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How To Start Dropshipping In Africa

As an African, one would ask how to scale through in the eCommerce industry as a Dropshipper successfully; this is how to Start Dropshipping In Africa.

Dropshipping is practically effortless for  US citizens and other European countries, and they’ve been more successful than international store owners like us in Africa.

They enjoyed fast shipping and their Shopify store’s various payment processor options.

There are a million ways why the dropshipping business model is not that popular among online entrepreneurs in Africa and other international countries like Brazil, Pakistan, and many more.

Why are we not getting the same services and opportunities regarding the dropshipping model?

Why do we have to deal with PayPal limitations and business closure yet do the same on the platform?

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It’s good. Despite all these obstacles, we stand a fair chance of making the dropshipping business work in Africa.

You can decide to target your respective countries or go the international way.

There will be limitations and challenges that you must embrace as you embark on starting a dropshipping business on Shopify.

Generally, all African countries have almost the same problems when it comes to Online Entrepreneurship, with Dropshipping as a case study:

  • Payment gateway limitations and bans, e.g., Paypal
  • Lack of US documents and business Certificates (LLC) (Register US LLC)
  • Lack Of SSN/EIN for Tax-Related Issues

With global payment platforms like PayPal restricting certain transactions in some African countries, it has been challenging to cope.

In countries like Nigeria, PayPal has proven difficult to use. They limit accounts with no warning and ask for requirements one doesn’t have in possession.

Fraud is rampant in most parts of Africa, and they want to ensure the buyer is protected as they buy products from your shop.

The issue comes when you’ve worked out and submitted all the required documents, but they still limit or hold your money for 180 days.

If we had local payment gateway integration into Shopify, we wouldn’t have all these issues of limitations.

However, this article tends to extensively describe the rudiments of Dropshipping and what it takes to be 100% successful in the trade.

However, owning your Dropshipping store in Africa is still very much possible.

The simple steps in this article will help you know how to start Dropshipping in Africa and succeed in no time.

Here are some steps to start a dropshipping business in Africa: 

  • Research your niche
  • Choose a dropshipping supplier
  • Build your ecommerce store
  • Market your products

Other steps include: 

  • Deciding on a business structure
  • Doing competitive research
  • Getting your finances in order

Here are some tips for starting a dropshipping business in Africa: 

  • Choose your target buyers
  • Pick the best product niche
  • Understand how your competitors work
  • Use a local South African e-commerce plugin

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is merely a business concept where people sell products through an online platform without fulfilling their clients’ orders.

The seller takes an order from his client and sends it to the supplier, who carries it directly to the buyer.

So, the seller doesn’t own the product for which he/she is selling.

What you need to know about Dropshipping in Africa

The analysis shows that the e-commerce opportunity in Africa has a potential client reach of over 400 million internet users.

Statista estimates that the eCommerce sector in 54 African countries of over 1.25 billion individuals generated $16.5 million in 2017, an expected increase to $29 million by 2023.

That said, dropshipping is at the forefront of contemporary eCommerce. It is one business that needs almost no capital to start, and anyone can enjoy its benefits anywhere.

Though Africa is the focal region, Dropshipping takes the same process everywhere.

The right niche, a well-structured target audience, and essential marketing knowledge would be best.

Having this place, you would need an online marketplace, “a Dropshipping Store,” where you market your products.

However, this procedure is explained in a few steps to help you understand and plan your way on how to start dropshipping in Africa and be successful:

  • Know Your Audience
  • Get a Trusted Supplier
  • Choose a Good Niche
  • Get a Dropshipping Store (Get a Website or on Online Shopping platforms like Shopify, Amazon Webstore, eBay, Dsers)
  • Add Products to your store
  • Advertise and get paid through Payment platforms into your account.

Know Your Audience ( Choosing the Right Audience)

Knowing the people who might need your product is ideal for any business, online or offline.

So before deciding to start Dropshipping, it is essential to take some time to get to know your prospective buyers.

Any drop shipper who wants to start dropshipping in Africa must understand the importance of researching the audience.

Most successful drop shippers target the US, UK, Canada, and other European countries; since you are in Africa, your target will depend on the following:

  • Ad spend budget
  • Shipping method

When starting dropshipping, budget is critical, and when you fail to provide this to your growing business, you are en route to fail in the dropshipping business.

Money is needed to run advertisements on Facebook and other platforms; bigwigs are making a million sales per day and spending thousands of dollars on ads.

