The launch of Facebook's Marketplace has the potential to transform e-commerce, and should have the likes of Gumtree and even eBay alarmed, says e-commerce delivery specialist ParcelHero.
ParcelHero's Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: 'Make no mistake, despite the relative lack of fanfare around its launch, Marketplace is a game changer. Facebook probably has around 30 million UK registered users and 1.5bn globally and many of them use Facebook daily, if not hourly! It's such a comfortable environment that it could make selling and buying an unwanted item as routine and automatic as putting on your slippers.'
The entries are sorted by category and location; making buying and selling extremely easy. And sellers can choose whether to have buyers pick up items or whether to send them by courier.
Says David: 'Using Marketplace is as easy as using any other element of Facebook; buyers and sellers can work out the details of a sale in any way they choose. Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace, it's up to users to sort out the details. What will give Marketplace such an advantage over sites such as Gumtree is the sheer number of existing users who feel entirely confident in the Facebook environment.'
David continues: 'While the likes of eBay and even Amazon won't be quaking in their boots yet; perhaps they should be. Initially Marketplace will just be a 'classifieds' type space for ordinary people finding new homes for items; but professional sellers would be foolhardy to ignore access to this huge audience for their products. Whether it's by the front door or the back door professional traders running eBay and Amazon shops will be looking to sell on the site.'
Adds David: 'Furthermore, it's a good bet that Facebook is well aware of Marketplace's appeal for professional traders, and will be looking at ways to open up the App for wider e-commerce opportunities. We could see a solution in which businesses pay for entries whereas it remains free for ordinary members in the future.'
Already more than 450 million people visit Facebook's buy and sell groups each month, from families in a local neighbourhood to collectors around the world. Marketplace will un-tap a far wider market and has the potential to transform local e-commerce; especially if it is opened to local traders.
David observes: 'Sellers should be aware that Facebook doesn't handle any shipment of items however. With this in mind it's best advised to use established quality courier services to ensure signatures are obtained on delivery. It will pay to shop around. For example, ParcelHero's parcel broker services are all covered by an unmatched free £50 insurance cover on all shipments, which also gives peace of mind to inexperienced sellers.'
Concludes David: 'The real wonder is not that Facebook has taken this step; but why it's taken so long! Of course, it is not the first time it has tried to expand into the second-hand market. Facebook originally launched a desktop-only classifieds marketplace in 2007. But it's the way Marketplace fits seamlessly into every other Facebook activity on your mobile or tablet that makes this a potential super-Marketplace.'