First, what is E-commerce and why is everyone talking about it?
E-commerce can be simply referred to as online business or e-business. E-commerce includes any kind of business or transaction that happens over the internet. The word ‘commerce’ means the exchange of products and services between businesses, groups, or individuals. The model of doing business over the internet, whereby firms and individuals can buy and sell things is what is referred to as E-commerce.
There is an increase in the use of smartphones and the internet, this makes the e-commerce industry filled with potentials for huge returns. Since 2010, the e-commerce industry has witnessed tremendous growth and is still set to record even higher growth in the coming years.
Online shopping sites that have become popular and successful in the e-commerce business include the likes of Jumia, Konga, Payporte, and Yudala. The success of these businesses have encouraged others to tap the e-commerce opportunity. This does not mean you would immediately become big like the businesses mentioned above, but if you dedicate the hard work and time, you could own profitable e-commerce business.
It is now even much easier to run an e-commerce business since there are cheaply available tools you can use to launch and grow an online business. Now is the time for entrepreneurs and small business owners to consider going into the online retail industry. Notwithstanding, there are still challenges you will face when starting your own e-commerce business. This article provides tips and a guide you can follow to help you navigate through the rather difficult processes of starting an e-commerce business.
Why You Should Start an E-commerce Business
Are you wondering if an e-commerce business is the best business terrain for you at the moment? Below are benefits and reasons you should start an E-commerce business
- E-commerce is the answer to problems of geographical limitations that traders and business owners used to have when running their businesses. With e-commerce, your products or services will get to places even you have never visited.
- Access to a wider pool of market: With e-commerce, you can have customers from all around the world. don’t
- E-commerce is cost-effective: You can start an e-commerce business with a low capital budget. You will also be able to save money on utilities such as rent and other expenses associated with running a physical store
- You can run an e-commerce business as a second business even when you have a full-time job
- With the e-commerce business model, it is easier to keep a tab of your customers and keep in touch with them. This can be achieved through online soft wares and applications designed for this purpose. This way, one is able to retain as well as add on more customers.
Nigeria is a country with over 180 million residents. In order to make money, the question you should ask yourself is “what value can I offer to even a fraction of this number that will make money for me”. Building and running a physical store, (except after extensive research) might not be the wisest move to make in the 21st century. A large number of consumers now spend their time online. More so, businesses with a physical presence are also turning online to pull a wide number of customers. Remember, starting an e-commerce business does not mean you have to start out big as Konga or Jumia. You can start with a low capital and gradually build up your brand. This article will show you how to start an e-commerce business in Nigeria. Read on below:
Register Your Business With CAC
The first step in running an e-commerce business is to register your business or company with CAC. It is only upon registration that you can get a corporate bank account opened for your business and also obtain other legal documents that will be required in running the business.
While many people think registering your business is not all that important, most online payment gateways and marketplaces that you will need to work within the course of your business require that a business is legally registered. This is a necessary step that has been taken in the e-commerce industry to combat cybercrimes that used to pose a problem in times past. You can begin by registering as a business name with CAC and later on as a limited company.
Once you have come up with a name for your business, the first thing to do is to register it with CAC. Often times, many people have found that the business names they have been running with has been registered by someone else. It is always a big shock when one discovers that they have built a brand that is not theirs. You can confirm if your business name is not already in use by running a search on CAC’s portal. When choosing a name, ensure you take one that expressly explains what your business is about. Your business name should also be easy to pronounce.
Another important reason you should register your business is that many customers rarely want to pay into a private account, considering the increase in online scam rate. You can only open a corporate account when you have a business registration certificate.
Registering your business also makes your business more credible and trusted. You will have more people want to do business with you when you have registered your business.
Develop a Detailed Business Plan
A business plan is a document that states your business’s future objectives and the strategies you want to use in achieving them. Many people ignore the business plan stage because they think running a business can be done off the top of your head. However, every business, especially an e-commerce business needs a business plan. A business plan is not a rigid guide on how to run your business. It simply helps to give you direction on what to do at every stage of your business. It also helps you not to lose focus on your long-term objectives.
