Called Facebook Marketplace, the dedicated shopping section is available via a new shop icon (which replaces the Messenger shortcut) on the Facebook mobile apps for iOS and Android.
It lets people browse for items that others have listed for sale nearby, and list their own products for sale, too. The feature comes with a built-in location tool where users can adjust search regions to different neighborhoods and cities.
There's no native checkout option on Marketplace, but users familiar with Facebook's BST groups will notice improved communication capabilities between buyers and sellers, as there's now a direct message option within each listing. The payment and shipping process is left up to the buyer and seller, as is the case in the BST groups.
There are no Pages allowed on Marketplace for now, which means small businesses can't advertise products or buy News Feed ads to compete with individual sellers. That said, Marketplace could be a good option for small time crafters or collectors looking to flush out inventory.
Marketplace is launching today in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand on mobile, and could roll out globally and on desktop if the service proves successful.
For Facebook, the new Marketplace feature is less of a new service and more of an improvement of a pre-existing one. Some 450 million people currently use Facebook BST groups for this type of community-based commerce for used goods, but the system was far from perfect.
Facebook Marketplace also takes direct aim at sites like eBay and Craigslist, the latter of which has been a fixture for online classifieds. But unlike Facebook, Craigslist is not mobile friendly, which could boost Facebook Marketplace over the long term. As for eBay, shares of the online auction site were down nearly 3 percent early Monday morning.