Facebook is diving deeper into used cars through its Marketplace platform, as the social giant looks to separate itself in a crowded market for online buying and selling.
Cars have long been among the most popular items on Marketplace, and Facebook today announced a new dedicated automobile section within the buying and selling platform and new partners like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and Cars.com. These moves are designed to increase the supply of vehicles that users can browse through Facebook Marketplace and ensure the safety and reliability of the process.
The moves represent a bit of a shift for Facebook Marketplace, which has mostly been focused on person-to-person buying and selling, into something closer to traditional e-commerce, with users interacting more with businesses. The new partnerships allow users to communicate directly with dealerships through Messenger, saving the time and headache of finding the right dealer.
“You basically go through bunch of pretty extensive steps and then you are barraged by these emails, voicemails and phone calls, and it’s not really that great of an experience,” said Vivek Sharma, head of product for Facebook Marketplace. “You get tired, and you just pick a dealership to visit and you carry on the conversation from there. We want to cut out all of that back and forth and make it a lot more seamless through messaging.”
Facebook debuted Marketplace approximately a year ago. The company wouldn’t say how many users it has, but did note search volume is 3X what it was at the beginning of the year. In May, there were 18 million items listed on Facebook Marketplace in the U.S.
In the last year, the company has learned a lot about its users, their habits and what they want. The increased emphasis on cars comes out of that feedback, and was built in Facebook’s Seattle.
“This is just the beginning,” Sharma said of Facebook Marketplace. “Because we’re a people led product, building off what our people are telling us, what we’re going to go do next is take look at all the interesting things that people are demanding of the system and figure out which ones to amplify next.”
Some of those new categories include jobs, event tickets, retail, and home rentals on its platform.
Facebook Marketplace is battling a number of companies in the market for online and selling, including the well-funded Seattle area startup OfferUp and of course Craigslist. Amazon last year introduced a new section of its website that includes specifications, prices, images, videos, and customer reviews for thousands of new and classic cars, but does not include direct sales.
Facebook’s dive into the car selling world could some day make it easier to buy a brand new car online. But dealer franchise laws preventing direct new car sales over the internet have long held back direct online sales, and it doesn’t look like those are going away anytime soon.