These companies you will compete with, either selling the same product as you or better. Now, the budget plays a significant role in this section.

Are you on a low budget? Then, targeting other countries rather than your own is not an option, and you have to focus on the locals or try your hand at Instagram influencers.

Your targeting audience depends entirely on the shipping method your store offers. Aliexpress has a different shipping option, but the most used by drop shippers targeting countries like the USA is e-packet delivery.

Now, e-packet delivery ships products to different countries but takes the longest, 45 days, sometimes longer.

The longer the shipment, the sooner you may run out of business; customers love quick delivery; failure to do that in disputes on Paypal and other chargebacks appear to come your way.

I don’t know any African customer who will stand the test of time by waiting for 45 days for shipping. If so, a few have the patience to do so.

In Kenya, selling products online is next to impossible. A typical Kenyan would insist on coming to the shop and convincing them to pay before they have the product, which they won’t consider.

This is why some online eCommerce like Jumia have the worst reviews on their social media handles.

To sell online in Africa, you need a backup a-walk in an offline store; starting a dropshipping business in Africa, you must work on your delivery and social proof of customers you have the product delivered to, but still, it is possible.

Choosing  Your Dropshipping Supplier

Choosing the right supplier is very important if you succeed in starting dropshipping in Africa. No one will return to the product or your store after unnecessary delays and inefficient service delivery.

Start Dropshipping In Africa

So, having an excellent and reliable supplier would be best. However, I suggest using AliExpress because it covers many Online Shopping platforms.

I use Shopify as my dropshipping platform, connected to Aliexpress via the Dsers App. The Dsers app helps import products from Alexpress to your store and allows you to edit product details in terms of ;

  1. Product pricing
  2. Product Description
  3. Edit Product images
  4. Adding Product Tags and Collection
  5. Order Fulfillment
  6. Editing Product Variants

When you combine Shopify, Aliexpress, and Dsers, you are to succeed in the dropshipping business if you have a hot-selling product.

Finding a supplier on Aliexpress depends on the type of product listed on your store or intend to sell; most suppliers on Aliexpress are reliable; what makes the system fail is the shipping period based on the shipping method one chooses for their store.

But still, you have options for changing shipping methods whenever you fulfill an order on Aliexpress using the Dsers App.

  • When going for a supplier, check on the following:
  • Customer ratings based on US shipping or delivery
  • Feedback and the years the store has been on the Aliexpress platform
  • Check If they have a warehouse in the US if your target is in Europe.

Later, you can check out how the Dsers app works and how to install the Dsers extension on Chrome.

If your dropshipping business picks up, there will be more orders that your current supplier may not be able to supply, hence the need to find a private supplier who can ship fast and offer tracking information.

You can also look for a supplier who offers drop shipping servicing on Aliexpress, and they are likely to understand the model of business you are in and deliver the product on time.

One good thing about this process is that as your business grows, you can scale up and ask your supplier for custom orders.

While placing orders, remember to ask the supplier not to add packing slips, invoices, pricing, or samples.

Choose the Best products (niche)

The best way to find a hot-selling niche is:

1. Watching YouTube product reviews ( Look for keywords like top 10 Aliexpress products to sell)

2. Using Product hunting Tools like Nichescraper and others listed here

3. Spying Dropshipping Ads on Facebook

4. Using Google Trends

5.Using Amazon and Aliexpress Bestsellers section

There are other ways of finding niches; the product you decide on must fit your audience and the country.

Make sure your product fits the below description:

  • It must have a wow effect on the customers
  • It must solve an issue or offer a solution
  • Must be in high demand
  • It must have a low competition

Adhere to the above and try your best to avoid the following niches:

  • Fashion niches ( they have the highest disputes and chargebacks; besides, the niche is flooded.
  • Survival niche (has issues with customers and in some countries termed as weapons)
  • Baby Toys (some may have babies due to low quality)
  • Food Products that require FDA approval
  • Jewelry

Read the complete list of niches to avoid here

What you need is a niche that sells very well. When making the best choice of a niche, it is crucial to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Look for a well-saturated niche.

Statistics state that products that solve pressing problems convert by at least 80%. So it is better to choose products that solve relevant problems.

Knowing the right product to sell is a perfect step toward achieving a successful dropshipping business in Africa.

How do you know what people want? Use Google Keyword Planner, Try Facebook Audience Insight, or use spy tools.

You must understand what they are going through and what answers they want.

In mind to sell the problem and not the product, give reasons why they need to solve their problems and the repercussions of not doing so; by that, you will sell products.

