Soon You'll Be Able To Easily Search For And Buy Things On Facebook

Chris CrumeCommerce

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A new feature Facebook is testing could turn the social network into more of an e-commerce market place or digital swap meet. You'll soon be able to search across Facebook for items to buy from other users.

Do you use Facebook to sell items currently? Is this something you may do in the future? Let us know in the comments.

This could not only place Facebook in competition with sites like eBay and Craigslist, but also increase Facebook's functionality in the search space.

Buying and Selling on Facebook

TheNextWeb reports that Facebook is testing a page for "All For Sale Posts," which lets you view items for sale across Groups. It looks like you can view items by category or search across all public for-sale groups. In other words, you could go to this page, and just search for items like you would on eBay, Amazon or anything else. Here's what it looks like:

According to TheNextWeb, the feature will be rolling out globally in the coming weeks.

It expands on another feature the social network recently launched. In February, it added new buy/sell features to Groups.

“Now, For Sale Group members can choose the ‘Sell’ feature when creating a post,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “Members can add a description to what they’re selling, including a price and set a pick-up/delivery location. Sellers can also mark posts as ‘Available’ or ‘Sold’ and easily view their catalog of previous items sold.”

In a blog post, Facebook shared a couple of examples of users who regularly use Facebook's For Sale Groups:

Lisa Duncan-Thayer from Florida created Made By Mama Buy/Sell/Trade to sell her crochet work and give other local artisans a place to sell their handmade items. Now with more than 4,500 members in or near Pinellas County, Florida, the group has helped many women turn their hobbies into businesses.

Professional guitarist Kadu Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro created a Facebook Group to help musicians in Brazil buy and sell instruments. In nearly three years, the group has grown to more than 34,000 members. Not only has the group enabled Kadu to personally buy, sell and trade musical instruments, it’s raised his profile and awareness for his band, Swell.

At the time, Facebook said these featrues would roll out across iOS, Android, and the Web over the coming months. It's unclear if that roll-out has completed. There's an interest form here for Group admins who wish to utilize the features.

For Sale Groups are only one way in which Facebook is becoming better for selling products. The company recently acquired shopping search engine TheFind, which should mean better personalization for its new product ads. Facebook has also been testing a buy button, and has given advertisers call-to-action buttons, which include a "shop now" option.

Searching on Facebook

The ability to search for products to buy also represents the latest in a series of improvements Facebook has been making in the search department.

Facebook is testing another feature that has been drawing some attention this week. It's a new way to add a link to an update from the mobile app. Using it brings up the ability to search for articles by keyword.

This all follows the announcement late last year that you can now search for posts on Facebook based on keywords, which was lacking from the social network for a long time.

Here's what CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said about the company's search efforts on an earnings call:

So we’re pretty early in this whole thing and there’s so much unique content that people share in Facebook that I think that that is the clear, unique opportunity to go for first, right? I mean there’s – if you think about the overall web, there’s a lot of public content that’s out there that any web search engine can go index and provide. But a lot of what we can get at are recommendations on products and travel and restaurants and things that your friends have shared, they haven’t shared publicly, and knowing different correlations, or interesting things about what your friends are interested in, and that’s the type of stuff, those are questions that we can answer that no one else can answer, and that’s probably going to be what we continue to focus on doing first. And I think what you’re seeing is that as we enable more use cases and as we just get a lot of the basics right around performance and bringing the mobile features into parity and beyond what we’ve been able to do on desktop, the volume is growing quickly.

I think on a recent earnings call we just announced that we passed 1 billion searches total so now being more than 1 billion on mobile shows some progress that I’m pretty proud of for the search team.

Little by little, Facebook is making it easier to find things in a useful way across its enormous network of user data.

Do you think Facebook will grow as a platform for people to sell things? How about as a place for people to search more generally? Let us know what you think.

Images via Twitter, Facebook

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.