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ONLINE BUSINESS

Flourishing on Facebook

Former marketer exhibits her entrepreneurship skills using social network



A former marketer at consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has launched herself as an entrepreneur with an online business on Facebook.

Uthaitip Hansen is managing director and owner of one of the successful Facebook pages called Bag Indeed, which now has almost 80,000 likes. Her online business has been a success in terms of revenue and recognition.

She said her online business occurred by accident. Even though she always had the desire to own her own business, she continued to work in the marketing department of P&G for five years. She had no ideas about owning an online business, especially one on a social network.

Bag Indeed was launched in February last year. Uthaitip opened the page to prepare to promote her website business of exporting bags, especially to Asean countries.

"I worked for P&G for five years and after that I did my PhD. I then set up my own business along with my friend who is a bag manufacturer. I had an idea to export bags to nearby countries. I planned to use a website as an online outlet to reach potential customers. Unfortunately, website designers could not develop a website that could meet my requirements. I spent many months on it. So, I decided to open a Facebook Page, Facebook.com/bagindeed, to pave the way to promote the website," said Uthiatip.

She said initially it had 300 fans, most of them from her friends' network. One and a half years later, Bag Indeed on Facebook has become popular and generated good revenue well. She still does not have her own website for her business. She declined to divulge the revenue from her online business over Facebook, but insisted that it was doing very well.

She said Facebook is a powerful marketplace for her business without having to invest in setting up her own website.

At first, she did not intend to use Facebook as an online shop. She only wanted to use it as a place to inform people about her brands. But soon after opening the page, there were some transactions along with the increasing of number of 'Likes'. Eventually, it was turned into a full operation for online shopping over Facebook, without requiring a website.

"Facebook is a powerful online shop without the cost of having your own website, and importantly, it also provides a huge number of potential customers," said Uthiatip.

She said currently her company owns two bag brands -the variety-style Bag Indeed and modern-and-classic-style Anina.

"We started with only me. Now we have 25 staff and we also own a warehouse. Online shopping, even though dedicated to bags and luggage, needs a variety of brands. Currently, we have two brands and we plan to launch a new brand this month. Now, we have stopped the plan to export bags as we intend to build our brands and make it strong before exporting," said Uthaitip.

At the warehouse, there are 60 bag designs, while there are about 15 to 20 models available in the online shop. There are about 5 to 12 colours for each model.

Uthaitip said she allows customers to pay for the bag via bank account. The logistics will begin the day after they make a payment. Customers have to pay for delivery, which is Bt30 per delivery. Her customers are divided equally between Bangkok and the provinces.

"One caution for doing online business, especially fashion products, is it is very difficult to forecast the sales volumes. Sellers need to be flexible to scale up and carry the stock inventory to support the various orders," said Uthaitip.

She said online fashion products should not be too expensive but should be affordable and easy-to-decide to buy; there should be a variety of products with multi-brands; and the focus should be online only.


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