Barely a month ago, Amazon had reiterated the growing influence of customers in smaller Indian towns and cities on the growth of eCommerce. Now, the company has embraced more local languages in addition to Hindi, for which it had added support two years ago.
Targeting the upcoming festival season starting with the Navratri celebrations next month and culminating in Diwali during November, Amazon now allows users to shop on its website and via the app in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. The company says it is expecting to gain between 200-300 million users through this.
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Of course, one may ask what took Amazon more than seven years after its launch in India to understand the impact of local languages? And why did it have to wait till its arch-rival, the Walmart-owned Flipkart, hadn’t taken the initiative to add southern languages to its repertoire a few months back.
However, the company seems to have benefitted from this in terms of making its searches smarter and more skewed towards the behaviour of customers from rural India. The company appears to have taken a cue from YouTube, where searches by Indian fans for music and movies are based on actors or characters.
Amazon seems to have incorporated some of these learnings for its shoppers who browse and shop in their local language. We tried out some of the searches in Tamil and Malayalam and found that searches for commonly used terms in daily life could render effective results as with accurate translations or brand names.
Localisation has been the name of the game in recent times as Netflix added Hindi to its support cast while close competitor Amazon Prime had started supporting Hindi some time ago, thereafter adding Tamil and Telugu to the mix. Alexa voice assistant began conversing in Hindi and recently got Amitabh Bachchan as its voice.
Amazon revealed that the use of Hindi across its website and apps in 2018 brought in thrice the growth in customers over the past six months when India was under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report published by Indian Express quoted Amazon India’s Director of Customer Experience and Marketing Kishore Thota, to suggest that customers using regional language to browse and shop didn’t limit their purchases to cheaper items. In fact, they bought everything from expensive iPhones to fashion speakers, he said.
Last month, Amazon had revealed that its Prime Day in India saw customers from 97% of India shop across multiple categories, while the number new shoppers on the website doubled during this year’s event compared to that of 2019. And, 65% of these new customers came from outside the top-10 cities of India.
By covering Hindi and the four regional languages, Amazon has successfully mapped most of India’s hinterland and now could be focusing on adding Marathi, Bengali to the mix. In regions like Punjab and Haryana, Hindi is spoken and understood.