Flipkart has announced the launch of voice search on its platform to let customers find new items by speaking about them in Hindi and English. The e-commerce giant projects that the new voice search experience will enable faster onboarding of customers from smaller towns and simplify their e-commerce journey.
It will also make the competition tougher for Amazon that introduced Alexa-powered voice search on its Android app in March last year. Citing studies conducted internally, Flipkart said in a press release that new-to-Internet consumers in India need assistance in online shopping and look for easy discovery of products. Both these requirements are aimed to be addressed by the voice search experience.
Searching through voice is three times faster than typing in English and five times faster in Hindi, Flipkart said citing independent studies. Voice search is also projected to help Flipkart improve its understanding of new users and allow sellers to reach new customers.
How to use Flipkart voice search
You can access voice search either on the Flipkart mobile app or on its mobile site at the initial stage. It is available through a microphone icon that appears once you tap the search bar on the top of the Flipkart app or site from your mobile device.
Once accessed, you can use voice search to speak either in Hindi or English to find relevant items on Flipkart that are claimed to have a pool of over 150 million products across over 80 categories.
Flipkart said that it had been gradually rolling out voice search since January this year and has noticed over five million queries a day. However, it appears that the experience is currently limited to Android devices as we weren’t able to verify voice search on an iPhone or through the desktop version of the Flipkart site.
Meanwhile, you can experience voice search on an Android phone by using commands such as “Kala joota dikhana” (please show black shoes) or “toys for infants.”
How does voice search work on Flipkart?
To enable voice search in Hindi and English, Flipkart said that it deployed various technical capabilities including automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding, and text-to-speech for Indian languages, built by its in-house engineering and data sciences team. The feature enables automatic speech recognition once a user gives a command to convert voice into text. It then moves the text to natural-language understanding (NLU) to identify the intent and entity from the keywords given in the command. After that, the keywords are captured by Flipkart’s search engine to fetch results.
The voice search experience comes to Flipkart just months after it added a dedicated voice assistant to its grocery app Supermart in June. The company notably acquired speech recognition startup Liv.ai in 2018 that built speech recognition technologies in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu.
“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,” said Jeyandran Venugopal, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Flipkart, in a prepared statement.
Last year, Flipkart rival Amazon brought Alexa-powered voice search for its customers. That experience also supports Hindi and English queries but is limited to the Amazon app for Android devices.
Flipkart originally tested voice search to its site back in 2013. That update was, however, limited to a certain number of users and was discontinued silently.