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Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) is the business of conducting goods and services over the Internet to consumers from consumers.  Another way to describe C2C is that it conducts e-commerce with consumers and themselves or to a third-party.
Examples of C2C businesses:
  • Ebay
  • Craigslist
  • Online Ad or Classifieds
  • Amazon.com
  • Half.com

How does a C2C site work?


Before any consumer-to-consumer business can be formed over the Internet, there needs to an established of a space where individuals can come together.  These “gathering spaces” are called online or virtual community in which a collection of people come to one site to communicate, connect, and get to know one another.  From there, people can establish a multitude of community themes to bring similar minded people.  Here are some examples of communities:

  • Communities of interest – people who come together over the Internet to share a common interest like professions, sports, hobbies, philosophy, trading, and others.
  • Communities of relations – people who come together over the Internet to share stories of relations such as friends, families, and/or relationships.  Some examples of these communities would be like Myspace or Facebook.
  • Communities of fantasy – people who come together over the Internet to share fantasies over the internet like fantasy football or baseball.  Another example would be a site that allows people to write their own stories of fiction.

Another type of online community that establishes a consumer-to-consumer electronic commerce is called an online or electronic auction site.  An e-auction is like a regular auction; however, the sales of bidding is done online.  It is a place where sellers and buyers bid for items listed on the auction sites such as Ebay or Amazon.  Here are two examples of the types of auctions that can occur: 

  • Forward Auction – an auction that sellers use to have buyers bid on their merchandise till the highest bidder wins. 
  • Reverse Auction – like the forward auction, this auction is used by consumers that want to buy goods or services.  However, the buyer selects the seller that has the lowest bid.  An example of this would be seen in Amazon.com where instead of purchasing a product from them, a person can buy from other sellers.  When going into the listing of other vendors, the website usually posts the lowest asking price first.  Then, the next lowest price is listed all the way up to the last seller that has the highest price of all the listings.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of a C2C site?


There are many benefits that a consumer-to-consumer e-commerce has.  One of the main factors is a reduction in costs.  Sellers can post their goods over the internet cheaply compared to the high rent space in a store.  The lower expenses lead to smaller, yet profitable customer base.  Being in a community of similar interest where buyers and sellers come together leading to more chances of goods and services being sold.  Another benefit is that many small businesses can obtain a higher profitability over a C2C compared to a physical store because of the reduction of overhead costs when conducting an e-business.  Probably the most positive benefit is the consumer-to-consumer sites are most effective in selling personal items.  Examples of personal items are handmade gifts, personal artwork, clothing design, and collectables.


There are also disadvantages that a C2C e-commerce has.  One of the main factors is it is not always the safest and most reliable place to conduct business.  Sometimes buyers and sellers are not accommodating to each other when transactional information is needed.  In these cases, a proof of purchase can solve liability issues and prevent costly lawsuits for a consumer and small businesses.  Another disadvantage is that these types of sites are known for scams, swindles, and people with ill-business intentions.  One recent example would the profound “Craigslist Killer” in which a person was purchasing exotic women services only to meet and murder the women giving the service.  Though the example is a bit extreme, it nevertheless underlines another disadvantage to the sites is damaged reputation.  When things go wrong on C2C e-commerce communities, people can easily spread their stories across the internet which effectively is Word-of-Mouth (WOM) advertising.


How to improve the disadvantages of a C2C site?


There are a couple of ways to reduce the disadvantages of consumer-to-consumer e-commerce.  One way is to set up ground rules and a task force to enforce them.  EBay, for example, states to every buyer and seller of their regulations on how to conduct themselves on its site and with others.  If everyone follows the rules then business transactions will run smoothly in which everyone will appreciate.  Another way to improve is to establish membership requirements for validation of users.  Using EBay again, they require sellers and buyers to register a membership for identity purposes.  The C2C site does this to create an authentication of users, maintain reputation with its members and users, and encourage small firms to conduct business online.


Websites for more information:


Wikipedia Page

Fullcirc Page

Media Culture Page