New Delhi/Bengaluru: Social networking giant Facebook Inc. has quietly introduced a local services site in India that helps customers discover the best-rated service providers around them.

From plumbers to spas, from event planners to pet services, the services are listed at facebook.com/services.

The move marks Facebook’s entry into the already crowded hyperlocal services sector in India and puts tremendous pressure on existing hyperlocal services such as UrbanClap (UrbanClap Technologies Pvt. Ltd), QuikrServices, Housejoy (Sarvaloka Services on Call Pvt. Ltd) and Zimmber (Rejuvenate Solutions Pvt. Ltd).

There are over 530 local services companies and 132 home services companies that have cumulatively raised over $180 million in funding, according to data from start-up tracker Tracxn.

The potential in the largely unorganized sector has attracted blue-chip investors such as Amazon.com Inc., Tiger Global Management Llc., Lightspeed Venture Partners, SAIF Partners, Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and IDG Ventures, among others.

In December, Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook had launched a services platform in the US, going up against service providers such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Amazon, Alphabet and LinkedIn.

It is not clear how Facebook monetizes this business.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the development and said, “We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in."

On average, hyperlocal platform operators in India receive 4,000-6,000 orders daily.

Existing platform operators charge 10-30% commission from service providers for every transaction. Models vary from marketplaces (UrbanClap and UrbanPro among others) to on-demand services (Housejoy and Zimmber).

Facebook’s services site doesn’t just allow one to browse various services from the directory of so-called “Facebook Professional Services", but also provides reviews and ratings.

Customers can use the search box to find businesses within their locality, based on search preferences.

Currently, there are over 80 services such as plumbers, event planners, pet groomers, spas, painters, and financial services, among others, under 10 broad categories.

As of October 2015, over two million small businesses in India actively use Facebook pages-a number far higher than smaller platforms have to offer.

“I filled in the details under the category of plumbers, created a page through a personal account. It (Facebook) asked only to upload pictures and contacts relating to the business," Mohammed Muzzamil, a hardware store owner in Bengaluru, said.

He added that the site did not ask for any money for registration.

Classifieds sites such as Sulekha and Justdial take varying amounts of money from businesses to list them. But the services are free for customers.

The hyperlocal services space has attracted significant capital in the last 12-18 months.

UrbanClap raised $36.6 million from SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, Housejoy raised over $25 million largely from Amazon India and Vertex Ventures, and Quikr India Pvt. Ltd announced an investment of 250 crore in its QuikrServices vertical, making them the three most well-funded companies in the home and local services space.

LocalOye (Imma Web Pvt. Ltd) has raised $5 million, Zimmber has raised $2.4 million and is in talks with Snapdeal to raise another $7 million.

UrbanPro (Thinkvidya Learning Pvt. Ltd) raised $2 million, Doormint (Blackcotton Solutions Pvt. Ltd) $3 million, TimeSaverz Dotcom Pvt. Ltd over $2 million and Taskbob (Crenovative Ideas Pvt. Ltd) has raised over $5 million.

shrutika.v@livemint.com

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