September, 2021


Facebook Marketplace

Only two months after Amazon had announced adding Pakistan to its sellers’ list, Facebook is also looking to increase its digital footprint by allowing access to its marketplace feature. The Facebook marketplace is integrated within its social media website and allows users to put up items that they own on sale. This is usually geared towards secondhand goods, but one can always find new products as well. This platform is more like OLX or Ebay, allowing a consumer-to-consumer exchange system.

Over the last few years, we have seen a mushrooming of small internet-based retailers in Pakistan. Small businesses in this field sell a variety of products, ranging from food, to natural self-care and handmade arts and crafts products. Then there are also a host of importers that deal in tech and other goods on Facebook, available to Pakistani consumers at a premium. These retailers and individual importers no longer have to ply their trade on various groups and pages; they can instead access the customer directly through the marketplace.

It is likely then that the marketplace here in Pakistan might not fulfil the same purpose as the ones in western countries, for instance. A lot of new products are likely to be available, and consumers will have to determine which retailers to purchase from.

Of course, there are risks associated as well. Many of these small retailers used verified sales and customer reviews as a means to build trust within their marketbase. How will this be achieved at Facebook’s own marketplace? The digital platform’s argument is that the social media profile of each user will help establish trust. But as is evident, both Facebook and other social media websites are still grappling with the sheer number of fake profiles that keep propping up daily.

There are still issues that consumers will have to navigate through, but on the whole, both consumers and retailers have another platform to both buy and sell products digitally. This is helpful in our efforts to bridge the digital divide and bring more trade online.

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Javed Ansari

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