Kenyan e-commerce startup, Copia Global, has embarked on a campaign to drive increased sales through its mobile app after securing $107 million in venture funding across seven funding rounds.
The company, known for its extensive network of 50,000 agents facilitating order collection and delivery, aims to capitalize on the rising smartphone ownership among low- and medium-income Kenyans.
Copia Global’s CEO, Tim Steel, noted that during the startup’s origins, customers predominantly lacked internet access, but that has changed, reflecting the company’s shift from an offline to an online experience. Now, with a significant portion of its two million customers owning smartphones, Copia plans to focus on transitioning them to using its mobile app for ordering household items, electronics, and packaged foodstuffs.
The campaign seeks to facilitate direct engagement with customers, allowing them to explore the entire product range and pricing conveniently. Copia’s strategy involves offering smartphone financing to both its agent network and customers, enabling them to purchase smartphones and other higher-ticket items in installments.
Copia initially introduced a similar campaign last year to encourage agent smartphone usage, resulting in a notable increase from 5% to 80%. This successful initiative involved providing smartphone financing options to the agent network. The company plans to extend this facility to its customers to further drive app adoption.
Founded in 2013 by Tracey Turner and Jonathan Lewis, Copia relies on a vast network of street shops in small towns and semi-rural areas to facilitate order collection and delivery. While the new focus on mobile app usage may reduce reliance on nearby shops for orders, these shops will continue to serve as pickup locations, with shopkeepers earning commissions from app orders.
The startup anticipates enhanced control over the shopping experience, increased visibility into customer ordering patterns, and the ability to customize offerings based on historical preferences. The company recognises the responsibility to introduce its target demographic, which includes rural and peri-urban consumers, to the world of digital commerce.
Kenya’s increasing smartphone penetration, driven by falling device prices and accessible smartphone financing, aligns with Copia’s strategic shift. A Kantar East Africa study commissioned by Copia has indicated that 73% of middle and low-income consumers in Kenya now own smartphones, with half of Copia’s smartphone-owning customers using the internet weekly.
Despite recent internal restructuring, including job cuts and the closure of its Ugandan business, Copia remains committed to expanding its e-commerce presence. In addition to its core e-commerce operations, Copia manages various brand product lines and operates facilities for sugar and rice production and packaging. The company’s recent $50 million series C funding round in January 2022 supports its ongoing efforts to innovate and adapt to the evolving digital landscape in Kenya.