There are many ways to do business; and although the business model of businesses selling to consumers is generally the most common, there are other business models that can be used as well.
Companies can sell to each other which is called business to business but what about consumers selling to each other? This is known as consumer to consumer or C2C. It can be difficult to understand what these different business models look like and how they work.
So, let’s take better look at the consumer to consumer business model.
What is consumer to consumer (C2C)?
Consumer to consumer is a business model that enables commerce between individual consumers that are not part of a business. C2C can be goods or services that are exchanged between two individuals.
Generally, two individuals are brought together to do business with each other through a platform that acts as an intermediary based on the consumer to consumer model. In this era of technology and internet, there has been a significant rise in the use of the consumer to consumer business model.
To better understand what the consumer to consumer model let’s look at some examples.
Examples of consumers to consumer platforms and transactions
The most classic example of consumer to consumer transactions would be the classifieds section of a newspaper. Before the use of smartphones and the internet, people often sold new or used items or offered services in the classifieds section of the newspaper. These were individuals who connected with other individuals to do business with them.
Another example similar to the classified section is auctions. Auctions are often held by individuals who have created a product or own a product and they sell it to other consumers.
However, in recent years there has been an immense increase in consumer to consumer platforms though the internet. With the rise of ecommerce and online shopping many websites and companies are taking advantage of the consumer to consumer business model. Websites such as Amazon, eBay, Kijiji and even Facebook marketplace, offer individuals a platform to connect with consumers and offer their products or services.
Another area where ecommerce has rapidly grown is the smartphone app market. Mobile applications are taking over almost all other devices and procedures; from checking your email to depositing a check to even ordering take out, it can all be done through an app on your phone.
Similarly, many mobile applications are offering individuals a place to conduct their business with consumers. Applications such as Letgo, Offerup, and TrueFlip are all marketplaces for individuals to buy and sell their products and services.
Many websites have since also launched mobile applications to allow easier interaction, better communication, and better user experience for their consumer to consumer platforms. These include Kijiji, Facebook marketplace and even Wish.
Some other examples of consumer to consumer platforms are etsy, craigslist, Poshmark and even sites like fiverr.
How do C2C transactions work?
Consumer to consumer sites and platforms work by providing the platform for sellers and buyers to connect. Many of them work based off a classifieds system or some of them also offer a bidding/ auction feature.
Sites and mobile applications such as Letgo, Kijiji and ebay are generally used by individuals for placing advertisements for their products and services. They even allow you to purchase new and second hand goods such as used textbooks or find services such as tutoring and babysitting. The sites provide you a secure way of communicating with others to buy or sell.
Other sites such as etsy allow you purchase handmade goods, personalized products and allow sellers to customize their own seller’s website through etsy. This allows the seller to provide a tailored experience to the services or products that they provide.
Once a buyer and seller connect most of these sites either provide a secure method of payment transfer or in cases such as Kijiji and Letgo consumers can set up and agree to payment methods themselves.
It is recommended however to be careful with transactions that take place after using the sites that do not provide a secure payment method. Generally, these sites and applications are generally not liable for losses or they do not provide guarantees.
Sites or applications can however mitigate disputes and those that offer secure payment can provide refunds as well.
How do consumer to consumer (C2C) platforms earn revenue?
Consumer to consumer platforms earn profits in a couple of different methods. Platforms generally earn revenue by charging a fee to sellers for listing their products, for adding on special features or for providing easy of payment.
Often you can pay a fee to promote or highlight your listings. These allow consumers to view your listing first or on top and thus they are more likely to purchase your product or service. In addition to this these sites or applications also feature many advertisements from companies, and they charge for the ad space.
Factors that impact the C2C market
Now that you know a little bit more about C2C firms and which types of businesses fall under the C2C model, you need to know what variables drive the C2C market. The following are some of the factors that impact the C2C market:
- Trust: One factor that can influence the success of the C2C market is trust. Because of its consumer-to-consumer model, those considering purchasing another consumer’s products must be confident that they are dealing with a legitimate company. To encourage potential business, C2C business owners could provide customer reviews and money-back guarantees.
- Quality control: Another potential factor influencing the success of the C2C market is varying levels of quality control on consumer-to-consumer purchases. Buyers must use their best judgment to determine whether a product is worth the advertising price.
- Payment: Consumers need assurance about who they are paying, therefore payment methods can have an impact on the C2C market. C2C business owners can mitigate the risks by seeking help from a professional money transfer provider to assure customers that their personal credit card information is secured.
- Marketing capabilities: C2Cs may not have access to more traditional modes of marketing their business, which is why this can affect their success within the C2C market. However, with paid advertising through the website-owner and organic marketing such as social media, C2Cs can find unique and cost-saving marketing methods that drive consumers to the online store.
- Social media: Social media can have a beneficial effect on the C2C market because it allows consumers to interact with one another in a casual setting. Buyers can DM or leave comments for the seller to get valuable product information in a timely manner. They can also follow consumer-owned businesses to learn about new products before those who do not follow the C2C on social media.
Overall consumer to consumer to consumer is a business model that allows individuals to connect to others and facilitates commerce between them. They earn revenue from charging a fee for their services or extras that they offer as well as ad revenue from companies. Most sites do not provide service or payment guarantees.