The user interface of Just Dial (JD) resembles the menu page of any modern day smartphone. We say this because, the interface is loaded with windows to a wide range of services like cabs, doctors, restaurants, hotels, travel bookings etc. - just like the app icons on a phone. The platform, in its ad communication, boasts of being the one-stop-shop for most modern-day digital needs. The brand also firmly positions itself as an answer to the much-asked question - how many apps are we supposed to have?
Just Dial was founded in 1996 by VSS Mani, currently the company's MD and CEO. Mani, at the time, decided to create a database of contacts about local business listings over voice calls. The platform today boasts of being multi-dimensional. It now identifies itself as "India's No. 1 Local Search Engine" that is also a marketplace, an e-commerce platform, a price comparison site, a content aggregator, news app and also a social platform. While it started out with voice as its forte, the platform underwent multiple shifts with the coming and rapid penetration of the internet. Today, it's betting on areas like voice-based search, location-based targeting, digital payments, content, and social.
As per the company's last quarterly reports, 78.5 per cent of its traffic originated on mobile platforms followed by decreasing desktop and voice traffic. The total active business listings stood at 24.8 million and cumulative app downloads at the end of the quarter stood at 22.8 million.
The brand roped in Amitabh Bachchan to be its face in 2010 and he has been with the brand ever since. Its most recent ad film features a disappointed Bachchan at an airport with his attention drawn to repeated app notifications of a fellow flyer. Bachchan rids the flyer's phone these apps, the likes of grocery delivery platform Grofers, food delivery app Zomato, healthcare app Practo, travel booking app MakeMyTrip, and movie ticketing app BookMyShow among others. Worth a mention is the fact that JD, unlike other e-comm and similar digital players, has shunned the discount game. The brand has rarely communicated discounts or offers on the platform.
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Interestingly, while Just Dial lists products from other e-commerce players in the comparative results section on the app, the results redirect you to other platforms.
However, JD hasn't disconnected its voice roots, yet. With the "triple eight - double eight - triple eight - double eight" part of the commercial, Bachchan tells viewers that they can also use Just Dial's services by calling in.
So, is it really the answer to - How many apps are we supposed to have?
K Vaitheeswaran, co-founder of India's first e-commerce company - Fabmart.com and who also recently co-founded 'Again', a dairy-based drink, says, "Although it sounds interesting, it may be difficult to execute. In the internet-tech-e-commerce-digital world, the easiest thing for a consumer is to move from one platform to another."
Vaitheeswaran equates Just Dial's situation to that of a hypermarket. "In the offline world, people go to hypermarkets and destination stores as they would provide everything in one place. It was very successful in the offline world since the customer did not require the physical effort of moving from place A to B. In the online world, if we have to move from a shopping site like Amazon to a food delivery site like Swiggy, then to a cab-hailing app like Uber, we just have to tap a different icon," he explains.
"The user would move to a fourth option like Just Dial on two accounts - first, if JD is providing ten services and all of them must be better than the individual providers'. Or the commercial benefit (discount/offers) from JD has to be significantly higher. In that case, users might compromise on quality to save money. Otherwise, it's not a difficult task to move between the individual platforms. Also, there are existing brands and positionings in the consumer's mind. It will be really hard to change the recall to Just Dial - that's a bigger challenge," Vaitheeswaran adds.
Rahul Vengalil, founder - WhatClicks, says, "Just Dial has evolved over time; from the first communication which was voice-calls to having a JD app on the phone. The platform that they have created is very powerful and they have been vocal about it for quite some time. Consumers are becoming picky and choosy about how many apps to have on their mobiles. The real estate/space available is limited and if a single app can replace 4-5 in one go, then it is beneficial to consumers."
"However, the success of the app will depend on the user experience which a brand can provide consumers. The question is, whether they are able to deliver on the promise that they have given, i.e. is this the best option or is there something better which the consumer will find elsewhere. If JD can address that with communication as well as execution, then they have a winning formula. If they don't do that fast, then it would be a losing battle," Vengalil signs off.
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