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Mini Importation – the complete Guide to Mini importation in Nigeria

If you’ve been in the Nigerian online marketing scene for a while, you’d have probably heard of mini importation. Mini importation isn’t a new term and most people are already familiar with the term even if they don’t really know much about it. With the unemployment rate increasing yearly, most unemployed graduates and under employed individuals are looking for means to earn a living and for others, to increase their monthly earnings. While mini importation has helped a lot of individuals start earning a living, it has helped others quit their 9 – 5 jobs to become their own boss.

While this business has been a source of financial freedom for many, it has also caused regret for some people. These set of people are those who got half-baked knowledge without really understanding what they are doing. They simply ear about the business and start importing, without thorough market research, real understanding of the current trends and even knowing how to sell their product. In this 4,000 words mini importation training, you’ll get to understand what mini importation is, how to get started, how to find products to sell, how to import your products and how to sell your products for huge profits here in Nigeria.

What is Mini Importation?

To put it into simple terms, mini importation is the process of buying products for cheap and reselling them in Nigeria for huge profits. To further break it down, “Mini” in this term means unlike “real importation” you can start with low capital and reap huge rewards. All you need is to have adequate knowledge and import the right products. But, as simple as this looks, there are a number of steps involved and if you miss a step or you don’t have adequate understanding of the whole process, you may end up losing money instead of making profit.

What type of People can do this business?

This business is not limited to anyone as long as you can read, and access the internet. This business is for and not limited to:

  • Undergraduates and graduates
  • Stay at home moms / dads
  • Fully employed individuals in any sector
  • People who want a side hustle or an extra means of income.

Is Mini Importation business Profitable?

Mini importation is one of the most profitable businesses you can do in Nigeria. There’s no other business with such low capital requirement that guarantees you at least 300% profit margin. You can buy a car diagnostic tool for as low as N2,000 and resell it for N9,000 – N12,000.

Myths about Mini Importation

There have been so many misconceptions about mini importation and this has made so many people rush in and rush out. In order not to make the same mistakes, I’ll debunk common myths about mini importation in Nigeria.

You Can start with as little as N10,000

This is one of the most common myths of mini importation. You’re told you can start with as little as N10,000 and earn millions: this is not totally true. Although mini importation isn’t as capital intensive as the “real importation” we all know, you still need a substantial amount to get started. I’ll show a real example and the cost breakdown in the rest of this guide.

Just set it and the money starts rolling in

This is another popular myth commonly told by information marketers, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in this business. You can’t just set it and forget it, you have to monitor your ads regularly, confirm orders before you send details to the delivery agent and a lot more.

All you need is phone and Internet to get started:

Well, this is true but “all you need isn’t just a phone and internet” you need an in depth understanding; you need to understand market research, product sourcing and a whole lot more.

You do not need a website

Gone are the days when you can just import a product like Pasjel Stretch marks cream and sell them all on your Facebook page or you import wonder hair product  and have it sold out in the comment section. E-commerce has evolved and mini importation isn’t exempted. Most of all product marketing are done on Facebook and Instagram (incase you don’t know Facebook owns Instagram and even Whatsapp). The truth is, You need a website.According to research, the average online customer takes at least 9 visits to your site before they make a purchase, this makes retargeting a must for every serious online business owner. Retargeting simply means, when someone sees your advert and visits your product page or landing page but don’t make a purchase, they will keep on seeing the ads for a specific period of time or until the make a purchase. Facebook has made retargeting very easy with the help of the Facebook pixel. It’s a simple code you put on your website and tracks all visitor activity on your website.(More on this later)

What you really need

We already established that, Mini importation is not capital intensive, but what are the things you need to get started.

Phone/Tab/ Laptop: For best results, it’s advisable to have a phone and laptop. With your laptop it will be a lot easier to track your ad campaign, check your website analytics and a whole lot more. You can also use a Tab or phone if you don’t have a laptop yet.

Internet Connection: obviously your phone or laptop has to be connected to the internet

Start-up Capital: between 25,000 – 50,000 for a start (depending on the cost and weight of your products)

Dedication & a Can-do Mindset:  Now you understand that this business isn’t just a fantasy or fairy tale, it requires work , a lot of work and full dedication. This doesn’t mean you can’t do this while doing your regular day job, but you need to have the right mindset to make this work and bring the best out of this.

How to start Mini Importation

To get started, firstly you need to understand the import portals you’ll be using. Import portals simply means the websites through which you’ll buy the products we intend to sell here in Nigeria (or anywhere else).There are many import portals all around the web, some are genuine some are not. But to save you the stress, we’ll only talk about the most commonly used and reliable ones.

