Exporting wholesale merchandise to Africa requires an understanding
of the needs of the market which you are selling to, an ability to
supply products at competitive prices, and the logistical ability
to deliver the wholesale merchandise in a timely, cost effective,
and safe manner. To run a successful wholesale business that sells
to African stores, you will need to ensure that you can address
each of the following steps.
Research the market. You will want to know the tastes of the
customers that shop at the stores that you will be selling to. For
example, if you plan on selling wholesale suits to a store in
Lagos, Nigeria, you will need to know what kind of suits its
customers prefer. In this case, since suits in Nigeria are mostly
worn by bankers, you will need to have conservative style suits by
recognizable brand names such as Tahari, Jones New York, or Calvin
Klein. Or, if you are selling to a shop located in a mining town
in South Africa you will want to know what kind of clothing local
miners are looking for.
Within Africa there are many subcategories in the consumer market,
and it is important to be aware of them. For example, countries
located in West and East Africa, such as Ghana, Kenya, Botswana,
and Uganda, have been influenced by American and European fashion
tastes, and can have a sizable population that can afford brand
name designer labels. There is a very strong market for used
clothing in Central African countries such as in Gabon, Chad, and
Underlying this is the assumption that you are researching the
price points at which the store can sell your clothing for, so
that you will know how much you can wholesale it for.
You will need to source wholesale merchandise which is suitable for
Africa. One mistake that wholesalers and exporters make when
dealing with the continent is that they assume that the weather is
warm all year round. In reality there places such as in South
Africa that experience a winter, or have a rapid change in
temperature from day to night.
So you might be surprised that there is
a demand for Calvin Klein winter dresses
in South Africa, as well as a demand for
other winter apparel in other African
To reach potential buyers you will want to use online marketing
tools such as Google Adwords, Yahoo Pay Per Click, and Facebook
ads, through which you can target your ads to specific countries,
and with Facebook, to even certain demographics. You should also
consider using African trade and online publications such as
Ghanaweb.com, Nigeriaworld.com, Saweb.co.za, and other country and
region specific media outlets.
Develop relationships with freight forwarders that have experience
shipping products to Africa. There are many reputable companies
such as Express Air Freight, DBSchenker, Grandbelle, and others
that send orders on a weekly basis, and therefore can quote
reasonable rates for your clients. Many shippers will even send
the orders on a freight collect basis which means that the receiver
can pay for the shipping when she receives the order.
The advantage of this is that the customer knows that she will only
pay for the exact shipping charge, and can spread out her total
payments for her wholesale purchase.