After making inroads into India’s payments sector via WhatsApp, Facebook is eyeing a larger piece of the country’s fast-growing ecommerce market where the world’s largest retailers Amazon and Walmart are gearing up for a direct faceoff.
The social media giant is in talks with several brands and businesses to list on Facebook Marketplace, according to two people familiar with the discussions. It will begin testing business-to-consumer transactions on the marketplace this month ahead of a soft launch planned for June, one of them said.
Facebook “will build more tools (on its marketplace) for businesses to upload products and manage inventory and orders, and will also add payments to it by the end of this year”, the other person said. “For now, Facebook will start with directing consumers to sellers’ (Facebook) pages or websites.”
Facebook launched its marketplace as a consumer-to-consumer interface in India about six months ago only to receive a lukewarm response to its attempt at creating a domestic Craigslist, competing with startups such as Quikr and OLX.
Facebook confirmed it is testing ways to feature content from shops on its marketplace. “We first introduced Marketplace in India last November, and since then we’ve been continuously learning and evolving the experience to meet people’s needs. We’ll continue to explore new ways to help these communities connect through commerce,” a company spokeswoman said.
A Google spokeswoman, however, denied such a move, saying “currently we have no plans”. The company operates Google Express in the United States via a partnership with retailers including Walmart and Costco.
As for Facebook’s marketplace plans for India, industry experts said it would take time for sellers to recognise the social network also as an ecommerce platform. “Onboarding sellers on Facebook may be a challenge. I think it will take significant time before people understand