App-based services gaining popularity in Oman

Muscat: App-based services are coming of age in Oman allowing customers to order almost any daily essentials from bottled water to cooking gas.

Though seem to be gaining in popularity, for young Omani entrepreneurs working on such ventures took years of strategic planning and hard work.

The emergence of Google Maps and Waze navigation systems too helped improve the efficiency of delivery networks.

Speaking to the Obsever, Babjan Karim al Balushi, co-founder of Buraq 24, said, “It took planning of couple of years and we have to deal with lots of legal and technical issues. But the advent of mobile-based taxi services in recent years helped change the mindset of the people.”

Buraq 24 helps customers to order mineral water, cooking gas and goods transport through the mobile phone. It can also connect customers to freight truck owners and water tankers.

Balushi said it has been not easy to get the cooking gas and other truck drivers onboard.”Some of them were not tech-savy while others had issues coping with operational aspects. But things are changing for good but challenges remain,” he said.

For the benefits of motorists who suffer from a sudden breakdown of their vehicles, this app can link customers to the nearest recovery agents.

The company has a customer base of over 10,000 customers in less than four months.

MarkeetEx is Oman’s first online hypermarket services that operate within the Muscat City, enabling consumers to place orders through a mobile app and get the delivery within 60 minutes.

Sara al Shidani, market analyst and production development,  MarkeetEx, earlier told the Observer that the company is fully owned by Omani investors.  It ensures the consumers delivery within 60 minutes in Muscat.

Talabat is one of the leading online food delivery platforms in the Middle East. It enables customers to order a variety of cuisines from international and local restaurants in Muscat.

There are several other app-based services like Otaxi, Mwasalat, Marhaba (for taxis) alongside restaurants and retail outlets.

“These services are important for Muscat, especially during summer. Now with facilities of Google maps, it is easy to share location and addresses to the delivery person,” said Laila, who uses these services for ordering food both at home and work.

Rajeev, sales executive with a distribution company felt such online services have advantages but I doubt whether customers have enough confidence. “People have been ordering food directly from restaurants and groceries on phone for many years. But that is based on a personal rapport developed over a period of time. Online shopping is a product of technology evolution and in a city like Muscat arranging logistics need lot of investment and efforts.”

There could be skeptical views but something like quick vehicle recovery services in the wake of a sudden breakdown will be always welcome.

“In Oman, role of helpline numbers is not always convincing unless you contact the ROP or some known garages. But apps can solve this problem, it is a welcome sign,” said Ganesh Ramumurthy, who had to face such issue on the way from Duqm recently.