May 18, 2022

Battle of the super apps: Tata Neu takes on Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm

The Tata Group has finally launched the long-awaited and long-awaited super app Tata Neu this week. This is a big step forward in bringing together several of its major brands on a common consumer-focused platform.

The $103 billion Tata Group is a diversified conglomerate with interests ranging from salt to software, tea, hotels, steel, clothing, aviation, automobiles and more. Over the past few years, individual businesses have increased their online presence. But, there was hardly any interconnection.

Tata Neu bridges this gap by leveraging the strengths of individual brands such as Big Basket, Croma, Westside, Starbucks, Taj Group of Hotels, Tata Cliq, Tata 1MG, Tata Capital, among others, to enable consumers to access them on a single platform. Many of its other companies like Vistara, Air India, Titan Tanishq and Tata Motors will also be integrated soon.

“Our goal is to make the lives of Indian consumers simpler and easier. The power of choice, seamless experience and loyalty will be at the center of Tata Neu, delivering a powerful One Tata experience,” said N Chandrasekaran, President of Tata Sons.

What ties the various brands together is the reward structure in the form of NeuCoins. Consumers transacting on the app, website or Tata Neu branded stores and hotels will receive these NeuCoins. These could be redeemed for future purchases. One NeuCoin will equal one Rupee and there is no limitation on how many of these one can earn and use.

Tata also plans to roll out an exclusive NeuPass membership service. Members will receive at least 5% more NeuCoins each time they purchase on the app, and there will be more benefits, which have not yet been revealed.

Payments and financial services will also be a focus of Tata on Tata Neu. So one could pay bills, send money to friends using Tata Pay UPI, get personal loans, lines of credit, personalized insurance plans and more.

The super app will give Tata Group enormous firepower in what is becoming a fiercely competitive battlefield. Amazon, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, Reliance Jio and Mukesh Ambani’s Flipkart, which is owned by retail giant Walmart, are also eyeing a bigger slice of the consumer pie and have pumped millions into the company over the past of recent years.

Platforms like Amazon and Flipkart also already offer multiple features like payments, money transfers, ticket booking, other than shopping of course. Paytm, the fintech giant owned by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, has also evolved over the years into a super app-like ecosystem, encompassing payments, investments, ticket booking and shopping. These platforms have also partnered with commercial banks to offer services such as co-branded credit cards and personal loans.

Reliance Jio also has huge ambitions in the superapp space thanks to platforms like MyJio and JioMart. Reliance Retail’s network of over 12,000 stores and the thousands of Kirana stores that its partnership for JioMart gives it an added advantage.

What is unique with Tata Neu is that it becomes a common consumer platform for all Tata businesses.

“We have more than a dozen category-leading consumer brands spanning electronics, fashion, travel, hospitality, grocery, pharmaceutical and financial services. We believe that with Tata Neu, we will create a very differentiated consumer platform,” said Pratik Pal, CEO of Tata Digital.

The Tata brand name has long commanded respect and credibility; it is the only Indian among the 100 most loved brands in the world. It is therefore not surprising that the Tata Neu super app has generated a lot of interest among consumers. So far, it has over 10,000 downloads on Google Play Store alone. It began testing in October 2021, but didn’t open to the general public until April 7. In comparison, apps from Amazon India, Flipkart and Paytm had over 10 crore downloads each on the Google Play Store.

On the first day of launch for the general public, users complained about issues such as login issues as thousands of new users attempted to upgrade. Reviews since then seem mixed. Many users said it was slow and had lags. A few also talked about an inconsistent user interface and a slow search engine. But, there were also those who spoke of great experience.

The opportunities are immense. India’s consumer digital economy is estimated to grow tenfold to become an $800 billion market by 2030. According to consultancy EY, internet and e-commerce companies large raised $38 billion in 2021, up from $8 billion in 2020.

Tata Sons is also said to have injected over Rs 5,800 crore into Tata Digital, bringing its total investment in the company last year to over Rs 11,800 crore. The task is cut out for Tata Group as it takes on the competition.