How E-commerce Platform Copia is Adapting to COVID-19


Kenya is battling the COVID-19 pandemic that has been around for more than a month following the first reported case back in March 13, 2020. The pandemic has brought many businesses to a stop, but some businesses continue to operate amid a curfew that limits normal operation from 5 AM to 7 PM.

E-commerce is one of the most affected businesses owing to their mode of operation that heavily relies on logistics and people. These platforms have gone a long way to protect their staff while ensuring that customers are served satisfactorily – and bearing in mind that this is the first time that we have to appreciate the benefits of e-commerce because going to shops or stores is a challenge.

While other e-commerce businesses focus on serving customers based in urban towns, Copia has been serving the rural and peri-urban customers, mainly in Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Eastern and Central Kenya. The e-commerce retail platform has built its trade by providing essential products such as foodstuff, farm & construction items, household goods, hygiene and cleaning products to mention but a few available product categories.

Data from Copia reveals that the platform serves over half a million low- to middle-income customers that are based in rural and growing urban centres across various parts of the country. These customers are served by more than 8000 Agents, making it one of the largest e-retail chains in Kenya.

Having been listed as an essential service by the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK), Copia is one of the organizations that can operate outside the curfew hours. For the moment, however, Copia is still serving customers under the 5 AM – 7 PM window to ensure the safety of its staff.

Copia has also distributed 1500 hand-washing stations across the country, as a partner of the National Business Compact on Coronavirus (NBCC). The stations are managed by Copia Agents and can be used by approximately 150,000 people in identified key hot-spot areas.

Measures to ensure safe deliveries

To ensure that Copia Agents deliver products to customers safely, the company has enforced some key measures. All essential workers have their temperatures taken on a daily basis. The company is also taking the social distancing directive seriously. All its warehouses have enforced the measure. Workers are also working in shifts. The warehouses, as well as delivery vehicles, are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.

Furthermore, delivery personnel use hand sanitizers before and after each delivery. They are also equipped with masks when packing and delivering orders. Lastly, Agents are collecting their own orders from the delivery boxes.

These measures are in place amidst increased Copia online store sales as consumers seek safe, reliable ways of shopping from their homes to avoid crowded supermarkets and marketplaces. Copia has also demonstrated that it is responding accordingly to the increased demand and has optimized its supply chain to fulfill the growth in orders. It is also worth noting that it will take some time to substantiate the shock COVID-19 will have on the Kenya economy. Nevertheless, we are glad that the retailer is leveraging its assets to stimulate and sustain consumer demand and enforcing safe practices.