My last post’s sobering view of ebay could be considered heavy reading so I’ll try and lighten the tone a little bit. Today’s focus is on Facebook Marketplace and what it’s like as both a seller and as a buyer. I’ve been using this platform to sell stuff (namely accumulated baby must-have items) for the past couple of years so I consider myself in a good place to comment.
What you quickly note when using Facebook Marketplace is that it’s a very rudimentary extension to the Facebook platform. Very little is actually custom-built or bespoke for a buying experience. How so?
- When you set up a listing, it looks and feels like a Facebook status post.
- When you contact a seller it begins a private message group, using the same functionality you use for instant messaging your friends.
Despite Facebook’s minimal investment in this they’ve thought it through a little and made it fairly quick and easy to sell something from your phone. You open the app, choose market place, take a photo, put some text in, choose a group or groups to advertise it in and that’s it. Granted the Android app has been a little buggy (it freezes after you submit the listing but the listing does actually go through behind the scenes).
There are no complexities around listings, nothing worth pointing out other than a feature to refresh your listing so it goes to the top of the group it’s advertised on (but bear in mind you can do this on a limited basis).
And no fees. This is both a good and a bad thing. I’ll get to this in the next section.
Who uses Facebook Marketplace?
You find all manner of different demographics, but strictly registered Facebook users.
The community is very diverse, and the only structure is that imposed by the Facebook Groups you submit your listing to, it is a bit of a free-for-all. And remembering that there’s no fees, you then have people putting just about anything up there.
How can I tell a good buyer/seller from a bad one?
Simple. You can’t. To keep peace of mind, you’re best placed just offering a collection-only model to your selling. I’ve not had problems to date with legitimate buyers coming in and paying and collecting their item. I’ve also been a buyer and snapped up a few things also.
However, I have noticed some negatives that stand apart. Given you’re dealing with Joe Public, I’ve personally witnessed the following which appears more prevalent than the likes of ebay:
- Time-wasters. They’ll ask if an item is available and then not follow-up when you respond positively.
- Unreliable types. I’ve had prospective buyers arrange and then cancel pickup times on too many occasions to count.
- Chancer bidders. Asking for a 50% discount from the price you’re advertising at.
- Aggressive language being used, as if you are on this earth to service the buyer in question.
There is a rating system, but it’s not sophisticated in any way. When someone contacts you as a seller, you can rate them as a buyer. And vice versa. What this means is you can get and assign ratings to people that you may have had no dealings with other than a brief message. Given my somewhat curt nature, if I notice someone fits into the aforementioned negative types I tend to shut down the conversation fairly abruptly. To date I’ve just had negative reviews as they seem to be the only types motivated enough to leave feedback. I just can’t bring myself to tell a satisfied buyer to not forget to leave me a positive rating – that would be lame.
Generally, it’s a good place to attempt to pass on your stuff and get something out of it. It’s more hostile an environment than ebay, and you get a lot more bozos to deal with which is the downside. Another downside is the significantly smaller market you can sell to, particularly since you’re likely to be offering a collection-only service.
There doesn’t appear to be any obvious way of getting Facebook intervention when things go wrong – you’re left to your own devices though. This is a significant point to be aware of.