Linda, giving online retail business in Nigeria a good name
1278 Essentials Online Retail Store is an e-commerce general merchandise online store poised to proffer services and products to 36 states of the federation within the Nigeria . The CEO/COO/MD- LINDA DOOYUM KPUM spoke with KEMI AJUMOBI on online retailing , its challenges and success story. Excerpts
I started the business to offer available products but with an experience, that experience is: providing the best, essential, quality products and customer service like no other retailer will. It is cliché for business people to have mission statements about quality products and customer service, but I am here to passionately give them a different experience. I have had a 17year experience in paid employment in both the private and public sector. A few years ago, I realised in between these jobs, I was always the go-to person for colleagues at work, friends and family if they needed to buy things. I was either the one selling or referring one person or another on where and how to get quality products or whatever reliable products they needed. I totally enjoy shopping, escort shopping, window shopping, all of it. I also realised that it was retail that sustained and supported me better financially than the remuneration I earned. My last paid employment which lasted for six years was quite rewarding and it helped me save a little more in addition to the existing investment I already had in business and I took a bold step after putting a lot in perspective, by resigning and going full time. My experience starting up fully was overwhelming; the challenges didn’t come as a surprise but experiencing it first-hand felt like I was being tortured by my passion. It was a new business model completely being a full online store. I had to learn. I failed at handling staff, vendors, marketing, promotions and so on but I failed forward and fast too. I studied through nights, enrolled in short courses, networked with other entrepreneurs, found mentors, got trainings, and also trained myself to navigate through almost everyone else’s job description on the team including the web administrator. And of course, God heard my voice about the store more than a dozen times too. Right now, we are not even close to where we desire and the challenges keep coming but I believe we are over those teething problems and we are positioned to take flight with the right metrics.
Dubious online traders
It’s quite disheartening to have to deal with someone whom you trust with your needs and money just to get disappointed. It is unacceptable and if found, they deserve to be punished because, they tend to put some of us in bad light. They breed distrust for online shopping customers. Once a potential customer already distrusts the system, it gives others in the trade a more difficult time rebuilding or earning this trust. What is a transaction without trust? For us at 1278 Essentials, one of our 4-core values is Integrity. Secondly, I try as much as possible to interact with the customer directly, understand their needs, be as transparent as possible. By God’s grace, we are here to stay at whatever pace we grow, we are grateful and can’t afford to give up all that we are going to be soon for dubious transactions. Recently, I put a face to the business my face) across all our social media platforms and all our registered documents with CAC, EFCC, FIRS, NSITF, including all other relevant registrations. We can definitely be found.
What should people look out for before buying items online ?
Our country is a tough terrain for business and it’s honestly a bit difficult to detect a dubious business sometimes because they might have the right traffic, a huge following and everything seems good till you get the hammer. So I’ll say make sure you speak to someone, ask the right questions that make you feel comfortable for the transaction before making purchases online whether on social media or from their website. On social media, DM’s are not enough, place a call, use True caller app to align your findings. Retailers are real people, so speak with a real person before you make payments.
My Personal Challenge is managing my time. Secondly, trust. We are building and earning that gradually already. We have over 28 Vendors currently and still counting, some are out of State so the vetting process to meet our quality mark is a challenge sometimes and this causes a slow service between when they sign up and when their products are finally uploaded. A few of them have complained but we have put measures in place to make the service a bit faster than it used to be.
In a few years, we should be serving most areas within Nigeria which we haven’t reached yet. During the Christmas holidays for instance, someone needed us to send things to Kafanchan in Kaduna State, we could handle Kaduna but logistics made it impossible for us to do Kafanchan like that. Fortunately, the customer agreed to wait till after the New Year. In a few years, that won’t be our story. We hope to truly be the market place that we say we are with more quality products in a wider variety.
Good Question. I love to assist all the time especially those who are just beginning. I’ll say it’s totally worth it. Don’t be a ‘Boss’ be a leader. You can only lead by being involved in every aspect of your business. Cultivate integrity, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help, stay consistent with the business but if you need to change the model after careful planning please do.
Is online retail business financially rewarding?
Yes it is. I have gotten so many questions like this on a few business groups and I told them it was a trade secret. Lol… Here it is, every penny you make as profit is your gain. If you are leveraging on vendors, you have completely skipped the inventory and cost of some fixed assets like business location or storage in some cases. Cost of advertising applies to every other business even business giants as coca cola, Google and the likes still advertise to maintain relevance in the field. So.. Yes it is very profitable.
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