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We’ve all heard a lot about business to business and business to consumer sales, but what about consumer to consumer? Thanks to the age of the internet, consumer to consumer e-commerce is now a booming industry.
One of the main advantages of consumer to consumer sales compared to B2C model for example, is that it is easy to start. Anyone anywhere anytime can sign up to eBay or Etsy, create a listing and sell something.
Being easy to start doesn’t make it easy to master, however. On the contrary, it often makes it even more difficult. There is a huge crowd that you have to stand out from, and if you don’t, you’ll be underperforming and losing out to a whole swathe of competition.
Fortunately for you, if you’re interested in starting up a consumer to consumer venture, there are useful strategies and approaches adapted from successful business strategies that can help you be more successful very quickly.
This article will help you understand the elements of consumer to consumer e-commerce, the difficulties and opportunities, and arm you with actionable tips and strategies to push you ahead of your competition.
Here we go!
What is C2C? Well, C2C is defined as any individual selling things to other individuals without the use of a business entity. Breaking this down further, there key ingredients are these:
The internet has made it easier than ever to sell things online. Starting out as a simple way to list things publicly, platforms soon developed to offer better features, including payment facilitation, image uploads, accounts, user ratings and more.
Now, eBay, Alibaba, Amazon, and even Facebook facilitate consumer to consumer sales. eBay alone now enjoys $60 million in transactions every single month, and is increasing by up to 20% month-on-month right now.
It’s easy to understand why more and more people are getting involved, and how such extreme growth figures can be made possible. There are currently 242 million online shoppers active at any given time, spending up to $40,000 a second. Every second.
This all sounds very impressive on its own, but what about in context? It’s even more impressive.
Three years ago, C2C E-Commerce sales were estimated to be worth $105 billion. Business to Consumer was estimated to be worth $71 billion. This means individuals without a business can enter a bigger and potentially more lucrative market than businesses. This a quiet revolution that has been building for years.
The revolution is such that businesses are even starting incorporate the C2C model as a channel for their sales. Those that haven’t done so yet are receiving some pretty dire warnings of what will happen if they don’t.
Hopefully this briefing has got your pulse racing, your mouth watering and your tail wagging. In the next section, we’re going to help you get a piece of this action, and make your first foray into C2C E-Commerce as successful as possible.
Today, I’m writing based on the assumption that you already have a presence on an e-commerce platform, or you have your own e-commerce website.
We’re not looking at setting up here, as that’s relatively straight forward. Instead, we’re looking at optimizing everything you do after that to maximize your potential audience and optimize your conversion to sales.
Publish content regularly to build a following that can later be converted to purchasers.
It’s a proven, lucrative method of attracting audiences and ‘funnelling’ them toward your product. Start with a broad topic people are looking for information on, and narrow their perspective down to your product.
This allows you to draw search traffic (called organic traffic) to your blog and products by using SEO – matching the words and phrases you use with those being searched for.
You can also share this content on social media to get social media traffic.
What’s more, you can create sign-up opportunities on your website to hook people onto an email list, which you can then market to directly in the future.
Long term, all these actions serve to help you build a following and convert readers into buyers further down the line.
Setting up a blog is super easy, and you only need to be able to research topics you know will be really helpful to your potential customers. You can even outsource the writing part to ghost-writers.
Content marketing, but with video instead of written content.
Video is a huge market, from YouTube and Vimeo to Facebook Video. There is a whole host of unique content in the video world that can help you sell, including reactions, unboxing, experiments and more.
We are designed to see and hear people, and Video allows us to do just that. Vision is our primary sense, and videos use it most naturally, making them easier to consume and more likely to be shared.
You can include links to your product or ship in the annotations or sometimes within the video itself depending on the platform. You can also start to get your personality across. Remember, C2C is about people, and letting people see you, hear you and relate to you is essential for building trust.
Social media offers a huge audience to draw traffic from, and doing so by establishing a strong presence within the social media framework means more engagement from potential customers.
Social media is huge. Facebook has over a billion users. Millennials in particular are socially influenced to make purchases based on what their friends like, and what a purchase signals about them to others.
By selecting and focusing on the most suitable social media platform for your product, you can concentrate your efforts for maximum reward.
Create niche pages, group or account that people can follow to get useful updates.
Curate content, and start sharing your own original content in the mix, to create a sense of equivalency between respected sources and your own material.
Used paid advertising to boost occasional high performing posts and expand your audience.
