C2C is the next big thing in ecommerce

by Nicole Depene-Sander. A faster growing trend is the rise of buying and selling between customers themselves: C2C.

by Nicole Depene-Sander. Shopping has evolved. The world has gone digital, so has the shopping experience, along with a surge in online marketplaces. But an even faster growing trend associated with marketplaces is the rise of buying and selling between customers themselves; customer-to-customer ecommerce (C2C). This is essentially a multi-vendor marketplace where each seller is an individual, using marketplaces as a third party platform.

Although this new wave of sellers and buyers are revolutionising the online marketplace, the idea of C2C selling has been around for decades. Through flea markets and farmers markets sellers offered unique wares that couldn’t readily be sourced at traditional retailers. C2C ecommerce has continued to flourish based on the same principals, with an exponential growth over the last two decades, specifically due to the increase of third party platforms that are being created every day to cater for a far wider, and far more discerning audience.

C2C ecommerce has disrupted the digital space, with few being able to initially predict the massive impact and success these types of business models would have. The explosion of these platforms has become so embedded in our daily lives that it seems almost rudimentary for buyers to seek specific brand or retail marketplaces, when what they’re looking for can almost certainly be found with a few simple clicks in the most cost effective way – a win-win situation for all involved. Some reasons for this global consumer shift to a sharing economy include:

  • Higher profit margins for sellers because of the minimal costs associated with the absence of wholesalers. This also has a knock on effect for buyers as they can find what they’re looking for at a much more affordable price point.
  • The C2C model is heavily based around community, and word-of-mouth, which can spread like wildfire on social media platforms. Some social media platforms themselves are facilitating in-house C2C marketplaces – think Facebook Marketplace, which is leveraging their user data technology to create one of the most personalised shopping engines in history.
  • Thanks to the technological leaps and bounds being made in the online shopping space, incredibly powerful algorithms and predictive shopper behaviour modelling makes shopping at the same marketplace so much more compelling. One of the most powerful drawcards of the C2C marketplace is that a customer’s purchase history is simply a click away, allowing sellers to tailor exclusive offers and recommendations, turning a quick online purchase into a shopping spree with a few simple clicks.
  • Because C2C marketplaces aren’t restricted by their product offering, they can quite simply cross-sell to a shopper who will take the time to enjoy quick click convenience, which is exponentially beneficial to sellers.
  • For buyers, the abundance of choice is probably the most compelling factor. C2C marketplaces can offer countless options, from all sellers on the platform. This also gives buyers enhanced customer satisfaction because they have quenched their thirst for “best value for money”.

While C2C ecommerce is booming, it is not only buyers and sellers who are reaping the benefits. The impact on platform owners has been sizeable too. Companies that build, launch and facilitate the platforms have the potential for increased profit from charging sellers for listing, advertising revenue; and if they are savvy with their marketing strategy, the potential for additional promotional features that add on to the customer experience, resulting in more buyers, and an increased demand for a wider variety of sellers.

We’ve discovered that many of our users are purchasing for resale, i.e., they’re side hustlers looking buy and/or sell cost-effective products/services, and in some cases, refurbishing and reselling them for profit. Operating 18 buy-and-sell platforms (as well as four car marketplaces), OLX is currently running at about 17 million items exchanged per month – and this is set to increase as more users move to mobile transactions.


Nicole Depene-Sander is the OLX marketing manager. She is interested in the growth of the C2C business model and how this clicks into the shift to the sharing economy.



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