The online classified website and app Craigslist has some competition it needs to take seriously.
In the latest update to the Facebook app the social network introduced Facebook Marketplace, a Craigslist type site where Facebook users can search for and buy merchandise from other Facebook users.
The icon for Marketplace is found on the front page of the Facebook app; it replaces the icon for Messenger. Tap on the icon and it opens to the latest classified posts in your area. You can change the area by sliding your finger over the map and narrow your search to 2 miles of where you are located at the moment.
Facebook Marketplace makes it easy to browse the dozens of items put up for sale by nearby Facebook users with photos and the price on the image. Tapping on any image brings up a description of the item, the location and contact of the seller. You can also search for specific items or browse through categories such as clothing, furniture and electronics.
I tried it out by searching through furniture and found shelving for record albums for $100. The item was listed by another Facebook user who lives approximately 30 miles from me. Clicking on the seller's profile I could see his name and any other information he has on his public Facebook profile page.
The Marketplace allows me to ask him a question through Facebook Messenger and if I wanted, I could send him a friend request. But I could also see all of his posts, information and photos of his children that he's uploaded to Facebook. A couple of minutes after I messaged him with a question, he responded, saying he thinks the item has been sold. I asked if he'd listed the shelves on Craigslist and he said no, just Facebook.
I also posted an item for sale on Facebook Marketplace by snapping a photo of a headboard we weren't using. Without using a separate app I was able to quickly add the photo to a description and post it to the Marketplace. I also have the option of posting it on local groups where others shop.
Interestingly I got a message from a Facebook user I don't know who saw the ad, asked a question, and told me they'd be back in town to pick it up tomorrow. I had posted the same ad to Craigslist over a week ago and got no response.
Pros: ? I didn't need to download another app to use Marketplace like I had to do to use Craigslist. ? I immediately knew I was dealing with a real person who lives nearby. No scams. ? The sheer number of Facebook users will make it easier and probably faster to buy and sell on Facebook rather than Craigslist. ? The Marketplace icon can't be ignored since it's prominently displayed on the app homepage. This should encourage items to move quicker than on Craigslist which requires you to visit the site or download the app.
Cons: ? Buyers interested in my item do not need to be my Facebook friend. Any user will see the post and can contact me through Messenger. ? If your profile is set to public any Facebook user can see your entire profile, including photos of your children and your timeline posts. ? You must go in and re-set your profile to private or friends or friends of friends to prevent anyone from seeing everything you post to Facebook.
Overall, I think the user experience is much better on Facebook Marketplace than on Craigslist. I possibly sold an item in just a couple of hours after posting it for less on Craigslist. Facebook Marketplace is part of Facebook's latest update and even then it may not show up immediately. Facebook is rolling out the feature in the next few weeks. There's no charge for buying or selling items.