Nigeria is a country of more than 200 million people. These people have their daily essential needs. They have baths with soap brands of their choice. They take care of their teeth with toothpaste every morning. They drink coffee before leaving home, and some of them take it to their various offices. They love to drink tea; health concerns make some of them opt for herbal tea. For average Nigerians, growing-up milk must be on their provisions items list. We all know that little kids need some essential nutrients to live a healthy life. Some people cannot do without rubbing lotion on their bodies after having their bath. People use hair spray to keep their hair shiny and glowing. I have friends who cannot eat bread without mayonnaise. I know some people who prepare noodles with Titus Sardines. No matter the economical weather, there are some things they can never compromise on. People will always have baths and fill their bellies.
In this blog, I will be writing about how to start one of the highly lucrative businesses, a wholesale provision store, that caters for the aforementioned daily needs of people.
WHAT IS THE WHOLESALE PROVISION BUSINESS?
It’s a kind of business where you buy products from distributors, super wholesalers, and companies at wholesale price and you sell them to retailers, and consumers at wholesale and retail prices. The people who run this wholesale provisions store do sell their products in dozens, in packs, and cartons. It’s not a retail store where you buy items in pieces.
The wholesalers source their goods from companies, super wholesalers, distributors, and big provisions markets in order to make profits on their products.
In this business, turnovers matter most—being able to sell your products fast to customers and go to the market to restock.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU NEED TO START THE WHOLESALE PROVISIONS STORE BUSINESS?
- Business Plan: You need to have a written business plan—it will serve as a compass, and guide for you and your business. It isn’t really necessary to have a 100-page business plan before starting, a single-page plan with actionable strategies can deliver better results.
- Capital: You need to have some amount of money to start this business. The capital required to start this business depends on how big you want your business to be, and the number and kinds of products you want to be selling. Some of the capital will go into renting a shop/space for your business.
- Shop/Space/Store: Having a shop that customers can easily access is good for this business. If you have enough money at hand, it’s recommended to get a big shop so that you will be able to stock all goods your customers can ever need. Also, people tend to like one store for everything they need.
- We are in the convenience era and everyone tries to minimize the amount of stress they go through on a daily basis. Advice: Don’t let more than 40% of your capital go for paying rent and securing a shop alone. If you don’t have money for the size of shop you desire now, you can rent a small one and store the remaining products in your home.
- Second Advice: Don’t let the shop that you are renting be far from your home except if you are renting in a market. Five minutes walk home is good; 8 minutes is not bad; 10 minutes is not recommended except if you want to be spending money on transportation. I know someone who stocked her products in her living room when she started the business. She used a small shop till she was able to rent a big shop. So, don’t give way to any excuse.
- Tricycle/Minibus/Delivery Bike/Wheelbarrow: This is not really necessary as you can employ the service of other people to do what you want. Do you wonder why I put Tricycle / Minibus / Delivery Bike on this list, you will need them for disruptive business strategies. I do tell people not to ditch their business ideas because they see many people doing the same businesses they want to start.
- A lot of people can be in the business, but the question is are they running them well? Is their business delivering good value to customers? And the honest answer is NO—and if you are ready, this is a gap to fill—do what others don’t and can’t do, and see results they can never dream of. Period.
- Tables & Shelves: You will definitely need these to arrange and display your goods for customers to see. Also, it will help you to discover easily when you are running out of some products.
- Chairs and Benches: Some of your customers will trek to your store and they will need to sit and relax while making the purchase. It’s your business to make them comfortable, so a place to sit conveniently will do a whole to your business development.
- Some people will like to write their buying list in your shop. They will need a place to sit to be able to write legibly. In addition, there will be some sets of customers who will love you to pick all the products they need for them while they are sitting. After all, the customer is king and you are in the business to serve. Don’t be rude to them. Smile often. Things will become easier when you have a salesperson in your store.
- Books: One of the reasons why SMEs die quickly in Nigeria is the lack of bookkeeping. Take every record of what you buy and sell every business day. Don’t postpone it until later. You will need data for making business decisions and your books will serve as your database for now.
- Furthermore, when you finish using a book, find time to scan every page with the free Adobe Scan app on your smartphone and save everything as a single book on the cloud. Why? If any damage happens to the physical book, you can always go to the e-document in the cloud.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO BE BUYING YOUR PRODUCTS FROM?
