Thanks to an outpouring of user screenshots, the secret is out. At long last, Facebook is officially taking on Craigslist and eBay with its own buying and selling feature called “Local Market.”
The social-media giant confirmed today that it is indeed running trials of the functionality. "We are in the very early stages of testing new ways for more people to easily discover, buy, and sell items with other people on Facebook,” a spokesperson for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company told Entrepreneur moments ago.
The statement confirms what several Facebook users in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, as well as in Auckland, New Zealand, reported fleetingly glimpsing in their Facebook iPhone apps over the last couple of days, some as early as Oct. 5. Sorry, Stateside shoppers, it is not yet known when the inaugural feature will expand beyond those specific locales.
For some, the new functionality appeared as a blue button (that looks like an awning-covered store window) in the middle of the bottom of the main Facebook iOS app screen. Meanwhile, others spied broader views of the feature in the app, which appears to offer a smorgasbord of basic, searchable shopping categories. Among them are everything from antiques to clothing, electronics to gardening and beyond.
As for what we know so far of how Local Market works, Facebook does not directly facilitate transactions. They occur between individual users. To initiate and complete a sale, prospective buyers comment on a post or message a seller. The particulars of how payment transactions take place are not yet clear.
Earlier this month, Facebook hinted that this long-awaited pivot was coming, noting that its users are warming up to more product-related content across several channels within its robust platform -- in groups, company Pages, news feeds, search results and sponsored content offerings. Also, last February, with an eye on boosting product discovery, the social mammoth announced new marketing tools for sellers, along with enhanced search and browsing capabilities for buyers.
For a look at user reactions to the fresh shopping feature -- and at early images of the functionality itself -- check out the tweet roundup below: