On Monday the 3rd of October 2016, Facebook announced the release of Marketplace; a tool to help people buy and sell anything on the Facebook.
Users can access the feature by tapping a “shop” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app and refine their search according by category, price, or seller location.
To put products up for sale, users need only take a crisp picture, tag it with proper description and post. They get to receive offers, haggle pricing and iron out intended logistics with intended buyers via their direct message.
The Facebook Marketplace is not available in Nigeria yet. Neither has it received a general rollout, as that was stalled by the listing of illegal items on the platform. Babies, guns and drugs were among the first items listed.
The revolutionary tool is a revised take on Craiglist; the popular classified advertisements website that advertised jobs, housing, personals, wanted items events and everything in between.
When it is eventually rolled out in Nigeria, Facebook Marketplace is going to completely disrupt traditional eCommerce and classified advertisements as we know it in Nigeria. Here’s why
Ease of operations
OLX is arguably Nigeria’s foremost classified platform. Earlier in the year, the company introduced physical verification of listings in an attempt to curb fraudsters that have long plagued the platform.
The angle of nipping fraud in the bud is very much appreciated. However, one has to question the sustainability of sending agents across to inspect listings on an individual basis. Looking at the successful model of Craiglist — create the platform, set regulations, guiding rules, delete defaulters off the platform and hopefully — many people would not be defrauded as long as they adhere to the rules.
When the option is made available to take a snap, advertise to your friends and friends of friends and in essence sell to the over 16 milllion Nigerians on Facebook, I suspect nobody will consider any other option.
The average Nigerian eCommerce shopper copies the names of vendors from the website, does a reverse Google search and spends long minutes researching their internet presence. The same applies to sellers on classified websites. Trust is a very important ingredient in eCommerce and is one of the major reasons it has not completely taken off in Nigeria.
It would be easier to buy an iPhone posted by a man who has pictures of his family splattered all over his profile, and 3 mutual friends with you, than a merchant you have not seen his face. It is the Nigerian factor, but quite relatable.
The Facebook Marketplace will be faced with plenty hitches even on a global scale so when it is eventually rolled out in Nigeria, I do not expect an initial smooth sail. With fraud and security being the most pressing concern even on a global level. But like Jeff Buckmaster (CEO of Craiglist) said, the public has a responsibility to police themselves.
Social selling will definitely change online commerce as we know it on a global scale and in Nigeria.
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