• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Facebook pushes further into e-commerce in Nigeria with Marketplace


Facebook has unveiled an e-commerce service, the Marketplace, a destination where people can discover, buy and sell items from others in their local communities.

The service which is already available to users in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya is now accessible in Nigeria. On the Marketplace, users can tap on the icon to browse and search for items, sort based on distance or category.

The social media platform has typically been a place where brands go to advertise to billions of users. However, since 2018, Facebook has gradually pivoted into e-commerce and released a number of new features that have made it possible for brands to not only advertise but also sell products directly through its apps.

Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a professor of technology once described Facebook as the “largest e-commerce platform” in Africa.

Facebook-owned Instagram has a tool called Checkout that allows users to buy items featured in a post. The social network giant has also launched Facebook Shops which gives businesses to create one shop that appears across apps that Facebook owns, making it easier to manage potential sales. Businesses can also customize how their online shop looks by changing a cover image and different colors. Users can message a business through WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, or Messenger to ask questions or track their order.

On October 202, Facebook announced that WhatsApp will begin offering in-app purchases as millions of people on the messaging app to communicate with businesses.

Although Marketplace is coming to Nigeria for the first time, it was launched in 2016 as a place for people to buy and sell within their local communities. In 2018, Facebook added an artificial intelligence feature on the Marketplace for price range suggestions and auto-categorization.

“If you wanted to sell your home office chair, Marketplace could use AI to help you sell it even faster by suggesting you price it between $50-75 based on what similar chairs recently sold for. It will also automatically categorise the chair as “furniture” based on the photo and description so that you don’t have to,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The e-commerce space in Nigeria estimated to worth about $17 billion is growing and attracting significant investments. Spending on e-commerce among Nigerian consumers currently accounts for an estimated $12 billion per year according to the World Bank. by 2025, that spending is projected to grow to $75 billion in annual revenues.

Nevertheless, Facebook’s decision to delay the launch of Marketplace may not be unconnected to the ups and downs the market has experienced. Between 2016 to 2019, a number of players have exited the e-commerce market for different reasons one of which is consumers’ preference for cash-on-delivery and poor logistical support that led to a rise on the number of returned items.

But adoption is beginning to pick us driven by the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Since 2020 new players have come into the market. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also pushed adoption upwards.

Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Facebook, said the availability of Marketplace in Nigeria highlights the company’s ongoing efforts in helping to boost buying and selling in Nigeria and connecting communities.

“This comes at a crucial time as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people and businesses, and with many people buying and selling on Facebook, this will provide people with a convenient destination where they can discover new products, shop for things they want or find buyers for the things they are ready to part with,” Ikenze said.

To use the Marketplace feature a seller needs to create a public listing that can be seen by anyone on Facebook. This includes people on Marketplace, News Feed, Facebook search, Facebook Groups, or search engines. Sellers can simply take a photo of an item, enter a product name, description, and price, confirm their location, select a category, and post.