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Facebook Marketplace In India, Now Disrupting OLX & Quikr?

Let me begin by stating that in my opinion, FB globally has not caused any major set back to any dominant player yet. ( I am talking about the likes of Craigslist and Gumtree etc.)

Even in India, I expected it in vain,  to be a notch better than other players as also improved from its initial launch state.  (Read my article on the launch on Facebook Marketplace in India, published in YourStory in 2016 here).

Taking you back in time- while the large classifieds players in India advertised heavily on TV, which built awareness, but did nothing to create traction (categorization, valuation, content richness, trust, serendipity, c2c focus, etc. are key pillars that build network effect, but unfortunately none of the two top players did anything significant on these fronts), hence while we see a large footprint for the big classifieds players in India but the actual usage is very low.

Today, you hardly see their ads on TV, because that strategy just did not work, and put not just a huge dent in their balance sheets, but also deflected serious users from repeat -usage.  The profitability that large classifieds players show today- is largely because their expense on TV is now saved. (But scaling up now, is a huge issue now for them)

Most players in India, even after a decade, do not seem to be showing traction from more than 5% of internet users. FB already has a base of about 250m+ users in India.  These users can be mobilized very fast use to FB Marketplaces (translating potentially into 40%-50% of internet users in India)

FB has the potential to disrupt  OLX sooner than Quikr (Read my article on Disruption Of Indian Classifieds here)

However, there are some serious issues that FB needs to address RIGHT NOW, to induce an explosive growth, and wipe out the competition.

Observations about the Facebook Marketplace: 

It is still an immature product, and I cannot sense much traction:  for e.g.
1.  Many products are selling at Re1/- + many products have put a misleading price (e.g. one seller has advertised a baby cot at Rs 11,11/- but on sending the message the price was revealed as Rs 4,500/-)
2.  The location is by default New Delhi for anyone posting from any part of NCR.  The default periphery for many items is 60Kms, which is very wide.  
(This is also because of lack of volumes in localities)
3.  Very few filters – a terrible experience searching for any item.  For example, if you are searching for a car, there is no way you can search basis color or engine or make etc.
4.  Message on WhatsApp– is a good feature and can expedite response time from sellers + increase  propensity to message by potential buyers
5. Most of the items are from B2C, and that’s where FB has to understand Indian market and also focus on individual buy and sell
6. Searching products is a pain.  The map is underutilized and good only for directions
7. FB needs to find a way to integrate Marketplace in users feed, to get maximum traction (without contaminating the feed)
8. Categorization– Bicycle is under ‘hobby’, musical instruments is under ‘Entertainment’???
9.  I can see people accepting payments on PayTm here,  this is the time for FB to activate its own payment and wallet and use an escrow system to grant more trust and power to the platform.

FB could show a great traction if it focuses on:
A)  Micro Businesses and Individuals and the likes of  following categories to start with:
1. PGs, Rentals
2.   Fashion & Accessories
3.   Hobbies –
4.  Home Furnishing etc.   (Instead of the usual, Jobs, services and real estate)

It clearly appears that FB is taking this too lightly, with not a good enough product.  They have a golden chance to wipe out all competition and take a winner takes all position in the potentially the largest classifieds market in the world- India.

A large part of my article here, has also been published in Entrackr, with my permission. You can read it here:

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