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A consumer-to-consumer website, also known as a peer-to-peer website or C2C website, facilitates the sale or transfer of goods and services between individuals. While some of the participants in a consumer-to-consumer website also have other business venues, such as an e-commerce website for brick-and-mortar store, they may use a C2C website to expand their customer base. Other users of consumer-to-consumer websites may be individuals who are simply trying to sell or give away a product and are not normally engaged in retail sales or the offering of professional services. These sites are often distinguished by the use of a review-based honor system in which users can rate their transaction experience, thus warning or encouraging other users in their dealings with vendors.
The sponsor of the consumer-to-consumer website is a third-party in the transaction between two individuals. Common types of C2C websites include online auctions and storefronts, online notice or classified ad boards, and peer-to-peer lending services. Consumers use these services for a variety of reasons; in some cases, small business owners include consumer-to-consumer website sales as one of their marketing strategies, as generating traffic to a small business website is difficult without a high advertising budget. An online auction with millions of visitors and a good search engine can be a good form of publicity and a way to introduce their products to a larger audience. Consumers also may be looking for a bargain and figure they have a better chance of getting a cheap new or used item from a private individual than from a retail store.
Consumer-to-consumer storefront sites are another way for small businesses and craftspeople to market their wares. These sites provide individual websites and, in many cases, e-commerce capabilities, to artisans and small business people, who pay either a small upfront fee or a percentage of sales transactions to participate in the site. In return, the owners of the storefront site maintain and promote the website to the general public, bringing in new customers for shopkeepers.
Another type of of consumer-to-consumer website is the online classified ad site for posting notices about items, often used, that are being sold or given away by their owners. These sites may even provide anonymous email systems so users can communicate with each other about a transaction without displaying identifying information in an ad. Online classified sites may be general in nature, or may have a special focus, such as "freecycling" sites that do not permit sales of items, only trades or give-aways.