Facebook has taken what could be an important step further into ecommerce with the launch of Facebook Marketplace.
The new tool formalises the process by which Facebook users can buy, sell and negotiate for items online.
Using Facebook’s popular Messenger app, users will be able to arrange a deal for nearby items, and can filter goods by location, category or price.
The tool is expected to be used predominantly to carry out personal transactions amongst individuals, such as friends and family, rivalling classified advertising platforms like Gumtree or Craigslist.
Similar to these sites, Facebook Marketplace will not process payments, simply letting users list the items they want to sell and reach a wider range of potential customers.
It is not yet known whether Facebook Marketplace will prove useful for merchants and sellers with larger inventories, who may be more likely to use online marketplaces like eBay.
“We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people,” Facebook’s director of product management, Mary Ku, confirmed in a statement.
“More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month [on Facebook] – from families in a local neighbourhood to collectors around the world. We’re introducing Marketplace to help people make more of these connections.”
The launch of Facebook Marketplace follows three other tools recently rolled out by the online giant designed to make it easier for small business owners to connect with customers.
In September, Facebook introduced region-specific ad campaigns, enabling small business users to tailor advertising to certain new markets, whilst also bringing out free online international marketing guides.
Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature enables the upload of high-potential leads lists, making it easier for business owners to target new overseas customers similar to their existing UK clients.
In an exclusive Business Advice interview late last year, Facebook’s Small and Medium Business (SMB) team Olly Sewell revealed: “Using our tools to apply the right business strategy, small business owners can continue to use Facebook to keep customers and attract new ones.”
“We’re aiming to be the first and best place for small businesses to manage online and mobile presence.”
From early October 2016, Facebook Marketplace will be available to IPhone and Android Messenger app users, over the age of 18, in the UK, as well as the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Instagram has targeted small business owners with three new tools, read more here.
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