In the latest instalment of our eCommerce executive interview series, we sat down with OnBuy Managing Director Cas Paton to talk about his company, industry trends, career advice and Peaky Blinders…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
OnBuy is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the world. With our fair, transparent approach, we can offer a better deal to buyers and sellers.
Sellers can sell through a marketplace that has their best interests at heart: we offer competitive fees, don’t compete against them, and support them in growing their business. Buyers can use a marketplace that offers a seamless shopping experience with over 17 million products, competitive prices, PayPal protection and more.
Already one of the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces, OnBuy has plans to expand worldwide and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. Watch this space!
What have been the biggest challenges the E-Commerce industry has faced over the past 12 months?
While the e-commerce industry is rapidly growing, the question of trustworthiness is still an issue online, and I think it will be for some time yet. People can be understandably wary of trusting online shops – areas like data protection and security (including site and payment security), fraudulent transactions, and fake/paid-for reviews can add to their concerns. Thankfully, there are ways in which retailers can tackle this – if they prioritise these areas, they can earn consumer trust.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
For me, the cross-border opportunities identified have been the biggest. For online retailers, cross-border expansion is a seamless way to obtain global product visibility and as a marketplace planning to go global, we’re perfectly positioned to help online sellers make the transition without the challenges that usually accompany such expansion.
OnBuy’s UK marketplace model has proven successful, so we’re planning to expand OnBuy into 140 new countries. This is one of the biggest growth opportunities available to sellers at the moment – we’re going to launch into more countries than any other marketplace and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. We’ll handle everything for our sellers; we have the technology to help with translation and currency ready to go.
What is the biggest priority for E-commerce in 2020?
I can think of two: trade agreements to make duties simple for exporting and solving Brexit quickly so we know what we’re dealing with!
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?
I expect we’ll see more cross-border expansion, more high value orders, and more subscription services to replace what was previously a single large purchase – especially in gaming.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
5G networks have the potential to make a huge impact. As 5G offers faster connectivity than wired networks, it could have a transformative effect on business by helping people buy, sell, pay and communicate faster.
In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?
AI. In addition to streamlining internal processes like managing inventory, AI can help enhance the customer experience. An AI assistant or chatbot can mimic the personal interaction we’re used to in physical shops and having it fulfil all your customer service needs – like helping customers with purchases, recommending products, assisting with complaints – can save you valuable time and resources.
Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?
Richard Branson. As a driven entrepreneur myself, I’d love to meet him and hear any insights he could offer about his decades in the industry.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the E-commerce sector?
Out of the past 12 years in e-commerce, it was learning that Amazon isn’t actually perceived as good for small to medium businesses in the way that many once thought it was. In 2010-2012, Amazon was an opportunity for online retailers and continued to be for several years thereafter – but the feedback we receive now is that Amazon is a hurdle in the way of growth and an ever-growing competitor.
This growing discontentment helped pave the way for OnBuy to enter the market which I’m naturally thrilled about, but it was still surprising to hear that something with such strong positive potential has actually affected many sellers negatively.
You go to the bar at the E-Commerce Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
A good white wine or a beer.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Driving something that I’m extremely passionate about. I love hunting for new ways to evolve OnBuy and working with my team to put them into action and take OnBuy to the next level. Plus, no two days are the same which keeps me on my toes!
And what’s the most challenging?
As the business evolves, new challenges are always being presented but I must say I love a challenge, so I welcome them. We’ve cleared the initial hurdles of setting up a marketplace – attracting sellers with no buyers and vice versa – and we’re now focused on the best ways to seamlessly roll OnBuy out worldwide.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Get off the hamster wheel, stop spinning, and look back at what you’re doing. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day but taking time to step outside of the business and reflect is absolutely crucial.
Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?
Peaky Blinders all the way! No question.