Today you will have noticed a new ‘marketplace’ icon at the bottom of your Facebook app. Their new peer to peer e-tailing feature uses geo-location to allow users to buy and sell products with people in their nearby area. With very prominent central positioning within the world’s most popular app, it could move the company even further ahead of competitors in the e-commerce race.

The majority of us have used Facebook one time or another to buy something. In fact, 450 million of us use buy and sell groups on Facebook each month. Designer clothing exchange sites such as Wavey Garms and Basement have their whole brand built around their Facebook groups. It is only sensible then for Facebook to start to delve into the market themselves.

Tapping the marketplace icon that has replaced the messenger icon takes you to an algorithmically generated home page of items Facebook believes you’d be interested in. You can message the seller of any item and also place an offer of your choosing. To sell an item, you simply upload a photo, set a name, description, and price, and confirm your location.

Of course, none of us are new to online buying and selling, this is simply Facebook’s latest advance towards total domination of the social media market. The marketplace ensures users spend maximum time on their app as possible, no need to switch between Facebook and eBay/Craigslist anymore.

People have been using the marketplace to sell drugs, prostitution and baby animals.

Although the feature is a very simplified version of other online marketplaces, having it established within the Facebook app allows users to connect with buyers and sellers with a name and face. As well as allowing customers to conduct sales in real time, connecting with a messenger type service means customers and sellers can haggle via chat to decide on a price. Facebook does not charge for the service, however, they will massively benefit from increased time spent on the app, where customers will be exposed to more advertising

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The release hasn’t come without issues, Facebook has already issued an apology claiming “a technical issue” stopped its review system from catching people using the marketplace to sell drugs, prostitution and baby animals. The feature will undoubtedly come with a long line of updates that will see the service improve over time. Something that should be of high priority is the ability for users to review and rate buyers and sellers. 54% of online shoppers read reviews before purchasing and of those people who read reviews, 90% are persuaded to buy something because of positive information and 86% are persuaded not to buy something because of negative information.

In just their latest expansion, it begs the question, What’s next for Facebook?

Alex Theaker