Facebook is making it easier for sellers to reach local buyers: Today (Oct. 3), the social media giant announced that it is launching Facebook Marketplace, a Craigslist-like classifieds section of the network.
There are several ways to run a business on Facebook, such as posting items in Groups and creating shoppable e-commerce tabs on business Pages. But there are a few problems with these options: They tend to be time-consuming, products get lost in the shuffle and they sometimes rely on paid third-party apps or an existing online store. [See Related Story: Best E-Commerce Software for Small Businesses]
Facebook Marketplace attempts to overcome those hurdles by streamlining the process of connecting sellers with buyers. The company says the free service is part of its move toward social selling. Unlike the similarly named and now-defunct Marketplace that Facebook launched in 2007, this version is integrated primarily into the Facebook mobile app in an effort to gain more traction with mobile buyers and sellers.
In fact, the Facebook Marketplace button appears on the main navigation bar on the bottom of the Facebook app; the company says this location provides easy access and catches buyers' attention. And when buyers open Facebook Marketplace, they are greeted immediately with a photo gallery of items for sale nearby.
How Facebook Marketplace works
Facebook Marketplace works a lot like a mobile-friendly Craigslist, with a twist: Sellers post items for sale using their own profiles, so they aren't just faceless email addresses on a screen. This method helps to create trust, which is critical for Craigslist-like transactions and works to the advantage of small business owners, Facebook says.
Sellers can post items in three steps:
- Upload a photo, either by taking a new one or using one from their device's camera roll.
- Add product details, such as name, description and price.
- Select a location and category.
Then, buyers can find nearby items for sale right when they open the Facebook Marketplace tab or search by location, category or price. In addition, a built-in location tool makes it easier to find local items, and there is an option to switch cities for larger search areas.
Like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace does not process sales or payments. Rather, it simply lets sellers list products and reach more customers who are looking specifically for that product.
The process of closing a sale works a lot like Craigslist, too: Buyers contact a seller to finalize the payment and shipping details. But instead of sending emails to an anonymous seller as on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace lets buyers message sellers directly within the Facebook app.
Facebook Marketplace will be rolled out this week to iPhone and Android Facebook app users in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The company says the service will be expanded to other countries and desktop users in the next few months.