You may have noticed a recent Facebook update, quite a significant one in fact, whereby the messenger icon has been replaced by the new Facebook Marketplace icon.
Once you tap or click on the Marketplace icon, a stream of items for sale are listed, in order of their proximity to your location. You can filter and set preferences for these items in the options, and for further refinement there is a free-text search function.
Buying & Selling
Buying is very streamlined. Find an item you wish to purchase and complete the sale via direct message with the seller. It is clear that Facebook have piggy-backed on the success of the local buy and sell groups that have emerged, with a long-term aim of commercialising this trend. Facebook have distanced themselves from delivery or payment and have left the sales negotiation process up to interaction between seller and buyer. However, watch this space.
Can Marketplace gain any traction in a market dominated by eBay, Gumtree, Amazon and the exiting Buy & Sell Group on Facebook? There are several reasons why it may succeed and potential pitfalls they need to consider.
- Integration with messenger gives credence to a buyer and seller, particularly the latter as the buyer can check to see if the person and profile are genuine
- Facebook have stated that more than 450million people use these buy and sell groups, so they are clearly “jumping on the bandwagon” and as the facilitators of these groups have the potential to operate Marketplace with much more features etc.
- Facebook can corner the entire social trading market by closing these groups and forcing buyers and sellers to use Marketplace.
- It is easier to search for items to buy on a platform users already use significantly during the day. Sales can be concluded more efficiently via Facebooks existing mechanics.
Areas needing improvements
- Surely the strength of any buy/sell platform is user feedback. Currently no rating or review system for sellers (and buyers) is in place. This is a glaring omission from Marketplace.
- There is no integration with Facebook business places, it is currently only peer-to-peer or user-to-user. Surely this is on the development roadmap?
- Edgerank determines the ranking of users. From initial trials, Blue Shark Digital don’t feel this is working correctly. We are unsure how and through what parameters Facebook are ranking items.
Initial thoughts are that Marketplace has huge potential and maybe some initial bugs will be ironed out, although you expect a robust product to be launched by Facebook, not a feature that potentially, with a few changes, could be a useful feature for users. First impressions are crucial, and it goes to show, even a billion-dollar company can sometimes launch prematurely.