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:

Thus far, the marketing function was responsible for delivering consumer experience. This was justified because there were limited consumer interaction opportunities available, and of them, most were controlled by marketing (retail, e-commerce, events & exhibitions, some part of customer support etc.).
However, given that today, the consumer experience depends upon not just the interaction or touch points but also from the volume and analysis of data that gets generated out of business to consumer interaction and consumer to consumer interactions.
Due to this, digital technology should be used to integrate various functions and units of an organization so that the organization gets a better view of the consumers, their own processes as well as behavior insights so that a consistent experience and value can be delivered to the consumer
So, digital transformation, transforms your people, business processes, business models, the culture and focuses on, more innovation- all by integrating digital technologies across the board
WHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION NEEDED?
Hilton took about 100 years to become what it is now, one of the largest valued chains of hotels in the world. How much time did AirBnB take to create a similar value? Less than a decade!
An average S&P 500 company would stay there for about 60 years in 1958.  This came down to just 11 years in 2011. And Today? Perhaps every 15 days the S&P 500 companies are being replaced
According to a report by Forrester, 50% of the revenue of surveyed companies, will come from digital BY 2020.
So, once again, digital transformation IS NOT just using AI, chatbots, and IoT, it goes beyond this to focus on new ways to do business and create value.
For e.g. General Electric’ transformed it’s heavy manufacturing products- Locomotives and Jet turbines into a software services business through its ‘Digital; Twins’ initiative.
Today GE builds a digital twin of each physical asset that is installed anywhere in the world, and constantly monitors variables like location, temperature, service records, functioning etc. and integrates with machine learning and algorithms to receive predictions and alerts faster and hence proactively respond better.
Understand the concept of Digital Twin in another way from the perspective of Philips Healthcare:

This information becomes richer by getting information from cohorts ( such as a fleet of jet engines) and hence the organization and GE can get various insights based on a collection of data from various assets.
THE DOTCONVERSE 3 Cs OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

  1. Culture- Includes People, Change and Innovation attitude with digital
  2. Continuum– Includes business processes and transformation through digital technology
  3. Consumer- includes new business models and a unified view of customers across the organization leveraging digital

So, we can start by asking a simple question: – What are we going to do to exceed customer expectation at each level of its journey?