“We are witnessing the advent of a new model of “social commerce”, which challenges the foundations of e-commerce”

Ie-stores are increasingly numerous to offer “second-hand” or “second-hand” sections to consumers looking to reduce their expenses and avoid a waste of resources. Our research however, show the limits of these developments in the face of the growing success of exchange platforms between individuals (“Casual selling practice: a qualitative study of non-professional sellers’involvement on C2C social commerce platforms”by Alexandre Schwob, Ronan de Kervenoael, Valentina Kirova, Tan Vo-Thanh, Information Technology & PeopleApril 2023).

We are indeed witnessing, on an international scale, the advent of a new model of “social commerce”, which calls into question the very foundations of e-commerce. While in online stores, including for second-hand sales, prices are a priori fixed, negotiation is the norm on ad platforms, and it is accompanied by discussions, compromises and disputes. adaptations to needs. A commercial but also social relationship is forged, a bit like at trade fairs, traditional markets or the souks of southern countries.

On these platforms, it is not only goods that change hands, it is also links between individuals that are created. Our research shows the social dynamics, anchored locally, which develop thanks to these exchanges, in particular in emerging countries. The sellers-buyers involved in these exchanges are not only looking for profit.

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Unlike their professional counterparts, they take their time. Selling is for many a way to change clothes or furniture more frequently, for example. But it’s also a way to meet new people, to develop expertise and to fit into groups.

The pretext for meetings

A film photography enthusiast will thus find other enthusiasts on the platform, with whom she will share experiences and exchange advice. She will sell a filter to one, from whom, another day, she will perhaps buy a focal length. She will not hesitate to lend, to try. She will give tips. Friendly communities are thus created around common tastes, for old cars, musical accessories or surfboards…

On the scale of the neighborhood or in a slightly larger territory, purchases and sales are also the pretext for meetings. We sell her child’s anorak, which has become too small, and we buy the larger size from that one. We will probably see each other again the following spring when sorting out summer clothes. Rather than cooking for themselves alone, some students or elderly people prepare a dish for six and sell the remainder to those around them, even if it means buying the next day a slice of blanquette concocted by another resident of the neighborhood.

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