OnBuy.com saw transactions leap 608% and product lines reached the 10 million mark. The marketplace had to double its headcount and move offices to support growth.
Cas Paton, managing director of UK-based marketplace, OnBuy.com, explains how OnBuy.com is different from Amazon and how he plans to snaffle a significant slice of the behemoth’s pie.
How is OnBuy.com differentiating its customer offering from the marketplace giants eBay and Amazon?
OnBuy.com offers customers the opportunity to buy from business sellers specifically, and we charge sellers a lower selling fee than other sites. This means that sellers can pass savings on to customers, so that customers get the best deal possible.
We also make it very easy for customers to compare sellers without the influence of OnBuy.com trying to overshadow sellers. For example, we often hear from converted Amazon buyers that they didn’t realise that some products were substantially cheaper from other sellers, and naturally opted to purchase their items through the advertised Amazon Prime offering, which is not always efficient.
At OnBuy.com, we put all the power in the buyer’s hands. We show the buyer the sellers, the prices, the delivery options, but we do not influence the sale or try to push our own products – we are a true marketplace, and never sell our own stock.
This transparent and ethical approach to our operation is a huge benefit for buyers, as we’re bringing more and more major brands onto OnBuy.com, eager to sell through a fairer and more open platform, without conflicting practises such as competing with individuals selling second hand products (eBay) and competing with the marketplace directly (Amazon).
Over time, consumers will see more and more products that they want and love at better prices.
Consumers also care greatly about the ethics of businesses. We are an ethical company, we support local economies, our UK site has UK staff, our offices are in the UK, and we are registered in the UK for corporation tax and VAT. We have no overseas head office taking profit out of our trading locale, either to circumvent or reduce our tax liability.
We are supportive of small business sellers and help to grow businesses rather than compete with them to maximise our own global interests – which would be far easier for us to do! Instead, we are here to help take small traders and introduce them to national audiences, as well as take large national companies and put them in the same playing field as everyone else.
Buyers can also shop with confidence through PayPal, where eligible purchases are protected by the PayPal Seller Protection scheme. Customers benefit from OnBuy.com’s partnership with PayPal as they will have access to the platform’s expert dispute resolution team. Sellers will also benefit from this robust level of security and protection from PayPal, the global online payment specialists.
In what ways is OnBuy.com seller friendly?
Our pricing model enables sellers to offer better pricing than they can afford to do through other platforms. We realise it’s going to take time to build the product database that we want, and we’re striving to draw as many sellers onto the platform as possible, as quickly as possible.
We’re seeing huge increases in products across pet supplies, toys, electronics, beauty and more. Thousands of sellers now sell though OnBuy.com and we already have 10 million products live. Amazon has many more millions of products, so we know that we’re still at the tip of an iceberg in terms of range, but over time this will improve. Along with the increase in choice, we are also continuously improving in price.
In addition, OnBuy.com does not compete with sellers; we’re not a retailer of product. Being transparent in this regard from the outset has allowed our sellers to trust OnBuy.com. We will never sell our own stock, including never selling our own branded goods, or working with wholesales and so on.
We are a fair and ethical platform, working to help grow strong selling partnerships with business sellers, who maintain healthy metrics on our platform such as: good customer reviews, efficient shipping times, minimal disputes and good customer service scores.
What customer-facing technologies does OnBuy.com use that differentiates it from its competitors?
OnBuy.com allows its sellers to create a customised delivery template. Beyond offering an option to set different prices for different shipping locations, which is standard, this gives sellers the ability to charge different prices for different regions within the UK.
This is set apart from what Amazon offers (they have item/weight-based, price-banded and weight-tiered settings). This could lead to customer disappointment when ordering from, say, a Channel Island or a Scottish Highland, which is technically in the seller’s shipping region but costs more to ship to and subsequently results in the order being cancelled.
OnBuy.com’s seller storefronts clearly lay out where sellers ship to and how much that costs, along with any additional costs per item. This is stress-free for sellers and simple to understand for buyers with no risk of orders being cancelled for ‘not shipping to that location.’
