It’s a globe-straddling social network, it’s your go-to social advertising platform – and now it’s a marketplace too! On October 3rd, Facebook announced the arrival of Facebook Marketplace, a new feature that will allow users to buy, sell and trade items with other people in their locality. Head over to the Facebook app on iOS or Android and tap on the Shop icon at the bottom of the app to check out the new feature for yourself (you’ll have to wait at least a few months to try out the desktop version).

What does Facebook Marketplace do?

Facebook Marketplace is a digital marketplace where users can arrange to buy, sell and trade items with other people in their area. Think Facebook-meets-Gumtree. All transactions take place outside of the app, and are not considered in any legal sense to be Facebook’s responsibility. Facebook Marketplace allows you to:

  • Search for items to buy
  • Browse for-sale items by category and/or location
  • Create item listings. You can create the images for the item using a camera function within the app, or alternatively you can add photos from your device’s camera roll. Items are sorted according to location and category.
  • View previous and current transactions and messages under a ‘Your Items’ section
  • Set custom bids for items
  • Message buyers/sellers to arrange transactions

Facebook plays no role in facilitating or managing transactions – users are expected to work that part out between themselves.

Who can use Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace is currently available to Android and iPhone users aged 18+ in the UK, the US, New Zealand and Australia. Anyone who falls answers that description is free to buy, sell and trade items using Facebook Marketplace.

A desktop version and access for other nationalities are pencilled in for an unspecified time “in the coming months”, and a route into Facebook Marketplace for businesses is also strongly rumoured.

How does Facebook Marketplace fit in to the online marketplace scene?

The product clearly needs some work at this stage, but in the long run, Facebook Marketplace possesses the potential to rival the likes of Gumtree, ebay and Amazon Marketplace as a hub for small-scale commerce.

Buy and sell groups on Facebook are currently being visited by around 450 million people per month worldwide. By moving a large share of this activity to a central marketplace, Facebook will be able to better manage, police and most probably capitalise upon it.