The first successful businesses that I ran was an online eBay store selling sports clothes. You might be wondering how was it so successful because everyone sells sports clothing online. The business was so successful because I had a niche, and a reliable supplier.
My niche was selling limited edition trainers, t-shirts and jackets, which I bought from my supplier who was based in China. So I was basically importing goods from China to sell.
90% of my customer’s were from the USA and Western Europe, so I had to continuously carry out detailed research regarding current and future fashion trends. This allowed me to meet their needs and provide products that they wanted.
So how successful was this business? The answer is – very successful! The businesses was so successful that it paid my way through college and university, and it provided me with a lavish lifestyle and enough capital to set up my next two business ventures.
My profit margins were ridiculous. My profit margins were sometimes as high as 80%. There were some items I could buy for $20 and sell them for $100.
I ran this business from 2001 to 2005. Since then I’ve started many successful online businesses, but the lessons I learned whilst running this business are some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt during my time in business. Although eCommerce has evolved since then, I don’t think much has changed when it comes to searching and successfully selecting suppliers online.
Through this blog post I’m going to share with you some of my biggest secrets. Use these secrets and top tips to understand the process of importing goods from China to Nigeria and make millions of Naira.
Before You Start Importing Goods from China to Nigeria
You might be asking yourself. “How can I import goods from China to Nigeria”. But, before you step into this business you must ask yourself several questions like:
- How and Where to find suppliers?
- How to decide what to sell?
- What price to charge customers for the goods?
- How to avoid scams?
- What areas to focus on when researching?
The good news is that all of these questions will be answered in this blog post. Not only this, but you will also find out what items to buy, and why you should buy them.
If owning a lucrative business is your goal, you should folIow a methodical approach. This is why I have provided you with this step-by-step guide that will help you identify high quality products that will increase your chances of business success.
Before you jump in headfirst, you need to know that this lucrative business is risky in several areas. But also, if you are careful and make wise choices you can earn millions of Naira by importing goods from China to Nigeria.
Follow these steps to increase your chances of earning millions of Naira.
Step 1: Understand why you have chose to import goods from China to Nigeria
This might sound obvious. The first thing that you as a Nigerian Entrepreneur must be clear about is the reason why you are stepping into the importation business. If you plan to start a profitable business in Nigeria by importing items to sell then you must carry out detailed market research about what goods can be easily marketed and sold in your area.
To understand your market, you need to carry out market research and develop a marketing strategy. For instance, you can start by ordering small quantities for testing purposes. By doing this, you can check the quality of the products and show samples to potential customers.
Making use of social media (e.g. Twitter, Whattsapp, BBM, Facebook Instagram, Pintrest and Google+) to advertise your business and goods is essential.
As soon as your customer orders start flowing through you can increase the quantity of your orders with your supplier. At this point I would recommend that you start negotiating prices with your supplier. If you order in bulk your supplier might be willing to offer you discounted and cheaper rates. This is because the supplier will be generating revenue from the same client in a single consignment rather than making multiple transactions with different clients. This reduces the overall cost of each unit to be sold.
Step 2: How to Decide What Goods to Import from China to Nigeria
Select your niche with careful research. Stay focused and import goods that have huge potential of being sold in Nigeria. So being focused and clear about why you want to import goods is the main understanding required at the beginning. Next you must decide on your niche, which will determine what goods you will import. As a starting point the areas I have successfully targeted are:
Accessories – you can enjoy markups of 100% to 1,000% on accessories, and customers are much less price-sensitive about them.
Goods that Satisfy a Passion or Problem – It’s amazing how much money passionate hobbyists will spend.
Hard to Find Locally – Pick products that are hard to find locally, and you’ll be able to get in front of the vast majority of your customers as you become locally renowned for supplying that product.
Low Product modification – If your product line is frequently changing, you could end up holding a lot of outdated stock. This isn’t a problem if you have a high turnover or large capital reserves.
Consumable or Disposable Products – these products have to be ordered on a regular basis, which is good news for you. It’s far easier and cheaper to market your product and to sell to existing customers who trust you than to new customers. Keep your customers happy – you’ll be on your way to building a profitable business with recurring revenue.
Step 3: What Should I import from China to Nigeria?
Hopefully at this point you have decided on your niche. You can be more specific and filter your list of potential goods even further by using the points below.
Keep them small and lightweight:
It’s always better to import small and lightweight products. Try to restrict yourself to small items. If you decide to import low value items that are heavy, you will find that your shipping costs will eat away at your profit, so be careful.
