WHEN inquiries about the bags they were selling to their friends started coming in, three sisters realized the potential of putting up a business online to sell luxury bags and wallets.

“The market especially in Cebu has expanded over the past years. We started selling to friends in 2007 but due to market demand we decided to go online in 2009 and now will open a store, hopefully in the Banilad Town Center (BTC), to reach out to more people,” said Mellibeth Go.

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Mellibeth and her sisters Melliza and Michelle are the owners of Bagss Unlimited, which sells luxury bags costing thousands of pesos.

They started with eight to 10 clients in their first year of selling items to just their friends. In 2009, they had more than 50 clients. By the first half of this year, they already had more than a hundred clients from various areas in the country including Manila, Bohol, Ormoc, Surigao, Tacloban, Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Butuan, and Cebu.

Clients abroad

They said Filipino customers based in Canada, Australia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates also buy from them because they offer cheaper prices and even limited edition designs not offered in their host countries.

According to Mellibeth, who handles the online accounts, “at first we were hesitant to expand online when the recession started but to our surprise, sales increased unexpectedly. The spending power is still there and it might also be due to the lay-away scheme that we offer to our VIP clients and the good referrals.”

The lay-away scheme allows VIP clients, those who purchase from them at least once a month, to pay in installments from three to twelve months, depending on the bag.

The sisters initially sold Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Coach products. They now also sell Chanel, Balenciaga, Goyard and Prada.

“Our items come from various countries like Paris, Rome and Germany, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore. The bulk of our items we purchase personally, that’s why our price is competitive.

Our cousins also buy for us or sometimes it is done via shipment direct from my suppliers abroad,” she added.

Of the sisters, Mellibeth is focusing on Bagss Unlimited while her two other sisters work in banks.

When Bagss started, most of their clients were businesswomen, medical representatives and housewives. After going online, they were able to get nurses, doctors and other employees from other industries as clients.

Website accounts

“We have Multiply, AyosDito and Facebook accounts but the biggest leads come from Face-book,” Mellibeth told Sun.Star Cebu.

They upload picutes of the products on Facebook, indicating such things as style, brand, name, size and condition of the item. Upon Facebook confirmation of the agreed price, the client will receive an email or text from the owner on how to pay for the product. Payment is done through the bank or Western Union. Upon receipt of payment, the product is then shipped to the buyer.

“We sell through (photo) tagging and through word of mouth from friends and clients.

Normally, I only post up-to-date styles and designs. When I upload a certain bag, less than a minute there's a comment for price inquiry,” she said.

Challenge

Mellibeth said the challenge in selling online is trust on both parties. For buyers, especially newbies, they have a lot of questions on authenticity and whether the bags have really been shipped after payment.

“For us, some clients are strangers to us so we have to be sure on the payment and other transactions with them,” she said.

“We personally order the stocks from certified and authorized dealers. However, we try to educate the market and clients on how to identify fake products.”

The sisters plan to open their physical store early next year.