Peer-to-peer advertising platform Facebook Marketplace launches this week in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.
This new section of the Facebook app replaces the Messenger icon in the bottom toolbar and provides direct access and functionality to support the growing audience of people who visit buy and sell groups on the platform – more than 450 million people globally at recent estimates.
Currently only designed for Facebook individuals on Facebook to sell and buy from each other, it has already attracted attention for the wrong reasons.
Many of the products available in the first few days were quite questionable, ranging from weaponry to sex toys, from pregnant girlfriends to a onion for sale at £1,000.
Facebook had to halt the roll-out of further functionality until the compliance issues could be ironed out.
But what can we expect to see from Marketplace in the future, and what does it mean for retailers and retail brands?
Grey market offers
There is already a significant ‘grey’ market online including eBay, groups on Facebook and many ‘aggregator’ platforms that create marketplaces for individual sellers to distribute to wider audiences (Etsy and Amazon Marketplace are two examples).
This move from Facebook will allow it to take a cut of these small and infrequent purchases and generate another revenue stream.
From a macro perspective, purchase data, and information about items that people purchase, is also hugely valuable, extending what Facebook already knows about its users.
This information is useful both for optimising the newsfeed and for advertising targeting. Retail brands that have partnerships with Facebook or use its advertising platforms will no doubt see the benefits of this additional layer of data over time.
Potential for retailers
Facebook has also stated that potentially brands and retail pages would be able to sell through Marketplace should the consumer-only trial be successful.
This will provide another route to customers – and if that route is infused with interest and purchase data, it becomes a potentially very exciting offer. Imagine the data around products available connected into people’s conversations on Messenger, or to things they write on their Facebook page.
If I’m talking about wanting a new coat in a chat with friends, it wouldn’t be a stretch to not only be served an ad for a coat in Marketplace, but also a recommendation based on styles I’ve previously purchased and liked.
The digital economy demands that we create personalised, accessible experiences for consumers. The richness of data from the ever-present state of Facebook, especially on mobile, means that shopping could become as effortless as mentioning that you liked a coat you saw in your friend’s post, then clicking once to buy one.
Perhaps this will be the fast fashion of the future.
- Matthew Knight is head of strategic innovation at media agency Carat