While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended human lives virtually in all aspects, some changes like wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns have been unexpected and involuntary.
At the same time, for a vast majority, it has accelerated the adoption of behaviours that were already gaining traction, such as digitalisation of shopping as traditional ways of buying essentials are fractured now.
If consumers shopped online just for clothing, airline tickets, beauty care products, and hotel reservations before the pandemic, now they buy many goods online.
Reports and surveys drive home the fact that the pandemic has triggered changes that will have lasting effects in the shopping behaviours of both citizens and residents in Oman.
According to a research by ReportLinker, the e-commerce market in Oman is rapidly increasing thanks to various reasons including increasing consumption rate, different initiatives of the Sultanate government and higher sales of smartphones.
“The different initiatives of the Oman government are fuelling the growth of this market”, points out the report, which analyses the latest trend in the Sultanate’s e-commerce market.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, since the breakout of the coronavirus, has approved a number of laws and legislation to facilitate e-commerce, in addition to setting up a section to follow up and support the areas in this regard.
“Different government initiatives and regulations are supporting the growth of this market. The ministry is continuously influencing people to adopt e-commerce for shopping, import, and other activities”, says the report.
The ministry, during the height of the pandemic, launched ‘Shop from Your Home’ initiative to prevent transmission of coronavirus.
The Sultanate government is encouraging home business owners and small and medium enterprises to promote their products and use modern methods and technologies to market different products internationally, says the report.
According to the report, technological awareness among customers is expected to have a significant impact on market growth.
In this regard, points out the report, the implementation of 4G and 5G technology for connectivity purpose is increasing the exposure of online shopping for customers.
Social media penetration that has touched 43 per cent in the recent past is another reason for the e-commerce growth in the country. The growing Internet consumption rate is fuelling the growth of this market.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Oman’s Internet subscribers have surged to 473,487 in 2019, which increased by 11.4 per cent from the previous year.
Moreover, when it comes to online shopping, the smartphone has now surpassed desktops. The number of active mobile broadband subscribers rose to 4.739 million compared to 4.113 million in 2018.
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.
Businesses, especially Omani owned SMEs, and entrepreneurs increasingly promote and sell their merchandise through social media. Companies are increasingly using “social media influencers” for store and product promotions.
Several retailers, which earlier started selling essential items — like food and grocery only — via online and app-based channels, have now started offering several items in general merchandise such as apparels, appliances, and electronics through these platforms.
“The overall economic growth of this country is expected to drive the e-commerce market. Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation are infusing, increasing the consumer spending power for this country”, adds the survey report by ReportLinker.