From Amazon to Alibaba to Jumia, ecommerce has taken the global retail market by storm. Data suggests the trend is here to stay. With internet penetration improving across Africa, we expect ecommerce industry to expand.

Dziffa Ametam of Dziffa is on a mission to create an online marketplace for authentic handmade African goods. For any one who had spent time on the continent Africa, this is no easy feat. Internet speed and pricing are two of several hurdles ecommerce business have to surmount.

In this piece, Ametam shares tips that have helped her build her business, and pitfalls to avoid.

Can you give us some insight to some of the important tools you started out with?

1.  Stick To Your Principle

At Dziffa, our principle was simple: sell authentic handmade African goods that add value to our local economy and expand the global reach of our local artisans. We started by combing Ghana for artisans who made high quality goods from locally sourced raw materials.

We partnered with them, providing professional photography, branding, and marketing services free of charge. As they had nothing to lose, they agreed to the partnership, and that helped stock the site with products that are aligned to our principle of creating a store with authentic African goods.

2.  Focus on the Supply Chain

Most ecommerce sites fail because they are unable to meet demand. It was very important for us to maintain consistency by fulfilling all orders. This sounds very basic but it is actually the hardest part of our job. We work with artisans from various regions and each has his or her own challenges with getting the products to us on time.

I moved to Ghana to ensure that all orders, no matter how small, would be fulfilled. Fulfilment is crucial to turning curious customers to loyal customers. Someone could buy a bookmark out of curiosity, but if she received it on time and is satisfied with it, she just might become a loyal customer. Plus, her friends will know about her new discovery.

Pitfalls to avoid

Getting heavily involved with manufacturing. Because we work hand in hand with artisans, we are always tempted to get involved with the manufacturing process.

This was a big distraction in the very early days of Dziffa. We would get consumed with the manufacturing process that we didn’t have time to focus on our core responsibility, which is selling.

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What are some tools you started without that you soon realized were necessary?

Social Media, Blogs, and Magazines.

Stories matter and we underestimated the power of storytelling in the very early stages of Dziffa. We communicate to our audience through our weekly blog post and bring them along with us on our journey. We reach out to magazines to share our discoveries. We also leverage social media to brand and sell beyond our immediate market,Ghana.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get into the e-commerce space?

1. Do your research

I cannot stress this enough. As an entrepreneur, every mistake you make is costly. Do your research or speak to someone who has been down a similar path. Make sure you thoroughly research the market you are going into and fully understand the opportunities and challenges.

2.  Embrace the struggle

Entrepreneurship is not easy. You will be faced with a lot of challenges. Embrace the struggle; they teach you a lot about yourself and your potential. Remain persistent and always remember why you chose this path.

You can learn more about Dziffa? You can find out more on her website and social media pages – Facebook and Instagram.  Want to learn more about ecommerce or running an ecommerce business? Comment below and let us know.

 

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