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How ‘voice to cart’ is revolutionising retail

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India is witnessing a voice-led revolution that will alter how we interact and do business

Mumbai: India is witnessing a phase where 21st-century digital technologies co-exist with 19th-century challenges. The Government has already brought in measures to address this. In fact, a Nielsen study points out that rural India’s internet presence is 20 per cent higher than urban India. The Indian techade story can become a reality by 2030 only when the e-commerce and banking/payment technologies become democratized and reach every digital nagrik (digital citizen) and the last Bharatiya (Indian).[bs_input_restrict]

Today, an English-centric internet has become a major barrier for nearly half a billion digital nagriks in India preventing them from leveraging the full vista of choices and empowerment offered by the digital world viz. e-commerce and access to online financial services.

The wave of newcomers to the smartphone era, who are less educated and online for the first time, can be better navigated using voice assistance technology. Multilingual voice assistance is the bridge that can help take the Indian techade story to reality. The new-to-internet digital nagriks should have an easy way to interact with the mobile / web apps—in their own vernacular language, using their own voice. With ultra-intelligent multi-lingual capabilities, in-app voice assistance technology has the potential to provide a seamless experience for customers. Gone are the days of scrolling through endless pages of products, trying to find that perfect item. With voice assistance technology, one can simply tell the virtual assistant what is required and let the technological magic unfold.

The sound barrier

India is the second-largest digital consumer market in the world with a population of 1.4 billion and more than 560 million internet users. Despite the wave of technologies such as 5G and smartphone dispersion, only 200-250 million people in India are using e-commerce.

The major reason why the rest of the population refrains from using apps is that all the apps/sites are in English. Even though some apps provide translation, it’s challenging to use them. Also, using vernacular keyboards is tough because they are harder to use than English keyboards. This is where voice assistance comes into play because literacy itself is a major issue when it comes to new-to-internet Indian users.

Another major concern is privacy and security. With voice technology recording personal information, there’s always the risk of potential data breaches. Another hurdle that we face is integration with existing systems. Compatibility issues with legacy systems can be a nightmare, and the high cost of implementation can be a barrier for some retailers.

However, as more and more businesses adopt voice technology, we can expect to see these challenges diminish. Perhaps the most significant limitation of voice technology in retail is the accuracy of voice recognition. Accurately interpreting voice commands can be tricky, especially when dealing with regional accents and dialects. However, voice technology is constantly improving, and as more data is collected and analysed, we can expect to see improvements in accuracy.

Addressing the hiccups and hurdles

According to a report by Deloitte, about 30 per cent of all sales will be led by voice by 2030. Today, India is witnessing a voice-led revolution that will alter how we interact and do business. Brands can easily grow their current market by 3 to four times by expanding into non-English tier 2 and tier 3 India and penetrating the urban market deeper by onboarding segments such as cab drivers, auto drivers, senior citizens, maids and similar sections of society.

This will give them deeper insights into user behaviour. The voice assistant in e-commerce apps can prevent 30% – 50% of the drop-offs that happen today—a huge advantage for brands as it gives them more revenues. For all these reasons and more, it makes sense for brands to implement voice assistance inside mobile and web apps in all vernacular languages of Bharat.

If the same personal shopping experience in the physical world can be adapted to online using voice and conversations in local language, it will be easy for non-English speaking consumers to start using the advanced applications on their smartphones.

Multilingual voice assistance inside mobile and web applications helps eliminate most of the barriers the new-to-internet Bharatiyas face, giving them access to the same kind of choices, opportunities and empowerment that a minority of Bharatiyas are enjoying today. Access to knowledge and transactions in their own languages will help them to stay independent and informed.

With ultra-intelligent multi-lingual capabilities, in-app voice assistance technology has the potential to provide a seamless and personalized shopping experience for customers, while also streamlining operations for retailers and e-commerce companies. Additionally, organisations enabling in-app voice assistants can offer an option for users to customize their voice commands, ensuring a more accurate and personalized experience.

Overall, a holistic in-app voice assistant can addresses the privacy and security concerns of users, while also providing a flexible and scalable platform that can integrate with existing systems and accurately interpret user commands.

Voice is the future

The future of retail is about to get a whole lot louder, thanks to the ear-popping potential of in-app voice assistants. Imagine a world where you can simply shout out your shopping list while jogging and have it all delivered to your doorstep in minutes. As we move towards a more digital and connected world, the integration of voice technology in retail is inevitable. With a focus on robust security protocols and accurate voice recognition, the future of retail will be all about making our lives easier and more convenient than ever before.

Serial entrepreneur Kumar Rangarajan is the co-founder and CEO of Slang Labs
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