Amazon India today announced the launch of its marketplace in Hindi taking on the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal and others. With this move, Amazon is looking to woo a potential 100 million new shoppers coming online. At the moment, websites and apps of Walmart-backed Flipkart and other players like Snapdeal, Paytm Mall and ShopClues are available only in English and the desi avatar of Amazon will allow it to capitalise on the vast, untapped market of Hindi-speaking customers.
“Launch of the Hindi shopping experience is a significant step towards bringing the next 100 million customers online. This first Indian language launch will enable crores of Hindi-preferring customers across India to shop in their preferred language,” Amazon India Vice President, Category Management Manish Tiwary told reporters here. He added that the move would also help the US-based company tap into new customers, who will come online during the festive season sales, according to PTI.
According to industry studies, the Hindi Internet user base is likely to outgrow the English user base by 2021 and along with Marathi and Bengali users, will drive volume growth. This could be critical for the Indian e-commerce sector that is forecast to grow to USD 200 billion in size in a decade, as per industry reports.
Interestingly, Flipkart had announced the acquisition of Liv.ai, an artificial intelligence-led speech recognition start-up last month for an undisclosed amount. It had said the move was aimed at catering to the next wave of growth of Internet users that is coming from tier II cities and beyond. Snapdeal too, in 2015, had run a pilot for a few months to offer its marketplace in 14 Indian languages.
Tiwary said like the English version, customers will get detailed product information, find deals and discounts, and will be able to place and pay for their orders, among other things through the Hindi interface. The Hindi marketplace, which took about three quarters to develop, will be available for Android users of Amazon mobile app and mobile website.
“Getting Indian languages right in a shopping context is hard but an interesting opportunity. We combined both human effort to craft the right experience and AI to scale this experience across the vast selection available at Amazon,” Amazon India Customer Experience and Marketing Director Kishore Thota said.
He added that more features like product reviews, ratings, question and answers would be available in Hindi over the next few months. Asked if the company was working on enabling other Indian languages on its platform, Tiwary said Amazon would look at that but did not comment on the timeline.
Amazon has been focussing on teaching its digital assistant, Alexa local Indian languages like Hindi, Marathi and Bengali as part of efforts to improve Alexa’s speech recognition.