the indian conglomerate Tata Group, a $103 billion company whose business spans multiple industries, from salt to software to telecommunications to steel, is poised to embrace consumer technology. The 154-year-old giant has been working on — and testing internally — its bold plan to offer a range of services from e-commerce, groceries to hotel stays in a single app to take on Flipkart, Amazon and Walmart-owned Mukesh. Ambani Jio platforms. The culmination of years of effort, dubbed the Tata Neu “super app,” was unveiled to the public on Thursday.
Tata Neu includes nearly a dozen properties that are either owned by the Tata Group or in which it has a significant interest. Services include online supermarket BigBasket, electronics store Croma, pharmacy service 1mg, luxury brand Cliq, streaming app Tata Play, as well as ticketing with AirAsia and food and beverage chain Starbucks coffee. The app also includes Tata Pay, the giant’s own UPI payment service, which debuts with the launch of Neu.
Tata has been working on the app for at least three years, but has been looking for a bigger play in e-commerce and seed investments for at least six. The Information news outlet reported earlier discussions between Tata and Alibaba that ended unceremoniously after the surprising departure of Cyrus Mistry, then chairman of the Tata Group.
Inside the firm, many executives were still not on the same page in January about how the Tata Group plans to position the app, according to two people familiar with the matter. TechCrunch got early access to a February version of the app, which at the time was riddled with bugs and weird design flaws. The new version of the app, 2.0, sees a significant improvement, according to tests on Thursday.
Tata Neu marks a significant step in the group’s ambition to take on the growing universe of digital services from the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart to the empire of local billionaire Mukesh Ambani. At stake is an Indian e-retail market estimated to be worth almost $150 billion over the next four years.
“Tata Neu is an exciting platform that brings all of our brands together in one powerful app. Combining our traditional approach of putting the consumer first with the modern spirit of technology, it is a completely new way to discover the wonderful world of Tata,” said N. Chandrasekaran (pictured above), Chairman of Tata Group, at a release.
“Our goal is to simplify and ease the lives of Indian consumers. The power of choice, seamless experience and loyalty will be at the core of Tata Neu, delivering a powerful One Tata experience.
“As the Tata Neu app launches today, I am proud to see so many of our trusted and loved brands Air Asia, BigBasket, Croma, IHCL, Qmin, Starbucks, Tata 1Mg, Tata CLiQ, Tata Play, Westside on the Tata Neu Platform. already, and will soon be joined by Vistara, Air India, Titan, Tanishq, Tata Motors.”
To incentivize customers, Tata offers them “NeuCoins” as a reward, where one NeuCoin is equal to one Indian Rupee. The firm plans to eventually phase out the various loyalty offers from BigBasket, 1mg and other services, and use NeuCoins universally across all of its services, a person familiar with the matter said.
Rewards are one of Tata Group’s main focuses as it tries to build a “connection layer” for its services that operate across a wide range of categories. If successful, the giant is positioned to conjure up the largest loyalty program in the country.
In addition to rewards, the company is also offering cash back and deep discounts on items at all of its properties on the app.
This is a developing story. More to follow…