Facebook examines whether making the e-commerce-enabled Marketplace section more visible leads more consumers to click and buy.

Facebook Inc. is examining whether mobile users are more likely to click and buy products on the social network if it makes the e-commerce-enabled Marketplace section of its platform more visible.

The small number of U.S. users involved in the social network’s latest test see an icon for Facebook’s Marketplace section at the bottom of the app. That section aggregates a personalized mix of products a user is likely to be interested in based on her likes and interests, as well as her Facebook connections. The section brings together the products that consumers and brands already share in the news feed, on pages and in groups, as well as products sold within Facebook’s For Sale Groups, the Craigslist-like section of Facebook that allows consumers to buy and sell items on the social network.

The test builds on a test launched in October in which a small number of U.S. Facebook users saw a new Shopping section within Facebook’s Favorites section. It also builds on other tests Facebook is running, including one in which a limited set of U.S.-based small retailers who are testing the Shop section on Pages are letting consumers browse products directly on Facebook; some merchants let shoppers buy directly on Facebook while others require a shopper to click to the merchant’s e-commerce site.

Facebook renamed the section Marketplace to reflect that the sellers of items featured there range from traditional retailers to consumers selling used goods via a For Sale Group, a Facebook spokesman says.

The social network is focused on figuring out what will lead consumers to click and buy from the social network. After all, Facebook executives regularly point to an internal study that found roughly half of U.S. Facebook users turn to the social network to discover and engage with new products. “That behavior is already happening on Facebook, but we think we can provide users with a better experience,”  Emma Rodgers, Facebook’s product marketing lead, mobile app ads and commerce, said in October when Facebook launched the Shopping tab test.


However, it is still early days for Facebook’s e-commerce efforts, the spokesman says. “Getting the user experience right is very important for us,” he says. “This is how we feel people would want to experience this, but the test will enable us to see if that’s really the case. We’ll see how they interact with it.”

The Marketplace experience likely will look markedly different from its current incarnation when Facebook rolls it out more broadly, he says.