E-commerce is well known as the method through which two parties can exchange goods or services in exchange for money via the internet. Think about the last item of new clothing that you purchased. Did you buy it online or in a brick and mortar store? If you bought it in the store, did you shop around for the style you like first online? Did you use the internet to compare prices, or to read reviews to find out what size you should get? Did you reserve it online and pick it up in store, or perhaps did you make sure that it was in stock in your size first before you drove to the location? If you completed any of those activities, then you participated in standard e-commerce. The most standard form of e-commerce is Business to Consumer, or B2C e-commerce, where an individual such as yourself purchase an item from a business. If a company sells on amazon.com, it is e-commerce. If you buy from a company in their brick and mortar store, but they also have an online website that you use to shop, such as companies that sell on Walmart.com, then you are participating in e-commerce. E-commerce has become so commonly used and so intertwined with how a regular consumer does their shopping that most people do not understand the difference between e-commerce and regular commerce.
While Business to Consumer commerce is the most ubiquitous form of e-commerce, than consumer to consumer e-commerce, or C2C, is likely the oldest form. Consumer to consumer e-commerce is not only the oldest type co commerce, but it might also be the easiest form of e-commerce to understand. With this model of e-commerce, instead of making a purchase for a good or service from a company that may sell on target.com, instead they purchase their item from another individual. What’s that, you say? If an individual is selling something, doesn’t that make them a business? Well, yes and no. A business is defined as a company that works to manufacture or provide some type of good and service and pays the appropriate taxes and fees to operate that business. In consumer to consumer e-commerce, it is simply two individuals that are conducting a transaction together.
In Consumer to Consumer e-commerce, an individual can act as the buyer as well as the seller within the same marketplace. Many of the internet sites that serve as a platform for Consumer to Consumer e-commerce operate on a free or low-fee basis. Examples of sites that work as online marketplaces are online classifieds such as Craigslist or VarageSale.com. Others that may charge a small fee are sites like Etsy and Ebay. In each of these situations, the seller is not a formal company, but an individual that is seeking to provide a service or commodity in exchange for payment. Some sites work similar to an auction, where they sell their single item to the highest bidder, while others set a price and accept offers similar to how one would at a traditional garage sale, but they are all C2C e-commerce.