A high-level blueprint for developing a thriving e-commerce-based economic sector in the Sultanate has been formulated and is currently awaiting the Omani government’s green-light, according to a top official of Oman Post, which is banking on e-commerce to drive its strategy for business growth.
Abdulmalik al Balushi (pictured), Chief Executive Officer, said the National E-commerce Strategy has been drafted with assistance from UNCTAD, an intergovernmental agency of the United Nations dealing with trade, investment and development issues.
A final draft of the strategy, overseen by a high-level national committee, has now been submitted to the Council of Ministers for its consideration and approval.
Al Balushi made the revelation during interactions with journalists on the sidelines of the IRU World Congress which began at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre here yesterday.
Oman Post — part of ASYAD Group (the holding company of government investments in seaports, free zones, container hubs, shipping and other transportation and logistics infrastructure in the Sultanate) — is strongly looking at e-commerce, among other initiatives, to fuel its growth, said Al Balushi.
The Middle East, he said, is one of only three remaining emerging markets for e-commerce in the world – the other two being South America and Asia. In the Middle East, e-commerce is growing at an annual rate of 30–35 per cent — trends that Oman Post wants to capitalise on, he noted.
“E-commerce is increasing the volume of business – which is good, but it is also seeing a lot of entrants coming in, because there is money now in it. That’s driving us to innovate on our last mile delivery, innovate in transportation, in our touch points, and so on, while trying to reduce costs and improve the customer experience.”
The CEO, who is due to present at the IRU World Congress today, said Oman Post is also looking to develop a model designed not just to serve postal customer, but to logistics customers as well.
“Oman Post is no longer a communications entity, but a logistics company,” he noted. “We move stuff domestically and we also move them internationally as well. It is one of the biggest networks in the world – we are talking about 192 countries and organisations, covering more than 600,000 post offices around the globe. So we are an international company based on the nature of our business.” Another initiative it is weighing centres on its retail business, currently delivered through its 83 branches located around the Sultanate. Many of these branches, he added, are located in areas that are no longer customer-friendly and away from city centres where people tend to converge on.
“We are looking at how we can change retail in a way that we can spread it — increase the number – but also reduce the cost. So we are looking at a number of models, franchise models, business models — why not someone provide the postal service for us, does it have to be us?” the CEO said.
Also in its sights is the issue of ‘last mile delivery’! “We are looking at various scenarios in terms of what can actually provide a better customer experience, cheaper service delivery, and deliver a win-win for us and the customer.”