Every month, 450 million people visit Facebook’s “buy and sell” Groups, and now the company is introducing a new tab in its app dedicated to peer-to-peer purchasing.
You may browse a relevancy-sorted feed of things to buy from people in your stuff on Facebook Marketplace, as well as instantly list your own items for sale. You can haggle or plan a meet-up using Facebook Messenger, and owing to Facebook’s profiles, you know more about who you are dealing with than you would on anonymous sites like Craigslist
Marketplace is launching on mobile in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand today, but it might expand globally and on the web if it proves popular. Unfortunately, there is no two-way rating system in place to help deter scams and poor behaviour. Additionally, there is no native checkout mechanism for purchases other than ad-hoc payment using Messenger, which is inconvenient but encourages in-person exchanges rather than fraud-prone shipping.
“I believe Craigslist’s popularity demonstrates a strong demand for a local commerce platform,” said Marketplace product manager Bowen Pan.
While no Pages are now allowed on Marketplace, Facebook may generate ad money in the future if it enabled businesses or people to buy News Feed advertisements or sponsored placement for what they’re selling. “After we’re sure we’ve put out a wonderful product experience for people,” Pan tells Techgigs, “we will look into introducing businesses if it makes sense, and then we’ll look at how we could potentially monetize the surface.”
Facebook is betting big on Marketplace, which has taken over a prominent position in the navigation tab bar in Facebook for iOS, replacing the Messenger shortcut. Because of its prominent location, Marketplace might become the digital equivalent of impulse purchases at the checkout counter.
Selling using social media
Facebook’s never-ending mission to consume the internet continues, with the web developing its own versions of every popular online activity in order to absorb their engagement and financial potential. It can earn more money indirectly through ads if it owns more of the commerce experience. It’s also working on a Shopping tab that will allow users to shop at traditional stores.
For almost a decade, Facebook has been attempting to gain local commerce. It originally tried out a “Marketplace” for classified listings regarding things for sale, housing, jobs, and other topics in 2007. Marketplace, on the other hand, never took off, and in 2009, Facebook handed up management to Oodle, the commerce company that powered it. It was decommissioned in 2014
Last year, Facebook took another swing, building a specific “For Sale” post option to Groups, which over a quarter of Facebook’s 1.71 billion monthly users now visit. Facebook began developing a “Local Market” feature in October 2015, which evolved into the Marketplace that launched today.
There are three primary aspects of Facebook Marketplace
- Browse To Buy – When you open Marketplace, you’ll see a curated list of items from your community that you can buy. The listings you view are ranked based on relevancy thanks to tags people add to their listings and Facebook’s text analysis AI mixed with the Pages you Like and stuff you browse on Marketplace. “Is this item still available?” and “Whats condition is this item in?” are examples of pre-written messages. make negotiating easier
- Sell Your Stuff – Instead of creating a new profile, simply set a picture of your item, give a description, set an asking price, and post your listing.
- Search Your Environment – In addition to browsing specific categories such as Household or Electronics, you can also search for anything specific and filter results by location, category, and price, or by using a map. If you see something you want, you’ll see the seller’s approximate location rather than their precise address unless they explicitly state otherwise.
“Even if you do not know what you want, we display you the most relevant items,” Pan explained.
Craigslist succeeded in the United States because it catered to the lowest common denominator of commerce. It was dead simple, adaptable, and came out ahead of several competitors. Despite its lack of functionality, it has great inertia, with buyers and sellers going returning to it since it aggregates the most supply and demand.
However, specialist sites have recently succeeded in unbundling specific Craigslist services. Airbnb, for example, was able to wrest the short-term rentals marketplace from Craigslist because to ratings, calendars, and built-in payment. StubHub is able to steal resale tickets thanks to its seating charts and filtering options.
Nobody has been able to take Craigslist’s home for peer-to-peer selling, but Facebook has the best chance for these three reasons.
Beyond what they state in their listing and your direct communication, you don’t know anything about the buyer or seller you’re meeting on Craigslist. However, Facebook profiles reveal a great deal.
Scammers with fake accounts find it difficult to amass large numbers of friends, so if someone has a large number of them together with a complete profile, you may be fairly certain of who they are. That information, or the absence thereof, may indicate whether or not you wish to meet them in person, which might be perilous. There’s also more responsibility, and people behave better if they know you may report them to the cops, chase them down at work, or publicly embarrass them.
The most glaring feature missing from Marketplace is a means for buyers and sellers to rate each other and highlight things like the item being in poorer condition than described, the seller trying to jack up the price at the last minute, or the buyer showing up late or flaking out.
People normally use Craigslist only when they are looking for something specific. Despite this, we spend around 50 minutes every day on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Instead of being buried in the More tab like many other Facebook services, Marketplace will be just a tap away.
It’s like building a farmer’s market in the centre of town by incorporating the Marketplace into where we currently spend our time. Users may simply scan through Marketplace to pass the time. Buyers and sellers can easily communicate without providing phone numbers thanks to the popularity of Messenger. A competitive commerce platform may still be forced to communicate through Facebook. Facebook also does not charge a fee, so you can do everything you want without paying anything more.
Craigslist and many other peer-to-peer commerce sites are overly concerned with packing as many text listings as possible onto a single page. Some were created for the web before everyone had a camera, thus they’re not enjoyable to browse at. They don’t know what you enjoy until they have data on your behaviour and interests. Marketplace was developed with mobile in mind, with photographs as the foundation, and is relevance-sorted to make surfing quick and enjoyable.
These characteristics facilitate casual browsing. You can come across huge reductions because a seller simply wants to get rid of anything, something you wouldn’t see at a regular business. That makes using Marketplace feel a little like going on a treasure hunt through flea markets or yard sales, where you never know what you’ll find. During the tests, the top categories were apparel, vehicles, and cheap household items.
Marketplace will be up against OfferUp, LetGo, Wallapop, Close5, and other businesses vying for Craig’s business. Still, it’s a bit of an chicken-and-egg problem for Facebook, as it’ll have to create supply and demand at the same time. People don’t need to download an new app to participate, and Facebook placed Marketplace right in the centre of its app, ensuring that it is visible.
Now the question is whether Facebook will continue to promote Marketplace and whether it will be able to maintain the experience safe. “On Facebook, people genuinely represent their real selves,” Pan says of the advantages of each buyer and seller having a peer-verified profile.
Shopping on the spur of the moment
If Facebook discovers people abusing their fellow Marketplacers, Pan says the company will take action, which might include removing an item listing or banning someone from the feature entirely. You can’t, for example, sell guns, adult services, or other illegal things.
However, Facebook is not liable for any fraud or other issues that may arise during the transaction. This is one of the reason’s why, unlike an ecommerce site or platform like eBay, it does not allow you to pay for items directly. If you are robbed when visiting someone’s home to buy a couch, or if you transmit cash for a camera that is never delivered to you, you must report it to the police. Pan continues, “We consider our position as simply connecting buyers and sellers.”
Facebook has the chance to make commerce as spontaneous as video viewing. You don’t go to Facebook to watch videos as you would on YouTube, but you do wind up watching them because the feed smartly inserts them. Now that informal pattern might make its way into commerce.
“We discovered thast the great majority of people prefer to simply browse.” They aren’t looking for anything specific. They’re just…scrolling through the stream to see if anything piques their curiosity,” Pan finishes. “It resembles some aspects of offline purchasing, such as travelling to a Sunday market or the mall.” You may not know whats you want, but you’re interested in seeing it.”