Flipkart to give out voice interface for shoppersAugust 25, 2018
Flipkart, Indian e-Commerce Giant
Flipkart is an Indian electronic commerce company based in Bengaluru, India.
- Flipkart was founded by Mr. Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, alumni of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, in October 2007.
- The company initially focused on book sales, before expanding into other product categories such as consumer electronics, fashion, and lifestyle products.
Timeline of Flipkart
Flipkart acqusition by Walmart
- US retail giant Walmart Inc picked up 77% stake in Flipkart.
- Deal summed for $16 billion
- It concluded after more than 20 months of talks.
What Walmart has for Flipkart?
- This was the country’s largest acquisition and the world’s biggest purchase of an ecommerce company.
- It will include $2 billion of fresh investment
- Walmart looks to take on rival Amazon’s global expansion, pegging the value of Flipkart at $22 billion.
Flipkart AI Venture
- Online retailer Flipkart has acquired AI-led speech recognition Liv.ai
- In a bid to target the next 200 million online shoppers, said the company on Tuesday.
- As part of this acquisition, the 20-member team of Liv will be part of Flipkart’s ‘voice solutions’ team
- It will help accelerate an end-to- end conversational shopping experience for its users.
- Voice integration could be available in some parts of the Flipkart platform as early as 6-8 months.
- Launched in 2015 by three IIT-Kharagpur graduates, Subodh Kumar, Kishore Mundra and Sanjeev Kumar.
- Liv claims to be the only company in India to be able to convert speech to text in nine regional languages
- It includes Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Tamil, apart from English.
From the founders
“We work on speech recognition and surrounding technologies and these will be extremely valuable to any company that wants to target the Indian customer base of 100-200 million,” said Subodh Kumar, chief executive of Liv. “Voice is a much better and effortless interface and it will increase the buying propensity and their intention to buy and ease of use will increase on an ecommerce platform.”
Acquisition by Flipkart
Flipkart was in advanced talks to acquire Liv.ai for almost $40 million.
This development comes as ecommerce companies in India have shifted their focus to tier II and beyond areas and target the next 200-300 million online shoppers. However, this is where the barrier of language comes in.
Need for inducting AI in market
According to a nine month-long research conducted by Google, consultants Bain & Company and philanthropic venture fund Omidyar Network, 54 million users stopped online transaction after their first purchase in the last year. This group comprises mostly first time internet users from lower income groups who are more comfortable with vernacular languages than English.
Experts tracking the space believe that ‘voice’ is the next revolution after the ‘touch’ revolution brought in by smartphones.
“The next wave of growth of internet users is coming from tier 2+ cities and 70% of these current internet users are vernacular language speakers with this proportion only increasing,” said Flipkart’s CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy. “Given the complexities in typing on vernacular keyboards, voice will become a preferred interface for new shoppers.”