Updated for 2022: C2C eCommerce Marketplace Tips

Updated November 23, 2022  |  7 min read

What Is C2C eCommerce? A Marketplace

C2C, or consumer-to-consumer commerce, is often defined as one consumer selling goods or services to another consumer. When done online, C2C refers to consumer to consumer eCommerce. This C2C sale is often facilitated by a third party that takes care of the transaction details for a commission for bringing the parties—direct sellers and potential customers—together. C2C business examples include eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Etsy that all work as online intermediaries. While one person might technically be the seller in such a situation, it’s considered consumer-to-consumer because that seller isn’t a traditional business.

The purpose of a consumer-to-consumer eCommerce platform is to enable one party to sell directly to buyers without spending a considerable amount of money building and maintaining an online storefront. This allows the seller to keep more of their profits because they aren’t expending the capital to create infrastructure associated with a traditional business.

Online C2C marketplace

The buyer may also get more competitive prices if sellers on the same C2C platform compete. The most common term for these types of eCommerce platforms is “marketplace.” The idea of a marketplace mirrors real-world examples like flea markets, where a building owner will offer booths to sellers in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Clarity’s own eCommerce platform creates these marketplaces for clients who want to take full advantage of C2C opportunities. We can build them from the ground up or combine them with another business model, such as a single online store, multi-store (i.e., many franchises connected to a single product database), global multi-currency market, customer to business eCommerce, and much more.

C2C eCommerce Examples

EBay is an excellent C2C business example where consumers can sell to other consumers online. It was the first customer-to-customer auction site on the web, even though Buy It Now listings currently eclipse those of timed auctions. EBay makes money by charging sellers fees for the privilege of connecting them to potential buyers. Buyers have multiple options for paying such as credit card, PayPal, or bank debits. This ability to accept a variety of payments is one reason sellers choose eBay over other sites. The seller then utilizes eBay’s shipping software to create labels and then ships using one of the three major package carriers.

Craigslist takes a much more altruistic approach. In most cases, it works as a free marketplace for consumers to connect with other consumers at the local level. Craigslist charges to post job ads to cover its expenses, but its primary purpose is to create a free C2C or business to comsumer eCommerce marketplace.

Amazon offers the largest marketplace on the web. Buyers pay with a credit card or PayPal, and sellers receive payments facilitated by Amazon to their own bank account or PayPal account. Amazon charges one of the highest rates of any C2C site on the web, but sellers continue to use it because of Amazon’s reach.

Consumer-to-consumer eCommerce websites are a specialized type of eCommerce platform with several advantages over traditional business to consumer e Commerce models. A C2C business:

  • Needs no inventory – Since a C2C platform is just the intermediary taking a cut of the C2C transaction, inventory is a non-issue. This avoids tying up capital in inventory and eliminates the need for storage and shipping facilities. It also does away with shipping costs associated with B2B.
  • Needs fewer staff – A business without inventory needs no packers, shippers, or drivers.
  • Creates sellers out of buyers – Buyers who become familiar with a website as a buying platform may recognize it as a legitimate place to become a seller.
  • Gets to choose their level of involvement – User agreements dictate just how involved a C2C platform is involved with the customer-to-customer business transaction. For example, Kickstarter’s user agreement states that it cannot be held responsible for the contract between the creator and their backers.
  • Isn’t responsible for forgeries – Tiffany and Co. took eBay to court, claiming that eBay profited from forgeries of their high-end merchandise. Courts decided that C2C sites like eBay are not legally responsible for forgeries sold on their site.

Advantages of Consumer-To-Consumer eCommerce

What is a consumer-to-consumer eCommerce able to do? C2C platforms give sellers the ability to list an item for sale without additional advertising, marketing costs, or legwork. A seller is also able to take advantage of the marketplace’s web presence to put them at the top of many search engine results. Not only can this type of eCommerce help sellers reach a larger audience than they could independently, but they can do it faster as well. Sellers also benefit because they can change their level of involvement from day to day, where a traditional business would keep them busy day in and day out. In other words, C2C creates an excellent opportunity for “side hustles.”

