Facebook Rolls Out Marketplace

By Tracey Dowdy

Looking for a used car? Look no further than Facebook. Yep, Facebook.

Facebook has had community buy and sell pages and groups for ages but they’re taking it a step further with their new and improved Marketplace.

If you’re thinking, “Wait, Marketplace? That sounds familiar!” you’d be right. Facebook originally launched Marketplace back in 2007 but it soon flopped. That’s how we ended up with the online yard sale model where users had to join specific buy and sell groups moderated by an administrator who also had to approve your admission into the group.

The new Marketplace does away with the moderator but whether that’s a plus or minus remains to be seen. With no moderator, there’s no one to protect users from scams so “caveat emptor.”

Facebook already had its Commerce Policy posted and the same restrictions apply, for example users cannot sell animals, guns or alcohol. If you decide to make a purchase, you go through private messaging to set up pick up and payment just like you did with the old Groups. If another user violates the Commerce Policy users can use Facebook’s reporting tools and have the post removed or flag a bad seller.

Of course, there are other options out there. Big names like eBay and Craiglist have been around for ages and there are plenty of yard sale apps popping up – Close5, Yerdle, OfferUp and Letgo to name a few – but none of them have Facebooks’ massive user base.

So why now? If they’ve already tried and failed, why bother launching again? Simple. Of Facebook’s 1.7 billion users, 450 million of them are searching at least one buy and sell group every month. That’s a lot of commerce. So far, Facebook hasn’t announced plans to monetize Marketplace in any way or to ask for a percentage of any sales but it does drive users to Facebook and they’re hoping will cause more users to take advantage of the site.

Marketplace has had a trial run in New Zealand and parts of Chile and the US over the past year and clearly Facebook was pleased with the results. Users in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand will find the Marketplace icon at the top of their Facebook app on both iOS and Android devices with plans to roll out to other countries in the near future.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a basement to clear out.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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