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A guide to starting an online jewelry business

Published by The Nation on Tue, 23 Feb 2021


Aisha Ochuwa is the founder and CEO of the Everything Beautiful by Aisha Ochuwa (EBAO) brand; one of the fastest growing jewelry brands in Nigeria. She has spent over a decade in the business and is indeed a typical new generation entrepreneur.When she started her jewelry business, she did it in the conventionally by moving from door to door. Her sales depended entirely on the distance she was able to cover per time. However, in 2017, she explored the online platform which aided her sales tremendously and grew her customer base both nationally and internationally.Ever since, she has continued to develop and grow the business. Now, she has gathered a great amount of knowledge over the years, which has contributed to the growth of the business. These practical experiences are what she shared in her book A Guide to Starting an Online Jewelry Business for upcoming African entrepreneurs.In the book, she shared secrets on how to successfully sell jewelry online from dreaming the business to setting it up and running it legally and profitably. Her first emphasis in the book was creating a business plan. Although not compulsory, it is necessary to give clarity and show seriousness. She went ahead to explain the need to study the already existing websites on jewelry business to serve as a precedence.As a starter in the business, you can access demand for jewelry by conducting keyword search through Googles Adwords site. The next important thing is finding a supplier. You can either choose to be the designer of your own accessories or outsource the jewelries from a wholesaler.After establishing the supplier, you need to forecast the likely cost you will incur in starting the business. You will need to consider the cost of a good internet connection, computers, packaging of goods, shipping etc.According to Aisha, in creating a workable plan, you need to provide a detailed description of what makes your business unique. You also need to answer these questions: Who are your target customers' Who are your competitors' Who and who would be in your management team' What is your won marketing strategy' What are the likely potential problems you might encounter'After answering these questions, it is time to talk about branding. Branding is what distinguishes your products from those of others. This is what Aisha has to say about it: I will advise that you have an own brand. What she meant by own brand is that it should be private; either bears your name, initials or something you are associated with.One of the important decisions you need to make when starting out your business concerns funding. One advantage of an online business is that it does not require a lot of money to start. There are several ways you can fund a small scale business. A few of them are: bootstrapping, loans, local competitions etc.Since your outlet or shop is the online space, you need a solid technical frame work. The technical frame work starts from creating a Domain name. A Domain name is an online location or address of your shop. Your domain should show the personality of your brand and make it easy for your customers to find you.One of the things to consider when designing a retail website is the user experience on the page. The users of your website should be able to easily navigate the pages, view images, search for items needed and review products and services offered.Web hosting is the technology responsible for housing and publishing your website online, ensuring your website or application is readily accessible to the public on the web. The Hosting companies are commonly referred to as servers. The major web hosting services available are: Shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, dedicated server hosting, and cloud hosting.As a qualified lawyer, Aisha has this to say: Although laws differ from state to state, there are certain legal requirements that you should not avoid whether the business is offline or online; you have to ensure that you carry out all the legal requirements necessary for your business.Although you can start out without putting the entire legal framework in place especially if you are utilizing the social media as your retail point; however, once the business has grown, it is strongly advised that the legal framework is in place.Once you get online and start operations, you need to build credibility. A few helpful tips includes: posting your business registration certificates or any other certification you have acquired related to the business in the About Us page of your website; asking for testimonials, uploading pictures etc.Once your customers place orders and the payment is confirmed, you need to handle the packaging and shipping of orders carefully. Ensure that the goods you post as available are available before you accept payments from customers.For small scale businesses, Aisha advised that you should handle the delivery yourself because this will allow you control the quality of the packaging and follow up the delivery till the customer gets it. Other shipping options available are postal services, DHL, FedEx, UPS etc.You can also secure your business online by backing up your data regularly, changing passwords regularly, performing routine system maintenance and software updates etc.There are several ways one can create opportunities online and increase profits. You can do this by creating a niche which is targeted towards a particular set of people in the population. Social media handles like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, etc. are other avenues to create opportunities online. You only need to be consistent, active and deliberate.The internet has become an integral part of our lives and daily business transactions. It is important to acquire the right knowledge from experienced entrepreneurs who have walked the road and making most of the internet to grow their business and brands. This is the focus of Aishas book.
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