The first step to starting a mini-importation business is to learn about it. Unfortunately, many people think mini-importation is just a business you jump on and start making money from.
As a result, many have lost their hard-earned money. Contrary to what most people think, there is no easy business to start. A good amount of hard work is needed to make any business successful and, a mini-importation business is not left out.
Since I can remember, many people have wanted to invest in the mini-importation business but don’t know how to go about it. This is one of the reasons for this article.
Indeed, the mini-importation business is one of the cheapest businesses you can start and in a few months, start smiling your way to the bank. With just N10,000, you can begin and make as much as 200% profit depending on your marketing and sales prowess.
Importantly, if you want to succeed fast in this business, you must focus on products that are in high demand. I will call such products ‘hot products’. If you can access these products, you are halfway to making your mini-importation business a success.
It’s no longer news that Nigerians trust imported goods than locally produced goods. So, this means that there is a ready market for your products.
In this article, you will learn the step by step guide you need to succeed in a mini-importation business. Also, you will learn the pitfalls to avoid and the best websites that will help you run your business.
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What Is Mini Importation Business?
As the name implies, a mini-importation business is a simple business where someone buys a product from overseas at a cheap price and re-sells it at a higher price for profit. This business is mainly done online.
At the moment, most people deal with Chinese companies because they tend to have varieties of products that can be gotten at a relatively low price.
Usually, a lot of people see the mini-importation business as a small scale business. But, on the contrary, you can also import a large number of products depending on your capital.
Hence, a mini-importation business is for people with low capital and people who have a huge capital to invest in. You can decide to start with as low as N20,000 or as high as N10million.
Before now, only specific organisations with substantial capital investments deal in the importation business. Fortunately, with the advent of the internet and technology, anyone can engage in any business. We are now boundless, and there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
What You Need To Begin Your Mini Importation Business
All you need to start a mini-importation business are things you already have or can get at just the tap of your finger.
In no particular order, here’s a list of all you will need to begin
- A personal computer (PC) or mobile phone
- Reliable internet connection (It can be a modem, Wifi, Mifi, etc)
- Valid address where your products can be delivered to.
- Valid e-mail address
- Start-up capital
With this list, you are good to go. The exciting part is that, with your mobile phone, you can place an order from the website of your choice, make a payment, input address and get it delivered to you. It’s that simple.
Why You Should Consider A Mini-Importation Business
- Being an importer can serve as a side hustle for you while you maintain your full-time job.
- If you choose the right product and select the right market, you can cover your one year salary with just one successful import (depending on what you earn anyways).
- You can get cheaper products than your counterpart if you have good negotiation skills. Even if you consider the products cheap, you don’t
necessarily have to pay that exact amount. You can go further by bargaining prices with the suppliers and in the long run, improve your profitability.
- Some importers tend to reach their financial goals on time because the more you venture into the business, the more exposed you will become to several opportunities in the mini importation business.
Step By Step Guide To Starting A Mini Importation Business
Step 1: Register Your Business
The first thing to do when starting a business is to put a structure to it. In Nigeria, you can get your business registered through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Customers trust registered businesses because they know that they can trace you if anything happens to their money. So, to gain your client’s trust, register your business with CAC.
Over time, aspiring entrepreneurs find it difficult to register their business by themselves. This is why companies like ReDahlia take the stress off them. You can get your business registered with them with just a token, and your certificate will be available within 3-10 working days.
Step 2. Find A Cheap And Reliable Import Portal
Import portals are websites you can get your products from. In other words, this is the portal where your online importation transactions will be carried out. This first step is crucial to your business because, at this point, you may encounter fake websites that may loot money from you.
There is also a possibility of choosing a website with pricey products. If you buy a high priced product coupled with the shipping cost, it will negatively impact your profit margin.
Therefore, before choosing a website, research the website and check the reviews, feedback score, and rating of the website.
The rating is between 0-100% and 0-5 star reviews. It is always best to go for websites with up to 90% ratings that do not have less than 4-star reviews. Some of the popular websites are 1688.com, AliExpress, Alibaba.
