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What is Consumer-To-Consumer E-Commerce?

Jim B.
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Consumer-to-consumer e-commerce is the practice of individual consumers buying and selling goods via the Internet. The most common type of this form of transaction comes via auction sites, although online forums and classifieds also offer this type of commerce to consumers. In most cases, consumer-to-consumer e-commerce, also known as C2C e-commerce, is helped along by a third party who officiates the transaction to make sure goods are received and payments are made. This offers some protection for consumers partaking in C2C e-commerce, allowing them the chance to take advantage of the prices offered by motivated sellers.

There are four distinct types of e-commerce, or electronic commerce, which is the buying and selling of goods or services through the use of computer technology and Internet service. Electronic commerce can take place between businesses, also known as business-to-business e-commerce, or between consumers and businesses, which may refer to either business-to-consumer e-commerce or consumer-to-business e-commerce. The final type is consumer-to-consumer e-commerce, which takes businesses out of the picture and allows for transactions to take place between consumers via the Internet.

Auction websites, like the extremely popular eBay, have recently sprung up all over the Internet and represent the most popular form of consumer-to-consumer e-commerce. On an auction site, one consumer will post the item or items for sale, and then other users will bid on the items. The user who comes up with the highest price in the allotted time for the sale will receive the item in question.

To make sure that the transaction takes place, consumers involved in this type of e-commerce will often use a third party to officiate the transaction. This may come in the form of a payment service that holds the money involved or an online escrow company that follows every part of the transaction. In addition, many auction sites also allow the users to rate the quality of the items bought from a certain seller, thereby showing the reliability of those offering the items for sale.

Other sites exist that are devoted to the process of consumer-to-consumer e-commerce. Online classified sites work just like the typical classified ad in a newspaper. One user puts up an ad describing the goods or services being offered and the desired price, and other users seeking those goods or services can respond. Another possibility is an online forum that is devoted to a specific type of product or service, although consumers may have a harder time researching the reliability of sites like this.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jim B.
By Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own successful blog. His passion led to a popular book series, which has gained the attention of fans worldwide. With a background in journalism, Beviglia brings his love for storytelling to his writing career where he engages readers with his unique insights.
Discussion Comments
By andee — On Jul 07, 2012
I like to use a local e-commerce site to buy and sell things. When I am looking for something to buy, I know I can see the item before I buy it and don't have to pay for shipping.

More than once I have decided not to buy something when I saw the condition it was in. This doesn't happen very often, but it has happened before.

When I am in the market for a particular product and don't want to buy it new, these sites are the first ones I go to. I think this type of e commerce has changed the way people do business.

Our newspaper still has some classifieds listed, but there are sure a lot more options when you go can go online and find what you are interested in.

By julies — On Jul 06, 2012

When I set up my own website to sell some craft products I was making, I was surprised at how easy it was to set up an online shopping cart. I have my shopping cart connected with Paypal which is an easy way for customers to pay for their purchases.

Some people don't like to use this service, so I do have other options available, but Paypal is the most convenient for me. I also have a return policy stated on my site so consumers know if they are not satisfied they will be compensated.

Not only do I sell items on the internet, but I like to buy them too. It does take some degree of confidence to feel comfortable when you are making a purchase from someone you have never met or can't see. I have been able to get some great deals and some unique items, so that keeps me going back to the internet to find things to buy from other consumers.

By John57 — On Jul 06, 2012

I make and sell some natural beauty products and have my items for sale on many online websites. I have had better results when I sell these products on a well known established site than when I try to sell them on my own personal website.

I think the element of trust is one of the biggest reasons, and I can understand this. Because the buyer has to send the money before I ship the product, they have the most at stake.

I think when they are buying the product through a site that is established, they feel like they have a better recourse for getting their money back if the seller doesn't come through for some reason.

By SarahSon — On Jul 05, 2012

When I think of consumer-to-consumer online commerce, eBay is the first thing that comes to my mind. I used to be more active on eBay than I am now, but have been able to buy and sell several items on this site.

One thing I like about eBay is the rating system they have set up. When I am looking to buy an item, I always make sure they have high ratings. The number of items they have sold is not as important to me as the quality of their rating.

I feel more confident that I am not going to be taken advantage of when there are many other consumers who have had a positive experience dealing with them.

Of all the transactions I have done on eBay there was only one that did not work out well for me. I know there are always going to be situations that don't end positively, but I usually feel pretty confident when I bid on something on eBay.

Jim B.
Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own...
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