with the European banking and finance sector seeing Superapp launches from fintech businesses including Klarna, Lydia, Bolt and Revolut.

Why use a superapp over a traditional mobile app?

One of the key advantages of superapps is that they allow organisations with separate digital products and services to consolidate their offering through a single, intuitive customer app experience. The superapp acts as a wrapper, helping the customer choose products and services that matter to them, tailored to their needs.

Key superapp benefits include:

  • A unified user experience for your audiences
  • Frictionless, immediate access to digital services
  • End-users and superapp owners both benefit from the network effect of consolidating their digital services through increased audience sizes
  • When correctly planned, superapps can deliver new insights on customer or end-user behaviour, with consolidated analytics and data on usage, providing a big-picture view of audience engagement with products and services
  • Customers don’t have to wade through app store searches to find what they need, with one single app install by all users making your superapp more relevant in search results
  • Your audience have visibility of all your products and services in one place, offering more opportunities for cross-selling of services
  • Organisations developing employee-facing apps can reduce IT complexity, with a single app install offering access to multiple tools and systems, with single-sign-on to ensure robust security

Avoiding potential pitfalls

While superapps offer a range of advantages for both you and your intended audience, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of. Firstly, cross-platform development is key in any superapp strategy. Given the increased complexity of superapps, native development for iOS and Android can be problematic due to the increased costs and complexity of managing two separate codebases. This complexity increases over time, as new features or mini apps are added. Cross-platform development using React Native avoids this challenge through using a single codebase. This reduces costs and time for development, enabling new features to be deployed quickly without having to rewrite code for separate iOS and Android versions.

Secondly, planning, designing, and developing a superapp requires specialist expertise from your mobile development partner. Strong user experience design is a must to ensure that your app is both feature-rich but crucially intuitive to use. Additionally, more time will be required during development to ensure the various mini apps integrate and work as intended. Your superapp will be an ecosystem of apps for your customers. Given this, you and your development partner will need to invest more time in developing, testing, and maintaining the superapp.

Thirdly, while introducing every conceivable service your customer might want might be tempting, an effective superapp strategy depends on avoiding feature-creep. Alongside the higher development costs involved, it’s important to ensure the features you’re providing are relevant for your audience and add genuine value.

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