5 Free Platforms to Boost Online Sales in Nigeria
Digital evolution has changed a lot of things in a very short time, including how we buy and sell..
Yes, sales has gone online, I bet you know this already!
Selling products on eCommerce websites has changed buyers’ journey directly and at the same time, it indirectly changes business operations.
Now, you can sit in the comfort of your home and send products or prices to your customers, allow them to make payments while you confirm and send their purchased products over…
Sounds fun right?
The image below was culled from FeelynX, a typical eCommerce website where you can buy, rent or exchange female clothing items!
But times are changing and so are trends. As a business owner, it is important you are aware so that your customers will not leave you behind.
With online shopping now accounting for almost 10% of total retail sales (Source: eMarketer), e-commerce has a significant impact on traditional retailing and this will continue in the following years.
Well, an eCommerce platform allows you to tap into this internet trend. Essentially, they allow you to build an online store and sell products easily, without knowing how to code.
However, knowing that running a business is expensive, you may not have enough budget – or any budget at all – to build an online store. Or, like most people, you just don’t have the time to search for the best brands.
Therefore, I made a research about free eCommerce platforms to sell online in Nigeria.
There are a few basic things you need to know about eCommerce platforms. There can only be cheaper eCommerce websites but I haven’t found one on the internet which is entirely FREE.
Even when it is free, you still have to purchase domains and pay a fee to host your website. Others allow you to sell on their platforms with a commission.
It’s business o…have you ever heard the statement “nothing is free, even in Freetown”? hmm?
Now you can relate.
Let’s move on…
What I have compiled here are eCommerce options that are relatively affordable and you spend less, I mean, way less.
When it comes to eCommerce platforms to sell online, there are two options:
- Setting up your store on a larger shopping site
- Shopping on your website using online store builders
1. Setting up your store on a larger shopping site
Larger shopping sites include Jumia, Konga, Jiji and a few others. Before you make this decision, take a closer look at what it entails:
In Nigeria, Jumia is one of the leading eCommerce platforms out there that allow businesses to open a store, list their products and make sales for absolutely free. Yes, it is as easy and as simple as that! but there are limitations and disadvantages to this.
Jumia allows you unrestricted access to your online store; hosted on their platform. It simply serves as an intermediary between your customers and you.
It displays your products to thousands of its users whenever they search for your products on their website.
When a customer makes an order, Jumia notifies you and gives you a deadline to acknowledge its availability and a shipping deadline.
Failure to meet up with these attracts a fine which you have to pay if you want to continue doing business with them.
Other benefits include not buying a domain or hosting a site, you do not have to install software, secure shopping already in place and your payment options are handled with ease.
While this is totally free, there are disadvantages;
a) Your store may be shut down abruptly: Yes! it has happened to lots of sellers on this platform. For some reasons or some violations, your store can be shut down and you will lose access to everything you’ve built in the blink of an eye!. It’s true, ask around.
b) You do not gain brand recognition: While it allows you to sell online for free, this platform takes all the glory of your online store. Think about it, whenever anyone purchases something on this platform, you hear things like “Oh, I bought it on Jumia”.
If your long term goal is to increase the visibility of your store then this already sounds like a bad idea. Plus, being here does not guarantee sales anyway…I know, the truth hurts.
So you should probably consider building a permanent eCommerce website which gives your name the visibility it deserves.
c) You can lose sales to other businesses: Your competitors are here too you know? this platform has a very funny way of displaying the same products from different businesses to customers at the same time. To make matters worse, if the price of your product is slightly higher than that of your competitors, it displays the products at lower prices beside yours. So you see, it’s a tough world out there, despite it being free.
konga is a “sweet” store, I bet you’ll agree with me. Forget the drama that went down in 2018 when Konga merged with Yudala and a whole lot of things happened with other E-commerce stores.
We are here to talk about how this benefits you as a seller so that you can sell more of your products.
Konga allows small businesses with varieties of products to sell and showcase on their website.
It is pretty much easy hmm?
