Facebook to roll out local marketplaces in next days

03 Oct 2016

Facebook will launch local marketplaces in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand for IPhone and Android users in the next few days, the company announced in a blog post today. It added that the feature will be available on the desktop version in coming months. 

The post was written by Mary Ku (LinkedIn), director of product management at Facebook.

The blog announcement was quiet on the roll-out schedule beyond the abovementioned countries. It can be assumed, these local marketplaces will be rolled out pretty wide – if not worldwide.

Users will reach the marketplaces in their neighborhoods by clicking on a “shop button” at the bottom of their phone screens. We’ll have to wait and see just how “local” these marketplaces are – and whether users can change the geographic radius around their homes.

The marketplaces will focus on helping users buy and sell items locally. They will either replace, or serve as additions, to the existing seller groups on the site – we don’t know that yet. According to the company, more than 450 million people visit these groups – focused on buying and selling – each month.

This is still a “few million” behind OLX, another global brand for marketplaces. OLX claims a total of 1.7 billion visits to its 40+ country sites per month (here).

Here Mary Ku¬†explains in detail, with screenshots, how Facebook’s marketplace works. As is the case with all successful apps, simplicity of use and appearance is the key attribute of the Facebook local marketplace.

As this stage, Facebook won’t try to make money out of its local marketplaces (free to list), which will only be another way to keep users engaged on Facebook.

The marketplace will, no doubt, change the competitive landscape for mobile flea market apps such as LetGo, and Shpock fundamentally. Just how fundamentally, cannot yet be judged. There are too many open questions. For instance, will these marketplaces go uncurated and/or un-serviced by Facebook? Will it be up to local volunteers to administer and manage the marketplaces – as has been the case with the groups until now?

What is known: Facebook won’t facilitate payment or delivery of items, and will not take a cut from any transactions, according to the blog post.

Naturally, we are already working on the more in-depth, follow-up story for our clients.

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Christo Volschenk

Christo Volschenk is managing editor of the news on Aimgroup.com and our senior analyst covering Naspers. He brings more than 31 years of experience in business journalism to the team - the last 18 years focused on classifieds and e-commerce. Apart from working closely with the AIM Group, Christo is a freelance journalist, content manager, and copy editor. Before branching out on his own, he spent 15 years with Naspers in South Africa as journalist, economics editor and online project manager. He now spends most his day editing the news reported by 23 colleagues in 23 countries from his base in Stuttgart, Germany.