Grab is on the road to becoming Southeast Asia’s first everyday super app

Art by Neal P. Corpus

 

How many apps does it take to become a fully functioning adult? With errands for work and personal life perpetually piling up, we could really use all the help we can get, tbh. Lucky for us, Grab is on the road to building Southeast Asia’s first everyday superapp, and it might just be our new best friend.

When we think of Grab, we think of ride-hailing. But we also already use the app to get food, deliver packages and run errands with the help of an assistant. So what will make Grab an everyday superapp, you may ask? The vision of the tech startup is to offer all the services that matter most in our daily lives in a single app — Grab — which happens to already be installed in most of our phones. According to Anthony Tan, Group CEO and co-founder of Grab, “We’ve gone from offering our tech as a booking platform for taxis, to proving a fleet of delivery drivers for e-commerce companies. It’s now time to take what we’re really good at to a select group of partners — and eventually make our platform open to the wider Southeast Asia ecosystem.”

 

Any business that partners with Grab through GrabPlatform will get access to components of Grab’s tech — all built in-house, BTW — such as transport, logistics, payments, insights and mapping.

 

Enter: GrabPlatform, a suite of Grab’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Starting last July, any business that partners with Grab through GrabPlatform will get access to components of Grab’s tech — all built in-house, BTW — such as transport, logistics, payments, insights and mapping. Did we mention there are over 100 million mobile app installs and a network of 7.1 million drivers, delivery partners, merchants, and agents across 225 cities in eight countries? While it’s easy to think that this is mostly in favor of entrepreneurs, the integration of their services to Grab, at the end of the day, will really be for the benefit of the app users.

Freshness guaranteed: One of the first successful GrabPlatform partner integrations is GrabFresh, a grocery delivery service powered by Jakarta-based company HappyFresh.

The perfect example is GrabFresh, a grocery delivery service that already launched as a beta service in Jakarta and will be available in Thailand and Malaysia by the end of 2018. Think: trained personal shoppers from HappyFresh (Jakarta-based grocery service) plus drivers and delivery partners via GrabExpress. What customers get is a wide selection of grocery products that we can easily access from the smartphones in our pockets plus the convenience of having them delivered to our doorstep within an hour or at a pre-arranged time for our convenience.

 

‘Our goal is for one Southeast Asian app to offer all the daily essentials you need, anytime you need it, and even before you know you need it,’ says Grab’s Jerald Singh.

 

This type of service alone is managing situations we didn’t even think would be problems years ago. But as Jerald Singh, Product head at Grab, says, “Our goal is for one Southeast Asian app to offer all the daily essentials you need, anytime you need it, and even before you know you need it.” And while HappyFresh will be focusing on its main markets — Jakarta, Thailand and Malaysia — for 2018, its expansion to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in the near future is looking a lot more feasible thanks to GrabPlatform.

Food at your fingertips: GrabFood finally launched in the Philippines last July.

GrabFood (a food delivery service), GrabPay (mobile e-wallet) and Grab Daily (a localized feed that has everything from news — in partnership with Yahoo! — to games, curated short films by local producers, city guides and restaurant reviews) recently launched in the Philippines, and it won’t be long ‘til Grab’s vision of being Southeast Asia’s first everyday superapp fully comes to life. But what’s a new Grab experience without a new look? The revamped app interface will roll out in the Philippines by the end of September 2018 and the most notable change will be on the homepage.

Upon opening the app, users will be directed to a Grab Daily feed with a summary of Grab services instead of the location map and ride-booking options that we’ve had throughout the years. (This plays a big role in shifting the messaging of Grab from a ride-hailing app to an everyday superapp.) The mapping technology still comes into play though in the homepage as the content of the feed will be curated based on one’s current location.

Content like restaurant reviews or lists of shopping malls in proximity come in handy when visiting a new city, but it’s also informative enough for any local to still discover new things about his hometown. Grab wants to show us everything there is to know about Southeast Asia and its current tech gathers data that make it possible for the app to be hyperlocal. The goal is for the app to become more personalized in the near future, but that’s a whole new story for another time.

App dreams are made of these: Grab users will soon be able to commute, shop, eat, run errands, read the news, and be entertained as the app transitions into becoming an everyday superapp.

Now I know what you’re thinking: what’s the point of having all these new features anyway if I can’t even book a ride with the app? Here’s the thing with technology: at the end of the day, an app is still just an app. Grab is one of the most frequently used O2O (online to offline) mobile platforms in Southeast Asia. The developers can build all the tech they could dream of to make our lives easier, but its success still heavily relies on the offline space it operates in.

 

But as the company continues to deal with these emerging problems — and it definitely has been a work in progress — it’s never stopped thinking ahead; pushing the limit for the growth of the company and shifting Southeast Asia to a digital economy.

 

To a degree, it is dependent on the different agencies that control its operations in different cities, on the customer and service provider on both ends of the engagement, on urban planning and environmental condition unique to each city, and so many other things beyond the tech’s current control.

This is not to say that Grab gets a free pass when it doesn’t deliver the quality of service it promised. It is being held accountable. But as the company continues to deal with these emerging problems — and it definitely has been a work in progress — it’s never stopped thinking ahead; pushing the limit for the growth of the company and shifting Southeast Asia to a digital economy. It’s that tech startup drive that got them to launch in 2012 and it’s what got them to where they are in 2018. It’s also that same spirit that will help them build Southeast Asia’s first everyday superapp, not just for the company but especially for its users. That must be worth something, right?

Superfam: Grab’s network of tech developers, business partners, drivers, delivery partners and app users are all-in for Southeast Asia’s shift to a digital economy.

Grab currently offers services in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia. For more information, visit www.grab.com.

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