Indian E-Commerce Giant Flipkart Expands English and Hindi Voice Search Platform-Wide
Walmart’s Indian e-commerce subsidiary Flipkart has added voice search to its platform in English and Hindi. The new feature expands the voice search for groceries option the company introduced last June to around 150 million products.
Flipkart’s voice search is available on its mobile app and website right now but is limited to Android devices. Tapping a microphone icon on the screen activates the voice search. The AI understands words spoken in Hindi or English and direct the user to the most relevant item as though it were typed into the search bar. Flipkart is expecting the voice search option to be very popular. A soft, limited release of the feature in January is already drawing more than five million voice searches a day, according to Flipkart. The simplicity and speed of voice search should get customers from smaller towns to start buying from Flipkart, the company said, claiming that voice search is three times faster than typing in English and five times faster than typing in Hindi. The technical functions, like speech recognition and natural language understanding, were all built in-house. Voice is slated to be a much bigger deal for Flipkart now than it was during a brief test of the feature back in 2013.
“As a homegrown e-commerce company, Flipkart understands the heterogeneity of the Indian market and is committed to solving for the next 200 million users online while catering to the needs of all users to make e-commerce more inclusive,” Flipkart CTO Jeyandran Venugopal said in a statement. “Voice search, along with some of the other initiatives by Flipkart, will make the digital commerce experience more convenient, accessible and seamless for the new wave of online shoppers.”
Indian E-Commerce Competition
Voice search is likely to be a facet of Flipkart’s ongoing rivalry with Amazon. The Amazon app offers English and Hindi as voice search options in India as well. Beating out local rivals like Flipkart may be tough, despite Flipkart’s American corporate ownership. Still, Amazon is very keen to succeed in India, using it as a first stop for the international expansion of many Amazon features, like embedding Alexa into the Amazon Android App. And India was the sole country where Amazon launched its portable smart speaker, the Echo Input, in December. The competition is likely to continue, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in online purchases during the lockdown in India. Voice and linguistic features are certain to play a key part in the larger e-commerce battle.