Oman has been making headway in terms of digital transformation, and E-commerce is the obvious step forward. The Sultanate aims to encourage the growth of E-commerce industry and services to boost its GDP, as a part of its initiatives outlined by Tanfeedh. In 2017, Oman’s online market accounted for 12 percent of its retail industry. Reports suggest that e-commerce sales in the GCC will have an estimated value of USD 41.5 billion by 2021. Customer demands are on the rise and the gulf is likely to witness a rise in its online retail services. To keep pace with the rest of the region, Oman has to strengthen its e-commerce base.
Oman has seen a steady increase in its internet users. Internet subscriptions rose by 14.8 percent since last year. A report also suggests that on an aggregated average, Omanis spend six hours daily on social media. This data points to the fact that Oman can see the emergence of a new and strong e-commerce customer base. The Sultanate and its retail industry can benefit greatly by tapping into the potential of the online market in a time when internet connectivity and social media can very well sway the public towards an online retail portal’s draw. The Omani youth and working class will also make for a successful target.
Ease of E-payment
The population’s hesitancy in indulging in online shopping also stems from their apprehension about payment methods. The Sultanate will have to provide a safe e-commerce environment by introducing sound payment methods. Oman’s banking sector has already begun introducing digitally savvy payment options, that if partnered with the online retail portal, will build a strong e-commerce foundation.
The E-commerce Route
To successfully manage e-commerce shipping, the country’s infrastructure must also be systematically structured. At present, online shopping transactions makeup or 1 percent of all retail sales. One of the reasons for such a low-performance rate is also a lack of efficiency. The country’s infrastructure may be the hurdle that has rendered the e-commerce market relatively stagnant. However, the government has come up with an effective solution- Unified address system. The system will allocate precise addresses to buildings, streets, and wilayats, allowing easy identification of any location within the country, making door-to-door delivery an easy feat.
SMEs and E-commerce
Oman Post’s ‘Matjaar’ e-shipping service has been initiated to help ship requested goods from U.S, India, and China to customer’s doorstep. However, there is a void in terms of online services that provide goods and services from within the country itself. This economic vacuum can be sealed by SMEs. The online market has great potential, and if enterprises, with the help of the government, can rise to the occasion, then the Sultanate would have managed to nurture and build two of its potent players for economic diversification.