Avoid selling what you buy:
Popular and essential household items like refrigerators and TVs should be avoided. This is because we buy these items ourselves and competing in any of these markets is difficult. You will need huge amounts of capital to penetrate the market
Avoid seasonal items:
Unless you have a solid strategy or pre orders in place, you should avoid seasonal items. It is safer to go for items that have consistent demand all year in Nigeria. For example if you order Christmas related goods during Christmas season, you will sell a lot of goods, but if you haven’t ordered accurately, you will be left with a lot of useless inventory that you have to sell cheap to get rid of, or pay for it to be stored until the next Christmas season.
Free shipping to Nigeria:
If free shipping to Nigeria is available, you should research the supplier and products. Your profit margins can be considerably increased with free shipping. There are options available for this, but it is worth stating that free shipping can take almost 15 to 60 days. Another way to get free shipping is through DHL. Through this method you can have your goods delivered in just a few days. But not a large amount of products are shipped through this method.
You can always talk to your supplier about the free shipping. Some of the suppliers agree to do this while others do not. Even if your supplier does not agree to free shipping don’t be afraid to negotiate shipping cost. The price advertised doesn’t have to be the price that you pay.
Step 4: Searching for and Selecting a Good Supplier
How to spot a good supplier online:
There are plenty of suppliers operating online. Selecting a reliable and competent supplier is a crucial part of launching a business and needs to be a key part in your business planning process.
Therefore, you need to consider several things when selecting a supplier. For instance:
- Check their selling history. How many goods have they already sold online. Where are their customers based? How long have they been operating for. Is their feedback generally positive or negative?
Even good suppliers receive the occasional negative feedback. The key is to understand if this is a unique incident, or is there a common theme with their negative feedback. Feedback is important because it will help you find out if there are any potential issues you might encounter with the supplier.
- Supplier ratings are very important. To avoid issues, do not go for suppliers with less than 98% ratings.
- Never settle for one supplier. Always search carefully for several suppliers. Compare prices, feedback and quality, and then make the final decisions.
You can often get the same products at different rates from different suppliers. Select the supplier with the best reputation and lowest price.
- Last but not least, always chat with a supplier before placing an order. Confirm if they have the required goods and their quality. Most importantly, ask him whether or not he can send your items to Nigeria. If he can’t, then you always have open room to talk to another supplier.
Where to find potential suppliers:
One of the most popular sites where you can find suppliers and easily import goods from China to Nigeria is “AliExpress”. This site can quickly become your best friend or worst enemy. The outcome totally depends on how you use the website.
You can find just about anything on this site. You can find branded and none branded goods of high and low quality. For example orders can be placed for cheap androids and laptops. They are not the usual brands like Apple, Dell, HP and Toshiba but they can be of high quality.
If you become successful in creating a market for cheap gadgets then there is no doubt that you can earn huge amounts.
How to use and navigate AliExpress:
There are several categories available on Aliexpress.
- First of all select the category that matches your niche.
- After selecting the category you may browse for specific things that you want to import.
- In order to locate a genuine seller on AliExpress, I’d recommend you go for sellers that have a rating of 98% or more.
- You do not have to own a PayPal account to buy goods from AliExpress. You can also use a GTB naira master card or a UBA Naira visa Africard to make payments.
Don’ts of the online import business:
- Don’t ever pay directly to the supplier
- Don’t use sites that aren’t verified or certified for security. Avoid spammers at all costs. Don’t be tempted by emails inviting you to buy something like “Discounted Rolex Watches.”
- Don’t complete or carry out transactions outside of the verified site
- Don’t pay by debit card, cash, or wire transfer. Try and use credit cards or Escrow account payments as it gives you an extra protection
- Always make the payments with the help of escrow. This way your payment will be protected, and only be released when you confirm that you have received your goods at the right place, price, quality, quantity and time
- In case the items are not as described and agreed, then do not worry. You can always claim and get a refund if your claim is true
- Don’t trust suppliers that refuse to ship single samples. They are just trying to bluff your, or are not being 100% open. This is a bad sign.
- Don’t buy in bulk quantity for your first order. In the beginning order small quantities to check the quality of the items and the reliability of the supplier. Once you are happy you can increase your order quantity and frequency depending on demand.
- Don’t forget to inspect your goods as soon as they arrive
As it turns out, importing products from China to Nigeria is a profitable business indeed. But to be successful you must be clear about why you want to do it, and have a plan of how you will be successful.
There’s a lot more to the importation business than just shipping any old product. To sum it up, here is what I learned from importing goods from China to Nigeria, and what I think you should learn as well.
- Understand why you have decided to import goods from China to Nigeria
- How to select your niche.
- Identify what goods in your niche are suitable for importing from China to Nigeria
- Learn how to keep up to date on current trends in Nigeria
- How to select a reliable and consistent supplier
- Learn how to create a strategy
If you really take on this set of best practices, I think you’ll be destined for success and realise your financial and business potential. Put what you’ve learned in to practice. I’d love to hear how it goes.