Profile: Passion for Fashion

Pro shopper turns full-time interest into part-time eBay business.

by staff writer
- Oct 29, 2008

There are two schools of thought about how to be successful in sales: The first is "Sell what you know;" the second is "Sell what you love." Either way, Sangita Tamborra has it covered.

As a retail professional for more than 30 years, and a self-described compulsive shopper, Tamborra has fed her passion for fashion while establishing a network of trusted sources for authentic designer goods. As Gitasan on eBay, she uses her industry connections to offer high-end surplus and liquidation merchandise at bargain prices.

Gitasan's Designer Discount Store features products from Jimmy Choo, Prada, Lladro, Coach, Ralph Lauren and other top names. Items run the gamut from apparel to housewares to patio and garden accessories.

"If I know it's a great product, I'm going to put it out there," she says. "I have a huge range of options. I pass up more product than I can get, because I can be selective about what I want to purchase and make sure it's purchased at the right price.

"My job is, I get to shop," she laughs. "Really, I do a ton of research. I watch the industry to see what the trends are; I look at sales reports from Auctiva and eBay to get a better idea of what people are buying. You can learn a lot just from surfing on eBay and checking out what others are selling.

"And I'm a big believer in social networking to help grow my business," she adds.

Tamborra regularly participates in online discussion threads to keep in touch with the eBay community and she reads Auctiva's Education tab to gain insights from experts and other users.

Social networking really helps. If I can get maybe one tip a month, I think I'm ahead of the game

"If I can get maybe one tip a month, I think I'm ahead of the game," she says. "I think all of the social networking really helps. I can see from the reports how many people come to my store through Auctiva. This month, I put one or two posts on the community board and I've gotten about 15 hits from Auctiva—which, to me, isn't bad."

Her introduction to eBay selling came in 2006, when she says she listed a few surplus items "to see what would happen." The experiment was a success. The next year, Tamborra signed up for Auctiva's free software and later opened an eBay Store, which she operates in her downtime from her day job as a wholesaler.

Despite fee increases, policy changes and a sluggish economy that combined to create a tough selling environment on eBay, Tamborra says her eBay business has consistently grown. Last year, Gitasan grossed less than $50,000, but Tamborra hopes to increase that by 25 percent a year by adjusting her product mix toward higher-priced items.

"With the tools Auctiva has to look at your sales, what sold and what didn't, I can group things and say, 'I know this is a great product to get. If I can't get that, what can I get that's similar?'" she explains.

"What's crazy is—as bad as everyone says the economy is—for '07-08, my month-to-month numbers have been either right on or ahead of target," Tamborra reports. "I think you just have to work smarter and kind of finesse what you're doing."

For example, when she initially opened her eBay Store in October 2007, traffic was minimal. "Then I started using the Auctiva templates and adding subtitles… Auctions bring people into the store, and I've been adding Best Offer—which I think is a great tool to kind of entice people to buy it now and get it over with."

Since opening the store, Tamborra has doubled the number of items she has on offer at any given time, and now strives to maintain at least 100 active listings.

Using Auctiva's templates and image uploader has made my life easier, and definitely saved me time

"I think using Auctiva's eBay templates, the image uploader and everything has made my life easier, and definitely saved me time," she says. "I can bang out 20 listings in an hour, if they're the same or similar items."

Tamborra also enlists her son and daughter, both in middle school, to take pictures, write item descriptions, print invoices and help with packing. In return, they earn credit toward a purchase on eBay or an item from inventory. Most of the time, her daughter opts for the latter. "She's got the best shoes in school," Tamborra laughs.

The biggest challenge for Tamborra is keeping her Detailed Seller Ratings high enough to receive a PowerSeller discount each month—which she says compensates for eBay's recent fee increases. Scores for shipping time—particularly on international transactions—are the hardest to maintain, she finds.

"I ship a ton of things overseas," Tamborra explains. "Before the economy tanked, it was cheaper for Europeans to buy on eBay, even with the shipping. But the delivery time kills me on that.

"I used to have my dashboard set up so it would show me every time I got dinged, so I just took it off. It was making me crazy," she says. "I don't even look at my DSRs now, except near the end of the month."

She'd rather put her energy into finding great products to sell and making sure customers are well cared for. "It's the little things," she says—like taking the time to handwrite a thank you note.

On her plate for the coming year is working to expand sales of wholesale lots, in order to move more merchandise in a shorter amount of time. "I haven't spent enough time developing that area," she says. "So that's my goal for '09, to ramp up that end of things."

Visit Gitasan's Designer Discount Store on eBay.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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