Heroshe is cross-border E-commerce, logistics, and payments startup solving the problem of access to global commerce beyond Nigeria. This is for businesses and individuals who need to access products that are not locally available.
The success of Africa’s E-commerce has its roots in the late 2000 and early 2010. With rapid internet penetration on the African continent and the launch of platforms that eased payments, various opportunities for innovation in intra-national and international logistics help complete the triangle surfaced.
In Nigeria, Heroshe is one of the companies that took advantage of delivering this goal. For most Nigerians who need access within a reasonable period to products that are not available, Heroshe was handy.
This translates to an affordable service whereby there is someone to buy, ship, and deliver their goods from the US to Nigeria within a stipulated time frame.
How Heroshe started
The name Heroshe is from the Japanese word ‘Hiroshi’ meaning generous. Most importantly, Generous encapsulates the team’s vision.
In October 2012, Chinyere Ukomadu started out helping family and friends to shop and ship goods from stores in her base in the US to Nigeria.
But, sending them through established third part courier services like DHL, FedEx, and UPS was so expensive and her clients had issues with this.
Some of these services could charge as high as $100 for an item less than a pound and still had to pay customs duty when it arrives in Nigeria. This problem brought about the booming B2B2C platform Heroshe is today.
The decision to build a solution that wouldn’t depend on these major carriers and would be affordable to individuals and small businesses was Chinyere’s mission.
She decided to solve these problems by formalizing the structure for orders. When this began, it was an eyeopener to them that there was something interesting to pursue.
At this point, a thesis sprang about a future where “people will live and shop anywhere once the price and the quality are right and their items get to them within a reasonable time”.
Heroshe set out to prove this thesis by exploring several business models and pivoting as they learned. Plotting each model on their business model canvas as they work to confirm/invalidate each model.
The first business model emerged when solutions for infrastructural problems like digital payment and last-mile logistics were lingering. Today, these problems are gone all thanks to fintech like Flutterwave, and logistics services like GIG.
But at Heroshe’s early stage, these solutions weren’t available. The company did workarounds to solve these problems and delight customers, which means trying out options that at times didn’t scale.
Blackberry Messenger was use for communication with prospective customers, and third-party courier services shipping to Nigeria.
To streamline orders, there was the construction of a landing page on Squarespace, orders created on Formstack, sending invoices using Freshbooks, and receiving payment via direct deposit into their Nigerian bank accounts.
As for the last-mile deliveries, once the goods are in Lagos, a company representative handles it delivery. This person would load up all the items into a taxi, call customers to confirm their orders, and drive around Lagos delivering to customers.
The Booming E-commerce Platform
Heroshe.com was officially relaunched in 2019, providing shipping services from the US to Nigeria for businesses and individuals. The platform has given Heroshe the ability to continue to learn and iterate towards a more suitable product for prospective customers.
The platform offerings include a Ship For Me feature at US$5 per pound for shipping from the US to Nigeria. Also, there is an extra US$10 for last-mile delivery in Lagos and to any state or region in Nigeria.
Customers get their packages delivered within 14 (fourteen) days once the company confirms payment. Also, a 30-day pre-shipping storage option for customers who can’t pay immediately.
The E-commerce platform is expanding its product offerings to serve more business users that need access to more global suppliers and provide the logistics.
Therefore, customers can shop from all stores in the US — including Walmart, Amazon, Nike, ASOS, and Zara — and get their packages delivered to Heroshe’s address.
Since the relaunching in 2019, there has been processing of orders weighing over 200,000 pounds worth and a growth of over 40,000 users. Hence, the company is acquiring customers and scaling through bootstrapping.
There are plans to expand services to other African nations including intra-African transactions in the next two (2) years.