2 Nov 2015

Facebook uses Auckland to test new service

3:03 pm on 2 November 2015

Facebook is using Auckland as a test bed for a new service letting people buy and sell physical items with other users.

Facebook has announced plans to launch a satellite.

The social media giant is using Auckland as a new testing ground. Photo: AFP

The social media giant has confirmed to RNZ it wants to make buying and selling items easier when they are publicly posted near its users.

The feature - called Local Market - is being tested in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney.

"We are in the very early stages of testing new ways for more people to easily discover, buy, and sell items with other people on Facebook," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The site does not have a timetable for when the feature would expand beyond the three cities.

Facebook believes there is an opportunity to make buying and selling things more accessible to a broader Facebook audience.

But the site would not facilitate transactions, and these would happen between individuals.

Forsyth Barr senior equity analyst Blair Galpin said Facebook was trying to build "communities of interest".

"The difficult part for [New Zealand online marketplace] Trade Me is it opens up a new channel for users to interact," he said. "A prime example would be a group of cyclists, who interact with each other through Facebook, could now easily market to each other."

But points of difference did remain, he said.

"It's part of just a general changing in the way in which people and buy and sell and consume goods.

"This is not like some of the competitors they've had in the past where they've had to generate profit from the transaction.

"This is really an add-on service... so in that case it's subtly different but, at the same time, Trade Me has its own advantages, such as it's really a nationwide service," Mr Galpin said.

Key features in the Facebook buying and selling service:

  • People will be able to access public sale posts that have been posted locally in their area via a 'Local Market' tab on mobile, and also through a bookmark under 'Favourites' on desktop.
  • This will allow them to see all items that have been posted locally in their area.
  • Facebook is testing multiple ways for people to post items to their local market, either directly or by cross-posting from existing sale groups.
  • Interested buyers will be able to comment on a post or message the seller directly to complete a sale.
  • Transactions will not be facilitated by Facebook.

Previous surveys have shown New Zealanders love to shop online.

New Zealand site Trade Me, founded in 1999, is the dominant online marketplace in this country.

It markets itself as the country's biggest and most popular site for auctions and classified advertisements.

In a statement in response to the announcement, the site said it would be foolish not to think about the impact of social media on its business but it would "stick to its knitting".

It was aware Facebook was trialling new ways to connect people to buying and selling but added that Pinterest and Instagram were also looking at similar developments.

Trade Me said it was not clear what Facebook's intentions were when it came to safety and stopping fraud.