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£35m OnBuy investment – Marketplace set for future growth

By Chris Dawson July 13, 2021 - 6:00 am

A £35 million OnBuy investment series A+ round has been announced this morning, which the marketplace says will propel them to the next stage of becoming the UK’s alternative marketplace offering. Currently, they’ve grown their initial £8 million investments into a marketplace now valued at £132 million and there’s no sign of their growth slowing down.

Where are OnBuy today?

But enough about the OnBuy investment numbers as we know marketplace sellers don’t really care that much – what we know you do care about is the opportunity that a marketplace has to offer and that’s impressive. OnBuy has grown to £155 million annualised GMV, almost 1.5 million users and their peak concurrent users on site is around 11,000. They have 36 million products listed from 7,000 retailers.

Put in Amazon terms, OnBuy’s sales now equate to roughly 1% of Amazon’s sales in the UK. That may sound small, but it’s pretty significant for an upstart marketplace and it’s why we’ve continually followed OnBuy’s growth with interest. Over the 16 years we’ve been writing on Tamebay, OnBuy is the first serious contender to the marketplace giants and has now grown to be bigger than the much longer established Notonthehighstreet – and every one without exception considers Notonthehighstreet to be a roaring success story so we have to now view OnBuy in the same terms.

What does the OnBuy investment mean for merchants?

The new OnBuy investment of £35 million, which will be a mix of debt and equity, will fuel further meteoric growth for OnBuy, with sights firmly set on reaching unicorn status in the coming years. Significant input comes from players including Bring Ventures, Norway Post venture arm, Fuel Ventures, Guy Hands (founder and chairman of Terra Firma Capital Partners), Knut Frängsmyr (Deputy CEO of Klarna) and Richard Goulding (founder of Play.com) amongst other strategic investors. In addition to external investment, a fully funded £2M allocation was set aside for existing retailers currently using the platform. This funding will enable OnBuy to further develop its product offering for both sellers and consumers and importantly, pursue global expansion.

What this means for you as a marketplace merchant is that OnBuy have the finance in place to fund their future. For the next nine months we expect to see significant investment in product development and we’re waiting for the announcement of OnBuy opening up in overseas territories. It hasn’t escaped our attention that Norway Post’s venture arm has invested in OnBuy so we’re fully expecting the Scandinavian countries (territories with high disposable income) to be high on the list for OnBuy country sites. There are also plans to use the OnBuy investment to fund development of a consumer app, putting OnBuy in the pockets of millions of consumers and enable purchases at the click of a button.

OnBuy have got to this stage without significant investments in marketing and this is something we’re forecasting for 2022. Currently they’ve done just enough marketing to get to where they are today, but in 2022 expect to see significant steps to increase OnBuy’s brand awareness on the consumer side to draw in a wider audience and increase sales.

“The global ecommerce market is expected to total $4.2 trillion by the end of 2021, a figure that is set to grow even more over the next few years, however it’s alarming to see that the industry is still following the same detrimental and unfair marketplace model that has existed for years. I created OnBuy to provide something unique: a clear, level playing field – and in our 4 years of rapid growth, it’s clear to see that this is a model that works to everyone’s advantage.

This investment will allow us to unlock even more potential and take OnBuy to the next level with an even better, easier to use product than ever before. We’ve made it this far with the help of our early angels, amazing team, trusted retailers and of course all of our amazing customers, but we’re not nearly done yet. We’re here to make noise, challenge the status quo and change the digital marketplace landscape forever.”
– Cas Paton, founder and CEO, OnBuy

What can we expect to see over the next 18 months?

To summarise this OnBuy Investment round, the marketplace has grown to have significant traction within the UK, the next three quarters will be focused on building new platform features and there will be significant brand awareness drive in 2022.

In the short term this may mean that OnBuy focus less on immediate growth, and indeed in the current macroeconomic environment, as we exit the pandemic and consumers return to high street shopping, we may even see a small drop in traffic to the marketplace (and indeed to all marketplaces) as the world resets. This makes it a great time to focus on the platform, and consolidate the experience for the buyers OnBuy has picked up over the past 15 months, before a big consumer brand awareness drive when there are even more enticing features and the all important OnBuy Shopping App is ready to serve them.

  • 3 months ago

    We’ve had good success selling on OnBuy; it’s a lot less stress than Amazon, and the support staff are excellent.

    But I was a bit disappointed that in the last funding round they made a big fanfare about it as an opportunity for sellers to invest in the business, only to find that the minimum investment was around £10,000. If I had that kind of money sitting around, unless it was in a tax savings account I’d have already invested it in stock to keep it working for me.

