Local languages will drive the future of Internet-based content and commerce in India. Realising the need of multilingual interface, e-commerce behemoth Snapdeal has launched mobile interface in Hindi and Telegu. The Gurgaon-based company also plans to roll out similar interface for nine different regional languages including Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese and Punjabi.
Snapdeal is the first e-commerce company in the country to offer multiple regional language interfaces. Importantly, the company had experimented with local languages two years ago but winded up quickly as market was yet not ready. With its plan for multilingual interface, the company is eyeing a large consumer base on mobile that is not English savvy. There were 127 million local language internet users in India this June, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International. About 88% of Indians are non-English speakers. Earlier this year, YourStory had unveiled multilingual interface across 12 languages.
Commenting on the launch, RohitBansal, Co-Founder of Snapdeal, said,
Our decision to go multi-lingual is driven by the feedback that we have received from our users. We are sure this will enable millions of new users to join the digital commerce revolution that is sweeping across India.
Snapdeal-owned mobile focused zero-commission marketplace Shopo has been piloting vernacular content in Hindi since September this year. Snapdeal’smultilingual platform is built on top of Snaplite and, to deliver a seamless experience in all languages, the company claimed to have developed a ‘Grammar Engine’ to ensure an error-free translation. Bansal added,
Local languages and mobile are going to play vital role as far as digital commerce is concerned. We anticipate significant volume of Snapdeal orders originating from different local languages over the next two years.
This year the Alibaba-backed company has sharp focus on technology and had announced a slew of initiatives including native ad service Snapdeal Ads and fashion trends forecasting service Snapdealtrends. While the former helps sellers drive discovery of their products and increase revenue through targeted advertising tools, the latter enables apparel merchants to gauge fashion intelligence and produce commercially viable apparel.
Multilingual interface is becoming imperative for online businesses in countries like India where local languages dominate in different regions of the country. Until now, e-commerce was largely driven by the English speaking population. However, with penetration of low-cost smartphone and Internet connectivity in non-metro cities and towns and even in rural areas, e-commerce firms anticipate a chunk of their future sales to come from these centres. Already non-metros make up for over 50% of sales for most online companies.
Undoubtedly, we see clear appetite for content consumption in local languages but bringing such users in transaction mode is not easy. It is not just the language that is different; the kind of user experience and product that is expected will also have to be customized. But by ramping up its stake in local languages Snapdeal seems to have an early-mover advantage over its rivals Flipkart and Amazon.