It would be best always to be sensitive to your customers’ needs.

It is okay to ask how to start a dropshipping business in Africa. What is essential is taking active steps to achieve this process.

The Process of picking the right niche is summarized in these three significant steps:

  • Get a hot market.
  • Know what your market wants.
  • Deliver what they want and in time.

I chose AliExpress: you can find a hot market and sell the right product on your Shopify store.

Adding Selected Products to Your Online Store

In 2017, third-party applications made it easy for online stores to add products from AliExpress to their Shopify store.

You can easily use the Dsers Dropshipping app If you have a Shopify store, which is exceedingly easy to set up. The app helps you import products to your Shopify store with a click of a button.

A few eCommerce tips:

  • Take time to write your sales copy for titles, product descriptions, and other marketing content. Your style of marketing is what will sell the product, so make sure it’s incredible.
  • Select high-resolution pictures that don’t have any branding and use it on a white background.
  • Make the price visible enough for your customers so that you can make the perfect sales.
  • When customers subscribe to your mailing list, offer attractive incentives like free shipping or a discount, especially on the first order.
  • The services of a Graphics and a web designer with search engine optimization skills can not be over-emphasized (Google AdWords inclusive). This is very important in ranking your product pages on search engines; the target market can see it.

Choosing A good Payment Processor

Depending on your location, the payment you will use for your store will determine how far your dropshipping business will survive.

As earlier indicated, PayPal has many barriers, especially if you are to start dropshipping in Africa.

Lookup if your local payment processor integrates with Shopify if you are reading this, but in Kenya, Shopify accepts Pesapal. You can also integrate Mpesa as a third party, but only if your audience is Kenyans.

This varies from country to country, but you must consider PayPal and other payment gateways if your audience is in the US or other countries.

If you choose PayPal, you must arm yourself with legal documents just in case they limit you or require you to verify the business.

Either partner with US citizens to get documents, SSN, and a US bank account, or you can register your LLC business and use a Virtual US bank Account to try to use Shopify payments or Stripe.

I have documented how to register an LLC business. Click to read and have your options weighed.

To fulfill orders, Aliexpress requires you to add a credit card for order processing the minute a customer places an order.

When a customer orders from your store, the amount is sent to your preferred payment processor according to your store settings. The money is ready and available only in Paypal or the processor of your choice.

You must automate the order via the Dsers app, which will import the customer’s details (name, address, and phone number) to the Aliexpress order page. Your work is simple: to verify and authorize the order.

Aliexpress will deduct the amount from the card connected to it when the order is authorized and ship the product to the customer. You get to keep the cash from the customers in your Paypal, wait or ship, and calculate your profits.

In the new age, the use of Credit cards is essential and eminent. This platform is the most commonly used payment option. AliExpress can use Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Maestro.

The most substantial benefit of using a credit card is that in case returns and refunds are not given or you receive an inferior product on AliExpress. Then, it can be easier to file a dispute with the credit card company and petition for a chargeback.

However, this protection is only applicable to the Credit Card payment option. It is unavailable on some other payment types and should be a must for any drop shipper.

Alternatively, AliExpress offers these additional payment methods:

  • Alipay
  • Webmoney
  • Yandex.Money
  • Western Union
  • QIWI
  • DOKU
  • Wire Transfer

At first, when you sign up, it takes two to five days for AliExpress to verify your card details. During this time, you won’t be able to process any orders.

Dropshipping business in Africa: Local and International

Africa has a vast internet market area. However, as I pointed out earlier, some barriers might hinder efficiency with the smooth run of your Dropshipping Business. In such situations, you need to source an alternative audience that converts.

Either way, you would have advantages and disadvantages, which I will discuss shortly.

So, when you decide on how to run your future business, necessarily correctly, you can do this in two distinct ways:

  • Advertise and sell to fellow Africans,
  • Or Source audience in a different continent instead of the domestic market.

Dropshipping to Local Customers

This option can seem to be averagely consistent. As you continually do business around the continent. You can quickly adapt your business to the regional specifics.

Pros

  • Knowing the policies, bans, and laws for your business will help. As a businessman, you will know most of the legal documents necessary to enhance your business.
  • It would help you know what products sell better in different regions. So selling to a foreign audience makes you understand which product is inaccessible offline, hot selling products, and lots.
  • You know your target audience quite well. Marketing to an audience that understands your communication style can be beneficial.

Sometimes, it is vital to use colloquial languages they understand and turns that suit their market structure.

