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Facebook Becomes a Marketplace for Social Shopping

Facebook is no longer only a place where people can connect with each other on a social basis, but it has also become a place to trade. The social media giant has launched its latest feature “Marketplace” that allows users to buy and sell within their community using mobile phones.

It is available now for use as a custom tab in its app dedicated to peer-to-peer trading in four countries: the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It is only available for mobile phone use at this stage. According to Facebook, it will kick off globally and be on the web if it proves popular.

The seller just needs to upload an image of the item, and fill in a short description. It’s very simple and straightforward, and follows the “social shopping” framework of Facebook.

Unofficially, trading in a certain classified community has been occurring for years on Facebook. In addition, Facebook introduced the functions of “For Sale” post options to groups officially last year. According to Facebook, their monthly traffic is over 450 million users.

This is not a revolutionary service. In the past, people would look up classified ads in the daily newspaper. Then, after the launch of USA’s Craigslist website in 1996 and UK’s Gumtree in 2000, people could go on the Internet to list items and look for what they want to buy and sell from each other. (Gumtree was acquired by eBay in 2005.)

In many ways, Marketplace on Facebook is friendlier than those earlier classified ad websites. The user can search for nearby items, and communicate with direct messaging via Messenger. People can search photos of items that people near you have listed for sale. It has several specific options and filters that can be requested on parameters such as location, category and price. It offers a built-in location tool that allows the user to change the region specification they had entered.

Selling an item in Marketplace is just as easy as looking to buy something. It takes just four simple steps:
1. Take a photo of your item, or add it from your camera roll
2. Enter a product name, description and price
3. Confirm your location and select a category
4. Post

The potential buyer can send a direct message to make an offer and/or discuss the details further with the seller. However, there is no intermediary between buyer and seller to help prevent bad behavior. Facebook does not facilitate the transaction, nor does it offer delivery options (as eBay does).

This means that Facebook carries no liability for fraud. For example, if the buyer is not able to receive the item after payment, he or she would need to take this up with the police.

In Taiwan, several companies offer a similar service on mobile, such as Line, Shoppe (https://shopee.tw/) and Carousell (https://tw.carousell.com/). Shoppe and Carousell are both headquartered in Singapore. They all are free to use without listing or transaction fees. Only Shoppe facilitates transactions and provides an integrated delivery service.

No date has been set for establishing the Facebook service in Taiwan. However, with the large number of active Facebook users in Taiwan, the company might be able to change the way the transaction and delivery game is played in the future.