All posts by nikabaht

Design Your Way to Success: How Sellers on C2C Platforms Can Use Website Design to Stimulate Repeat Buys

Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online shopping platforms like eBay and Alibaba’s TaoBao are some of the Internet’s most lucrative businesses in terms of both revenues and website visits – and yet they are also a fiercely competitive environment for the sellers who use them, with consumers often only becoming profitable after multiple repeat purchases (Chen, Huang, & Davison, 2016). The biggest threat to sellers’ e-commerce success? Badly-designed websites that send the message that the seller lacks credibility and service quality.

In fact, making a seller’s store or website appealing is essential in C2C contexts, where consumers carefully evaluate each seller due to their perception that shopping on C2C websites is significantly more risky than making a purchase on a traditional B2C platform (Xu, Lin, & Shao, 2010). With website quality being identified time and time again as a cornerstone of e-commerce success (Huang & Benyoucef, 2013), Chen et al. (2016) set out to explore how service, system, and information quality affect buyers’ economic and social satisfaction – and how relational capital (i.e. the relationship that develops between buyers and sellers on C2C platforms) can moderate the influence of satisfaction on repurchase intention.

Based on a survey of TaoBao shoppers, Chen et al. (2016) conclude that information quality (and, to a lesser extent, service quality) influence both economic and social satisfaction – and that, while economic satisfaction is the most important factor influencing repurchases, social satisfaction is only effective at increasing repurchase intention when paired with strong relational capital.

Figure 1. Chen et al’s (2016) model of how website quality affects repurchase intention

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 14.42.06

Key practical takeaways

The model that Chen et al. (2016) proposed and (for the most part) validated in their research is quite complex – the implications of their results, however, can be implemented relatively easily by sellers:

  1. Focus on information quality first, service quality second. Up-to-date and relevant content helps buyers navigate the seller’s site with ease and efficiency, and is the most effective way to increase economic satisfaction. Therefore, sellers should prioritise information content elements such as Q&A in order to stimulate repurchases. Service quality – i.e. the timely handling of shipping and delivery, as well as prompt and polite responses to any issues or questions – can increase social satisfaction, and should be the second area of focus for sellers.
  2. Economic satisfaction is a prerequisite for success, and it strongly influences the intention to repurchase. Therefore, sellers should ensure that their price-quality ratio is appealing. However, they should also be aware that price cuts and price promotions are easily copied by other sellers – and therefore should also invest in relational capital as a way to retain customers.
  3. Without relational capital, social satisfaction is not effective at increasing repurchases. Sellers should foster trust and mutual respect with buyers by ensuring that payments are processed fairly, that service and product quality are up to par, and by providing buyers with perks such as personalised greeting cards or small gifts/samples included in the packages. Over time, this can build relational capital and buyer loyalty.



Chen, X., Huang, Q., & Davison, R.M. (2016). Economic and social satisfaction of buyers on consumer-to-consumer platforms: the role of relational capital. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 21 (2), 219-248.

Xu, B., Lin, Z., & Shao, B. (2010). Factors affecting consumer behaviour in online buy-it-now auctions. Internet Research, 20 (5), 509-526.

Huang, Z., & Benyoucef, M. (2013). From e-commerce to social commerce: a close look at design features. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12 (4).

Fashion and the sharing economy: how collaborative consumption could shake up the fashion industry

The sharing economy (alternately also called the “collaborative” or “access” economy) refers to the activity of many individual sharing goods and services, as well as to the software platforms that make this practice possible (Hamari et al., 2015)– think Lyft and carpooling, or Appetit and food-sharing. One industry that is only now starting to get on board? Fashion.

While sharing economy platforms often emerge as alternative business models that co-exist with traditional channels, at times they become popular enough to go from a simple alternative to a serious disruption that steals market share and revenue from conventional businesses – such as AirBnB’s growing popularity as a substitute for hotels, or Uber’s detrimental impact on taxi services.

The most popular access business model – collaborative consumption – can serve as an alternative to ownership regarding items which an individual plans to get limited use out of. Many types of  fashion goods are characterised by high prices, but relatively low usage – two key traits shared by goods that have proven popular for implementing collaborative consumption.

And while access business models have not taken off in the fashion industry as quickly as in other areas, with only 2% of US shoppers currently having rented clothing (Pike, 2016), the area is projected to become increasingly influential – and to have a particularly profound impact on fast fashion, with more and more consumers choosing to rent higher quality trendy/special occasion items instead of purchasing them at cheaper stores.

