Food ordering apps have become a mainstay of middle class eating habits. They’ve revolutionized the way we eat, bringing an unprecedented level of comfort to our dining. Want to order in but also not sure what to get? Looking for the best deals on fine dining? Simple. Just use an app. Select what you want to eat. Hit order. Select mode of payment. And wait for your food to arrive at your doorstep.
On one end of the spectrum, food ordering apps serve the hungry masses waiting for their next biryani or shawarma. On the other end, restaurants and delivery personnel use them too, to coordinate orders and ensure the right food reaches the right person on time.
However, as with almost all other apps made by and for Indians, these food ordering apps are English only, limiting their reach. Somehow, it’s been taken for granted that only people comfortable with English are interested in dining out. But as anyone will tell you, a love for food goes much deeper than language.
With the growth of the Indian language internet, companies are waking up to the fact that they can no longer ignore Indian language internet users. Likewise, food ordering apps have the potential to reach out to a whole new wave of Indian language internet users.
Let’s take a closer look at what needs to be localised, and how.
Localizing Food Listings
The first step in localising food ordering apps is making the names of dishes, restaurants, and more available in Indian languages. Users need to know what it is a restaurant offers – that’s the bare minimum, after all.
These items often come with short descriptions that talk about the dish, its taste, or its ingredients, descriptions that need to be localised as well. All of these text strings are examples of static content, content that doesn’t change based on user input and can be localised just once.
When new content is added to the platform, it can be localised and sent back to the app to be added on the platform.
Supply Side Localisation
As mentioned earlier, restaurants use these apps too. Managers coordinate orders with their kitchens, and with the delivery personnel who come to pick orders up. These orders often come with instructions too. More spice, less onions, extra sauce please, you get the picture.
Localising order details can help streamline the coordination process for managers and their kitchens by making them easier to understand.
In addition, delivery personnel are often more comfortable in their own language than English. Localisation helps these teams do their job better by facilitating clearer communication. We’ve written about how localisation can help delivery personnel in more detail here.
Localising supply side communication mostly involves translation static templates, while leaving room for dynamically changing content like addresses, content that needs to be transliterated.
Something similar has already been done for ride sharing apps, as well as logistics platforms. Versions of apps for delivery personnel have been localised, allowing for smoother communication.Localizing last mile delivery apps will also help increase the hiring pool available, helping pave the way for expansion not just in metros but in smaller towns as well.
Restaurants, in partnership with food ordering apps, have regular deals and promotions. Open any such app and you’ll know what we mean. Banners, slogans, pop-ups, all with their discounts mentioned prominently, greet you.
One of the reasons these apps caught on was precisely because these promotions. We can see why. They’re hard to resist.
Makes sense to expect that Indian language users should be able to avail these crazy promotions, right?
Once again, localisation can play a role here. These promotions should be translated, so that they can reach users in a language they’re comfortable in.
In addition, cross-platform forms of communication, across SMSes, emails, phone notifications and they like, need to carry localised and personalized communication for them to work effectively. Here’s more on the subject.
Search & Discovery
A large part of the appeal of food ordering apps is discovery. Finding new restaurants to order from can be a rush. It’s also a great way to enhance the dining experience for users, as well as expand business prospects and draw new customers as a restaurant.
Making restaurants discoverable involves making search Indian language friendly. Queries in Indian languages should turn up relevant results.
Food ordering apps can be overwhelming in terms of the options available, especially for users who might not be as used to navigating through lists of content. Voice search can help users work around this issue by letting them search for dishes just by dictating their names to the device.
Food ordering apps can potentially reach tens of millions of new users, if they come equipped with Indian language support. Accessibility will directly translate to more orders, and more profits by extension. Indian language users represent an untapped market, an entire user base of potential customers looking for a fix to quell their hunger pangs.
Let’s ensure we’re up to the task of catering to them – literally and otherwise – by making these apps available in their own language. Food transcends language barriers, but apps need a helping hand in the form of localisation.