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It’s been a long time coming, but BookMyShow has finally launched Indian language versions of its sites, beginning with Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. With this, it becomes the first major ecommerce site to go Indic, after Snapdeal took the plunge last year. Snapdeal only has language options available on mobile (but you can check out Snapdeal’s Hindi version online), and they’ve unfortunately never really released any data on the usage of Indic language versions of their website.

Why Indian languages are important

Indian language interfaces are necessary for those users who aren’t particularly familiar with English, and intuitively, it will help new users become comfortable with transacting. Businesses wouldn’t want Internet usage to be limited to the users who are familiar with English: that’s a fraction of the country’s population.

While it might be intuitive that an interface in an Indian language will help increase usage and purchases, we don’t have data to validate this. Many years ago, Rediff founder Ajit Balakrishnan had questioned the need for Indian language interfaces, given low usage for Rediffmail in Indian language.

Ecommerce going Indic is essential because it launches a virtuous cycle for the digital ecosystem: ecommerce launching an Indian language interface lends itself to advertising in Indian languages, which helps Indian language publishers monetize better (high click-through-rates from users to prefer their own language as an interface).

A move we endorse is of BIS mandating Indian languages for handsets. Is there a way for websites to detect the default language on a handset, and automatically serve content in that language? It’s worth noting that while all the text on BookMyshow is in Hindi, the banners are all still in English. More to be done, but this is a good first step.

Sadly, not much appears to have changed since our #NAMAindic event.