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Life in the Channel: OnBuy’s Cas Paton

The Managing Director of the UK online marketplace discusses its unique approach to sellers and OnBuy’s plans for the year ahead.

First off, tell us a bit about your background working in the channel and how OnBuy came about?

I’ve been involved in ecommerce since I was 14, working as a web designer before starting my own web development business at 21, frighteningly 14 years ago! I was constantly hearing from the online retailers I worked with that they were tired of the way the major marketplaces like Amazon operated. With their feedback in mind, I saw the huge opportunity present so I created OnBuy: a new marketplace that would provide a fairer ecommerce ecosystem for everyone.

How was 2019 for OnBuy?

2019 was our best year yet. We created five times our growth compared to 2018 (which had five times growth compared to 2017), made over £1,000,000 in sales for our sellers on Black Friday alone, and enjoyed our best Christmas to date. I’m also pleased to share that we secured funding from a major venture capital firm (to be announced shortly).

You’ve seen significant growth, how are you supporting this going forwards?

Fuelled by our partnership with the venture capital firm, we plan to immediately double our team. This will allow us to welcome more sellers on board, deploy more developments (including new solutions, features and integrations), and focus on more marketing – all enabling us to keep pushing OnBuy forwards at the same rapid pace.

OnBuy has noted that it’s marketplace is “more ethical, more transparent and more trustworthy”. Can you tell us a bit more about this and how it benefits your sellers?

Our unique approach creates a fairer ecommerce ecosystem. By treating sellers fairly and being transparent with them, they know we’re on their side. They feel confident enough to add their entire product range to our marketplace (rather than holding products back due to concerns their data will be harvested for the marketplace to then undercut them as a retailer). This is because OnBuy is not a retailer, only a marketplace, so we do not sell our own stock, only the stock of our sellers. Every sale we get is a sale for our sellers. Our competitive fees mean sellers can offer lower prices as well as more product choice, so buyers benefit massively. Plus, buyers know they’re supporting a marketplace that in turn supports its sellers and consequentially brings buyers the best deals. It’s an ecosystem based on transparency and fairness.

What types of sellers are you looking to work more with in the future?

All of them! OnBuy caters to businesses of all types and sizes, whether tech, tools or toys, our doors are open to all online retailers. Sellers love our competitive selling fees and our Transparent Fee Guarantee – we offer all sellers the same fees, so you don’t have to worry your competitors have an unfair advantage.

What does OnBuy have planned for 2020 and beyond?

Everything we do is designed to drive more sales for our sellers, so our focus, as always, is on expansion and growth. 2020 is a really exciting year for us as we plan to launch our first dedicated country site.

We’ll launch a further 22 country sites this year and by 2023, we’ll have launched 140 locations in total. We’re so pleased to be able to evolve OnBuy and offer buyers and sellers the world over a fairer marketplace to shop and sell through.

Going forward, we plan to launch more integrations and services to bolster our already-impressive offering. There’s even an OnBuy app in the works – watch this space!

A YEAR IN ONBUY

January 2019: OnBuy integrates with ChannelAdvisor, one of the largest e-commerce multi-channel management systems, to further improve its accessibility. The system enables sellers to manage their global sales through dozens of online channels and seamlessly facilitates multi-channel relationships.

February 2019: OnBuy is named the largest UK-owned marketplace, according to internet analysts Alexa and Similar Web. The results show that the marketplace is number one in UK traffic rankings for UK-owned marketplaces, outranking competitors Fruugo and Flubit.

February 2019: The marketplace integrates with Royal Mail Click & Drop, the online postage and label solution. The integration aims to help sellers take the hassle out of sending and further improve the OnBuy experience. Sellers can now create, buy and print UK and international postage, permitting a simplified and automated delivery procedure for sellers.

April 2019: OnBuy celebrates a successful start to April, with year-to-date sales 13 times higher in 2019. As well as showing 1300% year-on-year growth (March 2018 to March 2019), the fast-growing marketplace also reports that transactions for the first week of April 2019 were up 112% on the first week of March 2019.

April 2019: The marketplace unveils an extensive revamp of its deals page, with a complete overhaul to how deals are featured on the site. Designed to make deals even easier to browse, the page now showcases a wider choice of products available at discounted prices. In addition, a monthly deals newsletter and a ‘Deal of the Week’ feature across OnBuy’s social pages.

August 2019: After previously raising £2.7 million to launch the ecommerce platform, OnBuy seeks a top-up of £500,000 to develop the offering, become profitable and fuel it’s growth.

October 2019: OnBuy introduces a new dedicated department for refurbished electronics, following a significant increase in demand. The move comes as consumers are increasingly realising the advantages of buying refurbished products with both sustainability and cost being key drivers.

December 2019: OnBuy celebrates incredible Black Friday results after a decision was taken to reduce prices on each of the 17 million products available on the site. The marketplace saw huge sales across every department, but particularly in tech, landing a transaction every 10 seconds. With over £1 million in sales made on Black Friday alone, the trading results came in five times stronger than the same period last year.

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