By Katherine McDowell
When someone mentions Facebook, most readers’ minds probably leap to the famous social media platform, perhaps even to a recent post or video on their wall. What many people will not instantly think of is car sales. In fact, that may well be the furthest thing from one’s thoughts where Facebook is concerned. According to an announcement made last Thursday, however, the social media giant is working to change that.
Facebook’s commerce branch, Facebook Marketplace, debuted in October 2016, and now, a year later, the company is looking to give it a little boost. Sure, their recent figures seem impressive for a first year in business—search volume on Facebook Marketplace has tripled—but with its massive audience—550 million users visit official shopping pages on their flagship site each month— Facebook seems to feel it should be able to catch up to other sites such as eBay.
There is still some distance to cover before that happens. Facebook Marketplace is available in 20 countries, and as many as 18 million listing have been posted in a single month. However, eBay is available in 30 countries across the globe, and see 170 million individual users per quarter. There remains a significant gap between longer established shopping platforms and the relatively new Facebook Marketplace, and the social media company is eager to close that gap.
It was while looking for a way to speed growth that Bowen Pan, Product Manager at Facebook, noticed that one of the most popular categories on Facebook Marketplace was used vehicles. People were shopping for preowned cars and trucks on Facebook Marketplace more than nearly anything else. So the social media company turned to the auto industry, and a new alliance was born. Facebook announced on October 26, 2017 that it is teaming with used auto dealers including Edmunds, Auction123, Cars.com, and CDK Global. The move is intended to increase the number of vehicles available on Facebook Marketplace, as well as offering communication options such as Facebook messenger as a method to communicate with salespeople.
The most important feature that Facebook brings to the table, however, is identity data. Most users are well aware that there is next to no anonymity on Facebook’s flagship app. Personal information is gathered to generate everything from targeted ads to suggestions for nearby friends and events. That same information can be used to link used car shoppers to nearby dealerships, pop up ads for nearby vehicles similar to searches, or even take into account finance-related post content, such as the recent purchase of a home, when guiding users to the right pre-owned lot. Facebook is counting on that feature to set it apart from other online shopping platforms, and is counting on the resulting increased business to help Facebook Marketplace catch up to competitors.
(Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2017/10/27/facebooks-marketplace-partners-with-auto-dealers-to-boost-used-car-sales/#43266c735cbf )