Buyers also benefit from consumer-to-consumer websites. Because the seller controls the pricing and can avoid the overhead costs associated with traditional retail companies, buyers can take advantage of this lower price that a retail company might not provide. C2C commerce also offers shopping-from-home comfort for buyers. When done well, a well-designed C2C marketplace is a win-win for both buyers and sellers alike.

The most challenging thing about customer-to-customer eCommerce is finding a platform that can handle all the functionality of a robust marketplace yet not cost millions of dollars to purchase and take years to set up. Clarity eCommerce offers such a platform, one that costs a fraction of what most global marketplaces costs. It can also be set up in weeks or months instead of the years you might spend waiting on other C2C software platforms, all while handling millions of SKUs and tens of thousands of buyers and sellers. It allows sellers to set up and brand their stores, upload and customize their pricing for both products and services, report on sales, track shipments, and much more. If needed, our platform can provide a multilingual, multi-currency model as well. What is C2C doing for our clients? Clarity created, a marketplace similar to Alibaba but serving Africa. Within the first few months of being set up it had thousands of sellers and hundreds of thousands of SKUs…all being set up by the sellers themselves.

Disadvantages of C2C eCommerce

Handling payments can be one of the biggest challenges to C2C commerce. It can be hard for a seller to make a buyer pay for an item they already shipped if there is a problem with the buyer’s funds. Conversely, a seller might refuse a refund if the buyer receives a damaged or subpar item, which could alienate the buyer from the C2C platform itself. In this case, the marketplace is not to blame for shipping or product quality but suffers due to the actions of the seller.

Third-party consumer-to-consumer websites like eBay or Amazon usually help solve some of these issues because of the policies set up for both sides of the C2C transaction. Sellers are forced to accept these policies or face the prospect of losing the site as a selling tool. eBay even reserves the right to deduct funds directly from a seller’s bank account if a buyer demands a refund. Amazon also has guidelines for sellers if buyers have a justified reason for returning an item.

An escrow model can help solve many of these problems. One payment platform Clarity has used before, Payoneer, uses such a model. A portion of the purchase price is deducted and paid right away to the seller while the balance is held in an escrow account. Once the item has shipped and the buyer accepts delivery, the rest of the payment is released. This adds some protection to both sides of the transaction, especially when dealing with overseas payments, large transactions, and shipments.

Overcome C2C Roadblocks

Clarity can help you face these disadvantages and find the best solutions possible. Tell us about the roadblocks in your C2C business model, and we'll get you on the right track to success.

A Robust C2C Business Model

A single person can create a traditional storefront for their small business in a matter of hours with simple website-building software. This just isn’t an option when building a custom C2C business platform. Off-the-shelf software and cheap websites simply can’t handle the traffic, the customer interface, and the millions of SKUs associated with C2C needs.

C2C business model workflow

Clarity is ready to build your C2C platform to perfectly fit your business’ needs. We’ve built over 1,500 custom sites for companies across the country, providing robust security and top-tier interaction to help you realize your C2C needs. Our experience building other customer-to-customer software has also shown us what works—and what doesn’t work—in C2C business plans. Let us know what you want, and we’ll make it happen.

Integrated C2C Payment Processing

The ability to process payments has scared away more than one person who had a good idea for a business. They might be experts in their field but still be intimidated by the options and complexities of accepting payments, especially when there is an international element involved. If your only familiarity with online payments is with the Cash App, PayPal, or Venmo, Clarity can help you choose a much better payment processing option for your C2C platform from the dozens available. Best of all, these payment options are seamlessly integrated into the C2C software itself so that you can focus on growing the business.

Don’t worry about security when it comes to online payments. Clarity only uses payment processing programs that utilize the highest level of payment security so that you, your buyers, and your sellers feel confident using your platform. The best security builds trust in your customers so that they keep coming back. Want to know just how secure we can make your C2C platform? Let us show you in a free demo.

Building Customer Relationships with C2C

Easy communication is vital to every business, and a C2C platform is no exception. Most C2C transactions take place without the buyer and the seller ever having to contact each other. They will also occur without any problems that would require you to step in and take action.

