Flipkart Adds Hindi and English Voice Search to Wholesale E-Commerce
Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has extended its English and Hindi voice search to its business-to-business platform. Flipkart Wholesale now offers the same voice search function as the consumer website, making it easier for retailers and other businesses to find and purchase goods from the Walmart subsidiary.
Flipkart Wholesale provides goods for a range of businesses, including the Indian bodegas known as Kiranas. Catering to all of these clients is tricky in a country where most people may not write or read much English. That makes textual searches in the language difficult. Flipkart is aiming to bridge that divide with the voice search option for those who may be better at speaking in English or who are fluent in Hindi. Flipkart Wholesale’s voice search is limited to the website right now but will likely extend to mobile apps as well. Tapping the microphone icon on the screen alerts the AI to listen for search requests and pulls them up as though they were typed out in the search bar.
“Our core value proposition lies in offering a hassle-free shopping experience on the app through new technologies and innovations. At Flipkart, we are committed to address the problem areas our members face and deliver value to them,” Flipkart Wholesale head Adarsh Menon explained. “The launch of voice search is one such tech initiative that will help cater to the heterogeneous user population, making their e-commerce journey with Flipkart even simpler. As a technology enabler, we will continue to create more such innovations that will make digital commerce more inclusive, accessible, and convenient for existing as well as new customers.”
The language barrier drove the development of voice search, not only for wholesalers but for the consumer-focused part of Flipkart. Voice search started for consumers in the middle of 2020 with groceries before widening across the website in March last year. Flipkart claims that its 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 search has proven popular, with Flipkart reporting around three million daily voice questions. More than half came from towns with fewer than 50,000 people. That’s a win for Flipkart, which hoped to leverage the tech’s simplicity and speed to attract customers from smaller cities who might not have used Flipkart before voice search was an option.
Competition is growing for all kinds of voice commerce in India, however. Amazon added Indian languages to Alexa voice shopping this past fall. Visitors to the Indian portal of Amazon will be able to look around and make their choices by asking Amazon in Hindi vocally, as well as Bengali and Marathi when searching and purchasing by typing for the first time. Meanwhile, Google Assistant has gone straight to providing banking services by voice in Hindi. E-commerce is just one area of competition for voice AI, but it’s shaping up to be a significant one in India.