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Guide to Selling on Facebook – Now with Checkout

Guide to Selling on Facebook Now with Checkout

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.”

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

7 thoughts on “Guide to Selling on Facebook – Now with Checkout”

  1. Items need to be received by the buyer within 7 days? Well, in that case, I’m out. I can’t be responsible for USPS delays. Plus, media mail is often estimated to take about 7 days from the time of shipment. So, if it’s just one day late or if I don’t ship the same day, it’s too slow. Plus, forget shipping anything in a tube. Although first class or priority mail tubes are estimated by USPS to take the same amount of time as any other shaped package with the same shipping point and destination, tubes almost always take longer. If they are shipped first class, they take WAY longer.

  2. When I first heard about this, I was excited to give it a try. Now that I see that we can’t get paid via PayPal, I’ve lost interest. PayPal is what I use for my business banking, so my checking account is my personal account.

    I found it very tedious trying to keep up with transferring funds received from Etsy to my PayPal account. It’s an extra step I shouldn’t have to worry about. I don’t like taking money out of my checking account until I know it’s been covered, which means I wait for funds to be deposited to my personal account before I will transfer them to my business account.

    As a result, there are numerous deposits that still haven’t made it to my business account, particularly after I had to switch to monthly deposits on Etsy when they changed their billing system. Now I have to go back in time to figure out which ones were and which were not transferred. That is a time consuming process that I shouldn’t have to go through.

    Plus, my personal account should NOT be involved in the least. My Etsy funds are basically changing accounts three times before they end up where they belong — customer to Etsy to personal checking to PayPal. That’s exactly what I would be dealing with if I sold on Facebook. I’ve already gotten rid of Etsy and I’m not the least bit interested in setting up with another marketplace that doesn’t give me full control of my own funds.

    Also, what happens if the customer doesn’t receive the item by the 7th day? Do they withhold your funds, refund the customer, push your listings to the bottom of the feed or…? While I understand the need to protect consumers from having issues receiving items they paid for, I don’t like dealing with any marketplace that’s going to hold against me any mishaps the USPS experiences.

    I did my part and got the item to the USPS. What happens to a package after it leaves my hands is out of my control. If something happens and the customer doesn’t get what they paid for, then I personally take care of my customers, providing a replacement, even exchange or a refund, whichever they choose. I don’t need a middleman telling me how to run my business.

    I’ve already left all the marketplaces that try because they have no clue what they’re talking about and keep trying to push manipulated survey results so they can pretend they do and get away with financially sticking it to their customers (sellers) in some way or another. Why on Earth would I want to join another that does the same?

    Mind you, I’m one whose feedback is full of comments from customers about how fast I ship. So, this isn’t something that I should have to be worried about. I’ve only had a package go astray ONCE, but it still made it to the customer a mere day later than expected. If I’m going to be punished or lose money for things like that, then…nope…not interested. This is my business. I run it the way I see fit and I’m big on customer satisfaction.

    So these marketplaces need to get over themselves and stop messing with those who’ve already proven to be a legit seller who takes care of their customers. They need to spend more time monitoring those who are known for problematic transactions and deal with them accordingly and leave decent businesses to properly deal with the few problems they do experience.

  3. @lessthanthreerecords – Why do you prefer to ship via Media Mail? I’m going to guess (based on your nickname here) that you sell records. Is there such a difference between Media Mail and First Class Parcel postage that shoppers would not purchase your listings if you only offered FC shipping? I currently have one product which, due to its size (length) makes the Priority Mail “tube” (triangle) box the best packaging option; these items have been arriving just as quickly as anything else shipped via Priority Mail!

    @Picky Chicky – Do you have a bookkeeping system or do you just go by your deposits? If you had a bookkeeping system (spreadsheet, for example, or even an old-school ledger), then you would know how your business is doing. Bookkeeping is about what you take in and what you spend, not about where the funds are kept or how often they’re disbursed by various marketplaces, and you wouldn’t need to transfer funds from your bank to PayPal, etc. If your business is doing enough volume that you receive a 1099 from a payment processor, you probably *should* consider having a “real” business checking account rather than relying on PayPal. If your bank charges fees for business accounts, they would be deductible on Schedule C.

    I totally agree with marketplaces needing to get over themselves! I’ve had a business, off and on, since 1985 so I also know how to run a business, understand shipping options, provide awesome customer service, all that fun stuff.

    1. I actually do have Quicken and Quickbooks. I was keeping everything on Quicken, but wanted to upgrade to QB. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t convert my old Quicken files, which is 20 years worth of data. So I haven’t done any data entry in a long time and need to catch up on it now that I’ve decided to stick with Quicken.

      When I tackle that monumental task is when I’ll be able to figure out what still needs depositing.

    2. Sorry, I also meant to say that I will get a business bank account if the income ever warrants the need for one. Until then, PayPal is my business’s “bank”. I have a PP debit card that I can use for business purchases on and offline, so it works just fine for my current needs.

  4. FB is doing fairly well for me locally. One problem I — and many others in some of my sales’ groups are having is the items that get flagged. For example, I ran an American Girl Horse and it got flagged because you can’t sell live animals.. I appealed. They denied. I changed the word to toy horse–it was still flagged.

  5. I’ve been very successful with FB. If someone wants an item shipped, through Messenger, I can give them the email for PayPal. Their shipping address is already there. Haven’t had a problem. But most of my sales are in person. I’ve met the nicest people! And I don’t have to worry about sales tax!

    And before I quit Ebay and Bonanza, my comments were also about how fast I shipped. Shipping has become such a crap shoot these days, putting a 7 day limit on shipping is a bit stressful.

    SO tired of these places trying to take control.

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