Australian Facebook users will be among the first in world to be given access to the social network’s latest feature – an online shopping forum called Facebook Marketplace.
While the Marketplace is a consumer-to-consumer function, and builds on the activity already taking place in Facebook buy, swap and sell groups, a spokesperson for the social media platform told SmartCompany this morning the features could be expanded over time “to additional verticals or types of product discovery”, which could pave the way for more business-friendly selling practices.
From today Facebook Marketplace will be available to users aged 18 and older in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK via the Facebook Apple and Android apps, with additional locations and a desktop version of the feature to be rolled out over coming months.
In a similar vein to buying and selling sites such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace will allow users to upload images of the items they would like to sell, along with a product name, description, category and price.
Potential buyers can then use the Marketplace function to search for items for sale by category, price or location. To buy an item, they would then send a direct message to the seller and arrange details of the sale directly.
Mary Ku, director of product management at Facebook, said in a blog post buyers and sellers are free to arrange the sale however they choose and Facebook will not be facilitating the paying or delivery of items. A spokesperson for Facebook told SmartCompany there are no plans at this stage for this to change.
“People are selling directly to each other, and payment will happen off-platform in the way the buyer and seller agree,” they said.
Both buyers and sellers will be able to keep track of their listing and transactions in the ‘Your Items’ section of the marketplace, which will also retain all the messages between the two parties.
According to Facebook, more than 60 million small and medium businesses are using Facebook to interact with their customers and more than 80% of Facebook users in Australia are connected to a small or medium business on Facebook.
However, the latest feature is aim squarely at individuals who use Facebook to buy, swap and sell their own products.
“Today more than 450 million people are active in Facebook buy and sell groups on a monthly basis,” the spokesperson says. Facebook Marketplace is the platform’s response to this “organic demand” and the social media giant’s way of making the process of buying and selling goods on Facebook more “effective and organised”.
“Our focus at launch is to deliver a local and effective consumer-to-consumer buying and selling experience,” the spokesperson says.
“In the future, we may expand functionality to additional verticals or types of product discovery.”