BuySend – From a Uni dorm to a 100,000 orders/mth business

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I’ve just got off the phone with Paul Brown who’s currently in Colombia. Paul and his childhood friend Dave Waters founded an eBay business from their university dorm. Their 10 year old business BuySend has grown to be one of the biggest eBay businesses in the world but their ambitions are even bigger.

The early days

After university the business mushroomed, although a couple of container loads of faulty goods caused a major hiccough and put them right back to square one. It was at this point they went back to basics – to buy and offer a large range of products and send them to their customers with fast delivery backed up with amazing customer service. BuySend was born.

Starting with Paul and Dave, first family were employed and then with more employees the business exploded until their relatively new website was launched. Along they way they’ve won a ton of awards and now, ever ambitious, the aim is to turn into a household name.

Software, automation and reinvesting profits

Ever since the guys started BuySend they have reinvested all their profits back into computer systems and infrastructure. This has enabled them to automate as many of the day to day processes as possible, reducing overheads and increasing profits.

Interestingly they were courted by many multichannel software solutions, but Paul says that the knew that to create a hugely successful, and more importantly scalable business they had to build their own software. Although this has cost upwards of a million pounds, ten years on they are now reaping the benefits, holding a huge advantage over their competitors.

BuySend now have a team of eight inhouse software developers and as well as the obvious marketplace and courier integrations they’ve fully automated stock re-purchasing so the buying team is limited to sourcing new product. There’s no need for a larger team manually placing orders for day to day stock purchases.

Expansion to new marketplaces and overseas

Although they first started selling on eBay UK, BuySend quickly integrated with other worldwide eBay platforms such as US and Australia before also launching on worldwide Amazon platforms such as US and Japan. Every month they are now launching on new marketplaces and with every new marketplace comes more sales and more profits. The investment of these profits into further developing their software, combined with increasing their product range ensures that they are continually snowballing towards the goal of making a household name.

Why is Paul in Columbia?

Well they visit every marketplace that they sell on so currently Paul is visiting Mercadolibre and Linio (who we recently interviewed on Tamebay). Paul tells me that whilst it’s not essential, there’s nothing to replace getting on a plane and meeting with the marketplaces in person. It gets attention from the marketplaces and makes an often steep learning curve easier.

The future for BuySend

So what’s the future for BuySend? Now, with the advanced systems they have in place BuySend are aiming to be offering over one million products listed on their website and marketplace channels by the end of 2017. Currently they receive around 100,000 orders per month, however this will increase exponentially as they integrate with more marketplaces and increase our product range over the coming year. Needless to say they have over a million feedback on eBay alone which has earned them the ‘sweaty’ feedback star.

BuySend is an amazing story and one that will be in part recognised by thousands of eBay sellers who started out from their kitchen table, garage or Uni dorm. A huge congratulations to Paul, Dave and their team and we look forward to coming back in a year or so to update their story!

6 Responses

  1. A LOT of duplicate listings on their eBay account…

    (and not just items listed on different eBay sites, they’ve thousands of multiples on eBay UK alone.)

  2. I am not sure what to think of this article. As an entrepreneur and successful businessman i think its great seeing others succeed. However; no disrespect to the owners of this company and the author of this article; Chris Dawson; this is not a successful company. Yet. The truth needs to be said.

    Any serious player online knows the real challenge online is to make your own brand big. Not make other brands big. This company; buysend are only making the likes of Amazon or eBay big. They are not making themselves big. They might be seeing 100K orders per month; which is good. However, not even a fraction of these sales are not coming through there website.

    For those that dont understand e-commerce; at this point i am sure your thoughts would be along the lines of “so what… they are doing good business.” However the owners of this company know there weakness; i am sure they are not that incompetent to see what is staring right at them.

    If you put all your success in sales channels; you are at massive risk. You are vulnerable. If eBay or Amazon take a disliking to you at anytime; you are gone. That means, if 90% of your business is going through these sites and they turn you off, there goes 90% of your business. And you have no control. I have seen major companies collapse putting all there eggs in other companies baskets. Big players. Its a shame to see them go but they are running at a risk.

    Its all about control and building your own destiny. 8 Developers at BuySend is no where near enough to keep up with all the challenges that will come there way in the next 5 years or even right now. If they are seeking investment, any competent investor wouldn’t go anywhere near them at this time because they are not masters of there own destiny. They are simply riding someone else’s success wave. With more marketplaces you can shake a stick at coming; they will need to partner up with multiple leading aggregators worldwide if they stand any chance of keeping ahead of the curve, otherwise they will be destined to never reach there potential.

    The good news is that part is relatively easy. However; building your brand is not. BuySend are finding it very tough. One look at Alexa shows a company struggling to find there way regardless of any profit margin they maybe able to show you. A company rank of 38k in the UK and 341K globally is awful and the stats on SimilarWeb are equally bad, showing they are getting only 100,000 sessions a month approx. To give you an idea of how bad this is; a company that is doing 100k orders per month should be way over 5,000,000 sessions per month.

    This clearly means 95%+ of there revenue is coming off the back of sales channels. This is a major red flag.

    I wish them all the best but they seriously need to quickly think about there digital marketing strategy if they are to be taken serious. If they want £100M investment its digital marketing they need to attack urgently. And having google translate as a way to localise is dreadful, they need to change that – even google will not allow them localise by using this technology. We have been there and tried it on all 25 googles a while back. It doesn’t look like they have considered that due to there poor traffic rank, but its something they must consider and take seriously if they are to take over the world.

    To wrap up i wish them all the success but to get carried away saying this is a success story is way premature. The owners know it so lets not kid any potential reader. Good luck though boys.


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