The second largest country by population, mobile phone users, smartphone users, and internet users, India is once again at the center of attraction for the management of the world’s most influential online platform. After chasing craigslist and eBay in Europe, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has set its eyes on the online buying and selling of old goods market in India, eventually going after Quikr and OLX.
According to some media reports, Facebook has started testing a dedicated section, designed to buy and sell old goods. Though the new section is currently available only for a limited set of users from the financial capital of India Mumbai, Facebook may soon extend it to the other cities having a deep penetration of online shoppers.
With 230 million users, India is largest country on Facebook, followed by the US. Interestingly, besides India, the growth in user base in rest all top four countries has almost stagnated. In contrast, nearly 50% of internet users are yet to join Facebook and more than two-thirds of the population is yet to onboard the Internet. These equations portray India as one of the strategic markets for Facebook.
According to Facebook, nearly a quarter of its 2 billion users worldwide engage in buying and selling used goods on the platform. The dedicated section would help these users to employ an organised approach, and would also result in better deals for both buyers and sales.
Facebook Marketplace in India for old goods will have a direct impact on the Quikr and OLX. Both the sites have captured a sizable share of the e-commerce market for used goods in India. After Facebook’s debut, it would be interesting to see marketing tactics, these platforms will employ for sure, to keep Facebook on the edge.
But, Facebook doesn’t look in hurry to eat into the market of OLX and Quikr. They have limited the section availability only for Mumbai users. Facebook management in India doesn’t have any immediate plan for pan-India expansion. Instead, they want to go slow, learn things, implement new required features before they open the marketplace for buy and sell old goods to users across India.
“We don’t have a particular date in India for the pan-India launch. The goal of the test is to start learning. As we learn, we will understand whether the product meets the needs, finds it engaging. As we learn, we will start rolling it more broadly,” said Karandeep Anand, Director — Product Management, Facebook.
It makes a perfect sense for Facebook to introduce the marketplace to buy and sell used goods in India. At the time when Amazon has decided to shut down Junglee, its marketplace for used goods, OLX and Quikr have sensed a great opportunity in India market. According to OLX Crust Survey 2014-2015, India homes used goods worth Rs 56,000 Cr. The study also highlighted that the figure is only going to increase considering the strengthening buying power of users which is resulting in shorter replacement/upgrade cycle of goods. As more number of people are indulging in online shopping, the share of online shopping sites offering used goods would be sizeable. To put things in context, in 2016, nearly 4 million pre-owned mobile phones were sold online in India.
Facebook Marketplace is already operational in 25 countries. The company is making the best use of technology to maintain the quality and unmatched service level. Use of Machine Learning will help Facebook to avoid banned and illegal products from getting listed automatically.
On the flip side, the move may encourage sellers to become more proactive on the platform, and that may have a direct impact on the social media experience. To avoid Facebook turning into a complete selling zone where users may see more status updates from sellers instead of friends and family the platform has got a separate section and link to a Marketplace. But, how far will it discourage sellers to promote its products by mixing it with organic means of marketing, would be interesting to watch.