Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart on Tuesday debuted a voice assistant feature on its platform that allows users to find and purchase products through voice commands in Hindi and English. The capability was introduced in Flipkart's grocery store, Supermart.
The tech is available via Flipkart's mobile app on Android devices and will gradually be made available on iOS and its website, per the company press release. The tech allows users to search for a product, understand product details and place an order.
The artificial intelligence voice assistant technology automatically detects the speaker's language and lets users have shopping-related conversations in various Indian languages, according to the company statement. The retailer conducted a detailed ethnographic study for more than five months in various locations to develop the voice assistant for grocery shopping.
With its new voice assistant feature, Flipkart said it aims to facilitate a user experience that's similar to talking with a store associate. The AI is meant to be an intuative, natural approach to the discovery and purchase of products. Therefore, the technology can understand commands in both English and Hindi and can also respond to mixed language commands.
Smart speaker usage is not as high as once was anticipated — a February report from eMarketer found that only 26% of smart speaker users will make purchases through the device, though 35% will shop on them. One of the key hindrances to voice assistant adoption is the technology's inability to accurately recognize various accents.
"The technology team at Flipkart traveled across the country to understand the various contours of building a voice capability and fine-tuned it to identify and respond to the different variations in Indian languages," Jeyandran Venugopal, chief product and technology officer at Flipkart, said in a statement. "The launch of voice assistant also aligns well with the growing adoption and comfort of consumers towards voice-based online commerce."
Flipkart expanded its last-mile delivery to 27,000 stores across India last September. In 2018, Walmart became Flipkart's largest shareholder by paying $16 billion for an initial 77% stake in the company.