3 Things Facebook Marketplace needs to become a killer sales venue

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Facebook are stepping up their focus on their Marketplace with expansion across Europe and the recent addition of eBay Deals to Facebook Marketplace in the US. It’s still not a real opportunity for business sellers however as items for sale are offered locally with no ability to sell cross border and all transactions take place off Facebook, generally in person.

For Facebook to become a fully fledged marketplace of interest to retailers they are still missing three key features:

1) Payments

Imagine an eBay or Amazon where you couldn’t buy online or at least where all transactions had to be completed outside the marketplace. This was the situation I discovered when I opened my first eBay account fifteen years ago. People were sending each other cheques and postal orders or even cash in the post, in fact popping to the Post Office to get some US dollars and posting them to the US was the default way to carry out a cross border transaction.

The big problem here is the velocity of orders and the ability to buy and never actually pay. Visit eBay or Amazon today and for most fixed price items you have to pay before the item is actually yours, otherwise it’s still available for someone else to buy until you do pay.

2) Reputation

Facebook are touting their network as a feedback marker, which is great if you’re going to buy something off a friend of a friend and you can ask them if the chair you’re about to buy is the one their mates dog generally sleeps on! That’s not going to work for businesses and a vibrant marketplace however. You want to buy from people and businesses that you don’t know otherwise you’re severely limiting the products you may be able to source.

For Facebook Marketplace to really take off a feedback mechanism needs to be put in place.

3) On Facebook transactions

Facebook’s biggest problem with their Marketplace currently is that no one (not even Facebook) has any idea how successful it is. That’s because whilst you may see a listing for a product the actual transaction takes place off Facebook, often face to face with cash exchanging hands.

This limits purchases to your local area and means that you pretty much have to collect items unless you can negotiate a shipping rate with your trading partner. It also entirely wipes out the possibility of selling overseas for most people who aren’t polyglot.

For Facebook Marketplace to grow and prosper they need to get businesses selling new products instead of the current consumer to consumer generally second hand unwanted items that are traded on the Facebook Marketplace today. It’s not yet a viable alternative for online sellers to seriously consider, but if the three key missing features were added then one day Facebook Marketplace could potentially become just as big as eBay or Amazon.

3 Responses

  1. Chris, regarding reputation…

    Let’s imagine at some point in the future business sellers are going to list their products on FB marketplace.

    And now, 2-3 pupils from a secondary school have bought Fidget Spinners from a seller A. The next time their peers visit FB marketplace and types in the search bar “buy Fidget Spinners”, Facebook will contextually show a listing of the seller A and, of course, a label “your 3 friends, Mark, John & Matt bought from this seller”.

    The concept of selling on FB marketplace is different. Sellers who will list products for a community will massively go viral.

    Eager to hear what do you think.

  2. I think Facebook could potentially create the worlds biggest market place. It already has a user base, create a simple and trustworthy interface to purchase products through it and instantly turn the Facebook users into consumers.

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