The one mistake that ruined my first attempt at selling online

Posted by Osaze Osoba | September 11, 2016 | Ecommerce, SME Tips

Before you go and think I’m a newbie at this stuff, I’ve been shopping online since 2009.

My first online purchase wasn’t in Nigeria though, I wasn’t sure of credibility yet. I had always loved Amazon and their wide variety of products. And funny enough, my first Amazon purchase wasn’t for me, it was for a friend. He wanted to get a laptop, I had a very good idea of computers and their specs, and I knew none of the things at computer village made sense. So I told him I’d help him buy from Amazon. At this time, I didn’t even know Amazon didn’t ship to Nigeria because I never clicked the checkout button, lol.

Long story short, I found Circuit Atlantic, dropped over 100k without even calling them to be sure the phone lines on their website worked, and got the laptop about 2 weeks later. Since then, I’ve bought desktops, clothes, another laptop that cost over half a million and all sorts. Its just my ideal ecommerce store. Well it was, till FX crashed.

So I guess that sets the records straight, I’m your typical online shopper. If I could buy sardines online and get them same day, I probably would. So naturally I started to think “why can’t I buy these things and resell them?”.

And the business case for this was simple, everything is cheaper outside Nigeria. My LG G3 at the time of purchase was going for about 150k at Slot when I got it from Amazon for just over 80k including shipping. My laptop (probably the only one you know that was insured by its owner), cost over 600k. And I saw a lower version of it going on Konga for almost the same price. And apparently someone bought it. So there’s always been a business case for buying stuff and reselling.

I went on to convince my friend, @mylucidgabble to invest with me (just incase shit hits the fan, and incase we blow too ­čśë ) and try this out.┬áDidn’t seem so hard, so we decided to give it a go with about 300k.

Part┬á1 –┬áDeciding on what to sell

Even though electronics had a good profit margin, there was too much cash to be tied into it. I’ve heard of success stories where people sold power banks. But this was 2015, no one cared so much anymore, we now had too many power banks. And we certainly couldn’t do laptops, not with 300k. The only other thing that really made sense was fashion. And of the two genders, women love to shop more than men (I think).

So it was decided, we’d buy female fashion items. We decided to go with casual dresses and shoes (heels and flats).

Part 2 – Where to buy & purchasing

I went on to work with Circuit Atlantic for a while, after the owner found the review I wrote on them. And while working there, I had to assist a lot of women in buying stuff, even the ones they shouldn’t be talking about with guys. So I kinda knew my way around female fashion sites. After only a few days of checking around. We settled on 3 websites. Make Me Chic, GoJane and Amazon.

Of all three, we preferred GoJane, ROI was going to be good, all costs considered. And so we proceeded to buy. Spending a total of 152k on about 50 items.

Part 3 – Shipping Items

All of this started around late October, and so we had this grand plan in our heads to sell it on Konga during the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately small delays saw us getting the products in our US warehouse (from Shoptomydoor) in early December. Which meant that we had a problem with timing. After a lot of deliberation, we took a chance (and made a mistake) to ship with DHL.

dhl-shipping-cost-shoptomydoor

Payment came down to about 101k for Express Delivery with DHL. We still thought we could make good enough profit off this.

Part 4 – That one letter that changes everything

I really wish I could find this letter. I have searched, but I can’t see it. It’d have been nice to have just scanned it and dropped it in as part of the post. Anyways, the security guy at home calls me and says someone dropped off a letter for me. In my head I’m like “who still sends letters?”.

So understandably, I was a little curious when I got home. I took the letter and it was from DHL, it said the shipment was already in Lagos. This was just like 2 days after paying, I was really happy. Then I read on and that’s where I saw it.

In summary, the products were with customs and required a customs duty of 75k to get cleared. And if payment wasn’t made by xxx date, they’d be confiscated. Ever felt like a bomb went off in your head? That’s exactly what I felt. Effectively, shipping cost suddenly became more than the cost of the products themselves.

Part 5 – Almost one year later

You know how that one thing in a project fails and you’re suddenly not interested anymore because you’re pissed? That’s where we are. The box of several clothing items now lies idle in a corner in my living room. We’ve given some out for birthday presents, @mylucidgabble has tried out some so she can fap them, and we’re now trying to psyche someone into helping us sell them. Just so we have our money back.

And I had gone as far as setting up a temporary site to sell them o! Complete with social media channels and all. We had plans of running ads to get them sold but even that’s out of the question now with the new FX rates. If anyone ever told you this was going to be easy, they probably wanted to set you up.

Maybe we’d have another go at it. Who knows. Just be sure to not ship anything that you’re trying to make money off through FedEx, DHL or UPS. They’re all the same to me. Not unless there’s a business case for it though.

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Osaze Osoba
About The Author

Osaze Osoba

Osaze is an engineer by design, but he bailed for Marketing. Probably one of the only guys you know who'd insure his laptop. He's that much of a geek, but he denies it. He also loves scientific advertising and trains a lot.

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