Exploring Consumer Resale Behavior in C2C Online Auctions: Taxonomy and Influences on Consumer Decisions

Article excerpt


Thanks to the Internet, an increasing number of consumers not only purchase but also resell merchandise through C2C websites. Resellable goods no longer seem to indicate unrecoverable costs but are considered to be liquid assets or an alternative cash account to consumers who master online resale. The value or benefit of a product would be deemed differently when the owners are contemplating reselling such goods. The role of a consumer as a reseller is a relatively new concept. Studies of consumer behavior with regard to selling goals, knowledge, and skills differ tremendously from those of the traditional consumer buying and consumption behavior. Why and how consumers learn to be resellers is an interesting issue in C2C e-commerce research. Unfortunately, the behavior of consumer online resale has not been studied indepth. This specific kind of consumer resale behavior differs from the behavior of retailers and cannot be analyzed from a retailer's perspective. In the present study, we focus on C2C consumer resale behavior instead of the bidding behavior of buyers by looking at the interaction between online and offline behavior rather than treating them as different boundaries. Further, we examine consumer disposition behavior and the linkage between the disposition and acquisition phases, rather than focusing on only one part.

This exploratory study conducted in Taiwan and China aims to define and categorize consumer online resale behavior in order to provide a framework for further research. We use participant observations and consumer interviews to explore the background of consumer online resale situations in order to elucidate our research questions for the nature and representation of consumer resale behavior in C2C secondary markets and the possible implications for researchers and marketers. After collecting interview data consisting of 131 online resale transactions reported by 25 consumers from Taiwan and China, we discuss issues related to consumer online resale by conceptually defining and specifying types of consumer online resale behavior with a taxonomy. Then we present a conceptual model of consumer online resale behavior and develop corresponding research propositions from the preliminary findings of an exploratory qualitative study. The conceptual model introduces the possible relationships between types of consumer online resale behavior and their impacts on purchase and online resale decisions. Finally, we provide the conclusions and managerial implications of the study, as well as outline directions for further research.

We define "consumer online resale" as an online resale in which the products being resold were purchased mainly for self-use, not for resale. According to the aforementioned definition, all resellers in C2C online auctions can be categorized into three types: professional resellers, mixed-role resellers, and consumer resellers. In our study, we completely exclude "professional resellers" and only focus on consumer online resale performed by "consumer resellers" or "mixed-role resellers". The taxonomy of consumer online resale behavior developed in this study describes consumer resale behavior using the dimensions of "planned" or "unplanned resell" and "used" or "unused products" in order to examine the relationship between consumers' reselling and purchasing behavior. We define the first dimension, "planned resell", as the condition when consumers, before purchase, consider that they can and have the intention to resell the target product after using it for a period of time. Consumers will receive compensation in the future if the product is successfully resold through an online auction site. The second dimension we propose is whether the products consumers sell are "unused" or "used". The behavior of reselling used or unused goods is regarded to be different. Reselling unused products is more similar to the behavior of retailers, while reselling used goods is more similar to traditional consumer disposition behavior. …