The Electronic Retailing Association

Article: The buzz from West Africa: Preparations underway to launch the first international DRTV company in Nigeria by Isi Abebe

Isi Abebe and the ShopEx team in Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa

The challenges facing the launch of any new company can seem endless, especially when it’s your first time as CEO. I’m learning all the time.

But not all the surprises are bad. For example, I’m looking out from our new offices in mainland Lagos and smiling because the décor and product shelving walls are blue and white, sending a strong brand message to our new staff, many of whom are women working for the first time. What’s surprising about the colour scheme is that we took over the space from Samsung and the colours were already close enough to mean we just had to change the logo! Some business surprises, it seems, makes you feel as though both destiny and chance are on your side on this journey.

The build up to the full-time operation of Nigeria’s first international DRTV company is well under way, and people are already aware of the buzz about it.

Isi Abebe, CEO, ShopEx, Nigeria

Isi Abebe is a media professional with demonstrable knowledge of direct response television and the monetization of TV content in omni-channel environments. An experienced team leader with domain knowledge of technology driven full cycle response channel logistics, including Sales, Media Planning, Creative and Finance.

Isi has been involved in the launch of several TV stations in the UK from concept to delivery, and has a keen understanding of the role of technology in ensuring future-proofing and security-of-investment in television infrastructure.  

His previous roles included Head of Media Planning & Strategy at High Street TV, one of the largest TV Shopping companies in the UK, where he managed over 100 hours of TV infomercials per day across 65 TV channels. He also had oversight of four national teleshopping channels.

As we approach the next stage in the launch of ShopEx TV Nigeria, the challenges and dramas will come at us in quick order, but the reality is that we have been in the country now for 18 months: it’s a year since our first test with real end-to-end sales, payments and distribution proved, and six months since the second test where we more than doubled the conversion rates, and demonstrated beyond doubt that the demand for TV shopping products is strong and that the infrastructure we’ve developed to support response logistics works.

Nigeria meets its reputation for being a tough place to do business and that’s why I was delighted to bring on board a local Nigerian VC Fund with vital seed investment in September. That means we are well-placed to start full-time operations in Q4, with staffing, distribution, media and logistics all managed from our Lagos base. Our first locally-produced re-edit of a major infomercial was done locally, and the audience here loved it. The build up to the full-time operation of Nigeria’s first international DRTV company is well under way, and people are already aware of the buzz about it.

We are interested in products that will help enhance our customers’ lives, or make them easier.  We are happy to test a range of products in this virgin market, and we are confident that putting in place all the relationships and structures will be a tough act for anyone to follow.

With experienced TV shopping hand, Ed Hall and the TV shopping team at EMP as investors, and with our local VC backers bringing their relationships to the board, we are finally ready to move to the next stage. It’s time to start full-time operations.

The next challenge is building a business of real scale, and making sure we are ready as a team to grow to serve a country with 200 million inhabitants and a GDP greater than South Africa.

I know we are going to have more challenges in the weeks and months ahead. Some days, just physically getting to the office presents challenges that many colleagues will find astonishing: Africa is full of surprises, perhaps on Lagos roads more than anywhere else... but we have built the company now, imported product, warehoused it, advertised it on TV, generated hundreds of phone calls an hour, delivered those products not just in Lagos but all across Nigeria, and had no problems with our payment systems. We’ve proved to our investors that we can do this, even when we have addresses that read, “Turn left after the mosque and its opposite the petrol station”. We’ve even delivered a Copper Chef pan to an air force general in the capital (I confess to taking very special care of that delivery!)

The next challenge is building a business of real scale, and making sure we are ready as a team to grow to serve a country with 200 million inhabitants and a GDP greater than South Africa. That is what keeps me awake at night, but in the morning, when I get to the office through the chaos of Lagos traffic, the first thing I see is the ShopEx branding in our office, and it didn’t even cost us a penny, so I reckon that’s a sign that with God’s speed and a fair wind, we might just pull this off.

Shopex Logo

Shopex TV is a multi-channel retail business based in Nigeria. We use television to sell innovative products for everyday life. We are the exclusive distributors in Africa for some of the world’s most successful ‘As Seen On TV’ products. Our core product categories are lifestyle, fitness, and kitchen.

We also develop, source and sell innovative and proven products globally via our TV shopping channels, call centre, online, and via retail partner outlets nationally. We are the largest purchaser of Teleshopping airtime across 3rd party TV partners including: Channels TV, TVC, Ebony Life TV, and Silverbird TV.

Contact: isi@shopextv.com

ShopEX 

Consol House, Consol Close, Off Apapa Oshodi-Expressway

Plot C, Block 2, Ilupeju Industrial Estate,

Lagos, Nigeria. 

www.shopextv.com