Figure 1. Access business models in the fashion industry


Rent the Runway is the most popular example of a rental model with 6 million subscribers as of October 2016. It bypasses the typically peer-to-peer nature of collaborative consumption, and instead offers consumers the chance to rent expensive designer goods for 10% of retail value.

The company has been particularly successful not only because it allows users to bypass paying full-price for an item they might only wear once, but also because it combines this with the opportunity to rent aspirational items that most would otherwise not be able to afford – and all in a hassle-free manner, with cleaning, back-up sizes and liability insurance all handled by the company.

Perhaps taking inspiration from similar services like Amazon Prime, the company has recently introduced a membership plan that allows users to order unlimited items for a monthly flat rate, and it has also added reviews to help users pick the most successful items (Pearson, 2016).

While a promising concept, many peer-to-peer clothing rentals such as Rentez-Vous and StyleLend have run into logistical issues that have made sustaining business growth a difficult ordeal.

Renting out clothing is fundamentally different than renting out apartments or cars. How can sizing differences be handled? Who is responsible for shipping items? Should renters, owners or the company handle the dry-cleaning? Who is liable if an item is damaged or not returned on time?

If a company is not able to make clear arrangements for these issues without inflating costs for item renters, owners and the business, problems are bound to arise.



Hamari, J., Sjoklint, M., & Ukkonen, A. (2015). The sharing economy: why people participate in collaborative consumption. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67 (9), 2047-2059.

Pearson, B. (2016). Where is the Uber of fashion? Forbes. Retrieved from

Pike, H. (2016). Will the “sharing economy” work for fashion? Business of Fashion. Retrieved from

A better way to co-create – build relationships while building innovation

Consumers can be an incredibly rich source of ideas for product and brand development, and collaborating with them can increase not just R&D productivity (Huston & Sakkab, 2006), but brand competitiveness as well (Bendapudi & Leone, 2003). And while co-creation for innovation is by its very nature one of the closest forms of collaboration between firms and consumers, very little has been said about how engaging in co-creation affects the consumer-brand relationship.

Through a combination of surveys and in-depth interviews conducted to address the above-mentioned paucity of research, Hsieh and Chang (2016) discover a complex relationship between a number of factors in co-creation – such as the perceived benefits of co-creation and the brand-self connection (i.e. the extent to which a consumer feels the brand reflects their core values) – which affect brand co-creation engagement. Engagement, in turn, increases purchase intention and brand citizenship behaviour – which both signify a stronger relationship with the brand.

In simpler terms, when co-creation is done right – when it appeals to the brand-self connection, and when it makes users feel competent, autonomous, and related to the brand – it increases the engagement users feel with both the co-creation platform and the brand. This increase in engagement has positive implications not only for purchase intention, but also for the intention to help others co-creators and offer feedback on their ideas. Therefore, engaging in co-creation projects does not only provide a firm with ideas for innovation – it can actually deepen consumer engagement, which can be leveraged into stronger brand equity as well.

Figure 1. A simplified model of how co-creation projects build engagement and brand benefits


Three principles for designing platforms that maximise co-creation engagement

  • Set clear objectives and guidelines, but encourage users to come up with diverse solutions within them. When the goals of co-creation are clear, consumers submit higher quality ideas and feel more competent at handling the task – and higher perceived competency leads to higher engagement. Co-creation tasks that allow users to think outside of the box and apply different skills are more engaging and enjoyable, and thus also lead to more positive brand affect.
  • Foster collaboration, not competition. When users encounter strong competition in a co-creation contest, it reduces their perceived self-competence and their level of engagement. On the other hand, a strong co-creation communities and a feeling of relatedness can provide consumers with a sense of belonging and a stronger sense of brand co-creation engagement – which can in turn increase purchase intention and brand citizenship behaviour. Therefore, brands should focus on maintaining a positive and trusting environment on their co-creation platforms, and giving users the opportunity to communicate with both the firm and each other.
  • Promote strong brand values. When consumers feel that a brand is congruent with their core values, they are not only more engaged with the brand and more likely to advocate it to their acquaintances – they are also more likely to take an active role in co-creation projects. Ensuring that a brand’s offline communication materials convey the brand’s core values will help breed an active online community.



Bendapudi, N., & Leone, R.P. (2003). Psychological implications of customer participation in co-production. Journal of Marketing, 67 (1), 14-28.

Huston, L., & Sakkab, N. (2006). Connect and develop. Harvard Business Review, 84 (3), 58-66.

Hsieh, S.H., & Chang, A. (2016). The psychological mechanism of brand co-creation engagement. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 33, 13-26.