Regional language initiatives and margin adjustments are among the tactics being deployed by brands and retail channels in India as they gear up for what is expected to be a tough festive season.

Flipkart, the Walmart-owned e-commerce platform, has launched a Hindi interface in a bid to attract a wave of new online consumers in lower tier cities, the Economic Times reported.

This approach has become essential since industry research indicates that nine in ten new internet users are native language speakers. The Hindi option is just the start for Flipkart, which is planning to add other languages over the coming months.

“With the Hindi capability, users will be able to see all the information and search for their desired products in Hindi – a language whose internet user base is expected to outgrow English by the year 2021,” the company said in a statement.

New audio-visual navigation capabilities in the Flipkart app are also designed to assist first-time online shoppers.

“We are committed to developing solutions that will help the adoption of e-commerce by the next 200 million consumers who come online,” explained CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy.

Rival Amazon last month introduced an automated messaging assistant on its app that can interact with users in Hindi – “a big step towards localising our post-order experience for Indian customers", said Amazon India’s director of customer service.

If language is a new battleground for e-commerce platforms, price remains central to brands and retailers in a slowing economy where consumers are cutting back on discretionary expenditure.

Accordingly, consumer electronics and smartphone makers are reported to be doubling the margins offered to retailers during the festive season with most of this being passed on to consumers in the form of discounts in order to boost sales and the rest used for marketing purposes.

Sourced from Economic Times, India Today; additional content by WARC staff