After introducing voice assistant in the grocery last year, Flipkart has now added voice search to the platform. With the addition of this new feature, the home-grown e-commerce marketplace enables customers to search for products through speech. Voice search will work across over 150 million products across 80+ categories listed on Flipkart.
"As a homegrown e-commerce company, Flipkart understands the heterogeneity of the Indian market and is committed to solving for the next 200 million users online while catering to the needs of all users to make e-commerce more inclusive. Voice search, along with some of the other initiatives by Flipkart, will make the digital commerce experience more convenient, accessible and seamless for the new wave of online shoppers," says Jeyandran Venugopal, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Flipkart.
For voice search, Flipkart has deployed a host of technical capabilities such as Automatic Speech Recognition, Natural Language Understanding, and Text-to-Speech for Indian languages, built by Flipkart's in-house engineering and data sciences team. Once a user gives a command, the automatic speech recognition recognises the voice and converts it into text.
Here, the Natural Language Understanding tries to identify the intent and entity from the keywords given in the command. These keywords are then picked up by Flipkart's search engine, which fetches results for the customers in a fraction of a second. Flipkart's Voice Search merges these technologies with its existing text-based search capability, which is trained on years of Flipkart data to offer a powerful voice search platform that can understand natural language-based long and complex queries made by users in different accents.
Studies conducted by Flipkart to understand the new-to-internet consumers or Bharat indicate that they need assistance in online shopping and seek easy discovery of products. Also, searching through voice is both natural and quicker as it is 3x faster than typing in English and 5x faster in Hindi, as per independent studies.
According to a joint study conducted by Bain & Company and Flipkart in 2020, online shoppers in tier-2 cities make nearly half of all shoppers and contribute to three out of every five orders for leading e-retail platforms.
And as more than 75% of internet users in India coming from non-English speaking backgrounds and a majority of them residing in non-urban, rural areas, it becomes imperative to solve the language barrier for enabling access to the benefits of the internet, including e-commerce.
Gradually rolled out since January this year, the initial trends showed over 5 million queries a day. Flipkart also believes that the voice search feature available in Hindi and English will enable faster onboarding of customers from smaller towns and help them shop on the platform.