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How Go-Jek problem-solved its way into the hearts of Indonesians


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

September 7, 2017 | 6 min read

To non-Indonesians, Go-Jek looks very much like a regular ride-sharing company that ferries passengers from point A to point B and competes with the likes of Uber and Grab. What makes this three-year-old start-up so special to Indonesians then, with more than 44 million downloads of its mobile application to date?

For one, Go-Jek prides itself as a company that puts solving the problems that Indonesians face, namely logistics and payments, at the heart of its business strategy. It has a mammoth task on its hands, considering Indonesian cities are renowned for their horrendous traffic, especially in its capital city Jakarta.

Starting off with a fleet of 20 motorbike riders and an app to help Indonesians navigate the congested roads in October 2010, Go-Jek then helped Indonesians received their shopping goods quicker with the launch of another mobile app. Next came food delivery, on-demand shopping, event ticketing services, online ticketing services and a car maintenance service.

What ‘problems’, then, does Go-Jek intend to solve next? Piotr Jakubowski, chief marketing officer at Go-Jek explained to The Drum that the company will continue to keep its ears closely to the ground to listen for any potential problems that Indonesians will face.

“For Go-Jek it’s quite simple - we focus on the pain points that people experience in fast-growing cities, not just Jakarta,” said the former head of digital at VML Indonesia.

“Millions of people rely on our services every single month, as we are solving two very key challenges that Indonesia is facing - payments and logistics. The development of the ecosystem happens organically, for example when Go-Jek first launched the application in January 2015 we had three services - transport, courier and shopping.

“By monitoring the actual behaviour of customers in their usage of these services we were able to innovate to better address customer needs.

“For example, transport now includes bikes, cars and Blue-bird Taxis, Indonesia’s number one taxi brand. Courier has expanded to include instant & same day services through ecommerce, but also large trucks for your bigger logistics challenges.

“Shopping has expanded into Go-Mart for your everyday needs, Go-Shop for everything else and most critically Go-Food which has expanded to include over 100,000 restaurants and is one of the largest food delivery platforms globally (outside of China of course).”

Solving problems on behalf of Indonesians has been the hallmark of the company, but how does Go-Jek solve a problem for itself in Indonesia in terms of advertising, as the country has one of the most digitally connected populations in the world, but its TV penetration still triumphs over mobile?

While declining to reveal how much Go-Jek spends on ads for each medium, Jakubowski expressed his belief that it is important for marketers in Indonesia to truly understand the role and objective of each type of channel based on their vision for growth.

He also added that marketers should always understand the true depth and breadth of the type of channels and platforms that are available to them to cope with rising ad costs because of the Google-Facebook duopoly.

“As a mobile-first platform, naturally we used mobile as a starting point and have taken things from there. Our channels are currently split based off the needs that we have for each of the products and markets that we are in,” explained Jakubowski.

“Every brand and product has different type of needs that have to be addressed and having the right approach to the type mix is critical. With everything changing so fast in the digital space, it’s key to experiment and find what works best for an individual product or service.”

Preventing fraud in the advertising space is another problem that many brands are still learning to do and it is no different for Go-Jek, which works with adtech company AppsFlyer for brand safety. When asked for effective ways to build a 'safe brand', Jakubowski stressed the need for marketers and businesses to understand the real impact of their spends on business.

“Brand safety of course is incredibly important and its imperative for us to be able to ensure that we are not jeopardizing our brand through the content that we put out and the way its distributed,” he explained.

“This isn’t, however, just a case of adtech, but the overall preparation of a brand to deal with the internet. In this day, brands no longer choose whether they have a presence online or not, the consumer does. What the brand does have control over is how it leverages the internet to manage this customer experience and expectations.

“The main challenge that we have is that the innovation cycle has changed from years to weeks, even days. The TV commercial as an advertising format hasn’t changed since 1941 - it is still video, comes in standardized time formats and is now in color, HD, 4k. With digital on the other hand, we are at the graces of ever-changing algorithms and we are constantly learning how to effectively manage each of the types of platforms that are available to us,” added Jakubowski.

As its competitors like Uber are starting to branch out into autonomous driving and experiment with emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, Jakubowski recognises the need for innovation but stressed that customer experience is still the priority for Go-Jek, saying that the company is focusing on what’s right for the customer and their overall experience within the ecosystem at the moment.

For now, Go-Jek will be cognisant of what is considered a shiny disco ball and what isn’t, says Jakubowski and what type of impact will have the highest return on customer experience as possible.

The company has also previously said that it has no plans for further expansion of its services after opening an office in India, as it focuses on expanding at home in Indonesia, where its service is available in 25 cities.

It also opened an office in Singapore earlier this year to focus on data science because of the country’s advanced technological infrastructure.

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