  • It’s easier for you to research the market. Selling to the resident country of the continent has lots of advantages.

However, it is also easy to conduct market research because you are conversant with the market.

Therefore, you don’t need to interpret anything, and there isn’t a language barrier that would stop you from understanding the analysis.

Cons

  • The barrier of seller delivering the items to some region
  • Aliexpress Shipping delays

Though this is not a severe problem, it is worth noting. It becomes very annoying when customers from places like this order products from you; you might have to decline or make alternate choices.

  • The delivery options can be uncomfortable for your buyers in some regions.

Most customers might want to pay on delivery, as is usually the case. Assessing these customers might be very hard as most are in remote areas where it is hard to ship comfortably.

It is important to note that even a long delivery isn’t terrible sometimes. Paying for a product with a month-long delivery is better than being ineffective with buying the product the least bit.

However, if you intend to sell these products in your home country, your customers will gladly buy them. Because they trust the buyer, and you have a way of getting to them.

  • Some globally recognized payment providers do not work smoothly in African Countries.

The most popular payment gateway for most online and eCommerce services worldwide is Paypal.

Though it works efficiently in some countries, it has issues in some with drop shippers complaining of inconveniences.

Working with PayPal alone is not compulsory. There are lots of other payment systems that you can easily integrate with your site.

Stores like AliDropship have a plugin to add to your Dropshipping Store to help you withdraw directly into your bank accounts. Or, if your dropshipping website works on WooCommerce, you can use any payments.

Dropshipping Products to Foreign Customers

Pros

You are in Africa, which doesn’t mean you can only dropship to Africa.

So, if you intend to market your products to stay-at-home moms or Japanese students in Australia, it’s up to you to decide.

Dropshipping is one business that doesn’t need you to sign any official legal agreement. You can operate from any African location and get a target audience.

AliExpress has a new buyer-friendly interface. You can readily make your order and get them to deliver it at the desired time to your online customers on your store.

However, in your country of operation, they might need you to register the business as it grows. This process might cost you a token and would not even take you a lot of strength.

Read Also:

There are no limits on the choice of product.

If you intend to sell your items to customers in Africa, naturally, you can only pick the things that benefit the country(s) if you must drop ship to them.

If you sell your products to people from European or American countries, you can choose from a much more extensive range of items.

Dsers helps you add products you can dropship But Items you would want to deliver to your customers.

Access to a Cost-effective and Quicker Delivery Service

This is why dropshipping overseas is so easy. Because you can gain access to advanced shipping companies, some providers can deliver your packages in a couple of weeks and won’t charge much for it.

A typical example is ePacket. You can access this service for just a few dollars to avoid disappointing your customers with extra high fees.

As of 2018, ePacket delivery was possible for 37 African countries, including South Africa. So, if you intend to dropship overseas, you have plenty of appealing regions.

Broad Reach to a larger Markert

When you spread the tentacles of your business to different locations, especially to people of a different paradigm.

You can make new stores that appeal to diverse customer segments across the globe.

It will give room to create a niche shopping destination attractive to a specific fan group. 

For some reason, your store will appeal to them more than a giant marketplace like AliExpress.

You can work with a more affluent customer.

It’s no secret that the conventional country-to-country has higher purchasing power than selling to an average citizen.

When you choose a target market at your discretion, you concentrate on people who can quickly pay for online shopping. Don’t mind spending on extra charges.

In this case, you can entice them by producing the right environment for emotional sales.

From a broader scope of dropshipping, you would see that doing business in an emerging continent like Africa applies in the same way as dropping abroad.

It only needs the right business approach to succeed in this business.

Cons

You might ask if there are constraints in selling to customers outside Africa. However, before deciding to use this form, the following factors should be taken into proper consideration:

Potential Language Constraint

Effective customer communication is vital in a sensitive business like dropshipping. So, using the most comprehensible language suited to your target audience would be best.

These questions are necessary to answer. Can I speak at least one globally spoken language (For instance, English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Arabic, etc.)?

Knowing how to communicate with global clients is very important. Your knowledge of a native language might be a substantial barrier when you intend to target a global community.

Strange customer profile

Most of the advertising processes take place on social media. Marketing to customers abroad, you understand at least more than just the country’s native language.

Understanding how your perspective thinks, likes, and dislikes is also essential. The technique of gaining your customer’s trust over time,

To do this, you need to go through the region-specific marketing reports and research your audience.

