In this latest instalment of our eCommerce Influencer Series, we are excited to introduce the Founder & Managing Director of OnBuy.com Cas Paton, join us to discuss his thoughts on the current state of eCommerce.
Q: For anyone who doesn’t know you yet, who are you and how did you get started in the eCommerce industry?
I’m Cas Paton, the Founder and Managing Director of OnBuy.com – the UK’s alternative to Amazon. I started in eCommerce over 10 years ago straight out of the Navy. I immediately recognised that eCommerce is a dynamic and future-proofed industry where an entrepreneurial approach can reap tremendous rewards.
Q: Looking back over the past three years, what do you think have been the biggest changes in eCommerce?
Email still converts better than Facebook with three times the sign-up rates. Google provides the highest converting traffic, with organic Google traffic being the highest overall. It’s surprising then that the vast majority of eCommerce sites do not track offline conversions in Google Analytics.
Desktop revenue is still noteworthy of course, but mobile revenue is growing – it’s overtaken desktop revenue, and it’s now where most of the money is being made. With buyer journeys increasing (12% more clicks per sale was quoted in a study I recently read), ensuring all touch-points have a tailored approach is even more key.
Q: How does OnBuy.com approach the current landscape of multi-channel eCommerce?
We support multi-channel eCommerce wholeheartedly. Most of OnBuy.com’s sellers use multiple eCommerce channels, and we aim to make the onboarding and selling process as simple as possible regardless of how many channels they use. We’ve been delivering on integration since our inception in 2016: we’ve integrated with channel systems like ChannelAdvisor and Linnworks to make it easy to list on OnBuy.com and make managing stock and orders across each channel straightforward, too.
While we embrace multi-channel eCommerce, we differentiate our platform by promising to never compete with our sellers and by taking an ethical approach to our business practices – including paying our UK tax obligations! They can sell in confidence on OnBuy.com, knowing we have their best interests at heart and we’re transparent in what we do.
Plus, as we’re aware that sales can be spread across multiple channels – making paying multiple lots of fees costly – we offer a Sales Guarantee to our Standard Sellers. If they make less than £500 in sales in a month, we will waive the next month’s subscription fee! This innovative and generous add-on is attracting sellers far and wide as OnBuy.com
is the first marketplace to offer this in the UK. This is now a permanent feature which we offer to our sellers to help them grow with us in confidence.
Q. We see a lot of talk about marketplace eCommerce from various sellers, how does OnBuy.com deal with the continuing challenges and criticism surrounding marketplace eCommerce?
The main criticisms around marketplaces are about companies not paying their taxes, and unfairly competing with their sellers – we pay our taxes and will never compete with our sellers. There will always be those who, instead of celebrating a home-grown marketplace, are filled with doubt. We rise above that and consequently continue to grow – the likes of Amazon and eBay started small too!
While marketplaces give buyers the opportunity to compare more products and buy from multiple retailers while ensuring they get the best deals (and the ability to check out in a single transaction rather than visiting numerous websites), OnBuy.com goes a step further in benefitting the buyer: thanks to our cheaper fees, we can enable our sellers to do all of the above while offering their products at a lower cost than other channels!
Another common criticism is that the laws and regulations surrounding online marketplaces are quite underdeveloped – we believe in supporting both sellers and buyers and will always comply with UK law in this regard. Rather than getting bogged down in negativity, we focus on working hard to offer our customers and sellers a fantastic experience.
Q: There is a lot of talk currently in eCommerce about the growth of Amazon do you believe they are largely friend or foe to small businesses and as a competitor how do you feel about them?
Sadly, we believe Amazon are not always a friend to SME. They actively compete with their own sellers in certain categories and, let’s face it, if they decide a product sector is profitable enough, they have the buying power to undercut their own sellers and drive them out of business by offering their own stock or even their own brands, instead.
Once Amazon has the monopoly, you might think that buyers will benefit however there is no longer competition to stop pricing escalating beyond the original mark ups. The loss of sellers through this method means customers lose choice across hundreds of thousands of other ranges that Amazon does not sell. Additionally, Amazon can put their own products in the ‘Buy Box‘ regardless of cost – making the best prices harder to find.
Q. What emerging technology do you see as the biggest game-changer in eCommerce for retailers and customers?
With the ever-increasing use of clever chatbots, functions like visual and voice searches along with innovations to workflow via automation, there’s a lot to be excited about at the moment – for both retailers and customers. Overall, though, AI and AR are the biggest opportunity (and headache!) in the technology-focused age. Watch this space for further innovation on OnBuy.com.
Q. From your experience what is the one thing a business can do which will bring them the biggest rewards in the quickest fashion when selling online?
Embrace selling on OnBuy.com, of course – we’re on your side! With every new seller we onboard, we’re able to do more: the more traffic we gain and the more customers we win, the more we’re able to offer as a whole. Customers want choice, variety and low prices – and more sellers on OnBuy.com will help with this.
Sellers can benefit themselves by pricing in line with OnBuy.com’s low sales fees and driving their sale price down over other channels. At OnBuy.com, we give sellers more control and autonomy than other dominating marketplaces – and this means they can successfully run their business through OnBuy.com without OnBuy.com dictating every last thing about how they act.
Additionally, having recommendations and reviews from trusted sources will increase sales. In the current climate of uncertainty in the market, shoppers have become (even more!) focused on price and reviews, so securing better supply prices and ensuring you’re encouraging reviews wherever possible is key.
Q. Where can people find out more about you and what you do?