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Meet OnBuy – a fair, transparent and ethical marketplace

Date: December 09, 2020

Category: Guest opinion piece


Nothing ever stands still in the world of e-commerce, and this rings especially true after this year. The ever-evolving industry has been reinvigorated by the events of 2020, with the status quo well and truly shaken up.

For OnBuy.com, the world’s fastest-growing marketplace, 2020 has proven to be a record year, in which the need for its fair, transparent and ethical marketplace model has proven more necessary than ever.

A Poole of resources

OnBuy was established in Poole, Dorset in 2016, created following entrepreneur Cas Paton’s long history in e-commerce. His experience in the industry, and conversations with countless online retailers throughout those years, made it clear that there was ample room for a disruptive new marketplace player to emerge.

“The e-commerce industry has become vital to businesses of all kinds in today’s world, providing a valuable route to market,” he explains. “However, I believe that there’s a flaw in the business model wherein e-commerce platforms act as a retailer in competition with their own sellers, and I wanted to explore a differentiated approach.”

OnBuy was created as a "true marketplace" – a bridge connecting customers and online retailers securely, all without the marketplace itself functioning as a retailer too.

“OnBuy consciously removed any competition and conflicts of interest between us and our sellers, simply by never selling our own products,” Cas reveals. “Instead, OnBuy’s business model is about empowering our seller community to succeed and grow.”

The rise of truly transparent e-commerce

With more than 24,000 per cent growth achieved in just four years, OnBuy offers over 30 million products to its ever-growing customer base, with the promise that every sale made supports an independent business, a family-run enterprise or a sole trader.

“We’ve seen consistent growth in tech, entertainment, homewares, beauty and pet supplies, which has certainly accelerated this year,” Cas highlights. “Of course, 2020 also brought an upswing in board games, home office goods, personal-fitness products and health and wellbeing purchases.”

OnBuy team

Making fair play the only rule

Once the message behind OnBuy gained ground, both independent sellers and household brands were keen to see what a more disruptive marketplace could do. The marketplace now sees its seller base increase by 10 per cent every month, with retailers keen to benefit from competitive selling fees, immediate payment on item dispatch thanks to OnBuy’s PayPal partnership, and a healthier competitive landscape.

“Sellers are confident that we have their backs, so they bring more products to our platform, enticing greater customer numbers by doing so – and we all continue to grow together,” Paton reflects. “We’ve achieved 600 per cent year-on-year growth for three consecutive years, but even with that in mind, 2020 has been more phenomenal for us and our sellers than we expected.”

The dawn of a defining decade

The first year of the 2020s has proven anything but predictable. Nevertheless, through a combination of a unique ethos, agility, and robust partnerships, OnBuy has not only gained immense ground throughout 2020, but exceeded all expectations in terms of growth and market penetration.

“People are often floored by the growth OnBuy has demonstrated,” Cas reveals. “We’ve created a fair, transparent and ethical marketplace, backed by a promise to give sellers of every shape and size a level playing field and the chance to thrive. It simply made sense to go global next and welcome the world to our ethical eCommerce ecosystem.”

OnBuy began its globalisation strategy in 2020. Beginning by launching into 42 new additional countries by the end of 2020, the business will have 140 dedicated country websites live by the end of 2023.

Supportive through the scale-up

“In the first UK lockdown, the following autumn lockdown and beyond, we have consistently supported our sellers,” Cas explains. “Products of all kinds have remained available to customers, no matter what life has thrown at us all as a society.”

However, OnBuy realises sellers may need extra support with logistics, especially with customer expectations being so high. The creation of the OnBuy Fulfilment Network during 2020 saw the marketplace partner with a range of trusted names to create a one-stop fulfilment shop that streamlines and enhances seller shipping, both domestically and globally.

Looking ahead, OnBuy’s growth remains sustainable as it reaches into new territories across the planet. “To that end, I’m taking OnBuy home to Manchester, where I grew up,” Cas Paton states. “We’re opening a new regional office there in the spring to complement our Poole HQ, and will be creating over 100 new jobs over the next two years.

“A world-class marketplace needs world-class tech talent to grow – and for that, Manchester is an obvious choice. From there, the future looks bright for OnBuy and our sellers as we head into over 140 countries in the next three years.”