This article is published by Yourstory on 26/05/2021
CONVA by Slang Labs allows you to add a sophisticated and full-featured voice assistant to your e-commerce app in less than 30 minutes. These multilingual voice assistants sit inside your e-commerce app and work as per your business logic. Read more at: https://yourstory.com/2021/02/online-shopping-made-simpler-slang-labs
Around 43 per cent Indians say they shopped online more than ever during the pandemic, according to a survey by multinational research firm, Ipsos. Online shopping, which has been gaining in popularity in India, received what may be called a booster shot, thanks to the coronavirus crisis, as people avoided physical contact as much as possible.
While many online shopping platforms have adopted a voice assistant for the shopping ease of customers, it’s not a seamless experience on most sites or apps.
This is primarily due to the fact that most ecommerce players have adopted the most basic level of voice-to-text service available out there, says Slang Labs Co-Founder and CEO, Kumar Rangarajan. To plug this problem and ensure a hassle-free and seamless voice experience for customers while shopping online, the Bengaluru-based startup has launched ‘Slang CONVA’, which it says is “the world's first voice assistants as a service platform”. Although it is a completely B2B (business-to-business) product, it has a direct connect with the end consumer, as it is instrumental in creating the final user experience via voice.
“Slang CONVA allows you to add a sophisticated and full-featured voice assistant to your ecommerce app in less than 30 minutes. These multilingual voice assistants sit inside your ecommerce app and work as per your business logic,” explains Kumar.
The product promises to drastically simplify the process of adding in-app voice assistants to a matter of minutes from the six months or more that is usually required.
It claims to have “a light-weight SDK (software development kit), out-of-box well-designed user experiences, easy configurations and a low-code integration that can be done by Android and web developers in less than 30 minutes.”
Founded by Kumar Rangarajan, Giridhar Murthy and Satish Chandra Gupta, Slang Labs has been working on its voice technology for over three years. This is the second iteration of the product. The previous avatar, a custom voice solution which is not out-of-box, is still available.
Kumar and Giridhar had earlier co-founded Little Eye Labs, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, the social media giant’s first acquisition in India.
It built performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile Android apps. After a three-year stint at the Facebook headquarters in California, wanting to start up again, the duo came back to India and launched Slang Labs with Satish, who held senior roles at Ola, Amazon, IBMand Microsoft.
Slang Labs saw that many brands wanted to add multilingual voice interactions to their apps, but faced certain barriers. Co-Founder and CTO, Giridhar lists them out, “Huge investment needed to even run pilots. Many months of engineering effort to build reasonably good experiences. Generic voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa did not provide sufficient specialisation that would make them useful inside a brand’s app. Vernacular language understanding and natural language processing (NLP) is a very complex thing to solve for brands.”
To be sure, there are several other players in India such as Mihup, Gnani.ai, vernacular.ai and Jiny.io operating in the voice assistants space. Tech giants such as Google and Amazon Alexa Fund also offer voice assistants.
However, most players in the voice space in India are in the customer service play, Kumar points out, while adding that Jiny.io is the closest that comes to Slang. “The main difference between us is that, they look at voice as an output mechanism, like a voice-guided mechanism to learn the UI (user interface), while we are focused both on input and output,” Kumar explains. He adds that Slang Labs is more in the transaction space, like Google and Alexa. Globally, there are also companies such as Alan AI and Houndify that offer conversational voice platforms.
According to Slang Labs Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, Satish, there are some distinct advantages the CONVA platform offers for ecommerce apps, other than quick adoption. “Slang voice assistants are pre-trained and provide out-of-the-box support for various domains such as retail e-commerce. They are multilingual and multimodal out-of-the-box. Your users can use voice and touch interchangeably, providing the best of both experiences. Your app can continue to be in English and yet allow your users to talk to it in other languages,” he elaborates.