As per a report by Google, 90% of internet users prefer to use their local language to search and carry out tasks online. “With rapid digitization and new internet users growing, the ‘3Vs’: voice, video and vernacular, have become essential to the way Indians interact with the internet,” ‘Google’s Year in Search 2020: India for determined progress,’ report had started.
Attesting to such trends, Vedanarayanan Vedantham, SME & Startup Business Head, Razorpay recalled when he was stopped midway during a webinar as the audience wanted the conversation to be in Hindi language. “We had a partnership going on with one of India’s largest ecommerce marketplace, where we did a pseudo bespoke payment for all their sellers. I was talking about trends in digitisation on a webinar when people stopped me to say that they understood nothing and that I should speak in Hindi. It was an eye-opening moment for me,” he said while speaking at the recently concluded Razorpay FTX 2021.
Vedantham predicted the next wave of SMEs and entrepreneurs in the country to be people from local vernacular first and the mass market.
Echoing similar sentiments, Harsh Pokharna, Co-Founder & CEO, OkCredit explained that the coming of voice first interfaces instead of type first are making adoption of technology easier for many micro businesses. Stating how they have had a lot of learnings along the way, Pokharna said it is important to adapt as per the need of the situation. “What we saw in one of the instances was that the SME employee could not use our software since he only understood Kannada. He did not understand English. So ultimately, we had to make a version that was Kannada focused and after that he was comfortable using the software application,” he added.
The narrative, he asserted, has now changed, and a lot depends on how communication is channeled with such businesses. “The product building plus marketing has to be vernacular if you want to penetrate deeper. Earlier there was this notion of such businesses not being tech savvy or using business apps. Now that is no longer the case and very good technology adoption can be seen if they get value. Moreover, there is a huge word of mouth in micro business communities as they are tightly knit,” he stated.
The inclusion of vernacular languages and local dialect also helps in driving a stronger connect towards the product. “People have a lot of pride when they see their language on the app and they feel the product is their own. A lot of such businesses have to communicate with their customers often. The option to communicate in their local language helps to build trust with customers and is a win-win,” Pokharna reiterated.