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OnBuy CEO on ‘tackling the marketplace conundrum’ to become ‘Europe’s fastest-growing ecommerce business’

OnBuy CEO Cas Paton

OnBuy’s CEO and founder, Cas Paton sits down with InternetRetailing to discuss putting the retailers at the forefront of the company, competing with the likes of Amazon and Ebay and future growth plans, as the company holds the title of “Europe’s fastest growing ecommerce business”.

On backing retailers

“Every pound that goes through OnBuy is a pound turnover for one of our retailers,” Paton states. “That is something we are immensely proud of”.

OnBuy is home to thousands of retailers, featuring over 35 million customers. However, compared to other online marketplaces OnBuy does not retail any of its stock or its own products.

According to Paton: “We only sell what our partners are trading on the platform, whereas, other marketplaces cannibalise the market through their supply and ultimately compete against the retailer.”

We vowed from day one we would never do that, but that made the platform very difficult to grow”.

Click here to download RetailX’s European Marketplaces Report 

On its growth

Recently, dubbed by The Financial Times as the “fastest growing ecommerce company in Europe”, the marketplace, which launched in 2016, was a “difficult task” from the get-go, Paton claims.

“When launching on day one, you’ve got nothing to sell. No customers want to come to you because you have no stock and you end up in the, what I call the marketplace conundrum.

However, according to the founder of OnBuy, tackling that challenge is “usually where most marketplaces cheat and end up retailing their own products or even secretly doing so through third parties.”

“We made that commitment, and we fought through it and when we did, we became Europe’s fastest-growing ecommerce company.”

On competing with Amazon and eBay

“We were born out of the idea of being better than others on online marketplaces,” Paton says.

“We are focused more on the business side of the supply and target products which are barcoded. We think about things that can constantly be in demand, supplied and not a one-off, like Etsy.”

However, when comparing itself to Ebay, Paton admits there is an element of the rival marketplace’s strategy in which OnBuy competes, which is its B2B side with retailers selling on it.

“We do see ourselves as very different to Ebay. We are more of a catalogue system that focuses on helping customers find the product they want to buy and then seeing the people listing on that product, rather than looking for individual listings,” Paton says.

However, he admits, OnBuy’s business model is more similar to Amazon, with a few key differences.

“You will never see Onbuy being the supplier of any products, and at this very moment in time, we do not offer next-day delivery, like Amazon’s Prime scheme and do not see a future for subscriptions.

“What we do is focus on giving customers the whole breadth of choice and range. We can work with any supplier whereas, some businesses don’t retail with the ecommerce giant because they see it as conflict,” Paton adds.

On future growth

“This year was all about scaling up and proving that OnBuy is still capable of delivering what retailers want in a post-Covid world,” Paton explains.

As a result, he admits the company is already “well ahead” of its growth targets, revealing, just last month it was 35% up on its revenues and sales targets.

He says: “We are not a start-up anymore, we are a scale-up business. Now, we’re trying to create more value and make things better for our retailers and improve processes.

“This year it is all about making our platform better for our retailers and streamlining our operations to help customers to have a better search, browse, and buying experience,” Paton concludes.

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