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Does Not Knowing English Become An Obstruction To Starting An Online Business?

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that in India, English is looked at as the language of success. A large part of our ecosystem embraces and advocates this thought. Schools, institutes, work sectors are all echoing how irrelevant you are if you don’t understand English. Even for something as widespread and basic as a packet of biscuits, its cover is written in English. If such is the case with our regular lives where English is not the most widely spoken/read language, what happens in the online world where over 60% of its content is in English, especially when one wants to start an online business?

As my teacher once said, to understand any subject well you must first have a good command over the language (it is written in). So is true when one ventures into building an online business. Since most websites and apps are developed in English, it becomes easier to build an online business with a better understanding of this language.

That being said, in this age with the technological advancements we have achieved, it is no more difficult to start an online business with little or no knowledge of English. Let’s dive into this a bit further by looking into the 3 main processes (software centric) of e-commerce namely, building, management and marketing.

Building an E-Commerce Business: If one wants to build an e-commerce website themselves, it is imperative that one is fluent not only in English but with coding as well. There are workarounds for both these aspects. Platforms like shopify, wix, wordpress, let you build your website with their block builders that eliminate the need to understand or use coding, but you would still need to understand English to navigate through these builders as well as write meaningful scripts for your audience. The other way is to rely on professional help to get your website ready.

Managing an E-Commerce Business: Most of the frontend management such as updating delivery info or sending responses, can be accomplished with a little help because these activities are repetitive in nature and do not require in-depth understanding. On the other hand, if one was to manage the maintenance of the site or troubleshoot, one would require a better knowledge of the system and thereby of the language.

A novel way of starting an online business is what Greenmor offers. We remove these first two obstacles of starting an e-commerce business and let you head straight to the last one.

Marketing an E-Commerce Business: Good marketing is just effective communication, and that does not necessitate knowing English. Most online platforms that are used for marketing already provide vernacular translations which simplifies their use for the same. Additionally, the language that is used is not only simple but also not restricted to linguistic expressions. They generously use symbols, signs and pictures that transcends the boundaries of speech and is interpreted and understood alike universally. Likewise, websites can be designed for easy understanding and navigation by incorporating similar features.

In all, there is no doubt that English offers a lot of ease in building an e-commerce business, but in a country like India where most of us speak other languages, English loses its effectiveness when we want to build our online community. The best way forward is to engage with our audience in the language that they are most comfortable with, because in an online space, where there are plenty of options and everyone is hungry for attention, communicating in the audiences’ language brings them closer to us. The goal should be to build relationships, not metrics.


Niyati Sethia
Co-Founder, Greenmor

P.S: The content on this website can be read in 7 other Indian languages.

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