What innovative backend systems strategies does OnBuy.com use?
OnBuy.com has a fully functional Seller Control Panel, where sellers can manage all their own listings. We have fully functioning feed systems and APIs for sellers too. We’re also integrated with major channel systems such ChannelAdvisor, Linnworks, StoreFeeder, Mintsoft, 247Commerce and more, to make it really easy for sellers to list and manage their inventories, orders and customers online.
Our recent partnership with ChannelAdvisor, one of the largest e-commerce multi-channel management systems, will further improve our accessibility. The system enables sellers to manage global sales through dozens of online channels and seamlessly facilitates multi-channel relationships.
OnBuy.com’s integration with Royal Mail Click & Drop has just gone live and is having great traction. What’s more, OnBuy.com will be launching a full service fulfilment solution by 2020, which is an exciting prospect as we will be the first UK marketplace to ever achieve this.
What made OnBuy.com switch to using PayPal as its payment method?
OnBuy.com chose to partner with PayPal to provide the service’s payment gateway in order for both buyers and sellers to benefit from a more robust level of security and protection.
There are more than 230 million PayPal users around the world, so offering it as our payment gateway helps to improve OnBuy.com’s customer confidence. It’s already a name customers know and trust.
OnBuy.com’s customers benefit from this new partnership as they now have access to PayPal’s Buyer Protection scheme, offering assistance from the platform’s expert dispute resolution team.
OnBuy.com is completely separate from any PayPal transactions made and is simply acting as the facilitator of transactions, never holding the sellers’ money. After the item is dispatched, subject to any security checks by PayPal, PayPal pay the seller directly and they’ll get their money immediately.
OnBuy.com’s sellers are now covered by the PayPal Seller Protection scheme for eligible purchases. Every transaction made is encrypted and monitored to prevent fraud, email phishing and identity theft.
You mention OnBuy.com recently celebrated a dramatic rise in sales, can you give some idea of the size of the sales rise, perhaps as a percentage?
OnBuy.com has seen a massive year of growth and development, with year-to-date transactions up 608 per cent on 2017. We grew so rapidly, in fact, that we doubled our staff this year and moved offices to support our plans for further expansion.
What triggered this rise?
By offering sellers lower selling fees than other channels, these savings can be passed on to the customers. Price competitiveness is the key to OnBuy.com’s growth.
Due to unwavering customer confidence, OnBuy.com is experiencing increased seller sign-ups. We introduced an innovative Sales Guarantee for standard seller account holders, giving them the opportunity to have the following month’s subscription fee waivered if they make less than £500 in sales in a month. OnBuy.com is proud to be the first marketplace to offer this in the UK.
OnBuy.com is experiencing an increase in traffic to its ‘OnBuy.com Deals’ platform, which highlights the best deals and provides shoppers access to unmissable savings.
As a result, OnBuy.com’s website visits continue to grow exponentially.
What are your business goals for the next five years?
This initial period of growth is just the beginning for OnBuy.com – we have so much more coming to market both in the UK and internationally.
OnBuy.com aims to achieve £400m in annual sales by 2021, 5 per cent of Amazon’s UK market share. This will make OnBuy.com the first UK company to achieve such expansion in this space.
Through aggressive expansion plans, OnBuy.com will launch in over 100 countries in the next 12 months, which is significantly more than Amazon, our American counterpart, who currently has 16 sites dedicated to 16 countries.
OnBuy.com will launch internationally in May 2019 and aims to dominate a substantial proportion of the global market share in the next three years.
What’s more, we’re planning to launch a lot of exciting services in the coming months that will vastly improve the OnBuy.com experience for buyers and sellers. We’re launching OnBuy Fulfilment, a fully-fledged fulfilment service for sellers; OnBuy Local, which means customers can click and collect from local retailers; and OnBuy Express, which lets customers benefit from same day delivery on selected items locally. We’ll be the first marketplace to offer these kinds of services – and they’re a major upgrade to what’s available at the moment, so we’re very much looking forward to being able to offer this impressive array of services.
Visit www.onbuy.com for further information about OnBuy.com.