By Alessandro Coppo, VP and GM for eCG

With the economic crisis still firmly front of mind, people are increasingly looking at alternative ways to make extra money and save their hard earned cash. The classifieds industry has historically been a popular way for consumers to buy from or sell to other consumers. With the continued rise of digital commerce, consumers are finding it even easier to make money through C2C trading, and are becoming more business savvy as a consequence.

A recent study , commissioned by eBay Classifieds Group, examines the patterns and attitudes across 14 different countries worldwide on trading with other consumers in their area, combining internal data with findings from an external study of 14,747 respondents. The countries included in the report are categorized as either developed or emerging online classifieds markets depending on the maturity of the industry in their region. Developed online classifieds markets include Spain, Italy, South Africa, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and Canada, and emerging online classifieds markets incorporate Columbia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina and Taiwan.

According to the study 427 million people worldwide are currently taking part in C2C trading with the greatest proportion of people active in the emerging online classifieds markets. In these countries over four in five people (84 percent) are buying from or selling to others online, compared to just under two thirds (64 per cent) in developed online classifieds markets. Unsurprisingly money is identified across all markets as the main motivator behind the growing adoption of C2C trading globally, with the most profitable consumers housed in the emerging online markets. Traders in these countries made an average of £158.80 in 2011, compared to developed online classifieds markets where the individual consumer made £136 on average.

The increased infiltration of smartphones and internet enabled feature phones worldwide is having a huge impact in terms of driving the popularity of online C2C trading. In emerging online classifieds markets where mobile is the main or, in some cases, only way to access the internet, over one in five (21 percent) people use mobile devices as a means to engage in C2C trading, representing a significant opportunity for continued growth. In developed online classifieds markets on the other hand, consumers recognize the immediacy that is required for successful online trading, and have therefore adopted mobile channels as a means of trading on-the-go.

According to the report, over one in 10 (12 percent) consumers within the developed online classifieds markets uses mobile devices to purchase from or sell to other consumers. Technology is enabling people to stay in tune with the fast paced buy and sell cycle by trading online via a mobile device and enabling them to respond immediately to potential buyers or sellers in order that that they don’t miss a sale or bargain.

Not only do consumers understand the ease and convenience of online / mobile C2C trading, the study also reveals that consumers are using it as a means to secure good deals by researching and negotiating on price before an item is brought or sold. Consumers in the Netherlands are the most business savvy with four out of five people admitting they always haggle on price to get the best deal, whilst those in the UK appear more reserved with just over half (57 percent) willing to negotiate.

The online classifieds market has become a virtual trading floor where consumers are empowered to buy or sell amongst themselves, and take control of price and potential profit margins. We are seeing how trends in technology are enabling consumers to be more astute when it comes to keeping tabs on potential sales and researching best priced goods. More significantly we are seeing how consumers around the world are using the online classifieds market as a go-to source of making extra money in these austere times.