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Opinion: The GoTo conundrum

GoTo is an idea of magnanimous proportions, the biggest merger that Southeast Asia has ever seen, as two of…

By Staff , in Ecommerce Marketing , at June 7, 2021

GoTo is an idea of magnanimous proportions, the biggest merger that Southeast Asia has ever seen, as two of the region’s largest unicorns combine to create an entity valued to be anywhere between US$22 billion and US$40 billion, according to different sources. That’s anywhere between two to four per cent of Indonesia’s GDP, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.  There are many implications of this merger. Here are some worth considering.

Both Gojek and Tokopedia are very powerful brands in Indonesia. In the foreseeable future, both brands will continue to operate as usual, maintaining their individuality. GoTo has been called an “alliance” by its co-creators, and it is rightly so. It is an ecosystem of eCommerce, logistics and financial solutions, which both brands will benefit from. Here are some of my thoughts on how each brand will benefit from the other, and what synergies will impact their businesses.


Tokopedia is one of Indonesia’s largest success stories, built on the purpose of enabling people to start something first (#MulaiAjaDulu). The business was created to give entrepreneurs the ability to find customers through a marketplace. One of the biggest pain points of the online business is logistics. But extending Gojek’s ecosystem of logistics to its business makes it possible to offer an integrated eCommerce solution to its sellers.

Another emerging trend in eCommerce is free delivery, which has been the backbone of every eCommerce major globally, such as Amazon for its Prime members, Alibaba in China, and Flipkart in India. This gives Tokopedia a distinctive edge if the logistics are in-house, so the cost of delivery is taken out of the equation, which is a win-win for the brand, its sellers and its customers. Besides free delivery, safe and fast delivery, including same-day and instant delivery options provided by Gojek will add to the overall customer experience of Tokopedia customers. 

Payments are another major factor in eCommerce. Approximately 52% of the population in Indonesia remains unbanked, with debit card penetration of 0.59% per capita and a much lower 0.07% per capita for credit cards, according to 2021 data from JP Morgan. Hence, mobile commerce is the mainstay of online businesses, and digital wallets account for 20% of all online payments. As such, GoPay from Gojek gives Tokopedia an edge over other eCommerce operators, albeit players such as Shopee are beginning to get aggressive with their Shopee Pay e-wallet.

Last but not least, Tokopedia has largely remained an Indonesia-centric brand, while Gojek has ventured into markets such as Singapore, Vietnam and India, with many other markets in the pipeline. Tokopedia gets to ride on Gojek’s infrastructure in these markets and extend its business regionally. 


Gojek was a brand built with the purpose of empowering people by always finding a way (#PastiAdaJalan). What Gojek gains from this merger is an amplified scale of transactions. The surge in volume to service Tokopedia customers will enable the company to expand its fleet, which again will create jobs for scores of young people, contributing to the country’s GDP overall.

My guess is that although at least half of Gojek and Tokopedia customers would overlap, Gojek now gets access to the other half that use other delivery survives such as Grab. This gives Gojek a major one-up against its arch-rival.

Gojek’s GoPay app will get significant volumes, giving it the scale needed to improve its offering as a financial services provider. We could see GoPay evolve into a “PayLater” service, offering credit to Tokopedia customers. GoPay would also gain from other transactions such as mobile top-ups (pulsa), and bill payments, which make sufficient volumes already. Besides, Tokopedia’s inbuilt ewallet was Ovo, and this would give GoPay access to Ovo’s share of customers, albeit this is a speculative thought, as it would have found a way of managing conflicts such as the one with Ovo.

The other benefit for Gojek is to reach a wider audience through Tokopedia to sell many of its services such as GoFood, GoSend, GoPulsa, GoTagihan, GoSure, GoInvestasi, GoFitness, GoService, GoClean, GoGames, among others, all features that make Gojek a super app. So we’re looking at more transactions across the Gojek ecosystem. 

Synergies for both brands

1. Technology: Each of the brands is a technology behemoth, and combining their technologies would create synergies and economies of scale that are honestly beyond my imagination. 

2. Data: What makes both Gojek and Tokopedia truly valuable as businesses is the treasure trove of customer data each business holds. Combining their data, the wonders of big data analytics come into play, with the potential for customising AI-based solutions for individual customers, to give them what they need, when they need it, how much they need and how it is to be delivered. 

2. Cost: Of course, no merger is complete without the economies of scale that come with it. So back-office functions, finance and accounting, and marketing expenses among others will see the benefits of economies of scale for each brand, as well as for the combined “alliance”. 

What does this merger mean for the media industry?

The combined buying power of the alliance will tilt the scale of bargaining in favour of Gojek and Tokopedia against the publishers. They will now be buying higher volumes of media inventory, at better rates. 

Programmatic buying will become more interesting for them, as they cannot create lookalikes of each brand, and target based on the diverse intent-driven behaviour of potential users of each brand.

There’s obviously going to be a lot of organic downloads of each app from the mutually exclusive users of either app. 

Both Tokopedia and Gojek are known to have built in-housing creative solutions, which will continue to strengthen their individual brands. However, I do see the need to strengthen the image of the GoTo ecosystem in the eyes of their consumers, for which I believe a neutral agency would be in the best position to build the brand, without having a bias towards either of the individual brands. All the more, it is important for GoTo to build trust among users, partners and communities so they are seen as a merger to benefit all stakeholders, and not as a monopoly that can be a threat to other businesses. 

However, as both Gojek and Tokopedia stand to gain from the merger, what makes it most compelling is that the consumer wins in the end. Exciting times, indeed. 

The writer is Anish Daryani, founder and president director of M&C Saatchi Indonesia.

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