More than seven years after Amazon began its e-commerce operations in India, and two years after its shopping service added support for Hindi, the most popular language in the country, the American giant is embracing more local languages to court hundreds of millions of new users.
Amazon announced on Tuesday its website and apps now support Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu in a move that it said would help it reach an additional 200-300 million users in the country.
Localization is one of the most crucial -- and popular -- steps for companies to expand their potential reach in India. Netflix added support for Hindi last month, and Amazon’s Alexa started conversing in the Indian language last year. (Amazon's on-demand video streaming service, Prime Video, also supports Hindi, in addition to Tamil and Telugu.)
The company said the usage of Hindi, which it rolled out on its website and apps in India in 2018, has grown by three times in the past five months, and “hundreds of thousands" of Amazon customers have switched to the Hindi shopping experience.
Amazon’s further language push comes months after its chief rival in India, Walmart -owned Flipkart, added support for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, three languages that are spoken by roughly 200 million people in India.
Like Flipkart, Amazon worked with expert linguists to develop an accurate and comprehensible experience in each of the languages, the American e-commerce firm said.
But simple translation is not enough to make inroads with users in India. YouTube and YouTube Music, for instance, understand when Bollywood fans in India search for music by the name of the movie character or actor who played the part instead of the actual musician or song title -- a phenomenon unique among Indian users.
Amazon appears to have incorporated similar learnings into its shopping experience. The company said for translations it preferred using commonly used terms from daily life over perfectly translated words.
Kishore Thota, director of Customer Experience and Marketing at Amazon India, termed the availability of Amazon's India shopping experience in four new languages a “major milestone.”
The move comes weeks ahead of Diwali, the biggest festival in India that sees hundreds of millions of Indians spend lavishly. “We are super excited to do this ahead of the upcoming festive season,” said Thota.