The import portals are: Aliexpress.com, Alibaba.com, Taobao.com and 1688.com. Aliexpress.com is the most popular of these websites simply because the site is in English unlike Taobo & 1688 and you can easily negotiate with the merchants on the site without the need for wechat or any other apps and also you can buy in little quantities unlike Alibaba where you need to buy in bulk.

Even with all the popularity and benefits of Aliexpress.com, 1688.com is still the preferred choice for mini importation. Here’s why:

  • 1688.com has a wide selection of products available to you
  • There are thousands of merchant on the site with competitive pricing (even some of the merchants on Aliexpress.com dropship from1688.com)
  • Any product you find on Aliexpress, you can find it cheaper on 1688.com

Product sourcing

In this section you’ll learn how to research products to buy. There are always a wide selection of products to buy so it’s very easy to make the mistake of buying the wrong products.

Products to avoid

The product shouldn’t cost more than $10: although there may be exceptions, but it is always advisable to buy products that cost less than $10. This is because when you’re just starting out , you’ll need to test at least 3-5 products and see which one performs best. Instead of buying one product for $10, it can buy you 5(five) products that cost $2 each.

Bulky products: The maximum weight for each of your products shouldn’t be more than 0.5kg because the heavier your products the higher your shipping fees will cost.

Products without enough buzz online:  Products without enough buzz online should be avoided for one major reason: the customers aren’t familiar with your product so it’ll take longer for you to convince them that your product really does what you say it does.

Products to buy

 Health related products: Health is wealth just as the popular saying goes. A healthy man is indeed a wealthy man. An unhealthy man wouldn’t mind whatever it cost to make him or keep him healthy. This is why health related product like home blood pressure checker and other health related products will always been in demand. Just make sure you carry out your own due intelligence before you import.

Products that help save time and convenience:  these are not necessarily “everyday products” but they help save time and convenience. An example is the Pops-a-dent vehicle dent remover which helps you removed dents from your car instead of taking it to the panel beater. Others include: wax vac, fuel shack etc (You can simply Google these products)

Viral products: these are products generating a massive buzz online; hence you can see them everywhere. E.g Slap chop, light angel

Safety or security related products:  this is self-explanatory and everyone understands why security products will always be in demand (especially in a country like ours). An example is car tracker, home alarm system.

How to find Products

  • Check out different categories on Aliexpress and look for products with high number of orders.
  • Search for terms like “pay on delivery” “free shipping in Lagos” on facebook. After searching for these terms, filter the posts by current year and look for posts with high engagement (Video views, comments or likes)
  • Use sites like DudeIwantthat.com  thisiswhyimbroke.com blessthisstuff.com  storeigo.com  to also look for viral and trendy products.A word of caution about these sites, some products can be hot and trendy in the US or Canada , this doesn’t automatically translate to wide acceptance in Nigeria. E.g a trendy snow shoe or Santa coat can be hot in the US, but Nigerians won’t even touch it with a stick because it has no use here. So when you find a product, make sure it fills a need and it’s relevant to your immediate environment.

When you find a product that interest you on either of these sites or Facebook, search for the product first on Aliexpress.com. Check if the product is getting high number of orders from sellers on the site. When you confirm it’s getting orders, you can then search for the product on 1688.com

mini importation

Buying on 1688

When you check out 1688 you’ll see that the site is written in Chinese, but you can still search for the products in English. A number of merchants on the site understand that not only Chinese people buy from them so they have their products in English Language too.

There are several ways to go about searching for products on 1688. You can search by using Google translate. Type “translate English to Chinese” a box will appear for you to type in your English word which automatically gets translated to Chinese. You can now copy and paste the Chinese word into the 1688 search bar. Although this method is simple, it can have its own challenges too, sometimes Google doesn’t get the translation correctly and you may end up having no result when you type it into 1688”s search bar .

The other method is: search for the item you want e.g “car scanner” click on any of the products from the results, then copy the first Chinese words of the product. Go back to the homepage and search again with the Chinese words you copied.

How to buy on 1688 and get your products here in Nigeria

To buy your product you don’t just order directly like you’ll normally do on Konga or Jumia. 1688 is restricted to Chinese residents only so it’s believed that anyone buying on the site is also resident in China. So to make a purchase on this site, you simply make use of procurement agents. These agents help you buy and ship the products to Nigeria.

