As Nigeria grapples with a high rate of unemployment, some enterprising members of the society are seeking out new ways to earn a living legitimately, and one of such ways is drop-shipping.
Oladunni Ayorinde, Chief Executive Officer, Cart Deals, is one of such Nigerians and she is quite popular for her business acumen and leadership skills, especially in the drop-shipping and fashion industry in Nigeria.
She started her drop-shipping business, which later metamorphosed into a fashion empire, in 2013 with a meagre N16,000 which she saved while working with one of the Telecommunication firms in Nigeria.
Today, she boasts of outlets across Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Town Planning Way, and Onikan, all in Lagos. She also has outlets in Abuja, Ogun State and the United Kingdom, among others, with scores of direct and indirect employees across these locations.
From a fashion wholesale online store, Cart Deals has grown to a full-fledged drop-shipping business, offering a range of fashion clothing and accessories, with a bias for the plus-size working-class female as Oladunni says, “Nigerians are typically not on the slim side.”
“The fashion house has shifted from importation to local production using imported fabrics, while the finished products would then be sold via drop-shipping.
As the business started growing with support funding from my husband, I resigned from my job and focused fully on the business. At a point, I sold my car and ploughed the money into the business to expand it further,” Oladunni said.
What is drop-shipping?
Drop-shipping is a form of retail business where the seller accepts customers’ orders but does not keep goods sold in stock. Instead, in a form of supply chain management, they transfer the orders and their shipment details to either the manufacturer, a wholesaler, another retailer, or a fulfilment house, which then ships the goods directly to the customer.
How it works
Ajoke, a drop-shipping merchant based in Abuja, explained that the biggest difference between dropshipping and the standard retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory.
“I get images of bags, shoes and other products from Oladunni of Cart Deals or other main players, and share on my social media handles, especially Instagram. Sometimes, I get referrals from her also. Interested buyers place their orders via social media or call me on my mobile, and make payment to me.
I get their products from Oladunni, who warehouse them either myself or through my dispatch rider and deliver them to the customer. If the customer is not in Abuja, I send them to any part of the country after the buyer must have paid for such service.”
How to make money from drop-shipping
There are two basic ways operators or investors can make returns from the business. They are explained below.
Though Oladunni did not disclose how much she made from the business, especially in 2020, findings revealed that the year 2020 was indeed rewarding for her company.
While many businesses contracted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cart Deals expanded into a bigger factory at Palm Avenue, moving from the smaller one at Ilupeju. According to Ola, the border closure meant that people could not import bags and footwear from China, and Cart Deals swooped in to fill this vacuum.
“In addition to producing bags and other things which could not be imported at that time, we started producing nose masks and we made enough to the point of exporting them. Due to the increase in activities, we got more hands and purchased more machines and with the COVID-19 protocols, it was imperative that we move to a bigger warehouse for more spacing and ventilation,” she said.
Cartdeals Express was launched in 2020, after several attempts to get a delivery company that would not disappoint customers. Oladunni explained that the decision to start Cartdeals Express came almost as an impulse and in response to customer complaints. She woke up one morning and decided to get six delivery bikes to handle deliveries. Now, the company delivers goods to customers in record time, with one on standby to handle same-day delivery if the need arises.
In the second category are investors who have some loose funds to give ‘medium’ operators to mass-produce goods.
Funmilola Omole, one of such investors, told Nairametrics that investing in such a business was profitable to her, as she earned as much as 35% in four or six months depending on the type of goods being sold.
She said, “I have not had any regret since I have been investing in such a business. The most rewarding is investing in ladies stuffs like handbags, clothes and jewellery.
I had thought there would be downtime during the heat of COVID-19 lockdown but the reverse was the case, as I got my expected 30% returns from Quick Deals Limited, another drop-shipping firm. Despite the lockdown, there were so many demands for bags, which was shocking.”
Like every other entrepreneur, Oladunni has had her fair share of challenges but each of these challenges has been a business opportunity to be explored.
The idea for a clothing line first started when she wanted to purchase some products online and discovered them to be quite expensive. Subsequently, she decided to manufacture them herself and started out with two machines.
“The problem of getting the right quality of leather and uniquely designed fabrics made me travel to China with specifications of what the company desired to get the quality of bags it produces,” she disclosed. This has resulted in high-quality bags and footwear which her customers love.
After experiencing some early-stage problems with the business due to the lack of processes and structure, the entrepreneur has taken time to restructure the business and define the processes and stages of production from start to finish. This has greatly improved her customer satisfaction rate and catapulted her business many steps forward.