You sign up for their service on their website, create a store and list your products.
You are also allowed to choose payment options that suit you best and you are also in control of the prices of your listings and can choose to accept payment on delivery or not.
It’s also secure and gives the visibility of your products to thousands of its users across Nigeria.
We still have to mention its downsides too. Much like the first one, you are at risk of:
a) Shutting down when the platform shuts down: Remember when OLX shut down? thousands of its users and businesses listed on it was also wiped off. This is one of the reasons it is better to build your eCommerce website.
b) It is bad for brand visibility: As I mentioned earlier, if your aim is to build a lasting brand by making your business a household name, this is probably not for you. But if you are cool with just sales and not growth, you can go ahead and sign up.
c) High competition with other businesses selling the same products on that same platform.
There are other larger shopping sites where you can do this and the process is pretty much the same. With all these, I honestly recommend having your own online store where you can control every factor.
Before you get bored, let me quickly chip in that experts recommend that it is better to build your eCommerce website to avoid stories that touch.
2. Online Store Builders
This option is what some “techy” business owners opt for. If you already have a website, you might want to include a shopping experience for your customers. Auto-installers are used for this purpose. Many hosting companies offer an auto-installer for various eCommerce applications.
This simply means that you can purchase an eCommerce auto-installer and then you install them on your existing website with few clicks and minimal input.
Voila! your store is all set up!
Sounds easy right? I know…
This brings shopping to your already existing eCommerce website and you can modify the designs as you will.
There are two things to note though, these are the features and the pricing.
Below are free eCommerce website builders you might want to look into.
Wix provides small business owners with a variety of free eCommerce website tools and services.
It provides you with lots of free template options and you can also add payment options as well.
You can choose from over 300 professional templates for your eCommerce store and the best part is, it offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder.
You can set up a free store in minutes! it is that easy. And if you will, you can customize the free templates to suit your taste.
While the basic plan is totally free, the monthly plan goes for as high as #5,760 monthly.
A wise business owner will invest this monthly fee in building his or her own eCommerce website with a professional.
Even with the basic plan, you are not excluded from hosting fees.
You have limited bandwidth and restricted access to the most amazing features.
Why not hire a professional to build your eCommerce website for you at an affordable fee.
As mentioned earlier, these options are for those who already have a website and are looking to integrate online shopping into their website.
If you are a WordPress user, you may be familiar with WooCommerce.
As described on their website ” it is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress.”
This simply means that you can integrate this plugin for the shopping experience that you desire.
You can also customize your store as you deem fit and add extensions that meet your specific needs.
You are allowed to choose your own domain name, with your own host.
WooCommerce does not place any restrictions on your bandwidth or uptime, they give you complete control over your online presence.
Sounds awesome right?
You should take note that this is only available for wordpress users. Perhaps you should think about building an eCommerce website using professionals.
FreeWebStore allows you list up to 30 products free. You are charged a 2% transaction fee per sale, (nothing is ever 100% free, alas!) in addition to your payment processing fees. Your transaction fees decrease per transaction with the paid plans and your product listings increase.
The paid plan range from $20 to $50 per month and if you are low on budget, I recommend you contact a professional to build your eCommerce website, it’s the best option for you.
But, if you don’t need to list more than 30 products at a time, the free account is probably all you’ll ever need.
Also, it’s always nice to know that you can extend your site for a reasonable fee as you grow.
However, you are restricted with the free plan. The social share buttons are not integrated and it lacks the blogging and additional information page feature.
Looking at these patterns, you will agree with me that there is truly no 100% free eCommerce platform out there.
In order to have full access and control over your online store, the best is to have someone build your eCommerce website for you, where you can specify what you want and how you want it to be.
As a result, you also spend less in comparison to the monthly and yearly plans that these “free” platforms offer.
If you need a professional eCommerce website that:
- Allows you to make more sales
- Includes a smooth Payment plan
- Lists all your products and services
- Is SEO optimized
- Is 100% secure
- Accessible to your customers
- Easy to maintain
You should click this button.