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Tata Group goes big, to launch a super app by December: Report

When Facebook invested in Reliance Jio, many experts believed that the coming together of the two giants would lead to a WeChat-kind of the super app ecosystem. While there are no indications of that happening yet, it appears that the Tata Group, one of India’s largest business conglomerates, has been gearing up for a super app play.

A report says that the group is working to bring together the services of all Tata group companies under a super app that will go live by the end of this year. “It will be a super app, a lot of apps in apps and so on . . . We have a very big opportunity,” the Financial Times quoted Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, as saying.

The super app will be loaded with offerings spanning categories in which Tatas have a presence and will eventually include more services like healthcare, food and grocery ordering, insurance and financial services among others, Chandrasekaran told the FT. 

While Tata Group’s aspirations in the super app direction is an exciting move, it hasn’t made any dent in the world’s fledgeling e-commerce market.

At present, the Tata Group runs two e-commerce portals: Tata Cliq that sells consumer electronics online via Tata Croma and StarQuik, an online grocery, dairy, meat and fruits and vegetable store which currently services Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Despite its presence in the electronic and grocery segment, the group has not been able to scale them up to notable milestones.

Not just the Tata Group but traditional groups such as Birla, Godrej, ITC and new-age retail brand Future Group have also failed to find their footing in the e-commerce sector. Aditya Birla’s fashion portals Abof.com and Trendin.com, Godrej’s e-grocery shop EkStop, Kishore Biyani’s Futurebazaar.com didn’t take off because of poor planning and lack of understanding of the sector.

Super apps are a function of reach. While WhatsApp and Reliance Jio jointly have incredible reach in terms of users that suit the super app’s ecosystem, Tata Group has no such advantage. We aren’t sure about why Tata Group is making this play on building a super app without strengthening its existing e-commerce play or partnering a suitable player with muscular reach in the digital or social media ecosystem.

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