For example the car scanner web link looks like this https://detail.1688.com/offer/582917040671.html?spm=a26352.13672862.offerlist.8.7a3f3d1cwFxm7E&tracelog=p4p&clickid=189704c25b514593ba11e98508f3ba3a&sessionid=e76fa3e42e372a362092fc216490e9af

  • When you get the products you want, copy the web link, the attributes ( color, size etc)  and quantity into a note pad. You’ll send the weblink , quantity and attributes to the Procurement agents on whatsapp. There are quite a number of them, check out the link below for the full list of buying agents and read the reviews about them.
  • https://www.nairaland.com/1556530/good-newly-found-shipping-agent 
  • For me : Liberty Link mall is the best , then Uche Royal Logistics , NBC is also good but they can be disappointing at times.
  • Please take note of the time zone when sending them a message so it won’t take too long to reply( china is +8 hours)
  • After you send the links to them, they’ll send you and invoice of the price in Naira and Nigerian bank account to pay into. After payment they’ll make the order for you. It usually takes about 2-3 days for the products to reach their office, it’s after the product gets to their office that they’ll weigh the product altogether and ship.  You don’t pay for shipping and clearing until the products gets to Nigeria.

Shipping and Clearing cost (please note that this is subject to change)

  • Express shipping(24 – 48 Hours delivery time) usually costs between $7 -$8 per KG + N500 Custom clearing fees ( the custom fees can vary and be high at times depending on the kind of products you’re shipping into the country, it’s usually about the custom official’s greed )
  • Normal cargo 7 days

Before your goods get to Nigeria, they’ll send you the weight of the product. When it gets to Nigeria, their agent in Nigeria will message you and send you the total cost for the shipping and clearing. They’ll deliver to anywhere you are in Nigeria. It’s usually advisable to go with normal shipping except you have orders waiting already.

How to sell your products

  • Selling your products offline: If you’re an extrovert or you have a background in marketing, it’ll be easier for you to sell your products. You can approach office groups, cooperatives and even your religious organization to sell your products. Depending on  the cost and size of your products,  you can have them packaged as party souvenirs, end of the year gifts in organizations, new year or Christmas gifts etc
  • Selling on established ecommerce platforms like Jumia.com Konga & Dealdey: You can sign up as a merchant and follow the guidelines to list your products.
  • You can also sell on sites like Jiji.ng and OLX: Sign up , list your products ,details about the product and price. Make sure you leave your contact details so that customers can easily contact you.
  • Create a Facebook fan page (brand/product category): this is an “old school” approach, but it still gets some results.

Selling your product via your own e-commerce website

This is by far the best and easiest way to sell your products. There are several limitations to the ways of selling your products listed above and I’ll explain why setting up an e-commerce site is the surest means.

  • Most people are not extroverts or marketers, therefore marketing even a very popular product isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Also there’s the problem of debt that comes with most offline businesses, some may be enthusiastic and offer to buy your product but you’ll have to come back at a later date to receive your payment.
  • If you search for a product on Jumia or Konga , you’ll see the different prices from different Merchants. If you put yourself in place of the customer, you’ll always go with the cheapest and probably the merchant with more products sold or reviews. This makes selling on these platforms (even on JIJI, OLX and Dealdey) very competitive. This doesn’t mean you should totally ignore these platforms, but for you to make consistent sales on these sites, you need to have a lot of products and your prices should be cheaper or the same with your competitors.
  • With your own e-commerce site, you’re in total control. You run your ads, monitor your stats and make your money without anyone owing you. Also customers want to feel as close to the product and seller as possible, with an e-commerce site you can showcase your product and also show your human side when you call to confirm orders.

How to set up an E-commerce site for your Products.

To set up an ecommerce site , firstly you need:

  • A domain name (a domain name is your website address e.g the domain name of this website is kodedtech.com , facebook is facebook.com)

You can get a .com.ng on Qservers.net for N1,000

  • Web hosting: I usually use Qservers for my smaller sites while I use siteground  or namecheap for my websites.
  • Lastly, you build the website.

The Video below is a full tutorial on how to set up your Ecommerce website.

