Facebook Marketplace needs just three figures to challenge leading marketplaces. When Facebook re-rolled their e-commerce venture, many were doubtful, few explored the space and critics were skeptics about the platform.
Come 2017, Facebook Marketplace is now one of the most favored spaces for multi-vendor commerce.
Six months: When most of the marketplaces fail to figure out the ground and rules in one year, Facebook has reached the summit at that time.
One platform: That success has come through a single platform- their mobile app. Unlike others in the herd, Facebook Marketplace is yet to be available in the desktop version.
Six Countries: No they are not Amazon or Ebay drawing sellers from across the globe. Till date, Facebook Marketplace is only accessible at US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Mexico. Europe and Asia- two marketplace hotbeds are missing from their lens.
Have all these odds restricted the marketplace from Facebook to surface? No, and to say little, this platform is a potential threat to emerging marketplaces like you.
So, what’s their biggest secret? How have they been able to ascend to the top in no time? And what are the lessons that future marketplace owners can learn from their amazing rise? Let’s introspect-
What has gone in favor of Facebook Marketplace?
E-commerce marketplace has been a fragile sector since it’s inception.
Bigger brands (Amazon, Ebay) have arrived and formulated a model for the rest. While, disruptive startups Uber, Airbnb and Etsy are tossing up many of the existing e-commerce concepts. There is no unanimous voice on the right revenue model, hacks of connecting sellers and the effective marketing mantras for the marketplace.
Meanwhile, there was a rising cry for a magical marketing channel for a widespread promotion. Marketing guru Benedict Evans tweeted for a “Facebook for products” or a social media network for product promotion.
Three months later Facebook Marketplace entered offering “a nice combination of search and promotion for products”.
But, this was not their first attempt to foray inside the e-commerce jungle. Have a look at Facebook Marketplace timeline–
From 2007 to October 2016- Facebook hustled in and out to claim their present spot. What helped their meteoric rise-
1. Smartphone Shopping Spree:
In 2017, mobile commerce is no more a fad but a function for e-commerce. Mobile users for internet access has surpassed the desktop users-
There is no doubt in the exponential growth of mobile usage but how far this is important for commerce–
A successful commerce depends on the conversion. But, what’s the conversion story? Let’s go back to a stat–
Not par with desktop or traditional success but combining the figures of smartphones and tablets give the reason why Facebook Marketplace gains so much success even being an app-centric model.
Though there is nothing upfront, Facebook may sooner or later launch their marketplace for desktops.
2. No Chicken and Egg problem:
As of December 31, 2016, Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users, and 1.23 billion daily active users. And the average user spends 50 minutes or more every day on the app.
For any of marketplace, such potential customer base is a massive advantage.
Much before Facebook starts rolling their e-commerce features, users stepped in and created groups inside the social networking giant for business. Facebook did not miss the opportunity.
In their press release, Facebook acknowledged that “More than 450 million people visit, buy and sell groups each month— from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world”.
They pocketed the ready customers and that was enough to lure the sellers and vendors to kickstart the business. Facebook Marketplace started on a high note without even experiencing the infamous “chicken and egg” problem.
Lessons to learn from Facebook Marketplace:
Love it or loathe it, when a product is launched by a brand called Facebook, it’s better to introspect and know their strategies-
1. Selling on Facebook Marketplace is Free: Facebook does not take a single pie of the profit. From product listing to connecting with the interested buyers through Messenger, everything is free here. No part of the profit goes to the Facebook marketplace.
That’s a huge relief for the vendors who have always a tough time to share a unanimous voice with marketplace owners on commission, listing fee or the subscription charges.
2. Great for Local Sales: Facebook Marketplace is a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. What makes it so special?
Let’s think from buyer’s point of view.
When buyers search by location (spanning 100 miles away) or browse by a product category, they will get the product details along with the seller’s approximate location, or the exact address if the sellers have shared the information.
Buyers can communicate with them through Messenger, discuss the price and haggle or agree upon the product delivery and payment process.
Yes, Facebook Marketplace is yet to provide any delivery & payment assistance or collaboration with third parties. However, this has not stopped them from earning the confidence of the local sellers and emerging as an incredible marketplace.
3. Easy Communication between Vendors and Buyers:
We have already talked about the Messenger role in the Facebook marketplace. While the norm of the marketplace is to search, browse, sell or shop, the multi-seller store from Facebook has played out of the book by incorporating Messenger as a mandatory platform of communication.
Now, who would not love to go for a chit-chat before buying something? Facebook knows our psychology better and with the Messenger tab, they are providing easy communication what most marketplace often does not offer.
Talking about the seller-buyer communication, the Big Daddy Amazon have them incorporated but it’s appeared almost at the fag end of their product page-
4. Vendors get access to large customer base:
Why should a vendor open their store at your marketplace? Facebook has their answer ready with a massive pool of users across the globe and good penetration rate. Have a look-
Now when a networking site as popular as Facebook offers a platform to both sell and shop to a large audience base, there are no doubt vendors will queue up there. Look how Facebook Marketplace has grown up.
Takeaway: No, it’s not possible to scale up the audience base overnight as gigantically as the Facebook. But, when you invest time and money for promotion, it will be a smart move to set up the audience and prepare them for the vendors.
5. Use Facebook as the Marketing Channel:
Setting up a marketplace is a no-brainer when you have a complete solution and free tools in your possession. The real challenge begins when one looks forward to marketing their store. SEO is a viable approach but one needs a reliable guide to earn the perks.
At Facebook Marketplace, the owners can run ad within FB for the promotion of their store. One of the most advanced digital marketing tools, the Facebook Ad allows taking the advantage of precise ad-targeting based on age, sex, demography, even the user interests.
Have a look-
Target users at your preferred Location
Find potential buyers as per your preference
With such large user-base and enriched Facebook data, stores in the marketplace have maximum promotion just a click away.
So, is Facebook Marketplace a perfect platform? Will it conquer the rest of the marketplace segment choking the aspiration of little marketplace dream? Do they have any Achilles heel? How can the emerging players defeat the marketplace juggernaut from Facebook?