The next thing to do is to head straight to the websites and create an account with them. It’s not rigorous to do. Among the three listed websites above, 1688.com has proven to be the cheapest supplier. Hence, many make it their preferred choice. The website is written in Chinese, but you can easily translate it to English on the site.
Alibaba is also popular because it’s majorly a marketplace for manufacturers and wholesalers. However, they have a minimum order quantity (MOQ).
Step 3: Source For Products
After selecting your supplier website, the next thing to do is search the website for the products of your choice. There are several goods you can
import, and perusing them all can get confusing and overwhelming. So, make a decision on a particular product based on your target market.
Things To Consider Before Choosing Products To Import
1. Choose Your Market And Know Their Local Needs
Which country do you want to do business in? What is the population of the country? What are the products selling fast in the country? You should be able to answer these questions when choosing your market. Different countries will have different needs, and the products that sell in a particular country may not be lucrative in another country.
You also need to study the climate, geographical position, culture and lifestyle of your target market. It’s also imperative that you get familiar with the products that are selling successfully in the market. You may not get the full information on what you need, but knowing a few things about the market will save you from incurring unnecessary costs.
Meanwhile, the demand for certain products may change from time to time and from season to season. Therefore, you need to keep your eye on trends in your industry.
2. Get Familiar With The Local Norms
A crucial part of deciding what product to choose is getting familiar with the formalities involved in the importation process. In addition, if there are products that are termed illegal in your local market, you need to be aware of them.
In addition, some of these goods may come with quantity limitations or a certain tax implication that you need to cover to complete the import process. Knowing them beforehand will save you from surprises when you get to the shipment stage.
Meanwhile, it may be challenging to wrap your head around all the required taxes, laws and authorities. This is where the lawyer comes in. You can hire a lawyer to look over the details of your importing process and educate you on the different regulations you need to comply with.
3. Check Reviews On Each Product
Before ordering a product, scroll down to the end of the product you wish to ship and read the reviews of other customers about the product. Also, make sure you go through the product description. Also, check the delivery methods and the seller’s guarantee of the product.
Fast Moving Products In Nigeria To Import
a. Shoes, Bags, Wrist Watches And Clothing
These are some of the basic needs of people everywhere in the world. You cannot go wrong with these products regardless of the competition. There’s a ready market for these products, and you will always find customers that will patronise you. You can get these items at a cheap price and resell them for profit.
Without mincing words, Nigerians love gadgets. Although some Nigerians no longer trust China phones, there are other gadgets from China they go for.
Here are some of them:
- Bluetooth Speakers
- Smart Bracelet Wireless Headset
- Toilet Led Light
- Wireless Earpod
- Super Bright Led Torch Light
- Warm and Cooling Cup Holder
- Wireless Phone Charger
- Mobile Phone HD Projector Bracket
- Waterproof case for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy
- Flash Drive
- Selfie Stick
- Engrave Pen
- Waterlemon Slicer
c. Body Fitness Products
We are in an era where everybody wants to stay fit and slim. So products that will help them achieve their dream bodies is something you can invest in. Here are some examples:
- Waist Trainers
- Slim Tea
- Body Shapers
d. Gift Items
Nigerians love parties. There’s hardly a Saturday without a party going on, especially in Lagos. One of the challenges party organisers face, is sourcing the right gift items to give to their attendees.
The good news is that China is one country where you can find cheap and uncommon gift items. You can source for the right gift item, advertise and make your sale. Interestingly, people tend to buy gift items in bulk, so you can make your money back at once from one buyer.
Step 4: Make Payment
The next step is to pay for the products you ordered. Again, secured measures have been put in place to help ease payment challenges. Gone are the days when paying to import products involved rigorous long processes.
With the advent of the internet, it’s almost like a walk in the park. Right from your house or office, you can make payments to China, the USA, the UK or anywhere in the world. Of course, the payment channel to use will depend on your supplier. Some suppliers accept Visa Card or Mastercard, some Paypal or Alipay.
If you are scared about losing your money or not getting your exact order, it will interest you to know that these websites have measures to mitigate such risks. They call it “Buyers Protection” or “Escrow”. The Escrow is a measure these websites have put in place to protect you.
