If you are looking for a lucrative online business idea in Nigeria, starting an online thrift store may be a good one. Selling second-hand stuff which is referred to as Okrika in Nigeria is popular and doing it online has made it more accessible for both the retailer and the consumer.
Okrika business is booming in Nigeria, not only because of the continued recession in the country but also because they are more durable and they maintain their original condition for a longer time.
In this article, you will learn how to start a thrift business online in Nigeria.
#1. Do Market Research and Choose Your Niche
When opening any online or physical business, the first step is to do some market research. The purpose of the research is to know what customers want and through that be able to identify a niche that is going to fulfill their desires and at the same time give profits.
This also allows you to identify niches that are already saturated and with that avoid getting into already overwhelmed niches. Through market research, you also get to analyze the existing online thrift businesses in Nigeria and find out what’s trending, what works, and what customers like.
Through market research, you also get to learn important information on your target market such as who your customers are, what they like, how often they buy, and how much they spend. When doing your market research, you might want to focus on the following:
- The current state of the thrift store industry in Nigeria?
- The turnover of thrift stores over the last few years
- The number of online thrift shops in Nigeria that opened and closed by the end of one year and why.
- When do People shop at online thrift stores and why
- The age bracket of most online thrift store customers
- How to reach the right audience
- The most visited platforms
Doing good research on the above will help you be able to offer a unique experience. Above all make sure you choose a niche that interests you and have knowledge about it.
#2. Create your Brand
After choosing a niche for your online thrift business, think about your brand. Branding tells the story of your business. Your Brand name, logo, design, and style should align with the brand’s core message. Your brand name is very important and you should keep it short, memorable, and unique.
However, while choosing your business name, you have to ensure it complies with the rules of the Nigerian Government.
It is important to contact the Nigerian business registration agency to confirm if there is any other registered business with the same name.
For your business to be more professional, you can hire an expert to help you with designing your business logo.
#3. Create a Business plan and do some budgeting
Having a business plan is very important when starting a new business. A business plan is made up of two parts:
- A financial forecast whose aim is to highlight the potential profitability of the business and the need for initial financing
- A written part that presents, in detail, your business, your business strategy, and the medium-term objectives of your business.
A business plan can be used to attract funding from potential investors or your bank. A business plan will guide you when starting your business and will also help investors see how potential your business idea is.
Budgeting is also very important in any business. You need to allocate money to different areas such as stock, and marketing. Since you are opening an online business no money will be required for renting a space.
#4. Set up your online Thrift store
When selling online, there are three different routes you can choose:
- eCommerce store
- Self-hosted platform
- Selling through marketplace
eCommerce platforms are the easiest ways for new sellers mostly smaller operations since custom websites are extremely costly to build and maintain. One advantage of eCommerce platforms is that they offer a dedicated support team that helps when setting up your store. Some of the best eCommerce site builders include GoDaddy, Volusion, Wix, Shopify, WooCommerce, Zyro, and Magento.
A self-hosted platform is also an option you can choose and this includes platforms like WordPress. One advantage of a self-hosted platform is that you have full ownership and control over the website. But you will have to pay for a domain name, web hosting, and security measures. This option is the best if you have technical confidence.
Selling through the marketplace is a great way to get noticed by more customers. Many people visit these online stores every day. Online marketplaces offer thrift retailers a platform to build a larger customer base. These marketplaces face very few technical problems which makes them more reliable. However, the competition in these marketplaces is fierce and the fees can add up and significantly eat into your margins.
#5. Source products and manage inventory
Sourcing products for your online thrift business in Nigeria is different from other types of retail. This is because almost every item in a thrift store is unique and it’s almost impossible to buy them in bulk.
You can start with a small collection and keep it niche. You also need to avoid making large investments into items that you are not yet sure they will sell well. You can get your products through garage sales, thrift stores, eBay, clearance stores, and flea markets.
You can also source through donations from community events, estate sales, and moving sales. Just remember that the cheaper your collection is, the more time you will spend making it.
Once you have the products with you, inventory management becomes crucial to monitor. The most common way of managing a thrift store inventory is through inventory management software that keeps track of items from each of your sales channels.
#6. Find a Space For Product Storage
Once you have your inventory ready to sell, the next thing to think about is where to store it. If you are starting small, you can just use extra space in your house. For those starting a bigger business then it is important to consider a permanent place from the start to ensure you have a smooth transition as your thrift business grows.
Finding a place to rent is as important as creating a system for storing and tracking your inventory. It is recommended that you store your inventory to match how it’s categorized on the website. Make sure that the place you are renting is affordable such that it will not eat up your business.
#7. Take High-Quality Images of Your Products
Customers will first see your image before they decide to check on that product for more details. If your image is not eye-catching it will be hard for some to click on it. So let’s talk about how to make your photos look great.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to take great photos. But there are things you need to do to get it right.
- You need lots of light.