    I hope that in future funding rounds, they’ll find a way for us smaller businesses to invest – in a perfect world, we’d be able to put in £50-£500 a month (depending on the kind of month we’ve had !) to grow the portfolio over a period of time, rather than having to find a huge lump sum all in one go.

  • Sebastian
    3 months ago

    Really, I wish it well, but I have to be honest in the hope that it will help it succeed.

    You have to make it better for the consumer. It just doesn’t have anything to differentiate it from the competition.

    Really, I wish it well, but it even has a logo that looks like the old Overstock one (or something I remember), and an interface that is just a merging of Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Even the site title “UK online marketplace” is just eBay’s regurgitated. Be bold, be different! “OnBuy – Get Your Buy On!” “OnBuy – A Better Marketplace” – I dunno…

    It doesn’t stand for anything for the (increasingly ethical) consumer. The sellers are all overpriced (even higher than their own eBay/Amz shops – probably because they’re undercutting on eBay/Amz to match competition) and it just generally needs to be made into something really different from the competition if it wants to overtake them in time.

    Basically: what’s its philosophy?

  • Steve Tilston
    3 months ago

    My first impression of Onbuy is that it is yet another site full of cheap and counterfeit tat from “the far east”.

    A cursory look for some video game cartridges shows almost all of them to be pirated copies (or reproductions, as they are euphemistically known). Flooding an already oversaturated market with yet more fakes to fool newcomers who don’t know any better – at £20 a go. Not a great look.

  • Toby
    3 months ago

    We too have had an increasing success with Onbuy. We seem to be attracting a different type of customer. Certainly our sales to claims ration is far lower than ebay…. saying that everywhere hasa lower sales to claims ration than ebay (hummmm.)
    I agree it needs to start to distinguish itself now. Stop comparing itself to Amazon or whoever… that will not get you customers, just lead people to compare you to the largest market place in the world, that has been aroudn for a long time, and so lead to disappointment.
    The logo… well, i expected something fresh and new, instead they opted for something old and tired. yes they were cute and all that a decade ago, but now things have moved on. It has to be so much more than a cheap gimmick. So i think they made an error there.
    However, they are doing well, we are doing well there, and it is good to have a company that is serious about being a proper market place. They just have to avoid ebays error. Ebay are trying to be like amazon, ina way that simply doesn’t work, as it is everything or nothing. Ebay nolonger inovates. Like Apple, it is now surrounded by look alikes. It doesn’t scream at you anymore.
    Onbuy needs to break the mold. Yes I know that is hard as sometimes the mold is a treid and tested system that works, but only one thing attracts people like familarity, and that is something truely different.
    Still, positive thinking. They are ona steady path, putting in the investment where needed and expanding as needed… I will say the C.S to us as a seller has been excellent.

  • 3 months ago

    Hi Alonicus,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts; we’re glad to hear you enjoy selling with us.

    We understand where you’re coming from – we would have loved to open this round up to even more of our sellers, however it simply wasn’t viable this time.

    It’s great to hear that you’d like to be more involved with OnBuy and we will certainly take this on board and explore ways that we can make this more accessible for you in the future.

    Should you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    – OnBuy.

  • 3 months ago

    Hi Sebastian,

    Thank you for the well wishes and honesty – both are much appreciated.

    We’re glad you asked what our philosophy is. We’re a brand built on core values of trust, fairness and transparency, and we want our customers to feel confident with every sale on our platform. It’s been an explosive four years of rapid growth, but it is fundamental that our values are reflected in everything we do, so we’ve taken a step back recently to redefine our offering.

    The results of our fundraise will help us grow our specialist team so we can improve our product and our platform, and we can continue our evolution knowing that we’re striving towards being the best choice for every customer, everywhere.

    We’ve got an incredibly exciting roadmap full of updates over the next 18-24 months, so keep watching this space!

    Should you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    – OnBuy.

  • 3 months ago

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    At OnBuy, we take potentially counterfeit products very seriously and have a robust process in place for reviewing listings on the site.

    You can also report any products that you’re concerned about via our Contact page here: https://www.onbuy.com/gb/contact/

    Any flagged products will be investigated and we’ll take the appropriate action. Thank you again for sharing your feedback with us, we really appreciate it.

    – OnBuy.

  • Darren
    3 months ago

    It is great to see a challenger doing so well. I only wish Visualsoft would hurry up and add Onbuy to their feature list so we can easily integrate to it. Sadly Visualsoft as a market leader seem to be asleep at the moment when it comes to marketplace integration.

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