Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Business Through The Internet


Interested in doing business through the internet ? The NST has an interesting story about this:

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This festive season opens up a myriad of business opportunities for individuals and companies alike – more so now with the boundless reach of the Internet.

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Rozita’s big dream is to have her cookies in all stores and made accessible to all Malaysians.
Rozita’s big dream is to have her cookies in all stores and made accessible to all Malaysians.

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Rosman says the company’s strength is that its gifts are thematic for each season or festival and never repeated.
Rosman says the company’s strength is that its gifts are thematic for each season or festival and never repeated.

Raya delights on the web
Stories by Rozana Sani

HARI Raya cookies have always been in Rozita Abdul Kader’s blood. Her late mother was known for making the home-made delights, and the skill has since been passed on to her.

With encouragement from close friends, Rozita has for some

12 years produced cookies and conducted baking classes from her base in Klang, Selangor.

Initially, she sold her products to friends, colleagues and those who attended her baking classes, which were either held at her house or the students’ premises. Then, earlier this year, she decided to take the bold step of becoming a full-time entrepreneur, with Net presence as a key strategy.

“I got the inspiration to create www.ita-delight.com from the company that I was previously employed with. The company had set up a Web site to introduce its presence to the world. When the company became successful, I was forced to make a decision whether to remain as an employee or to become self-employed,” she says.

Rozita decided to do it alone. But first, she prepared herself by doing some research on online businesses by surfing the Internet.

“Much to my surprise, my Ita-Delight products have already been listed on several Web sites under the Biskut Raya category. I looked around online and found a company which manages Web sites for those who did not have knowledge in IT like me,” she shares.

Soon after, Rozita had Ita-Delight.com up and running, and is now successfully hitting sales in places as far as Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

“Once I started making sales through online means, I let go of my position in the company and became truly self-employed. I also felt ready with my skills to expand my baking classes to a few States outside Selangor,” she says.

Elaborating on Ita-Delight.com, Rozita says the local company she hired to develop the site also has experience in worldwide Internet marketing.

“I have been using their services for Web site management and Internet marketing solution. The cost of conducting business over the Web is not only affordable, but also easy.”

She highlights with pride that she can now update the baking class schedules in the site’s Calendar feature herself, apart from adding and editing the site’s content, uploading pictures in the gallery and sending newsletters to registered members.

She can also relay short messages and respond to queries through the chatbox.

“The most important feature of my Web presence is the e-commerce system. It is capable of receiving orders of every type of cookies that I have, and can automatically calculate the postage rates according to our local shipping provider based on the order quantity, weight and the customer’s address. The way the system works has really helped me to organise my customers’ orders,” she says.

Ita-Delight.com is now six months old.

“For the first three months, the site had some 120 hits per day. There were more visitors each time we made an advertisement through the e-mail group or local newspaper,” Rozita says.

She continued to retain the services of her Web consultant after the three-month period.

“Now, my Web visits can reach up to 400 in one day. I can say about 80 per cent of my Biskut Raya sales are made through my Web site, either by online order or e-mail. Therefore, the Internet is the main channel of my business now,” she says.

Rozita’s big dream is to have her cookies in all stores and made accessible to all Malaysians.

“My Web consultant is planning to market the Ita-Delight cookies worldwide. This means people from outside Malaysia can also use our Web presence to order Ita-Delight cookies in the near future.”

A GIFT FROM THE HEART

THE act of sending a gift is a sure-fire way to strengthen a relationship, what more in the months of Ramadan and Syawal. And the gift should be chosen with care so the recipient knows it is given from the heart.

This is where Pods & Petals’ Giftlab

(M) Sdn Bhd (PPG) comes in. In its sixth year of operations, the company prides itself as a trend-setting gift and delivery company specialising in hampers, food baskets, gifts and flowers – all of which can be either ordered through the Internet, fax, phone or personally.

“Our strength is that our gifts are thematic for each season or festival and never repeated. We take the time to handpick each item for all our products. Where we are not able to service customers, we are represented by our associates who adhere to our strict quality control,” says PPG’s sales director Rosman Jasmi.

