With about 4.1 million listings, Carousell is an online marketplace that uses its buy-and-sell option among consumers as leverage
Eighteen-year-old Nehro Jacovf earns Php20,000 a week on average or about Php80,000 a month, considerably larger than the monthly salary of most entry-level employees. Jacovf tried his hand at e-commerce by selling secondhand smartphones online in June. Since then, he has sold more than 60 gadgets, ranging from iPhones to dated Macbook units.
“This is not my first business. Back in elementary, I would already sell snacks and toys to my classmates in order to earn money for my food. Now, I choose to buy and sell gadgets because I personally am fond of using them,” Jacovf said.
While he uses other social media platforms, Jacovf has become more inclined in posting regularly on online marketplace Carousell especially after he immediately closed a sale after only 10 minutes of making his first posting.
“At first, I was hesitant (about) using it due to the fact that it was a startup company and there are more established sites for online selling,” Jacovf explained. “However, I gave it a try and within 10 minutes of posting an ad, I immediately closed a deal with a customer.”
Jacovf is one of the first active users of Singapore-based online marketplace Carousell, which entered the country in October 2016. The startup has been operating in six other markets since 2012, including Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
After a year of local operations, it already boasts of 4.1 million listings, around a million of which have been successfully sold. And it still hasn’t expanded operations nationwide as it remains limited to Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Laguna and Batangas.
Unlike Lazada and Shopee, which has gained a strong foothold among Filipino online shoppers by focusing on selling tech gadgets and fashion items respectively, Carousell used its buy-and-sell option among consumers as leverage, growing its user base organically. Lazada claims it has around 10 million listings in the Philippines while Shopee says it has over three million in the country.
“We want to serve the underserved groups. Underserved are those who would want to sell something fast—selling something with just one photo. That's where we come in,” Carousell Co-founder and President Marcus Tan told Entrepreneur Philippines.
Carousell has been operating in six other markets since 2012, including Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
Carousell may remind most Filipinos of Sulit.com in its early days, albeit upgraded with more tools and processes to keep the community free from fraud. Most items on the site are secondhand so users are more likely dealing with an ordinary consumer just like them. In fact, haggling to lower prices is even encouraged on the site.
“We encourage meet-ups so the seller and the buyer can properly communicate. That way you can check the item yourself,” Tan said.
While users may easily sign up for an account with just an e-mail address, the site gives a special badge to users that verify their profiles with another social media account like Facebook or Google+.
Both sellers and buyers may also leave a review about every user they encounter on the site, keeping the community transparent with every transaction made. Someone may be a responsible seller but may be difficult to transact with when buying items online, Tan said.
The Philippine unit of Carousell also regularly curates items based on a specific category or a market niche. For example, the team made a special group just for the students of De La Salle University Manila and Ateneo de Manila University to boost transactions within each school community. This way, users in these schools are assured that they are dealing with fellow schoolmates as only accounts registered with their respective school e-mail addresses are part of the groups.
These localized strategies seem to be working. Tan said the Philippines is Carousell’s fastest-growing market and is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.
Haggling to lower prices is encouraged on the site
“We have more than four million listings in the Philippines that shows the liquidity of the marketplace. On average, we found that registered users here make around Php22,000 from selling pre-loved items [for the first year we are here],” Tan added.
While it’s making the most buck out of customer-to-customer or C2C transactions, Carousell is hoping that it will tap into professional merchants or salespeople in the future, too, especially in the real estate and automotive industries.
“Down the line, I think there are plans to work with these professional sellers. We're still experimenting a couple of features in Singapore and still figuring out what tools can be best for them,” Tan said.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz