Importing products into the country was so complicated and expensive that only a select few could dare dabble into it. Now, with as little as 10,000 naira, you can become an importer yourself, bringing in products into the country and selling directly to end users.
What is Mini importation?
Mini importation is a small-scale business where individuals buy goods directly from manufacturers abroad at a cheap rate, then resell at a higher price. In this business, the profit margin is often high. Usually, the preferred country for importation is China due to the high number of manufacturers of quality products at cheap prices. From wigs, to footwear, dresses, electric gadgets, teeth whitening kits, kitchen utensils, computer and phone accessories, there’s almost no product you can’t import.
However, starting any kind of business is not completely easy and mini importation is not an exemption. As the business owner doesn’t have any physical contact with the manufacturer and only really sees the products after payment has been completed, a lot of things can go wrong. You won’t want to pay for goods only to find out that they are substandard or damaged products after they get to you. Here are a few crucial steps to take before getting into mini importation in order to maximize profit and avoid mistakes.
1. Identify the goods you want to import
You have to undergo market research to find out the needs of the market and the appropriate product that will fit as the perfect solution. It will be a waste to import products the market has no need for and try to shove it down their throats. For instance, a mini importer noticed an increase in neck pain among remote workers during the quarantine period and decided to import adjustable neck braces. The products sold out very fast because he met a specific need with the appropriate solution.
The number of products that can be imported is endless but there are factors to be considered before making your choice. An example is the available capital. If you wish to start with a low capital, you may not be able to import high end products like electrical appliances. Generally, it’s best to start small and work your way up. This will allow you to get a good grip on the business when the risk is reasonably lower and mistakes are more pardonable before more money is invested.
2. Find a suitable import portal to buy from
An import portal is simply a website where your products can be bought. These websites allow you to make orders for large quantities of products and deliver them to Nigeria. Before choosing an import portal, endeavor to research the website well. This is to provide assurance that the site is credible. Popular websites you can import from are 1688.com, Alibaba, Amazon, Digicircle and AliExpress. Some of these sites are displayed in Chinese but by using an adequate browser, you should be able to get an English interpretation. Also, check for the cost of the products on the site and make sure it’s not too high so it doesn’t lower your profit margin.
3. Get a reliable supplier from the website
Once you’ve chosen your preferred import portal, the next step is to find a reliable supplier of the product you want on that site. Suppliers are notorious for lacking proper communication skills partly due to the language barrier while others reply slowly. You have to get a supplier that speaks and understands English to a fair extent and replies quickly. The supplier should have a 24/7 communication channel as well. This allows you communicate at any time.
The supplier’s products should also have good reviews. Look for at least 4.5 out of 5 so you know you’re not getting low quality products. The products must also be reasonably priced – high enough to be sensible but also low enough to guarantee high profit after you’ve sold the products. One thing you should know is that suppliers have MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). This is the smallest number of products the supplier can deliver to you. So, make sure you have enough funds to buy that amount. Another tip is to try to negotiate stated prices with the seller. Sellers often agree to sell for prices cheaper than the ones on the website.
4. Choose your payment option and proceed with payment
After all requirements have been fulfilled, you have to make payment to confirm your order. Take note of important details such as weight, quantity, colour, sizes of your products etc. Also, make sure that the seller sends a message notifying you that your payment has been received. Payment can be done easily using credit cards like Visa Card or Mastercard or using payment services like Paypal or Alipay.
Although you have to pay first before your goods are delivered, you don’t have to worry about being duped. An arrangement to protect buyers from dubious sellers has been put in place by these import portals. It is called “Buyers Protection” or “Escrow”. After you’ve made payment, the website holds the money until you confirm that your goods have been delivered. The money only proceeds into the account of the seller after your order confirmation has been received. You can also open a dispute form If what you ordered doesn’t match what you got. All you have to do is state your grievances and you will be refunded accordingly.
Another method of payment is by using logistics companies. These companies inspect your products to ensure they are of high quality and they match what you ordered. They take charge if payment so you don’t have to bother about that. They will also help you sort our your delivery. Logistics companies charge a very fair commission on the products you ordered.
5. Choose a delivery method.
There are 2 methods to choose from:
• Free shipping : This is the best option if you’re not in a hurry to get your products. It is slow but it helps reduce cost of delivery hence increasing your profit margin. Your goods will be delivered in about 20 to 30 days via China Post Air Mail/Parcel or Hong Kong Mail services. Ensure that you include your phone number in the delivery information so you can be contacted upon arrival of your goods.
• Premium Delivery: This costs money as its is faster so your products arrive in 3 – 5 days. The delivery is done through DHL, FedEx, or EMS. To reduce extra cost as the cost of delivery is determined by weight, ask that irrelevant packages be removed.
6. Marketing your products
Now that your goods are on the way, it’s time to start marketing them even before they arrive. This will help build demand your goods sell out fast by the time they reach the country. The following are effective ways to market your products:
a) Local Advertisement such as newspapers
b) Ecommerce websites like Jumia, Jiji, Konga etc
c) Distribution of flyers in markets, schools etc and using posters.
d) Marketing on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, etc.
e) Word of mouth
f) Creating a website where you can sell your goods.
There you have it, a comprehensive guide on how to start a mini importation business in Nigeria. This business has low risks and as stated earlier, can be pulled off with little capital. Start small, get a hang on the business and from there you can expand.
If you wish to check out 10 other highly lucrative business ideas in Nigeria, click here.