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It’s official – Facebook is branching out to e-commerce with a new feature, Marketplace, that allows Facebook users buy and sell items with people around them.

According to Facebook Director of Product Management, Mary Ku, “Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other… To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready to part with. We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people.”

The Marketplace icon is replacing the Messenger one that used to be at the bottom (middle) of the Facebook app, making it super easy to buy or sell stuff on FB. I mean, the icon is just there – easy, accessible, tempting. For those who want to sell, all you have to do is:

  • Take a photo of your item, or add it from your camera roll
  • Enter a product name, description and price
  • Confirm your location and select a category
  • Post

Buying on Marketplace is not difficult, either. Clicking on the icon immediately opens a gallery of items that are for sale in your area. If you need something in particular, you can search for that too (since sellers put their goods in categories). It could be household appliances, electronics, clothes – whatever. You can also filter your results by price and location. And if something catches your eye, all you have to do is message the person selling to say you’re interested…or save the item for later (yes, you can negotiate the price if you want).

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Seeing as all this buying and selling is pretty informal, trading will have to take place at an agreed place or through an agreed medium. Basically, Facebook won’t facilitate the payment or delivery of items sold on Marketplace – you’re going to have to figure that part out yourself.

To say Facebook is eating the internet space is an understatement. Someone thinks Zuckerberg is a villain with a world domination plan, and I have to agree. Facebook buying Instagram, Whatsapp, and a bunch of others is all strategic and it doesn’t take a genius to see that. They’ve worked on their whole Massive Transformative Purpose, and are not afraid to branch out (let’s face it – they have the platform and the user base) – something more African startups need to emulate.

Marketplace looks like a threat to players in the online classifieds space (Craigslist, OLX, Jiji, etc), because, off the top of my head, one problem it’s solving is app fatigue. Having most of the things you need in on app is more than useful, and I think this is one thing Facebook is particular about – what with them introducing chatbots to Messenger.

Another thing is the fact that Facebook profiles are hardly ever anonymous. So you know exactly who you’re buying from, what their mother looks like, what fake-deep rubbish they like to populate their timeline with…you get my point.

Right now, Marketplace (for Android and iOS) is available in just four countries – US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand – but the plan is to expand to more countries and make a desktop version available.

Tola Agunbiade Author

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