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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Online Malling, Anyone?

A few colleagues are currently in Sydney on business trip and as usual, I am browsing through various online shops in Australia so they can bring home the goodies I want from Down Under. I am particularly looking for baby products (those brands that are normally from the US but I don't have anyone coming from US soon) since the popular and good brands are not even available in Rustan's and even if they are, the prices are prohibitive.

My colleague had suggested I just send a list of what I want and he'll buy them for me but I prefer doing my own shopping, especially online. Almost everything can be purchased through the web now - diapers, make up, clothes, shoes, automobile accessories, cakes and even pets! Sooner or later I'd be able to buy even a cabbage online.

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It's easy to get hooked with online shopping, especially if you are the type who both likes shopping and surfing the net. It gives you more time to browse and choose the products you want to buy without having a saleslady follow you around like you are about to secretly put the item in your bag.  You can spend hours window shopping online without suffering the consequences of an achy feet after, enduring traffic, paying for parking fees and tagging the kids along.

No wonder online shops have proliferated even in social networking sites. Multiply used to have a clause in their TOS (Terms of Service) that the site can't be used for selling goods or services but entrepreneurs are unstoppable and so are the buyers. Eventually, Multiply opened their doors to online business and has become the easiest tool to peddle products online. Now Facebook has Marketplace specifically for this purpose too.

Actually, I have an online shop too, for imported diapers. After I discovered an importer/distributor of imported (but cheaper) diapers, I figured since I am buying in bulk for my kids, I might as well make the trip every time I will get fresh stocks worthwhile buy selling too (at least to my sisters and friends at first). Then I decided to post pictures and prices online and after less than a month (to my delight), I started receiving orders from internet-savvy mothers as well. I've been doing it for 2 years and I must say there are highs and lows, especially that I am also working full time. Stocks availability (since they come from overseas) and consistency are always a problem but nevertheless, it's a thriving business. It also gave me a chance to meet other great mommies and I have actually become friends to many!

Being an online entrepreneur made me realize the popularity of online shopping actually works both ways - for buyers like me who prefers to shop anytime of the day without the hassle of going to the mall and for small entrepreneurs too who doesn't have enough capital to enable them to rent stalls. I've met a few moms who quit from the workforce and stayed home doing buy and sell through the internet. Some even availed of small business loans to beef up their inventory and enable them to expand. Amazing and inspiring, right?

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