Natural light is the best when taking photos. If you are not using Natural light then put on as many lights as possible and keep them as close as possible to the product so you don’t distort the shape.
- Invest In a White ‘Sweep” Background
White is the best color when showing off a product since it’s the least distracting. You need to ensure that you only use pure white to avoid losing the ‘put together’ feel.
If you can afford a big roll of white paper to roll out behind the subject of your photo get it. It will give the perfect “nothingness’ background, free from the angles you would get against a white wall.
- Use a Smartphone and do some editing
Smartphones now have very sophisticated cameras which you can use especially when you are just getting started. When editing your smartphone photos, do a very light touch on them. Overdoing the editing may interfere with the original color of the product.
If the image does not show the original color of the product it might bring confusion when a customer is purchasing especially if they are specific about the color of the product.
- Go From All Angles
Customers what to see the product from as many angles as possible for them to be convinced it’s what they wanted. Therefore you need to take pictures from every side and go up close for important details or detailing. Make sure you get at least four photos for each product.
#8. Price your products well
When pricing your products, you need to think about your cost as a whole. Consider the price you paid for the item, the packaging of the item, the shipping fee, any other transaction, and a portion of your fixed costs. Fixed costs are costs that won’t change from month to month like a website builder subscription or storage unit rent.
When pricing your products you will also need to know how your competitors are pricing their products. However, if you are selling something a little more unique or bespoke, you are free to price your product as you like but it’s still worth checking the prices of similar items being sold online.
Lastly, you need to know the worth of a product before pricing it. This goes back to knowing both your labels and markings. Don’t just sell a product for less than it’s worth because you were lazy to check properly.
#9. Set up shipping
You will need to have a shipping system in place. There are key pointers and considerations when it comes to shipping your products. Below are three key pointers and considerations:
- Free vs Real-Time vs Flat Shipping
You will need to commit to how you are charging for shipping especially when you are just getting started. Free shipping can attract shoppers but before you decide to go down this route, make sure you are covering the cost of shipping in the cost of your items. It is also advisable in this case to set some conditions such as a minimum order value for free shipping only in Nigeria, not outside the country.
With real-time shipping charges, you basically calculate shipping charges for an order based on weight and location. Most popular shipping carriers have a calculator tool that you can use to check this. You can input different shipping prices for each item. Alternatively, you can use website builders that automatically give carrier quotes to help you effortlessly choose between a flat-rate shipping fee or rates depending on weight which will also make free shipping easier.
A flat shipping rate is the easiest option among the three. It involves calculating a rough average price for your shipping and adding this cost to every delivery as standard. You might lose some money when shipping large orders but overall it will all balance out and save you a lot of time and hassle.
- Dropping Off vs Picking Up Parcels
Looking for carriers with an option of collecting parcels from you rather than you dropping them off at the drop point would be great. Although dropping off parcels probably won’t take up too much time, it is nice to have the option in case orders ramp up later down the line.
eCommerce Website builders like Shopify make it easy since you can sit cozy at home or your office and manage shipping without going to the post office. What you will have to do is combine Shopify Shipping with an existing shipping carrier. Also, make sure you pick a drop-off point near you or your storage area.
- Labels and Packing
Your packaging for your product should be lightweight and almost the size of the product. It should also be sturdy and protective. Although having branded packages might seem professional and fun, it would be best to stick to regular stuff until your brand is established enough to brand the packages without strain.
Whether you set up your own website or use a marketplace, your shipping labels should be auto-generated, and all you will have to do is print them out.
#10. Market Your online thrift store.
Building your online store and having everything in order is one thing, but making sure shoppers get to see your store is something else. With that in mind, marketing is not something you should leave as an afterthought.
Some of the components you’ll need to build into a strong marketing plan:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Give your website the best chances you can for it to get featured on page one of Google’s search results for terms related to your products by helping Google to understand what your site is all about and sending any extra positive signals.
- Use Google keyword planner to find out popular search terms in your industry then include them throughout your site.
- Use a free image compressor to make your image file sizes as small as possible which will make your site fast.
- Add blogs and post to your website regularly to help draw in extra traffic and demonstrate that the site is current and being worked on actively.
- Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms such as Instagram, and Facebook are one of the most powerful tools when it comes to marketing your eCommerce business. Building your social media following should start even before the store opening process or before you get any stock for your business.
Once you open your shop you have to be consistent with posting photos with a brief explanation of the product. Post images of new stock, and videos of the videos too. Ask customers to tag you in pictures of them wearing an outfit they bought from you. Use their post to repost in your stories.
- Paid Marketing
Although it’s not a must to use paid marketing, it’s something you may want to consider a little later down the line. You can do paid marketing when you are sure that you have a great structure and system in place and you have a good feel of what proves popular on your site.
Online thrift stores are a booming, sustainable industry in Nigeria. If you follow the above steps well and apply them, you will be able to build a successful online business. With eCommerce builders, like Shopify or BigCommerce you can even get your online thrift business up and running in no time. All the best in your thrift business.