Facebook Messenger is a new feature that allows users to buy and sell with people in their own community.

If you regularly use Facebook on mobile, you've probably noticed the brand new icon in the bottom menu of the app.

While people have been buying and selling on the platform for a while, the activity previously took place within separate Facebook Groups. 

Now aiming to streamline the process, as well as open up items to millions more users, Facebook is hoping its marketplace will rival the likes of Craigslist and eBay.

So, is it any good?

And more to the point, will anyone actually use it?

Here’s a closer look.

How does it work?

The premise of Facebook Marketplace is pretty simple, and like the rest of the app, it is pretty easy to use.

If your location service is enabled, on entering the marketplace you will automatically be shown what people are selling nearest to you.

The top header is split into sell, categories, search and 'your items' - where you can view anything you have bid on or are selling.

The amount of categories is quite vast, with everything from bikes to books on offer.

There's even a classifieds section for housing.

Since the launch of the app, there's been a lot in the press about people using the app to sell drugs and other dodgy stuff.

While I've not come across anything too bad, I have seen a few strange items, including the recent trend of selling the new £5 note.

If anything, this just shows how easy the feature is to use.

It only takes a few minutes to set up an item to sell, so, naturally people are also using it as a solution for their own boredom.

How easy is it to buy and sell?

To find out just how simple it is, I decided to sell a rather charming backgammon set.

I managed to post it within the space of about two minutes.

I took a snap, included a description as well as my location, and that was that. As easy as updating your status or posting a photo.

 

Nobody has responded just yet, though I can see how many people have viewed the item. 

Buying - or at least bidding on something - is just as easy.

Clicking onto any item, you are met with the seller's location as well as a very basic profile.

Here you can ask questions about the sale or place a bid.

 

At this point, it is entirely left up to the buyer and seller to negotiate the final details.

There is no involvement from Facebook about how you pay or collect the items, meaning the process involves quite a bit of negotiation in Messenger.

Will people use it?

As well as issues relating to privacy and safety, the main issue about Facebook Marketplace is whether people will actually follow through with purchases.

Without an in-built payment feature, users are more likely to abandon items. 

Having this option would also encourage more spontaneous buying as well as take away the negotiation aspect.

Without it, the experience has the potential to become frustrating and less than clear-cut.

Another feature it could definitely do with is some sort of review system.

As it stands, users can only see what items a person is selling - there is no indication of how successful or reliable they actually are.

On the flip side, there is also nothing to reassure sellers that a potential buyer is not leading them on.

All in all, it feels like a bit of a gamble.

In conclusion...

If Facebook figures out the aforementioned issues, Facebook Marketplace has great potential to disrupt the likes of Craiglist and eBay.

The real-time element, combined with the unbeatable convenience of living inside the app itself, means that it could easily become the first port of call for buying and selling locally.

Until then, you know where to go if you're in the market for a £5 note.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 14 October, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

Interesting development but given the competition of not just the likes of eBay and Craiglist but also companies like Etsy, it feels like they have a long way to go to actually become established in this market. Guess the question is whether that is an aim for Facebook or if this is a token nice to have...

over 1 year ago

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La Col, Media at Media

having used facebook ALOT to sell items in facebook selling groups, this gives you the option to also advertise it in the 'marketplace' however so it has caused so much upset and annoyance especially for girls as the minute an item goes up like a nice dress or shoes etc I get dozens of explicit messages from men who I have no idea who they are - most asking rude things and also tonnes of friend requests from these strange men. something needs to change because from I can see alot of girls are hating it and refuse to use it now

over 1 year ago

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Mike Dreyer, N/A at N/A

I have had very little success in people actually showing up to buy the item. It does generate a lot of potential buyers, but most of them are no call no shows. This would change if there was a non refundable deposit involved, and a review system like eBay and letgo uses. Great concept, but it needs these 2 things to make it work.

6 months ago

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