One app to rule them all. ‘All’ meaning any and every digital service an internet literate citizen of today may use regularly. From ecommerce to digital payments, food delivery to travel bookings, and more, the ‘super app’ wants to be your go-to.
And if such an app should exist — one that could fulfil all your digital needs — why wouldn’t you use it, and more importantly, why wouldn’t you use it over everything else?
Enter Neu, a super app by Tata Digital. The much-awaited app was officially unveiled in November 2021, opening only to the 8,00,000+ employees of the 154-year-old Tata Group at the time.
Now, the app is finally ready to open its proverbial doors to customers on April 7 amid the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), of which Tata is the title sponsor this year.
Tata Neu is already available for download on both the Google Play Store (downloaded >100,000 times with a rating of 4.4/5) and the Apple App Store (undisclosed number of downloads with a rating of 3.7/5).
As of now, the Tata Digital website as well the Neu app’s launch page read, “Hi new user, we can’t wait to reward you. Start your shopping journey with us on 7th April.
Signing up on Tata Neu
Inside the Neu
A Tata Group employee gave YS a peek into the super app and there’s a lot to unpack.
Right off the bat, Tata Neu welcomes you to a clean UI with eye-catching icons and a standard in-app menu. The main screen is divided into five pages — Home, Tata Pay, NeuPass, Offers, and Stories.
The bright icons and well-divided categories mean that even the almost-endless scrolling ‘Home’ doesn’t seem exhausting. Each icon has a label indicating the brand(s) Tata wants to showcase in that category.
Neu aims to bring together multiple Tata brands onto one seamless platform and currently includes TataSky), Westside, among others., Croma, Tata , Air Asia, Taj Hotels, , Tata Play (earlier
Earlier in March, media reports revealed that Tata Digital was in talks with the National Payments Council of India (NPCI) to operate as a third-party provider of UPI payments. The company was allegedly in talks with ICICI Bank and “another private sector lender” to power this infrastructure.
As a result, we now have Tata Pay, showcased on Neu, for all things money — QR payments, utility bill payments, mobile recharges, account transfers, balance checking, autopay mandates, etc.
The Offers page too is well-designed and easy to navigate, with several attractive deals available.
The ‘Stories’ tab makes the app feel more than just another platform to buy things, adding a layer of sophistication and personalisation, making it look like a holistic lifestyle offering.
But the real game-changer is Neu Pass, which Tata Group aims to use to incentivise customers and bring together existing loyalty programmes offered by individual brands under one.
Any money spent on Tata Neu will result in cashback in the form of Neu Coins. These Neu Coins are then redeemable across all services listed on the super app.
FAQ pages of Bigbasket and Tata Cliq state, “We know you love your memberships with our partner brands, so we’ve brought them all together on TataNeu…You can continue to enjoy your existing rewards, NeuCoins, and benefits from various brands, on TataNeu and its partner brands. Your current points will get merged into your NeuCoins balance and your membership privileges from our partner brands will also continue. The terms of your membership with the partner brand will also continue to hold good.”
A membership programme with a cashback offer (One Neu Coin = Re 1) across verticals can lead to bigger discounts, especially if you use more than one Tata service.
Side note: The app offers a reward of 200 Neu Coins on signing up.
Inside the app’s interface
The good and the bad
While the premise is promising and Neu offers a fresh, clean, and minimalist platform catering to almost all your needs, it falls short when it comes to delivering on them.
The menu may look good and well-built, but the app (version 1.5) itself feels sluggish and the UI is slow to respond. It took at least three tries to just change the location from Mumbai to Guwahati.
The Search function too wasn’t very responsive. Even though we clicked on one of the queries from the ‘Trending’ items suggested by the app, it took an inordinate amount of time for the app to register and process the request.
Each page takes so long to load that one might wonder if the current version is even ready for the flurry of users the company is hoping to attract.
Furthermore, familiar brands like Vistara, Starbucks, and are missing from the platform for the time being.
While a brand-agnostic multi-sector rewards programme is certainly a novelty (at least in India), until the app is somewhat free of the sluggish loading speeds, it would be a task to retain users.
But, if you are someone who uses at least a few of the brands on offer, Tata Neu could be a tempting offering in the long run.
Not just as a one-stop shop for various shopping needs but also one that has access to your buying habits, which can help the app offer you better discounts and deals as well.
The business of super apps
Tata has been looking at ramping up its digital presence for a while now and its plans of launching a super app have been no secret. In fact, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran had first revealed the conglomerate’s plans for a super app in 2019. Media reports claim that Tata Sons has invested more than $2 billion in this project so far.
Between May and June 2021, Tata Digital inked three major deals — $1.2 billion acquisition of e-grocer Bigbasket; $75 million investment in Cure.fit; and the acquisition of 1mg (deal size undisclosed), and appointed Cure.fit founder Mukesh Bansal as President. All these moves were predicted to be furthering the conglomerate’s super app plans.
At the time of Cure.fit’s acquisition, Bansal had said, “Tata Digital has a highly inspiring vision to create a next-generation consumer platform and I am very excited to be part of the Tata Digital team that is shaping this vision.”
Mukesh Bansal, CureFit
India Inc, having predicted the rapid increase in the number of internet-savvy digital users in the country, has been chasing the super app dream for a while now.
Fintech giant, which started its journey as a mobile wallet, set out to fulfil this goal long before others, foraying into several segments from shopping to movie tickets, travel bookings, etc. However, while there has been no official announcement of a super app, the company has been adding all its multiple offerings onto one single platform, offering a holistic user experience.
One of the success stories when it comes to building an ecosystem of offerings — at least in India — is, which already offers ecommerce, online grocery shopping, food ordering, bill payments, and digital payments services on one platform. Even its membership programme Amazon Prime offers bundled services of ad-free music, video streaming, faster deliveries, exclusive shopping deals, in-game content, and more, designed to serve multiple needs at once.
On the other hand, Reliance’s MyJio app too acts as a one-stop-shop for mobile and fibre services, bill payments, digital payments via UPI, online grocery shopping, video streaming, music, games, news, and even a voice assistant.
While neither company officially labels these platforms as “super apps”, their intention is clear — if you need a digital service, we’re here to cater to you, and hey, you don’t even need another app.
For Tata Neu, then, the real challenge is not just offering a compelling platform and services but also a platform that can compete as well as win over these two players that seem to have a bigger slice of the pie. So, how will Neu lure in customers?
Well, for starters, at least when it comes to grocery, India’s largest e-grocer Bigbasket is a clear winner compared to JioMart and Amazon Pantry. But what about the rest?
The first step could be to update the existing app.