SINGAPORE - Too many apps for different functions?
An app that has cost millions to develop will soon be launched to help users find their way around, call a taxi, make reservations at restaurants and even book staycations, all on one free platform.
Named Zig, the new venture by transport giant ComfortDelGro is a one-stop app that melds transport, food and leisure services, as the company goes head to head with disruptors such as ride-hailing firms Grab and Gojek.
While ComfortDelGro’s core business remains transportation services, the app is part of the company’s pivot to offering more online services, drawing from its $100 million venture capital fund in 2018 to aid in its digitalisation efforts.
It declined to say how much of the fund went into developing this app, which will be launched on app stores next Tuesday (March 9).
Mr Yang Ban Seng, managing director and group chief executive officer of ComfortDelGro, said Zig is the first time the land transport company is rolling out such an all-in-one lifestyle and mobility app.
"In a digital world, mobility is no longer just about simply transporting people from point A to B. It is about bringing services to people wherever they are, whenever they need," he said.
Created in the last six months, Zig provides an interactive map-based interface that shows both nearby attractions and functions as a navigation tool, giving locals - and tourists - an avenue to discover little known parts of Singapore.
By partnering restaurant-booking platform Chope, it also allows users to pre-order food and drinks from their pick of more than 1,500 restaurants and cafes for quick collection.
Travel agent Klook is also on board, adding hotel booking options and entertainment deals to Zig, including more offbeat experiences like parkour lessons and kayaking excursions.
With the demand for taxi rides still below pre-Covid-19 levels, Zig aims to give ComfortDelgro cabbies a boost by drawing a wider lifestyle user base and offering them an in-app taxi booking function.
This is in addition to the existing ComfortDelGro booking app, which will continue to operate.
Ms Valerie Tan, 29, senior marketing executive of restaurant The Alkaff Mansion, said the app could bring about greater visibility for the restaurant.
"We think that the app will bring about great visibility and brand awareness for The Alkaff Mansion... It's good that the app targets public transport commuters, taxi riders and has geolocation features. So if you are in the Telok Blangah area our dining concepts will pop up," she said.
But Ms Tan also added that there are already many other platforms providing similar features.
Google Maps, for instance, already has geolocation features that suggest businesses nearby, while Grab combines transport booking and food delivery services on its app.
The developer behind the app is ComfortDelGro Zig, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group.
Many of its 15 employees are young people who have joined the initiative from previous jobs in hospitality, aviation and technology.
While there are no plans as yet to offer food delivery, a very possible prospect in the near future is the inclusion of hawker stalls, cinemas, and supermarkets on the app.
"As more users are onboarded, more innovative services will be rolled out," ComfortDelGro said.
Mr Amos Tan, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Business, said it will be hard for Zig to differentiate its offerings from other platforms, as Singapore’s market is too small.
Already, the eateries on Grab and Foodpanda are repeated. “To effect a platform shift, they will have to pump in as many dollars as possible to gain market share. The question is, ‘Who can last longer?’”
“Are you sure you want to go head to head with Grab, which is already established in food and transport?”
But Mr Tan added that the platform that is able to integrate all its services on its platform most seamlessly will emerge victorious. “For me, Grab is not there yet. It’s about offering a particular lifestyle. It must all be interconnected.”
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh of the National University of Singapore Business School said Zig is a “natural evolution” for ComfortDelGro, which already has a ready pool of drivers.
“The super app market is not oversaturated. We are just scratching at the surface and there is still a lot of potential. Every company will come onto the field with a different synergy, different set of starting point and different value propositions,” he said.
“Although (Zig) may not go into the delivery business so soon as they need to keep their core business of taxis, there is nothing that is stopping them, so we cannot rule out anything in the future.”