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    Seller Apps: The new vendor management tool

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    From brick to clicks and now from clicks to taps, the big daddies of e-tail are innovatively targeting India’s mobile internet users base — pegged at 173 million in December 2014 and expected to reach 213 million this month — with ever-new mobile applications.

    Until recently, online marketplaces had been promoting their shopping applications across the country. But now they are looking to help their sellers manage businesses on the go, using mobile applications specifically created for them.

    For instance, Snapdeal last year launched its mobile application, ‘Snapdeal Seller Zone’ to help sellers manage their inventory and orders on mobile. Amazon and too, joined the league, with the launch of their sellers-specific apps in March and June respectively, this year.

    “We are excited to announce the launch of ‘Seller Hub’ App. The app will offer sellers end-to-end visibility and enable them to enjoy a seamless selling experience. Focused at creating ease and convenience for sellers across the nation, this app will help sellers reach out to 45 million Flipkart customers on-the-go,” said , SVP-Marketplace, Flipkart, during the the app’s launch.

    With these marketplaces rolling out sellers specific applications, sellers seem to be split on the benefits of apps.

    “Currently, I am using Snapdeal’s Seller Zone app, which has really made my work easier from what it was a few months ago,” says N S Bindra, founder of Jalandhar-based fitness and sports equipment brand Total Gym and Body Fit, who sells his products on all the leading online marketplaces, including Snapdeal, Flipkart and Jabong, among others.

    “The Seller Zone app lets me update my inventory, confirms orders and maps my competitors’ prices on-the-go. Also, the app is very easy to use. If my price is higher than a competitor’s, the app signals a red flag and I can easily alter it via my phone,” Bindra explains.

    Unlike Bindra, Delhi-based Ankur Chadha, owner of Men’s footwear brand Chadha Fashion, who sells his products only on Snapdeal, says he’s not very active with the use of applications. “We are not very active on the application as we mostly use PCs or laptops. But sometimes just to track our orders placed by customers, we use Snapdeal’s app.”

    Where some sellers have started using apps for their businesses, some feel it’s too early to realise the potential of apps.

    “I think it’s too early to rate the benefits of these sellers applications,” asserts Rahul S. Narayan, owner of Bangalore-based fashion labels like Street Junkies and kidswear brand Huntler. Narayan sells his products on platforms such as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, , among others.

    “I sell on multiple marketplaces but I use only Snapdeal and Flipkart (Seller Hub) apps to update my inventory while travelling,” he notes.

    With these marketplaces aggressively striving to make sellers’ information access easier, the challenge now is to make a simpler interface that can be used by all sellers, regardless of how tech-savvy they are. “I believe the sellers are not using these applications adequately because of the lack of understanding. As far as sellers from South India are concerned, I have spoken to many of them and only a few say that they are using these apps,” Narayan states. “They are more comfortable using laptops and PCs.”