As the biggest social network in the world, Facebook is always looking for new ways to connect people. The social media giant released the Marketplace back in May 2007 as a way for users to post and view classified ads within their networks. The Marketplace helped Facebook become a trusted platform where people could buy and sell their stuff. Think of it as a virtual garage sale in your neighborhood, and you've already got a good idea of what the feature was meant to do.
Ever since its initial release, the Marketplace has undergone several improvements to remain competitive against other sites offering similar services. But people weren't flocking to the Marketplace as expected. Instead, they formed, joined and visited buy-and-sell Facebook groups in which they performed all their transactions.
This goes to show how the site has already been a preferred channel for peer-to-peer shopping for some time now, and the only thing missing was a user-friendly feature for that specific purpose. That's why early in October 2016, Facebook did not just enhance Marketplace -- the company relaunched it all together, making it now a major competitor against Craigslist, Etsy, eBay, and the like.
The new Marketplace is now mobile in the form of a dedicated tab in the app. Once you click on that tab, you'll see a feed of items for sale sorted by relevancy. Due to geo-targeting, you get to see posts from nearby sellers, allowing for an easy meet-up in case you want to inspect an item up close or make a purchase.
The Marketplace is integrated with Messenger, so you can quickly send a message to the seller. There, you can haggle, negotiate, agree on payment terms, and exchange contact details prior to a meet-up.
It's just as convenient for sellers. If you want to sell something, just post a listing and wait for inquiries to come in via Messenger. Everything can be done on your smartphone and tablet, so you can conduct business even when you're on the go.
Currently, the Marketplace doesn't have a checkout that will take a buyer payment. You'll have to talk with the other party on Messenger to reach an agreement on how to pay. For some people, this is an inconvenience, but for others, this minimizes the risk of scams and fraud. When face-to-face exchanges are encouraged, people get to see in-person who they're dealing with, which is what Facebook wants.
Is this a smart move for Facebook? Only time will tell. The Marketplace is available only in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Whether it gets a global rollout depends on its success. Still, no one can deny that doing businesses with one's immediate community is still as strong as ever. Facebook recognizes that importance and wants to make it more convenient.