Shoptomydoor is a Nigerian online retailer that allows Nigerians, individuals and business owners, shop from over 80, 000 stores in UK, U.S.A and China. In this interview with Jonah Nwokpoku, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Shoptomydoor, Nduka Udeh said Shoptomydoor is using e-commerce to explore international commerce by providing an avenue for Nigerians to shop from any store that will traditionally not ship to Nigeria. He explained, among other things how Shoptomydoor works and how the business model is opening up Nigeria’s economy. Excerpts
Business history & model
We have been in business since 2009 and that was a time e-commerce was not prevalent in Nigeria. At the time, we started with a site called shopfromamerica.com and centred strictly on America but with changes in e-commerce landscape, we decided to expand to other regions including China and UK. So we had to look for a name that encompasses shopping from virtually anywhere. That was when we decided to switch over to shoptomydoor.com. A lot of people may look at Shoptomydoor and say it is new because we did that transition just about four months ago. However, all we had to do was transition all our old customers to the new platform and that is where we are now.
How Shoptomydoor came about
I was based in the US after studying here in Nigeria. So, about six years ago, I was getting emails from people asking me to help them to buy one item or the other in the US. And when I did the analysis, I saw that the cost of things there are a lot cheaper. For instance, a laptop that you will see selling in Nigeria for N180, 000 might be selling in the US for N100, 000 and the logistics may add it N10, 000 so that at the end of the day, you are sure of the quality of whatever that you are getting.
However, getting a lot of these stores to talk to us was a big challenge. A lot of them didn’t want to ship to Nigeria due to the perception they have of Nigeria in terms of fraud. But we had to find a way to localise the purchase without charging the customer excessively.
The concept that we came up with was that of local address for people who do not live there. What we did was to acquire a warehouse and we are able to assign each person a part of that warehouse. So you have an individual who goes onto our platform, who signs up and we assign him an address in the US, UK or China, so that when they now go to any of these stores to buy things, they are able to ship it locally to that address. And then because we know who the person is, we are able to deliver it to him.
Essentially, what we provide is an avenue for you to shop from any store that will traditionally not ship to Nigeria, of which most will not ship to Nigeria.
These stores will accept your payment, especially with PayPal in Nigeria now but they do not offer shipping to Nigeria and that is where Shoptomydoor comes in.
First, most of the things that people buy through us are products that cannot easily be seen here or can be found but very expensive. Let’s say I want to buy the iPhone 6 that has just been released. I will go to the store, like Amazon for instance and order for the item. Now if Amazon ships to Nigeria, it will be expensive because they will have do it one item at a time. So instead of the customer transacting directly with Amazon, he goes to Shoptomydoor, and sign up at the homepage and at the point of signing up, which takes less than a minute, they will be issued an address in the US where that item would be shipped directly to.
Mr. John Adeyemi (not real name) goes to Shoptomydoor, keys in his username and password, the next page will ask him for the delivery address in Nigeria, he keys that in and instantly, he sees a page that says this is your US, UK or China address. A typical address will come in the form of John Adeyemi, Unit 3051, 9947 Hawaiian Drive, US which is our warehouse. So that unit number distinguishes that customer from every other customer. So whenever that customer wants to shop on Amazon, eBay, or any other store, he gives them that address and we pick the items from there and send them to Nigeria. Now the key distinguishing factor is that unit number. Already we have over 30, 000 Nigerians using the platform on the daily basis. So we had to find a way to make sure that we do not mix up one customer’s package with another. And that was where the concept of that unit number came about.
First, we do not charge a processing fee which is common with other online retailers. Take for example, a laptop costs $1000 in the US. A typical online platform will charge you ten percent, so that you pay the $1000 and the $100 processing fee and then for the shipping as well and that at the end of the day, that person has spent N17,000 equivalent in processing fee. But with Shoptomydoor, you go directly to the site, buy the item without paying any processing fee, as if you are shopping like an American, a Chinese or Briton depending on which country you are shopping from.
When these items get to us, all we charge you is for the shipping. The second aspect is that you have stores who are opening up to Nigerians. So if I were to shop on Amazon or eBay for example, and they agree to ship directly to Nigeria, you have to pay for that one item all the way to Nigeria. But with Shoptomydoor, you have your own US address as if you are resident there. A customer can buy from hundreds of stores, send everything to that one address and we will combine them and ship as one. The more stores you are buying from, the cheaper it becomes and we have seen people save in excess of 80 percent on shipping cost by using this free consolidation platform.
Cost of shipping
On the cost of the shipping when it eventually gets down here, we run a very transparent system. We make sure that you are able to know the cost of your shipping before you even decide to buy. So when you go to our platform, there is a link that says you should get a quote.