India is one of the world’s emerging markets which is also home to a long history, vibrant culture and over one billion population. It is the land of opportunity! If you are planning to run an e-commerce platform for your product or service in India, this article will guide you through it. If you haven’t, why not think about it? In the next few minutes, we will discuss about how localization will be the key to your successful E-commerce strategy in India.
English is spoken but not preferred
Knowing that there are a lot of languages spoken in India, many marketers may find it tempting to take the easy way out by just using English on their website or communication materials. Some may take it for granted that most of India is an English-speaking country and therefore choose to only have an English version of their website or E-commerce platform. But is that enough?
While there are many Indians who aspire to speaking English as their second language, reality check, there are only 10% of them who can speak English fluently nowadays. Furthermore, just like everyone else around the world, they prefer to get information about a brand, product or service in their local language rather than in English.
So what is India’s language landscape?
India is one of the most linguistically-challenging countries in the world with over 22 official languages, 122 main languages, almost 1,600 dialects, and 13 written scripts. Having said that, however, it is possible and not as difficult as it may sound to localize your business for India market.
Over hundreds of languages, where should you start?
The key to localization in India is to prioritize. Out of the 22 official languages in India, you should start with Hindi which is the official language of the Indian Government and the 4th most spoken language in the world. In the next two years, there will be over 201 billion Hindi-speaking internet users accounting for the majority of the language spoken in the country. That is quite a clear justification for your priority!
Then, think about where your target audience is. Although people from each state may speak more than one language, most of them will speak the language set in its geographic boundaries ie. Kashmiris speak Kashmir, Bengalis speak Bengali and so on. This should be your secondary language to localize besides Hindi.
The need for localization in E-commerce
To date, there are not so many Indian E-commerce platforms. Nonetheless, with the growing needs of the new generation and the much bigger middle class who mainly use mobile devices and prefer to consume content in their own language, many companies are more aware of such needs and how it will affect their business positively if they can provide the platform in local languages. Some companies such as Snapdeal and MakeMyTrip already offer Indian language support for mobile application.
India is a great market full of business potential. In order to tap that vast opportunities out there, you need to target your market smartly and know your target at heart. You will then be able to specify which language should be the focus of your e-commerce strategy and voila – you just need to localize your business into that language. This way, consumers will ‘see’ you among the thousands of brands on the market. Finally, they will tend to trust you more because you speak ‘their language’. Good luck and Namaste!