Sometimes, it might be time-consuming, especially if you don’t know where to look for information or don’t know the local language well.

Understanding the legal terminologies of foreign locations can be tedious, and knowing the laws of the countries you’re targeting is essential.

Some countries may have a specified size of imported goods, a ban on some particular product types, a specific tax system, or other restrictions.

This is why you must dedicate some time to reading the official documents of the targeted countries.

You pay special attention to tax laws and regulations and customs policies.

They will let you understand the amount of tax your buyers must pay (if any) and what types of products you can’t import.

Usually, these regulations allow for easy Dropshipping to any location.

Most notably, there won’t be tax fees on importing small-scale goods.

And the commonly banned types of imported goods are a weapon, drugs, explosives, and other life-threatening items that might not pass dropshipping.

You might want to pull out if you’re going to run your dropshipping business on some foreign markets.

Most African Dropshippers target customers outside their countries and, in most cases, Customers in the US.

Conclusion

If you read the above content on how to start a dropshipping business in Africa, you will become a successful dropshipper.

You will need to sign up for Shopify for a $1 monthly for a 3-month trial and install the Dsers app to start a dropshipping business on the Shopify platform.

Do you have any questions regarding dropshipping in Africa? Please leave a comment below; I would be more than glad to answer.

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Sharing this information with others can make a huge difference. You may ask why.

Well, the truth is, my main aim is to provide the best information about drop shipping for both beginners and experienced dropshippers.

And I plan to continue doing so for as long as I can.

I would also like to thank those who support my work by reading and sharing my content.

Trust me, when you take your time to share, it will greatly help me and others who need this information.

Here are some great suggestions:

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This will only take a few seconds of your time, and I would appreciate it.

I appreciate you a lot. Thank you!

Join my Shopify dropshipping group mastermind and follow my blog to learn more about Shopify tips, dropshipping guides, tricks and checklists, and e-commerce in general.

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I was looking for ways of making a living working online from the comfort of my home,few years in am able not only to work from home but also help others achieve their dreams too. I am a full-time eCommerce expert dropshipping business ,Niche research and Facebook ads Expert.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. As always, this information is priceless. GOLD!
    If anyone wants to up their drop-shipping business, this is the place to start.

  2. Wow. Real solid info there. I only first heard of this term “dropshipping” this year in October. Its only now that i am researching more about it and i am seeing that it is a powerful ecommerce tool. I like the way you have described the pros and cons. I think you will make a good mentor for us in Africa who are intending to enter this sphere and i am top of the list.

  3. Very good information here thank you.

    One of the main challenges in Africa is figuring out the logistics. Unless you have a large supplier who already is in partnership with big logistics firms like DHL etc, its hard to dropship products from smaller local african suppliers. Do you know a few logistics conmpanies in africa who ship locally and abroad and can be used by smaller companies ? Thanks

    1. Hey Buddy,I have no idea of any affordable shipping company one can use to dropship to Africa. None exist at this time that will ship the product in few days at the same time affordable.

    1. Hello bro, the apps work for everyone despite the locations so there are no better apps for African dropshippers. You can choose an app based on the solution you want it to solve or offer.

  4. This content is absolutely brillant, thank you so much.

    Do you have any informations about payment gateways if you operate from Senegal?

    Best regards.

    Ziad.

  5. If I have someone in Europe who can create a bank account in their name. What other steps should they be required to do in order for the business to be identified as from UK? Or is it just the payment side that requires a US or European bank?

  6. Dear Samwel,

    Thank you for all the important information. You are a genius!

    My name is Jean de Dieu from Rwanda and I’m a beginner in dropshipping business. I’m just building my shopify store (Oberlo and Aliexpress integrated), but as you said in your article, I’m stuck at payment level. I’m only allowed to integrate Paypal as payment gateway but it seems like Paypal is denying me to access its platform.
    I targetted the US audience maybe that is why I’m having those restrictions. Should I switch to the local audience and target Rwandans? Or is it better to keep it as such and look for someone to partner with in the US? What can you advise me to do?

    Thanks for your help!

    Best regards,
    Jean de Dieu

    1. First of all, you need to confirm if Rwanda is listed in Paypal as a country they operate in,second Paypal can’t restrict your site coz the customer you are targeting,they never do that,just ensure that your are using Paypal business account and not Paypal personal account. You will have to upgrade your Paypal account and try again, suppose you already have a business account then you have to find an alternative. In most cases, I help fellow Africans get UK business/stripe and this allows them to operate normally.

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