Let me first put this simply: buy your products from where you can get them at the best price. It is not a must that you must buy from a single place. Buy at where you will be able to sell them at profitable rates.
- Markets: A market is a place where you can buy your provisions at the best price. Though, you can’t get all your products in all markets. Take for instance: Lagos, some of the best markets to source your goods from are on the Island—Lagos Island to be precise. Popular, Idumota Market, Balogun Market, amongst others.
- Super Wholesalers: Super wholesalers are the people who buy products directly from the companies in large quantities and they sell to wholesalers only. They have big stores in the markets, on the street, and any place suitable for them—but they always prefer busy places. Buying from them makes sense for your business. Some of them offer a pay-later option, but you must have proven to them that you pay back on time.
- Distributors: These people buy directly from the companies and distribute and sell products to wholesalers and retailers. There is a thin line between Super Wholesalers and Distributors. Some of the super wholesalers turn to distributors when business is dull. Some distributors even buy from wholesalers. One key difference between super wholesalers and distributors is: that distributors sell on the go. They get orders from wholesalers, and retailers and deliver the goods to their business place.
WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS YOU SHOULD BE SELLING?
Let fast-consuming goods be on top of your list. Stock what people demand most. Buy what people use every day. In order to help you to think of what to buy and make a profit, I will be listing some of the fast-moving products you should consider.
- Soaps. ( For bathing and washing)
- Body Spray.
- Baby Diapers.
- Hair cream.
- Liquid antiseptic.( Dettol and others)
- Baby food.
- Body lotion.
- Corn flakes.
- Coco pops.
- Super Glue.
- Hair relaxers.
- Water Dispenser Bottles.
- Key holder.
- Takeaway Plastics and disposables.
- Mosquito coils.
- Mosquito repellent cream.
- Razor blades.
- Wrapping paper.
- Alcohol Sachet Drinks.
- Bagco bag.
- Batteries, etc.
HOW WILL CUSTOMERS LEARN ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND HOW TO BEAT YOUR COMPETITORS?
- First, rent your shop in a good location. The residential area is good.
- Don’t let it be too far from the main road.
- If possible, let your shop be on the main road.
- The road should be motorable–at least even with portholes.
- In your business location, design, print, and share fliers to people living and doing business there. Make sure you list the most consumable goods and prices there in bulk.
- Location, location, location.
- Distribution, distribution, distribution.
- Tell your family and friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends that there’s a place where they can buy their provisions in bulk.
- The best way to beat competitors is to outthink them and come up with business strategies that they can never think of.
- Attend to customers, and deliver your products in the most friendly and reasonable manner. Package things properly.
- As you are gaining customers, make a list of working-class people—office workers and small business people—who earn a decent income, and do monthly packages for them based on what they buy regularly. You can give them the option of paying after they earn their salary. (Imagine having a list of 500 working-class people for who you make N1, 000 on what you sell to them, that’s N500, 000 profit every month!)
- If you are in Lagos, consider marketing to Mallams that sell things in kiosks, because they are among the best customers you can ever think of. Move around and tell them that they don’t even need to come to your shop, they just need to make a call, give you their address and tell you the products they want to buy. You get a Hausa Wheelbarrow who will be delivering the orders for you. I forgot that you have your own wheelbarrow, get mallams that shine shoes, give them space to be doing their business in front of your shop, and you will seal an agreement with them that, anytime you have an order, they will deliver it with a wheelbarrow, and get paid per order, N50 only. They will like it. Ten orders in a day is an extra N500 to their pockets! They will love it. Your customers too will be patronizing their shoe services.
- Open early and close late.
- Always stock your products before you run out of them. Leave the phrase, “it’s finished” out of your dictionary.
- Read, read, read.
- Grow, grow, grow.
- Sell, sell, sell.
- Don’t spend money on anything that won’t get the business idea off the growing.
- Buy the products that people use every day.
- Don’t joke with your bookkeeping.
- Don’t spend anyhow.
- Every kobo matters.
- How you do your business matters more than the business.
Now to you…
Don’t give up on starting your wholesale provision business. It’s very lucrative. Don’t postpone it. Start now. It may not be easy now, but it can be more difficult tomorrow. No excuse. Start the hustle now.
I will love to hear from you as you have made up your mind to start your money-making venture.
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