Facebook Marketplace announced earlier this week, a new service that allows users to buy and sell items to other Facebook users. It’s not a novel concept: similar programs have been available on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon for years. In reality, in 2007, Facebook introduced an ill-fated sales feature of the same name. On the other hand, Facebook Marketplace is another choice for those with new vinyl records or a Microsoft Zune media player.
Facebook users aged 18 and up can use Marketplace to post pictures of their garage sale products and collectibles and browse items offered by nearby sellers. The sellers fix the price, but potential buyers are free to make a counter-offer.
The functionality started slowly rolling out to Facebook app users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, with a web version and other locations to follow in the coming months. Users can currently find items such as a factory unlocked iPhone 6 for around $350 and a variety of retro cameras for approximately $20. The search results can be narrowed down by product type and item proximity (anywhere from two to 100 miles away).
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The Marketplace icon would appear at the bottom of iPhone users’ screens, between the Groups and Alerts icons, where the Messenger shortcut used to be. (It’s now beside the search bar in the top-left corner.) Android users can find the Messenger icon at the top of the screen on the search bar’s right-hand side.
Why Should I Use It?
With over a billion monthly active users, Facebook is an appealing place to eliminate unwanted products. In reality, in recent years, many people have used the social media network’s Groups feature to create mini marketplaces.
In a blog post describing the new service, Mary Ku, Facebook’s director of product management, wrote, “More than 450 million people visit buy-and-sell groups each month—from families in a local community to collectors around the world.” According to the data analysis company Statista, eBay had 164 million active users in the second quarter of this year.
Marketplace will soon be incorporated into the Facebook app for up to 100 million active iOS and Android app users. The average user spends at least 50 minutes a day on the app.
Furthermore, the purchase process tends to be very smooth. I found it simple to narrow down my search criteria, and the process for contacting sellers via Messenger is pretty straightforward. The Craigslist app also does a good job searching, but the Contact button only takes you to a web version of the listing and leaves it up to you to find the relevant information.
On Facebook Marketplace, selling was also a breeze. It took less than a minute to create a listing and import the image. Additionally, the Your Items tab makes organizing and handling your listings and buyer inquiries a breeze.
And, after a few embarrassing hiccups on the first day of service, Marketplace’s administrators seem to have stepped up enforcement of Facebook’s commerce policy, which bans the selling of prescription and recreational drugs, firearms, animals, alcohol, and explosives. I couldn’t find any illegal goods for sale as of Friday afternoon.
Facebook “addressed the technical issue that created this incident,” according to Ku, who adds that the company is “closely monitoring our processes to ensure violations are properly detected and removed as we gradually broaden access to Marketplace.”
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What Else Do I Need to Know?
One of the service’s main selling points—at least as opposed to Craigslist—provides more information about all parties in a transaction, potentially reducing shady dealings.
“Marketplace adds a lot of clarity and credibility,” says Rachael Powell, senior director of social media at Elasticity, a digital marketing firm. “When deciding whether or not to buy from a customer, Facebook’s inherent social networking adds a layer of credibility.”
Unlike Craiglist, where sellers are often anonymous, Marketplace can provide you with details about the people you’re dealing with. It shows where buyers and sellers are located and users’ public Facebook profiles and covers images. You’ll even find out if you have any mutual friends.
Although not a foolproof safety measure, knowing how long the seller has been a Facebook user can help buyers weeding out potential con artists. Remember that not everyone on Facebook uses their legal name or has a legitimate profile image.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike eBay and Amazon (which concentrate on new products), Marketplace does not charge any listing fees or taxes. However, it does not have the same standard of protection as those two firms if, for example, a product is faulty or not, as stated in the listing. Return policies are available on Amazon and eBay, but not on Facebook or Craigslist.
The Marketplace works similarly to a classified ad website in that it merely lists products and then leaves it up to the buyers and sellers to negotiate the price. Much like Craigslist, the exchanging of money and goods is entirely up to the two parties.
Furthermore, unlike eBay and Amazon, Marketplace does not have a feedback system that enables buyers and sellers to rate their transactions. Instead, users could notify Facebook of any suspicious or illegal activity.
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