Facebook is laying down a challenge to eBay and other personal listing websites with the announcement of Marketplace today. Aiming to capitalize on the some 450 million Facebook users that visit buy and sell groups each month, Facebook Marketplace will make it easier for social media users to exchange goods between one another.
Users will see the Messenger icon in the centre bottom row of the mobile app replaced with a new Marketplace button in the coming days. Clicking here will bring up a page filled with items for sale that Facebook believes you’ll be interested in. In Facebook’s typical data mining fashion, this list is compiled based on your likes, viewing, and purchasing activities.
The buying and selling process will feel familiar to eBay or Gum-tree customers. Prospective purchasers can message sellers directly to ask questions, browse through categories of items, and search for nearby listings if they want to pick something up quickly. Those looking to sell need only upload a name, description, price, and location, along with a picture, which can all be done from within the app.
However, Facebook’s implementation doesn’t offer the same protection as other online marketplaces, such as eBay, as all transactions are handled offline by the users themselves. Facebook does prevent the sale of firearms, animal, and alcohol, among others, to comply with local laws, and will use some information from user profiles to help ensure that potential buyers can build up an idea about who they are dealing with.
Interestingly, Facebook doesn’t intend to charge buyers or sellers for transactions. Instead, Facebook is looking to increase the amount of time that users spend inside its app, which will in turn increase the amount of advertisement revenue generated for the company.
Facebook Marketplace will be launching later in the week, which is when users will begin to notice the new icon in the app. The service will first appear in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, before heading out to other regions in the coming months. Marketplace will be available on both iOS and Android devices.