Q&A With Our CEO, Cas Paton: What's Driving OnBuy In 2023?
“The right road isn’t always the easy one.”
At OnBuy, we’re no stranger to doing things differently. In fact, that’s exactly why we do what we do! In an industry that once dominated the retail landscape, our mission has always been to change things for the better.
But going against the grain in an already competitive market isn’t without its challenges. So, why don’t we just take the easy route? What drives us to not only face challenges, but to make the choice to take them on?
Who better to answer that than the man behind the mission, our Founder and CEO, Cas Paton!
Let’s go back to the beginning! Where did the idea of OnBuy come from?
“After almost ten years of running website development companies, I started to work with a lot of eCommerce sellers. We’d chat, they’d tell me about their frustrations with other marketplaces, and I kept thinking, ‘surely there’s a better way?’ - and that’s where the idea of OnBuy came from.
“There was a huge gap in the market for a fair, transparent marketplace. One that would create a better experience for both its sellers and customers, and give businesses the support they needed to thrive.
“That’s exactly what we’ve created. OnBuy was born with a mission to change online retail for the better and a promise to never compete against sellers. That’s something we’ve always stood for, and that will never change.”
When you say ‘never compete against sellers’, what do you mean?
“We’re not a retailer, we’re a shopping destination. We connect millions of customers to the thousands of trusted sellers on OnBuy, so when you shop with us, you're shopping directly from sellers and supporting their businesses, not our pockets.
“Unlike other marketplaces, the success of our sellers is the success of our sellers. We’re a zero-inventory marketplace, so sellers can list their products without fear of competition from the platform that’s supposed to be supporting them.
“Selling online should be simple - and that’s what we offer. We keep things clear and transparent, and we provide the tools to help sellers succeed, grow and thrive. For our millions of customers, this means a huge choice of products, a huge choice of brands and amazing value. It’s a win-win!”
What challenges have you faced?
“We always knew that creating a better marketplace and taking on the industry’s biggest hitters wasn’t going to be easy. It takes investment - in money, time and effort - and we’ve learned a lot along the way.
“We grew at an insane rate, taking OnBuy from £0 to £100 million in sales with just a few £million of investment. But we never had the time to mature because we grew too quickly! Don’t get me wrong, growth is the ultimate dream - it was a necessary step in the path to proving viability from the market - but growth, sustainability and optimisation is a fine balance, and we’ve had to find that. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve taken our learnings to make informed, strategic moves to propel us into our next stage of evolution.
“Right now, we’re optimising and strengthening every part of the business, from the bottom up. The end goal is healthy growth, with huge consumer satisfaction. It’s all about creating a strong business with a clear path to success, and continuing to deliver our promise to our sellers and customers.”
Fast forward a few years, has anything changed at OnBuy since launching?
“We’ve had a lot of positive change over the last six years, but our mission has always stayed the same - and always will.
“We’ve seen enormous growth over the years, from our customer base to our sellers, our team and beyond. We’ve evolved and adapted alongside the ever-changing retail landscape and economy, and we have the tools and team in place that are paving the way for huge wins in the future.
“We were recently recognised in Deloitte’s UK Technology Fast 50 list, ranking eleventh overall and first in the South West region, having grown 3402 per cent in the last four years. Seeing OnBuy next to some of the biggest names on the list and knowing that the industry experts see us similarly was a huge win. A sort of ‘pinch me’ moment that was incredibly gratifying and a genuine benchmark of success for us all.”
So, what is driving OnBuy in 2023?
“As the online shopping world continues to grow and change, we’re keeping an eye on consumer trends to stay ahead in the modern market. Our plans for this year are not just about improving - but transforming - the shopping and selling experience on OnBuy, delivering real value to our customers and sellers.
“We have some major changes coming to OnBuy very soon that will shake up the industry and drive more customers to make OnBuy their first choice. We’ve already kicked off the first stage of updates with a big change to the way we do payments. This will bring us closer to our sellers and allow us to open our checkout to more payment options that customers want; an important and hugely beneficial improvement to the OnBuy experience.
“Soon, we’ll announce another major change to the business which will deliver a huge reason for shoppers to choose OnBuy as their go-to marketplace. As much as I’d love to say more, we’re keeping it tightly under wraps for now, but keep an eye out for updates in the coming weeks. I promise it’ll be worth the wait.
“It’s been an exciting and challenging few months in the making, but we’re ready to reveal a new, incredibly exciting version of OnBuy to the world.”