Snapdeal, the eBay-backed Indian marketplace, has launched local language versions of its site in a move aimed at wooing over one-third of the country’s non-English speaking Internet users.
Snapdeal’s latest move also underscores a shift in India’s over $3 billion (excluding online travel) e-commerce market, which is increasingly becoming less ‘elite’, as more users from smaller towns are accessing Internet on their phones and even buying products from Snapdeal, Flipkart and Myntra.
With over 20 million users, Snapdeal is India’s largest marketplace and nearly half of its total sales comes from smaller Indian cities.
“We are expecting a 20% increase in our traffic from the local language addition,” said Ankit Khanna, vice president at Snapdeal. The startup has launched its site in two of the most spoken Indian languages — Hindi and Tamil — and it plans to add several others over next few months.
India has around 200 million Internet users, of which around one third are accessing content in the local languages. The local language user base is growing at 40% annually, according to the IAMAI.
“Shopping online has caught up in India like wildfire. However, there are many users in our nation who are quite conversant with the internet but prefer content in their native languages which may not be English,” added Khanna.
As India’s biggest e-commerce retailers seek to add new customers, they need to look beyond their existing user base and reach out to millions of Internet users who are not buying online. Officials at Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company and other online retailers said they plan to add Indian language versions of their sites going forward.
According to CLSA, the next 100 million Internet users in India are not likely to be English speaking. With increased consumption of news and social media content in regional languages, it’s clear that these users can now be graduated to online shopping.
Currently, they may not be shopping online because none of the e-commerce sites serve content in their local languages, at least until now. CLSA’s research analyst, Nimish Joshi, says that the next logical evolution for these users is to start buying online, and that’s why more e-commerce retailers are going native.
The race to acquire the next 100 million online shoppers is set to intensify with Flipkart and Myntra exploring a merger. Whether or not that happens, the competition will only get more intense in the Indian e-commerce space going forward, and localization will be the key. There are 30 major Indian languages and over 1500 dialects, offering more than enough scope for innovations to expand the reach of e-commerce in the country.