For people who may find the process overwhelming or just want their website set up for them. We are currently running a promotion to help build your ecommerce website(for mini importers only)

Special Mini Importers’ E-commerce Offer

One Page Website

One Page product page , with free hosting , free .com.ng domain, Video embeds to describe your product  , form to collect your orders and we’ll also help you embed facebook pixels on your website to track your traffic and conversion (sales). This is for those who want to sell a single product on their site. Usually this costs N39,800 but our promotional offer is just N21,500 only

Multiple pages website, :

This is a standard Ecommerce website, ideal for anyone who wants to sell multiple products and maximize their earnings. (Please note that this offer is for mini importers only)This offer includes: free.com.ng domain, one year web hosting,  beautiful homepage, multiple product pages ( up to 50 products), Standard Product page that looks like Jumia and Konga, contact page,  Video embeds Facebook Pixel embed and easy forms. Usually this costs N89,500 but our promotional offer is just N65,500 only

How to sell your products via your ecommerce site

Firstly, you need to create a Facebook page. Here’s how to create a Facebook page step by step.

Once you Log into your Facebook account, Click on the options panel, then click on create. Select  Brand or Product and give it whatever name you want. If you intend to sell a specific product like a car scanner, You can name It “Original Car Scanner”, “Scan your can now”or anything very descriptive that makes it very easy to understand what your product is about. But if you intend to sell many products and not just want specific store, you can give it your name or anything that comes to mind e.g Adestore, Bolamall, Newshop, Blueshop , etc. After giving your page a name, fill out all necessary details, description, website and phone number ( you can skip anyone you don’t have and edit the page later)

mini importation facebok page

Next you need to create an account on business.Facebook.com. Fill in the details and you’ll get to a page like what you have below. Add your facebook page or create a none if you don’t have ( you can still follow the same steps as above when you want to create you  page through Facebook business.

Understanding Facebook Ads

Facebook generated a net income of $5.2 billion in the second quarter of 2020 (which ended June 30,2020) and these came through ads. I can bet you’ve been scrolling through Facebook before and you see a post with “sponsored” on it. Facebook ad is so unique that it only brings adverts that are relevant to your interest to you. If you like many hair pages or you comment on pages about hair, there’s a 100% certainty that you’ll see adverts about hair products. 

The “old method” of running facebook ads is this: You create a post on your facebook page and then “boost” your post. This used to produce some results , but since more advertisers are now using Facebook to sell their products and services, there’s a need to be really target your audience by demographics, location and interest.

To understand this ,we’ll look through the different type of Facebook ads relevant to mini importation.

Engagement ads; just as the name implies, these type of ads are run to generate engagements like post likes, comments, video views and reactions on your ads or posts. These ads are need to generate social proof on our sites. For example , if you’ve ever come across a post or and advert that you weren’t totally interested in but you see the number of likes and comments so you click to see what it’s all about.

Conversions ad: This type of ad is used to generate sales. To run this ad, you must have Facebook Pixels installed on your landing page/ ecommerce site. It is this pixel that tracks traffic &sales and then reports in your dashboard.

You must make sure that you really understand Facebook ads before running any ad. If you miss this step, and all you’ll do is give Facebook money without getting the desired results. Before getting to this stage you must have:

  • created a Facebook page
  • created an account on business.facebook.com
  • have your landing page or ecommerce site set up
  • have installed facebook pixels on your ecommerce site/landing page.
How to run Facebook ads for mini Importation

To start running Facebook ads for mini importation, there’s a final part of Facebook you need to understand: Facebook audience Insight. Facebook audience insight is a platform for advertisers to understand their audience better. With Facebook audience insight you’ll know the pages your customers like, their age, gender and location. But you can only access Facebook audience insights after you’ve funded your account.

Once you’ve funded your account, now log into your Facebook business account. Click on the options tab, then click on audience insight.

You’ll be asked to choose an audience to start with, just click on everyone on Facebook.

Once you’re in, you need to edit the location and interest tab. Change the location to Nigeria and the interest tab to something related to what you’re selling. If you’re selling a hair product , type in hair into the tab, if you’re selling beauty products , type in beauty or cosmetics, I’m sure you get the drill now.  Once you’ve typed the interest and location, Facebook automatically takes care of the rest , they’ll generate the demographics(age and gender), Page likes , location, Activity , Household, Purchase. You should only be concerned with the Demographics, page likes and Location. They are the only data we need. Note the demographics. If there are more women than men interested, write it down, the ages of the women with  the highest percentages , click on the Page Likes Tab and list out the top 5 pages liked. Next is the Locations tab List out the top common states too. We’ll need these data to run our ads.

