Nobody predicted that Corona Virus would wreckage havoc worldwide in 2020. The virus is taking advantage of our greatest strength as human beings — being highly social and mobile — to bring it’s tentacles across the entire human population. But we have to fight back.
The government declared total lockdown bringing critical services such as public transportation and trade to a grinding hold. People are adviced to Stay at home and avoid crowded places in order to slow down the spread of the virus. However, this isn’t good news if your business is brick-&-mortal and relies on walk-in clients.
Thankfully, with online shopping, you don’t have to physically be at your shop waiting for clients in order to fullfil orders. You can do it online. Yeah, your inventory is uploaded on a virtual store and people can browse your products online before making a decision. When they do, they make the payment and the order is delivered to their homes or workplace. It’s that simple.
So if you are shop owner in Uganda, you still can practically carryon with business without necessarily opening your shop (which is banned by the Gov’t during this Covid-19 crisis). But how?
There are several options for you. By the way, this doesn’t only apply to existing shop owners, you too without a physical store can start selling online without having to pay rent or be scout for strategic location in the prime spot in town. The real estate is now digital.
Before you start selling online though, here a couple of things you should know.
- Must have inventory. You must have inventory that you keep either in your shop, a warehouse or at home. This inventory must be periodically updated with stock that’s available and what’s done. Also make sure you have the right products people are looking for.
- Get your pricing right. It’s important that you get your pricing right. Now that you are selling online, you have enormous competition from several other people doing the same.
- You have do some marketing. Just because you are now online doesn’t mean that customers will find you. You have to start promoting your own products to your customers. You might have to spend some money on online Ads, perhaps Facebook or Google Ads. You should be on Whatsapp, have a Facebook page where you promote your products on a regular basis. People have to know about you and our store.
- Delight your customers. You should already try to satisfy your customers with the best products, pricing and service.
- Choose a channel. When you want to start selling online, you must select a channel through which you sell your products. You can build your own eCommerce website. It’s expensive to do and maintain, but you keep much control. Or you can go with a marketplace which is simply like an online shopping mall which takes your inventory and manages deliveries on your behalf. The Marketplace takes a commission off each sale of your product.
With the basics discussed, lets talk about how you can get started selling online. Now selling online doesn’t mean you abandon your physical store. You can run both at the same time.
As briefly mentioned above, to get started selling online, you should choose a channel. In this post, I’ll share the marketplace route since it’s the easiest.
In Uganda and Africa, the biggest marketplace available to start selling online as a merchant is Jumia. Yeah it’s the Amazon of Africa.
Jumia has several marketplaces for different kinds of businesses. The most popular are Jumia online shopping mall or jumia.ug and Jumia Food at food.jumia.ug.
Jumia mall is targeted towards merchants with inventory or products that everyday people use such as clothes, electronics, smartphones, health and beauty products, baby products etc. Stuff you would generally walk into a supermarket or downtown and buy.
Jumia Food on the other hand is for merchants that sell food. Think restaurants and bars and grocery stores. So if you are running restaurant or you are really a super great chef but don’t have the capital or manpower to put up a fully-fledged restaurant, then this is for you.
Related post: How To Sell On Jumia Nigeria
Onboarding process for Jumia is fairly simple. You can register online at their seller center. Approval takes about a week once your products are uploaded to the store.
Safeboda has been hit hard with the Corona Viruses. But that’s only the ride hailing section of their business. Safeboda also offers Food and Delivery services to their users. As a shop owner or restaurant owner or hobbyist Chef, you can make money selling to your customers through Safeboda services. They do all the logistics, payment and delivery on your behalf.
During this Covid-19 lockdown period, Safeboda has shifted its focus towards Shop and Grocery delivery. So if you have shop selling basic essentials, now is the time to on-board on their platform and reach their vast number of customers.
Xente has positioned itself as a Fintech app for a while. You can buy Airtime, data, tickets, get loans from the App. But they recently added an marketplace section where Xente users can purchase physical products online. This includes mobile accessories, smartphones, tablets, building materials, groceries among other things.
Related post: Xente just added shopping store to its App
Other potential marketplaces include Facebook buying and selling groups or even Facebook page with Shop template, Whatsapp, Jiji(formerly OLX) among other digital channels.
Image: Nakasero market Kampala Pinterest