Details of a Business plan
A business plan should contain the following information:
- Company description
- Market Analysis
- Organisation and Management
- Service or Product line
- Marketing and Sales
- Financial Projections
Setup Your Own Online Store
When running an e-commerce store, you can decide to set up an online store for your business. You can do this using popular online tools such as WordPress Woocommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, etc. These applications allow users to easily set up an online store without the need to know much or anything about coding or website development.
If you cannot afford the cost of setting up your own online store, you can easily join an already established e-commerce marketplace. The other technology essentials such as marketing, payment gateway, logistics, etc., are often taken care of by the marketplace. This reduces the workload on the business owner. You can even join multiple marketplaces to sell your products.
Get a Secured Payment Gateway
Popular payment gateways are Flutterwave, Paystack, and Co.). These ones are accessible to e-commerce businesses in Nigeria. You can compare the various payment gateways available and choose which one is more profitable for you and best suits your business structure.
Even though cash payments are still a popular and convenient mode of transaction for many customers, having an online payment infrastructure makes the checkout flow easier for customers. You can make both online and offline payment options available to your customers.
Implement a Marketing Strategy
There are different marketing strategies you can make use of to increase brand awareness and make sales. Marketing strategies include social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing / Search Engine Optimization. Social media is one of the most common digital marketing channels that any small business owner can easily leverage upon to reach a particular target audience. You can easily set up social media profiles for your brand on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also start a blog where you can write contents that pertain to your business. This will help drive free and organic traffic to your business pages.
Make Your Products Available
If you are selling physical goods such as clothing items, you will need to display such on your online store and also add details such as prices. This makes it easier for customers to shop as they can easily click on the items of their choice, learn all they need to and then proceed to make payment through the payment gateway. If you are offering a service, you can put up graphic designs that give a description of the service you offer. Ensure you add descriptions such as testimonials to encourage clients to patronize your business. If you are selling physical goods, you will need a store or an office space to keep your products. This can be your house. However, it is alright to start without a physical store, then as your business expands, you can consider getting an office space.
Set Up Means of Delivery
An e-commerce business allows you to do so many things at the same time. You can sell a product to different people in different locations at the same time. As long as you have set up a good delivery system.
Your delivery system is another important service in running your business. It in fact goes a long way to determine the credibility of your business. When you deliver goods on time, clients will be encouraged to keep patronizing you and also leave good reviews that will result in more sales and growth for your business. There are logistics companies that deliver products for many businesses in Nigeria. These logistics companies deliver the products and can also receive payment on your behalf if it is a pay on delivery contract. You will not have to worry about how to handle this aspect of your business, unlike if you decided to get your own delivery bikes yourself.
Here are some of the popular logistics companies in Nigeria
- FedEx Nigeria
- GIG Logistics
- AGS Movers Lagos
- Courier Plus Services Limited
Make use of softwares in handling tasks
Small business owners are often busy, trying to juggle many tasks all at once. This also adds to the failure rate of businesses as it increases stress for the business owner without productivity. You will find your job easier and can be more productive when you use the right software. There are soft wares that have already been designed to help manage your customer relationship, accounting, project management, email marketing, etc. All you need to do is integrate these into your business.
Market Your E-commerce Business
Advertising is the soul of any business. No one will know about your business if you do not advertise it properly. There is nothing like excess marketing so do not let anyone shame you for marketing your business. In fact, there are several ways to market your business to your target audience.
The first step is to create an account for your business across all social media platforms. After this, you can start posting content that relates to your products and services.
Ways to promote your e-commerce business:
- Use social media influencers
- Running Instagram, Facebook and Google adverts
- Run newspaper, TV or radio advert
- Get listed on relevant directories
- Word of mouth
- Attend relevant events and network
If you are wondering how to get into the e-commerce world, here is list of businesses you can run as E-commerce Businesses:
- Mini importation business
- Course Development/Training
- Freelancing (Graphic designing, Content writing, CV writing, etc)
- Social Media Manager
- Fashion Designing/Clothing line
- Business Consulting
- Event Planning
- Mobile Accessories Online Store
- Sales of beauty/Skincare Business
- Software Development/Sales of Software Applications
- Makeup Artistry
- Health care products/services
- Sales of shoes, bags and hair products
- eBook Publishing
I hope you see that virtually every business can be run online. As long as you have something to sell, such as a product or service, you are good to go.