Promotions, partners and product experience: Go-Jek president outlines plan to break Grab’s dominance

Promotions, partners and product experience: Go-Jek president outlines plan to break Grab’s dominance

Both Go-Jek and Grab may have logos that are largely green in colour, but as the two firms compete for a larger slice of the ride-hailing market in Singapore, Go-Jek's president Andre Soelistyo is confident it has an edge in the array of services it can offer. Brandon Tanoto reports.

SINGAPORE: Both Go-Jek and Grab may have logos that are largely green in colour, but as the two firms compete for a larger slice of the ride-hailing market in Singapore, Go-Jek's president Andre Soelistyo is confident it has an edge in the array of services it can offer. 

In Indonesia, Go-Jek customers can also make online payments, as well as order food, groceries and even massages. 

“I don’t think colours of logos make a difference in winning market share. A lot of tech companies (have logos) that are green coloured anyway,” he said with a chuckle.

Mr Soelistyo was in an upbeat mood when he spoke to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Nov 29), minutes after Go-Jek launched the beta version of its app in Singapore, kicking off the roll-out of its services islandwide.  

“This industry was not meant for a monopolistic situation … There’s no such thing as only one player in the market,” he said.

“When there’s one player, service levels go down. They stop listening to what consumer complaints are, that’s why we think being another choice would be our biggest strategy,” added Mr Soelistyo.

Passengers and drivers are hopeful that Go-Jek’s entry will rejuvenate competition in Singapore’s ride-hailing market after Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations in March. For Grab users, the takeover resulted in a sharp decrease in promotions and lower driver incentives.

In its bid to wrestle some market share, Go-Jek is set to entice new users with promotional codes for point-to-point rides in the initial phase.

At the launch, the company announced that as part of its strategic partnership with DBS Bank, DBS and POSB customers in Singapore will receive S$5 voucher credits for each of their first two rides.

And Mr Soelistyo hinted that there will be more of such discounts to come in the next few weeks.  

“In the early days, consumers will (need to) be introduced to our product," he said. "There will be promotions because at the early stages, there will be glitches, there will be some operational challenges and obviously we will need to compensate."

Mr Soelistyo cautioned, however, that promotions might not be as aggressive as it was during the days when Grab and Uber started off in Singapore. He noted that commuters are better educated about ride-hailing, so Go-Jek’s focus will be on building a differentiated product rather than “market building”.

“But we hope that pricing is not the key determinant of choosing one over the other,” he said. “It’s more which one has the better product experience - if it meets the needs of people who want to commute very quickly and whether we can actually create that experience.”

On the day that Go-Jek launched its beta app, head of Grab Singapore Lim Kell Jay released a statement saying that the company “welcomes competition”.

READ: Grab users rail against revised reward system; lament lack of competition

“We believe more choice in the market enables innovation and promotes a higher level of service in the industry. Grab values our customers in Singapore and are constantly looking at ways to improve their experience and create more value for their everyday transactions on transport, payment, food and parcel delivery,” he added.

Mr Lim also said that Grab remains focused on building its vision of becoming “Singapore’s everyday superapp”.

COMING SOON: GO-FOOD, GO-CLEAN AND GO-MASSAGE?

Mr Soelistyo stressed that ultimately, Go-Jek needs to focus on itself, as its comparative advantage over Grab is its one-stop platform. 

The Go-Jek app in Indonesia has a range of around 20 services for users, including instant food delivery service Go-Food, personal masseuse service Go-Massage, on-demand courier service Go-Send and professional house cleaning service Go-Clean.

He maintained that Go-Jek’s experience in offering such services for four years since its inception in Indonesia gives the company an edge over other “copycats”.

“When you think about Go-Jek’s journey, since day one we were already a platform. Some of our competitors just recently announced (this) and really copied us on that move. But in reality we started early,” said Mr Soelistyo.

A Go-Jek rider shows boxes of food for his customer in front of a food stall in Jakarta.
A Go-Jek rider with food for his customer. (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta)

“So we know everything about great products, product features and functionalities to create a different experience for merchants, consumers and drivers … that’s what we’re actually trying to deliver to Singapore,” he added.

But he said that Go-Jek must first ensure that its base offering – ride-hailing – appeals to Singapore commuters, before expanding to other services.

“If it’s good, the user will be logging on into our system. That allows us to then gather the feedback - what else in their daily lives we want to help with, right?” said Mr Soelistyo.

“It could be delivering their favourite hawker food, it could be logistics for their e-commerce purchases or it could be lifestyle services like massage or cleaners.”

To break into the market and be successful, he also noted that Go-Jek cannot do it alone and must forge partnerships with other firms.

READ: Go-Jek’s going places, but is it leaving its riders behind?

Mr Soelistyo cited the example of how Go-Jek in Indonesia works with 11 banks and even local taxi company Blue Bird to provide a holistic platform for its users. Its e-wallet service, Go-Pay, is the fourth largest in Indonesia, and this was achieved through collaboration with Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia and state-owned telco firm Telkomsel.

“So the approach has to be the same (for Singapore). This journey cannot be completed with a single company - it has to be an ecosystem of partnerships,” he added.  

Source: CNA/am(gs)

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