Cas Paton is the CEO and founder of OnBuy.com. Here, he outlines how the company is disrupting the global marketplace industry, and why its unique approach benefits sellers.
The online marketplace sector has come a long way since its birth in the 1990s. Services like Amazon and eBay were some of the most notable eCommerce success stories to come out of the dot com bubble – and survive the burst – providing consumers around the globe with a wide variety of products in one convenient location.
Traditionally, the majority of marketplaces are retailers that have discovered an opportunity to widen their product range, work with third-party brands, monetise their traffic and learn what sells so they can buy and then sell it. According to a 2018 study conducted by Retail Week, 12 per cent of retailers have launched their own marketplace, with a further 32 per cent planning to launch one in the future.
However, when a retailer becomes a marketplace – or when a marketplace begins to stock and sell its own products – it instantly puts itself in competition with its sellers, often promoting its products above anyone else’s, therefore limiting the amount of choice available to consumers.
OnBuy.com operates on a completely different model.
OnBuy is the UK’s fastest-growing marketplace, offering more than 21 million products to 8 million customers worldwide. Since its launch in November 2016, the platform has achieved massive growth, and has set its sights on dominating a substantial portion of the global market share within the next few years.
But while its competitors may have a similar goal, OnBuy’s ambition is purely for the benefit of its sellers. The marketplace doesn’t hold any of its own stock or sell any of its own products. Instead, all resources are invested into creating sales, increasing the platform’s exposure and growing its user base.
Its commitment to its sellers is at the heart of OnBuy’s values. From consistently low selling fees and risk-free selling benefits, to PayPal seller protection and a dedicated, UK-based support team, OnBuy is levelling the playing field for retailers around the world.
With an increasing visitor base from overseas, in huge markets including the USA, Canada, Australia, France, the UAE, Germany and Sweden, OnBuy offers sellers the opportunity to reach a truly global audience. The marketplace now has its sights set on a combined 140 new online trading locations by the end of 2023.
It’s a business model that appeals to both online retailers and customers alike; in just less than four years, OnBuy has achieved five times year-on-year growth, attracted more than 1 million monthly users and has forecast a sales increase of more than £100 million in 2020.
At its core, the online marketplace model aims to present other seller’s inventory to users and facilitate transactions. On a base level, this is a very straightforward process. However, over the last few years, the lines have blurred – that primary functionality seems to have been forgotten about as major players in the space become dominant retail competitors. Take Amazon, for example; after years of loyalty to a marketplace that has used their data to find products and sell through Amazon Retail, sellers are facing the challenge of growing or even sustaining an eCommerce business under the shadow of a huge competitor with seemingly unlimited resources.
However, one resource these marketplace giants are taking for granted is the sellers themselves. While they may have built a brand on being a trusted partner for retailers, connecting their products and services with millions of potential customers, that trust is now being broken. Amazon arguably has more seller data than any other online marketplace, but Amazon Retail has allegedly used this data to its advantage, to source and/or manufacture alternative products that compete with its own sellers. This has been wildly successful for Amazon, at the expense of its sellers.
The result is that sellers no longer consider Amazon as a partner, but a competitor.
The global marketplace industry is constantly evolving, but one thing is certain: trust has become a valuable currency in the eCommerce space. Of course, retailers want to reach as many customers as possible, but they also want to be valued as a partner, without worrying if their data will be used for the benefit of the marketplace they sell on.
OnBuy is the disruptor the global marketplace industry needs. It has the potential to host more sellers than any other online marketplace and the ambition to provide retailers with the resources they need to succeed, within one transparent and trustworthy operation.