Indian e-commerce has been seeing rapid expansion in the recent past, something that is predicted to gather even more speed with time. With more and more internet users coming online, e-commerce will see a massive boost in shoppers in the coming years. Understandably, logistics will gain in importance too.
E-commerce, as opposed to traditional shopping, has brought an unparalleled degree of comfort and options to the Indian consumer. Innovations such as same day delivery, virtual trials, cash on delivery payments, and easy returns have fundamentally altered the behavior and expectations of Indian consumers.
It’s estimated that Indian e-commerce will generate $100 billion in revenue by 2021. That is an impressive number.
A lot of this growth is built on the back of another industry – logistics. After all, how else do you manage all these orders at scale? How do you ensure customers get what they’re paying for, on time?
The logistics industry in India takes care of this, and more. It is one of the most important enablers of e-commerce’s rapid growth and expansion in India.
According a KPMG study, the Indian retail logistics industry is expected to be valued at $1.35 billion by 2018, processing around 19 lakh shipments a day.
At its heart, logistics is built on streamlined, efficient communication, and strict adherence to a certain workflow. This is what ensures that these channels see constant traffic. For the supply chain to be well oiled, the flow of information needs to be painless and quick.
Last mile delivery, where delivery personnel physically delivery goods to customers, is a key step of the entire chain.
Delivery staff receive automated orders telling them where and when to deliver what. Optimising for speed and efficiency makes this link of the chain a smoother process, in turn enabling more deliveries, helping the end companies.
When it comes to efficiency, every step counts. Clearer communication results in clearer results.
Most delivery personnel in India are likely more comfortable reading in their own language.
When they receive instructions, product names, and addresses in a language they don’t speak fluently, it takes some time and effort to interpret them.
This, of course, goes directly against the need for increased efficiency.
The Language Push For Logistics
Language technology can offer a convenient solution to this problem.
By enabling communications in a language understood more clearly by delivery personnel, language technology greatly reduces the possibility of misunderstandings.
All these details they currently receive are only in English. The delivery team member does not understand English completely, which adds an element of uncertainty to the process. They have to reread the information, or need to spend extra time verifying it.
With localisation however, all this uncertainty is removed from the process.
All text strings involved – addresses, proper names, and even interfaces – are converted into the language of the delivery personnel using the platform.
Most of the text involved in this process consists of proper nouns or fixed strings – primarily addresses, and personal names.
Transliteration, the process of converting the script content is written in without changing its meaning, is the primary method of localising logistics communications.
For example, if a member of the delivery team is more comfortable in Kannada than English, they will see ಕೈಕೊಂಡ್ರಹಳ್ಳಿ, ಲಿಂಗಪ್ಪ, instead of Kaikondrahalli, Lingappa.
Since these text strings will be generated anew for each instance, all this transliteration will need to be in real time, automatically converting strings in English to strings in Indian languages for the benefit of delivery personnel.
This language enablement can have a very direct impact on delivery efficiency, by reducing confusion in the flow of information.
Expanding Your Delivery Force
In addition, as e-commerce firms expand their presence in India to smaller towns and cities, their expansion needs to be matched by increased recruitment by logistics firms.
People in these smaller cities and towns are much likelier to be more comfortable speaking and reading in their own language. If logistics firms stick to hiring candidates with demonstrated fluency in English, their potential candidate base will be limited.
Localisation allows logistics firms to broaden their candidate base as well. If a platform is available in Indian languages, companies can hire candidates to join and work to build the supply chain in these smaller towns and cities, without their proficiency in English excluding them from the role.
As the need for better logistics increases to match the growth in e-commerce, it’s important to keep in mind how language localisation can facilitate this process by enabling clearer communications, possibly higher efficiency, and increased manpower recruitment.
At Reverie, our end-to-end localisation services provide highly personalized experiences in a user’s own language. Logistics companies can benefit in particular from our highly accurate, real-time transliteration module that has been optimized for various industries, with domain specific vocabulary.