Insight / Blog

4 ways that C2C commerce is transforming the last mile

Posted on 10th October 2023

Summary: As consumers adopt recommerce, out-of-home networks are having to adapt to increased demand.

This article originally appeared in Parcel & Postal Technology International’s June 2023 issue.

C2C ecommerce has been around for a long time. It’s not hard to trace a lineage from classified ads in local newspapers, follow it to sites like Gumtree and Craigslist, along to the more recognisably “ecommerce” sites like eBay. Today, it’s recommerce sites that are taking the lead, and making C2C commerce cool.

Brands like Vinted and Depop are catering to a wide range of ecommerce users – first as shoppers, but then through consistent prompting and communications encouraging them to adopt the service as sellers themselves. Depop states that in 2022, it had 4 million active buyers in the UK, and 2 million sellers. That’s an impressive ratio.

As this market grows, it’s having a big impact on the first and last mile, generating more demand for parcel sending, significantly increasing PUDO and locker usage, staying at the forefront on sustainability, and changing how shoppers deal with returns.

Increasing consumer parcel sends

In late 2022, during an investment round in which it was valued at $4.5 billion, Vinted said it had 45 million users across 13 markets (it now operates in 16). That growth is causing increased demand for parcel sending services, and driving users to post offices and PUDOs in droves. In the UK, InPost launched its L2L (locker-to-locker) service in Q3 2022, and in Q4 the service already represented 19% of all InPost’s volume.

Much of that has been driven by its partnership with Vinted, which prominently offers InPost as an option for buyers. By default, Vinted generates a shipping label for the seller, depending on which option has been chosen by the buyer, and directs the seller to a drop-off location.

Driving adoption of PUDO and lockers

The default approach then for C2C shoppers and sellers is to use PUDOs and lockers, thanks to these platforms arranging the shipping in advance. Vinted’s latest climate report indicates that 73% of its members choose to use PUDO points to receive their purchases, far higher than the average for any market the company operates in. As more and more shoppers start to include C2C sites in their typical shopping habits, and become sellers in their own right, PUDO and locker penetration and usage are increasing.

This should be welcome news for carriers and postal operators, for whom the consolidated deliveries to PUDO locations are far more cost-effective than home deliveries. However, they must consider how ready their out-of-home networks are to manage this continued growth in volume and usage, and how best to support third-party hosts. As the image of stacks of parcels waiting to be collected in corner shops becomes more common, there is a risk that the growth of C2C marketplaces will jeopardise the customer experience in PUDO locations.

Even lockers aren’t immune – InPost had to briefly shut down its L2L service to manage volume and improve its capacity to deal with the demand.


Read in full about Doddle’s Drop-Off Kiosks, in our product guide.

Leading on sustainability

Shopping secondhand has a really obvious sustainability benefit. Re-using something, even if you ship it to someone else, is much more efficient than making a new item. What’s also become apparent thanks to Vinted’s new and very detailed Climate Change Impact Report is that PUDO and locker deliveries are much more sustainable (at least for Vinted consumers) than home deliveries, even factoring in how consumers travel to and from their PUDO points.

The report estimates that a PUDO delivery to Vinted customers generates just 21% of the emissions of a home delivery, even though many consumers drive to PUDO locations. That’s because consumers report that they would be taking these journeys anyway for other purposes, reducing the share of emissions which are attributed to the collection of their purchase.

Return or resell?

It’s not just outbound deliveries that are being reshaped in the C2C world. As consumers form habits of reselling their clothing et cetera, the way they return items is also changing. With retailers increasingly charging for returns, and with return windows limiting the period in which consumers have to make a decision and act in order to receive a refund, resale becomes a viable alternative to returns, for example in cases where the return window has expired.

In any case, as the demands of C2C marketplace buyers and sellers become more impactful, they’re shaping the volume mix in out-of-home networks, and creating new challenges in the first and last mile for postal operators and parcel carriers, who will need to adopt new technologies and think differently about their consumer journey to stay ahead of the competition.

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