Q&A: Lola Olusola, Founder, Ella.ng

Q&A: Lola Olusola, Founder, Ella.ng

As experts rightly predicted, the next phase of ecommerce in Nigeria would be dominated by companies specialising in specific lines of products. Ella.ng is one of such and is focusing on fashion for middle class businesswomen in Lagos and across the country. Lola Olusola, Founder of the startup spoke to HumanIPO on the company that has better eyes for fashion that ecommerce giants Jumia and Konga.

HumanIPO: What is Ella.ng all about?

Olusola: Ella.ng is an online retail store that provides stylish and affordable fashion to corporate women in the middle class. We want to make products available to all women which is why we are targeting the mass market so everybody.

What is the target market size?

The target market size is about 10 million women, out which we are just trying to get 1% which is like 100,000. In 2015 if we can sell 100,000 products at an average price of about US$25, we will be looking at revenue of about US$2.5 million. Most of the women currently are in the middle class and we are trying to cater for this wide audience.

How does the service work?

Basically you go to www.ella.ng, we’ve built a really strong platform built responsive for web, mobile and tablet devices. We have beautiful shots of our products. Click into the categories such as new arrivals, dresses, and other stuffs. Click on the product you want and you can easily purchase. We also have a blog section on our website where you can see trends.

Major Nigerian ecommerce platforms Jumia and Konga both have fashion sections. What is the difference between what you do and what they do?

In relation to Jumia and Konga, what I always say is that ecommerce first of all is still very new in Africa even though it’s growing at a very rapid rate. Jumia and Konga are Amazon so to speak. Basically they sell everything, not entirely focused on fashion, they sell all consumer goods. We have fashion expertise in terms of products and services.

For example, we have designers, we are bringing in stylists. I would say we seem to have better eyes for fashion than the Jumias and the Kongas. Women relate better to that because they would rather go into a store.

Imagine if you go into a physical store. I would rather go into a women fashion store than to go into Shoprite to buy clothes. In the same vein I would say Jumia is Shoprite if Shoprite sells clothes. Jumia is like Amazon, we are more like the Zara.

Where do you presently cover?

We are covering nationwide although most of our current customers are based in Lagos. We are partnering with a couple of logistics companies such as A-Post and Tranex.

You know your targeted customers are to a large extent very much concerned about the quality of the stuffs they are buying and wearing. From where are your products coming from, are they locally sourced?

No, they are internationally sourced. We currently source them in Europe and Asia because what we plan to do is to keep our cost as low as possible and at the best quality we could get them. Nigeria is too expensive in terms of production for us. What we do is we create the original samples here and we send it to our suppliers and they make it to what we like in terms of our vision.

As far as buying cloths online is concerned, a lot of people are still reluctant due to the fact sometimes, what they see – and fall in love with online is different from what they get when they finally receive such. How do you deal with this on Ella.ng?

Let me just say our returns rate is actually very low; we hardly have our products sent back. The returns we’ve had were because the customers didn’t fit into the cloths. It was never really a quality or got something different from what they asked for. We focus on making sure the qualities of our products are very good.

We make sure that what we have on the site is what it looks like in person, and we have a very generous 14-day return policy. We also offer Pay on Delivery service which means customers are not really taking a huge risk.

What’s your vision for Ella.ng in the next 12 months?

In the next one year our target is to make sure we have at least 500,000 women who know of our brand. In terms of sale, we are planning to sell US$2.5 million worth of products in 2015. We plan to do much bigger. We want to be accessible. We are making use of all the marketing and distribution channels available just to make sure we reach our target audience as wide as possible.

Affordability of your products is very crucial to reaching your goal. So, what is the average cost per product?

Our average cost per product is NGN5,000. We have products such as vests that cost NGN2,000 while the most expensive product we’ve sold is NGN10,000. The price is quite good. We plan to also reach students and other categories in the nearest future, but for now we are focusing on middleclass businesswomen. They need it and they can afford it.

What Ella.ng’s your turnaround time?

We tell the customers 48 working hours but we actually deliver within 24 hours. Outside Lagos we say 5 working days.

As a lady running a fashion ecommerce platform, what do you think other ladies would be thinking of when searching for fashion products online?

Women are very aspirational these days, they like to see another woman who is styled and they would aspire to be like the woman one day. When we deal with our models, we put that into mind. I’m also in my target market. I would ask myself what I would like. So I would be able to say let’s style this model this way.

When they come to the website, we want to make sure they find stuffs they like. The people who are looking for what we have, we want to make sure they actually find it.

Image courtesy of ShutterStock

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