Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-Commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-Commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-Commerce in the local market and reputable, prominent B2B websites/
Last Published: 8/4/2017

Overview
Currently there is limited e-commerce activity by the private sector in the country. 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 on-line. In 2008 the GoO 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 and is expected to reach $41.5 billion. Oman is expected to have a total market share of 12 percent across the GCC countries. Internet users constitute 74.2% of the population (2015).

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 serve as a main enabler to the online delivery of Government Services and goods. The Information Technology Authority (ITA) of the Sultanate of Oman has taken up the strategic initiative to drive the development of e-Payments in Oman.

On May 18, 2008, Oman legalized electronic transactions by adopting the Electronic Transactions Law, the first law for legalizing electronic transactions in Oman. The e-transactions law consists of 9 sections and combined as 54 articles and 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 common public, this law provides for penalties in the case of electronic crimes involving e-transactions. Protection for adequate privacy in matters related to personal data held in computer systems and processes for enabling electronic transactions is assured by the new e-transactions law of Oman.

In 2016, the Central Bank of Oman launched a national debit card payment gateway infrastructure for e-commerce transactions, OmanNet Debit Card E-Payment Gateway infrastructure, which will provide safe and secure e-commerce transactions, A new law for the protection of e-payment is expected to be passed in the middle of 2017, details of which are unknown at the moment.

Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
More than half of online shoppers in Oman use the internet to buy airline tickets, shop for clothes and beauty products, and more. Consumers in the Sultanate of Oman are now gradually exploring online shopping options, according to the 2014 Online Shopping Behavior Study conducted by MasterCard.
According to the study, nearly one fifth of the respondents made at least one online purchase last year, a slight increase than 2012. 15 percent of the respondents identified Oman Air as the most commonly visited website for online shopping. 

Cross-Border eCommerce
According to the 2014 Online Shopping Behavior Study conducted by MasterCard, Google and Amazon have emerged as the next three most popular websites for online shopping in Oman.

Omani residents also use websites such as eBay, Aliexpress to order products, and there are instances of using vehicle-related websites in the United States to order vehicle spare parts and supplies. China remains a favorite country of origin for ordering furnishing, machinery, construction materials, etc. Omani e-shopping  consumers shop mostly for clothing, airline tickets, beauty care products, and hotel reservations online.

B2B eCommerce
Omani companies and even individuals do order products directly from foreign companies and payment is usually made through bank transfers or money exchanges. Courier companies like Fedex, DHL are used to ship the goods.
 
eCommerce Services
Banks, logistics companies, Ports. Oman Post is working on serving the e-commerce market and to make use of Oman Post’s branches and vehicles for deliveries.

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, Namshi, Royal Oman Police, InvestEasy, Bayan Customs,

Online Payment
Payment gateways using bank cards, Money Exchanges, Bank transfers
 
Thirty-nine percent of Oman respondents still feel offline shopping is “more secure”, with only 24 percent considering online shopping “equally safe,” a survey conducted by YouGov has found. Across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the lack of confidence in online payment security has deterred 34 percent from shopping online, says the report. The study interviewed 2,700 participants from across the GCC, including Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

Mobile eCommerce
Thawani, a start-up, unveiled its new platform that will offer new mode of e-payment, which the company said will be an alternative payment method to cash, credit and debit cards. Compatible with Android and Apple iOS mobile platforms, a user needs only to download the app from the respective app store and create an account, entering all relevant payment information linked to the app. This is a fairly new area and a potential opportunity for U.S. companies

Digital Marketing
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
There is an increasing trend among businesses especially among Omani owned SMEs and entrepreneurs to promote and sell their merchandise through social media avenues such as Instagram, Facebook, etc.  With more than 2.9 million mobile Internet subscribers, the social media landscape in the Sultanate is going through a radical change. As the country is giving thrust to its tourism sector, Oman Air, the national airline, is witnessing an impressive rise in its number of social media fans. Equally surprising is the fact that YouTube is the most preferred social media channel at 63% -– ahead of Instagram (51%) and Facebook (45%), per ZLOG. Companies are increasingly using “social media influencers” for store and product promotions.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Oman eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce