The younger generation is adopting new technologies and social media faster than ever and has provided the much needed boost to the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce market in the sultanate. And daily-deal shopping websites are looking to cash in on the increase in online shopping business.
Owners of the handful of shopping portals that operate in Oman say people were unfamiliar with purchasing online even a couple of years back, and preferred in-store shopping because of the instant fulfilment that comes with the latter.
Jessica Asher, director of business development at daily deals website alatoolmuscat .com, which was started in 2011, said active subscribers are in the age group of 22-35 years, and owing to demand they plan to launch a new e-commerce website this year that will create interest in all business categories and age groups.
She said, "When we started, we were sceptical about how the website would be received. We had about 2,000-3,000 odd organic subscribers then, but we currently have about 15,000 organic subscribers. Everyday we get about 50-60 new subscribers, with an increasing demand for products as compared to services."
According to the global estimates of eMarketer, a digital marketing consultancy, B2C e-commerce sales grew 3.4 per cent and 40.9mn buyers were registered in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2012.
Insaaf Mohammed al Marhuby, co-owner of gatheringsoman.com, which was launched in 2009 and organises products and services for theme parties, said the website has seen a double-digit increase year-on-year in its business volume.
She said, "Business has been picking up in the last two years. People are actually logging in and registering to shop online. Customers are interested in new themes and trends. So we have to always keep ourselves updated."
Moosa al Balushi, owner of muscatmobiles.net, which was started in August 2011, said social media has played an important role in the growth of e-commerce.
"Business has definitely seen substantial growth over the past years. The majority of our active users is in the age group of 25-40. Previously we had customers enquiring on e-mails and calls. But now we receive online orders on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook," added Balushi.