E-com biggies bet on local language play

E-com biggies bet on local language play

Chennai: The success of some consumer internet segments in making inroads into the vernacular user base has given a new vigour to the e-commerce biggies. The vernacular focus is expected to widen their user base by another 100 million.

E-commerce sites till now have been targeting the English-speaking population of 130 million or 10 per cent of the total population. Hence it could garner only 90 million of the 400 million internet users.

"E-commerce growth was capped by the vernacular speakers. This is a real bottleneck for the e-commerce," said Rahul Sethi, a veteran of the industry.

However, both Flipkart and Amazon have started the process of capturing the next 100 million users. Frontizo Business Services, the joint venture between Amazon and Patni Group, has expanded its operations in providing text and voice-based consumer support in vernacular languages, by setting up a second facility.

Flipkart, on the other hand, has acquired Liv.ai, an artificial intelligence-led speech recognition start-up that has developed a speech-to-text platform supporting 10 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

The e-commerce players are hopeful of becoming successful like some of the larger digital economy players who have been experimenting with vernacular for a significant amount of time. The results of their experiments have started to bear fruits more recently.

Ride hailing, payment, content and music streaming players have made significant inroads into this vernacular user base, finds RedSeer Consulting. Ola provides support in 12 languages and this covers majority of its tier II users. The ride hailing app has more than 10 million users.

Similarly, 25 per cent of PayTM's 40 million users interact in regional languages. Dailyhunt provides content in 14 languages and has a total customer base of 200 million. Saavan, the music streaming app, offers content in 10 languages, of which Hindi accounts for 60 per cent of the content consumed. Another 20 per cent is other vernacular language, according to RedSeer.

Edtech segment has started experimenting with the vernacular and results are encouraging.

Doubtnut, which targets students in smaller cities and provides content in 12 vernacular languages, have been able to build a large user base in a relatively short time. Doubnut's initial success in cracking a large opportunity helped it raise $4 million in funding from a clutch of marquee investors.

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