Ele Ojo is the CEO of a Nigerian based online store Hot Labels formerly known as House of Top Labels. She started by selling of shoes, clothes and bags and has now expanded her business with the aid of the internet. In this interview with Lagos Convo, Ele told us how it all started.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Ele Ojo, I run an online retail store on www.hotlabels.com.ng
Hotlabels has a large collection of male and female fashion accessories such as clothes, shoes, designer perfumes, handbags, mobile devices, beddings and lots more, on our website.
How long have you been doing this and why did you go into business?
This is our fifth (5th) year in business. We started in 2011.
I went into business to meet shopping needs of people in this part of the world, especially those in paid employment who work daily from 9am to 5pm, commute home in traffic and barely have time to shop. So I created an online platform where people can shop from the comfort of their homes and offices and have their items delivered to them at their doorstep. I also wanted to give people access to good quality fashion products at reasonable prices.
So what will you describe as your major motivation?
My major motivation is firstly to meet shopping needs by providing a convenient way for people to shop. I am also motivated by satisfied customers coming back to buy (repeat business) and introducing us to their friends and family (referrals). Thirdly, over time, I have become an employer of labour.
What challenges do you face?
Challenges range from receiving wrong products, oversized, undersized, or wrongly produced items from suppliers abroad; delay sometimes experienced while trying to clear goods through Nigerian customs; to a few dissatisfied customers…but in all, challenges have contributed to our success story. We learn from them and improve on our services.
What does it take to run your kind of business or businesses generally?
To go into this business, firstly you need to be passionate and persistent. There were days when I thought I would give up, but I kept on because this is what I am passionate about. I enjoy what I do.
You also need to be customer friendly. I am all about my customers. I have built relationships with most of them over the years. Some I haven’t met but we relate like we have known for years. I know what is going on with a lot of them and I even attend some of their events and functions. Thirdly, customer satisfaction is my watch word. If a customer is dissatisfied with a product, I call it back. I give room for feedback.
How do you handle difficult customers?
Difficult customers….they form a vital part of the business. Like I said, I give room for feedback. I call back items, replace items and refund cash when its necessary. Today, I have good friends who started out as difficult customers.
Are there prospects in online retail businesses?
The internet is as large as the clouds and is big enough to accommodate as many online stores and businesses, providing as many products and services as possible. The internet is currently the largest sector, creating the largest market place, having billions of people online, daily. So yes, there are very huge prospects in the online retail business.
What is your staff strength?
I currently have five (5) staff.
Would you encourage more people to do your kind of business?
Yes, I would encourage more and more people to go into online trading. Not just trading as in buying and selling, I would encourage every business owner to have an online presence. That is where your customers are. There are lots of opportunities online for job seekers too.
I would advice them to be passionate about what they do, be persistent, be prayerful, be patient, tolerant because you are dealing with people.
Any expansion plan?
Yes, we plan to expand our offering and product lines. We are currently been approached by various manufactures of various products, so watch our space…
Where do you see Hotlabels.com.ng in five years?
In five (5) years, God willing, we are a one-stop-shop. Meeting shopping needs for millions of people around Nigeria, Africa and the world over. Making us one of the biggest employer of labour. We will do it.
What items can you not do without?
I can’t do without my perfume and earrings.
I am most comfortable in denims (dress, pants, shirts, shorts, jumpsuits…anything denim).
I like dresses and jumpsuits by JLo. My favourite perfume is by Narciso Rodriguez.
How strong is your social media presence?
I am social media friendly. I am online 24/7. I have over 6000 friends and followers on Facebook, over a thousand on instagram, twitter, bbm and counting…
How do you reach your customers?
Majority of my customers are online and we met via the various social media platforms we trade on.
Such as instagram, twitter, Facebook, bbm, whatsapp and so on…
What are the key lessons you’ve learnt running your business?
I have learnt a lot of patience. I have learnt that determination is the key to success. Also, If you are persistent, you can achieve just about anything. I am very optimistic about life in general, having a can-do mindset.
Which personalities would you like to wear your cloths
I would like Genevieve Nnaji, Beyonce and the Kardashians to wear Hotlabels. I Know it will happen..lol
What message do you have for our readers?
Be positive, passionate, persistent and patient. Determination is the key to success. Have Faith…nothing
Is impossible to them that believe..