For Ramadan and Syawal this year, the company has gone Middle Eastern with delicacies, hampers and gifts themed as such. Highlights include a certified ceramic Turkish serving plate and embroidered Syrian tablecloths that could be given pre-Raya or during the open house season in Syawal.

“Our whole portfolio can be viewed at our online boutique at www.gift-lab.com. If customers are at a loss as to what they want to pick, they can click on our Gifting Tips button for ideas.

“Our customer service team will call up our customers who have made their orders online or via fax to make sure the gifts chosen are truly what they want and according to their specifications before proceeding with delivery,” Rosman says.

PPG’s delivery area covers all States within Malaysia and countries such as Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

“For Hari Raya, we have for the past years received online orders from Malaysians residing overseas who want to send goodies to their friends and relatives in Malaysia. We are also receiving requests to send hampers to more countries abroad,” Rosman says.

He adds that PPG has secure servers that ensure all payment transactions made on its Web site are safe.

“This means you pay nothing if unauthorised charges are made to your card as a result of shopping at PPG. Any information provided to us will be respected as privileged information and will remain absolutely confidential. Other than credit cards, we provide the convenience of online banking payment and mobile payment.”

According to Rosman, the online channel has been factored in from the day PPG launched into business. To date, the company has spent a sum in the six figures to continuously update and maintain its computer system.

“Our online channel contributes approximately 30 per cent to the total business; the remaining 70 per cent comes from corporate sales. Last year, during the Hari Raya-Deepavali twin festivities, we hit around 1.5 million orders in total,” Rosman says.

Not resting on its laurels, PPG is set to launch mylittletail (www.mylittletail.com) after next month. Mylittletail is a new service for expectant and seasoned parents to assist in baby announcements, full moon celebration giftpacks and birthdays.

“It’s not just restricted to the Chinese community, but can be applied to events like Malay’s Cukur Jambul and such events in the Indian community,” Rosman says.

Bargains aplenty

WHEN it comes to celebrating Aidilfitri, shopping malls are not the only places where you can look for a bargain. Great deals are available online as well, if you know where to go. Siti Syameen Md Khalili offers some clues.

GREETING CARDS

•At www.kreatifaktif.com, you can order custom-made Raya cards at attractive prices starting from RM2 per piece. There are templates to choose from, and you can even add your name or the company logo into the design.

The minimum order is 100 pieces, so you might want to omit details such as year or date so you can use the excess supply next year.

The proprietor of the Web site, Kreatif Aktif Media, is a graphics designer company offering digital fast print services for making business cards, flyers, postcards, wedding invitations as well as customisation of souvenir items.

For Raya, the company is offering over 40 Raya card designs in multiple sizes.

CLOTHING

•At Mawar Aksesori (mawaraksesori.blogspot.com), you can order and buy kebaya, baju kurung and baju melayu of the latest styles. The baju kurung offered are the latest imported from Indonesia while textile offerings include silk and Thai silk. You can order and make retail or bulk purchases.

CAKES AND COOKIES

•Ellie Darus, who sells cupcakes online, offers special promotions for the 2008 Aidilfitri. Through her online business, de HearT Cupcakes (kekcawan.blogspot.com), she shares information such as the types of cakes available for booking, booking date, delivery schedule and delivery service details.

Apart from using the blog, she makes use of her list of contacts to send the promotion materials through e-mail. For the upcoming Raya, de HearT Cupcakes’ offerings include Cupcakes Gift Set, Mini Choc Cake Ball and Chocolate Truffle Tart.

HOME ITEMS AND WARDROBE PIECES

•Members of e-Bay Malaysia who are looking forward to beautify their home can log on to www.ebay.com.my to shop for furniture, bedding and even gardening items.

You can spruce up your lawn before that Raya BBQ session with plants, too. Apart from that, kebaya, baju kurung, fabric and textile pieces are available.

If you are not a member yet, this festive season might be a good time to start.

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