About four days ago I got a familiar WhatsApp message from the team at GadgetsOman. It was just a day or so after the Apple Keynote, “iPhone Day” was fast approaching and they knew I would be in the market.
GadgetsOman comprises a series of shops that you can find in select shopping malls across Oman, centred in particular around the capital city Muscat. In one of the malls, there’s also an allied device repair shop that was able to work minor miracles with the array of children-exposed broken tech that I presented them.
For Westerners reading, GadgetsOman is a cross between Currys, PC World (if they’re still around), Elgiganten, Best Buy… basically everything you would want from a computer, mobile, smarthome and peripheral store. In one place. They packed a heck of a lot of tech into a standard shop, I have to say.
But, and here’s the good bit… if they didn’t have it in stock, they could usually get it for you from Dubai in a few days.
Prices were universally good and comparable with other alternatives.
The super power for me, though, was the GadgetsOman WhatsApp.
I can’t quite remember how I discovered it. I think I was browsing their Instagram, which, by the way, is a compelling series of photos of peripherals that you probably want. I think I saw their WhatsApp number listed there… and I decided to send them a message.
They replied almost immediately.
I think I was after a Google Nest Hub or something. I asked if they had it in stock. They actually sent me a photo of it in the store – as I gathered the WhatsApp was operated by a chap who worked in one of the main stores.
He would send a photo or two and then type the price in Omani Rials. (Double it, roughly, to get pounds, or multiply by 2.6 for USD).
I was slightly confused at that point – I just said “Ok”, expecting that I would need to go to the shop at the weekend.
“Send your location,” came the reply.
This, if you aren’t familiar, is how address locations work in the Middle East (and in many other countries). Given street names and house numbers aren’t that uniform, the tradition is to send your WhatsApp location PIN or a Google Maps link.
“You’ll deliver?” I replied.
“Yes, 40 minutes,” came their reply.
“How do I pay?” I prompted.
“Cash or card,” was their reply.
About 35-minutes later I got a call from the delivery guy. He came armed with a GadgetsOman point-of-sale unit for my card. I did the transaction. He smiled. I gave him a tip (I was that impressed).
And I walked into my house with the Google Nest and set it up.
That, dear reader, is when I got hooked.
GadgetsOman became my personal technology concierge. I found myself navigating over to their Instagram profile when I had spare time, browsing through the various different devices to (in my feelings) “see what I needed”.
I loved the immediacy of it.
In the UK used to famously deliver within an hour or two. Deliveroo (or equivalent) will sometimes deliver a limited series of technology bits from some shops. In Oman, Talabat (the Deliveroo equivalent) would often have a few bits and pieces from some tech shops available.
But no one had the stock and variety of GadgetsOman.
Quickly they became my default for whatever I wanted.
“Do you have the new S21?” I would ask. They’d then reply with a screenshot of their stock list – colour, screen size, storage and prices. I’d select the device I wanted.
They’d often prompt – “screen protector?” Oh, yes, good idea. Sometimes I’d say “yeah, you pick it” and they’d select the best one for me.
“Cover?” Oh yes. Get me something transparent. A few photos would appear as a choice. “The second one please.”
40-odd minutes later and it was all in my hands.
This, dear reader, this is how you do technology.
I absolutely loved it.
Now then, back to this week – see the screenshot above. That’s what I received from the team. They had me on their list. They also knew I would be happy to pay top dollar for the latest.
They had managed to obtain some new iPhones. Note that they didn’t bother asking if I wanted an iPhone 15. Or an iPhone 15 Pro. No. This is true concierge. They only sent me the choice of iPhone 15 Pro Max colours, along with the price.
If you’re wondering, 755 OMR is about 1600 pounds. The same device in the United Kingdom (including tax) is 1,399 pounds.
That’s a bit of additional cost, right?
Apple doesn’t have an official Apple Store in Oman. They have an official distributor. I routinely found that GadgetsOman would source internationally for their customers like me – which meant I got the latest devices immediately. I didn’t mind paying a premium.
In fact, when I explained to the chap after his message that I was unfortunately not living in Muscat anymore, but would soon be back in the country for meetings, he suggested that I pick up an iPhone internationally to save on costs. Obviously there’s an additional cost if you’re driving the thing 400km from Dubai.
I paid the premium. I loved the service and the approach.
Often I would contact them asking for a particular device – some internet router or something – and they’d say “no, we don’t have that in stock, why don’t you try X” and then they’d give me a little pitch on why they stocked that range instead. Invariably I had their choice delivered!
Their Instagram upsold me countless times. Go Pro? Yeah. New memory card? Yes please. New iPads for the children? Send them over. Surface Pro for Child number 1’s school? Yup. Best in class Logitech MX keyboard and mouse? Yup. A Samsung Smartwatch just for the fun of it? Aye. What about some Samsung Buds? Yup! Send them over!
What about a monitor stand for the desk at work? Yup.
Oh, and a 32″ TV/monitor for the office too? Yes.
Whilst I’m at it – what about one of those Belkin desk chargers? Yes.
Here is an example of their eclectic selection on Instagram:
Have a look through that list above and find something that catchers your interest! I bet there’s something there that causes you to think “hmm, yeah…maybe”.
Well, when you couple that with near-instant delivery capability, it’s a compelling offering.
Shops like GadgetsOman continue to flourish because of a good mix of customer service, a smart, informed approach to warehousing the right stuff at the right time, and the fact the mega retailers like Amazon aren’t able to offer next day in Oman as yet.
Even so I think there is a market for this kind of customised or concierge service. Or, I like to think there is a market for this.
Rarely did GadgetsOman ever contact me. It was only during the big launches – new iPad, Watch, iPhone or Samsung – that they would contact me. All other times it was me initiating the contact. But I really appreciated the customer centric approach of reaching out to me.
Often, if I had the opportunity to buy something in the UK or Dubai (if I was traveling, for example) I would arrange the purchase – via WhatsApp with GadgetsOman – whilst I was still in the UK and get it delivered when I returned. Their service engendered such loyalty.
Now then… how could something like this work in the UK?
Here’s a question: Would you be willing to pay £200 extra to have your iPhone delivered to your house by a chap from your GadgetsUK concierge?
I think the realities of the UK marketplace would suggest not.
Anyway, although I’m no longer living in Muscat, I still hold strong appreciation for the GadgetsOman service to this day. Thank you for all your help team.