You can also use social media to share testimonials, mediate issues and make announcements when you have new stock, or are out of stocks, or have completed a batch of deliveries.
C2C E-Commerce isn’t about the volume of different transactions being made. Instead, it’s about the quality of relationships with existing customers. By forming bonds with them, you increase the likelihood they’ll come back for more.
Relationship building will allow you to retain existing customers, and give you the opportunity to reconnect with old customers. If you leave a strong positive impression, old customers only need periodic reminders to check out what you’ve been up to in the meantime.
Establishing an email list is something I’ve already recommended, but it bears repeating. Once you have a list, remember to contact those people whenever you’re making discounts available, when you new stock is coming in or when you’re down to your last couple of items. Make them feel special and prioritized.
Unique to C2C is the use of messaging apps like WhatsApp or Viber – you can afford to be more friendly and chatty with people, and that familiarity can really help to build loyalty. Text messaging is worth remembering too, as it has a far higher open rate than emails, ensuring your message is getting through.
Affiliate programs enable others to sell your products on your behalf, and earn a little bit of commission in exchange. This motivates people to recommend your products and gives you access to other people’s networks.
Having an affiliate program allows you get automatic sales created by other marketers and bloggers. Ideally this is a symbiotic relationship, where people with a talent for marketing but lacking in administrative and business experience can benefit from having a product to sell without the hardship of managing it. Equally, you get to sell your product without promoting it.
In exchange for a minor reduction in profit, you can significantly increase your sales volume, which should make it worth the trade-off. Because the commission is only on items sold, there’s no risk of losing out as there would be by paying a full fee to a marketing firm or similar.
Fortunately, creating an affiliate program can be super simple. Elegant Themes can show you step by step how to set one up with a WordPress site, all in a matter of minutes.
If you’re running on your own ecommerce site, it’s a good idea to make sure that it’s mobile-friendly, as most people now spend the majority of their online time on their mobile devices.
Mobile optimization is now a factor in Google and other major search engines’ ranking algorithms. This means that if your site is mobile optimized you’re more likely to be spotted higher up the rankings, meaning more organic traffic.
Simultaneously, a great user experience on mobile platforms is something most of your competitors aren’t doing. Mobile conversion rates are pretty poor. That means that if you DO provide a great experience, you have a huge advantage.
By opting for a responsive e-commerce framework, you can get a mobile optimized platform ‘for free’, as your site will dynamically rescale and reorder itself to look great on any screen size. You can check this site for a good mobile-friendly C2C e-commerce websites list. The headline? Up to 57% increases in mobile conversion thanks to mobile friendly designs. Not to be sniffed at.
Fortunately for most of you, Amazon, eBay and others have made efforts to offer more mobile friendly designs, but if you want to strike out on your own, then this is a must.
Using niches is a well-established way of mobilizing a small but passionate group of people by using highly targeted appeals based on who your product best serves.
The funny thing about specialization is that almost anyone looking to sell something will say their target audience is “anyone” “everyone” “humans” or some similarly silly answer. This will only ever create problems. You need a target to aim at in order to succeed in hitting it, and you can do this in several ways.
You can create a buyer persona, which allows you to identify the traits, economic status, passions and interests of your ideal customer, and this gives you plenty of ideas for content that you can use to target them.
Equally, you can divide your niche not by personality, but by locality. Specialize in your geographic region and find forums where community members gather. Become an active participant and suggest your product as a solution when the relevant problem gets posted about.
This focused approach will help you maximize your chances of selling to one type of person, with the categories able to be drawn along several lines.
As a C2C seller you have to look at how you can make the maximum return for minimum investment. I’ve excluded more professional approaches like Pay Per Click because they will cost you money, and that’s not great way to make money on products that usually carry small margins and come in limited runs.
Most of these tactics involve expanding the reach of your C2C operation through multiple channels. Optimizing for search engines, making use of video sites, maximizing your presence on social media – these are all pre-existing infrastructures with huge audiences you can appeal to free of charge.
Of course, there’s the classic triangle of Time, Effort and Cost. If you want something that requires lots of effort in no time, it’ll cost you. If you want something fast and cheap, it’ll take a lot of effort. But if you spend your time and effort, you can minimize cost.
That’s what we’ve tried to do here. If you know of any ways to maximize your consumer to consumer impact online that we haven’t mentioned here, please share them in the comments below!
Updated: 26 July 2017