Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Amazon India Launches Hindi Website and App to Reach Vernacular Customers

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Amazon India has launched its portal and app in Hindi with the aim of reaching 100 million new customers that speak this language. With this launch, Amazon has pipped Walmart owned Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company, in reaching out to the country’s hinterlands where Hindi is widely spoken.

About 10 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population speaks English and while all e-commerce portals are in English, people for whom Hindi is the primary language of communication, often hesitate to buy online due to language issues. Amazon aims to close this gap with this launch.

Manish Tiwary, VP, Category Management, Amazon India said, “This first Indian language launch will enable crores of Hindi-preferring customers across India to shop in their preferred language.”

According to NY Times, Amazon currently stands at the second position in India’s $33 billion e-commerce market with a reach of 150 million registered subscribers. With its regional venture, Amazon aims to grow faster with the help of regional customers.

“The next 100 million customers will have to be in the vernacular language,” Kishore Thota, Amazon India’s Director of Customer Experience and Marketing told Economic Times during the launch event.

He stated that the company’s research has found eight out of ten customers would prefer to shop in a language other than English. “The level of trust increases when they see something in their own language,” he stated in an interview at Amazon’s India headquarters in Bangalore, reported NY Times.

New Delhi-based Snapdeal had launched a local language portal in 2015 but closed it as only a few were using it. Alibaba-backed Paytm, which is now India’s third largest shopping portal, allows customers to make purchases in 10 Indian languages, however, most product listing is still in English. Amit Sinha, who heads Paytm’s marketplace told the New York Times that about 15 percent of his customers have used the native language option since its launch in October last year.

After Hindi, Amazon plans to launch portals in Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu languages which reign outside the Northern belt of the country.

“Our aim is to ensure any customer can find anything they want on Amazon anytime and anywhere, irrespective of the language or where they come from,” Economic Times quoted Manish Tiwary as saying.

In a similar quest to reach out to millions of regional Indian audiences, Google launched its new tool ‘Navlekha’ last week. With Navlekha, Google will work with a large number of Indian language publishers to bring more regional language content online. Data available online largely comprises of English content and only one percent of the content is in regional languages.

Last year, a study by KPMG and Google revealed that by 2021, about 73% of Indian internet users will prefer to use a local language instead of English.