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Ultimate Guide to starting a profitable Ecommerce Business in Nigeria

Starting a profitable ecommerce business in Nigeria as an individual or a startup can be very rewarding and sometimes a very herculean task. Especially when you are very new in an industry with so many pieces.

As your store grows larger and orders rolling in, it gets more bulky and very difficult to operate an online store that’s profitable and sustainable.

According to Euromonitor, the Nigerian e-commerce sector is estimated to be worth $13 billion with more than 50.3 million potential users.

In this article, you are going to learn step by step how to start your own profitable ecommerce business in Nigeria from your comfort and still be successful.

Let’s dive in:

What is ecommerce?

According to Investopedia, electronic commerce or e-commerce as it is fondly called is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the internet.

Imagine Kemi owns Khair, a retail shop for wigs. She carefully designs her local store to appeal to her target audience and buyers. But she figures since her company is a small store, she could get more customers selling online instead of depending on her store alone.

Now she is ready to sell to customers over the internet.

Apart from Kemi’s business to consumer eCommerce type, Let’s see other ecommerce business you can engage on over the internet.

Type of ecommerce businesses you can start in Nigeria.

  1. Business to business
  2. Consumer to consumer
  3. Consumer to business

Why start your online store in Nigeria

Ecommerce can be conducted over a wide variety of devices including your smartphone, tablet and PCs. Almost every product you can imagine is available over the internet including books. Music, cars, electrical appliances and much more. Other reasons to start an ecommerce business in Nigeria include:

1. Large Population:

A major reason to start an ecommerce in Nigeria is her population. According to the national census board, as of 2020, the country has a population of 200,000,000 people. Though not all of them are your target market, it’s a very big reason because you have a lot of individuals and businesses to sell to.

2. Convenience:

Uniquely, ecommerce can occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is due to the fact that the internet which is the medium of the exchange never take a break, holiday or have off time. It’s always available to sellers and buyers alike.

3. Increase selection:

Remember Kemi, the wig seller? She can add other hair accessories like cream, shampoo, comb and more to hair ecommerce store. Kemi can offer her online consumer’s exclusive inventory that is unavailable elsewhere and even training too.

4. Total freedom:

Additionally, Having your own ecommerce store in Nigeria gives you the freedom to make a direct impact on the customer journey. 

You can alter your online store the way you want, change your colour schemes and themes, make button place and content edit and tell you company’s story using your own words.

You do not have to worry about your competitor’s products popping around the corner next to yours as you will in the local marketplace.

With your own online store, it’s easier to experiment with different types of offers and shipping rules with no strict rules or regulations with which you must comply. You also, don’t have to worry what the impact these changes will have on your margins since you don’t owe a percentage of each sale to a third-party like you will do a marketplace.

With own your website, you ultimately control your store and have the ability to test and validate what works.

5. It’s easy to get started (plug and play)

Ecommerce platforms like Woocommerce, Shopify and Magento are very easy to get started with.  Creating websites with these tools is a fast process.

You can go ahead and build one yourself, but if you want a top ecommerce store that fits your brand an Agency like swicdigital is the right pick.

Questions to ask starting your ecommerce store?

1. What will you be selling?

This is where you should spend most of your time. Think very well, because whatever decision you make here will make or mare your ecommerce store. A good product is worth more than 1000 trail and error.

To sell and make a profit, you need a product that’s needed by your target market, relevant, solves a problem or help people achieve certain task faster.

2. Is the website pure ecommerce or multipurpose?

In contrast, ecommerce for lots of entrepreneurs is only an additional stream of income instead of a mainstay. Example, if you a coach, you can sell pre-recorded courses, invitations to events, books and more but these things aren’t your real focus.

Adding an ecommerce store to your pre-existing website is a very cool way to monetize your website visitors and your mailing list.

3. Who will manage your online store?

A profitable ecommerce store requires time and commitment to run. Though a lot of things can be automated, it requires constant maintenance, iteration, search engine optimization, analytics and advertisement.

4. How will you get product photos?

Photos are everything when it comes to online shopping. It captures your visitor’s attention quicker than text.

It’s important to think about where you going to get product photos for your ecommerce store. Hiring a professional photographer is the best option, but you can also get some royalty-free images from various online stores selling similar product.

5. How will your customers pay you?

The goal of starting an online store is making profit with very high margins. There are various payment options to choose from including cash on delivery, bank transfer, online debit card payment and gift cards. Here’s a list of top five payment gateway in Nigeria for you to choose from.

Profitable ecommerce store payment
image show payment cards

6. How will you ship your products?

Your customers won’t be happy if they paid for your product and you didn’t deliver as you promised. How do you intend to get the goods to your customers?  Are you delivering it yourself or you hiring a delivery partner?