Let’s look at these relationships and why it’s so important to make communication as easy as possible. First, consider the interaction of buyers and sellers. Buyers may want to ask specific questions about an item before they buy if sellers aren’t posting the necessary information. Sellers, on the other hand, want to communicate without having to switch to a dedicated email platform. Making communication easy on both sides of the transaction keeps customers coming back to your consumer-to-consumer eCommerce offering.

C2C consumer relationships

It’s also important to make sure anyone using your website — whether a buyer or seller — has the ability to reach you. Though they might be rare, problems will arise with transactions and someone at your company must deal with them. eBay has gotten so big that they have eliminated all ways to contact them, including phone, email, and chat. You won’t be surprised to learn they are losing sellers because of this silence, but it serves as an important lesson for C2C platforms to provide a more communicative environment.

Capturing Niche Markets with C2C

Many people wonder why they should consider C2C commerce when certain companies dominate the market. Large companies often run into the problem of spreading themselves thin as they get too big. eBay might facilitate selling everything, but they are an expert on nothing. Similarly, Etsy started as a site for artists to sell handmade items; sellers now use it to sell mass-produced trinkets and “vintage” tube televisions. This dilutes the brand and presents an opportunity for those seeking to enter the C2C market.

C2C commerce opens the door for anyone wanting to be the go-to site that specializes in a particular interest or industry. It doesn’t matter whether it’s industrial shelving or comic books, boats or camera equipment. You will run into competition, but you can dominate if you do it better than anyone else. Make the site more attractive, improve the checkout feature, and create a community. In other words, make your site so much more inviting that you become the default C2C facilitator for a particular industry or interest.

Crowdfunding C2C Sites

What is C2C doing for crowdfunding? Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon might not have buyers and sellers like traditional consumer-to-consumer websites, but each still brings people together with a web-based platform to facilitate an exchange. Many crowdfunding sites work on the rewards system, where consumers pledge money in exchange for physical or digital perks once certain funding is reached. The primary difference between this model and traditional C2C is that the exchange might never happen if the funding goal isn’t reached.

Which crowdfunding platform is best? It all depends on the needs of the “sellers” and the kind of “buyers” it attracts. Specialized crowdfunding platforms show up to cater to specific markets and particular tasks. Much like the niche markets mentioned above, opportunities abound for crowdfunding C2C platforms that focus on underserved online communities.

Brick-and-Mortar vs. C2C

eCommerce forced many brick-and-mortar stores, both large and small, to embrace online retail. Some resisted because of the initial startup cost, but a good eCommerce platform pays for itself many times over. The world of commerce continues to grow online, and businesses that drag their feet are being left behind.

What is consumer-to-consumer commerce doing to compete with brick-and-mortar stores? 2020 showed the importance of having a business that’s not (only) a traditional brick and mortar. Most people wanted to stay inside to avoid exposure to the pandemic, and eCommerce thrived as a result. Why browse a brick-and-mortar bookstore if you can order the same book from Amazon Marketplace? Why risk meeting someone in person for a craigslist deal if you could find the same thing on eBay and have it shipped to you? Customers changed their buying habits, and many of those habits are here to stay. A C2C business model just makes sense as consumers show their interest in a variety of online eCommerce options. Clarity will help you make the most of your C2C enterprise.

B2C vs. C2C Business Models

The lines are becoming blurred when discussing B2C vs. C2C eCommerce. The term B2C suggests that a business is selling directly to the end consumer. These businesses typically have some form of infrastructure, including employees, a physical location, inventory, an ERP, accounting department—in short, overhead. Conversely, C2C platforms like Craigslist and eBay started exclusively as a way for a person who no longer wanted a used item to someone who did.

C2C changes to B2C when the selling customer becomes their own business while still working on a C2C platform. These consumers-turned-businesses can sign up as resellers of multiple products and list on consumer-to-consumer websites like Amazon or eBay. They don't have to handle checkout, the orders are sent to their vendors who pack and ship the items for them (dropshipping), and Amazon cuts them a check for their percent of the sale. Even listing items became automated when Amazon offered the option to scan UPC codes for direct uploading.

