It is hard to imagine a world without Grab. From hailing a ride to speedy food deliveries, Grab has entered our lexicon as a noun and generated an entire industry of gig economy workers.
More importantly, it has redefined how we view convenience, turning instant gratification into a birthright with on-demand delivery options.
There is no doubt that in its past 10 years of operations, Grab has been an industry disruptor, challenging the way we live and work.
The question is, why has it emerged victorious when so many others have faltered?
Celebrating a decade in business
Considering how 90 per cent of startups fail, Grab’s meteoric rise into Southeast Asia’s (SEA) first decacorn has solidified its reputation as a startup legend.
“[The past decade has been] exciting yet challenging, in a good way. None of us would have imagined that we would one day expand beyond our ride-hailing services to also provide delivery and financial services,” said Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director at Grab Singapore in an email interview with Vulcan Post.
As Grab expands its repertoire of services, it has continued to support the same communities they have set out to empower right from the beginning.
Over the past decade, we have established a marketplace that enables our driver-, delivery-, and merchant- partners to participate in and benefit from the growing digital economy.
It is amazing to know that our platform has a significant and positive impact on the lives of individuals, where people can earn a living and take care of their loved ones.– Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director, Grab Singapore
Three key factors that led to its success
So, what is it that sets Grab apart, leading to its David and Goliath victory over Uber and colossal growth into such an integral part of our lives? Wee Tang attributes Grab’s success to three factors.
Firstly, we provide a platform for consumers to have greater access to convenience, growing our services to meet the differing demands and needs of our consumers.
Today, consumers can book a ride, order food to their doorsteps or arrange for important deliveries on-demand on our platform. They can then pay for these services using our GrabPay e-wallet.– Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director, Grab Singapore
These days, Grab is the app equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Besides ride-hailing, food delivery, and courier services, it has also made its foray into banking. In September this year, it launched GXS, Singapore’s first digital bank for consumers and businesses.
Grab’s status as a leading superapp in SEA is thus the second factor central to its success in the region. Highly scalable and inter-connected, each service on the Grab platform helps others to grow.
“For example, our merchant-partners can access a large and engaged base of consumers using our platform. This encourages consumers to use our services as we can meet their everyday needs,” he said.
“With strong consumer demand, our driver- and delivery-partners will also continue to have earning opportunities on our platform.”
But the factor distinguishing Grab from many others has to be its triple-bottomline approach to business.
For Grab, working closely with local authorities to support initiatives that create a positive social impact on the local communities and environment is as important as generating revenue and profits.
“We have partnered with Sembcorp Industries to install 182 solar panels at SATA CommHealth Uttamram Medical Centre in Bedok. This will contribute to SATA’s overall sustainability goals and support the government’s push for solar energy adoption.”
“We have also committed US$1 million annually from the GrabForGood Fund towards the new GrabScholar programme in SEA. Providing underprivileged children access to quality education will uplift and transform their lives,” he added.
Striking the right balance
As a platform operating a multi-sided marketplace, conflict of interest among stakeholders is inevitable, and balancing them is almost an art form. Therefore, Grab has made a point to consider all viewpoints and strive for a “win-win-win outcome” when they make tweaks.
We acknowledge that we do not always get things right the first time. But we are committed to a cycle of optimising, experimenting, and optimising again until we do.– Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director, Grab Singapore
A similar resolve that puts empathy for the user at its core is also seen before launching a new service or feature.
“We are always seeking feedback from different users, observing how they interact with our app and the challenges they face. Our teams are then encouraged to experiment with various solutions to solve these unmet needs. That way, we can eliminate guesswork to determine if an idea can be feasibly executed and help the target audience,” he explained.
Ultimately, whatever new feature or service that they put out, should help solve an unmet user need and benefit its users.
In fact, some of its popular services, such as the Mix & Match feature found on the GrabFood service, are the result of successful experimentation.
Rising to the challenge as a super app
The pandemic nobody saw coming presents an unprecedented challenge to businesses, even tech titans like Grab.
But by adapting its platform quickly, Grab was able to play a crucial role in providing essential services in transport and logistics to keep Singaporeans safe.
According to Wee Tang, one of the most memorable solutions was GrabCare, rolled out within 72 hours in response to healthcare workers experiencing difficulty getting a ride home after their shift.
While some industries were obliterated by the pandemic, it was a boom time for delivery providers as home-bound households changed their shopping and consumption habits.
Turning adversity into opportunity is a hallmark of any good business, and Grab is no exception.
As for whether the Grab empire will expand further, Wee Tang affirmed the following.
Grab Singapore will remain laser-focused on our three core businesses — Mobility, Deliveries, and Financial Services, which aim to address the needs of our consumers and partners.– Yee Wee Tang, Managing Director, Grab Singapore
In addition, Grab is committed to building a sustainable ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders through continuous innovation.
The “Intercity” feature is one such example. Introduced to make travelling to neighbouring countries even more seamless, users can use the Grab app to purchase a bus ticket to Malaysia or a ferry ticket to Batam.
Strengthening value and variety for the user is also at the heart of Grab’s operations. In light of the current economic climate, Grab has introduced GrabUnlimited, a subscription plan offering discount vouchers and special promotions to help users stretch their dollars.
Since its inception, Grab has become indispensable to so many of us. One has to wonder, how did we cope with the complexities of life before it?
As for what the next 10 or even 20 years will look like, perhaps a metaverse is on the cards for Grab.
Featured Image Credit: Grab