Flipkart Adds Tamil, Telugu and Kannad Interfaces As Part of its Localisation Plan

Flipkart conducted an ethnographic study to understand the various aspects of the three languages, their colloquial usage and patterns to understand consumer behaviour while shopping online.
Flipkart Adds Tamil, Telugu and Kannad Interfaces As Part of its Localisation Plan
Image credit: Flipkart

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In a first, Walmart owned Flipkart today introduced three new languages on its platform –Tamil, Telugu and Kannad—in an attempt to make online commerce more inclusive and accessible for native language users.

The homegrown e-commerce major had launched Hindi interface last year on its platform.

With the addition of three more regional languages, Flipkart aims to reduce the access barriers to e-commerce for native language speakers. “Following the launch of Hindi interface last year, the new regional language interfaces have been built on Flipkart’s ‘Localization and Translation Platform’ that will empower customers to comfortably undertake an end-to-end ecommerce journey in their local language, with ease,” said the company statement.

Flipkart conducted an ethnographic study to understand the various aspects of the three languages, their colloquial usage and patterns to understand consumer behaviour while shopping online. Participants, which fell in the age group of 25-35 with monthly income ranging between INR 8,000-20,000 and also those using sub-INR 12,000 smartphones with low memory space, were asked to display their mobile apps usage to test their comprehension of online shopping.

The company restricted the research to three cities in Southern India—Mysore (Karnataka), Salem (Tamil Nadu) and Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)— as Southern states account for a significant proportion of Flipkart’s growing user base, it said.

The outcomes showed that consumption of native language platforms for socialising was higher as compared to other language platforms. Also, participants showed increased affinity towards using hybrid words that are a mix of English and a regional dialect along with a tendency to use a mix of translation and transliteration of words without realising in the same sentence. “For instance, participants often use English words (delivery, cash, stock, etc) and native words (dinasi, etc) in the same sentence,” the company statement shared.

“Today, almost 58 per cent of our user base comes from tier-II cities and beyond and with new language interfaces of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada along with Hindi (introduced last year) will further improve users’ ecommerce journeys by making it simpler and more personal,” said Jeyandran Venugopal, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Flipkart.

E-commerce platforms are rapidly shifting focus to smaller cities to cater to the increasing demand coming from these regions. According to industry reports quoted by Flipkart in its statement, Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75 per cent of India’s internet user base by 2021. Last year, Flipkart’s rival Amazon India had introduced its Hindi interface customer service chatbot to help faster resolution of order related issues for Hindi-speaking users. 

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group, commenting on the opportunity in regional languages said, “We truly believe that language, if solved well, can be an opportunity rather than a barrier to reach millions of consumers who have been underserved. As a homegrown e-commerce marketplace, we understand India and its diversity in a more nuanced way and are building products that have the potential to bring a long-term change.”

“The introduction of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada interfaces, in addition to Hindi & English, is a meaningful step in that direction in line with our mission to democratize ecommerce in India,” Krishnamurthy added.

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