Changing the eCommerce Status Quo with Cas Paton, CEO at OnBuy.Com
At detected, we’ve learned a thing or two about marketplaces since launching our seller verification solution. In our mission to provide the leading seller onboarding and management tool on the planet, we have been speaking to marketplace after marketplace to understand their unique challenges.
We recently caught up with the founder and CEO of OnBuy.com, Cas Paton, to find out what the OnBuy team has been up to, what they’ve learned, how they are changing the marketplace status quo, and what the future looks like for the sector and company.
A ‘true’ marketplace
Regulations came into force in 2019 to help tackle problems with marketplace fairness and transparency. These improved standards in the industry but revealed that there are still fundamental flaws in how many marketplaces run their businesses and navigate the regulatory landscape.
In addition to these challenges, many eCommerce platforms often act as retailers in competition with their own sellers to fuel growth and attract buyers.
Ultimately, there is an appetite for fairer and more transparent models in eCommerce, which is what inspired Cas to change the status quo and create OnBuy.com.
The key to this mission was creating a ‘true marketplace’ - a place where customers and sellers can connect without the marketplace operating as a retailer in its own right. One that doesn’t compete against its sellers.
“Every business has a right to resources, help and support to grow from the channels they’re selling through, and we’ve always been a champion for retailers in pursuit of that philosophy,” says Cas.
Surprising and unexpected encounters
The pandemic has rewritten the rules of retail, possibly forever, paving the way for eCommerce businesses to shine.
Online consumer spending has grown around 25-30% since lockdown started, hitting $900bn in 2020. And according to McKinsey, ten years’ worth of eCommerce adoption has been compressed into just three months.
But competition is fierce, buyers have high expectations when shopping online, and they can be fickle. So the need for eCommerce businesses to foster brand loyalty is more important than ever.
“Customers have proven resourceful in ways I could never have predicted,” says Cas.
With more choice online than ever before, people are more likely to shop around, compare deals and spend their hard-earned money with only the most trustworthy platforms.
While it’s clear that the ‘true marketplace’ model works, another unexpected win for Cas and the team was just how positive the seller response was.
“It’s amazing to see just how well eCommerce sellers respond to a marketplace such as ours.”
“While I knew eCommerce retailers would appreciate this, the extent of how much our buyers, sellers and partners have come to value OnBuy has astonished and humbled me.”
Attracting sellers as a marketplace: trust, transparency and fairness are key
The step from startup to the UK’s fourth-largest marketplace could only have been taken thanks to the trust OnBuy has fostered.
“That’s the secret, and the point I’ve always wanted to emphasise since starting OnBuy in late 2016 – trust,” says Cas.
“To build strong relationships, you have to be honest, both with the customers and retailers who use your platform. Fairness goes hand in hand with that.”
This approach is what has drawn thousands of sellers to join OnBuy.
No surprise fees or contracts locking them in; no needlessly keeping their money until the end of the month when they make sales; and no making them front the cost of site-wide Price Crash sale events.
“All we want to do is give sellers a fair, transparent way to trade and grow with us, no matter their size or level of confidence.”
Attracting consumers: a transparent and honest approach wins again
At the customer level, the appetite for shopping online has never been bigger. This really is the golden age of eCommerce. But customers today have more knowledge at their disposal than ever before, and they’re more switched on about the benefits of shopping around to find the best option for them.
“That’s brilliant, but it also puts pressure on sellers - in a good way!”
It is OnBuy’s unique commitment to transparency and trust, which means they win the hearts and minds of their sellers and their customer base.
There is genuine care around consumer safety and satisfaction on the platform, and it shows.
Cementing that trust in consumers' minds and demonstrating that OnBuy is not just legitimate, but a major homegrown player in eCommerce that is seriously focused on high standards, has been massively inspiring for Cas.
“We’re helping customers support independent businesses, all while they’re enjoying shopping around a huge range of choice - and with the standards of service they’ve come to expect of shopping online.”
For example, OnBuy has a unique partnership with PayPal that enhances this security further, both on the customer and seller sides of the transaction, with Buyer Protection and Seller Protection accordingly.
“Every player in this industry has a responsibility to use the trust customers are showing us responsibly.”
At detected, we couldn’t agree more. Our seller verification platform builds trust and security in eCommerce for both consumers and marketplaces alike.
The future for OnBuy: Driving growth and continuing to challenge the eCommerce status quo
OnBuy has grown 600% year-on-year for the last three years, which is a testament to the success that sellers can enjoy once they trust the marketplace they’re selling with.
Every decision Cas and the team make for OnBuy’s ongoing growth is measured against their values of fairness and transparency.
Only business decisions that will enhance those values are taken - and the marketplace communicates this with customers and sellers to ensure the reasoning is understood.
“To my knowledge, OnBuy is the first and only marketplace to keep all of its users at the heart of what it does - simultaneously and equally. Is it always easy to balance? No… but is it pivotal to what we do? Absolutely.”
OnBuy’s focus for the coming years is to continue promoting marketplace trust, transparency, and fairness with their winning ‘true marketplace’ model.
“It looks like our outlook and our strategy is bearing fruit,” says Cas.
And OnBuy’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down, with ambitions to challenge the status quo for eCommerce everywhere - not just natively in the UK.
Watch this space!