The virtual yard sale is nothing new. Sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist have been around for years, providing hubs for businesses and consumers alike to buy, sell and trade their goods online.
The systems aren’t perfect, but they have a high-success rate.
Other sites focus on transactions closer to home. While convenient, these online marketplaces also have raised safety concerns. You don’t need to dig deep to read a headline about a Craigslist transaction gone bad in your hometown; or to realize that selling through a third-party site may result in commission fees and shipping costs.
Facebook has formally entered the fray with something new: A social marketplace where shoppers can find some peace of mind and a convenient place to shop. The service is titled Marketplace. Here’s more from Facebook:
“To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready to part with. We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people.”
Selling items on Facebook isn’t anything new, but Facebook has made it easier than ever. Once a member of the group, users can post photos of items they wish to sell. The combination of commerce and Facebook creates a “virtual yard sale” feel.
Unlike other sites, Facebook provides a safety net of sorts in that users have an idea with whom they’re doing business, thanks in part to the profile information. Simply put, it removes the veil of anonymity common to other sites. This is one of Facebook’s biggest selling points and is a source of relief for many online shoppers.
There are other benefits, too. You may save yourself from fees associated with posting an item online, having it shipped and paying a commission fee.
“Marketplace” has been referred to as a “friendlier Craigslist,” mostly for the reasons already outlined.
Because of its success in providing a community feel, not to mention its massive following of buyers and sellers, Facebook decided to add a new tab in its app for peer-to-peer shopping. It’s also made it easier for Facebook users to find what they want. So, instead of becoming a member of a particular page, members can now shop or browse through feeds by relevancy and location. Or, if they have something to sell, they can use the same tools to post a listing.
If you haven’t jumped on the Facebook Messenger app, which is a separate app from Facebook, now is the time, especially if you’re a bargain hunter. Facebook Messenger will allow users to negotiate or set up meetings for the transaction, more on this below.
How It Works
For buyers: Browse and buy through Marketplace’s filtered feed of items available within a community. Facebook uses smart-shopping features facilitated through tags people add to their goods, text analysis based on pages you like and other factors learned through your preferences.
For sellers: Take a photo of the product, describe it, punch in a price, add your location and publish the product on Marketplace.
Facebook is really doing as much as it can to make buying and selling safe, comfortable and easy. It’s even provided pre-written messages about availability and the condition of products.
But, Marketplace isn’t without some downsides to consider:
- There is no two-rating system that could provide a customer service rating like other sites.
- Marketplace does not provide a “buy it now” type function, instead, it relies on buyers and users to figure out the price and negotiate through Messenger.
Facebook is betting big on social selling. The demand for online commerce is clear and Facebook hopes that creating this hub will allow them take a big bite of the popular online activity of shopping. But Facebook’s growing grasp in social commerce can one day capture another realm: traditional retailers. Facebook is working on a tab for these established businesses.
The service is available in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand with plans to expand in the coming months.
As with most new things online, time will tell.