B2C business model workflow

These single-person small businesses have almost no overhead; even their marketing department is taken care of via social media. The ability to share items on their interconnected social accounts—and have their products shared by customers who are rating and reviewing the products—does most of the marketing for them. On top of that, Amazon’s SEO web presence helps put this person’s listings higher than those selling on competitors’ standalone sites. Of course, such small businesses might also need certain goods from the same platform and buy from a customer, therefore making customer-to-business e Commerce a reality.

As long as sellers treat customers right, sell quality products, and take advantage of social media, it’s each to create a successful revenue stream.

Three eCommerce Models Explained

Here are the three most common models you'll experience. This will help explain B2B, B2C, and C2C meanings.

  • B2B – Business-to-Business. A business sells to another business, and the second business then sells to consumers. For example, Canon manufactures cameras and then sells them to Best Buy.
  • B2C – Business-to-Consumer. A traditional business sells products or services to a consumer. This model is what most people think of when they hear the word eCommerce. C2C business examples include Amazon, Alibaba, and the online sites of brick-and-mortar stores such as Target and Walmart.
  • C2C – Consumer-to-Consumer. Consumers sell to other consumers with the aid of an online intermediary who takes a cut. C2C eCommerce examples include eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Mercari. We’d love to help you join their ranks.

Team Up with eCommerce Experts

Now that we've discussed the foundations of C2C eCommerce, what's next? If your business is looking to expand its reach with a consumer to consumer eCommerce marketplace, Clarity can build you a C2C platform that matches your business model and needs. We'll provide a user-friendly C2C experience with a seamless process from start to finish, including payment processing options. Whether you want to create an eBay-toppling auction site or help direct sellers find their buyers for goods and services, you'll get a better return on your investment when you work with us. We've built more than 1500 custom websites to satisfy every need.

Discover Your C2C Solution

We offer a free discovery session where our experts go over your business needs with you and then provide expert advice on what solution and features would be the best fit. There's no obligation to work with us afterwards; you can take the information with you anywhere. We're here to help businesses like yours grow and advance even further.



A great example of what a C2C model is would be eBay, an online auction site, and Amazon, a marketplace that acts as both a B2B and C2C solution. Consumer to Consumer eCommerce enables the building of relationships between end-users, where the website acts as a platform where consumer correspondence occurs.


A consumer-oriented website, in both content and design, focuses on the needs of the end-users. The content specifically targets user pain points and how they can be resolved with the services and products provided. This consumer-centric messaging tied in with a friendly user interface and design makes for and welcoming web experience.


Consumer to Consumer (C2C) eCommerce: This model of eCommerce focuses on the facilitation of consumers to perform standard commerce between each other. The most common application is an online marketplace akin to eBay or Amazon.

Consumer to Business (C2B) eCommerce: The consumer to business eCommerce model functions as a means for consumers to sell to businesses. A common example would be paid advertisement on a personal website where businesses would pay the owner of the website for the ad space.


C2C or Consumer-to-consumer eCommerce is one consumer selling goods or services to another consumer online, similar to how eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist works. It is a type of trade relation where both the sellers and buyers are consumers instead of businesses.


A C2C business acts as a medium for consumers to conduct business with each other. The first thing that comes to mind is eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc. These online marketplaces are a facilitator for consumers to buy goods from sellers. Ranging from online marketplaces to freelance services like Fiver, the consumer to consumer business model is a versatile and rapidly growing industry.


The simple answer is yes and no. Traditionally, taxi services would be considered B2C, or Business to Consumer, where the consumer would hire the company for their services. Uber is a unique case because they employ private drivers who use their vehicle instead of Uber providing them one. Each driver is incentivized through a rating system where users can select their driver based on the ratings they have received. These ratings are entirely separate from the company at large and are unique to each driver. To put it plainly, the consumer hires the driver, not the business.


Starting a C2C business is very similar to starting any business: What is your Mission Statement? Are you going to facilitate the offering of services, products, or both? Now that you know your goals, it's time to consider how you will help promote these offerings. Are you going to build a marketplace like eBay, a software application to connect consumers and drivers like Uber, or maybe a website that is a medium for freelancers and end-users to conduct business? Regardless of where you plan to start, always keep your consumers and mission statement in mind. If you follow that bit of advice, you are sure to be successful.

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.
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