After penetrating into the Indian payments sector via WhatsApp, Facebook is likely to hit the Indian e-commerce market. The world’s largest giants, Walmart and Amazon are already gearing up for a direct face off and Facebook is eyeing a larger piece of the country’s e-commerce market.
As per sources, the social media giant is in talks with several businesses and brands to list on Facebook marketplace. However, one of the sources also confirmed that it will begin testing business-to-consumer transactions on the marketplace this month ahead of a soft launch planned for June. “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.”
Testing ways to feature content from shops on its marketplace has been confirmed by Facebook. “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.
Growth of $27 billion is expected in India’s online retail sector this year after registering sales worth $19.6 billion in 2017, estimates Forrester Research. Global retailers are betting more on the massive growth potential for the fledging market, which Morgan Stanley estimates will be worth $200 billion by 2026. While Walmart is getting closer to acquiring a majority stake in India’s largest online marketplace, Flipkart, Amazon has committed to invest $5 billion in its India operations.
Tapping the domestic ecommerce market more directly is Google’s next big step as reported by people familiar with the developments. It had also recently invested in the Bengaluru-based personal concierge app Dunzo and ecommerce company Fynd. However, a Google spokeswoman denied such a move saying currently there aren’t any such plans and the company operates Google Express in the United States via partnership with retailers including Walmart and Costco.
As far as Facebook’s marketplace plans for India are concerned, industry experts said that it would take time for sellers to recognise the social media giant as an ecommerce platform. On boarding sellers on Facebook may be a challenge. I think it will take significant time before people understand and see value in (business-to-consumer transactions via Facebook),” said Shrinath V, an independent product consultant. He further added, “Facebook Marketplace is going to compete with Flipkart and Amazon because all of them are ultimately fighting for the same customer,” said an industry executive, requesting anonymity. “But this is good news for sellers and brands because it adds another distribution channel for them.”
Facebook marketplace is available in 70 countries and has more than 800 million consumers buying and selling goods.