Facebook is deploying a novel service aimed at helping users engage in peer to peer trade in their local community, and rivals from eBay, Amazon and Craiglist should beware.
The service is scheduled to land in four markets first, namely U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. Marketplace comes as an extension of Facebook's current For Sale groups feature, where the social network counts 450 million active users per month.
Marketplace will make it easy for users to search for things others are selling in their vicinity, with product categories ranging from books and video games to furniture and home appliances.
Users of both iOS and Android will get access to Marketplace via the Facebook app, with a shortcut being placed at the bottom of it.
Once you open the Marketplace, you are greeted by a default grid of photos of items other users are selling nearby. A search function is available where you can choose a keyword or category. The mobile app is user-friendly, allowing you to add items on the Marketplace straight from your mobile device.
Buyers who find something interesting can quickly peruse the details that the seller provided, such as product description, the name and profile photo of the seller, as well as their general location.
A digital form of haggling is also permitted within the app, where potential buyers can make an offer to sellers. Keep in mind that Facebook stays out of the actual transaction as the financial arrangements are made via cash or through PayPal or a digital alternative. However, Facebook will get what it has always wanted: the attention and time spent on its main platform from its hefty number of users.
Marketplace comes to compete with established buy and sell site Craigslist, the platform that was the bread and butter of online trading in the U.S. since 1995. In the United Kingdom, Facebook's Marketplace will compete directly with Gumtree, a trade platform that is owned by eBay.
It is natural for Facebook to tap into the potential of its huge user footprint. With more than 1.7 billion worldwide users, Marketplace could grow in popularity really quickly. The fact that the service is receiving a specialized tab underlines how much Facebook pedals to make it visible in order to gain lift.
The aforementioned countries should start seeing the service go live in the next few days, with more countries added in the future. Marketplace should make its way into the desktop version of Facebook until the end of the year.