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Tuesday October 22, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday October 22, 2013 MYT 7:12:14 AM
by vijenthi nairphotos by yap chee hong, raymond ooi and hafiz sohaimi
Handy gadget: Tharishini works from her laptop at home where she stores her merchandise.
GONE are the days when shopping meant a tiring trip to town trekking to one shop after another looking for the perfect outfit.
The Internet, especially social networking sites such as Facebook, has made shopping a breeze.
StarMetro spoke to several traders specialising in Indian goods this Deepavali on the benefits of online shopping. One of the oldest online traders focusing on Indian apparel and accessories are Sarees For U, managed by Kiren Bhatt.
The senior technical sales analyst started her Facebook page in 2009, after experiencing difficulties buying good quality products at affordable prices locally.
“My family has always shopped in India for traditional clothes since I was young, My mother is from India and we often visit her relatives,
“I have always had a passion for Indian clothing and one day I just decided to go into it as a business and never looked back. Initially, my family in India helped me source for products from the suppliers while I manage the orders from here.”
Kiran has more than 300,000 likes on her Facebook page and has customers from all over the world. She started her website in 2011.
“The website attracts more international customers while the Facebook page is mainly for locals,” she said.
Kiran added she participated in flea markets and bazaars to introduce her products so people could see it for themselves.
“I am also hosting a tea party in my house on Oct 27,” she said adding that she has no plans to open a physical boutique as she is content with her online business.
Avalon Sarees has a different business model. Its managing director Sumitha Mohandas started her Facebook page and opened her first boutique in Skudai, Johor in 2010.
“When it comes to sarees, many people prefer to try it on before buying. Some materials do not suit certain body types.
“We have opened another boutique in Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya. I am also looking at participating in exhibitions in Penang to meet demand there.”
On the confusion over “celebrity designer sarees”, she said they were designed by famous designers for celebrities attending functions.
“What is now sold under the ‘celebrity designer saree’ term are similar designs made from more affordable materials, so there will be differences.”
She said the type of material used will impact the quality. “I often keep sarees of different quality for customers to compare and educate themselves on the importance of fabrics,” she said.
“In this type of business, customer service is key and we have staff managing the Facebook page and website everyday from 9am to 10pm,” she said, adding they want to have as many channels as possible to connect with customers.
Manager of Utharsh Designers Harishini Govin plans to open her own boutique after starting a Facebook page in 2010.
She was doing online trading on a part-time basis to supplement her income but resigned from her job last year to work on it full-time.
“I focus more on accessories and kurti (tops).
“There are hundreds of people doing this business and competition is stiff but those who started earlier have an edge due to our established customer base. “
She said that it is understandable that some customers want to look at the products before purchasing.
“I will try to explain the clothing the best I can. For accessories,
I tell them to visit my husband’s restaurant in Klang as some
items are displayed in a glass cabinet there.”
“There are many challenges but also a lot of potential in the online business,” she added.
Kaitri Kannan, who manages Shavina Sarees, is from Bahau, Negri Sembilan, where job opportunities are few.
She started an online business three years ago and has never looked back.
“My house is in a mess because I keep the stock at home but I am happy. It involves a lot of hard work and time and I am always on my laptop.
“I have invested a lot of money as I believe having ready stock for immediate delivery will ensure customer satisfaction. The more satisfied customers you have, the more business you will get,” she said.
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Central Region, saree, online., shopping
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