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How to Start an E-commerce Business
Babatunde Kujore article

Many Nigerians nowadays are joining their counterparts around the world to participate in eCommerce with the opportunities offered by modern technology. You too can tap into these boundless opportunities and start making money from eCommerce. I once listened to an eCommerce professional on radio and was particularly inspired by his words that ‘if you look at the top five companies in the world today, they are online businesses, meaning they do their business on the internet’. Top names like amazon, Baidu, eBay, Expedia, Uber, Groupon, Konga, Jumia, Jiji etc are all eCommerce businesses and you know their financial positions.


What is eCommerce?

Ecommerce simply means electronic commerce. In further clarification Ecommerce is the art of buying and selling of goods and services on the internet. From currier to catering businesses in Nigeria and many more, great opportunities abound for those who want to go into modern commerce.


How eCommerce Works:

It is okay to have a desire of start eCommerce business in Nigeria, but excellent to have a clear idea of what to sell when you start. The idea is not just what to sell or the service to offer, but must be something that is relevant to people at all time. Nigerian population is great, and a greater half of this population is on the internet, therefore, you are on your way to tapping into this great population of internet users in Nigeria when you have something tangible or useful to sell online. On the ecommerce platform, the more you sell, the more money you make, so choose a product or service that will give you enough sales leads to make as much money as you can.

To achieve this, here are the guides to follow.


1. Draw Your Business Plan:

Just like any other business, you need a good business plan if you want to start start eCommerce business. I bring this first because it is the road map that will guide your operation from the set up to doing business proper; else you may deviate from your original plan by alluring opportunities jostling for attention online. A good business plan will also give you a picture of what you are going into. Finally, it might help you solicit funds for your business if occasion warrants.


2. Rent an Office Space:

Are you planning of start eCommerce business? Then consider renting a physical office space. The size of your office for eCommerce business may not be a duplex, but at least a small parking space for your bikes is of utmost importance. A medium sized office of say three bedrooms is enough to start with, but don’t fail to consider expansion because you never can tell what happens in the first 3-6 months, especially if your delivery is speedy and your service of good quality. You need a good parking space because business might be popping your way more than you expected, so that you are not restricted from acquiring more bikes, which mean more business.


3. Create a Website (Online Store):

A website which will act as an online store is very important for those who want to start eCommerce business. That is where customers will be visiting to carry out transactions with your business. Setting up a website is more or less like renting a traditional shop. The cost of setting up a website presently differs depending on the company you are using. The quality of service and hosting costs also plays a role. There are far cheaper websites, but that is not for a business as complex as Ecommerce. Currently the cost of setting up a website in Nigeria lies between #150,000 and #220,000. However, there are companies such as BlueHost, WordPress and a host of others that offer reasonable discount that will drastically bring down the price. However, watch out for hidden charges and off course quality of service. Consult professional for advice.


4.Acquire Office Equipment :

Certain office equipment are needed to start eCommerce business. You will need to buy some office equipment such as computers, scanner, photocopier, and stationery. Also, since electricity is not guaranteed in Nigeria, you must also buy a generator. You will also need to buy phones. Dispatch Bikes should also be bought. At least two for a start, but prepare to buy more, especially if you are into currier. I have seen a currier company buy up to 15 bikes in the first two months of its operation. All these should be in place before your business kick off.


5. Hire Your Staff:

You definitely need competent staff to start eCommerce business. eCommerce business is a very complex but fast growing business in Nigeria, so get ready for a continuous hiring process, as you will need more and more staff, especially Dispatch Riders. You may need reinforcement for your entire workforce within six weeks of operation. I have been an eyewitness to this not too long ago. The set of staff that will definitely give you trouble are the Dispatch Riders, so plan ahead. You can solve that problem by hiring a competent human resources or administrative personnel that will tactfully handle their problems. You also need to hire a very good personal Secretary and a Digital Marketing expert to manage your website.


6. Get Your Business Registered:

At this stage, your are set to start eCommerce business. The next thing is to register it with the appropriate bodies. Visit the Corporate Affairs Commission to do that. Like I always advice business owners, don’t cut corners while transacting business with public officials. Go the right way; get to the right place, meet the right person and pay what is required. This costs at least ten thousand(#10,000) or there about. Find out and meet any other available demand then you are good to go.


7. Choose Your Payment Integration:

This is very important thing you must consider when you are ready to start eCommerce business. You have to set up easy, safe and secure payment integration for your customers or clients to pay for products or services on your website. Payment may be made through Master card, verve or any other preferred method.


8. Promote Your Business:

Promotion is very important if you start eCommerce business. At this point embark on a serious online advertising campaign by the available Social Media channels. According to Neil Patel, a facebook ads is easy and over 2.5 million advertisers use the service. There are many ways you can go about this, it could be through sponsored posts. Just look at a page whose posts are related to your product, send them a quick message that you want to sponsor your posts with powerful images of your product or service. Google product ads are also a good go for your advertising or promotion campaign.


9. Advertise Your Product or service:

Advertising remains the art of creating awareness for goods and services, be it traditional or online now popularly known as Digital Marketing. After the necessary things have been put in place, embark on aggressive advertising to create awareness and attract attention to your business. Pitch your adverts everywhere online and note that online advertising skills are not an option. If you are too busy for it, hire an expert. The key to successful start eCommerce business or online store in Nigeria is to know exactly what product you want to sell or what service to offer.

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