Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) had 1.71 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2016, and by the time the company finishes monetizing its platform, it might be selling everything under the sun. The latest venture is the second iteration of Marketplace, which was first launched in 2007. This time around Marketplace is available only on mobile, which will go a long way in Facebook’s drive to increase mobile engagement from the 50 minute average it currently enjoys.
When the first Marketplace was launched, Facebook had a mere 50 million users, and Craigslist, eBay and others had the secondhand market pretty much sewn up. However, the company didn’t give up on the platform, adding Oodle and other investment before finally shutting it down in 2014.
Marketplace was later turned into For Sale Groups, in February of 2015, and according to the company, 450 million users buy and sell goods on the platform.
The success of For Sales Group and Facebook’s need to increase mobile engagement, as well as new monetization opportunities all played roles in the new Marketplace, which is getting a lot of attention from the company. If all goes according to plan, Facebook will expand globally and add a desktop version, with the eventual goal of monetizing the platform.
According to Marketplace product manager Bowen Pan, “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,” as told to Josh Constine of TechCrunch.
How to Use Facebook Marketplace
To access Marketplace tap on the shop icon at the bottom of the Facebook app and you can start looking for things you want to buy, or post an item for sale.
When Marketplace opens, it shows you listed items near you with a Browse to Buy feature that filters feeds of items you can buy from groups or communities you belong to. If you don’t see anything you like, you can filter the search by location, category and price. When you find what you like, you tap the image to get additional information from the seller, which includes the name and profile photo as well as general location.
Posting an Item for Sale
If you want to sell something on Marketplace, all you have to do is take a picture of it and add it from your camera roll. Name the item you want to sell, describe it and set the price. You then confirm your location and select a category so it can be easily found, and post.
The Items section of the platform keeps track of current and past transactions so you can view saved items and anything you have posted for sale, as well as messages from buyers.
Comparison to Craigslist and eBay
The announcement of Marketplace sent eBay stock lower on Monday, and most reports also highlighted the potential threat it represents to Craigslist, the perennial peer-to-peer shopping platform. But it is really unfair to compare Facebook and everyone else because no one has 1.71 billion users.
Facebook can take its time building this platform until it becomes the go to source for peer-to-peer shopping; it has the capital and infrastructure to make it possible. And when it does, there will be very few companies that will be able to compete.
By integrating the information of the seller with his or her Facebook profile, Marketplace is going to give shoppers peace of mind and sense of security they cannot get elsewhere, especially Craigslist.
The Case for the Small Business Owner
Facebook has a lot of competition in this segment. The likes of eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, Amazon, Alibaba, Oodle Marketplace, Bonanza, Sell.com, Ebay Classifieds, eBid, and Rakuten are just some of the companies it will be going against.
These are all sites small businesses have used at one point or another to sell their products and services. With Marketplace, you will still be able to do the same, but the opportunities to use Facebook’s marketing solutions can deliver better results. It is still too early to speculate on the possibilities because Marketplace is still in beta, but the future looks good once it is available to everyone.
If you are over 18 years old and you live in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, you are in luck because you can use Marketplace on your iPhone or Android device to buy and sell items. The company said it will continue to expand to more countries as well as platforms, which will include a desktop version in the coming months. As for pricing, it is absolutely free.