Walmart-owned Flipkart bets on free video streaming service and Hindi support to win next 200 million internet users in India
India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart said on Tuesday that it is revamping its shopping app to add support for Hindi language, a video streaming service, and an audio-visual assistant, the latest in a series of recent efforts to expand its reach in the country.
The e-commerce firm, which sold majority stake to Walmart for $16 billion last year and leads the local market, told TechCrunch that it has started to rollout the features on its shopping app and will push it to all its existing users in within next 20 days.
Only 10% of India’s 1.3 billion people speak English. Flipkart said it has been working to customize its entire platform for several months to add support for Hindi. As part of the revamp, the company is also introducing an “audio visual guided navigation” feature, also built in Hindi, that is aimed at first time internet users — and existing online users not comfortable with making transactions online — to make it easier for them to navigate the service and place orders.
Its rival Amazon India added support for Hindi last year, though the feature is limited to basic text translation.
As part of the accessibility push, Flipkart is also introducing an in-app video streaming feature dubbed ‘Flipkart Videos,’ that will syndicate movies, shows, and other long-form and short form content from a number of production houses and movie studios, the company said.
The inclusion of video streaming feature comes as Indians’ appetite for consuming media content on the internet has ballooned in the recent years. Hotstar, a Disney-owned video streaming service, has amassed more than 300 million monthly active users in the country.
Flipkart said the video streaming feature will enable it to invite a new segment of users to its platform who are online but don’t currently shop on the internet. Even as more than 500 million users are connected to the web in India, only tens of millions of them currently shop there. The streaming feature will be accessible to all users at no charge without any loyalty program, a company spokesperson said, refuting a recent media report that claimed otherwise.
“In the past 10 years our vision and ethos have been to solve for ‘Real India,’ create India specific tech solutions, here in India. What we are rolling out when it comes to addressing the needs of the next 200 million users in our country, is taking forward those founding principles of access and affordability,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Group CEO of Flipkart, in a statement.
“We strongly believe that the next phase of our growth is rooted in loyalty, democratizing e-commerce and the country will continue seeing more innovations that stem from our deep understanding of Indian consumers, especially middle India.”
Flipkart said it is also attempting to make it easier for users to discover items on its app. So it is introducing a feed called ‘Flipkart Ideas’ that will populate short form videos, animated images, polls and quizzes.
For instance, a user may see a short form video that shows a sportsperson wearing a pair of sneakers, a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a cap. If they tap on the video, they will see the exact items the person in the video is wearing and other similar items. One more tap, and the user would be able to purchase any of those items.
The company said it is working with more than 400 influencers and 30 brands to create content that will appear on the feed.
All of these features, as well as a gaming section that Flipkart introduced last year, will now appear at the bottom of the screen for easier navigation, the company said. More than half a million users in India play mini-games on Flipkart everyday. The company said it will introduce more games to boost engagement levels and offer loyalty points as incentive to customers.