It’s 4.30 on a Sunday afternoon in Umalas, Bali, as I open Go-Jek to order my driver. Standing in the heat in my playsuit and wedges, I’m headed to the latest beach drinks mecca, La Brisa, for a sundowner. Within minutes, Wayan arrives with a smile, hands me over a Go-Jek branded helmet, and I’m whisked away past the crawling Canggu traffic on the back of his moto to get my Bali sunset on. For someone not brave enough to face the hectic traffic on a scooter of my own, I’m feeling #blessed.
Westerners who are on lazy summer holidays in Australia’s favourite playground aside, Go-Jek is the app du jour in Indonesia amongst locals, expats, and businesspeople passing through. In South East Asia’s biggest economy, the platform garners an average 15 million weekly users. Unlike the on-demand services market in Australia, where services are disparate, and companies focus on niche areas, Go-Jek is a behemoth that serves up on-demand everything.
Go-Jek’s core platform allows users to order motorbike rides, taxis, food, groceries, parcel delivery, pharmaceuticals, and tickets, all through its fleet of motorbike and car drivers – an estimated 654,000 in 2017. It also has its other branches, Go-Pay; for credit to customers’ accounts, bill paying, and phone credit and Go-Life; where you can get massage, cleaning, automotive, and beauty services on demand.
Go-Jek is more than just a ride-hailing app, it’s an entire ecosystem
Local only to the archipelago, Go-Jek started out as a ride-hailing business in 2010 (based on “o-jek”, Bahasa Indonesia for motorbike taxi), before expanding its services. As for its competitors, there is now only ride-hailing app Grab, after Uber recently exited the South East Asian market, perhaps foreseeing a looming unwinnable situation on the horizon in the form of Go-Jek’s move into other geographical territories. It’s hard to compete with an app where you can get everything on-demand.
The company, now valued at over $4.5billion – after completing a recent $1.5billion funding round backed by the likes of Google, Tencent, and Allianz X – is gearing up to enter other markets. According to Techcrunch, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines are all in the works for imminent expansion.
It will be interesting to see how the company performs in other countries in SEA, and whether it serves as a catalyst for similar all-in-one services globally – or if it manages to end up outside the region itself.
How can on-demand everything work for an AU market?
The success of Go-Jek as on-demand everything has been due in large part to access to people who own motorbikes in Indonesia – which is just about everyone. In Australia, motorbikes are rare. Delivery networks within cities comprise mainly of cars (which are more expensive to operate), plus an increasing number of bicyclists doing food drops and courier services within small areas. To accommodate a similar style of logistics to Go-Jek, Aussie companies would need to pull off something a little trickier if they aren’t going to help put more motorbikes on the road (although a leasing option for drivers may be a solution if a company chooses to put up capital to purchase motorbikes).
Other more compatible solutions might be intelligent networks of bike, car, and truck drivers, with handoffs between drivers, much like traditional logistics and mail companies have been doing for decades with their own infrastructure – although this is not compatible with the ride-sharing part of the equation for the most part. It’s a little more complex here than just one motorbike zipping through the streets of Sydney, although that’s not to say that it’s not a solvable problem.
We may also see the rise of the all-in-one app over here too. Wouldn’t you much prefer to have Uber and UberEats in the same app, just tapping which service you require? Why do we need to download and manage two separate apps?
As for me? After a bleary night at La Brisa, I have a hangover to tend to. I’ve ordered ibuprofen from the apotek and a burger from Strawberry Fields to help cope – all picked up and delivered by my Go-Jek driver of course.