The data should look like this

Sex: Women

Age: 25-34 35 -44 ( just say 25 – 44)

Pages liked: Every woman, Joel Oesten, Linda Ikeji , Telemundo , MTN (Please note that this is just an example)

Once this is set:

  • Find videos of your product on YouTube (use the YouTube filter to search for products less than 4 mins, download it. Edit the video with inshot app (you can download that on playstore) or edit it with windows movie maker.
  • Now login to your Facebook business account, click options menu >Ads Manage>Create. When you click on Create you’ll get an image like below.
  • Now click on Conversions and name your campaign.
  • Upload the Videos and write the description.
  • To understand this part better, go to ecomempires.com , create  and acoount and see the full facebook tutorial

How to Make deliveries

To make deliveries you can make use of logistic companies

KOS.ng (nationwide deliveries): you’ll need an initial deposit of N25,000 to use KOS.ng. You should create an account with them and fund the account with 25,000.Anytime they make a delivery for you, they’ll charge from your account. They have drop off points around the country, so when you have an order, you can deliver at the closest drop off point to you and they’ll make the delivery.

Ace.ng (Lagos, Abuja , PH): you need an initial deposit of 17,500. You create an account on their site and fund the account t with 17,500… When they successful make a delivery, they’ll charge from your account.

Skynet (Nationwide ): Check their websites for their delivery rates , you can also contact their customer care through the number on their site skynetworldwide.com.ng

EDS: check out their website for more details. Eds.com.ng

Logistics I personally Use

Mrs Kehinde (Suite 67, Jakande estate retail Market Isolo): She handles deliveries in Lagos Island and mainland perfectly. She also offers warehousing for your goods, so all you have to do is send your products to her warehouse and she houses them for you until you get an order. Once you get an order, you forward the order details to her on whatsapp and they handle the rest. Since your products are already with them, this makes the delivery faster. You can reach her on 08038045939

Divine (Fancy Waka) : he covers Port Harcourt, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Benin and Onitsha. You can reach him on 07064456888

Mr Kunle (Smooth Delivery): I’ll call them the fastest delivery company in Abuja. They also offer warehousing services for your goods till you get your order. They can be reached on 09059994199

A word of caution

Mini importation is a business with many rewards, and like all other businesses it has its own challenges too. This is why you should have your mind prepared for some common challenges in this business.

Returns: since most of the ecommerce transactions in Nigeria is “pay on delivery” , this gives people the avenue to just order without the intention to really buy. Even in some cases, some will confirm the order and when the delivery agent gets to their location, they stop responding. This shouldn’t discourage you. When you get an order, make sure to confirm the order and call again to ask when the customer will be available for delivery.

Facebook : Facebook can also be a challenge in this business, it is very common for advertisers to have their ad accounts shut down for no reason. Even in some cases, your best performing ads can just stop work or worse get shut down by Facebook for Policy violation. This shouldn’t be a discouragement either , all you need is to make sure your ads comply with Facebook’s policies and you shouldn’t have too much funds in your account.

Logistics: Logistics Companies can frustrate the life out of you in the business if you’re not careful. The big logistics are not even left out, they may take longer to deliver your goods and make the customer lose interest, and some can even delay in remitting your funds. To stay safe, have more than one Logistics Company

Fake Products: before you buy a large amount of a recommended or trending product, ensure to buy small quantities from your supplier. When you’re sure the product is genuine, you can then proceed to buy in large quantities.

Group buy: there many whatsapp mini importation groups around, some will tell you that you can come together to do “group buying”. Group buying means, members of the group pool resources together to buy selected products. The money is usually paid to the admin, who then makes the purchase on behalf of the members of the group. Although some can be genuine, you need to be very careful about these groups. Carry out due intelligence before making any payment to these kind of groups.

THE OFFER IS STILL ON FOR MINI IMPORTERS

One Page product page

  • Comes with free on year  hosting
  • Free .com.ng domain
  • Video embeds to describe your product
  • Form to collect your orders
  •  We’ll also help you embed Facebook pixels on your website to track your traffic and conversion (sales).

 This is for those who want to sell a single product on their site. Usually this costs N39,800 but our promotional offer is just N21,500 only

Multiple pages website

This is standard ecommerce website, ideal for anyone who wants to sell multiple products and maximize their earnings. (Please note that this offer is for mini importers only)

This includes:

  • free.com.ng domain
  •  one year web hosting
  • beautiful homepage with product highlights
  •  multiple product pages ( up to 20 products),
  • Standard Product page that looks like Jumia and Konga,
  •  contact page, 
  • Video embeds
  • Facebook Pixel embed
  • Payment gateway  and lot more

Our standard price for this is N89,500 but our promotional offer is just N65,500 (this offer is for mini importer only.

CASE STUDY

You can check out our case study on an e-commerce website we did for a product

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