Where is C2C Coming From?
Behind the Growth of C2C eCommerce Business Model
Consumer to consumer commerce has been around for a very long time, think about farmers’ markets, flea markets, artisanal markets, and so on. Sellers had to secure their stall on the market area, usually by paying a fee, and buyers would come and buy goods directly from the “source”. This C2C marketplace business model is different to the business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) models, as in this case sellers are not necessarily business entities, and also, they are simultaneously sellers (providing goods and services to customers), but also customers (of the third-party platform that allows them to proceed to commerce and facilitates the process). In the digital era we live in, eCommerce has taken over traditional, physical modes of commerce. C2C eCommerce has grown exponentially over the past few years, where from the couple of “original” C2C platforms available, now there are more platforms created every day, catering for different audiences.
One could wonder about the success of the C2C eCommerce model, and why there was such a massive, positive response from both customer parties (sellers and buyers). The answer to that is multifaceted, as there are important advantages for both parties.
- Lower prices: One major advantage relevant to both parties is price cuts. Since there is no need for a physical shop with all entailed costs, or need to employ sales staff (in most occasions), product prices are lower. This can allow for higher profit margins, and improved user experience.
- Abundance of choice: This advantage is relevant to both parties, but mostly buyers. While going shopping to a mall can offer 10, maybe 20 options to buy a T-shirt, “going shopping” on a C2C eCommerce marketplace can offer countless options, from sellers all around the world, offering unique products that one would not have access to if it was not for this business model. From the sellers’ perspective, an online marketplace can offer a plethora of customers from all over the world, looking for a particular product or service the seller offers, hence increasing the chances for successful visitor-to-customer conversions, compared to people walking in a shop to browse.
- “Best value” satisfaction: Having a vast choice of sellers to choose from, compare products and prices, and potentially negotiate a price, can enhance customer satisfaction, and quench the “best value for money” thirst every customer has. C2C eCommerce can succeed on that, as there are no strict commerce rules apart from general ground rules of the platform (such as data protection, financial protection, and maybe eligibility checks before vendors can use the platform).
- Word-of-mouth & Community: The C2C eCommerce business model is heavily based on the community created around the C2C marketplace, and the word of mouth, usually spread through social media platforms. Since some social media platforms (such as Facebook) are facilitating in-house C2C marketplaces, marketing and advertising of a product can be that much easier, utilizing the existing user base.