Souqmazoon – Your one-stop-e-shop for Omani Products

Small to medium-sized firms (SMEs) have the potential to make substantial contributions to national economies and in most cases are also the driving force behind innovation and competition in many economic sectors. This is especially true in countries like Oman, that are looking to diversify the economy. However, while there are a wealth of initiatives from the government to support the establishment and growth of SMEs, one question still remains – What can be done to help these smaller businesses benefit from the ever-shifting buyer’s habits towards an electronic environment.

Although the ready availability and falling costs of portable smart devices, coupled with advancements in internet technology, have had a major effect on the ability of SMEs to compete in electronic commerce, the impact has been a mixed blessing for many firms. The breadth and speed of the changes brought about by the Internet, together with the sudden shift in purchasing habits as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, has radically altered the business landscape. Firms now need to plan effective strategies to realize the benefits of an electronic environment, which can be intimidating to many smaller firms. This is where Souqmazoon.com stepped in.

The Website

Souqmazoon.com was launched earlier this year as an e-marketplace designed primarily to support SMEs and products ‘Made in Oman’. The innovative new website was aimed at redefining convenience by developing into a customer and vendor-centric, digitally enabled company, together with an efficient delivery and service system. Furthermore, the e-marketplace intends to add value to its customers by extending a seamless shopping experience while helping customers maintain social distancing, considering the current COVID-19 situation. Right from its launch, the website has certainly stood by these promises.

Promoting Omani Products

On the vendor side of things, the website makes it easy for SMEs to start selling their products online. All they need to do is complete a simple registration process. Once registered, Souqmazoon will offer SMEs strategic support to sell their products online by offering an online shelf space, along with guidance from a dedicated Vendor Relations Management team.

On the consumer end, the e-marketplace allows users to gain access to a wide variety of products across multiple categories. By offering a broad range of Omani products, Souqmazoon encourages shoppers to support SMEs and to buy locally-sourced products. To access the website, users can utilize either Souqmazoon’s desktop portal or its mobile app, both of which have a secure payment gateway and provide all kinds of support through a well-established payment-gateway partner. They offer a secure payment mode ensuring a seamless checkout experience and encrypted security for personal information. The Souqmazoon app is available for download on both the Android and iOS platforms.

In order to ensure smooth operations and to provide the best possible e-marketplace experience to both its vendors as well as consumers, Souqmazoon works with a select set of prominent Omani institutions. They come together to provide a seamless ecosystem that supports the Souq’s operations, delivering a secure and efficient selling and buying experience. These key stakeholders include Asyad Express for logistics, Bank Muscat for the Payment Gateway, Oman Data Park for the hosting of the website, and Qaid Al Ard Modern Projects LLC as the technology partner.

 

Robust SME Partnerships

In addition to the key stakeholders, Souqmazoon has also established strong partnerships with key SMEs where possible. These include Muaawana, who serve as the vendor management agency; Badr Al Bayan, who serve as the translation agency; CA Group, who provide Souqmazoon with accounting services; and Mandoob, who works alongside Asyad Express as a logistics partner.

 

  • Muaawana

Muaawana was established by Ali Said Al Rashdi in 2015 and has its roots in facility services and management. Over the years, as a result of the number of outsourced jobs and orders they managed for clients, they gained significant knowledge and experience in the local vendor-consumer dynamics. This made them uniquely qualified to handle vendor management for the website.

At Souqmazoon they aim to attract new vendors to join the platform, support them through the registration process, as well as train them on how to use the portal efficiently. They also offer support to any existing vendor whenever required, coordinating any requests between the management, technical team, and delivery agencies. They are also required to regularly follow up with vendors and delivery agencies to ensure parcels reach customers.

 

  • Badr Al Bayan

Badr Al Bayan is one of the leading and most prestigious translation agencies in Oman. They have been providing language and communication services for individuals and corporates for over ten years, including leading companies in oil & gas, education, and training, publicity, hospitality, retail, banking among others.

The agency got the opportunity to work with Souqmazoon through their affiliation with Al Zubair SEC when they were invited to support the upcoming e-commerce platform. They provide Souqmazoon with complete translation services between Arabic and English, as well as consultancy on any matters related to language communication.

 

  • HLB CA Group

HLB CA Group, a member of HLB International, is a fast-growing professional services firm in Oman. The firm was formed to serve the assurance and advisory needs of businesses in a wide range of industries. They provide a full range of auditing, accounting, internal audit, taxation and advisory services to public and private companies in all industrial sectors. They are a group of highly efficient auditors and are assured to provide cost effective and value-added service to clients.

The group was recently signed on by Souqmazoon to provide the website with accounting services, and has already begun the preliminary procedures and are currently in the process of gathering data from the e-marketplace. They will be also be responsible for all accounting aspects of the business, including recording of all transactions in the cloud-based online ERP, preparation of monthly financial statements, preparation of company reports, and more.

 

  • Mandoob

Mandoob is a 100 per cent Omani company, started by a group of Omani entrepreneurs in 2015. It was launched as a door-to-door delivery service in the country, aimed at enhancing Oman’s domestic last mile fulfilment sector. They joined Souqmazoon as a logistics partner alongside Asyad Express, wherein they handle deliveries of packages above 5 kgs, while Asyad handles the delivery of smaller packages.

 

Growth and Future

Working together with its partners, Souqmazoon.com, in the short time since its launch, has already proven to be an extremely efficient and convenient e-marketplace for purchasing Omani products and has received an encouraging response from the local market. The immense value it offers to both shoppers in Oman as well as its vendors, has led to a significant growth in the website’s customer base in just a few short months. Souqmazoon has also achieved an increase of SME registrations by 60 per cent, and growing.

Team Souqmazoon’s intensive marketing efforts during the soft-launch and post-launch phases to promote the platform and its vendors had driven the progress recorded in the early weeks. The team’s constant endeavour is to help vendors promote their products by communicating special discounts and offers through Souqmazoon’s marketing campaigns. Moreover, Souqmazoon continues to play a major role in guiding its vendors on how to best promote their products, run discounts and extend offers. The website’s success over such a short period of time is a sign of things to come. With the number of vendors and consumers continuing to grow, Souqmazoon is on its way to becoming the premier marketplace for locally-produced products in Oman and is sure to have a significant positive economic and societal impact in the coming years.

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