Amazon is adding a Hindi language option to its site and apps in an attempt to reach the half-billion people in India who speak the language, according to The New York Times.
Until now, Amazon’s website — along with the websites of many top competitors — have only been available in English, but English is only spoken by a tenth of India’s population. Amazon believes that by translating into the dominant local language, the site will be more accessible and appear more trustworthy to Hindi-speaking customers.
English is still the primary language for online retailers in India
Amazon is already the second-largest online retailer in India, but it’s facing major competition from Flipkart, a larger local company that’s now majority-owned by Walmart. Walmart undoubtedly will not want to lose the online retail battle in India the same way it has in the US. While it has an early lead, there’s still a large amount of room for change: millions of people are gaining internet access in the country each year, and far less than half are said to regularly shop online.
If its Hindi-language option succeeds, Amazon plans to launch in other languages popular in India. But getting those translations done is apparently not a simple task. It sounds as though much of it is now automated, but accomplishing that feat required hiring human translators and working with companies to make sure the translations were clear and natural.
English-language sites have so far dominated the online retail space in India. That seems to be partly a reflection of who in the country has had internet access first — a situation that is now quickly changing. Other popular sites have tried local-language offerings, but it seems that none of them are operating close to a fully translated version, as Amazon has now started up. With internet access spreading, offering sites in languages that are widely spoken in the country seems like an obvious way of reaching new customers.