A history of Facebook Marketplace
The first version of the marketplace feature appeared in May 2007, based on a mock-up built in Excel, by Josh Pritchard. It went live as a friendly, social-oriented version of Craigslist.
It never gained massive traction, so, in 2009, Facebook transferred control to Oodle, going off the market in 2014.
A decade later, Facebook further explored the local commerce niche, launching the “For sale” feature available in Groups.
It was well-received, over 427,5 million users taking advantage of it every month.
In October 2015, they continued the process by testing a “Local Market” feature which paved the way to the current Marketplace launching today.
Facebook Marketplace is described as a convenient destination on Facebook to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.
“We saw a lot of people were really just looking at coming to Marketplace without necessarily anything in particular they were looking for. They were just on Marketplace to casually browse through. This really mirrors an offline experience where you can go to a Sunday market or maybe the mall. You don’t know exactly what you want but you want to browse”, says Bowen Pan, Project Manager.
The e-commerce market is being driven by an increase in shoppers making purchases on mobile devices.
E-commerce sales in the US totaled over $97 billion during Q2 2016, representing nearly 16% year-over-year (YoY) growth, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Ben Franzi, Australia Post’s General Manager of eCommerce Platforms and Marketplaces, noted that the top category for online spend in Australia is marketplaces, such as eBay, Amazon or online shops selling a range of goods, with 32% of total spend.
In UK, the latest report on ecommerce released by The Ecommerce Foundation shows that the online retail industry is expected to grow by 10.5% this year to reach 173.7 billion euros. This report shows that over 43 million Brits shopped online last year, of which 20% used a mobile device for doing this.
Furthermore, a recent study by BigCommerce revealed that 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to search and purchase on ecommerce sites rather than in-store, whereas only 41% of Baby Boomers and 28% of Seniors will click to buy.
It’s pertinent to say that Facebook realised the future of retail might be mobile-oriented ecommerce, especially for younger generations. And given the statistics, it is understandable why Facebook chose United States, Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand as the first 4 countries to enjoy this new feature. So, kudos Facebook, we get what you did there! *wink
Features of Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace has 2 main features:
- Sell your items
- Buy items
Selling an item in Marketplace is easy peasy.
- Take a photo of your item, or add it from your camera roll
- Enter a product name, description and price
- Confirm your location and select a category
You can also choose to post to Marketplace and a specific buy and sell group at the same time.
To keep track of all your current and past transactions in Marketplace, visit the “Your Items” section. There, you can view your saved items, products you’ve posted for sale, and all your messages with people.
When you start selling in Facebook Marketplace, you need to make sure you are compying with their Community Standards and Commerce Policies. Guns, drugs, adult products and services, tobacco, alcohol, and non-physical items, among other items are prohibited on Facebook Marketplace.
“We have built the tools to allow our community to report on any items that may violate our policies,” Pan says. “It has well as a whole host of flags that people that can put out for people that may not be acting in the best faith. Once we see a flag, we have a team that will promptly review these and take action.”
Just so you know in case you are tempted to go against Facebook TCs and Commerce Policies.
A cool feature of Facebook Marketplace is the fact that you can buy an item in real-time. When you open Facebook Marketplace, you will see a filtered feed of items you can buy from your community, based on relevancy.
As expected, Marketplace is integrated with Facebook Messanger, so you can communicate with the seller directly, request more pictures and negociate the sale price by clicking on “Make an offer”; moreover, you have pre-made questions available such as “Is this item still available”, “What condition is this item in”, to make the transaction smooth, fast and easy.
A strength point of buying through Facebook Marketplace will be its Trust factor. To buy or sell on the Marketplace, you will need to have a valid Facebook profile linked to your account, hence your profile will actually impact the sale. If your profile looks fake, well, let’s just say people won’t probably want to buy something from you.
“People on Facebook represent their real selves,” Pan says. “We think knowing who you’re transacting with is very important.”
As we already know from recruiters, your social media profile can say plenty about you, thus, when buying/selling on Facebook Marketplace, make sure you engage with people who have a filled-out profile, clear profile pictures and appear trustworthy.
Strangely enough, Facebook Marketplace is yet to publish a feature where users can rate each other and note things about the purchase process.
On a side note, a recent article published by The Telegraph cites David Emm, Cyber Security Expert at Kaspersky Labs, who urges users to exercise caution in using Facebook Marketplace:
“Because this is offering itself as a platform for trading, but at the same time its not like Uber where there’s registered people, it is up to users to see if someone is fake. It also presents the risk of face-to-face meetings in local areas, which has the potential to be taken advantage of by criminals or pedophiles. It’s also easy to post a nice picture of something and charge money for something even if the real goods don’t exist, or they are stolen or illegal.”
Facebook doesn’t take responsibility for fraud or other issues during the transaction. Thus, to be on the safe side, when possible, you ought to meet your buyer in a well-lit, public place that’s likely to have security cameras to avoid dangerous situations and scammers.
With the amount of information Facebook holds and with the help of AI, Facebook might have hit the jackpot with the Marketplace.
Users are already engaged in social media, they area active on Facebook and Instagram and by randomly browsing items in the Marketplace, they might stumble upon a massive discounted item or even something they will spontaneous buy.
Unfortunately, you can’t pay for an item online inside the Marketplace, and again, Facebook does not assume responsibility for the transaction, thus, this might affect the purchase decision.
Yet Facebook Marketplace has the potential and will likely disrupt the spontaneous ecommerce especially for Millennials and Gen Xers.
What do you guys think? Will Facebook revolutionize peer-to-peer selling and should eBay and Amazon fear (*please replace Amazon and eBay to your local specialty sites)?