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Facebook ramps up European e-commerce offering

25 August 2017 - 10:52 by Sarah Collinson

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Facebook may be the place that most people go to share pictures and catch up with friends, but it is also increasingly associated with shopping online, both via its extensive use of ads and through integrated e-commerce services.

The Marketplace feature has proven to be a success since it was launched in the UK and now the social media titan is gearing up to introduce it more broadly across the rest of Europe, according to Forbes.

British consumers have been among the half a billion people who check out the shopping-oriented parts of Facebook each month. Back in May this year the total number of products made available via the Marketplace in the site’s native US topped 18 million, indicating that there is plenty of supply to meet this demand.

In many ways this wider rollout will be problematic for rival firms, chief among which is eBay. The ability to buy and sell items via safe shopping online has been its modus operandi for over two decades and it may find it tough to compete with Facebook in terms of sheer reach.

The 17 new European nations which will receive access to the marketplace will inject even more activity and provide a wider choice. And because Facebook’s existing social data is combined with the shopping experience, it makes it easier for people to complete transactions with trust.

Critics have pointed out that even with the wider launch, Facebook’s Marketplace is still a somewhat underdeveloped e-commerce offering, especially when compared with established rivals. Part of the problem is that it focuses mostly on used items and has a comparatively restricted selection of products on offer.

Online marketplaces are extremely common, cropping up on sites like Amazon, so it is possible that Facebook will simply slot into this segment rather than truly dominating it.