Partnering with a logistic partner that will handle fulfilment is the best option when starting a profitable Ecommerce Business in Nigeria. This will make you efficient, trustworthy and professional. Just be sure to understand their rate and conditions.  

Other questions to ask include: What tax rules applies to your business? Will you be selling to the international market? What is your business budget?

Answering the above questions thoroughly will put you in a better position to start your own profitable ecommerce business in Nigeria.

Profitable Ecommerce business ideas.

There are tons of ecommerce business and product ideas to choose from. In Nigeria, sell products that are affordable with high margins to get maximum returns on your investment.

Here are a few categories to pick from:

  • Healthy food and drinks on the go,
  • Special needs cosmetics,
  • Women and men fashion items,
  • School items and launch boxes for kids and adults,
  • Special design clothing,
  • Gadgets and electronics

Things are always changing in the retail industry. To get a better idea of what selling and what is not, check out these reports from  Amazon.  It’s well detailed and will help find the ideal products quicker.

Branding your online store.

Coming up with a name for your new ecommerce brand or product can feel really daunting. However it’s an import process that you shouldn’t neglect. Why, because your name is your first opportunity to start telling your story and distinguishing your brand from the competitive online space.  

How to choose a business name for your ecommerce store.

Pick a name that represents your business story rather than just a function. Because company product will change, but your story won’t for a very long time. More established brands opt for literal names for their brand or product because their story is already known.

You, a starter cannot afford to that. One way to start is to get ideas from your coworkers and friends. A 15-minute brainstorming session will do. Some should be familiar with your product(s) and some shouldn’t.

Talk about what your product does, the kind of emotion it evokes and the target market.

Next, create a spreadsheet and give everyone 10 minutes to write any name they can think of that’s related to the conversation. Focus on quantity, not quality (repeat these sessions until you feel you have enough solid option).

Furthermore, take time to scale your list down to a few that matches your business goals. Google and any other search engine come in handy here. Check to see if another online store is using the same name as yours.

Also check for domain name alias, existing businesses model and products.

How to build a brand for your new ecommerce store.

After choosing a name that works for you, it’s time to work on your brand.

Customers are constantly bombarded with ads, and most people are wary of being told what they want or being tricked into buying something.

Making a Purchase is a personal thing. People prefer to buy products that reflect their values and identities, so they want to understand who the brand is before they open their wallets.

Building Brand Authenticity.

Building brand authenticity is the practice of making your brand look and feel genuine and trustworthy in the eyes of your audience. Key factors that people use to gauge your brand’s authenticity are your commitment to quality, sincerity, and heritage.

You should tell your brand’s story in ways that demonstrate your values and passion for your products.  You can start by crafting a vision statement that guides your marketing, then your brand narratives and benefits.

In addition, explain what your audience gains when they decide to make a purchase. Also, highlight factors that differentiates you from your competitors online. Use these words on your website copy, branding materials, ads and more.

Learn more on how to build a brand from this detailed article on brand building.

Where to get products from.

As an ecommerce merchant in Nigeria, it’s possible to both source for your product locally or import from overseas. China and the rest of South-East Asia is a choice destination for most Nigerians.

profitable ecommerce business products
Image showing ecomerce products

Importing products from these countries are affordable, easy and a straight forward process. Sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress are very good options. If the West is your proffered destination, you will find quality products from Ebay, Amazon, and etsy.

Do remember to do your research about these big shops. Read their T&C and any other relevant article you can find about them before getting started.

Designing and developing your online store.

Swicdigital will design a custom ecommerce store that fits your brand style and voice using WordPress Woo-commerce, Shopify and Magento. One that is well optimized for search engines and mobile phones.

Regardless of how easy it is to get started, designing your store can be a lot to handle especially when you want to stand out from the rest of your competitors out there. At Swicdigital, we take you through our 4 step process.

  • Developing your online strategy and business goals alignment.
  • Online store wireframes and mockup design
  • Development
  • Optimization and training.

The above steps make sure together we create a successful ecommerce store for your new business.

Other ­­channels to launch your store include, Facebook pages, Instagram handles, Gumroad and WhatsApp business.a

How to drive sales for your ecommerce business.

Online adverts and word of mouth is the best way to drive to your store. Ecommerce stores without a huge marketing budget have to utilize the power of channel focus.

Although Facebook, google ad words, Instagram are some of the best places to advertise your product, advertising on all three at once will drastically destroy your budget.

 Instead, try all channel with a small budget of say $20, find out which channel is converting the most through analytics and focus on that single one.  

Other Marketing ideas for small business include local directory listing, social media, local PR and media, events and forums.

Next steps

Now that you know what it takes to start a profitable ecommerce business in Nigeria, it’s time to get started. Click here to start developing your own store today or fill our contact form for enquiries.

paul okoduwa blog author

Marketing and web design enthusiast | love to play | Big Family guy

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