|Wed Aug 22 2012 15:10:16|
Could Facebook's Answer Be Mini-eBays?
By: Julia Wilkinson
A recent piece in The Washington Post cautioned, "Facebook is free, and Wall Street is wary" -- more fretting over Facebook's falling stock price and overall free-to-use strategy. However, Facebook does of course have an advertising program; it's just that it seems a lot of people don't want to click on ads when they're socializing, or clicking "Like" on stupid pet trick photos, or whatever else it is they're doing on there.
But..could one humble little success story in e-commerce be a clue for an answer to Facebook's revenue problem? And also open up potentially lucrative new markets for online sellers?
It's called the Re-Lilly Group on Facebook, and is a thriving re-selling community of passionate Lilly Pulitzer clothing fans (over 18,000 and counting, at this writing). It's run by a team of administrators and moderators, and is free to use, but charges a nominal $1 fee to users who post a listing. You also need to follow the simple guidelines and rules of etiquette the group clearly spells out. I've used it with easy success on several occasions to sell some of the Lillys I don't wear anymore, and at healthy but fair prices for pre-owned items. And unlike waiting a week for an auction to end, every time the item has usually sold within a day.
Could these kinds of niche selling groups help Facebook find its way to more profits? Could Facebook encourage the creation of more of these kinds of niche groups, or even create a tool whereby a moderator can create one of their own, with Facebook taking a cut of a modest listing fee? The group seems to work because it's an amalgam of a Freecycle and Craigslist-type model, free or low-priced, set up for members to work things out amongst each other, but then to post a "Sold" notice once something is paid for, so other wanters don't ask for the same item. But there is moderation and organization involved with the Re-Lilly group; it certainly does not run itself.
I'm not sure exactly how this would be done, but I think other such passionate reselling communities could be born for brands such as Coach, Tori Burch, and even Levi's jeans. If Facebook took say $1 of a flat $2 listing fee, that could really add up. Another space where this could work, especially in terms of creating a community feel around items listed and sold, are in the collectibles realm, say, a Facebook reselling group for Lionel Trains.
What do you think? Would you welcome the ability to sell via this kind of community for a low flat rate? Or is it still something you'd not look to Facebook to do? Post a comment here!