Facebook Marketplace What Small Businesses Should Know
We bet Gumtree, Ebay, Etsy, and Craigslist are getting a little nervous right now.
They’ve got a good reason; Facebook is expanding into new territory again, this time taking the world of online marketplaces by storm. While many areas and groups already have their own local For Sale pages, Facebook has unveiled this new tool to bring it all together on it’s path to total internet domination.
While this feature is only available on the app at this point, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a part of the Facebook desktop parcel. We think it’s a great reminder for any small businesses who operate websites that aren’t optimised for mobile devices; the age of the desktop is subsiding, and mobile should be a priority for any future digital marketing efforts.
When major online hubs are presenting such major features exclusively to mobile, you’ve got to pay attention.
It’s as easy and intuitive as the rest of the Facebook experience; follow the Marketplace icon (at the bottom of the app) and see what’s on offer near you, or at a location/price/product of your choice. Selling is just as easy - take a snap of your products or item and post it to the Marketplace, accompanied by a brief description.
So, how much will this cost you?
Advertise anything from your spare room to your snorkel, and keep all the cash you earn without having to pay any sales tax or sign-up fees. For Facebook, it seems that the unrivalled glory of commanding the interactions of billions is enough payment.
For small businesses, this might sound like a miracle heralded in by Zuckerberg angels - but there are some features to work around. Facebook Marketplace was designed as an alternative to other online marketplaces rather than as a digital shopping mall, so there are limitations to how a business will be able to effectively sell their products.
For example, this could be a great way to sell one-off pieces or handicrafts, but there are no checkout options available at this point - probably to keep the Marketplace as a peer-orientated initiative rather than B2C. Instead, Facebook facilitates the connection from buyer to seller, then leaves them to finalise the payment and postage methods. This might be a fun option for small businesses to offer quirky collectables or brand products to gauge reactions and to gain new traction online, rather than to operate completely as an online storefront.
This doesn’t mean it will be this way forever, though. A glimpse at Ebay shows the potential for Marketplace to expand into a one-stop shop for rummaged treasures as much as commercial finds, so any business interested in using this feature should watch it intently and bide their time. As the feature develops, we might find that the experience becomes similar to that of Google, where businesses pay to advertise on search results above organic listings, and marketing tools become more refined and responsive. There are some opportunistic Marketplace users who are already maximising the Marketplace’s malleable design, with some rather questionable items for sale (use your imagination) already being reported, but Facebook is unlikely to allow it to turn into a black Marketplace.
With more than 80% of Facebook users connected to a Facebook business, it’s only a matter of time before savvy business owners learn how to work alongside this new feature in new and exciting ways. Do you have any great ideas on how to leverage the Facebook Marketplace?
Let us know your thoughts!