In recent times, there has been a shift in the ways that Nigerians traditionally think about online commerce. Ranging from what can be bought or sold online to how secure their transactions are.
We now have things that normally require a physical visit to purchase being purchased online. Websites like BalogunMarket.ng and its ilk are now almost common place. Even building materials and furniture.
In the area of furniture, we have sites like showroom.ng and wooddesignes.com. Showroom is owned by Sherrif Shittu while Wooddesignes is run by Buogo Obi.
In a space where there is so much happening, how do you separate yourself from the crowd? Despite the buzz online, most eCommerce platforms will still agree that most of the magic happens offline.
Take Wooddesignes for example. I was able to meet Buogo recently and it turns out that despite the fact that people can see the products online, they still want to come to the showroom to see it physically. She told me of the story of a customer that travelled down from Ibadan just to come and see something he had previously seen online.
It goes beyond doubt for Nigerians, they just want the feel of something they are paying for. In a market where only 33% of online pay-on-delivery orders are eventually fulfilled, you have to evolve past it. Wooddesignes had to partner with The Game, a store in Lekki’s popular Palms Shopping Mall, to stock her products. According to the CEO of Wooddesignes, most of the people who come around to the website mostly look around and eventually come around to pay in cash and sort out delivery which is pretty much the old way things used to be done.
However, to stand out, Wooddesignes has a custom order page which is very detailed so that by the time they receive that order, they have your idea down to a tee. She mentions that this is however not the part that makes the most revenue for them because most customers see something they like and just go with that rather than wait for the custom order to be produced.
When asked about other challenges, she mentioned supposed societal expectations of a furniture business. By this, she meant that some people come in expecting to see a man or at least not such a young woman. Did I mention that she is about 25 years? I just did. Some people come in asking to see the person who is really in charge after seeing her and are shocked when she says she is the one.
With two outlets and a workshop, managing personnel has not really been a challenge as they respect her and she totally gets down to work with the craftsmen in the workshop in her overalls with no reservations.
I mentioned IKEA in the course of our conversation and she hopes to be able to achieve that standard in a few years. For those who don’t know, IKEA is probably the biggest online furniture company in the world and they sell DIY-style, ready-to-assemble furniture that does not require technical expertise to assemble. About Nigerian competition, she is more interested in making more sales than in what they are doing. I tend to agree with her, champs don’t win the race by watching other contestants run.
Their range of products range from office furniture to kitchen and dining sets and it is generally a very nice range of different stock. And with the custom design option, who says I can’t have my Avengers-themed wall shelf? That will definitely be so cool.