Look out Craigslist. Facebook is moving on you now. I half expected Facebook sunglasses, but there’s always tomorrow. If a Facebook marketplace sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen this movie before. Back in 2007 when the social giant’s first e-commerce Marketplace failed to gain traction.
The first true success in allowing users to buy and sell goods was through a feature in Facebook Groups. Remember the buying and selling weapons via Facebook stories? It was through Facebook Groups.
Facebook is now unveiling that feature to its billion-plus users. That like new Bowflex doubling as a coat rack? Someone is dreaming of ripped abs and what will eventually be their coat rack. Set a price and get rid of it.
Facebook Marketplace Keeps You Home
The feature rolled out Monday morning keeps users in the Facebook app. Click the icon, and you’re taken to the marketplace to window shop items for sale from people nearby. Drill down by categories – electronics, apparel, etc. – to find what you want and hopefully at the price you’re willing to pay.
Spot a like new gym set you’ve been dreaming of? Tap the item for more details on it and the seller. It will include the picture of the seller and their location. Borrowing a feature from eBay, you can save items you’re searching for and check Amazon for a better price… I mean make a purchase decision later.
Once you want to buy, you send a message to the seller and make an offer. If it sounds like Craigslist, it’s because it functions like Craigslist. When you make an offer, Facebook’s involvement ends.
Facebook Marketplace Rollout
For now, four countries will see the marketplace button – the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Facebook is also implementing age restrictions – 18 and older to buy and sell. The company is promising to roll the feature out to additional countries in the coming months and port it over to the desktop version of Facebook.
Facebook Wisely Avoids Marketplace Pitfalls
The social giant doesn’t handle payment or delivery inside the marketplace. It’s a smart move by Facebook. The company doesn’t need the headache of policing the payments and delivery.
Sure, it could add to the bottom line in quarterly results, but the rollout of the feature already adds to its profit with one hell of an easy button. Data. You are searching for electronics but not sure on what to buy?
Great news for Facebook who just tracked that searched and can offer up the data for advertisers looking to make a sale. The company doesn’t need to charge for listings (Craigslist does for job listings) to turn a profit. It already pulls in billions in revenue, and the new Marketplace is another data stream to offer advertisers.
A bonus for Facebook is it keeps you in its walled garden of apps. You browsing the marketplace means you aren’t searching eBay or Craigslist. Facebook keeps you inside its ecosystem and data mining the hell out of your product searches.
When the stories broke on Facebook Groups selling weapons, the company banned it. It still happens, and it’s a game of whack-a-mole as users work to outwit the filters. Expect the same issues to pop up as the mobile rollout works off location. You have to feel for the engineering team at Facebook. It’s a great idea, but the internet human element comes into play. Someone will always try to game the system.
What about Craigslist? It’s Craigslist. The lovable site will weather the storm and Facebook has rolled out ‘site/app killers’ before to have them flame out. Writing the obituary for Craigslist is premature at best, and who doesn’t love the 90s era web design?
For users in the four countries, you should see the feature if you have auto-update enabled on your phone.