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NEW DELHI : Tata Digital, the wholly owned unit of Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd, unveiled the country’s first super app Tata Neu, which allows users to shop across categories ranging from groceries to luxury goods and hotels, combining all the Tata group’s consumer brands on a single platform.

The super app also offers a suite of financial services, including UPI payments, bill payments, loans and insurance, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company and promoter of all Tata group companies, announced the launch of Tata Neu on professional networking site LinkedIn.

“It is a Neu day today! Tata Digital, the youngest member of the Tata family, brings you Tata Neu, today. Tata Neu is an exciting platform that gathers all our brands into one powerful app," Chandrasekaran wrote.

For consumers, the app brings together the group’s airline Air Asia, hospitality company Indian Hotels Co., online grocery firm BigBasket, as well as other retail brands such as Croma, Qmin, Starbucks, Tata 1Mg, Tata CLiQ, Tata Play and Westside.

Other companies under the group’s portfolio, including Vistara, Air India, Titan, Tanishq, and Tata Motors will join the app soon, Chandrasekaran said.

Tata Neu also offers third-party labels such as Levi’s denims, Skechers shoes and cosmetic brands Colorbar and Maybelline. Shoppers can also buy Mi TV sets and Apple Airpods.

Pratik Pal, chief executive of Tata Digital, said the app offers over a dozen consumer brands.

“The journey of Tata Neu has begun with a cumulative consumer base of 120 million users, 2,500 offline stores, along with an 80 million app footprint across our digital assets," he said.

The app allows users to log in with just a name and mobile number and uses the device’s biometrics such as fingerprint sensors on Android phones and face ID on iPhones to secure access to the app.

The app also records purchase histories from the company’s pre-existing databases for existing Tata customers. As a result, the app will give a customer who has stayed in a Tata hotel or already uses BigBasket, Tata Cliq, etc., a digital reward in the form of “Neu Coins", which can be redeemed against purchases made on Tata Neu.

Customers can “spend these new coins across any category", the company statement said.

The super app also offers consumers a rewards programme—NeuPass.

“Members earn 5% NeuCoins or more every time they shop, dine, or travel via Tata Neu. 1 NeuCoin equals 1, and consumers enjoy limitless freedom to earn NeuCoins on all categories and spend these NeuCoins across any category," the company said.

In addition, NeuPass members will also get free deliveries, exclusive offers, a built-in credit line, early access to product launches and brand-specific privileges.

At the moment, though, the NeuCoins don’t show up on the other apps that Tata has. However, the Tata Neu app runs Big Basket, Cliq and others in a containerized form, which means that these apps sort of live inside the Neu app.

This is much the same implementation that Paytm had done last year when it launched the Paytm Mini App Store. The difference here is that Tata is tapping into its own apps only, at least for now.

Tata group’s super app comes at a time India’s retail landscape is transforming, with the pandemic having pushed more people to shop online. India’s e-commerce market is set to touch $88 billion by FY25, commanding nearly 8% of the overall retail market. Categories such as food and grocery are expected to touch $28 billion, while consumer electronics will be a $20 billion opportunity online, according to a report by consulting firm Technopak.

In May last year, Tata Digital acquired a 64.3% stake in online grocer BigBasket for 9,500 crore, citing accelerated adoption of e-grocery. It also acquired digital pharmacy 1mg and signed a deal to invest up to $75 million in CureFit Healthcare.

Anand Ramanathan, partner, Deloitte India, said given the app fatigue, it makes immense sense for a large conglomerate to have a super app.

“A super app optimizes all of the technology you have across multiple businesses to reach the customer, and your ability to get a 360-degree view of her consumption improves. If done well, the benefits are enormous, but the execution is very complex because you have to navigate through different silos and legacy systems," he said.

Besides, the back-end integration can help supply chains, Ramanathan said, adding, “You will have visibility on inventory across multiple businesses, and if you aggregate their requirements, then economies of scale will kick in."

Clicking on the Neu app’s grocery category taps into Big Basket’s inventory, while the electronics category taps into the Croma store.

Interestingly, while the app is tapping into existing Tata services, it has its own built-in payment mechanisms.

Though a version of BigBasket or Cliq runs outside the Neu app, customers won’t have to leave the Neu app to make payments.

This could be useful for Tata in the long run if the company chooses to follow business models set by Chinese super-app giants like WeChat and more. In China, super apps often allow third parties to tap into their user base, making them gatekeeper platforms. In addition, payment services are built into these super apps, allowing third parties to cut costs and use those services instead, paying a fee for such payments.

At the moment, the Tata Neu app, much like Reliance Jio’s MyJio, depends on its own services and platforms.

This is where Paytm, backed by China’s Alibaba, differs. The company’s Mini App Store allows third parties to tap into Paytm’s services and customer base. Neu also doesn’t have games and movie streaming services, which are available on the MyJio app.

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