Oman - eCommerceOman - eCommerce
Currently there is limited private sector e-commerce activity in Oman. The government is actively promoting a “digital society” and “e-government” services through the Information Technology Authority (ITA). Some of the most frequently requested government services, such as business registration and customs clearance of imported goods, payment of utility bills, payment of traffic fines, etc. are being conducted online. In 2008 the Government of Oman enacted legislation governing e-Commerce, and ITA officials have recently identified opportunities for U.S. investors in: e-payments (secure credentialing), Arabic language e-mobile content, and e-government applications. The ITA hosts an annual cybersecurity conference in Muscat, which may be of interest to firms interested in entering the market. Oman Tradanet specializes in business-to-business services. Other sites specializing in e-commerce applications are Business Gateways International, e-Oman (Information Technology Authority), and Knowledge Oasis Muscat.
According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, internet spending in the Middle East is booming, with GCC countries expecting a 40 percent growth in eCommerce by 2020 that reaches USD 41.5 billion. Oman is expected to have a total market share of 12 percent across the GCC countries. According to Internet World Stats, there were more than 3.3 million Internet users in Oman as of December 2017, which constituted almost 70 percent of the population,
Current Market Trends
In early 2006, Oman’s government began to implement the e-Government initiative in conjunction with the provision of electronic payments (e-Payment) and in particular Internet payments. This was identified as a critical shared service in the Omani e-Government architecture and serves as a main enabler to the online delivery of government services and goods. Oman’s ITA has taken up the strategic initiative to drive the development of e-Payments in Oman.
In May 2008, Oman legalized electronic transactions by adopting the Electronic Transactions Law, the first law for legalizing electronic transactions in Oman. The law legalizes the use of digital signatures in electronic commerce and communications through letters, emails, etc. in order to assure adequate protection to both businesses and the common public. The law also stipulates penalties for electronic crimes involving e-transactions and provides limited privacy protections for personal data.
The number of electronic transactions via Oman’s National ePayment Gateway nearly doubled in 2017, underscoring the increasingly important role of this portal in enabling secure payments for e-Government services, eCommerce, eTendering, online donations, and a host of other online transactions. According to the ITA, which operates the National ePayment Gateway, around 1.9 million transactions were made via this portal in 2017, up from around 1.1 million a year earlier.
Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
Omani consumers mostly shop online for clothing, airline tickets, beauty care products, and hotel reservations. Consumers are gradually exploring other online shopping options.
Mastercard’s Online Shopping Behavior Study in 2014 identified eBay, Google, and Amazon as the three most popular websites for online shopping in Oman. Omani residents also use vehicle-related websites in the United States to order spare parts and supplies. China remains a favorite country of origin for ordering furnishing, machinery, construction materials, etc.
Omani companies and individuals order products directly from foreign companies and payment is usually made through bank transfers or money exchanges. Courier companies like FedEx and DHL are used to ship the goods.
Oman Post is working on serving the eCommerce market and making use of Oman Post’s branches and vehicles for deliveries of products ordered online.
eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
Oman does not have a data protection law that provides a detailed guideline of the obligations of organizations that collect personal data from the public. The “Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Oman” section provides a more comprehensive discussion.
Popular eCommerce Sites
Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress, and Namshi are the most popular eCommerce sites. Talabat, an online food order and delivery site, is also growing in popularity and use in Oman.
Payment gateways use bank cards, money exchanges, and bank transfers.
According to a 2017 study by YouGov, the most common barrier to online shopping within the GCC was related to discomfort with making online payments (41 percent). Among women, the top issue was lack of cash on delivery options (33 percent), followed closely by uncertainty of product authenticity (30 percent). A previous YouGov survey found that 39 percent of Omani respondents felt offline shopping was “more secure”, with only 24 percent considering online shopping “equally safe.”
Thawani was established in 2006 as one of the first digital platforms to allow mobile payment solutions to merchants and consumers in Oman. Other innovative start-ups are emerging that also offer alternative payment methods.
The “Direct Marketing” section of Chapter 3 provides a more comprehensive discussion of the advertising outlets in Oman.
Major Buying Holidays
Online sales of airline tickets and holidays surge around the Eid holidays and school summer holidays.
Social media penetration in Oman has touched 43 percent, according to research conducted by Statista, a UK-based online research agency. Studies suggest the most frequently accessed search engine after Google is YouTube. Omani Twitter users generate 500,000-600,000 tweets a day, according to an Arab social media report.
There is an increasing trend among businesses, especially among Omani owned SMEs and entrepreneurs, to promote and sell their merchandise through social media. Companies are increasingly using “social media influencers” for store and product promotions.
Oman eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce