C2C E-commerce: what is it and how does it work?

C2C : How this selling modality works?

C2C refers to exchanges of goods and services exclusively between consumers. These exchanges are done through classified ads via specialised platforms. Thus, individuals can offer their products and services without any intermediary, in total security and without any geographical restriction. 

This type of economic exchange has boomed over the last few years with the development of the Internet. Indeed, consumers can very easily offer services and sell their own products, and even internationally, thanks to the emergence of the web and social platforms. Companies have adopted this business model in order to offer different possibilities to consumers and to ensure them a secure service.

As this sector has been in constant evolution over the last few years, this has led to the evolution of other crucial elements that allow this process to work properly. Like logistics, delivery methods have increased in number, offering new services to meet customers’ expectations. 

Why C2C platforms?

Currently the trend is to change our way of consuming. An increasing number of people are changing the way they live and shop. Indeed, they are being more careful about what they buy, worrying about the impact it may have on them and on the environment. 

The trend is therefore to adopt a very simple lifestyle without superficial elements, which is causing sales of second-hand products to explode. This is why many platforms and applications have been developed in C2C. 

According to Statista, 22 percent of people in the European Union used C2C platforms in the last 3 month to sell goods or services. This number should increase further in the coming years.

Variety in choice

In addition, C2C websites source spontaneously from users who place their products on the platforms. There is therefore a wide choice of products and services, which encourages the platforms to explore new development areas to offer a wider range of products or services.

Simplicity and time saver

C2C platforms help to quickly win the loyalty of Internet users because these online marketplaces are very easy to access and simple to use. The speed of purchase is also interesting because the user only needs to search for the item he wants, then find the advert he is interested in and then order the item and receive it at home. There is no need to travel to pick up the item in person, which is a real time saver!


Some C2C platforms generate less pollution, such as applications between individuals offering a carpooling service. The mutualisation of deliveries and the reuse of products allow to save some resources and limit harmful emissions to the environment. 

Top C2C platforms in Europe

There are many platforms dedicated to the C2C business. They can be specialized or generalist. Here is a short list of the most popular platforms in Europe (no order is established):

  • eBay (USA)
  • Etsy (USA)
  • Vinted (Lithuania)
  • OLX (Netherlands)
  • Rakuten (Japan)
  • stockX (USA)
  • Abebooks (USA)
  • Grailed (USA)

How to promote your products / services in C2C? 

Individual sellers must be original in their strategies to encourage sales of their products. The objective is to provide visibility to their profile. The more visible it is, the more likely it is to generate sales. This optimization, along with an omnichannel advertising strategy, are the keys to success on C2C platforms.

Optimise your profile and ads 

The profile

To attract the consumer and provide a maximum of information, the seller profile must be complete. A profile picture and a profile card must be filled in to reassure potential buyers and thus optimize the conversion rate.

The products

Pay attention to the condition of the products you sell. If they have defects, you will create frustration with consumers and you will not sell again.

The price 

Apply the right price to the products and services you sell. Study the competition and look at the prices charged on equivalent products. Take into account that many consumers prefer C2C for pricing reasons.

The pictures 

To stand out, the key is to make clean and sharp pictures of the item so that it is presented in the most attractive way possible and motivate buyers to order the product. This will give a good perception of the item. In addition to the pictures, an honest description of the item is welcome to present the multiple features.


To ensure sales, you must be responsive to the messages you receive. Buyers like responsiveness in sellers, so they trust them and interpret this as professionalism. 

Promote on communication channels 

Many sellers use social media to give their profile a wider exposure to promote their different products. On average, there are 1 billion active users per month on Instagram, of which 79% log on every day.

60% of users claim to have discovered a product or brand on instagram. This is why this social platform is very interesting. Moreover, the C2C market puts individuals in the lead, so they have to find ways to sell their items more effectively. 

There are several ways to promote your C2C profile :

Instagram is the most relevant social media to share a C2C profile, it is very visual and makes sharing and communicating about a particular product or topic easier.

  • Use an instagram account to put your C2C profile forward, producing regular posts and stories to showcase your products and/or services. Putting the link to the C2C profile in the instagram description is also a great way for people to come across your profile and visit your ads. 
  • You can also create a new instagram profile especially dedicated to a C2C profile to differentiate it from your personal account. On the dedicated account it is possible to share content exclusively about your products. You can even exchange directly with potential buyers on the social network to introduce a sale. Moreover, it is easy to target the right people on this social network because people are sharing their photos and therefore their way of life and their interests.

Which logistics to adopt for a C2C platform ?

With e-commerce and C2C booming, the logistics sector has evolved and therefore transporters are improving their offers. Indeed, in order to meet the needs of consumers, transporters are offering different types of deliveries, from fast deliveries to home deliveries and in store pickup. Some companies have their own shipping services, while others use independent transporters to offer different services.

68% of online shoppers abandon future purchases at checkout if their preferred delivery method is not available. Thus, it is important to offer different types of shipping, to allow consumers to have a choice and be satisfied. Some delivery methods are being developed and growing. They are therefore becoming very advantageous ways of delivering to customers.

Delivery methods

There are different shipping methods in order to satisfy the greatest number of consumers and to meet their needs. There are 3 types of delivery: express, home delivery and in store pickup, which are the most common. 

According to the IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper survey, the favourite delivery solutions for Europeans are :

  • Home delivery (83%), 
  • Delivery to a post office (21%), 
  • Delivery to a postal service point (14%),
  • Delivery to a Parcel locker (12%).

Express delivery is widely used and very convenient for consumers who are in a hurry to receive their products. However, this mode of delivery is very environmentally damaging which is a real problem. As a result, express shipping is not in keeping with the C2C consumer’s minimalist lifestyle. 

Why should you choose different C2C transporters?

By offering several carriers on a C2C platform, you increase your chances of satisfying consumers when they choose their preferred transporter from among the others. A buyer who is fully satisfied with his or her delivery is a customer who is likely to place a new order on the C2C platform. 72% of Internet users absolutely want to choose the transporter who will deliver their parcels by themselves. This is a decisive criterion for their purchases.

This is due to the experience they may have had with a previous delivery, whether positive or negative. Thus this experience strongly influences the customer’s choice. The other reason why buyers choose a particular transporter is its reputation. The consumer will place more or less trust in the transporter for his parcels depending on how well known it is.

The choice of conveyor also depends on the products sold, some being more specialised in large parcels and others in smaller parcels or envelope formats. Furthermore, the geographical coverage, the density and the capacity of the pickup stores according to the transporters are not the same. The more transporters you have, the wider the geographical spread you will have to attract new individuals to the C2C platform. 

To conclude

The C2C platforms work in a very specific way, it is the individuals who feed the sites and who interact with their buyers who are individuals themselves. Professionals handle all the background, security, transactions, interface, etc. of all the third party activities.

As these online community marketplaces and social networks develop, sellers are taking advantage of this to optimise their communication and sales. Regarding physical products, it is important that a platform offers different delivery methods to meet the needs of consumers and to attract new customers. 

Photo credit : Vera Weightless