Muscat: Oman has been ranked second in the Middle East for online shopping, according to a study conducted by Consumers International Organisation and titled, “Policies and initiatives for a digital world consumers can trust.”
The data revealed that Saudi Arabia ranked first in the Middle East in terms of the percentage of consumers shopping online with 60 per cent, followed by Oman with 45 per cent, and Tunisia with 38 per cent.
The study showed that most of the surveyed consumers shopped online once a month or less in all the surveyed countries, which included Saudi Arabia, Oman, Tunisia, and Egypt.
Sharifa Al Barami, Co-founder of MarkeetEx, the online household goods service, said: “We have seen a huge increase in the number of e-shopping customers, and in the last three months, our growth has been 164 per cent in terms of the number of orders and customers. This showed a huge increase in the number of people who rely on e-shopping.”
The study pointed out that the most important factors that can affect consumer confidence in telecommunications and digital services are understanding how to use personal data, security and being the target of fraud, and how to control privacy settings. The three most common problems that consumers face while shopping online are the lack of a clear description of the product, the inability to contact the seller to file a complaint or return the item, and the presence of fake products.
Despite its ranking in the Middle East, Oman’s rates are much lower than countries with a high growth in e-commerce sectors such as the United Kingdom with 73 per cent and the United States at 65 per cent. However, it is much higher than China and India, where only 19 per cent and one per cent of e-shopping customers use online payments .
The study pointed out that the way to support the spread of digital services and e-commerce is to provide consumers with more information on how to protect their data and privacy in creating a safer and more equitable digital environment where individual rights are respected.
The study also showed that a way to develop an active digital economy is to increase consumer confidence through the development of a new e-consumer protection law, the electronic signature law and the electronic crime law, and the development of an information privacy law and an e-commerce law.
Consumer protection laws can be strengthened in the region and more binding laws, surveillance and safety regulations are needed to ensure consumer protection.
The report stressed that the further strengthening of consumer protection laws related to e-commerce will increase consumer confidence and facilitate the continued growth of e-commerce in the region.
It also showed that the majority of consumers agree that technology will help them lead a better life in the future and there is a strong demand for greater participation in the digital economy.
Al Barami said: “Customers save time by shopping online, a lot of our customers are busy and don’t have time for their weekly shopping. Through online shopping, they can order from anywhere—at home or the workplace— and choose the time and day to shop and the products they need.”
She added: “The feedback we are getting from our customers is that they now have peace of mind and manage to save time. It has definitely improved the lifestyle of our customers.”