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How Carousell Became Successful

In this day and age, impulse buying items is easier than ever thanks to online retailers and fast fashion brands. As trends rise and fall and celebrities appear frequently sporting the latest outfits and companies come up with new products, people scramble to find cheap alternatives of the latest stuff in order to stay on top and stay relevant- even if it means purchasing from non-ethical, non-environmentally friendly brands.

What happens to these items once the trend dies down? They are discarded after barely any use, and as many are non-biodegradable it ends up polluting the environment. Carousell, an online marketplace dealing with new and used goods, provides a space for these items to be sold to other people so that they may get more use out of them. Here’s how Carousell became successful.

What Is Carousell?

Snap, list and sell! Carousell is an application and web-based marketplace for buying and selling new and used goods. Creating an account to buy or sell your items is easy and free. Listing an item for sale on Carousell can be done in three simple steps which take about 30 seconds: tapping on sell, snapping a photo of your item and filling in the basic information relating to your item.

Carousell can be used by virtually anyone, and is not limited to businesses only. Carousell provides protection for both their buyers and sellers through Carousell Protection and does not take a commission from items sold on its application or website.

The History Of Carousell

Carousell, originally called SnapSell was founded by three university friends, Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan on the 14th of May 2012 in Singapore. The co-founders came up with the idea during an internship in Silicon Valley, where they were inspired by heroes such as Mark Zuckerberg, Drew Houston and Jack Dorsey, all of whom used technology to solve problems and make a huge impact on the world. Drawing inspiration from these tech giants, the three friends decided to build an app which would solve their own problem: having no easy way to sell their unused and underutilised items.

They began building their application after returning to Singapore. Initially, Carousell focused solely on selling and reselling electronic items, but they have since expanded into other categories such as clothing, automobiles and even properties and jobs. Fun fact- the first item to ever be sold on Carousell was an Amazon Kindle e-reader which sold for about S$75!

The Growth And Expansion Of Carousell

Carousell’s collaboration with Singapore Press Holdings’ STClassifieds in January of 2013 became the stepping stone for them towards success. The collaboration validated what Carousell had done so far and where it was going in the future, which was to bring simplicity and ease to sellers and buyers. This partnership allowed Carousell to reach a wider audience of people, thus bringing in more users. The company went on to secure another partnership with SPH later that same year which also successfully increased their user base.

Once their growth in Singapore was steady, they soft launched their application in Malaysia and Indonesia, which also proved to be successful. In November of 2013, the company managed to attract investors and procured about $800,000 USD to fund their expansion across Southeast Asia, with Malaysia being its first stop as it launched officially in January of 2014.

By 2015, the application had officially launched in Indonesia, Taiwan and had soft launched in the USA. Currently, aside from Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, Carousell has successfully expanded to these countries: the Philippines, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Carousell's Marketing Strategies

The Singaporean start-up actually achieved success without spending an exorbitant amount of money on marketing. Instead, their funding was placed into expansion across the world. The question remains though- how did they market themselves without spending too much money on marketing?

In its early days, vendors at flea markets were approached directly by Carousell staff. They offered to create accounts for the vendors and list their products on the app, and so they helped the vendors take pictures and showed them how to use the application. Carousell also made use of printed posters which they put up in hotspots across Singapore to entice people to try out their application.

The founders of Carousell also made sure to personally attend every event where their target clients were located, signed them free-of-charge and ensured that their technical support team was helpful and friendly. They made sure to engage their potential clients online as well by answering any questions aimed towards them on question-and-answer forums.

Why Is Carousell So Successful?

Aside from being unique among other e-commerce marketplaces, the mindset of the founders also plays an important role in the application’s success internationally. Despite being faced with challenges and roadblocks, the founder persevered throughout them all and continuously invested time, money and effort into their start-up. They never gave up even when times were hard, and even when the application became wildly successful, they continue to find more ways to improve.

Another key reason for Carousell’s success is its focus: its goal is to create a community for buyers and sellers instead of having everything be purely transactional. Carousell wants to inspire everyone in the world to start selling, and the community they have created is fostering that environment. The issue of having too many unused and underutilised products is a global issue, and the company intends on solving that worldwide through their application.

There you have it, the success story of an application that started out as an idea in the minds of three university graduates during their internship. Carousell’s success story tells us that having the right mindset and the right attitude towards something can be instrumental to its success, and that even if you have achieved that success, you should always strive to improve.


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