Nigerian startup Commissions.ng is enabling users to start businesses selling products and services in return for commission, offering each subscriber a complete, personalised e-commerce platform that comes preloaded with items they can start selling within minutes.
Fully launched in September, Commissions.ng saves subscribers the hassle of worrying about web hosting, logistics and technical details, as well as the need to plan seasonal promotions and process payments.
It provides everything its subscribers need to run a successful e-commerce platform, even offering live chat and customer care numbers.
“The only thing we expect our subscribers to do is marketing and sales,” co-founder Ehis Asibor told Disrupt Africa. “When sales are made, we handle the order processing, liaise with the vendors, and ensure the order is fulfilled. If there are returns, complaints or issues with the order, we handle them. We completely insulate our subscribers from everything that is not marketing or sales.”
To ensure the widest variety of offerings are available on each of its subscribers’ websites, Commissions.ng gives them the opportunity to sell more than just regular products or services.
“We are currently working to allow our subscribers to sell hotel reservations and flight bookings directly from their e-commerce website. Currently, they can sell airtime recharge cards, and soon bill payment for things like cable TV and electricity will be available. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate plan is to allow them to sell almost anything for a commission,” Asibor said.
He said a lot of people wanted to start businesses, but did not have the capital available to take the first steps.
“Often, when they do have the capital, they are faced with the problem of trying to determine what to buy that ensures a profitable return,” Asibor said.
“A number of people have thought about going into e-commerce, but the logistical and operational challenges very quickly kill the business. Other times the resources to operate as an online marketplace are absent or just too expensive.”
This is the gap Commissions.ng is trying to bridge.
“We want everyone to be able to start an online business, selling products and services without having to incur massive upfront expenditure,” said Asibor.
Evidently, the startup is coming up against more established platforms such as Jumia and Konga, as well as Shopify. But Asibor feels his company has a competitive advantage due to the branding opportunities it offers to affiliate marketers, in the form of their own websites and brand names.
“For those involved in drop-shipping, the inventory-less model, plus the managed platform that we offer them, is the value we are proposing to them,” he said.
Commissions.ng is to date self-funded.
“Truthfully, we have not actively sought funding. We have just been focused on the business fundamentals in an attempt to find the best product-market fit. We think this is very important, especially given that our approach to e-commerce is completely novel,” said Asibor.
“We are quite young and there is still a lot to achieve. However, given the resources we have, then comparing this to the results we have seen, we are confident that we are on the right glide-path to completely disrupt the conventional concept of e-commerce in Africa.”
There is evidence to back this up. It has already produced over 100 websites for subscribers, and gives them the chance to sell almost 4,000 products. Currently, Commissions.ng is solely focused on the Nigerian market, but Asibor said that will not remain the case.
“We have received enquiries from people interested in being agents from outside Nigeria. The plan is to expand to other countries at the right time,” he said.
The startup charges its vendors an annual subscription fee, while it also sells add-on products and services to its agents such as custom domain names and branded marketing materials.
“In addition to revenue from subscription, we also earn commissions from every sale made. Currently, our vendors and service providers list their products for free, but ultimately listing will not be free,” said Asibor.