On October 3, 2016, Facebook announced it would be rolling out its new in-app technology that allows users to buy and sell items with other users, calling the new hub Marketplace. The new Marketplace tab, located where Facebook’s Messenger had lived previously, enables users to buy, sell, and search for items near them through their Facebook application.
If Facebook Marketplace sounds familiar, that’s because the company has dabbled in community commerce before. Although its original attempt to compete against Craigslist failed to take off, significant growth of the social network since 2007 and a shift in consumer behavior will allow the new Marketplace to have a greater impact.
Marketplace is currently available to users 18-years-and-older in four countries, including the US.
CAPITALIZING ON USER BEHAVIOR
Major shifts toward mobile app usage over the last few years also allowed for the resurgence of Facebook’s Marketplace. With an enormous user base frequently engaging on the world’s most popular app, Facebook doesn’t need to invest heavily in promoting the technology to users who have already been advertising items for sale to friends and family. It is this all-to-common behavior Facebook is hoping to support by adding technology that would supplant up-and-coming community commerce apps like LetGo and Wallapop.
CAPTURING PROFITABLE DATA
Facebook says it does not plan on facilitating transactions between users, which could be seen as a missed opportunity for generating revenue. Instead users negotiate price and coordinate payment via alternate channels or in person. What Facebook does gain is a significant amount of data related to purchase behavior and intent.
Making this data available to brands, publishers, and marketers presents a significant opportunity for the company to mature its advertising offerings. Layering buying intent into existing behavioral targeting could help the platform build smarter, better audiences for advertisers.
WHAT MARKETERS NEED TO KNOW
Within Marketplace, users can adjust their results to display items for sale within 2-to-100 miles of their current or pinned location. Although Facebook does not facilitate sales within Marketplace, it offers tools for users to indicate items that are for sale or sold, and chat between to work out arrangements for purchasing items.
Though it would be difficult for Facebook to entirely absorb Craigslist’s vast user base, especially those who use the site for buying and selling services, more juvenile applications, like LetGo or Wallapop, should be concerned with the duplication of their technology.
Brands that have a consultant or affiliate sales model should update their online sales terms to restrict consultants from overloading Facebook’s Marketplace with products. Brands that permit consultants to sell product over Facebook should encourage continued usage of groups, events, and Messenger for connecting with customers, rather than inundating the Marketplace feed.