The growth of online shopping makes eCommerce one of the few industries to have not only emerged relatively unscathed from the pressures and challenges of 2020, but to have also demonstrated incredible growth because of them.

Yet in tandem with that growth has emerged a marked trend in consumer choice for ethical retailing – throughout the entire supply chain. As poor practices come to light and previously unforeseeable challenges are placed before freight, forwarding, fulfilment and logistics enterprises the world over, people are voting with their wallets – leading to a rising buyer preference for supporting independent businesses and enterprises who are transparent and fair in their dealings.


The dawn of the world’s first true online marketplace

While the eCommerce market has classically been seen as a lucrative business opportunity, those global giants recognised as its key players have made many organisations wary about establishing marketplace websites and platforms of their own. The competition simply seems too vast and insurmountable to want to stake a claim in the industry, versus creating a seller account on an established marketplace instead.

Yet for British entrepreneur and former eCommerce consultant Cas Paton, what soon became apparent midway through the last decade was that there was a massive gap in the market for an online sales platform in which customers and sellers were given equal agency and importance.

Classically, online sellers who did business via existing marketplaces did so under that marketplace’s huge emphasis on the speed and convenience of the customer journey. However, while excellent customer service is an admirable ideal, those websites and platforms were also retailers in and of themselves, keen on growth, expansion and fattening their bottom lines – which meant that sellers operating on such platforms, once they passed a certain threshold of success there, would be treated as competitors by the very retailer-marketplaces they relied on to stay in business.

In contrast to this, Cas Paton launched OnBuy in the UK in November 2016 with a clear vision – to become a true marketplace, with a business model of monthly rolling subscriptions and competitive fees that put sellers at the heart of their own success, all while delivering the high level of customer service excellence that shoppers have come to expect from buying online.

OnBuy doesn’t hold stock and it never will, instead operating entirely as a trusted route to market for businesses of all sizes – from major brand names like Swan and Procter & Gamble, through to independent businesses who were finally afforded the level playing field they needed to win growth and success for themselves.

Definitive growth in an era of uncertainty

OnBuy’s strategy has paid off handsomely, both for the business as much as its community of online sellers. With shoppers throughout and beyond the UK delighted at a new platform through which to find a wide range of products in categories as diverse as electricals, beauty, homeware, clothing, gardening and toys, sellers were likewise emboldened by OnBuy’s UK-based support team, official PayPal partnership that offers protection and ensures funds are released to the seller the moment goods are dispatched, and an overall promise of transparency and support at all levels, from SMEs through to bigger enterprises.

OnBuy’s differentiated business model promises sellers all the advantages of aligning with the giant marketplaces of old, yet underlines them with the promise to operate in a way that works with sellers, not against them. OnBuy will never operate as a retailer or hold any inventory of its own, making it a true marketplace in every sense of the term. As such, sellers can be confident in listing their full product ranges with OnBuy, knowing the marketplace will never use their sales data to start retailing those products themselves, resulting in more choice for customers. 

Astonishing growth has been the hallmark of OnBuy’s progress ever since its inception – and as of 2020, the business has been recognised as the fastest-growing marketplace in the world. Having surpassed 24,000% growth since its 2016 foundation, and demonstrated over 600% year-on-year revenue growth for the second year running despite a worldwide economic slowdown, as of today the marketplace offers over 5,000 sellers the chance to connect with more than 8 million customers.

OnBuy’s strategy of empowering online retailers has done plenty to enhance its positive reputation, too – as has the creation of partnerships with leading integrations partners across the world, such as CedCommerce, DHL and Linnworks, to help sellers realise their full potential while offering customers unbeatable service with the support of the marketplace behind them.

Global growth and opportunity

While OnBuy has enjoyed plenty of success as a UK-based business that enables its seller community to ship to over 50 countries, the marketplace business model that it’s championed has proven dynamic, scalable and popular enough to be replicated in overseas territories across the globe.

To this end, 2020 marks the beginning of OnBuy’s journey towards globalisation in earnest, with over 140 countries set to have their own dedicated OnBuy web presence, complete with localised currencies and languages, by the end of 2023.

However, this is not simply a question of ambition and expanding horizons. OnBuy’s ascent to the global stage is designed to give sellers of all sizes the opportunity to broaden their horizons and customer bases to more than 40 countries by year-end 2020, and over 140 by 2023. This is being accomplished through key strategic partnerships that are unlocking the tools, integrations, inventory management and marketing elements that sellers need to scale up with confidence.

A key example of that initiative in action is the OnBuy Fulfilment Network. Creating a tiered alliance of logistics and fulfilment partners for sellers to rely on and customers to feel reassured by, this alliance connects the likes of DHL, Bezos and other leading couriers and fulfilment specialists to a huge network of online retailers via OnBuy.

Creating the international marketplace of the future

Consumer mistrust and shifting brand loyalties have been a characteristic of 2020, bubbling under the year’s more headline-grabbing events. While consumers have flocked to online shopping at a rate five years ahead of projected growth estimates in 2020, both in the UK and in the USA, the uncertainty elevated by the events of the year has meant that customers’ brand loyalty has been affected by a couple of key factors.

Firstly, the availability of products has caused more shoppers to try more new brands and platforms than ever, in order to sidestep shortages for both essential and non-essential goods throughout the course of 2020. Secondly, rising criticisms against the workplace practices, taxation and almost monopolistic competitive tactics of larger eCommerce players – even as enacted against their own third-party seller communities – has inspired many shoppers across the globe to embrace a more ethical way to purchase.

This consumer mindset puts OnBuy in a fantastic position to continue reaping the rewards gained through its fair, transparent approach that not only supports independent businesses, but provides a marketplace where retailers of all shapes and sizes can thrive. Despite being the world’s fastest-growing marketplace, that prosperity is every bit a promise of success for OnBuy’s sellers as it is for the marketplace itself – a true partnership of purpose, ready and waiting to expand across a world more hungry for ethical eCommerce than ever.