Marketplace FB App – Facebook Launches Marketplace: Four hundred fifty million people already visit “buy and sell” Groups on Facebook each month, and now the company is launching a whole tab in its app dedicated to peer-to-peer shopping.
Facebook Marketplace helps you to browse a relevant feed of items to purchase from individuals who live nearby and list your things for sale quickly. Integration with Facebook Messenger helps you to haggle or schedule a meeting and, thanks to Facebook’s profiles, you know more about who you’re dealing with than on anonymous sites like Craigslist.
The Marketplace is launching today on mobile in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, but if it’s successful, it might roll out globally and on the web. The lack of a two-way rating system that helps deter scamming and poor conduct is unfortunate.
For transactions beyond ad-hoc payment via Messenger, there is also no native checkout option, which is irritating but encourages in-person exchanges instead of fraud-laden shipping.
I think Craigslist’s prevalence shows that there is a great need for a local commerce product,” said Bowen Pan, Marketplace product manager.”
While there are no Pages allowed on Marketplace right now, Facebook could one day generate ad revenue if it let businesses or people buy News Feed ads or sponsored placement for what they’re selling.
Pan tells TechCrunch, “After we’re confident we’ve built out a great product experience for people, we’ll look into introducing businesses if it makes sense, and after that, we’ll look at how we could potentially monetize the surface.”
In view of its takeover of a central position in the navigation tab bar, Facebook is betting big on Marketplace, replacing the Messenger shortcut in Facebook for iOS. At the checkout counter, the prime position might make Marketplace the digital version of impulse purchases.
Facebook continues its eternal quest to eat the internet, creating its versions of every popular activity on the web to absorb their engagement and profit potential. The more advertising experience it possesses, the more it will indirectly gain through ads. It’s still working on a shopping tab for conventional retailers to purchase.
For almost a decade, Facebook has been seeking to win local business. In 2007, a “marketplace” for classified listings of items for sale, housing, employment, and more was first tried out. But Marketplace never gained tremendous momentum, and Facebook passed control to Oodle in 2009, the trading platform that powered it. In 2014, it shut down.
Facebook took another swing last year, building a special “For Sale” post option for groups that now visit almost a quarter of its 1.71 billion users every month. In October 2015, Facebook began testing a “Local Market” feature that would grow into the launch of the Marketplace.
There are three main features of the Facebook Marketplace:
- Browse To Buy – Marketplace opens to a filtered feed of items you can buy from your community. Thanks to tags people add to their listings and Facebook’s text analysis AI combined with what Pages you Like and stuff you browse on Marketplace, the listings you see are ranked based on relevancy. Pre-made messages like “Is this item still available?” and What condition is this item in?” make negotiation simpler.
- Sell Your Stuff – Rather than having to set up a new profile; you can easily snap a photo of your item, add a description, set an asking price, and publish your listing.
- Search Your Surroundings – Along with browsing specific categories like Household or Electronics, you can also search for something specific and filter what you see by location, type, and price or through a map. If you find something you want, you’ll see the seller’s approximate location, not their exact address, unless they tell you.
“We’re going to show you the most relevant items, even if you don’t know what you want,” Pan said.
In the US, Craigslist thrived by being the lowest denominator for common exchange. Far before many competitors, it was dead-simple, scalable, and introduced. It has remarkable inertia, with both buyers and sellers gravitating back to it because, despite its lack of characteristics, it aggregates the most supply and demand.
But we’ve seen specialty sites recently succeed in unbundling those features of Craigslist. Reviews, schedules, and built-in fees, for instance, helped Airbnb steal Craigslist’s short-term rental marketplace. Seating charts and options for filtering allow StubHub to steal resales of tickets.
No one was able to wrestle home away from Craigslist for peer-to-peer sale, but for these three reasons, Facebook may have the best chance.
On Craigslist, except what they say in their listing and your direct contact, you do not know anything about the buyer or seller you are meeting. But Facebook profiles tell you tons.
It’s challenging for scammers with fake accounts to build up significant numbers of friends, so if someone has plenty along with a filled-out profile, you can be pretty sure of who they are. That info or lack thereof could clue you in to whether you want to meet them in-person, which can be risky.
Plus, there’s more transparency, because if they think you should send the police their name, track them down at work, or shame them on social media, people act better.
In the marketplace, the most desperately missing feature is a way for buyers and sellers to rate each other and mention items like the item was in worse shape than the item, the seller tried to jack up the price last-minute, or that the buyer showed up late or reneged.
Individuals typically go to Craigslist only when they want anything unique. Yet, on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, we still spend about 50 minutes a day. Within Facebook, Marketplace will be one tap away, instead of being buried like several features in the More tab.
Building the Marketplace into where we already spend our time is like setting up a farmer’s market in the center of town. Users could simply skim through the marketplace because they are bored.
Buyers and sellers can conveniently talk without phone numbers, thanks to the success of Messenger. For communication, a competing commerce platform would still have to rely on Facebook. Facebook also doesn’t charge a fee to transact; however, you want and never pay extra.
Too focused on cramming loads of text listings on a website is Craigslist and several other p2p commerce sites. Some were designed for the web before everyone had a handy camera at all times, so it’s not fun to search. And they don’t know what you want without data on actions and interest. The Marketplace was built-mobile first on top of photos and is relevancy-sorted to make browsing efficient and gratifying.
Those traits encourage random browsing. You could stumble on massive discounts because a seller wants to get rid of something, which you’d never get from traditional retailers. That makes it a bit like treasure hunting through flea markets or yard sales using Marketplace, where you can get excited about what you could find. During the survey, clothing, vehicles, and discounted household furnishings proved to be the top categories.
With OfferUp, LetGo, Wallapop, Close5, and other startups eyeing Craig’s turf, Marketplace will have to compete. Still, it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg problem for Facebook, as it will have to build up supply and demand simultaneously. Luckily people don’t need to download a new app to get involved, and Facebook put Marketplace smack dab in the center of its app, so it’s sure to be seen.
The questions are whether Facebook will give Marketplace the promotional love to flourish and keep the experience safe. “People reflect their true self on Facebook,” Pan says of the advantages of having a peer-verified profile behind each buyer and seller.
If Facebook finds people are abusing their fellow Marketplaces, Pan says it will take action, ranging from removing an item listing to banning someone from the feature altogether. For example, you’re not allowed to sell firearms, adult services, or other illegal items.
That said, Facebook doesn’t take responsibility for fraud or other issues during the transaction. It is likely why it doesn’t just let you pay for items directly, like on an eCommerce site or platform like eBay.
If someone robs you when you go to their place to buy a couch, or you send a payment for a camera that someone never ends up shipping to you, you’ll have to take it up with the police. Pan explains, “We see our role as just connecting buyers and sellers.”
Facebook has the ability to do as it did with video consumption to shop: make it random. You don’t go to Facebook to see videos like on YouTube deliberately, but end up watching them anyway because they are added intelligently by the feed. That simple trend may now come to trade.
“We found that the vast majority of people like to browse. They don’t have a specific item in mind. They are scrolling through the feed and see if there’s anything that might interest them,”
Pan concludes. It imitates some of the offline shopping actions of going to a market or mall on a Sunday. Maybe you don’t know the things you want, but you are open to seeing them.