How to start selling online: Step by step guide

Nwafo avatar
Editor May 12, 2022
Updated 2022/05/12 at 12:18 PM

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Literally 2 in every 5 Nigerian owns a business. (This is from the school of statistics of my experience as a Nigerian living in Nigeria)

On every street, every corner in Nigeria, you will see at least 5 businesses.

They could be provision stores, somebody selling utensils, a fashion designer, a carpenter, a food vendor etc.

There was a day I decided to conduct a test.

I walked from the beginning of my street to the end and I was counting the number of provision stores on my street alone. They were up to 12.

This was without counting the fashion designers, carpenters etc.

This teaches you something: there are many businesses in Nigeria but most of them have a problem: they limit their businesses themselves.

For example, looking at all the businesses on my street, they had one common problem; they were competing for the same customers.

All of them were fighting for the same 100 customers on my street.

That is very limiting. And this is one of the reasons why taking your business online is very important in this age and time.

I mean, why restrict your business to 100 people when you can be selling to 1000?

Why are you limiting your business to your street, when you can be selling to your local government, to your state, your country, in fact, to the entire world!

So, who is this article for?

  • Those that already have a physical business and want to take their business online. 
  • Those that sell from their room to friends, family or classmates and want to increase their customer base.
  • Those that sell only on one social media app and want to increase their online presence.

5 Steps To Take Your Business Online

Here are 5 practical steps to follow, in order to take your business online.

  • Prepare your business for online sales
  • Get your branding materials ready
  • Choose where to sell
  • Create your business website
  • Create content 
  • Start marketing. 

So, the first thing is that your business should be ready to come online.

This includes taking stock and actually having the products you want to sell ready. Or if it’s a service you offer, you will need to get your materials or resources ready.

For example, if you are a food vendor, do you have gas and your cooking equipment to cater for a sizable number of people? If you want to start a laundry business, do you have your washing machine, iron etc at hand? You definitely can’t be waiting till your first online order comes before ordering the materials you need.

Since you will be coming online, do you have a delivery service ready at hand? What about your packaging materials? The main goal is to be prepared.

  1. Get all your branding materials ready.

The next thing to do when you decide to start selling online is to get your brand identity materials ready.

Brand identity might sound like a big word but I’ll explain it. It’s basically all the things that represent your brand.

It includes your business name, logo, tagline, brand colour, brand font etc.

Your business name is the first point of contact that people have with your business. Naming a business seems easy until you discover it’s not.

A lot of businesspeople name their businesses based on vibes.

For example, when you hear of a business called Cream Castle, you’ll most likely assume that they do pastries, cakes and maybe ice cream, you will then find out that they are a Village kitchen selling amala and jollof rice. There’s already a mismatch based on the name.

You want a business name that:

  • Is easy to pronounce
  • Easy to remember
  • Is unique
  • Doesn’t have many businesses on social media bearing the same name.
  • That you can register with CAC.

Logo: This is either the word mark or visual mark that represents your business.

You can get a professional graphic designer to create a logo for you, or you can do it yourself with simple tools like Canva, Logo Design etc.

Brand colour: You have to choose the colours that will represent your brand.

These colours will guide your designs, your entire branding and so much more.

When you think of telecommunications and you see Yellow, you think of MTN. Green, you think of Glo.

Your designer can help you choose your brand colour or you can read about the psychology of colours. For example, if you own a wedding dress brand, white and gold will most likely communicate your business.

Colours have meanings. For example, Green as colour means growth or nature, so it would make sense for a natural drinks brand to use Green as their brand colour etc.

Tagline: This is like your slogan. Everyone has a slogan. MTN is everywhere you go, Glo is rule your world.

Your tagline is a short text that communicates what your brand stands for. So for example, if you do deliveries your tagline could be “Your goods delivered with speed”

Where you sell is extremely important because you need to go to where your customers are and sell to them there.

Since you’re already thinking about selling online, you have to choose what platform you want to sell on.

If you’re selling on social media (which you definitely should by the way) which ones are you choosing? There’s Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat etc.

There’s also selling through a business website or selling on an online marketplace like Jiji, Konga, Jumia etc.

What will determine where you sell is where your customers are, where they hangout or where they spend a lot of their time. I must add though that you can sell everywhere. You don’t have to limit your online business to just one platform. This might sound like a lot of work, but some apps like Bumpa help you create a business website and still manage sales across any online platform you sell.

If you want to start selling online, one thing you must not play with is content. Content here means both visual and written content.

If you sell on social media or on a website or even on a marketplace, you need to take good looking pictures of your products. This will increase your chances of getting customers.

Additionally, if you have a social media account posting interesting and helpful content will go a long way in attracting new customers to your channel. This includes video reviews of your product, how your product works, Instagram reels, short videos, memes or generally helpful content. Like they say Content is King.

Marketing is the lifeblood of sales. Like I said at the beginning of this article, if you can sell to 10 people, you can sell to a 100. When you sell to 100, you have the capacity to sell to 1000.

This increase in customers doesn’t just come out of thin air, it usually happens through intentional efforts of marketing and I’ll share a few tips.

  • Word of mouth: Tell your immediate circle: friends, classmates, coworkers, and church members that this is what you do and share your website link, your social media handle or links to products in an online marketplace to your friends. 
  • Offer quality service or run referral programs: Having great products and good customer service is the cheapest type of marketing that there is. Good products will bring customers to buy again and attract new ones.

A referral programme is one where you give some type of reward to customers that bring other customers.

If you want to learn about how to run referral programs, click here.

  • Run ads: Ads don’t have to be expensive and they show your product to people that don’t even know across the world. You can pay an influencer to do an ad for you or you can run Instagram ads, Facebook ads, Google ads or YouTube ads. Running ads like Instagram ads, Google Ads etc is only possible when you have a website though and you can get that from this business app: Bumpa.

Selling online is not that hard and it’s easier when you have the right tools to run your business. It also gets better if you join a community of business owners that already sell online.

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