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Facebook enters the classifieds space with Marketplace


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Facebook has launched Marketplace, a portal represented by the shop button on its app, where users can discover, buy and sell items within their communities. Marketplace is available in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand on iOS and Android, with plans to roll out to desktop and other countries in the coming months. Facebook claims that 450 million users check out buy and sell Facebook Groups monthly, which led it to launch Marketplace.

Users can filter by location, category and price and browse through categories. They can also look within their city as well as in other geo locations. To see the listing, one can tap on the image to know more details, and even save it. Users can also send messages to sellers making offers, where users can see information such as how long they’d typically take to reply, a feature also present on its Facebook Pages product.

facebook-marketplace

Facebook will not provide a payment gateway or deliver any items. Note that sale posts can be made to the Marketplace as well as a Facebook group at the same time. The company does not say if it will eventually phase buy and sell Groups out to Marketplace, given both solve the same purpose, but we imagine that it might segregate buy and sell groups from general discussion based ones.

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Note that just last month, Facebook launched Groups Discover, a platform where users could browse groups by category and get recommendations based on friends, location and interests. Facebook is not new to this, there are already multiple buy and sell groups on the platform without a payment integration formalising this use case. The social media company first let users buy products online from certain merchants using a Buy Button in 2014. At that time, payments were hosted on Facebook itself.

Focus on interactions and transactions may be coming soon

In December last year, Facebook started testing a feature called services that let users find local businesses and services which users could rate and review. Last month, Facebook let SMEs from developing markets list and sell their products for free from Pages. It will be interesting to see if Facebook starts facilitating bookings and transactions. In March last year, it started allowing peer-to-peer money transfers over its Messenger app. It also started testing a ‘fundraisers’ feature to allow nonprofit organizations to raise money via a donate button.

The classifieds space in India is already packed with players like Quikr, OLX, JustDial and Sulekha among others.

Nikhil adds: Facebook is eating the media business. It first tried (and quite successfully), to bring one part of the media business, which is content, into its platform via instant articles, and giving greater reach to content hosted on Facebook, like Video. With Marketplaces, it attacks another part of the media business: classifieds. With over 142 million monthly active accounts from India (at last count), Facebook has the potential to be the largest classifieds business in India. There are already users actively posting classifieds on Facebook, within groups and on personal timelines. In fact, most classifieds sites are more B2C than C2C – Ebay India is a classic example of this. Facebook knows more about its users than traditional classifieds business like Quikr and Olx ever will be able to.  This means that there is an opportunity for Facebook to surface these classifieds listings to users based on their behavioral patterns, their website visits, and their personal affiliations on the platform. The question is, what will other classifieds sites do?

80 million Groups users in India

Interestingly, last month, Facebook claimed that over 80 million users visited its Groups product monthly from India. Globally, 1 billion users used Groups, amounting to 100 billion comments and 250 billion likes in group posts in 2015.

Image credit: Dmgultekin under CC BY SA 3.0, listing image by Facebook

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