How to Set up an Online Business in Nigeria

how to set up an online business in nigeria

With technological advancements and the rise of the digital age, a growing demand for products and home deliveries and of course, the vital need to fight ‘sapa’, starting an online business in Nigeria has never been more enticing. This guide will take you along the journey of how to set up an online business in Nigeria.

The Rise of Online Businesses in Nigeria

If you’re running a business in Nigeria, you must have heard someone ask at least one time, “Is your business on social media?” Without looking too far, there are so many reasons why that question isn’t far-fetched.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of online businesses in Nigeria, and it’s never been more obvious since 2020 and COVID, which brought about an increase in online purchasing and having items delivered to your doorstep, and online transactions.

According to Statista, cards are used for most online retail payments, which made up 37% of the total online transactions performed in Nigeria in 2022.
With all these factors combined with the plethora of online business ideas, it’s not hard to see how businesses are starting to thrive online.

But then, if you’re looking to start a business online, there’s the almighty question of “How?” Before we get into that, we should also look at the why, and the benefits of starting an online business today.

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Why You Should Set Up an Online Business

Why set up an online business? The reasons are many – low startup costs, access to a potentially global market, and flexibility with work hours, to name a few. Whether it’s retailing clothes, offering consultancy services, publishing information, or selling arts and crafts, there’s room for everyone on the world wide web.

How to Set Up An Online Business in Nigeria Successfully in 8 Steps

Deciding to start a business is one thing, but setting up your business and especially making sure you’re on the right path to success is something else. To ensure that you’re setting yourself and your business up for success, it is important to do it right from the beginning. Here is a breakdown of steps, to setting up your online business in Nigeria.

1. Decide what to Sell

The first and most important step to setting up your business online, especially if you don’t already have a business offline, is to decide what you want to sell. Now while this may seem like a pretty straightforward thing, it is super important and you need to put some thought into it. Here are some questions that will guide you.

  • What is the hottest thing selling currently?
  • How will what I want to sell solve problems for my potential customers?
  • Will people pay for this?
  • How will I set up this product to be unique even if there are others in the market selling the same thing?

When you’ve answered all of those questions, you’ll find that you’ve been able to settle with not just what to sell, but what to sell that will be successful!

2. Do Some Market Research.

You need to deeply understand who your potential customers are, and how you can target them. Some questions that you should be answering regarding customers include:

  • How much are they willing to spend?
  • Where are they on the internet?
  • What kind of content will attract them?
  • What kind of brand tone will appeal to them?
  • How will my product solve a particular problem that they currently have?
  • How easy will it be for them to navigate my business and pay without stress?

Another key point for your market research is to identify your main competitors – their strengths, their weaknesses, how they price their product/service, and how they market it. This knowledge will keep you from going in blind and help you create a product/service that stands out.

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3. Register Your Business

To give your online business a legal standing, register it with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Registering your business with CAC means you can legally trade, it also adds credibility, making customers trust you more. For example, your customers would love to see your business name as the bank account they’re paying into when it’s time to make a payment, instead of a random name. Registering your business makes it easy for you to set up a bank account for your business.

4. Create a Website

Your next port of call is to set up a website for your business. Your website is your online shop’s virtual storefront, so it is essential to make it as welcoming and user-friendly as possible. Details like load times, mobile accessibility, clean and intuitive navigation, high-quality images, and clear call-to-actions can make or break the customer’s experience.

Setting up a website for your business can seem tedious, but thanks to business management apps, it’s no longer the hardest part of setting up your business online. For example, a great tool you can use to set up an e-commerce website in minutes is Bumpa. With Bumpa, you don’t have to worry about writing code or building a business website from scratch. Your website is set up once you sign up, and you can start to upload and sell your products immediately.

Another essential step in running an online business is enabling online payments. You need to set up a payment gateway i.e. service that authorizes payments for your online business. It’s the online equivalent of a POS terminal at physical shops. Secure a payment gateway that is both safe and easy to use for your customers. Companies like Paystack, Flutterwave and Interswitch offer this service in Nigeria. The business management app, Bumpa has these options integrated when you set up your website, so you do not have to worry about setting up one.

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5. Build Your Brand

Next up is building and launching your brand. Develop a strong, distinguishable brand to foster recognition and loyalty among your audience. Your brand includes your logo, colour scheme, typography, and the overall “feel” of your business. It should reflect the personality and values of your business consistently across all channels (like social media, website, packaging).

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6. Create Content

There’s a saying that goes ‘content is king’, and it is the simplest truth. Brilliant content can truly set you apart from the crowd, and engaging and valuable content is the most potent tool in your digital arsenal. Begin with a solid understanding of your audience – who are they? What interests them? Once you’ve grasped that, establish a style and voice that reflects your brand and resonates with your audience. Remember: consistency is key.

Now, onto the content creation itself. If writing isn’t your superpower, consider collaborating with freelance writers or content agencies. Variety adds spice, so mix it up with blogs, social media updates, newsletters, videos, or podcasts.

And don’t forget the cherry on top: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). By weaving relevant keywords into your content strategically, you improve your website’s visibility on search engines.

7. Invest in Marketing and Advertising

As your business starts to find its feet in the online world, you should start looking into marketing and advertising to get more customers. With online marketing strategies to generate traffic, leads, and eventually, customers. These could include social media promotions, Instagram and Facebook Ads, sales campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, content marketing (like blogs, podcasts, webinars), influencer collaborations, e.t.c

It is usually best to outline a marketing plan before you start, so that you actually have an idea of what your strategy looks like and what you’re trying to achieve, and can set goals as well. Always make sure to track the performance of all your marketing campaigns, to know what marketing channels are giving you the best results and which ones you might need to shelve.

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8. Invest in Great Customer Service

For the final infinity stone of setting up your business successfully online, we have customer service!

Strong customer service is vital; it can dramatically affect your business’s reputation and growth. Quick response to queries, handling complaints smoothly, and a clear returns & refunds policy will significantly enhance customer satisfaction and can turn casual visitors into loyal customers.

Remember that happy customers are repeat customers, and repeat customers are also your biggest cheerleaders and will spread the news of your business far and wide. And lastly, even an unhappy customer will forgive you if you treat them right!


Congratulations! You have taken your first steps to become an online business owner. The internet has made the world even smaller, making it possible for an entrepreneur in Nigeria to reach an international audience. This means that by taking your business online, you’re opening it up to a whole new world of opportunities and expansion. The most important thing is to start right, and with the tips in this article, you’re already on the right path!

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