Selling on Facebook has evolved over time, and the company is making inroads into ecommerce and payments. It can be difficult to keep track of the changes, so we took a closer look at sellers’ options for selling on Facebook.
When you log in to Facebook and click on the Marketplace icon, you see what is basically an online classifieds site – listings from regular people from your area selling items, many of them used goods. You can also join Buy and Sell groups for niche interests and local “yard sales,” and listings will show up in your newsfeed.
As with classifieds sites, Facebook Marketplace transactions are generally conducted in person.
Selling on Facebook took a leap this spring when the social networking site announced that sellers would be able to ship Marketplace orders rather than having to meet up with would-be buyers in person. The company told developers in April, “People will soon be able to ship Marketplace items anywhere in the continental US and pay for their purchases directly on Facebook. For sellers this means reaching more buyers and getting paid securely, and for buyers this means shopping more items – near or far.”
Before we get into payments and fees of the “new” Marketplace, here are some of the selling methods Facebook currently offers.
Selling Items on Marketplace: When you sell something on Marketplace, you create a public listing that can be seen by anyone on Marketplace and in News Feed, search and other places on or off Facebook. There are about 30 categories to choose from, including Tools, Toys & Games, Furniture, Baby & Kids, Vehicles, and Rentals. Here’s a link to instructions on selling items on Marketplace.
Selling Items in Buy and Sell Groups: You can also create listings that appear in Facebook Groups, if they have the buy-and-sell feature turned on. When you create a listing, you can choose to post the item in other buy and sell groups you belong to, and you can choose to make it a Marketplace listing as well (unless you’re posting as a Page). You can find more instructions on this page.
Setting up a Facebook Shop: Anyone with a business Facebook Page (see instructions on setting up a Page) can add a shop component (link to instructions). Products from Facebook Shops may appear in Marketplace, and sellers manage their inventory and sales with Commerce Manager, which lets merchants sell across Facebook and Instagram.
Boosting Marketplace Listings (Facebook Ads): Keep in mind you can boost Marketplace listings to increase exposure (similar to “promoted listings” on other companies’ marketplaces) – “When you boost a Marketplace listing, it becomes a Facebook ad,” the company explains – learn more on its help page.
Marketplace for Ecommerce Merchants
Facebook added on-platform checkout, and to really take ecommerce to the next level beyond consumer-to-consumer selling, it is enabling online merchants to integrate their product inventory with its platform through service providers such as BigCommerce and Shopify.
Facebook explains, “We’re rolling this experience out in the US, which is designed for eCommerce retailers that work with partners who are able to list inventory on Marketplace. Retailers that work with a listing partner can apply to have their inventory added to Marketplace.”
Facebook Marketplace Payments and Fees
A spokesperson told us that while PayPal is an accepted form of payment in its new on-platform checkout, sellers can’t get paid via PayPal – its system is similar to payments on Etsy and the “managed payments” eBay is moving towards. “Buyers can use their PayPal account as a funding source to pay for an item on Marketplace,” she said. However, sellers must link their bank accounts to receive payments for Marketplace sales.
Sellers pay fees for using on-platform checkout – 5% per transaction, and for transactions $8 or less, a flat fee of $0.40.
Facebook is also evaluating a selling fee for consumers on Marketplace who use shipping with on-platform checkout “to help fund programs and products that enable a valuable and trusted experience for people and businesses.”
We already mentioned sellers can “boost” their marketplace listing by turning it into a Facebook Ad, but businesses can also create ads for Marketplace – these are actual ads, not just promoted (“boosted”) listings. Note that a spokesperson confirmed, “Sellers aren’t required to advertise on Facebook to get traffic on Marketplace”
Facebook Marketplace Integration
BigCommerce is one of the ecommerce platforms for merchants that has integrated with Facebook. Sharon Gee, head of omnichannel partnerships at BigCommerce, said the company has had a number of merchants expand their product offering through Facebook Marketplace and have found it to be an effective addition to their comprehensive omnichannel strategy.
Gee said that one client, Hats Unlimited, decreased returns 61% compared to their average rate on other channels by creating a more personalized shopping experience on Facebook Marketplace.
Another client, Sweetums Signatures, saw a 33% increase in sales after listing its inventory of decorative decals on Facebook.
What kind of sellers are best suited for selling on Facebook? Gee said BigCommerce has found that those in the home decor and clothing and apparel categories seemed to be particularly well-suited for Facebook Marketplace.
However, Facebook Marketplace is not for everyone, she said.
Beyond the basic guidelines of what categories Facebook currently allows on Marketplace – classifieds, clothing & accessories, deals, electronics, entertainment, family, hobbies, home & garden, housing and vehicles – there are a few things worth keeping in mind.
One is that orders through Facebook Marketplace must be shipped within 3 days and received within 7 days. “This is especially important for merchants focused on offering handmade goods, as such a condensed timeline could provide difficult to meet when creating each item upon order. It also means that merchants need to pay attention to product inventory in order to avoid selling an item that is actually out of stock,” she said.
Another issue is how the typical buyer views Marketplace listings. “Though its reach is expanding, many still view the Facebook Marketplace experience as similar to a community listing forum, and searches may be limited to specific product categories,” Gee said. “For more effective sales, take the time to understand the core audience and align your product offering with their specific interests. A merchant selling craft supplies or home goods may be more successful than one focused on auto parts.”
For those who take the plunge, Gee said they don’t have to run Facebook ads, but it could help merchants avoid getting lost in the crowd. In addition, she noted there’s no listing fees on Facebook Marketplace. “Why not invest that cost in some experimental ads to test whether targeted advertising improves your channel revenue?”
Danette Martin, founder of Sweetums, started selling on Facebook Marketplace about a year ago. “My products are made to order, so we never tracked inventory before. Our items also have a lot of variations, so that caused issues early on.”
Since her custom products don’t sync, they’re not available on Marketplace, she said. “Facebook is still in the primary stage, but they are working through the hiccups. This is a great way to get sales if you are willing to work through it!”
Martin said she doesn’t advertise on Facebook, and there’s no manual listing process. “Facebook Marketplace is setup to be a seamless way to broadcast your products on your main website and also through them with little effort. Once you setup the store, you sync your products and it’s potentially hands off from there. The orders sync into Big Commerce. There’s no manual listing process like the other marketplaces we sell on. There’s no need for ads, the marketplace promotes our products to their proper category with a lot of traffic and sales.”
BigCommerce’s Sharon Gee had some final advice for sellers interested in giving Facebook Marketplace a try.
“First, invest in high-quality listings. With Facebook Marketplace, your product is not just competing against other retail products, but also against used consumer goods. As such, taking the time to invest in your product listing will help it stand out amongst the hundreds of other options available. This means optimizing your listing by including more keywords in the title and description, writing a longer description with more specific details about the product, and hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of the product (and ensure that your photos offer numerous angles of a product).
“And second, be communicative. Many consumers are still unfamiliar with Facebook Marketplace, which means a retailer should expect high volume of messages from buyers. Take the time to respond and answer their questions quickly and thoroughly. Remember, customer service communications are an often-underused way to make your brand voice shine and truly delight customers, so be thoughtful about the tone and communication templates used when responding to customer questions.”