Due to the huge request and search on How to start Phone business in Nigeria as it reflects on SME Digest (I mean, just check “Starting Phone Business in Nigeria” on Google, an article on SME Digest should comes first), I have gone through various research and interviews to come up with ways you can start phone business, not just in Nigeria but also in any other African country or globally.
An article on Starting a Mobile Phone Business in Nigeria was first published in 2017, now this is the more practical and detailed step on starting this phone business.
The phone business here in Nigeria is worth billions, trust me. People shop for mobile phones on a daily basis and it is mind blowing. Some few days ago I went to purchase a mobile phone in computer village, a UK used device, there and then in my presence, within 45 minutes I was in the shop, the lady in charge of that store has received credit alert of over 1.3 million naira from different customers ordering for phones.
Now, don’t get it wrong, from all the credits, I am not insinuation a 50% margin or 20%, ofcos I don’t know what their margin would be but the traction, the rate was what blew my mind. Imagine if on a single phone, they are earning say, N5,000, which will definitely be more on some deals, doing over 20 in less than 50 minutes, you know what that means.
So, seat back relax while we ride on this journey on how to start UK used phone business in Nigeria or just anywhere you are on this planet. I have checked online severally to see if this subject was well elaborated, I couldn’t find any, this will be the most comprehensive and most expository post about this business and I just hope these dealers into this business won’t be angry I am exposing their business strategies.
Are you set?
This article is on selling UK used smartphones. The market for these devices is so so so HUGE. If you want to deal with selling brand new, you can just be a distributor of those popular brands and they supply you their devices.
Now, the first thing you want to know is sourcing for these devices to buy; where to source for them, adding your markup, advertising your business and smiling to the bank.
I’m going to be showing you three different ways you can source for these devices at a great price that you can markup with say N10,000 to almost N30,000 on each.
The number 1 source is:
Craigslist is an American classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, services, community service, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums. It was founded by Craig Newmark in 1995. There are tons and millions of listings on craiglist which is also categorized by region/area (they are in 570 cities in 70 countries). Using this platform, you just might need someone over there in the country/state you’re buying from.
Now how do you source for these devices on craiglist?
On visiting the site, it redirects you to the craiglist area closer to you. Take for instance, when I visited the site on my phone, I was redirected to accra.craiglist.org because since the service is not available in Nigeria, the closest area to me is Ghana, but nevertheless, you can change the area by clicking on the particular country and state you want to shop from.
When sourcing for phones on this site, I’ll advice you focus on the US and the UK. Simply search for the phone and see results of listings.
Now, these are several people listing out their mobile phones for sale, probably they’ve upgraded to the latest version or they are tired of using that particular phone or also maybe it has a little issue like a little crack or so.
As you can see in the image above an iPhone 8 plus UK/US used is currently selling for N160,000 in Nigeria but right here you can find people listing it for $200 (N70,000), $350 (N122,500), $400 (N140,000), etc. and guess what, you can still bargain with these individuals to reduce their price also.
Now, when you see a particular device you are interested in, click on it and click on “reply” above the image as seen below.
Click on the link below “reply by email” or the gmail or yahoo mail, whichever mail you are using. On clicking, you’ll land on your email trying to send the owner a mail. Now, this was where I goofed when I started – pay rapt attention!
When I started, I saw so many devices I’d like to purchase from different people, I sent them mails, about 15 of them, NO SINGLE ONE REPLIED!
I was so frustrated and angry!
I had to chat up a US friend who laughed hard at me after sending her the mail I sent to those vendors.
Now the secret is, you don’t want to send them a mail like you are a Nigerian, because so many fraudulent activities had happened in the past and maybe still now on craiglist by Nigerians. So when they see a mail coming from a Nigerian, forget it, the chances of not replying is over 98%.
So you want to create an email account and register as USA.
Warning!: Don’t make any payment via paypal or any means until you see what you’re buying. And this does not mean they will send you the phone(s) before you pay, NO, hence the reason you need someone over there in the US or UK to help you with the transaction.
So in your mail to the seller, you let them know that you will like to meet in a public place to get the item(s) from them if it is still available, as a matter of fact, most of them prefer public meeting to transact the business. So, if you have a colleague in the US, ensure where you are sourcing for the phones are places closer to him/her cos US is very BIG. Don’t expect anybody to travel a long distance to help you with this, as time is money over there.
Above is how you can set to make sure you are searching for devices in area where your representative is. Ask for the person’s zip code and search 1-50 miles from the zip code.
The second way you can get these devices on craiglist is to create a listing notifying people that you purchase smartphones in Bulk, and you state the kind of smartphones you are looking forward to buying.
Below is a sample post of what I mean;
Now, ofcos your listing has to come with a US or UK phone number, likewise your location.
The second place to source for phones is;
Another great place you can source for mobile phones is on eBay.
On eBay, you can either bid for a phone or you buy instantly. There are some listings that are opened for bidding and others for Buy Instantly, so whichever you choose, ensure you’re either bidding or buying at a price that will give you your own profit when it lands Nigeria here, as a matter of fact, you can set the price range you’re willing to pay and filter the search results. You should always know what the market is selling at that particular time before purchasing. In situation where the seller doesn’t ship to Nigeria on eBay, you can harness a trusted US colleague or there are services that allow you to own a US address, you ship your items there, and then they send to you here in Nigeria, very simple.
The last but not all or the least place you can source for mobile phones is;
3. The Nigerian Market Itself.
Yes, that same computer village, there are 10s and 100s of people selling mobile phones that don’t have in stock. What they do is, they have few samples of various phones and also gather contacts of guys that have these products, so once a customer walks into their shop, they immediately send their boy to go and bring the phone. They will tell the customer, “it’s in our second shop, let him go and bring it”. They add their markup and sell to the customer. Easy-peasy!
Marketing Your Phone Business
You don’t want to buy these devices from craiglist or ebay and allow them to sit on your shelves for long. You have to create a marketing plan that will make you sell the hell out of these products. Like I said, the demand for mobile phones in Nigeria is very high but nevertheless, people need to know you exist.
So what you want to do is, get an Instagram account, a Facebook page and preferably a website. If you have some good money, get influencers on instagram to help you advertise your business; I know of 2 brands that did this in Nigeria that are so BIG right now. They get tons of customers flocking in their shops on a daily basis.
Also, run adverts on Instagram and Facebook with detailed pricing of your various devices. I see couple of ads that don’t put their prices and I’m surprised. People want to know the price before coming to your store. Save people the stress of going to DM or asking How Much in comment, trust me, most of those people that ask DON’T BUY!
And like I said, also get contacts of people that have these devices so when you are out of stock you can easily contact them and add a little markup – “at all at all na im bad pass”, according to a Nigeria slang.
This business requires you to be street smart and know a whole lot about phones. When you are diligent and run this, trust me, you’ll always smile to the bank.
I hope it’s worth your time on this expository note on how to start phone business in Nigeria.
Drop your comments/questions/suggestions below as I can’t wait to have them.