Here is how it works; once you make a payment, the money doesn’t go directly to the seller’s account; the website holds the money. Once you confirm receipt of your order, the funds will then be released to the supplier. If the goods delivered are different from what you ordered, there is a “Dispute Form” that you can fill, and you’ll be refunded.
There is no risk-free business, but the risk in this business is relatively minimal.
Another Way To Pay For Your Product
The first payment approach earlier discussed is not so common. The easiest route most mini-importers take is the logistics route. There are companies here in Nigeria you can place your order through. With this approach, you will open an account with both your import portal and the logistics website.
Once you select the product you need from the import portal, you will copy the link to the logistics website and place your order through them. In turn, the logistics company will track and get your order shipped to their office on your behalf, and once it arrives in Nigeria, you can pick your goods from their office. This appears to be a straightforward approach that has worked for many.
The logistics companies get a commission of the goods ordered. Usually, the charges are reasonable. Your order will arrive within 2-3days, 7days or 14days, depending on how fast you want it delivered. The faster the delivery time, the more expensive.
The challenge with logistics companies is that not all logistics companies can help you return your goods if it is different from the order you placed. So, ensure you ask the right questions about what their services entail before using them.
Step 5: Order Delivery
As discussed earlier, if you involve a logistics company, they can either deliver to you using delivery companies, or you go to their office to pick up your order.
If you placed the order directly, your product would be delivered to you in two ways:
1. Free Shipping
If you are not in a hurry, you can opt for the free shipping option. Although it is slow, it’ll help you save costs and maximize profit. Most times, it is delivered between 20 to 30 days. Then, you can pick up your order from China Post Air Mail/Parcel or Hong Kong Mail services.
China Post is the official postal service of China. The small parcel and large package of China Post and Hong Kong Post can be tracked if registered. When using free shipping, endeavour to include your phone number so that you can be contacted when your goods arrive.
Sometimes, you may not track your order but be rest assured that it will be delivered to the nearest China Post. That’s why you need to include your phone number.
2. Premium Delivery
This is faster and more traceable. The deliveries can be done through DHL, FedEx, or EMS, and it arrives within 3 – 5 days. One way to reduce cost is to request that some irrelevant packages in your order be removed to reduce the weight and cost of shipment.
Step 6: Advertise Your Product And Start Making Money
No matter how good your product is, if you don’t advertise it, people will not know about it and therefore will not buy it. So, at this point, you will need to make noise about your product. If you’ve carried out step three well, you will not find it difficult to identify your target audience.
Marketing Channels For Your Imported Goods
1. Social Media
Open a business page for your product on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. In recent times, these platforms have been re-designed in ways that help businesses reach their target market.
If you are not familiar with them, open an account first and get acquainted with them. Then, ensure you explore all the options available, from running targetted promotions (Our ‘DIY: A Practical Guide To Running Instagram Ads‘ will guide you) to exploring the stories sections. Finally, post regularly and engage with the audience. Social media marketing success has a lot to do with good visuals and captivating captions.
Another marketing avenue you can explore is building a referral network by compensating anyone that brings clients to you. It could be in cash, gift or kind. This works well because people want to know what’s in it for them before becoming an evangelist of your business.
3. Word Of Mouth
As old fashioned as this may sound, it still works like magic. Make it a habit to tell anyone that comes around you about your business. And, don’t leave anyone out. From families to friends, neighbours, church or mosque members, social gatherings and the likes
4. Distribution of Flyers And Handbills
Another method is to employ a graphic designer to help you with flyers or handbills. You can share this in banks, corporate organizations or gatherings where your target audience visit regularly.
If you cannot do the sharing yourself, there are companies whose job is to distribute flyers, posters and the likes. All you need to do is to tell them about your target locations. Then, you can pay them to distribute your marketing materials for you.
5. Local Advertisement
There are several popular newspapers and magazines you can run your advert through. However, it doesn’t have to be a physical newspaper or magazine; it could also be an online advertising platform like Entrepreneurs.ng where your business is put on the world map.
The advantage is that you will have access to the site’s daily visitors, and you can quickly convert them to your customers.
There you have it. Are you already running a mini importation business, or do you want to start a mini importation business? We will like to hear your thoughts in the comments.